We are halfway through June already and my poor blog has been sadly neglected. We have been out and about and, between jaunts, there has been a great deal of work and catching up to do, so only now do I have time to reflect on recent activities. We had a wonderful week of sunshine, which coincided with a trip to the Lake District and an artist book workshop run by Emily Martin of the "Naughty Dog Press". The book arts weekend concentrated on paper engineering, making pop-up structures by various methods including cutting into valley folds and mountain folds. I can’t think of a better venue to learn about mountains and valleys! There was so much to see, lovely walks through forests and lakeside gardens and wonderful houses to visit."Blackwell House" was first on the list; this Arts and Crafts house had an exhibition of Arts & Crafts Stamped Cloth Book Cover Designs which included several book designs by my hero Walter Crane. The house is set on the hillside overlooking Lake Windermere and is a treasure house of Arts and Crafts style furniture, stained glass, books, and textiles, everything in keeping with the architectural style of the house which was designed by Mackay Hugh Baillie Scott Later in the week we visited Ruskin’s House “Brantwood” which perches on the hillside overlooking Coniston and has the most beautiful garden, which winds down to the shore. I remember visiting when I was in the sixth form studying geography and geology. Ruskin was fascinated by the natural world and collected and drew inspiration from fossils, shells and plant forms. There is something extraordinarily intense about his drawings which spoke to me all those years ago. Later I was to learn about his influence on Art theory, architecture and design, and how he inspired the Pre Raphaelites and designers such as William Morris and Walter Crane who in turn influenced The Arts and Crafts Movement. Looking at the position of his house and garden it is easy to see why he was so influenced by nature and beauty. "It is written on the arched sky; it looks out from every star. It is the poetry of Nature; it is that which uplifts the spirit within us." John Ruskin Of course we had to visit Hilltop farm, home of Beatrix Potter. We even caught a glimpse of Peter rabbit, happily nibbling grass in the orchard. We also visited London but I shall keep that for later. I hope you managed to catch a bit of sunshine too; for the most part we have had the dreariest wet weather.