On the announcement of a little person joining the family, it was the perfect opportunity to get my knitting needles out and make a tiny item of clothing. I bought Rowan's Just Baby book, which has some gorgeous, modern patterns, and I was particularly enamoured by the cardigan on the front cover. Perhaps a bit advanced for my current skills, I loved the yarn colour so picked a moss stitch cardi and got started. Over the next couple of months I worked through the different pieces of the garment and by October I was near completion with an age deadline to meet too - these babies do grow fast! Even though it's a small piece of clothing, I've learned a lot about putting the pieces together and the importance of taking time in making up the garment. After all the effort, I was so pleased with how the cardigan turned out with the four, cute buttons and rolled up sleeves…plus little Penny looks great in it too.
On the drive back from Devon back in August, we stopped off at Stourhead. The gardens came into my consciousness not long after I started studying architecture when we did a landscape project. During the history lectures, Stourhead stuck in my mind. The landscape was designed with a lake at its centre and from pathways around the edge you can peek through the strategically planted and beautiful maintained vistas, glancing towards the follies that are spread throughout the gardens. I was gasping wow the whole time and you can imagine it is a delightful place to be at any time of year.
After a number of years on and off at my old practice I decided it was time for pastures new. When you've made friends and learned a great deal, it's a hard decision to go, but career wise it was time for a change. So in September I started at a new, much smaller architecture studio, both excited and nervous, but definitely ready to learn, learn, learn.
For me the most exciting thing is getting to go on site to see what you have designed and worked on come to life, off the page or computer screen, and become a living, breathing building that people are going to occupy. Every day I'm learning something new, and well as bringing parcels of my existing knowledge to the equation, and really enjoying the challenge everyday.
Looking back: in January I started to learn to swing.
Autumn had just arrived when we ventured along to Kew Gardens in September, which feels a world away now that the temperature has dropped on November's arrival. It's a beautiful spot on the outskirts of the city, and with gardens so vast that even if it is busy you might not see anyone for a while. The smell inside the Palm House reminded me of when my grandparent's used to take us to Wisley when we were little; some happy nostalgia. We even made it up into the tree tops, and as one who has mild vertigo it was well worth the trip into the sky to see the views all around, even if the walk ways swayed in the wind…! A great end to a fun weekend with the gals!
In a day and age of low cost flights, a holiday abroad seems like a no-brainer. However on our doorsteps and only a drive away are beautiful towns and villages set in incredible countryside and along breathtaking coastlines. Back in August we jumped in the car and headed down to Dartmouth for super relaxing week. The weather wasn't on our side the whole time - it gave us an excuse to have long lie ins and massages - but when the sun did come out it shone down on the regatta and the exciting goings on in this delightful town. One day I grabbed the camera and took a walk to Dartmouth Castle. Up high in the narrow lanes there are amazing views across the river Dart - click on the paranormal above! I've been inspired to explore more of our British Isles after this trip and our weekend away in the New Forest… where next?
Where have the past two months gone? No blog through the whole of September! It isn't as though I haven't been up to anything, in fact it's very much the opposite, so there is alot to catch up on.
Last night was the final of the Great British Bake Off, and I think this series I have been more inspired than any other. In the first few weeks of the programme I decided to give the challenge of the episode a go myself, so I tried to make a swiss roll (disaster) and florentines (far more successful). The latter involved the technique of tempering chocolate which was completely new to me, so I got onto YouTube and found a video which didn't involve a cooking thermometer. It's all quite scientific but the lady explains the science of the chocolate crystals - yup, I had no idea either! The long and short of it is you melt the chocolate and then lower the temperature back down so that the gloopy goodness will harden nice and shiny almost immediately after it has been spread, piped or shaped. I used the tempered chocolate to coat the backs of the delicious florentines, and I poured the left overs into muffin moulds to create chocolate cups to eat ice cream out of. For Dan's birthday cake I spread the tempered chocolate onto a baking sheet and cut out triangles to make bunting, alongside another new chocolate creation, chocolate ganache. For that, here is a great recipe.
All in all it's been a pretty chocolatey time but I feel I have added a new skill to my repertoire - the whole point of a challenge a month I suppose!
Looking back: in January I started to learn to swing.
Sometimes you feel like you have got to get away from it all and a couple of weeks ago, we jumped in the car and drove away from the city in the direction of the New Forest. Considering it's just a couple of hours away and friends have raved about its beauty, I don't know why we hadn't visited early, nevertheless we booked a room with a lovely lady Pam on Airbnb in Lymington. We had the best of both worlds, walks along the sea wall with views across to the Isle of Wight, and driving past the beautiful villages and gorgeous cows and horses in the forest. On Sunday before we drove home we had a delicious lunch at a highly recommended venue, the Mill at Gordleton. If you're ever in the area this one you can't miss, the gardens are fantastic! It was a lovely break away, but we're off to Devon next week to really recharge the batteries - more English countryside, here we come!!
After not managing to visit for the last couple of years, yesterday Mum, Dad and I explored the vast array of artworks at the Summer Exhibition. With the price list in hand, we wandered through the galleries, gazing at the large canvases to the smallest of prints of old names to new emerging artists. I hadn't considered that we would buy a piece but year on year you start to realise your favourites and yesterday we were drawn again to the work of Norman Ackroyd. I am always somewhat mesmerised by the landscapes that he creates of the most extreme points on our British Isles: dramatic seascapes or the rolling hills of the northern counties. The programme 'What do artists do all day?' gives a fantastic insight to just that, and it is incredible to see Ackroyd's working process that leads to such beautiful etchings. The work in the programme is the bottom image, The Rumbleings Muckle Flugga, Shetland. I'm now so excited to see Upper Wharfedale when it arrives, but in the meantime see exhibit 185 at the Royal Academy Summer Exhibition before 17th August.
Images by Norman Ackroyd at Zillah Bell Gallery