Distraction…

Oh dear. It’s been a while hasn’t it?

I will make the following excuses for my poor attendance;

  • It’s been too hot to sit at the computer.
  • It’s been too hot to make much progress on my quilts.
  • It’s been too hot to be back at work and do 11 hour days, I’ve been collapsing in a sweaty heap as soon as I get home.
  • I’ve started working on a new project. Click here if you are interested. I am totally immersed in it at the moment and very excited.

Crap excuses I know. I am hopefully visiting Killerton House tomorrow, so I will definitely be getting snap happy and preparing a post about my day. Until then….

Love Susie xxx

A day at Greenway

My mum and dad are visiting at the moment and on friday they took me out for the day to Greenway House, where the great Agatha Christie lived and penned her finest works. Little bear went to the child minders, (we have to pay even if she doesn’t go so I thought it would be good for her to get used to it) Mr bear was at work and I had my first day out without them since November 2012! I had a splendid time.

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Greenway is a great Georgian pile built high on the banks of the river Dart, in south Devon. This is, in my opinion, one of the most beautiful parts of Britain. We really are lucky to live in such stunning surroundings and England is never more picturesque than on a sunny summer’s day.

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From the car park ~with your space booked in advance~ there is a lovely walk through the vast estate to the house. Every so often there is a glimpse through the trees to the river, which is wide and filled with little boats. The breeze carries that lovely watery freshness to us on the high path. Along behind us comes trundling a fabulous green bus filled with people doing the Agatha Christie Tour.

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As with most National Trust properties, admission is around £10 per person, unless you own a sacred, oak emblazoned National Trust Membership Card, with which you may enter free of charge.

It is quiet when we arrive, the cafes are empty and with some imagination I can picture the converted stable block in its original state, horses munching lazily in the golden air.

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Through further gardens and then round the side of the house to the most breathtaking views over the treetops to the river. This place really is something special. The house a monumental white queen presiding from her hillside throne. Although Greenway is most synonymous with Agatha Christie it pre-dates her by a good few hundred years. The writer and her family have certainly left their mark, something that the National Trust have no doubt cultivated to maximise appeal. The final episodes of ‘Poirot’ were filmed here the day before we visited.  The wardrobes are filled with Agatha’s clothes, the bookshelves with her books. There are recordings of her voice playing in various rooms, childhood portraits on the walls and sheet music composed by her atop the piano. I have a feeling though that stored away are the vestiges of other families that have lived at Greenway. Agatha Christie only being only one of a hundred people that these walls could whisper about. The house was requisitioned by the American coastguard during the second world war and still surviving in the library is a huge mural painted by one of the soldiers, depicting various scenes throughout the  war.

We aren’t allowed to take photographs inside the house, which is filled with lovely old furniture and a lot of exquisite chinese ornaments. I wouldn’t be able to describe the place to you in photographs accurately anyway, it has more of a sense than a look. I have been to quite a few National Trust properties and sometimes they have a sort of sterility to them. That ‘dead behind the windows ‘look of a house that’s not been lived in for a very long time. Whatever history is held within is only played out for tourists, there is no sense left of the life that once thrived there.

Greenway is still alive. I can’t really put it any better than that. I’m not talking ghosts and whispers here, I mean that the house has not forgotten what it is to be lived in and you feel it as you walk around. It is such a happy house, it made me want to live there.

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Next we take a stroll through the gardens and down the wooded slopes to the boat house. Now, with it’s crumbling walls and dusty floors it looks more like a storage shed, but once it would have been decked out as lavishly as the house. It still has the most spectacular views.

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It is such a perfect day to be near the water, the sun shining serenely in the blue sky and the soothing murmur of the river. We really could have stayed there forever if our tummies hadn’t started to rumble. So we wind our way back up the cliffs in search of sustenance.

At the Cafe we order a proper ploughman’s lunch and apple juice all round, Yarde cider for my dad and virgin for mum and I.

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We really could have stayed all day I think, the atmosphere was just so lovely. I will definitely be going again, maybe in the autumn when the leaves are turning. I’m sure Greenway is beautiful whatever the season but it really did surpass itself for us on this summers day. I can highly recommend a visit, so can these guys.

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Love Susie xxx

Busy bee…

I have spent the last few days making and giving presents in the sunshine!

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It has been very satisfying making this little bag and I managed it entirely from fabric that I had hoarded away! I knew I was hanging onto it all for a reason. It was a learning curve as I’ve never made a bag before so I kept it simple and didn’t attempt to put zips or pockets in. It’s nicely padded, quilted and fully lined and I think our 7 year old niece was pretty pleased with it.

I also tried out a bit of freeform quilting.

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I don’t have an embroidery foot for my sewing machine so I decided to create a design that was made entirely from straight lines. It was really rewarding and I love the simplicity of the colour palette. I usually just go for as many colours as possible but this design really lent itself to a cleaner, more graphic look. I will definitely be experimenting with more of this type of sewing.

I’ve also made some progress with the Liberty print quilt!

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I’ve decided to turn it into my version of a traditional sampler quilt, with lots of different blocks. As usual I’m making it up as I go along, which can be hazardous because I might run out of fabric before I’ve finished!

I am really loving very graphic, linear designs at the moment so I’m trying to marry the sweet, floral fabric with lots of modern patterns. Hopefully I’ll pull it off! So far my favourite block is the chevrons. (All you master quilters out there, don’t look too hard at my wonky stitching or you may feel faint!)

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All this making and relaxing in the Devon sunshine has been a welcome distraction from the looming cloud of work that hangs over wednesdays horizon. I just need to DO it and slowly we’ll adjust to the new routine and everything will feel better. Little bear loves her new child minder so I really don’t need to worry about that. I just wish that I was going back to work to do something I love to do, like create. I suppose I will just have to start making cheese sculptures or charcuterie collages instead! And I’ll be super nice to all the customers so they go away with a smile as well as a pasty. I’ll make the most of it while I think of a new plan…

Love Susie xxx