Tuesday, 21 April 2015

A weekend in Suffolk


I've been a little quiet of late simply because there was much dyeing of thread and felt;  gathering of quilts and workshop materials.   Stocking up of the Emporium.    A couple of workshops locally, and then off to Suffolk.

I had been invited to give a talk on Saturday and a workshop on Sunday at the Quilters' Guild Regional Day.  The other guest quilter was Alicia Merrett, so I was in good company.
   
It was a great weekend.  The meeting took place in Lavenham, a famous wool town with old beamed houses, not much of a straight line in any of them.  All, of course, painted in Suffolk pink, cream, blue and ochre to name but a few colours.  Alicia and I managed a walk through the village at the end of the day.  

We stayed in Long Melford, and it is indeed long, over two miles in fact!    More beamed house in stunning colours, and peeps over the brick wall as we passed Melford Hall.





The whole weekend was fab.   Very well organised by Helen Vivian and her team of helpers, a big thank you.  There was lots of cake, which has to be a good thing!  Quilters are lovely!

My talk was well received, and I certainly enjoyed Alicia's talk.   She took us through the various journeys which lead up to her present day work.   Fascinating.

I had fifteen ladies for my workshop on Indian Stitchery.  No pictures, too busy working.

I was especially pleased to be invited to Suffolk, I was brought up in Aldeburgh.  It felt good to be back under Big Skies and the country side where Spring was breaking out; wild flowers, bright green leaves on trees and hedges and many fields turned bright yellow with mustard flowers.

I managed a little side trip when I arrived on Friday afternoon.   I discovered that two of my relatives lived in Woolpit  both mentioned in the 1841 Census,  Maurice Moore was born in 1786 and William Last born 1841.   William was a watchmaker and gunsmith.   I found his house!  How amazing!   It's right next door to The Bull Inn, perfect for a little refreshment at the end of the day!

I shall have to return later this summer to do a little more investigation, and revisit Lavenham and Long Melford.

So, all is now packed away.   It's warm outside.  I feel the need to put on my gardening hat!


some pictures of Woolpit    it is possible to walk from the church through The Street
in under ten minutes   it is a very small but beautiful village

1. typical houses     2. the village sign- is the village named after wolves?  The Green Children are legendary and many a story has been bases around them   3. Plaster decoration, herringbone brickwork on the side of a house   4.  the Museum

                                      




Wednesday, 1 April 2015

Out of March Hibernation

March certainly roared in like a lion but there was no sign of it going out like a lamb.

Yesterday we went to the beach with Mr. Ben.   The sun was shining, which was nice.    To say the wind was blustery is somewhat of an understatement.  


we were sandblasted with nowhere to hide
the sea was an amazing colour when the sun came out
grey, blue and green



we walked along the beach, with the wind behind us, looking for interesting things
then had to face the sandstorm to get back to the car 
refreshing and invigorating   bring on softer and warmer days, please

I did manage a deal of dyeing threads and fabric, not in the conservatory though, far to cold.   Rain and grey skies did not diminish bright colours, plenty of inspiration around me.

I took a workshop with the lovely ladies of the South Somerset Embroidery Guild.   The journey through Dorset and Somerset was lovely, the sun peeking through big fluffy clouds and little peaks of green showing on the hedges and trees.  Indian Stitchery the name of the workshop, accompanied by plenty of colourful textiles.  It was a good day all round.

The garden needs a great deal of attention since it's been either too cold, wet or windy.   Perhaps this weekend, but I don't think so!

I had lunch with my friend Jean and we called into Walford Mill to see Cleo Mussis' exhibition Spring Boody.    Fabulous mosiacs made from broken crockery - you just have to see Mr. and Mrs. Rabbit, plus son.   They just made me laugh and feel very happy.

A clean out of boxes of fabric yielded three full bin bags.   You know all those little scraps, fabric that's been hanging around for years and years and is still not talking to me.  

I did gather scraps of indigo and block printed fabric to put together a quilt.



detail

hand stitching - time for contemplation as I slowly stitch and watch the cloth start to ripple





Tuesday, 3 March 2015

heading back to Udaipur

but first the GIB



the Indian bird book ID for size is very large  
in the background two Nilgi who are also very large -  big antelopes




a rural scene on the outskirts of Udaipur   quilts out for an airing   hard to believe that
only a few miles the urban sprawl begins  

and what did I stitch?




a little experiment using printing blocks to mark the patterns
fond memories of snatched moments here and there and lazy mornings at Sena



mainly chai

a necessary part of every day life whether travelling or not



a stopover on the Abu Road
Granny feeding a Star Tortoise a delight in itself   in the wild they are a threatened species



first cup of the day at Bera - note the clay pots

we spent the morning driving through the jungle (not as imagined in Walt Disney's Jungle Book!)    The land is dry scrub    where there is water the fields and planted   right now the wheat sown in October is green and slowly turning golden yellow   the mustard crop has been cut and left drying in the sun   within a few days the seeds will be gathered



fields of fennel  such a good smell


the chai shop at Sena  nice brew


chai shop at the end of our little ramblings with all you need to make a good cuppa
strainers, tongs, tea, fresh ginger, cardamons, milk (buffalo for preference) and sugar
fresh chai is made as you wait   spices crushed and added to the pot with the other ingredients   the wheel on the right is turned to bring up the heat in the clay oven
when ready the chai is served fresh and hot in the little clay pots   


next door the village men were gathering for a meeting  lots of paper work in evidence



the ladies meanwhile seem to be having a girls day out


CHAI POTS

originally chai was served in these little clay pots, made by local potters   used thorough out the land at chai stalls and most importantly Indian Railways  very hygienic  no need for washing up instead they are thrown away, perfect recycling   

around twenty years or so ago they were replaced by small plastic cups which were chucked out on railway lines and streets  you may imagine the results   with the awareness of the damage of plastic waste plastic bags are now banned being replaced by cloth or paper bags   occassionaly small purchases are beautifully wrapped in newspaper and tied with string    small paper cups are now used at chai shops  or a small teacup and saucer   tea to be drunk out of the saucer of course   best not to think of the washing up water




 Bhuj   

ten years back a potters family in Kutch were still producing pots for the railways




Sena



nana/bera

these are such beautiful objects  each bearing the potters hand

I like to think that all over rural India it is still possible to enjoy chai served in a clay pot
research required!





Monday, 2 March 2015

Four relaxing days at Sena

Our favourite place just 'to be'. 



the lovely Aravelli Hills, beautiful lakes full of winter migrating birds,
and in the hills leopards

we were invited to stay with a farming family in the village nestling alongside the hills the pace of life was slow  the sun rose at 7.30  temple bells sounded  the cows were fed and children with huge satchels made their way to school    



our room was on the roof  one window looked out to the hills 
an early morning photo as the monkeys descended looking for breakfast

Udai the head warden of the Forestry Commission, Keith and Samshu set off at 'leopard o' clock, otherwise known as 6am, to check the leopard population.   I enjoyed lazy early mornings and chose to spend my time reading, stitching, catching up with my journal and enjoying my early morning chai

A little domestic duty called   we had been tramping through deserts and scrub  our clothes were dusty and with no chance of getting laundry done for a few more days   fortunately there was a bar of Rin soap in the bathroom, marvellous for washing   rub scrub the water looks like mud   rinse and on the line   within in an hour clothes ready for wearing again
suffice to say I brought a bar home with me and already I have found it removes turmeric from tablecloths!     




making butter and straining off butter milk while the temperature is cool


young calves having breakfast   we met them last November when they
were only three days old

the mornings were spent around the lakes, driving and walking in the jungle
a little rest in the afternoon when it was very hot   and in the evening checking out
the leopard family who having had their rest were getting ready to find dinner

all the children seemed to join us   I brushed up on my numbers in Hindi
no paper about so one boy picked up a stick to write on his dusty arm 
the car registration plate was a good exercise to practise numbers 
and letters in English!


here come the camels

so our delightful stay in Sena came to an end   the family were lovely and very welcoming   the food simple but  delicious  home cooking at it's best   we were sorry to leave but we will return





Thursday, 26 February 2015

Moving on

We were up at 4.00am in time to pack and get to the railway station to buy tickets for our train journey to Palanpur.   The ticket office opened at 6.00am instead of 5.30am as we were informed.   Oh well, it was going to be a long day anyway!

Second class only and for a journey lasting nine hours and stopping at 38 stations it was a bargain price of 70 rupees each (75p).    We settled in our seats with emergency rations of water and biscuits.   There would be plenty of vendors on the various stations selling food, chai and coffee.

We started our journey in the dark and watched the sun rise over the countryside.   At every station there were passengers and the carriages soon became full.   The time went by very quickly.   Plenty of things of interest out of the windows, and the passengers were very chatty.   Where did we come from?   Where were we going?   Did we like India?  Lots of photographs and exchanging of e mail addresses.

Station platforms full of people coming and going.   Luggage, boxes wrapped in calico, chickens in crates, barking dogs, cows, musicians, holy men, groups of Jains on a pilgrimage.    Railway crossing with cars, lorries and motorbikes waiting for the train to pass.   A sign for a bump in the road, with the 'p' missing.   People walking in the country side, where did they come from?   No sign of a village anywhere.

As we neared Palanpur the train slowly emptied of passengers.   One family from Bhuj were travelling to their special temple, only to return again that evening on a 'sleeping' coach.

At Palanpur Samshu was there to greet us with garlands of roses.  He had driven up from Udaipur that morning.    We were heading for Danta only an hour away, but first a cup of chai.

We were in Danta in October and this time I managed to get photographs of the terracotta horses in  the Adivarsi shrine.



big ones


and smaller ones
the size is determined by the wish granted



as the shrine becomes full old and broken images are discarded

We stayed for two nights.    After a long day's travel we had the best sleep ever.   The next night was crazy.   With a wedding going on in the village, which started quietly, all was well.   Then there were the fireworks and the music was ramped up to full volume!    Well, it is the Wedding Season and they did sound like they were having a jolly good time.



A day out with Mr. Jethi

Northern Kutch

Mr. Jethi is a font of all knowledge, indeed he writes the very informative guide to Kutch

We set off early first stopping at Kotay, last visited ten years ago with Mr. Jethi.  It has the remains of an old city and several temples thought to be 10th century. 

The 9th century Sun Temple ten years ago stood in splendid isolation amidst the jungle greenery and in a dilapidated condition, sand blasted and weathered over the centuries, now it has been beautifully restored. 





it sits in an area of 'gravel' soon to be made into a garden with shrubs and flowers

onwards to Bhirendiara where we have to get permits to travel north to the Great Rann.
the land is semi desert, very barren except for small shrubs, the castor oil plants and the babul trees, originally planted to preserve the land from the encroaching sand.

Bhirendiara is a small village approached along a sandy road.   The sand is so fine it is used as talcum powder, apparently!



bhungas with geometric patterns


interiors






the shop


interior of house with a shelf full of stainless steel kitchenware 
the walls are decorated with clay mixed with camel dung, kneaded and
rolled into tubes which are used to form patterns which resemble the
patterns used in embroidery.   When dry the wall is wash using a white
earth colour and small mirrors are set between the designs



a lady in the process of making a patchwork top  
unlike the rest of the ladies she was happy for me to take her photo

the villages make most of their income from tourists, and quite right too since we trample
around, looking here and there    during our visit about three groups of visitors arrived

the quality of work over the years has diminished which is not surprising - we know how long it takes to hand stitch anything!    the fabric on this piece is printed poly cotton with big stitches, something that can be made relatively quickly and sold for a good price.    The shop was interesting, although I wasn't tempted to buy

outside two little girls with a table full of scary dolls and amulets - more for the collection

with permits in hand we travelled north to the village of Gorewalli where we were to have lunch   here they have built a few bhungas for tourists
]

how about this for a bed?!!!  oh yes, there is a very nice western bathroom as well

the village is split into two, one half is Muslim and the other Harijans (God people) -originally known as untouchables, the name was given to the Meghwal people by Ghandi
although the two communities live apart they get on very well together


in the Muslim half quilts having an airing in the sun





in the Harijan part a very much used quilt

after lunch it was only a short trip to get to the Great Rann of Kutch, popularly known as The White Desert.    We were a little disappointed!  The Ranotsav annual desert festival has become so popular that the land is now home to tented accommodation and bunghas, complete with the NEC of the desert     it rather spoilt what should have been a beautiful experience, having visited Dholavira and the Little Rann where camps were not so visable




this lovely family invited me to take their picture
the White Desert looks a little grubby what with camel and horse rides
on the horizon it gleamed white

and so back to Bhuj after a welcome cup of chai at Dhordo

if you have made it to the end, thanks for reading!!!!