Saturday, 23 April 2011

Spring in New York


My partner had a contract in Guyana, so had the chance to stop over at New York on the way back. Not wanting to waste the chance to add on a holiday, we decided we would spend a few days in New York (I forgoed the chance to visit Guyana, as I would have been hotel bound - mind you, hotel bound in the tropics with a pool .... I think I missed a trick there!).

It appears we arrived for the first week-end of Spring, as the sun shone over the High Line park.

It is an amazing conversion of a high railway line, beautifully designed and planted, with art works included: one was a sound installation of bell sounds recorded across Manhattan that played a new one every minute of the hour. New Yorkers flocked there to soak up the sun, sharing a picnic, doing yoga in the fresh air, or reading a book:

and, of course, to admire the sun setting:

Having done all the main sites in 1997, we decided to devote our time to visit the High Line (often), catch up on Ground Zero:

A huge building site, but the visit to the chapel that survived opposite was very moving. Lots of old tombstones still standing, a peaceful cemetery, and The Bell of Hope given as a gift by its sister church St. Mary-le-Bow in London:

(one of the bell sounds captured at the sound installation on the High Line was this one!).

There are memories on 9/11 elsewhere in Manhattan, as we discovered on Sunday when we visited a little museum up in Inwood called Dyckman House Museum: a very interesting survival of the Dutch Colonial style of housing.

Nestling up in a Latino Barrio, this is a little historical treasure that changes ones vision of New York. But just down the road, in the grounds of a church, there is this cross - which is really metal beams that survived the collapse of the Twin Towers on 9/11:

But, New York wouldn't be New York if it did not remain in some way still irreverent in some places - like these art works in a converted church that is now an indie shopping centre downtown:

On this note, erm.... Happy Easter!

Next post will be about the side trip to Rhinebeck, with photos of a cottage we rented that made me feel I had walked into a lifestyle magazine photoshoot - an article called 'Americana'

Thursday, 14 April 2011

It's Just Tutu Pink


Where have all the bright red tulips gone ?

There's something very girly about Spring this year .

Working , as I do , all day with knee-high pink glittery people ( not the boys , usually.... though there is one who insists on wearing the feather-trimmed pink lurex number from the dressing up box with a top hat and his fireman's axe ) , I should have become immune to rosyposyness .

Maybe it's to do with how cold and late Spring is this year , but the only plants in people's gardens seem to be all palely blushing and giggly .

The wellington boots in the Fabric Fair this week were frilly

and even the Easter Bunny seems to discovered ballet slipper pink

To counteract all this I'm going to listen to a Russian male choir tonight

and read something manly . I'll have to dig past all the jazz musician's biographies and books on Africa , astronomy and heraldry on Husband's book shelves .

Perhaps a gardening book? At least I'd be ready to grow my own red tulips next year .

Sunday, 10 April 2011

How To ......


I can't really , in all honesty , call this a tutorial . Making any quilt , regardless of size , by the paper-piecing method , is foolproof .

Tightrope walking needs skill , balance , confidence and years of practice . All you'll need to make a miniature quilt is patience and a certain degree of accuracy .

There are thousands of patterns you could make , but it might be a good idea to begin with one using squares

Once you've decided which one you're making , you'll need to photocopy squared paper , scaling it up to give the size square you want ( half an inch or more is comfortable to work with ) and cut into separate bits

Then make a cardboard template ( make more than one , actually , since they tend to go AWOL under sofa cushions ) making it large enough for a quarter inch seam allowance which might seem a lot but , believe me , you don't want fraying at this point !

Cut squares , using template . Repeat about 400 times .

Tack each square round a little square of paper to make a patch .Oversew patches to each other

either at random

or according to pattern chosen .

Stop when you've had enough or the quilt is big enough for a doll's house bed or tiny doll .

Unpick the tacking stitches round each square and remove paper . Hold it up to a strong light to find any lurking remaining papers ( there will always be one ) .

Bind the quilt and back it ..... My Aunt June , for instance , does wonderful tutorials about how to finish a quilt , if you don't know how .

Sit back and admire . But beware ! It's addictive .

Sunday, 3 April 2011



Whilst my mother was planning what to eat, I was taking a rare day off to visit my small nephew (my work is just spiralling at the moment!). In between playing super heroes, where he was Spidey and I was the Increadible Hulk (I know, I am trying not to take it personally), we visited my sister's allotment.

My sister and various friends have clubbed together to start developing a new plot. Well, hardly new as people have been using that ground as an allotment since the nineteenth century probably. At the moment there is only earth, but this is great for a 3 year old boy to play with: just look at those fingernails!

Practicing at planting runner beans, he maintains... but will he eat them!

Anyway, in amongst all that dirt there are treasures: shards and shards of pottery and glass. Teapot handles, inkwells, medicine and beer bottles, ceramic marmalade pots, glass, clay pipes, and who knows what else. I found the following just walking around:

I would love to know what was in the pot with green lettering saying 'FRAN' 'Cloth'. We have often found shards like this in our own garden too:

One birthday, my partner, to surprise me, took one of my shards (or sherds, if we are going to get technical) to the jewellers and commisioned a pendant:

I love it. What have you found in your allotment or garden?

PS: Ralph Mills has written an MA about his archeological finds in his allotment: Fires of Prometeus which gets one thinking about everyday archeology.