Wednesday, 22 October 2014

Sketch what you see right now

I'm very late with my week 43 page for The Documented Life Project. And my heart wasn't in it either! But needs must, and I grabbed a piece of china found on the beach in Largs many years ago and drew part of that, colouring it in with watercolour paints.

It felt a bit like cheating as it wasn't what I saw right then in front of me so last night I made a quick sketch of details of our woodburner, and added that to the mix by stitching it on. And it suddenly made sense to stitch some of the other lines on the page too.

I promised myself at the start of this project that I wouldn't spend too much time on it so I'm going to stick to what I have here and hopefully put a bit more effort in next week!


Tuesday, 21 October 2014

Echoing through Time

As promised on Sunday I'm showing you the piece of art I bought during the Biggar Arts Festival. I saw it at the Open Studios event by Moira Russell and her husband Ken. This is a very textural painting by Moira called Echoing through Time and I fell in love with it as soon as I saw it. These photographs really don't do it justice but might perhaps give you some idea of why I liked it so much. It would become more personal than I want to get here, to try and put into words why I felt a connection to the work but something deep inside me responded to it.
I'm so happy to have it hanging in our house now!

Blipmeet in Cumbria

As promised here are all the photos of my most enjoyable blip meet with Paula yesterday. Paula lives near Appleby in Cumbria along a little lane that is just as tiny as ours. She had provided me with excellent instructions so I found it easily. We had lunch at a fun place called Llama Karma along the A66 and for the first time ever I had lunch while watching llamas have theirs too. I was very taken with the button mosaic at the entrance too.
Afterwards we visited the little church of St. Ninians that Paula had discovered and blipped in the past. She knows how much I enjoy visiting old churches and graveyards and this is a very unique place the likes of which I have never come across before. You can see above how the church and graveyard sit in the middle of a field and are surrounded by a very substantial, circular stone enclosure. The only time I have come across such a surround is at Lamington Church and graveyard which by pure chance I had passed on my way down South that very morning. The walk to the church from the A66 took about 20 minutes or so and the weather gods were very kind to us. The walk was a pleasure with beautiful views over the river Eamont.
Paula found some information about the church online here, and this is just about everything I know about it so far. It was amazing to see this church is open to visitors and there is even a visitors book. It is looked after by the Churches Conservation Trust who seem to be doing a sterling job maintaining disused churches of historical and architectural interest. They are active in England and Wales, but not Scotland thus far.
Surprisingly the graveyard seems to have been used till fairly recently but there are also many old graves to be seen here. The church itself was built in 1658 although it is believed an older church stood here before that time. The church was built by Lady Anne Clifford after she fought a prolonged battle about her inheritance.
 According to the visitors' book people come to see this lovely building regularly and evidence of that is here with the little wooden cross tied to this gravestone that has some connection to the Borders Regiment according to the inscription.
The inside of the church is sober but lovely and to my surprise I discovered that there were (and are still present) locks on the pews. Were people locked in during the sermon? I suppose that's one way to keep their attention.
 There was one beautiful stained glass window from a much later date (1860) in memory of John Jameson who died aged 25. The window was donated by his parents and above is a detail.
The thing I found most fascinating and intriguing was a carved  oak wooden screen which according to the information in the church was supposed to come from a Jacobean vestment chest but although the dating seems to be about right I cannot imagine a vestment chest being decorated with what look to be very pagan images.  The detail I showed yesterday has no religious connotations that I could detect and seemed to be more like a goddess than anything else.

There are dragons depicted too (you can see part of one on the top left of the picture above) as well as an energetic drummer.
At the very top (and thus quite dark and hard to photograph) is this very determined looking personage and after reading about Lady Anne Clifford's fierce determination I can imagine she could well have looked like this. We will probably never know, sadly.
There are also some ancient grave monuments in the church itself, connected to the important local Brougham (pronounced Broom!) family of nearby Brougham Castle. I could definitely detect some wings on the one seen above, perhaps connected in some way to the winged souls seen so frequently in Scottish graveyards.
 An impressive array of church brasses was also on display, connected to the same family.Some paint was still present as you can see.

 I was very taken by this Agnus Dei (lamb of God) detail.

After we came out there was a magic moment of light over the surrounding field where a farmer was busy rounding up his sheep. One (seen at the left) was in danger of being left behind and my mind made a brief connection back to the Agnus Dei just seen. Paula captured this for her blip yesterday..
And then as if the day hadn't been special enough already there was a rainbow to be seen over the hills once we got back to where the car was parked.

It was a very special day all round and many thanks are due to Paula and Gordon for giving me such a wonderful time!

Monday, 20 October 2014

St. Ninian's Church near Brougham, Cumbria


Today was a really fabulous day filled to the brim with enjoyment. I'm going to write a long blog post about it tomorrow as tonight I'm taking a break since the day also involved quite a bit of driving. So for now two pictures only. Above St. Ninian's church itself and below a detail of some exquisite woodcarving we found inside the church.

I found her during a blipmeet with Paula in the little church of St.Ninian's near Brougham, Cumbria. According to the info in the church this carving dates from Jacobean times. Paula has just send me the following link with a bit more information. You can find it here We had a wonderful time together exploring this place and having lunch in the company of llamas. I also delivered the journal quilt Paula bought during the 52 Journals Exhibition.

There are loads of pictures as you would expect when two blippers meet and I will show some of them when I write about my outing tomorrow!




Sunday, 19 October 2014

Biggar Arts Festival


We visited the Biggar Arts Festival today. The weather was a bit wild and windy but it cleared up towards the middle of the afternoon. It was most enjoyable, and I fell in love with a painting that I will show you very soon. I try to buy a piece of art after every exhibition of my own work in an effort to play it forward so to speak. I sort of knew I might find that art today as the artist in question came to my exhibition and my art resonated with her. The same was the case with her work for me. All will be revealed in the next few days.

I couldn't resist a quick visit to Biggar graveyard as you can see above. I played a bit with textures and the brightness of this photograph.

On the way home we stopped at a new place (The Big Red Barn) for tea and when we came out flocks of geese flew over, a very typical autumn sight here in the Borders. I randomly aimed my camera upwards and clicked away, and was quite surprised to get some decent pictures out of it.


Saturday, 18 October 2014


I drove past the hill we climbed yesterday and it was almost impossible to believe we were up there then. Today the rain was lashing down on the car and even in the middle of the day it was quite dark. So what else to photograph than this indoor cyclamen that has just started to flower! 

Now that the exhibition is over I'm going back to not posting here every day. As there are quite a few projects I haven't shared yet I anticipate that the frequency will still be quite high for the moment but there sometimes are days when I'm simply not in the mood or when I don't want to switch on my computer as that usually leads to all sorts of distractions from what I should and want to be doing i.e. stitch.

Finally someone asked me today about the phone problems. I haven't given you a progress report as there hasn't been any progress! We are writing a log (it's very substantial already) about every problem i.e. bad phone line, broadband being disrupted by both in and outgoing calls and the like. Our service provider (Utility Warehouse, and they have been fantastic!) will use this to put pressure on BT. Neither they nor we expect this to change anything quickly. Many of our neighbours have given up on their landlines but we have no plans to do so, specially as mobile reception is also rubbish. When I'm feeling particularly energetic I might even write to our MP and MSP, who knows!  So e-mail is the best way to contact either of us. 

Friday, 17 October 2014

Up the Pentland Hills

Amazingly the good weather is continuing, and as we had promised ourselves on Wednesday we set out to find the Loganlea reservoir from the other direction. What I hadn't taken account of in my calculations was that yes, the distance walked would be less but factored in that distance was a very substantial climb! We set off from a layby on the A702 just north of Silverburn. And you can see the path above winding it's way up into the Pentland Hills. It's called the Old Kirk Road as farmers and shepherds living in, over and beyond the hills used this path to go to church in Penicuik in which parish they resided. They must have been very pleased if the sermon was long because it gave them a chance to catch their breath. As it was, the journey to and from church must have taken the best part of the day.
This time we came well equipped, with walking boots and a rucksack containing warm jackets (so not needed!), water, and the OS map. The water was most welcome during breaks from the climb but everything else in there was unnecessary, at least today. Although it must be said these are serious hills and coming prepared is a very good idea. Fortunately for us it was sunshine all the way and although there was a fresh breeze that was in fact very welcome to cool off.
The hills are looking very autumnal now, with brown the dominating colour but there were flashes of colour such as the mushroom above that  I spotted in the grass.
 Eventually the climb levelled out and we passed over the brow of the hills so that we had views in a westerly direction towards Balerno.
We climbed over an impressively large stile and it proved a great vantage point from which to take pictures. You can see my shadow doing just that.
 John found a piece of fence to sit down on and take out the binoculars while the sheep paid us no attention at all. They must be very used to climbers passing by.
In the meantime I ventured far enough down the hill again to get a view of Loganlea Reservoir and the path that we walked on Wednesday. The parked cars probably belong to fishermen, or fishers as they seem to be called. Spot the power lines going across the hills. They seem to get everywhere nowadays.
Then it was back again over the hill and on a mainly downwards path back to the car. There are almost no trees in the hills so this little rowan stood out, somehow clinging on and not yet nibbled by the sheep who are the main inhabitants of these hills.


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