Thursday, 23 February 2012

Meanwhile ............

There is the little matter of a small hanging to make, based on one of 
Wassily Kandinsky's paintings.   It's a group project, deadline looming.

into the dye pots to top up my dyed fabric 

and then, the best, using up leftover dyes

better get on with it then!


I have the bucket, material, natural dye stuffs, and now this

a bottle of copper mordant,
a copper pipe left in a brew of
white vinegar and water
nice verdigris left on pipe

rusty nails next

I am gearing myself up to enter the world of natural dyes.

Meanwhile, my blog is featured on Best of the Web.
It's No 8.   It appeared whilst I was in India, so you have
to scroll through to the second page! Thank you Jennifer.    

One of the other blogs is Shruti's and she comes from
India.   Worth looking at her site, especially since she
had started the India Modern Quilters Guild - fascinating.

Saturday, 18 February 2012

on walking in the garden

There is evidence of heavy frosts,  in fact a friend told me that the
temperature dropped to 7c which is almost unheard of here in the south.
The jasmine and arum lilies have suffered, but there are signs of spring.

The fig tree is in bud, and catkins are hanging from the hazel tree.
Tiny peeps of yellow on the daffodil flowers, violets in bud, and
clumps of snowdrops nodding in the cold winter breeze.

So now I am thinking of the emerging vegetable plot and the
ordering of seeds.   On my list will be Japanese Indigo.   A few
years ago I planted indigo and had great success.  Failed 
miserably over the past year or two, and then discovered fresh 
seeds are best.

my first indigo plants

the vat
the indigo leaves were stripped and mashed
and to my surprise it worked


that was a huge learning curve, not so much information
about then.   So gathering notes and research I am
really looking forward to the indigo harvest
in the late summer

Friday, 17 February 2012


We arrived back a day ago, so I thought I would reflect on our 
Mysore/Karnataka journey.    Our usual destinations are Rajasthan or
Gujarat.  So different from Southern Indian.    Each has it's charms, all
so very different.    The north is so colourful, whilst, I think it would be
fair to say, the south is so green.

We stayed in Mysore at the The Green Hotel which is charming, with 
very friendly and helpful staff.  Our third stay here.   Originally built by
the Maharaja for his sisters, later in the 1950's a film studio.  Gardens
to sit and enjoy supper under the stars.  A great place to wind down 
before setting out on a journey through Kanartaka, arranged by Ahmed
at the Travel Desk. 

The hotel is 5m from the centre of town and run on ecological principals.
All furnishings etc locally sourced, and any profits are donated to charity.

Mysore is a lovely city, with wide tree lined boulevards.   Plenty to do 
and see.   Known for its silk, sandlewood and incense.   The downside
is it appears the only place you can buy material and sandlewood, plus
other 'tourist' items would be the Government Emporiums.  Set prices,
which are on the high side, and no chance of haggling.

However, Ahmed pointed us towards a supermarket near our hotel.
Amongst other purchases I grabbed bundles of incense and - a bucket,
plus other assorted stainless steel kitchenalia.  

complete with it's Fragile label
it survived the journey without a dent
perfect for dyeing

The area around Devaraja Market is worth exploring, very colourful, and 
who knew there was a Hindu festival for cows?   Here's one with a turmeric 
makeover.   Very fetching I think.

I liked this display of rice bags

We left Mysore to head out to the countryside.   A five hour trip, with stops 
for chai, took us to River Woods Home Stay on the Avanty Estate near 
Chickmagalur.   No communication with the outside world, fabulous home
cooked food, and coffee,  which is not surprising since we were staying
at a coffee plantation.   The one thing I miss in India is a good cup of coffee,
it's usually instant.  How could that be when coffee is the second largest

Moving on to the Palace Estate in the Coorg region, this time high up in the
hills.   Three days away from the world again.   Reading, walking, looking
and relaxing.   

Coorg is home to the Kodava people, thought to be descendants of Romans,
Greeks, or Persians, nobody really knows.   Coorg was an independent
state until 1956 when it was merged with Kanartaka.   The Kodava National
Council are pushing for statehood to be restored.  One day the leader of the
party joined us at the breakfast table.   A very imposing character.  Coorg 
is known as 'little Scotland' and he certainly knew all about William Wallace.
He was intrigued to know whether the Scots' still fought the English.  We
were able to assure him that this was no longer so.

So, big ticks for Home Stays, a great way to meet and talk to the local 
people, gain a little understanding of their culture, and then, of course, the
regional food.

a feather from the jungle

A great read on Southern India is On a Shoestring to Coorg by Dervla Murphy.
Published in 1976 it is still relevant.   I read it years ago, and fortunately there
was a tattered and well read copy in the Palace Estate's 'library' to dip into.

So, well refreshed, back to Mysore for a couple of days before our return.
We discovered the University Lake at the beginning of our trip.   Not far from
the hotel, it has a four mile circuit around the lake.  Thus began our excercise
regime.   A late afternoon walk, enjoying watching the painted storks and
pelicans making their nests, meeting with fellow walkers and joggers (the 
latter didn't stop!) then back to the hotel by 6 p.m. in time for a beer or two
before supper.

I always say that India is good for the mind, body and soul.   I certainly feel
the benefit, and not only that, we missed the cold snap!  Perfect.

Thursday, 16 February 2012

around Mysore

the market area in the older part of the city, busy and noisy
with the cries of the fruit and vegetable sellers

baskets of lemons

piles of melons

juicy pomegranates

sculptural jackfruit

on another street a lovely old building in need of repair

the superb art deco Modern Cafe, recently renovated

fruit ready to eat

the garland maker - a jasmine one for
me on Valentine's Day

Keshava Temple Belur

On the road to back to Mysore we stopped for chai and a chance to see Keshava 
Temple.  Built around 1268, the last major temple of the Hoysala dynasty.

Midday hot sun, shoes removed to enter temple complex - ouch.   I love walking 
barefoot, in a way connecting with all those who have trodden this path for centuries.    
This was more of a hop, skip and a jump between the sparse coconut mats.  

The main temple is festooned with intricate soapstone carvings.   
Elephants surround the base, each one different.   To photograph
the next layer I would have needed the use of a ladder!

hopping on, and with the help of steps to one 
of the temple entrances, a guardian lion

then a frantic dash to the temple 'store room'

images of gods ready for the next festival

a family group about to visit the temple who insisted
I took their photo, then great laughter and excitement
on seeing the result

and another group wanting 'aunty' to take a photo
they were lovely - big smiles and shaking of hands
'uncle' took this shot - you might notice the odd one out!

Tuesday, 14 February 2012


Three days on another coffee plantation, this time 3,500 ft up.   The area is known
as 'little Scotland' and I can see why.    First thing in the morning the valley is
swathed in mist, the mountain shrouded in cloud.   The sun finally breaks through
the cloud and all is beautiful.    So quiet and peaceful, plenty of time to read, walk,

watch sunbirds from the balcony, and just plain relax.

out and about

dactura - the flowers as big as my hand

bananas, or plaintain - delicious

a walk up the mountain

cardamon growing in the jungle

and then it rained

Wednesday, 8 February 2012

Moving On

We travelled from Mysore west to River Woods Home Stay in Magaundi.
Five hours driving though fertile land - rice paddies and lakes, up through
hills covered with trees, and eventually to the coffee plantations.  A long 
and winding road indeed.    Every where is so green and lush.

our villa in the early misty morning
in the foreground coffee beans set out 
for drying in the sun
all around the ghostly sounds of birds
and the scent of coffee flowers not
unlike that of jasmin

the guardian of the house

coffee flowers

vines of black peppers climb up trees

No mobile, no computer connection,
no contact with the outside world.
Fabulous.   Long walks through the
plantations, strolls down to the lake.
Evenings on the veranda taking in
the sounds of the jungle with a 
chota peg of gin and tonic, then
enjoying the most delicious home
cooked South Indian food.

the full moon last night
 taken from the veranda

Today we traveled to Hassan, a stop over
before we head to the district of Coorg.
I think the home stay there is half way up a
very high mountain!  However, we have wifi
connection and a chance to catch up with
the world before we disappear for another
few days.


We've been in South India for a week now, staying first in Mysore - a beautiful 
city - just for two days to sort out forward destinations.

a visit to the local bird sanctuary 

the islands overflowing with painted storks,
pelicans, spoonbills etc. etc. busy making their nests

did I mention rather large crocodiles?

The Railway Museum just marvellous. you could climb
up on to the plate and play engine drivers


an old Austin brought out from England in the 30's
converted for the Railway Inspector to travel in

then there was the Government Silk Factory
gosh, the noise.  we watched the total process from
spooling the silk yarn, through to the finished product
No photos allowed.

For a bit of colour - how about a collection of buckets?!!