Sunday, 10 April 2022

The sunflower series ...

I dip in & out of various crafts but am always doing something creative.  I am a lifelong skills learner & often sign up for courses to learn something new. Some years back, I did a day long needle felting course & absolutely love it. 

The scenes from Ukraine has given me the incentive to do some sunflower inspired needle felting & I blogged my earlier blue & yellow efforts in March. It is a very creative, calming activity that is coupled with hand embroidery, something I learnt at my Mother & Grandmother's knee. Not all greens are the same, I often combine two different threads, especially adding in metallic gold ... 

The sunflower is a powerful symbol that can be interpreted in many ways - my sunflower collection is now at 10 felted images; I have yet to decide what to do with them but they are all unique in their own way & they reflect a moment in time that we are all party to via the news. 

I blogged the first 4 felted images here so look back on them for detail if you want .... 


The red poppies make an appearance,  we all know of the association with war, remembrance  .... 

A pure heart against the blue & yellow - the strands being pulled away from it as people flee ... 

Faith, Hope & Love - as  refugees made their way in to various countries, I was inspired by a charm my parents had given me decades ago - I combined the three as I thought they showed a core strength. 

A vase of sunflowers, bold against the blue sky (blue & yellow are the national colours of Ukraine) with a candle to show the way ....

Whenever I start felting, I have an idea but it develops as I work. I knew I needed to reflect the destruction of whole cities, of lives. The destruction is under a blue & yellow sky, straggly sunflowers with a river of blood red beads ... 

The blue heart is being pierce with red beads, sunflowers holding it all together.  The red in the heart rests on a bed of poppies which are a universal sign of Remembrance, of war across the world. You cannot escape the blood soaked earth ... 

Much of that region belong to various Eastern Orthodox churches & so it is fitting that in the run up to Easter, a cross must be against the chaotic sky. The sunflowers & spring blooms are signs of hope with the ever present red poppies a reminder of the reality. 

The last two together - the religious aspect which is important. I find it hard to believe that the Church & the many religious leaders are not taking a firmer stance on this atrocity ... 

I felted a large sunflower then did not know how to continue so it sat on the felting mat overnight. As soon as I saw it this morning, I realised it is Palm Sunday & then the way forward found its own way. The sunflower is meant to be bold, to be defiant, to be the centre, the palms a reminder of Easter this coming week, the stars, and a single small cross ... 

Do you have one you are more drawn to? Thank you for stopping by, be thankful for your life where you are & keep those who need it in your prayers. 

Dee ~💕~

Tuesday, 5 April 2022

The lovely Benthall Hall, Shropshire

 Benthall Hall is situated in the town of Broseley just above Ironbridge. Broseley is more famously known for its clay pipe making skills in the last century, notably the very long church warden ones. 

It was recently used as the outdoor setting for Enola Holmes  which according to the National Trust website - 

Surrounded by Shropshire countryside, and with a fine stone building and grand courtyard entrance, Benthall Hall was chosen as an ideal filming location for the exterior of ‘Ferndell’ - the Holmes family estate. However, a lot of work was needed to make this well-cared for historic place look wild and unkempt for the film.

Production Designer Michael Carlin said: ‘In the story we have the brothers, Sherlock and Mycroft, arriving home for the first time and Mycroft expressing dismay at the state of their home. He’s been sending his mother money for upkeep but she has more important things to do with the money.

‘The gardeners and the people taking care of the house at Benthall were brilliant in allowing the gardens to get really overgrown and letting us drape vines all over the exterior.’

Along with the return of Sherlock and Mycroft to their family home, this location was also used to film carriage rides through the horse chestnut avenue and through gates behind the church into the front courtyard. An assembling search party scene was also filmed on the front courtyard.

I had not visited in some years so it was a spur of the moment decision on our part & we are glad we did. 

The gardens have lovely spring colour & it all looked splendid. We stopped in at the lovely church attached to the estate, so much history is there. 

I hope you have enjoyed the photos, stop by again soon, or leave a welcome comment. 


Friday, 11 March 2022

Felting in blue & yellow

 Hi everyone, 

The crisis in Ukraine has really brought home the futility & destruction of war & how quickly millions can be displaced, leaving with only a little suitcase, probably never to return again. The sight of beautiful cities destroyed is soul destroying - why? 

I like to retreat to the conservatory, as I did through the long lockdowns, and do something creative. 

I did a felting course some years back with a really talented felter and it is a very calming process because you have to concentrate on where you want things to be because once you stab / pierce them in, it is almost impossible to change your mind without felting over it & hoping it is covered. 

For my felting I decided to use blue & yellow as the main colours, with sunflowers too as they are the national flower of Ukraine.  I teach war poetry & find symbolism a very powerful medium so I have incorporated a lot in to my images. It started as one & then I was inspired to do variations on a theme. 

I first made this one - dark dramatic colours with sunflowers rising from it. The background is dark, threatening, foreboding. 

The second image has dramatic sunflowers rising defiantly into the dark sky. However, down the centre, you can see sunflower petals falling to the ground where they become bright red poppies (symbols we associate with Remembrance Sunday here. 

The third image was inspired by seeing a post about Faith, Hope & Charity. I have a gold charm my late parents bought me with the three symbols on it & so that was my inspiration. I wanted to combine them in one image & so did them as a trilogy. It was tricky & the cross & anchor should (to my mind) have been in a straighter row but I am pleased with the contrasts of the deep red heart & the bright sunflowers against it. The cross represents faith & so it was edged in gold thread & encircled with metallic beads to highlight the importance of keeping faith when everything else is lost. The anchor seemed lost so I added some blue colour around it but it still needs a little something. 

I knew I wanted to return to the heart shape but started with a blue heart to represent the colours of Ukraine. The sunflowers are heavily sewn with yellow & gold metallic thread, then beaded with metallic centres to show the richness of Ukrainian society.  Long beads pierce the heart but it keeps its shape.

Brown, mixed colours to the left of the shape sweep down to the base with red poppies, beads & red blood beneath the green. The blue sky has star beads sweeping across it with coloured beads which almost encircle the heart so it feels trapped by the details. 

Once I started the last one, I worked solidly at the conservatory table for about 5 hours until I was aware of the light changing as I was beading - it is how I am seeing the war, the symbolism is powerful & heart breaking. 

Do you have one you are more drawn to? Thank you for stopping by, keep the people of Ukraine in your prayers & be thankful for your life where you are. 

Dee ~💕~

Wednesday, 9 March 2022

A decade of remembering ....

 You cannot touch the same water twice & you cannot hold back time. When we look at family photos & faces, we see the past, the present & the future all together, 

Today marks an entire decade without my Mother - I shared the strong women in my family & the news of my Mother's passing.  I know my followers are familiar with many of the stories and of my Mother's great love of sending letters. I shared some of them in emails are just not letters .

I would often get home & find a letter in her familiar script on the door mat & it was a joy to make a cup of tea then sit down & read the news from across the continents. My Mother wrote vividly, telling all news - good, bad, personal, the neighbours, the shop keeper, the supermarket helper, the farmer & the petrol attendant - they were all known to me. 

These special letters are at my desk upstairs, in my room, where I can sit at my desk & read them to take it all in again. That is the beauty of letters - they are a link to the past, to those who took the time to pen the words, even when they were unwell, as my Mother was for the last year of her life. They are in a fabric holder I made from one of her cloths & then embroidered on it, because I learnt to sew at my Mother's knee. She always had something in her hands that she was doing - embroidery, sewing, crochet, writing letters .... 

Once again, on this occasion, I choose to celebrate my Mother's life because that is her legacy - how she would want to be remembered.  A legacy last as long as someone is there to tell the story, to share the idiosyncrasies, the life lived ... 

Be blessed, go through life gently & be thankful for the time you had rather then the time that is lost. 
Dee ~💕~

Wednesday, 23 February 2022

Shropshire's Mayflower connection ...

 Hi all, 

Isn't it strange how history is sometimes right on your doorstep? I am passionate about history & so when I read about the Mayflower connection to a local church & the Hall next door, I knew it was going to be on my 'to visit' list. 

St James' Church, Shipton Shropshire is also known for its amazing displays of snowdrops in Spring so it was opportune to see it now. 

There is a memorial plaque in the 11th Century church to the four More children & their Mayflower connection. Eilnor(8), Jasper (7), Richard (6) & Mary (4) were placed under the care of their father, Samuel More of Larden after a long & protracted court issue because he accused his wife (a cousin of his) of adultery with Jacob Blakeway, a local yeomanry farmer. Samuel had been 17 when he was married to his cousin Katherine in an advantageous marriage to unite two branches of the family & to control the lands each held. The children were all baptised at the font in the church where they are remembered. 

Samuel gave the offspring of the scandal - whom he claimed were not his - to the Puritans setting sail for the Americas. Samuel was the right hand man to the Right Honorable Edward, Lord Zouche who had been one of the commissioners at the trial of Mary, Queen of Scots & he had discarded his own wife who did not please him. Zouche was a active member of the Virgina Company which in 1618 began transporting children from London to meet the labour shortage. 

Samuel More paid out £80 (double the cost per child) & a further £20 to see that the children were taken care of with regard to "meate drinke apparell lodginge and other necessaries"

Eilnor (Ellen) was put with Edward Winslow from Droitwich, Jasper with John Carver who became the communities first Governor in America, the first ever elected colonial Governor. Richard More & another of his brothers was put with William Brewster (the brother was in fact Mary). 

They joined the Mayflower in London before it set sail for Plymouth with 102 passengers, 34 of them children. It left Plymouth on 6 September 1620 & after a stormy passage, reached Cape Cod on 11 Nov 1620. It was a dreadful winter - "In 2 or 3 months time halfe of their company dyed, sepetialy in Jn & February, being ye depth of winter & wanting houses & other comforts; being inected with ye scurvie & other diseases, which this long vioage & their inacomodate condition had brought upon them"

Jasper & Ellen may never have set foot in America, they are thought to have died on the Mayflower. Mary died in the winter & only Richard was left. His guardians, William & Mary Brewster & their two sons Love & Wrestling had survived so Richard made his life with them. 

Richard marries in 1636 to Christian Hunter & they moved to Salem where they had 5 sons & 2 daughters. It is through the older daughter Susanna that possible descendants could be traced. Christian died in 1677 & Richard married Jane Crumpton, a widow. No children were born of this marriage ... 

Salem records give his date of death between March 1694 & March 1698, a date disputed but je was the last male survivor of the Mayflower & his is the only known gravestone of a Mayflower passenger. 

(The above information credit to the booklets by Donald F Harris, historian, that aare available for sale at St James' parish church Shipton, Shropshire. 

This story is well documented  in Shropshire's Mayflower Children  

I hope you have enjoyed the story, thank you for visiting, keep safe & well, 

Dee ~💕~

Wednesday, 5 January 2022

You are enough ....

You are enough ... 

Most of us are familiar with this phrase  - I heard it again this week amidst the busyness of life but what exactly does it mean to you? 

Each of us comes to the table with a different set of values based on our upbringing - not a single one of us is the same, not a single one of us is perfect.

In  the fascinating ‘One, None And A Hundred-Thousand’ by Luigi Pirandello (1867-1936, Nobel prize winning novelist)Vitangelo’s wife makes him understand that absolutely everyone he knows or has ever met, has a different understanding of him in their own minds - he is different to everyone of them & very different to the one he has of himself in his own mind too. 

This interesting supposition weighed on my mind on my various trips to South Africa two years ago: I met with many family members - aunts, uncles, cousins, friends & we spoke about family members & others - what stuck in my mind is how differently we all remember people, places & past events based on our own experiences & how we view the world. 

Sometimes people in the same family remember events quite differently & this is a difficult one to understand so this is how I explain it:

I am a wife, a mother, a daughter, a sister, an aunt, a niece, a cousin to many, a sister-in-law, a friend,a patient, a teacher who is both patient & persistent, an intermittent blogger, a close & distant neighbour and each of those people have a different concept of me, each of those people see me differently to how I see myself. There are many versions of myself & none of them is not of me but none of them is the whole me, the one I know of myself. 

The books title explains it as - 

One - how we see ourselves 

A Hundred Thousand - how others perceive us, the many views others have of us, based on how they experience us, personally, professionally, socially 

None - none of these is the whole story

I hope that in all of the above, the main thought is that I am enough for each of them, that I have done my best for each of those people & that perfection does not exist in any of us - we just do what we can at that moment in time. 

So my thought to everyone who is balancing too many things is - you are enough. You cannot be all things to everyone but as long as you are doing your best, going kindly through the world, then you are enough, you are unique. 

We should focus on the progress we make through life rather than the perfection of life - we are bombarded by perfect social media images of life - perfect homes, relationships, figures, behaviour, meals, holidays, cars, homes, gardens, Christmas trees, social skills, popularity but that is really an illusion that is largely unattainable & it keeps everyone beating themselves up because they compare their life with this illusion. 

If we stop & say ‘I am enough’ then it keeps it all in perspective - when comparisons creep in, stop & say: I am enough.

Have a blessed 2022
Dee ~💕~

Saturday, 1 January 2022

Happy 2022

 Happy New Year to all - I can scarcely believe 2022 is here. 

I have been absent & have just not found my voice as 2021 was a trying year for many of us & just when I think that travel will reopen, it doesn’t. 

I have unfinished business to deal with in Southern Africa & it is elusive because safe travel is still a pipe dream. 

So my wish for 2022 is that life will return to a recognisable normal for all of us & that this year will hold all the things that the last did not. 

We started the year with a favourite breakfast, just the two of us, hoping this year will see this as the normal ....

May you & your family be abundantly blessed. Thank you for still looking in, I will post regularly this year .... 

Thank you for your time; each & every visit & comment is much appreciated, be safe all  💖

Dee ~💕~