Friday, 31 December 2010

Now where was I?

Before the end of the year, I must catch up with our 
Indian journey.  We had arrived at The Most Exotic
Marigold Haveli.  Not all was as it seemed.

Set in beautiful countryside east of Udiapur, this
lovely old house had had a makeover for a film 
set.   Filming started in Udiapur, after Khempur
the shoot moved on to Jaipur, I think only days
before we arrived.  Remains of 'alterations' to
the building and surrounding area, including a
market place!  Starring Judy Dench and
Maggie Smith, we will have to wait until
Spring 2012 when it should open in cinemas.  

The front of the building; our rooms are behind the three
windows bottom left.  The red jali work in the windows on
the middle floor is polystyrene.  This floor has an open 
area running along the front, with window seats and
cushions to sit and relax watching the sun go down.
An area where we ate the most delicious food under
 the stars - no menu, just perfectly cooked Mawari food.  
We were the only guests, so it was as though we had 
our own personal chef.  On the first night he sent his
apologies for being a bit late - he was on his way 
by bike.   Now that doesn't happen in the usual hotels!

The courtyard, which does look a bit grubby!  The 
fountain is another film prop.  The trees and shrubs
were full of birds singing their hearts out.

Looking out from our window the Shiva Temple and
stables.  Beyond it could be the English country side.
The temple became the focus of two wedding
ceremonies, unfortunately my camera went flakey 
at this point.  I will post some fabulous pictures
taken by Keith later.

The owner of the haveli, and his family, breed 
wonderful Mawari horses.  There are so many
trophies and 'horsey' things inside the havali
it's amazing.  Their ears look like upside down
tassels!   To see them all decked out for part
 of the wedding ceremony was sensational.

The villagers were charming, wanting to stop and
chat.  Inviting us into their homes for chai.

Plenty of these bullock carts to be seen.

We had a very peaceful two days here.  The surrounding
countryside teaming with wild life.  It was just great
walking for miles in complete silence, except, that is,
the sounds of wedding drums progressing 
around the village.

I think we might be returning at the end of February.
Lots more to explore, plus there is a village nearby
that specializes in block printing and dyeing which
is certainly worth investigating.

I looked at the haveli's website
it's amazing!  Looks like a different place altogether.

So back to Udaipur for three days before returning
home.  Catching up with a couple of friends, and yes,
a little more shopping.  Well, a girl can't help herself!

As ever, someone doing something you haven't
noticed before.   Very intricate wood carving.

Sunset, time to pack.

Happy  New Year

Wednesday, 29 December 2010

The Final Journal Quilt

Completed before the 31st December deadline.  Phew!

Inspiration from photograph taken
when the garden was covered in snow.
Great pattern on the sole of my shoe.

Free machine stitching, using a very 
ancient spool of thread that just
happened to surface.  Perfect.  Job done.

Now to have the annual clear out.  So much
stuff seems to have gathered in my room.

I shall be glad to see the back of 2010.
There's been good times and sad times.
Frantic times with too much pressure.

I am looking forward to a 'different' year.
Less hassle and more play.  Sounds good.

Tuesday, 28 December 2010

Journal Quilt

Reflections on Snow (dyeing)


Making use of the snow dyed linen.  Free machine stitching,
applique using unknown(!) sheer fabric, and a chance to
use my new printing set.

Not exactly a snow colour, although it reminds me of
the reflections of  the indoor Christmas lights
on the cold wintery scene outside.

Sunday, 26 December 2010

snow dyeing

I missed the first fall of snow at the end of December.
I read accounts of snow dyeing and wished I could
have experimented.  My wish came true.

I had some left over dye solution - magenta, golden
yellow and black - and soda ash mix.  These have been
sitting in the freezing conservatory for a few weeks.
I deduced that since cold snow was involved it
was worth a go.   The whole process seems to fly in
the face of warm dyes and batching fabric in warmth.

So gathering the other ingredients - old linen sheet,
washing up bowl, and a metal baking mesh, I dug
up snow crystals and added dye.  My fingers were
frozen;  a unknown hole in gloves added a
festive look to my thumb (magenta).

Bowl placed in the frozen Big Shed - who knew
it would be so useful!   The next day it was still
pretty frozen, so it was brought into the slightly
less cold conservatory.


Interesting patterns - the linen probably too loose a weave
to hold 'scrunching'.  The black just did not work.

 Unexpected consequences - the mesh backing sheet
produced rust marks.

I must have another go.  I am pretty sure we will have
more snow to play with before the winter has finished.

Tuesday, 21 December 2010

A family gathering

A pre-Christmas supper on Saturday.  
A walk on the beach on Sunday.
Into the howling east wind blowing
snow into our faces.   Ben is safely
tucked up, and asleep in his buggy.

I have never seen Sandbanks beach
covered in snow before.

Today is the shortest day.  Warm and
cosy indoors.   The Christmas lights are
twinkling on the balcony.  No sign of
the lunar eclipse this morning - thick
white cloud.  I guess the full moon
will be hiding this evening.  A nice
thought - the days will start to get
longer again from today.

Happy Christmas to you all,
and may the New Year bring
good things.

Monday, 20 December 2010

Look what I found outside my door!

I think this is a Paper Cinema production!

A festive interlude

A couple of days after my return from India, it was a 
Walford Mill Thursday, and the meeting of Just 10.
Actually, it's just seven now.  We meet every other
Thursday, and have done for twenty years - good
grief - when we started the C&G Patchwork
and Quilting course.

Kay issued a challenge to cover a box for the
Christmas lunch party.  That rattled the creative
thing in my brain.

So here is my box covering - sari silk waste
couched on to pelmet vilene.

The festive table - piles of Christmas cards.
Mistletoe - well, you never know who might
come upstairs.  Packages containing covered
boxes - with presents inside.   The food is
on another table.  The best meal in town.
We all bring a plate of something, and
somehow manage not to double up.

Today it has been snowing since 7am.
Yes, here in Dorset.   Now I am getting a
bit excited - I can have a go at snow dyeing!

I have tw journal quilts to catch up with before
the end of the year.   I have a new pair of
shoes with fabulous patterns on the soles.

Now, there's some inspiration.

The bird table decked out for Christmas.
Along with the usual feeders, a large branch
of holly, with berries - will the Redwings come?
Home made suet 'mince pies' for our
feathered friends - not squirrels.  (should any
of them happen to read my blog).

Wednesday, 15 December 2010

A train ride and the next destination

The journey started driving through the beautiful countryside.
A few kilometres along the National Highway, and a stop
at Khambli  Ghat.  We had to find the station to take a
train ride to Phulad.   A narrow gauge track, and a
price you couldn't argue with 4 rupees each (70r to £1.00).

The train arrives at Khambli Ghat

Samshu and Keith sitting comfortably 
on wooden seats - above wooden bunks

off we go

climbing up the Aravelli hills, going round bends

over bridges

a signal stop, and monkeys waiting
for food - how did they know?

fresh food being prepared for passengers

through a tunnel - no lights in the train but
a lot of exciting shouts and and laughter

fellow passengers - two young boys who were fascinated
by us.  Travelling alone they alighted from the train
just before our final destination, last seen walking
across a field presumably to their homes

a brief stop high up in the hills

finally we reach Phulad, and there is the driver
waiting for us.  The thing is, it took us near on
two hours to complete the journey of 15k, and 
by road it takes 20 minutes - but it was fun!

So back to the National Highway, lunch at
a dhaba house - delicious - and on we go.
After a while we turned off the main road,
and were soon back in the country side.
Eventually we arrived at our next haveli.


Tuesday, 14 December 2010

Lakes, jungles and even more temples

The snake road, this only half of it.  Winding it's way down to 
the valley.  Built by the British about 150 years ago it's an 
amazing feat of  engineering.

Into a nature reserve.  Very quiet, I rather suspect we were
a bit late - way past breakfast time.  So unlike the usual
reserves, it was free and nobody but us and the
inhabitants, where ever they were.  We actually got out
and walked - heard a toucan, found the pug mark
of a leopard, and just caught sight of a mongoose.

Lots of small temples along the roads.

and lakes

plenty of bird life, huge frogs and monitor lizards.
Small villages,  folk working the land, some
cheeky monkeys.  Very little traffic.  All
very peaceful and relaxing.

Supper a little delayed - power cut and a generator
which needed a jump start.  So, what to do?
The evening was a little chilly.  Have a bonfire 
of course with all the bits of wood laying around.
So, about ten of us sat around chatting and
drinking beer under the velvet black sky. 
Certainly no light pollution here.  I loved
seeing all those stars.

Eventually the generator started up and we left
the bonfire to sit down to delicious curries.
 The chefserved fabulous food during our stay,
and we were the only guests.  Very exclusive!


We woke to look out on the sunrise, and the Aravelli  
Hills all around us.  What a delight.  Now, I must say 
I have been in love with this range of hills, running 
from west Rajasthan to the outskirts  of Dehli - first
encountered from a train window.  They remind me
of a child's drawing.   Roughly the shape of a
triangle, with trees growing on the edge.  In the
winter, when the leaves have fallen,
they could be giant hedgehogs.

A view with the small town of Todgarh in the
background.   There is a Christian church on
the summit of the hill.  Interesting.  On my
return I did a bit of research, and now wish
we had made our way up there.  The original
village of Barsawada was renamed by the 
Maharaja of Udaipur in recognition of the
work done by Colonel James Tod, a survey
officer with the East India Company.  For
more info - Walk in
the Wild.

Meanwhile, back in the haveli.  It should
be completed early next year.  In the
meantime we had air conditioning, that
is the main room downstairs had door and
window frames, all lacking glass and
the essential doors!  It will be a wonderful
place to stay if you want to get away from
it all.   Here's a link

We spent the morning relaxing, having a bit
of a wander with the binoculars.  After lunch
a trip around the villages.

The land in the valley is so fertile.
This is the season for ploughing
and planting.

Blue house with washing.  It almost
blends with the sky

collecting water

village temple

Nice window

Sunset over the Aravelli Hills

Sunday, 12 December 2010

The journey continues

We left Jaisalmer at 7.30am.  Originally we planned 
to stay in a small town called Bap, en route to
Kichan.  A renovated havali, which looked fab.
Somewhere to relax for a couple of days, may be
with hot water and a dhobi service. No reply to
our emails, and Samshu had a plan. No contest.

We set out on the Bikaner road, past Pokaran.
In May 1998 India detonated five nuclear devices
which left a huge cater - strictly off limits.  The road
runs along the Thar desert and seems mainly to
be the home of military installations to the north.
The Pakistan border is very close by. Shepherds with 
their goats and sheep, a few houses, not much else.

On the road

a light bite at a dhaba hut, the best curries
cooked before your eyes and the parathas
delicious, not to mention the chai.

a festive lorry

wedding horse

The reason for going to Kichan was to see the
demoiselle cranes.  They arrive from Siberia to
overwinter.  For the last 150 years or so, the villagers
have been putting out grain in the morning and 
evening. Result, thousands of cranes descend on
 feeding grounds.  I was fortunate enough to 
see them on The Rann in Gujarat last year.  
They are huge, flying off with a whooshing noise.  
I noted that the claw print was as big as my hand.
  Now, Keith is very patient with my textile 
thing, so it was only fair to do the wild life bit.

So here they are.  An amazing sight. Great drifts
of twenty plus leaving the feeding grounds every
five minutes or so.

Tick - time to move on.   Next stop Rohet, 
near Jodphur.  I should say here for those
who have not travelled on Indian roads, 
distances can only be estimated in Indian
time!   Another dhaba stop for chai and nibbles.
We stopped off to stretch legs, take in the 
countryside, arriving south of Jodphur at 3pm.

We are now following Samshu's plan.  First off
a safari in the land of the Bishnu, who are very
protective of their land and wildlife. Without entering 
safari park, we saw antelope, black buck
 and deer. Brilliant, there they were just
 doing their thing.

We had booked in to the Rohet Havali. I was
quite excited since Bruce Chatwin and 
William Dalrymple spent time here writing.
Oh, what a disappointment.  A lovely haveli, but
with very obsequious staff.  No, they hadn't a room
for us, but we could stay in a posh tent  17k away.
A snip at £150 per night.  We didn't think so.

Over to Samshu.  We will go to Todgarh, he
declared.  Another chai stop, and on the road
 again.  It was getting dark.  Oh, those scary
lorries, playing 'chicken'.  Quite terrifying.
Eventually we turn off to a road suitable for
two cars.  Jungle country - watch out for eyes
in hedgerows.  Over narrow gauge
railway tracks, small villages, a few lights in
the distance.  Stopping to ask for
directions every so often.  At around 9pm 
Samshu suggested a beer might be called for.
Crazy, nothing there but a shack with a
metal door.  A knock was answered by
Samshu's friend.  Beer produced which was
consumed under a sky so dark the stars looked
like golden beads on black velvet.  
 More directions for Todgarh required.
We arrived at 10pm.  It had been a long
day for us all.  A great welcome.  We were
the only guests.  I did note that the
havali appeared to be a construction site
Our bedroom was fantastic.  So huge,
with a four poster bed and a bathroom to
loose yourself in.   By this time we were only
to happy to have arrived - and so to bed!

This is a picture taken in the morning.
Pretty impressive to say the least! 
Our room is the one on the left hand turret.

Note - picture of Demoiselle cranes
courtesy of Mr. Rawling. If you want to see 
fabulous pictures of India, check out his
website on the side bar.

Friday, 10 December 2010

A few more textiles

From Khishna's Antique Gallery, Jaisalmer. 

details of old applique pieces

detail - rumal 

Emboidered yolk - Afghan dress

detail of pocket - mirror work
and beading

A rather fine shelving unit