Tuesday, 12 August 2008


You never know where life will take you. I suppose that can sometimes be one of the great things about it. A chance meeting or a seemingly insignificant event can result in some surprising, occasionally life changing consequences.

Five years ago, just a few weeks after moving to Bournemouth, I happened to see a poster in the window of a quilting shop advertising an exhibition of work by local City & Guilds embroidery students. I was feeling a bit overwhelmed at the time, I had just moved to a strange town, started a new job, I had no friends or relatives nearby to talk to and to make matters worse my OH was working over a 100 miles away and we were only able to see each other at weekends. I have always loved looking at textiles and embroidery so I went along to the exhibition to cheer myself up. When I arrived I was surprised to see some amazing beadwork on display. Intrigued I chatted to one of the students who was acting as a steward. I had dabbled in off-loom beadwork but was mainly self-taught and so found it difficult. That afternoon a whole new world opened up for me. I immediately signed up for the Level 1 City & Guilds Beading course. In the past four years I have learnt so much and made some wonderful friends. I am blessed with a wonderful teacher who has given me constant inspiration support and encouragement. One day I would like to teach beading and she has given me the confidence to believe that anything is possible.

A beaded passion flower created by me and based on a pendant designed by American beader Laura McCabe

A detail from one of my necklaces inspired by a trellis covered in climbing roses. Four years ago I would not have had the confidence to design and make my own jewellery.

Recently another event has unexpectedly opened up a new range of possibilities and a chance to make more friends. A few months ago P, R and I attended a talk by Linda Harrold, a local medical herbalist, about the medicinal properties of herbs. The talk was very interesting and Linda proved to be an engaging and informative speaker. At the end of the session she mentioned that she was interested in setting up a local herb group affiliated to the Herb Society. P, R and myself volunteered to help. Last Thursday was the first meeting of the Dorset Herb Group. The aim is to provide an friendly and informal atmosphere where like minded people can discuss growing and using herbs. P gave a wonderful talk on how she grows and uses herbs in her garden. Every month there will be a 'Herb of the Month' spot presented by one of the group. This time I was asked to talk. After much deliberation I chose nettles, not an obvious choice. I think that they are very under used and under appreciated. They are often considered a nuisance by the gardener but can be useful for conditioning your soil, encouraging wildlife into your garden and are very good to eat. The whole evening was a great success. Yet again I have been able to get to know a whole new set of people and to expand my range of interests. As I said you never know where life will take you next!

Thursday, 7 August 2008

As Promised - more holiday pictures....

My Other Half staring over the cliffs near Stair Hole. I couldn't resist taking this as he hates heights. I suspect that he is clinging onto the railing out of shot - the sign says it all!

My Other Half having a surrealist moment.

Armillary Sphere in the grounds of Kingston Lacey House.

Part of the Fernery at Kingston Lacey House

Temple at Stourhead

Abbotsbury Sub Tropical Gardens

Abutilon flowers in Abbotsbury

Chesil Beach as seen from the viewing point in Abbotsbury Sub Tropical Gardens. Another steep climb (oh, my aching knees!) but well worth it.

Lulworth Cove seen from the rocks above Stair Hole

Part of the coastal footpath leading to Durdle Door. I really am very lucky to live in such a beautiful part of Britain.

I am going to leave it at that for now as I am in danger of becoming one of those people who insist on boring everyone with their holiday photos. No one is interested but they are too polite to say so!

Tuesday, 5 August 2008

Holidays at last!

I have not been able to add any entries for the last two weeks as I have been on holiday. When I started my vacation I made a conscious decision not to log onto a computer, as I knew that I would not be able to resist checking my work emails. I needed a complete break from everyday routine. Plus my time away from work was actually very busy so I really didn't have time to update this blog.

The first week was spent preparing for and helping at the City & Guilds Exhibition - Textile Kaleidoscope. It showcases the work of City & Guilds Beadwork and Embroidery students. Also this year we have some work by the local branch of the Embroiderers' Guild on display. I was unable to display anything this year but was in awe of the talented people around me. Here are just a few pieces on display.

Gabby's necklace inspired by an old snakes and ladders set given to her by her brother.

Liz's lizard (affectionally known as Lily) inspired by Antoni Gaudi

Tricia's wonderful beaded lampshade inspired by Tiffany glass

Val's Cherry Blossom necklace

The second week was spent in Lulworth - about 40 miles from where I live. We have been wanting to explore that area of Dorset for some time. My Other Half had been told about the Castle Inn in West Lulworth and so we decided to stay there for a few days. It is a lovely 16th Century thatched pub which offers bed and breakfast accomodation. It is full of character - our room had a four poster bed and exposed beams.

On that first day my OH persuaded me to go for a walk to Durdle Door. It turned out to be quite an afternoon! The footpath is long and very steep. These pictures give you an idea of the scale of it. And no, in the first pictures those dots are not specks of dirt on my camera lense but people.

About half way up the footpath to Durdle Door. By this stage my knees were starting to hurt!

The footpath to Durdle Door seen from Stair Hole

Durdle Door

We then walked down into the village and went to look at Stair Hole and Lulworth Cove. The strange rock formations are created by layers of shale and limestone which have been forced up at an angle through the earth's crust. The shale erodes faster than the limestone creating dramatic ridges and folds.

The next day we visited Abbotsbury. The Sub Tropical Gardens are well worth a visit as they have so many exotic trees and plants. There is also a viewing point (yet another steep climb) where you can see Chesil Beach.

On the final day we decided to go to Stourhead. This was stunning as always although the weather had taken a turn for the worse. Thick unpleasant drizzle coupled with high temperatures did not make for a comfortable afternoon. We trudged on regardless. After all being British it takes more than a bit of rain to spoil our day.

On Friday we went to Kingston Lacey and wandered around the fernery and gardens. I will post more pictures in future entries. I really needed the break and will now return to work with renewed vigour!