More Yarn Will Do The Trick

Saturday, 10 September 2016

Yorkshire Sculpture Park


We had a fun day out with Isabella and Ava at the Yorkshire Sculpture Park last week. It was the final day of the school holidays for them so we decided to go out. The weather wasn't brilliant, in fact it was decidedly grey, but still warm so we packed a picnic lunch and set off. Thankfully it's only about three quarters of an hour in the car, so we arrived just as we were feeling a bit peckish.
I took this photo through a plate glass window in the beautiful new building that now houses the museum shop, restaurant/cafe, a small gallery and loos.
Big Tongue by Not Vital
The first thing we saw on entering the park was this phallic work which was determined not to be overshadowed by the trees, thrusting itself high amongst them.
Let 100 Flowers Bloom by Not Vital
Luckily we had no problem finding a bench in the lee of a tall red brick wall, which was covered in espaliered pear and apple trees, with a view over the whole park - the perfect place for a picnic! There were interesting sculptures in the landscape everywhere, many more than I managed to photograph. The pieces below are a mixture of ones we thought Izzi and Ava would enjoy, together with a couple of my own and P's favourites. 

Moon by Not Vital
I love this wonderful steel sphere and the girls where highly amused by how the small spheres turned our reflections upside down.
This moving horse was fun, a digital Edweard Muybridge!
Pinocchio by KAWS
None of us were really sure what to make of this ginormous figure, but what I did like was that it was made of thousands of slivers of wood - awesome craftsmanship!
Seated Figures by Magdalena Abakanowicz
Sometimes it's hard to know what was in the artist's head when he/she conceived of a particular piece, and for me that's definitely the case with this row of seats with headless occupants  - I was almost more interested in the lovely old cedar which perfectly framed the sculpture😉 .
Promenade by Anthony Caro
I'm not a great fan of this work, which has been here since the Sculpture Park opened. It presents a very menacing image to me - almost like a battleship. However, when you look back at it from the bridge crossing this little stream, it seems to sit well in the landscape and becomes less threatening.
Sitting Lady Hare by Sophie Ryder
This piece was thought to be rather rude, bringing on fits of giggles from the girls.
Reclining Figure by Henry Moore
Although I usually like Henry Moore, I'm not a big fan of this one - too much like a sarcophagus maybe? 😊
Large 2 Forms by Henry Moore
This Henry Moore I did like, in fact it's one of my favourites. I love the colours and textures of the patina, acquired over years of people clambering over it. It was a big hit with the girls too as they explored the various ways of posing in its orifices.
Upright Motif No 2 by Henry Moore
More Moore here with this collection of three totems, with ever more ways with form, textures and patina.
Walking through this culture-crammed landscape created four very large appetites. So on the way home we stopped at Luigi's for pizza, pasta and pudding.  A perfect end to a perfect day!

I couldn't sign off without showing you our fruit bowl. What struck me whilst finishing off the grapes was that the four fruits - mango, apple, fig and grape - present a painterly palette of autumn hues.

Here's the link to the Yorkshire Sculpture Park for more sculptural goodies.

Have a great autumn and thanks for dropping by x

Saturday, 3 September 2016

Season of soups...

... yes, the season of soups is upon us again! But there's definitely something about autumn that's in the air well before the leaves start to turn. The light, for instance. As the days get shorter, the light takes on a luminous quality which makes colours seem to pop more, as if someone's flicked a switch and transformed the bright and brash hues of high summer into the sultry glowing technicolours that we all love in autumn. Also there's a slight nip in the air in the mornings, often not even enough to feel chilled by it, but you know it's there. Then there's the mist. The kind that burns off once the sun is up, but it's nature's gentle reminder to stock up the larder and the wood pile in preparation for whatever the winter might bring.
Here's one I made earlier, beetroot chutney waiting to be labelled!
Once I notice any of the above, regular as clockwork I start to respond. At the moment there's beetroot chutney on the stove and a huge pot of red lentil and vegetable soup for supper. I can't say that I do a lot of canning and bottling these days, but I just can't imagine not putting to good use the free bounty that's on offer, even if you don't grow them yourself there's often people putting windfalls of fruit and surplus veg at the end of their gardens, free to good homes. Courgettes, apples, plums, beetroots are all plentiful right now and so suited to being preserved in lots of different ways as well as enjoying them fresh.
Love the patterns of the slanting light as the trajectory of the sun gets lower
I've been asked for the recipe by a few friends, so I promised to put it on my blog. The problem is I'm not good with recipes, and don't really do quantities in any exact way, but what I can do is give you the ingredients and bare bones of what to do with them and you can make your own version. I learnt to make this soup from Sadie, my mother-in-law, when my kids were tiny. I think it might be the understatement of all time to say that Sadie was not well pleased when told that we had become vegetarians and that chicken soup was no longer on the menu. Being a typical Yiddishe mama she thought that depriving the kids of chicken soup was tantamount to child cruelty. In an effort to compensate we started to devour double-sized portions of her lentil soup and I asked for the recipe. Sadie was more than pleased to teach me how to make her soup, a recipe her own mother had passed on to her and I've used it ever since with a few tweeks of my own now and then. My kids have grown up on it and their grandmother is now immortalised through her lentil soup as well as being the unique and wonderful woman that she was.
Lentil and veg soup
So... the recipe for the soup above:
325gr/12oz red lentils
160 gr/6oz mung beans (or you can use split peas)
110gr/4oz butter beans
1 large carrot, thinly sliced in rounds
1 medium potato, chopped in smallish pieces
1 large onion finely chopped
*4 cloves garlic finely chopped
*1/2 fresh chilli, or pinch chilli flakes
4 bay leaves
Olive oil to cover bottom of pan
*2 teaspoons veg bouillon
salt and pepper to taste
4 pints water
For Sadie's original soup omit the starred ingredients.
Put the onions, garlic, chilli and bay leaves in a large pan with the oil and sauté gently until soft. Add the lentils, and beans and stir in the pan for another five minutes. Add the water, bouillon, salt and pepper, bring to the boil and add the potato and carrot. Simmer for about an hour or until the beans are tender, adding more water if necessary to stop burning. Makes about 6 large bowls. Enjoy!

So what else have we been up to since I last posted, which I'm sorry to say was about a couple of months ago. I'd be here till Xmas trying to mention everything, so here are some photo highlights. 
It's been a bumper summer for figs - we've been eating them every day for a month!
We spent nearly a week in Wales with Izzi, Ava and Felix. This was a real treat and we did lots of fun things. The weather was great to begin with, in fact warm enough for the girls to don their swimsuits and go messing about in the stream at the bottom of the garden.
We had quite a few wet days, so we paid a visit to a nearby slate mine, then on to the Centre for Alternative Technology. We're so lucky to have this wonderful resource practically on our doorstep and we spent an interesting afternoon learning about wave power and woodcraft, riding on the funicular hydro-powered railway, and other innovative things just too numerous to mention. Follow the link above to read about everything that goes on there.
We were particularly struck by this caravan, completely insulated by upcycled CDs. It's a sweet pic too of the girls who had been expecting good weather when packing, so ended up wearing our old gardening fleeces and a couple of my numerous knitted hats.
Small is beautiful at CAT. We loved this rustic gateway with 'Smallholding' written in found objects above it.

Uncle Filo brought his 3D marbling kit, so candles, stones, plates, boiled eggs and more were instantly transformed into bright and colourful objets d'arts.
Ava's marbling bucket
Great to see Toej and Wyck, who came over for coffee one morning with their grand-daughter, Sofie, and Klaas, her boyfriend. They live in Holland and Sofie came bearing gifts from her Mum, aka Madame Sanspareille. This gorgeous green box was filled with hand-made tea bags, each containing a detox mixture of herbs and flowers. What a glorious gift! And although I was warned it might be a little bitter, with added lemon juice and a teaspoon of honey as directed, it tastes delicious.
Back in the real world though, when we arrived home in York the work on replacing lead pipes to every house in the street was starting. So a couple of days of deafening noise ensued, whilst the most enormous contraption dug large holes. Just an observation, but I don't know what it is about men and holes - whenever I went out into the street there would be two or three male residents looking down with great interest into a hole 🤔. 
By the third day I needed a serious walk to clear my aching head and ears, so off I went with P down to the river. It was lovely and I was so glad to be away from all the noise that I forgot about my peripheral neuropathy and overdid it a bit. However, I was absolutely over the moon when I looked at my phone to find I'd walked 2km. Red letter day!!! 😊.
Went up to the moors the other day to pick up some organic veg from Newfields Organics. On the way back the combine harvesters were out in force, confirming the inevitable - autumn has truly arrived!
Right now Django and Arlo are doing their usual sit-in when they would like more food - the next thing they try is scratching sofas and knocking coffee cups off the table. Partners in crime, they know just how to get their own way. What was that about dumb animals? 😉

This is the first summer I can remember when I've had no knitting on the go. I sit and look at yarns and put colourways together, but I must say I haven't felt moved to pick up my needles. Someone said it sounds like burn out and I think they might be right - there's been an awful lot of knitting in my life up to now. We'll see! But I have been playing tons of guitar and enjoying my new Guild F30 enormously. Anthony, if you're reading this, I didn't have time to get in touch in Wales as we were with the girls, but I'll bring the Guild next time, I'd love you to see/play it and hear what you think.
Can't finish without telling you briefly about a visit to one of the best gardens I know - the Piet Oudolf gem, Scampston walled garden. It would take another post to show you everything but I'll finish with a pic of P taking a break amongst the plants in one of their lovely wooden bench/chairs.

Thanks for dropping by. Come back soon xo

Tuesday, 5 July 2016

Life after Brexit!!

Been feeling a bit devastated recently. First of all by the referendum result, then England's football team exiting UEFA Euro 2016 in the sad way they did. Get used to it, people say, and in truth I suppose we all have to, but while football is merely a game, membership of the EU isn't and I feel many people must be wishing they'd voted otherwise by now, after realising that they've been sold a pack of lies, which seems to me to be good grounds for a rethink.

Already there are hate crimes and racist murmurings against ethnic minorities and I can only assume that the vile perpetrators feel that their views have now been validated by the referendum.

In my opinion the future is much less bright out of the Union. Culturally and economically we have become instantly poorer and security-wise as an island sovereign state we have become much more vulnerable to home grown terrorism. The stability of our country is threatened. With Cameron deserting the ship, Boris Johnson having been stabbed in the back by side-kick Michael Gove (et tu Brute!), leaving Theresa May, who seems level-headed enough, but I fear is a thinly disguised right-wing wolf in sheep's clothing, as the most likely candidate for the Conservative leadership. Jeremy Corbyn is rightly standing his ground and refusing to submit to the Blairite bullies (if he did then we'd be left with no credible socialist party), and then, Nigel Farage standing down as leader of UKIP - has it only just dawned on him that there is no forward plan for Brexit? So... he chooses to bow out disgracefully, leaving others to sort out the stinking mess he and his cohorts have created. What a shambles!!! 

England's untimely exit from the European Championships is undoubtedly a further depressing thing, but less than it could have been had they played attractive football, scored a few more goals and deserved to win. As it was, it was hard to see the England team winning anything. At best you could hope they might scrape through each match, but truthfully our frightened pussycats never lived up to the roaring lions that were rather misguidedly depicted on their shirts. 

This put me in a bit of a quandary, but not for long. The Welsh team have been great value for money - they show fantastic spirit and ball skills and thoroughly deserve everything that comes their way. But...and it's a big but... Wales overall did vote to leave the EU. They played their part in creating this massive hole that we now find ourselves in, despite having had EU money flung at them in bucket-loads (more on what the EU has done for Wales here). I do know that the valleys need regenerating in more ways than new theatres and swimming pools ie public services need to be improved, affordable social housing built, and more jobs need to be created, but I don't see how all this can be laid on the doorstep of the EU. People were tricked into believing that immigrants were responsible, with the result that many people were voting on a single issue. 
Anyone for a cuppa? Found some light relief in the garden at Harlow Carr
with this composting teapot and plant pot teacup 
Think we could do with a little help from the fairy folk
to sort things out for us :)
So at first I felt angry with Wales for apparently biting the hand that has helped feed it, but I must say that my anger was quickly replaced by admiration for the Welsh team's brilliant attitude and skills. I hope they go all the way and win - mainly for Wales, but also for the UK - we certainly need something to cheer us up and lift the despondency and depression many of us are left with now.
From left, Merry. me, Gail, Eileen & Annie
On a happier note we had a delightful visit last week from four knitting friends from across the pond - Eileen and Gail from Canada, and Merry and Annie from the US. They'd been on a knitting tour of Scotland and the Shetland Islands, so P and I were looking forward to catching up with their adventures. We had a good chinwag in the garden over coffee, reminisced about past knit tours and caught up with news of other knitters we knew in common. It was so good to see them again and lovely that they took time out of their holiday to come and visit us. 
Joan enjoying a gorgeous stand of foxgloves
Harlow Carr was looking more like an essay on the
shady garden, rather than on midsummer blooms
Earlier in the week we had another friend stay for a couple of days and we all went off to RHS Harlow Carr. It was yet another of those grey drizzly days, with the rain pouring down when we arrived so we immediately dived into Betty's to wait for it to stop. 
The rhodos had lost many petals in the rain,
but I love to see them on the ground too
Definitely weather for ducks!
Thankfully after a couple of cups of coffee it eventually did and we went off on a damp tramp around the wet woods and flower beds, culminating in a delicious picnic of bread, cheese and chutney in one of the gorgeous green oak pergolas. More photos from our walk:
Candelabra primulas - one of my favourites
Love this summer colour combo of orange, deep burgundy, magenta and blue
It's funny at this time of year the borders are usually
 chocka with flowers but the rain has left a forest of green

All this wet weather provided an excuse to get wood in for the winter and cook some warming food. There's nothing like a wall full of logs to warm the cockles of your heart and you can always count on curry to raise the temperature by a few degrees. As I put the oil and spices in the pan, I couldn't help but notice their fabulous hot colours, in fact they'd make a wonderful colour way for a sweater or throw don't you think? 
Oil and spices in the curry pan
It always makes me feel cosy and automatically warm
when we've had a delivery of logs

Enjoy this post-Brexit summer, wherever you are. Until next time  x