Wednesday, 27 August 2014

Goodbye Family, Hello London

Before I shook the dust of the south west off my trainers we had a visit from Dad and my other brother and sister, Piers and Freddie. Strictly speaking F and P are half-siblings and Dad gets all sentimental when we all get together as it doesn't happen that often. Add Jasmine into the mix and he was like a wise owl puffing out its feathers in pride.
Jasmine with Dad, Freddie and Piers
After an excellent lunch we found a bench on the village green and watched the cricket.
Cricket in Corsham
Piers was outraged they weren't wearing white and Sian was annoyed when they played snippets of pop music whenever someone got a 4, 6 or out. It's all part of the 20/20 scene apparently. Jasmine seemed unmoved but enjoyed all the attention from her family.

With just one more day left together we took Jasmine to Yo Sushi to see if she'd be tempted by a taste of Japan.
Jasmine and Sian at Yo Sushi
While she was interested in the conveyor of food, she pulled the most expressive of faces when I tried her with some salmon sashimi. I think she'd been fooled by the colour and was expecting it to be fruity so I can understand her disgust! Raw fish is clearly some way off. On my final morning with her she got hold of my hairbrush - a nifty device Sian got me for my birthday which cuts through long hair like the fabled hot knife through butter.
Jasmine brushing her hair
One side of her silky soft hair was very well combed in a vaguely sixties look. She seemed very chuffed with it.

Final goodbyes were tortuous as I felt the strongest protective feelings towards her and really did not want to say goodbye to her or my sister. Sian sent me some photos afterwards and I have to admit a tear or two was shed.
Jasmine Singing
My sister has done such an amazing job bringing Jasmine up single handed after her utter shit of a husband went off before she was even 1 year old.

Back in London I am using AirBnB again and am in an admittedly tiny but very comfortable room in East Dulwich (south london).
Cod Fellas chip shop
Yesterday saw me watching 'Guardians of the Galaxy' in Peckham while today I'm going into town to be a bit of a tourist before meeting some drinking buddies tonight. I doubt I'll have a chance to blog again before I go so it only remains for me to say...see you in Japan!

Saturday, 23 August 2014

The Fashion Museum in Bath

Bath is the biggest town in my sister's vicinity so I have been there a few times during this visit. Today's prime purpose was a haircut. This was at the suggestion of my sister who briefed me fairly intensely on what to ask for. When I got there I repeated an, ahem, slightly watered down version of this to which the eastern europeanly accented hairdresser replied "hmmmm, no, that will not look good" and so I went with what she said. Somehow, between the three of us, we got to this.
Me with Layers
Layers. Layers, I am told, are key. They reduce 'weight'. Not of the body, but of the hair. As does reducing length. That makes sense to me. Less hair means less overall mass. My sister was ecstatic when I got home. We'll see what kind of dandelion mess it looks like once I've washed it and not blow dried.
Static electricity

I did not know there was a Fashion Museum until I looked up the location of the hairdresser and saw it on the map. Aha, I thought. (Not a complicated thought, but honest.) At £8 it's not cheap and also not huge, but overall quite satisfying. And were I a Downton Abbey fan I would have been highly chuffed with the dozen or so costumes on display as part of a War Time Fashion exhibit.
To Dress Extravagently
Well put.
Votes for Women
Costumes from Downton Abbey
Above there's a Maggy Smith on the left and a suit for the man that's the Lord or whatever. There were displays on knitting for the troops as well as how working changed women's wardrobes.
On her their lives depend
Dowstairs there was a special exhibition on the Georgians. There were some incredible garments on display - some dating back to the 1600's and looking like they could be picked up and worn at a moment's notice, although I am sure they are really very delicate.
Back of a Georgian Dress
Georgian Striped Dress
See the hips of the one in the background in the photo above? That was what you had to wear if invited to Court during, I think, George III's reign. One touch I liked was that there were modern replicas you could try on and then take photos of yourself in against a printed background. Some of the replicas were genuinely complicated adult dresses so this wasn't just a funny-hat-photobooth type of thing. Moving on, the Museum had cunningly converted their archive storage into another exhibition.
Vintage Dresses
Every single one of the grey boxes you can see above is full of parasols.
Georgian Dress
Some of the storage was in plastic tubs (above) and each section had a little illustrative display in it.
Dress Belonging to Queen Victoria
Above is one of Queen Victoria's actual dresses! I was quite in awe of it as it fitted so well with the images I've seen of her after Albert died. The detail of the lace around the bottom and the beading was beautiful.

There was also more recent clothing - including some of Princess Diana's wardrobe. Her going away outfit:
Princes Diana's Going Away Outfit
All the sketches in the background were done for her and many were executed.

It was very interesting to visit and the building - The Assembly Rooms - was also interesting. But unless you were interested in the exhibitions they happened to have on it isn't something I'd suggest making a special trip for.

Thursday, 21 August 2014

Return to Longleat

My first trip was back in 2011, blogged about here, and I loved it. My return trip yesterday was with Sian and Jasmine and was brilliant. When we got back we heard the miniature train had derailed and a woman broke her leg! We saw the air ambulance take off but were in the Safari Park by then.
The Batcave was closed when I originally went so I visited twice this time. I love bats! Jasmine was pretty thrilled too and loved it when they flew about. There were lots of other fun sights.
Jasmine at the Stingrays
Sian and Jasmine with the Meerkats
Longleat is 100% child, buggy and wheelchair friendly but my word it is expensive to get in - £31 each for adults! We were very lucky that Sian has a friend who works there who got us in free or you can swap £8.50 of Tesco vouchers for a ticket too. Regarding children - Jasmine is 15 months and was quite interested in things that move. But really for that amount of money you probably want them to be 4+. When we went on the safari (a drive through one) Jasmine came to sit in the front and was consistently more interested in the dashboard buttons than in the animals.
Jasmine in the Car
It was only when they were very close she perked up.
Monkeys on the Car
On the car did make her a little wary though. But then she laughed when one started trying to chew on the plastic nugget thing (technical term) on the bonnet.
Monkeys on the Car
What she most loved was sticking her head out of the window as we drove slowly through the Park, much like a cartoon dog, with the breeze ruffling her little hairs.
Me and jasmine
I had a bit of time to look about, when not being trampled by the tiny explorer. This was my favourite sight.
Tree in the Park
There were lots of fun moments, but this was one of my favourites!
Sian and Me

Sunday, 17 August 2014

Knit Knit Knit...Button Button Button

My last post reported two sewn finished objects. This post has got two knitted ones. I first knit the free pattern 'Autumn Cardigan' (Rav link to free pattern) for Jasmine when she was about 6 months old. My sister adored it but it was almost immediately outgrown. The pattern only goes up to a year or so old so I sized it up to take her to 2ish.
Autumn Cardigan 2
I used an acrylic I thought would machine wash well since if I've learned one thing from this visit it is that she is a mucky puppy. No worse, I'm sure, than any other littl'un wanting to feed themselves but somehow she makes a beeline for her aunt-shaped climbing frame only when her little hands are at their most ghastly. Usually I'd wear a pair of trousers a number of times before washing - but not this visit!
Autumn Cardigan 2 Detail
I got both yarn and buttons from a shop in Minehead last week so this has been a very local project.

As I was finishing the cardigan I asked my sister whether Jasmine needed anything else and she asked for a very plain beanie hat. A trip to her local craft shop (Only ten minutes walk away! Lucky thing!) and a few hours and we have...
It is a wool/silk blend but still machine washable. It looks like it will pill if washed too often but then winter hats don't get yoghurt on them that easily or that often. Surely? Actually, with this little one you never know.

As I was casting off the hat I did a final check with my sister about whether anything else was needed. "Well...." she says, and gets Pinterest up on her phone. I didn't even know she was a fellow-addict until this trip! She showed me a number of cowls and I explained their construction - either a collar type or a longer loop with multiple wrap arounds. A hop onto Ravelry and we settled on the Lovely Ribbed Cowl by Purl Soho (Rav link to free pattern). She also asked me to knit her another of these hats. (Rav link to free pattern).
Sian's hat
(That's me modelling it, obvs, not her - she'd be mortified if you thought it was her.) But this time in plain old dark blue. It is rather pleasing to be asked to knit something again because the original was worn so much :) . So that too will be going on the needles although I doubt I'll finish those before I return to Japan. You never know though...I seem to be knitting up a storm recently!

Saturday, 16 August 2014

Made in England

I didn't have a chance to post these finished objects before I left my Mum's. The first is a dress.
Dress for Mum
I last made her one in 2011 and actually cut this one out a year ago before leaving London. I got as far as sewing the whole thing together but didn't do the bottom hem. The dress got packed, taken to Japan, unpacked, hung up, folded up, packed, brought back to the UK and finally finished in the intervening year. She loves this style and I kept the pattern (I think it is a Simplicity one) but it is now packed up and in storage so when I come back for good I'll have to dig it out again.

The second item was something new for me and which I mentioned a week or two ago - a smocked peg bag.
Smocked Peg Bag
Once I had read the tutorial it went along pretty quickly and I really like the effect. I can just imagine this on a little dress for Jasmine or maybe a traditional top.
Close up of Smocked Peg Bag
I also smocked the handles, although that was probably overkill.
Handles of Smocked Peg Bag
I definitely want to do some more of this.

Currently on the needles I have a final cardigan for Jasmine and then Sian has requested a hat to finish off her Autumn/Winter wardrobe. Onward!

Friday, 15 August 2014

Holiday in Charlestown

My sister, niece and I spent 3 nights in the most amazing fisherman's cottage in the cornish village of Charlestown. Apart from anything else, Jasmine stood up all by herself for the first time!
Jasmine Standing at Charlestown
She was getting very good at it by the time we left and it can only be a short while now before she is taking her first steps. But first, more of the cottage. 
Daisy Cottage
There was a lovely private garden as well with a washing line and an old boat, with carpet in the bottom, where the little one played. 
Jasmine at Charlestown
I found it on AirBnB here and if you are not already registered you can do so by using this link which will give you (and me) money off our next bookings. I chose to search for somewhere where we would have the whole property, but you can rent spare rooms and even sheds. I have used the same site for my stay in London next week when I will be in a spare room of a lady's house in East Dulwich. 

The owner of our cottage lived next door but was away so I very happily agreed to take on the feeding of their cat, Rudy. 
Rudy the Cat
What a guy! One year old so still very playful and we had play fights in the mornings where my hand would be alternately attacked and licked. He kept his claws and bites light enough not to hurt and we paused every now and again for little strokes which he didn't object to. We could have kept the cat flap and/or bedroom doors closed but you know how I am about cats so I was doubly thrilled to find he loved sleeping on my bed where he spent most of the day times. 
Rudy the Cat at Charlestown
He did come and lie on my shoulder in the middle of one night and purr loudly in my ear but apart from that we only saw him while it was still light. 

Charlestown itself is pretty unspoiled by the tourists it attracts. There are numerous camping sites in the area where many have their own beaches so I guess it doesn't get enough traffic to go too twee. The harbour was lovely and there are stone beaches either side. 
Charlestown Harbour
Charlestown Harbour
View from Charlestown Harbour
Charlestown Harbour
We also visited Pentewan - which has a campsite but is also unspoiled with a huge sandy beach. 
Pentewan Beach
Houses at Pentewan Beach
Pentewan Beach
Pentewan Cornwall
The only issue was that the sand was more like gravel so it was tough going on the feet. 
Sand at Pentewan Beach
Jasmine wasn't too thrilled by her first paddle!
My creation
But she had great fun with Mummy and did lots more standing too. 
Jasmine at Pentewan Beach
Jasmine Standing at Pentewan Beach
Such a cutie! 

We all had a brilliant time and our only regret is that we couldn't stay longer. 

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