Monday, 6 October 2014

Summer into Autumn.

I feel a little like a frond of seaweed floating in this surf at the moment. I am being pulled in many directions & typically am at the mercy of circumstance rather than myself, something I am not good at. If there is a problem, a situation that needs sorting, I usually work it out but at the moment I have to go with the flow and there is much buffeting in its wake.

I realise that sounds very cryptic and I don't mean it to be. Illness has become a feature in our wider family and it has had a knock on effect with worry and sadness mingled with catch ups and laughs. Somehow I feel as though the summer, that beautiful amazing summer of sunshine and walks and endless sea swims, was a little sharper in focus for me than it may otherwise have been. 

I always take note of what's around me. The little things catch my eye from the slight pearl-pink sheen of a fragment of shell nestling in the sand to the soaring wings of a kestrel hovering over the cliffs with the sea swirling beneath. This summer I have noticed more. I have wanted to soak up every single thing I see & store it away like a photograph to be brought out at a later date. I want to stow away every turning shade of the trees as they shift their colours into the soft jewel tones of autumn, the umbers and ochres and berry leaves shimmering in the golden light.

I am lucky enough to live in the most beautiful county with its landscape so much a part of my soul that I honestly don't think I could breathe if I had to leave. A little over the top you may think, but I know me well. I have to swim in the sea, feel the cool salt water moving over my skin and dive deep in the depths to swim with shoals of sandeel, run my fingers through the long branches of varied seaweed and generally poke around in the secret pools beneath the waves.

I have to wander along the creeks and coves bordered by swooping woodlands where I can rummage for nuts & berries or search out some other treasure to take home and add to the various flotsam sitting on the windowsills. I need to see the boats tucked around the meandering banks waiting for the tide to lift them back into life once more.

I can't imagine not seeking out the beautiful flora as it moves from flourishing blossom to the seedheads I love so much, the shapes and colours often complimented by the watery backdrop so synonymous with Cornwall.

This is my solace when things are hard. As I said, I am lucky and when the tide pulls me this way & that, this is where I escape to find a clear head again.

Overall, despite the tone of this post, things are good and the summer has been wonderful with the usual mix of family, games, beach and huge meals.

But the pull has been there and I am determined to keep searching out the positives as autumn wends its way;

to continue to forage and turn nature into delicious (hopefully) drinks and preserves. Such a fabulous year for blackberries isn't it?

I am determined to allow the beauty around me to inspire my designs and to lead me maybe into new areas with my work, to take challenges as they present themselves and not miss a single opportunity by being complacent.

And when I am tired as I often am, I will push myself back out there

for yet another swim

in that wonderful, invigorating, mind-clearing sea.


Lucky me x

Wednesday, 25 June 2014

Thoughts on Coasts & Inspiration.

As anyone who reads my blog will know, I love the coast. I love the waves and the calm of the sea; I love the rugged cliffs & the soft sand, the way the north of Cornwall is wild and sublime while the south coast is gentler with coves and rivers. Lately the Cornish coast has very much been inspiring my designs, particularly on a new range of bags where little boats bob close to coral and fish...

This design is called The Rugged Cliffs because it was inspired by the rugged cliffs (!) of North Cornwall where I grew up. There the cliffs are scattered with clumps of pinky mauve sea thrift, the plants huddled in nooks & crevices in order to survive the ever-pervailing winds. There is a majesty and beauty in this coast that haunts my thoughts. I have never really left it behind and when I need space to think or breathe, when my mind is so full it is tipping over or when life manages to break through to wound just a little, as all life does sometimes, this is where I see myself. Here the waves crash against sea-smooth stone and the reaching, jagged cliffs put the world back to rights...well, for me anyway.

hence the sentiment on the bag: 'Let the Sea Soothe your Soul.' I really loved working the freehand embroidery cliffs for this design & hope I have captured something of how this place makes me feel.

Of course, then there is the other coast: the softer southern Cornish seas which also speak to me though so differently. Here we have lighthouses which look quaint as well as reminding the onlooker of the rocks beneath the often calm surface. Here my children and I search for crabs and shells and pretty things in the many rockpools, and swim, snorkel or just play. I think of more rested times as my gaze falls on the ripples of jade water.

 Somehow this coast inspired a jauntier feel for this design, the words 'The Soft, Silent Sea' suggesting how often I have lain on the golden sand listening to the gentle ebb & flow of the tide, its calm song lulling me to sleep.

And there it is: a little inspiration, a brand new design flowing out of my head and onto the fabric. My own version of the tide perhaps?

And then on to the most recent: Beach Huts. This is a slight mix of both coasts as beach huts appear on each, though the idea of the palm tree surviving those harsh winds makes me smile a little. That definitely belongs to the south!

I really loved working on this one! There is something about beach huts I think. Perhaps it is the idea of living as close to the water as possible, even if only for a day. Maybe it is the pretty colours they are usually painted in. Who know; all I know is that I love them!

At the moment these bags are part of a short run while I trial out the designs. Each measures 41cm x 35cm approx, and has an interior pocket. 

They are available to buy for £ 35.00 + 2.00 p&p 

Either leave me a message here in the comments, a PM on my Facebook page, a DM on Twitter or email me if you prefer ( )

I hope you like them as much as me!
Bye for now x

Monday, 16 June 2014

More of the same!

A day on a beach: swimming in ice sea, cool breeze wisping waves into your face and skittering the surface into dancing ripples. A receding tide reveals pools of sun-warmed water. Golden sand shimmers and shifts as a red eyed, in-a-bad-mood crab moves into view and pinches Isabella's finger as she pokes and prods the seaweed aside. A brief moment in a bucket allows a closer study and a photo opportunity. Just look at those beautiful claws.

So many different types of life, everything from bladder wrack and sea lettuce draped over rock, to crabs and shrimp and, on this particular outing, a flat fish which was spotted by a sharp eyed friend. Other than swimming far, far out in the bay with Davey, rock-pooling has to be my most favourite of all the many things I like to do.

Just letting time slip by as the waves ebb and flow, letting cares wash away with the tide ... what could be better?

A constantly changing landscape of boats and yachts and ships in the far distance, the whole set against that amazing backdrop of fields sweeping down to the shore.

The water was freezing on this day but we still managed to swim (no idea who these people are, but they are not us!)

This pretty boat appeared as the sun was beginning to cast a few shadows behind us. I love that feel at the end of a beach day; everything slows down a pace or two and the colours soften to a gentler hue. It becomes quieter as people wend their way home and leave us to ourselves to take a last swim or two. 

Finally we pack away wet towels and all the usual paraphernalia of a day out with children. Home to a glass of something chilled and a sit down on the courtyard listening to Ella & Louis, caramel notes drifting on the evening air and the shadows lengthening until we move at last back indoors.

A greyer day on Sunday meant baking for me: a gorgeous cake with the recipe filched from one of my favourite blogs written by the lovely Sue (who I am lucky enough to meet up with each year when she and her family holiday nearby). Her version of this cake can be found here: Elderflower Drizzle Cake but I had to use our homemade rosehip syrup as I had run out of elderflower cordial till the next batch is made. The cake was gorgeous.

Elderflowers have been picked and are macerating ready to make elderflower champagne.


So pretty; so cheap to make; so very delicious!

Hopefully, we shall mostly be eating outside for the summer.
Keeps the house a bit cleaner!

I also had a go at Sue's Ridiculously Easy No-knead Bread which was ridiculously easy with no kneading! I mixed white & brown flours but otherwise followed Sue's instructions as she is a darned good cook. The result has already been mostly scoffed by the bread-mad Dave & Isabella, and pronounced as a hit.

I would add that it pays to remember to set your timer. Ahem...

Do pop over to Sue's blog; it is possibly my most fave as she is so darned honest and also posts such lovely things/photos. I can see her blushing from here!

Bye for now x

Thursday, 5 June 2014

Beach Life.

Strange weather isn't it? It swings from blazing sun to freezing cold, but when it is good we try to make the most of it. Of course, in Cornwall that generally means heading for the beach.

Warmer evenings mean we can move outdoors onto our little courtyard for games of chess. You can almost hear those rusty cogs turning can't you?

The hedgerows burgeon with hogsweed & campion & cow parsley, the whole looking truly beautiful when set against a cornflower blue sea.

Walks every day along cliff paths with views such as these set me up for the day and provide inspiration for designs. The problem comes when I try to reduce the inspiration down to just one or two ideas to work on at a time.

My sketchbook has been kept close to hand lately with every opportunity to practice grabbed with both hands. I haven't done much in the way of sketching other than on designs for such a long time. Odd how things come in phases isn't it? At the moment I see things I want to draw all over the place, although the things that are inspiring me most tend to be coast change there then!

This unfinished sketch is what I was working on in the above photo: a little rendering of the rocks as we waited for the Red Arrows to swoop over the bay to mark the end of The Pendennis Cup.

Sea thrift. Perhaps one of my favourites against the blue. Such an amazing contrast.

Beautiful whether viewed up close or with the headlands in the distance. All these images are views I see daily.

The purpose of this scary photo is to show you the little necklace I made from a cowrie! Rabbit in the headlights springs to mind. I truly am not good at selfies! So lovely to be able to make something so pretty from things I forage from the shores. 

Things such as this sea treasure. Nature at its best. We have so many bowls & jars full of shells such as these. Our mantlepiece has grey-blue mussels and chalky ridged limpets lying next to cowries and flat winkles; the window sills have little heaps of pebbles and shells piled where they are easy to reach for a game of Ship, Ship Sailing.

I really want to draw this. Just look at the intricacy of the florets. This is what I love about drawing and photography: I am forced to slow my pace, to absorb the finer details and try, try, try to capture them. It makes me see the world properly.

The other thing I love is that I can lose myself for hours in the process. This drawing of a hermit crab was done by firelight one cold, dreary night. I had music playing, a glass of wine and Pepper puppy for company. For over four hours I was lost to the world, completely absorbed in what I was doing and only dimly aware of the flickering flames and the beautiful mellifluous tones of Joni Mitchell drifting in and out of my consciousness. True bliss.

Trips into town for shopping usually involve one of the Falmouth Quays which run alongside the main thoroughfare. This is Customs house Quay which is my favourite.

There's always so much going on, even when it looks quite quiet. 

So, that's it for now.

I would love to hear what you think of the larger photos - too large or just right? Also, i do sometimes respond to comments in the comment section. Till next time x