Picnics and a Giveaway!

The picnic illustration is taken from ‘Where’s My Share?” one of my picture books which is in the process of being made into an App by Auryn Inc- more news of that to come soon!

After what seems like an eternal winter we finally have our much longed for summer and we have been out and about.

Firstly, a quick visit to our son in London and a walk along the river and a chance to admire the open space and fresh air. We found an array of interesting sights, buildings old and new and a small garden themed exhibition. It is heartwarming to see how pleasant the Thames is now and how nature can regenerate if we give it a chance. This quote was written on a metal container filled with plants and formed part of a larger garden display.

“There are indeed many good things in life which may be unequally apportioned and no such serious loss arise, but the need of quiet, the need of air, the need of exercise, and I believe, the sight of sky and of things growing, seem human needs, common to all.” By Octavia Hill who did so much to protect our green spaces and went on to found The National Trust.

Further along the river we visited the Bankside gallery, which was hosting an exhibition celebrating fifty years of wood engravings by Simon Brett. Inside we found Simon sitting quietly working and demonstrating his craft. I even had the chance to chat to him for a while and he gave me some advice on hand burnishing. I have admired his work for many years now so it was very pleasant to actually meet him in person and to watch how he engraves his blocks using a vast array of engraving tools.

Simon has a website here where you can learn more about his life and work.

On our return from London the lure of the summer sun won over indoor pursuits, we took Ted (foot now healed) on a lovely long walk up Bickerton Hill and and remembered the words of Octavia Hill as we admired the beautiful view across the Cheshire Plain. We packed a small picnic and ate our lunch to the hum of the bees and sound of birdsong. It really is a most lovely spot.

I attended another bookbinding workshop, this one was all about headbands and how to sew them. Our instructor was Nicky Oliver from Black Fox Bindery
It was an enjoyable and very companiable day, in the morning we made a single core headband and in the afternoon we made one with a double core. Like so many bookbinding skills it is easy when you know how. Nicky made it look so easy but I struggled to make a neat job, still I am determined to practise some more. Here are some photographs from the day and the work of class members.

Finally, I was contacted again by Novica who asked if we would like to have another giveaway, to which I answered, “Yes please!” Novica supports the work of craftsmen and women from around the world. I have a $50 gift voucher to give away, if you would like to take part in the draw please leave a comment which includes your desire to take participate and I will pick a winner from random in two weeks time- that will be on Tuesday 30th. Please bear in mind that the gift certificate does not cover the cost of postage and there may be taxes to pay depending on where you live.

I have been particularly attracted to the work of a Novica designer called Ritu Agnihotri who specializes in textile design featuring a blend of embroidered work with strong print lines. Her blouses would be great to wear on warm summer evenings-

Or maybe you would prefer something like this?

In fact, there are so many lovely handcrafted beauties; it is hard to make a decision.

Hope you are enjoying your summer, good luck everyone!


  1. Lots of good stuff here, Valerie! We finally have summer too, just a little hot and humid for my tastes! I love NOVICA, would love to participate. I've been eyeing some of their beautiful textiles. Have a great rest of July!

  2. thanks for the tip about grammar check....lovely fotos and a good read here today...thanks for the inspiration.

    What is Ted up tooooooo? Is he keeping that paw elevated,,,,,,,,,,,

  3. Oh my goodness ~ what lovely pieces to choose from. I would love to participate in this give away.

    I love your picnic illustration and the spot where you had your actual picnic, how beautiful is that? Wow! So idyllic.


  4. Valerie, I really enjoyed this catch up on your summertime goings on.

    Thank you for the introduction to Mr Brett. I can easily understand why you admire his work and so enjoyed the opportunity to chat with him.

    Your Cheshire vista is so lovely. Your own art surely takes inspiration from such views. Glad that Ted is also recovered enough to go on a picnic!

    Of course, it was a great pleasure to see you own painting at the beginning of this post. Great to know that another translation into the electronic book world is in the works.

    What else, oh yes, please do enter me into your kind giveaway.


  5. Novica is a super organisation and their website has some marvellous things Valerie - I have one of their handbags and have had it for some years - admired by everyone.

    Your trip to London sounds super - it is possible to get away from the noise and bustle isn't it? And to meet one of your heroes was surely the icing on the cake.

  6. Well you know I'm always up for a giveaway, especially of anything beautiful and handmade!
    The view from your picnic is extrodianry! How peaceful it sounds after a fun trip to the city.
    Hope you're well Val...enjoy the blessed sunshine!

  7. Lovely post as usual Valerie, your top image is delightful, that's exciting being made into a digital version. The woodcuts are beautiful. The view through the trees is just so lovely, I'd like that walk! Thanks for your comments, my strange plant in the garden is intriguing still, I must have planted them though! :)

  8. High hopes to visit London someday! I do love your art, and would enjoy taking part in the contest to benefit women artisans, something I try to do when possible.

  9. Love Novica, so many wonderful things to pick from! Fingers crossed ;)

  10. Love the images in this post Val - starting with your stunning illustration, but also the unusual summer view of the London skyline and beautiful Cheshire Plain. You're enjoying the sun of course, isn't this spell of settled, hot weather wonderful! x

  11. i love novica! i would love to win and thank you for the giveaway!


  12. I would love to win a giftcode. I have a bracelet that I would love to get the matching necklace for. It is peridot, and just lovely. Thanks for the chance!

  13. how wonderful that you are having an app developed. your painting is charming.

    the spot you had a picnic looks like a beautiful painting, the shadows and light, designs in the land are wonderful.

    i don't think it is ethical for me to be part of the give away this the moment ;-)

    so lovely to stop by.

  14. Great giveaway - count me in please!
    I would love to learn bookbinding but I've had no luck yet in finding a class - I shall keep looking!

  15. Hi Val!
    Thanks for your note on my blog - crazy cut-outs!
    I checked on your trip to London... remembering the one we all took together. Grayson still has very fond memories. He graduated from high school (and turned 18) this year and is preparing to start his "next chapter"
    Life moves pretty quickly!
    I loved the photo you took of Simon Brett working with his tools - beautiful!
    And then your walk was lovely, as well. Glad Ted is better!

    Think about you so often..... maybe we will meet again sometime.... soon? You never know..

  16. I loved catching up on all your news!
    Yes, I totally agree with Octavia Hill about the benefits, both physical and spiritual, of getting in touch with nature and the countryside.
    Don't need to be put in the Novica drawing as luckily they work through my blog too. I got some gorgeous saa grass paper from Thailand. Too lovely to use as gift wrap! -maybe for use in a handmade book?
    All best wishes for a glorious warm summer - at last.

  17. I love Novica and I would love to ben entered. thank you!

    pokergrl8 at gmail.com

  18. I would love to win a Novica gift card, thanks for the giveaway!

    rounder9834 @yahoo.com

  19. i love novica!! hope i win!!

  20. Hope I'm not too late to enter the giveaway :)

    The Octavia Hill quote is wonderful, and she is so right!

  21. Looks like wonderful weather.

  22. I love novica also. I would purchase the radiant natural fiber basket

    mrsrodjac at hotmail dot com