1/08/2017

Cheering up winter


Welcome January visitors, I hope your New Year has got off to a good start? We are still coming down to earth after a very eventful December which saw the marriage of our eldest son to his beautiful bride, we are still waiting to see the official photographs.

It has been very cold and bright here but now the skies have turned grey and gloomy. I have been making an effort to cheer up winter by walking, working, reading and knitting. How about you?



I got a brand new box of paints for my birthday last year and have only just got around to trying them out. I have to say that I am most impressed with the feel and intensity of these watercolours. 

One of my indulgences is to visit our local charity shops on the look out for ceramics. Many people around these parts have worked in what we call "The Pot Bank" that is Stoke-on-Trent. When the kilns were in operation people wanted to escape the smoke and pollution and so moved to our town, just the other side of the border. Not surprisingly our charity shops often throw up some real gems. The mid century hand decorated bowl is a recent acquisition, made by Poole Pottery and designed by Alfred Read, as far as I can tell, although I stand to be corrected. It is called PKT and on the base there is a mark Poole 186 followed by an X (I think that might be the decorators mark) and the letters PKT, above that there is another X. It has such a pleasing shape and I know I will enjoy filling it with flowers from my garden in the months to come. Meanwhile I am making do with some shop bought blooms; daffodils always look so bright and cheerful, now I need some hyacinths for their fragrance. 

The book "Long Live Great Bardfield" (pictured above), is one I bought from a lovely bookshop in London called Persephone Books. I love their distinctive grey covers and their brightly patterned endpapers and book marks. This one is about the life of Tirzah Garwood who became the wife of Eric Ravilious. Tirzah was a very accomplish artist and wood engraver who also decorated papers with the most amazing marbled patterns. She deserves to be better known as an artist in her own right, her memoirs are both fascinating and amusing.



The old Rowan knitting magazine was another charity shop find, it includes some timeless classics and so I have been knitting myself a cardigan. Maybe in another year or so I may finish as my knitting skills are very basic and leave much room for improvement! 

When the weather has allowed we have been walking, following footpaths along canals and old railway lines. It is on walks like these I really miss my little dog Ted, he always enjoyed walking with us, finding sticks and chasing ducks to no avail. 

I have been making more blank notebooks using some of my patterns as simple covers. This star pattern was one I produced to decorate the end pages of "Can it be True?". When I was working on this book I was inspired by mid century modern designs, perhaps that is what attracted me to the little Poole bowl and the Tirzah book?  I hope the coming year will provide lots of interesting content, we will see. In the meantime thanks once again for visiting and leaving your comments and words of encouragement, I truly appreciate it. 

PS, since writing this post I have been reliably informed that my Poole bowl was decorated by Gwen Haskins who worked at the pottery for many years.

16 comments:

  1. The Poole Pottery bowl is gorgeous! I have never seen a bowl made in that particular fashion, you're right it will be a beautiful way to display flowers.

    You are very lucky to have such a peaceful and beautiful walking route! Love the pictures!

    Debra Scharf from Colorado Springs, Colorado USA

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    1. Hello Debra, thank you so much for visiting my blog. Yes, we have some lovely places to walk although there is lots of building going on around here as farm land gets sold off.

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  2. A bright and cheering early January blog post, Val. Thanks, Lesley x

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    1. Hi Lesley, nice to hear from you, hope all is bright and breezy in St Ives.

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  3. Val, your post has offered me so much upon which to comment! First of all, I want to tell you how much I like that first picture, with the lovely winter scene and spritely bird making prints in the snow. The way in which you depict the landscape and the sky is wonderful, too.

    Now...on to your new watercolor box. I am always so curious about which paints artists use and wonder about your new set. As I ask this question, I remind myself to make more use of my already ample collection of water color paints, some in pans, most in tubes, various brands.

    Lucky you to fine that Poole bowl. It still saddens me that Stoke lost those potteries to some odd twist of fate. I have an Emma Bridgewater mug that features a design called The Lost City of Stoke on Trent. I love the drawing of the chimneys, but also find it poignant.

    Like you, I've also been knitting, continuing to lengthen the stylized fair isle scarf I began knitting on my way to London late last year. Another coincidence is that while in London, I was able to visit the charming Persephone Books shop during their annual open house, and bought the Tirzah Garwood autobiography. As you realize, it's quite a heavy softcover book, and was truly the heaviest item I bought on my holiday.

    It is still on my "to be read" tower, as I am now making my way through another large book, Alan Bennett's Keeping on Keeping On. My library has also informed me that I am next on the reserve list for Bruce Springsteen's autobiography, so Tirzah will be waiting just a bit longer!

    The walks that you've been taking sound so great!

    All in all, it seems as if we are both off to an enjoyable new year. xo

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    1. Thank you for your kind words, like you I have a mixed array of paints which tend to last years. The Persephone shop is lovely, I can see why it appealed to you. We watched "The Lady in the van" recently, I love Alan Bennett. Enjoy Bruce! x

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  4. Such a lovely post, and I absolutely love your painting! Happy New Year and warm greetings from Montreal, Canada. :)

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    1. Thank you Linda, how lovely to have a visitor from Montreal.

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  5. Lovely post full of delightful and interesting things. Love your blackbird in snow painting. Wishing you all the best for 2017:)

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    1. Thanks Rosie, sending my best wishes to you too. x

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  6. Congratulations to your son! What an amazing christmas time you must have had.
    Your winter days sound like mine, I've just finished knitting a jumper and my skills are very basic so I tend to pick the simplest of knitting patterns. However I made the mistake of knitting lots of different coloured stripes and it took me several days to sew all the ends in. I shan't be doing that agaian in a hurry!
    Happy new year Valerie, may 2017 bring you joy and creativity!
    Jess xx

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    1. Thanks Jess, I love your new stripey jumper, I am sure it will be worth the effort!

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  7. Hi Val...lovely little things you have here...will have to look up that book. Your new painting is wonderful and so evocative of this time of yer. We've been having a REAL winter here with freezing temps, snow and ice. There have been many hockey games on the local marshlands which is HIGHLY unusual for Victoria! I think it should be every Canadian childs right to skate at least once on ice in their lifetime. I envy you knitting...I wasted so much money on yarn and patterns before realizing that knitting is just not my thing. Lovely colour that yarn! I will soon be rambling with my new pup! More news on that coming soon! Take care, K

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    1. Kerry, I am excited to hear you have a new pup! Skating on natural ice in the outdoors must be amazing! I will be following you and your pup on your rambles, much love to you both X

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  8. Lovely blog Valerie as always, love the blackbird. wedding news is good, that must have been great around Christmas. Won't you get another dog,? our new one has been major work, she's so nervous, but I'm persisiting with training classes and steadily she improves, walks are still fun with her, sometimes crazy though? They are all different, she's very affectionate at home :)

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    1. Hi Julie, I would dearly love another dog but am enjoying the freedom of having no ties and also I have no family nearby so would have to rely on kennels, not too keen on that. Good for you for giving a nervous dog a home, was she a rescue?

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