Friday, 31 October 2014

London and a day with myself at Hampton Court.

MLP was excited about London. He'd never been before and he had things on his must-see list: The Royal Airforce Museum, Hendon and Prime Meridian, Greenwich. Luckily, my brother was with us and was keen to do boys' days. So, while they did their Boys' Own Adventures, I was able to go off doing girly things for a couple of days. 

Our airbnb apartment was within five minutes walk of Waterloo Station. A fantastic position. We could rail or Tube from Waterloo, walk to South Bank and up to Blackfriars Bridge or across the river to Embankment. Perfect position.

We did lots of the usual.

Big Ben.

Drinks at our local.

The Tower and the Tower Bridge.

The Globe. 

I'd not been before and it was fascinating. We couldn't get decent seats for a performance, but the tour was a retired English teacher's dream. I loved it.

There were a couple of things I wanted to do that weren't high on MLP's list: the wedding dress exhibition at the Victoria and Albert (I can't understand why he wouldn't want to go.) and Hampton Court (Which he would have enjoyed, but maybe next time.). 

So that's what I did.

Unfortunately, at the V&A no photos were allowed. Regardless, some people were happily snapping away, but I always feel the need to comply with reasonable requests. So, sorry, no photos of the wondrous dresses. 

But this is where I had to have my morning tea ... Decadence.

But if you're in London and it's still on, definitely go. Beautiful fabrics and styles throughout the years. Some dresses with no expense spared. Did I enjoy it? … Yes.

Hampton Court was one of those historic places where I had not been. There's so many in the UK; the list is almost endless.

So, I hopped on a train and off I went. 

I didn't know that the ticket I was using wasn't valid for the trip … well, I did know once I tried to get back out of Waterloo Station at the end of the day … but that was a minor hiccough.

Hampton Court has been home to some well knowns: Henry VIII, William III, Mary II. Shakespeare and The King's Men performed in the Great Hall. Bits of it have been demolished and rebuilt according to the whims of the incumbent and of architectural fashion. And now it's open to the public, like me, on my day out.

I was astounded to see this.

People still live here! Apparently, some "grace and favour" residents live at Hampton Court. 


Dinner party conversation … "And where do you live?' … "Oh, Hampton Court. You know that little place out in the Borough of Richmond upon Thames." … "THAT Hampton Court!" … "Mmmm, yes."

What a spot to have to live, surround by hundreds of years of history. Like sinks crafted out of slabs of oak.

Quirky little doors, like these.

Guards like this at the top of your staircase. 

And like this over your veggie garden.

Guys like this, who've watched numerous banquets, staring at you.

In this dining hall.

Being in the presence of Henry VIII every day. Well, an actor pretending to be Henry.

He had serious cod piece overstatement happening … surely?

He slept in a bed like this.

With chandeliers like this.

And ceilings like this.

Apparently, it was quite normal for the King and Queen to have an audience in their bedroom while they were … husband and wife-ing. 

Don't think I'd care for that.

They had dinner table decorations made out of intricately folded linen like this.

And spectacular gardens to stroll through.

I really loved the details of the chimneys. Such a functional item and so much time spent to make them special.

Bu, no, I don't think I'd like to be a "grace and favour" resident.

Apparently the apartments are a little run down.

And the crowds of visiting tourists.

Like me, on my day out.

I think I prefer the simple life.

What about you?

Been to Hampton Court?

Want to put your hand up to be a "grace and favour" resident?

Tuesday, 28 October 2014

Grand Designs Live, Sydney, and being lucky.

2014 is going to go down in the annals of time as Libby's Year of Luck. Admittedly, I have been entering competitions, which previously I have not had the time nor the desire to do. And 2014 has proved to be my year. 

A $50 Masters voucher earlier in the year from tlifecreative on Instagram for making the suggestion to turn an old cable drum into a drinks' trolley. A nice little surprise.

$100 of vouchers from my local shopping centre for filling in a form and dropping it in the barrel. We've dined through a number of Saturday breakfasts on those lovelies.

And then, two tickets to Grand Designs Live, Sydney, because I took the time to write a comment on The Life Creative blog.

Yay! I'm on a roll. Who knows what I'll win next?!? But while the luck is happening, I'm going to keep entering.

So, Grand Designs Live Sydney.

I entered, under the clouds, down the pink carpet, with strains of the Grand Designs theme song tinkling above.

Was it good? Did I see Kevin? Did Kevin see me?

Yes. Yes. And probably not.

Bad photo, I know, but I was about six rows back, standing, with my iPhone above my head, trying to press the camera button. Best I could manage. Sorry.

But it's proof. Proof of Kevin … in my presence … and the presence of a lot of other people.

So, who else was there? Who else saw me?

Yep, Shaynna was there.

Did Shaynna see me?

Mmmm … probably not.

And Mr Jason Grant. I'm a bit of a follower. Like his relaxed style. Bought his books.

 Then did the sycophantic book signing thing.

See proof. Mr Jason Grant definitely saw me.

What else did I see? Well, some really interesting things, stuff, bits and pieces.

This caught my eye straight up. Don't think I'd like to have to maintain it, but what a statement piece!

And how cute is this! I love rocking chairs.

How about a footstool/side table in the shape of a thimble? Loved it.

And an outdoor space with a little reading nook. Cosy.

Or this outdoor beauty. Amazing.

Or a crocheted garland to grace your wall. I could do this.

But my heart went out to this little Miss who was just there to hold brochures. I want her.

I had fun.

It was free … for me.

And the lady I gave my extra ticket to. She was h a p p y.

I saw Kevin

and Shaynna

and Mr Jason Grant.

A great day out.

Did you go? What did you love? How's your luck been lately?

Friday, 24 October 2014

Reproducing a much-loved and much-used jewellery pouch.

My sister-in-law was one of those people who was always making something. For her girls. For her family. For her friends. And, at times, for herself. I have many things which she made me which I use and treasure. One is my much-loved and much-used jewellery pouch. 

It has travelled with me across the Australia and the globe on numerous occasions. It has been to Turkey and the Czech Republic, London, Paris, Portugal, Spain. It's had a very busy life.

I like it because it holds all my various pieces of jewellery. I put my earrings in its little pockets. My bracelets and necklaces in its belly, then tie it up securely and we're ready to go.

 It can be squashed into any little available space in my suitcase. The perfect travelling companion.

But it's worn out and in need of replacement and I had to get my head around how it was made.

After some thought, I came up with a plan and started cutting away.

I knew I wanted my new pouch to be a little bigger, so I cut my fabric into 45cm and 35 cm diameter circles. One of main fabric, brought home from France by my friend a few years ago, and one of lining for each size.

The first thing that needed to be done was a small button hole to allow my draw thread to operate. So, I folded my 45cm main fabric circle in half, ironed it to create a centre line. Then, around 5cm in from each edge of the centre line, I made a small button hole.

Then, with wrong sides together, I basted the outer edge of my two larger circles.

I set up a guideline with wash tape to stitch the channel for my draw string.

Then stitched the top line for my draw string channel.

The second stitching line for the draw string channel needs to be about 1.5 cm from the first.

I know this because I used the width of my sewing foot as a guide for the width of my channel and then had to unpick and resew because I couldn't get my cord through the channel

Don't make this mistake.

Now I moved onto my smaller 35cm diameter circles of fabric, placed them right sides together and sewed a small seam around the edge of the circle, leaving an 8cm gap to allow me to turn the circles right side out.

I trimmed the seam like my mother taught me, clipping out small triangles of fabric so that when I turned the circles right side out, they would sit flat.

I hand stitched the 8 cm gap closed.

I folded this smaller circled in half and ironed a nice crease and repeated, so my circle had four equal tart-like slices. Then placed my smaller circle in the centre of my larger circle.

Using my iron lines as a guide, I stitched my smaller circle to my larger circle. I then stitched two further diameter lines, so my smaller circle was now divided into 8 tart-like slices.

One problem I had with my original much-loved jewellery pouch was that my earrings would disappear into the points of the slices which made them hard to retrieve. So, in my reproduction, I decided to stitch an inner circle, 8cm from the smaller circle's edge, to stop this happening.

Now I was almost finished. Yay!

Some bias tape around the larger circle's edge.

Hand stitched the bias tape on the other side.

Cord threaded though the channel. One from each side. Secured with a knot.

I decided to reuse the cords from my original jewellery pouch so that I still have a memory of my sister-in-law in this new pouch.

And, ta-da! I am done.

A new jewellery pouch for my next adventure.

Plenty of room for my bracelets and necklaces.

My earrings won't disappear into the depths.

A part of the original jewellery pouch is still with me.

I'm a happy traveller.

Well, I will be … when I book the next adventure.

What do you think?