Mountains and Valleys.

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.


  1. Heavenly. Simply heavenly. Every word of your post echoes my fondest loves. I am very happy indeed you had such an enriching and full visit to the Lake District. Hurrah for inspiration from writers and book artists in general.


  2. So good to hear that you had a splendid time while you were away from the blog!

    Will you write more about the places you visited in the Lake District, please?


  3. Oh, this sounds idyllic!!
    Books and the Lake District?
    Ruskin and Crane?
    I am soooo there.

  4. Oh how I would love to see Hilltop Farm someday! (I have to be content with my dvd of Miss Potter, for now.)

  5. Looks like a wonderful place...I must reaqauinte myself with these artists...love to see the inspiration others gather from.

  6. You went to all my favourite places Valerie. We only live an hour from the Lakes, and have friends there so it is easy to nip across.

    Love those paper cuts - you are just the person to do them though because I know (from trying some) that they need absolute accuracy (something I am bad at).

  7. It sounds like a really lovely trip and inspirational too. I like the sound of the book arts course

  8. Dear Vicki - came upon your blog today - what lovely illustrations. Your work is awesome - love the bunny puzzle especially and your foxes. Thanks for sharing - God Bless you.

  9. What a lovely break - fascinating workshop in a spectacular part of the country. Enjoyed reading about Ruskin. Have a good week Valerie. x

  10. I love Lake District, so I am sure that you had a nice break. It seems your days were packed with very interesting activities - the book making workshop must have been fun and I'd like to hear more about Miss Potter's Farm. Have you taken any photos there? Maybe that could be turned into your next post?

    Best Regards,


  11. Thanks for all the lovely comments which are very much appreciated.

    Merisi, Wendy and Kristina, as you have asked for more on the Lake District, I will try to oblige in my next post.

  12. Be still my heart, how I long to visit Beatrix Potters homeplace. Maybe next year. What an ideal trip you took, it must have been incredibly inspiring!

  13. The pop-up class looks like fun, and your photos and description of the Lake District are lovely!

  14. So sorry that I have been out of the loop for ages.
    What a lovely trip to the Lake District where I have never been.
    Super arts and crafts house, but was thrilled to see Ruskin's --having been at art school at the Ruskin School of Drawing and Fine Art in Oxford in 1968!
    -he founded it so undergraduates could learn to draw and they let some other people in.
    Do hope all is well with you and your family.

  15. Glad to see you were in the Lake District when the sun was shining. It has seemed like it has never stopped raining. You have visited some of my favourite places. And your course looks interesting, more new skills to use, look forward to the results.

  16. It all looks heavenly :D

    I have never been to Brantwood but we visit relatives nearby so I have no excuse not to make the effort to get there.

  17. You can always come back, you know!


  18. Oh my, that looks like a wonderful trip! How inspiring.

    Yes, dreary weather here too. Hard to get in holiday mode, though a houseful of chislers with no school to go to, generally sorts that out!

  19. Sounds like a great way to spend a week. I love the Lake District..have been to Ruskin´s house too...just lovely. I love seeing your dogs below carrying those way big sticks..tooooo cute!! Hope your weekend is sunny!