Sunday, 26 April 2009

Lovely Laura....

I'm afraid this may be a long post - please forgive.

For as long as I have had a home to decorate I have been a fan of Laura Ashley. Having always lived in older properties, where the walls of the rooms were rarely smooth enough for painting, I have virtually always purchased my wallpaper from Laura Ashley (cheaper than replastering every room). My first ever purchases were made from the branch that used to live at the top of Byres Road in the west end of Glasgow (for those of you old enough to remember!). I followed the store when it moved to Buchanan Street in the centre of Glasgow, and now I visit the shop in its present location in West George Street, which I prefer to support, as it is great to have the convenience of a LA store in the city centre. Even if I don't have any purchases in mind it is such a lovely shop to visit - you just never know - a little treat might await...

Wallpapers, borders and the occasional accessory were as much as I could afford in the early days, moving on to the odd fabric and bedding purchases as finances would permit; in the more recent past I have been able to shell out on a couple of pieces of furniture. Although not inexpensive purchases I believe that the choices I have made have been worth it for the quality and pleasure that they have given me, and I don't see me changing or tiring of the furniture, so expect them to outlive me. I'd like to think that the furniture would be appreciated by someone after me but times and fashions change, so who knows.

Last weekend when out and about in Callander I popped into the old second-hand Bookshop

(the one on the High Street Caireen)

and came across this 1990's edition of the LA catalogue,

which now sits happily together with a copy of LA's home Decorating book printed in 1989 full of hints, tips and 'how to's', that I picked up from the local Scout jumble sale some years ago. In the Home catalogue I spotted a number of wallpapers and some fabric that I had purchased over the years, from the early '80s onwards, and so all week I have been on a journey of past times and cherished memories of a particlarly loved previous home.

I had this wallpaper

on the main wall of my large airy living room. The other walls were painted with Magnolia coloured paint on to woodchip wallpaper (I know, I know, but it was the done thing at the time!). In the living room I also had a burgundy self-coloured carpet, a burgundy 3-piece suite and sumptuous floor-to-ceiling, self-coloured burgundy velvet curtains on the high tenement windows. Though large, it was always such a cosy room and a great space to be in - especially when the curtains were closed.

When it was time for a change I also had this one

(which is actually back in stock now!). Wallpapering the main wall allowed for a reasonably regular freshen up without having to redecorate the entire room.

My favour colour is blue (although I also like many others) and every bedroom I have had has been decorated in blue. So, in this bedroom I had a self-coloured navy blue carpet plus said self-coloured, this time navy blue, velvet curtains, and on the walls I had this wallpaper

then this one

In the bathroom I had this one

on the top half of the wall, separated by the border, and then wood panelling to the floor. I also had matching curtain fabric and a (now much maligned) avocado bathroom suite, which I don't seem to remember having much of a problem with at the time. It was quite a novelty to have a coloured bathroom suite then.

I still have LA wallpaper in some rooms in my present house, despite the fact that all the walls were replastered when we moved in (took a chance on the abilities of the plasterer at the time - but that was a mistake). Over the years, and when work was being done to the house to the extent that even more plaster dust floating around wouldn't have made much difference, some of the walls were redone. Though my taste in wallpaper has since changed, now very plain, I still like my choices from more than two decades ago and I can still visualise the rooms they adorned.

I have so enjoyed my trip down memory lane that this single (£2.00) chance purchase has given me; vivid memories that have taken me back some 20+ years ago to a place that meant very much to me, and have such fond memories of. Hope you don't mind me sharing some of them with you.

As it happens I will be at home tomorrow awaiting a little treat to myself from LA, a bit of an impulse purchase but what the heck! If it's not too indulgent of me I might even put a pic of it on my blog once it has settled into its new home.

I have also posted below some pics from the LA books, some of which although 20 years old, I think would sit quite well in many homes today. Some I like a lot, some not so much - but see what you think:

Interesting take on the en-suite bathroom

This is my favourite image. (I can but dream!)

Off to bed now - 'night 'night. (Note to self: learn how to make links!)

Monday, 20 April 2009

Spinning Yarns

This weekend the weather was once again very kind to us - sunshine and clear blue skies. On Sunday we went for a drive to the Trossachs

(Loch Venachar)

stopping briefly at Kipp Crafts in Callander.

She rears Shetland sheep locally and they provide the wool, which she then spins to either sell or knit with.

I had a chat with the lovely woman there who was quietly sitting in the corner of her little craft shop, hand spinning Shetland wool. I watched in fascination as she spun. She quite happily chatted about her work and allowed me to take her photograph (which I have cropped as I didn't ask for permission to put it on my blog).
Fancy giving it a try?

She also showed me the pattern of a Shetland shawl that she plans to knit from her handspun yarn.

This is the beginning of the edge of the shawl; for every five peaks of the edge, it takes her one hour to knit. I can't begin to imagine the time and effort that will go into knitting this eventual heirloom for someone!

On the way back to the car we passed this lovely little church

and this wee fella also posed to have his pic takentotally unphased that we were standing about 3 feet away!

This has been a particularly challenging post for me due to my lack of know-how. If I've edited it once....... but stopped short of giving up completely! Line spacing and layout are constantly giving me problems. However, I persevered with the post although the link I thought I had made didn't work either. Afraid my blog is still very much a work in


Wednesday, 15 April 2009

Happy days.....

This year the Easter (4-day)
holiday weekend was just perfect. Clear sunny days, beautiful blue skies, white fluffy clouds, and time given over to catching up with gardening, walking, talking, lunching, photographing, crafting, writing and cooking - just grand!
Friday, I spent in the garden all day. Having only gone out to check on some recently planted fruit bushes, I ended up working in the garden from 9.00 am until 6.30 pm with only a couple of breaks for lunch etc. I lifted and laid, seeded and weeded, split and moved, dug and planted (puffed and panted!) and when I was able to stand upright after my back-breaking toil, I felt incredibly satisfied with the outcome. The grass having been cut earlier in the week means that I now have a back garden waiting to burst into bloom. The garden has never been as organised this early in the year; weather conditions, time and inclination rarely arrive at the same time! As I sat back to admire my work, the incredible sky above foretold of another beautiful day ahead.

Saturday arrived and as promised the night before, the sky was once again blue but the cloud formation quite different. Having no particular plans I was delighted when invited out for lunch and perhaps some walking.

First stop was lunch and some chat, and this is the view we digested whilst we ate. We spent quite a bit of time over lunch, which meant the walk was shorter than intended, though still very worthwhile. As we were already nearby we drove to Ardinning Wildlife Reserve (it's also only a short distance from Glasgow).

Looking north towards Ben Lomond (centre) the views were amazing. To think that in my younger, leaner and fitter days I could be found eating my lunch atop, still amazes me!

On our way back to the car we spotted a couple of swans in the Loch but it was clear that we were definitely univited guests, as Mr Swan made it his business to (we think) protect Mrs Swan who was either building her nest or tending her babies by coming closer and closer to where we stood - at the edge of the loch armed with binoculars and cameras!

Being too much of a townie, and a bit of a coward, I made the decision it was time for us to leave as I wasn't exactly sure what was on his mind!
Back home, the evening was filled with more chat, lots of laughter and of course - more food! A really lovely, easy day!

Sunday, once again, was sunny and inviting but I decided to spend it crafting and catching up with correspondence, and some cooking. On Monday I did a bit of Spring cleaning; sifting through some unwanted items to donate to the local Scout jumble sale for this coming weekend - seems like I always create more chaos than I clear!

However, a very satisfying weekend break from work and all for the cost of a lunch!

As this is only my second blog post ever, and it has taken quite a bit of time and little know how to put together, I guess I should apologise in advance, as I have no idea how/if the photographs will work. Hopefully though, they will give you an idea of how amazing Scotland is.

Tuesday, 7 April 2009

My first foray into Blogland

Hello! Encouraged by my crafting friends, today is the day I begin my foray into Blogland. After much discussion and a growing interest in you bloggers out there, I have been considering the idea of starting my own blog but until now have resisted the temptation. What could I write that would be of any interest to others? How could I compete with some of the ideals, ideas, expertise, amazing lives and talents of so many of you? When I started crafting some years ago I had the same insecurities; now I realise crafting, blogging..... there is no competition. We all do what we do and that is how it is. So here I am and here goes.....

For as long as I can remember I have been a letter writer and have appreciated well made stationery. I have friends and family in various parts of the world that I like nothing better to do than drop them the odd piece of unexpected correspondence. It might be news, mirth, words of encouragement or - just because - but it is something I enjoy very much and something I hope friends, particularly those now moved away from Scotland and living in far flung parts of the world, appreciate. I craved letters from home when I lived abroad many years ago. The anticipation I felt as the little yellow post van gradually appeared over the horizon, which I would eagerly track from my bedroom window at the same time each morning, willing it to stop at No 12, could be overwhelming! I would count each house-stop the post van made until it had reached ours. If it stopped, my feet would barely touch the ground as I ran down the drive to check the mail box for that hoped for familiar handwritten envelope or card; if the post van carried on past No 12, the disappointment could sometimes be pretty devastating! The surprise card or longed-for letters when received, were excitedly read, re-read and re-re-read. I cherished each one!

I carry those memories with me still and so it is that a card, postcard or letter I willingly write, and randomly send, via the good old postal service, as often as the mood takes me. The words may take one, two or five days to reach their destination, they might even take one, two or five days to write, but a surprise piece of handwritten correspondence can be just what is needed by the recipient at a particular time in their life; something to be appreciated or treasured; perhaps to be read over and over again. Of the responses I receive not all are handwritten - which is a bit of a shame (though still very gratefully received!). But when least expected, one or two and if I am very lucky, three, pieces of handwritten correspondence from different continents can arrive though my letterbox in quick succession and I relish each one. I've heard it said that handwritten communication is a dying art and as a tool for documenting social history it is becoming increasingly rare with the passage of time. Letters and cards are being replaced by the introduction of newer and faster technologies. Fewer people send postcards from their travels, instead, replacing them with text messages, telephone calls or emails (and no doubt many other technologies that I know nothing about!). Technology is wonderful and I can't imagine life without access to email, mobile telephones etc, but in my opinion you just can't beat the handwritten word - whether sent or received. For me, this blogging lark will hopefully be an additional way for me to communicate - and I think I might get to quite like it! However, as long as I can hold a pen in my hand I will continue with my handwriting and be grateful that I have eager recipients.