17.04.14. shooting babies, devoted (grand) motherhood, free project, and another watercolour

Well what a wonderful week, the weather has been a little unpredictable and this summer storm played strange tricks with the light

 

summer storm

summer storm

 

It’s suddenly high summer here in the valley, the chestnut trees are resplendent with their conical blossom ‘candles’ and the air is heavy with their scent

Chestnut tree

Chestnut tree

The lambs are growing fast as is the grass to feed them……………… Flash memory from many years ago, my daughter viewing sheep in a field, licking her lips and saying “Mmm…… I love lamb”, children brought up on farms tend to have a very realistic approach to life (and death for that matter!)

 

Here is another of my watercolours again spoiled by the glass reflexion but I hope you can just about make it out. It’s of the Hall…………….such a wonderfully happy welcoming house……………..with lots of tales to tell……………….

 

Sedgeford Hall

Sedgeford Hall

I’m frantically trying to finish a few of my designs for a photo shoot next week. My publisher asked me if we were going to shoot the babies on Tuesday! I said I thought he should rephrase the question. But yes some of my ‘stuff’ is being ‘shot’ by a professional photographer – will I be pleased with the results? I wonder?

Then on Wednesday the Hall is being used for a Coat’s fabric shoot, I so want to see “what, how, when” but I am flying to the south of France to babysit this cute fellow

 

Granny and Marcel

Granny and Marcel

 

……….. okay he’s my grandson and I may, just may, be a little prejudiced. Holly and Charlie are going to move into the house to care for B. He may fade away, become an alcoholic or even become a heavy metal fan, who knows? It may be very interesting …………………

I have just completed my project for the May Quail website, here it is, check them out if you want the instructions

 

decoupage hanger

decoupage hanger

P1090112

 

No blog next week as I said, I’m flying off to the South of France ………………. It’s tough but someone has to help out………………..

 

Love Susan x

 

www.susncampbelldesigns.co.uk

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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11.05.14 Watercolour exhibition day four, lamb recipe, some hard lessons to learn, and the wonder of the English garden

Watercolour exhibition day four, lamb recipe, some hard lessons to learn, and the wonder of the English garden

First of all my apologies for some dreadful photos – try as I might I couldn’t get rid of the glass reflections.

This is a photo of a watercolour I did from the Eaton Farm track toward Snettisham

 

On the road to Snettisham

On the road to Snettisham

I learned one or two lessons this week, to my cost! First lesson ……………never stand on a chair to reach the yarn (or anything else for that matter) from the top shelf, especially if that chair is a Victorian sling-back chair covered in Victorian velvet – It was all going so well! I got up on the chair, reached for the top shelf and my feet just slipped backward; as I was falling backward I had no way of breaking my fall, my head narrowly missed my sewing table, but thumped the (thankfully) carpeted floor. I was left with a magnificent headache, a badly swollen ankle, and a nice array of bruises. Lesson learned, I’ll get the steps next time!

Last night I was presented with yet another lesson. Lesson two……….. I was making fresh Tuna with chilli green beans. I chopped the chillies, seared the Tuna, I cooked the beans with the chilli. Washed my hands, dished up, then decided to remove my contact lenses before sitting down to eat. Big mistake! The chilli had penetrated my hands; it was like putting hot coals in my eyes, so, so painful. In the end I had to put rubber gloves on to get the lenses out. Before bed I showered, without going into more detail, all mucus membranes were on fire. Even today I can’t put my hands near my eyes, and am therefore wearing my less than flattering glasses. Harsh lesson number two learned!

Today the wind is howling and the rain is like stair-rods unlike last weekend which was wonderful; Gigot-en- cruet-was served again, and we ate in the garden

Here’s the recipe. Bone a leg of lamb, stuff with a mixture of apricots, pine-nuts or almonds, apples and a handful of bread crumbs mixed together with a fresh egg. Wrap the leg tightly in cooking foil and cook.

Allow to cool

Make rough puff pastry and wrap the lamb in the pastry,

Gigot, wrapped in it's pastry, ready to cook

Gigot, wrapped in it’s pastry, ready to cook

Place back in the oven until the pastry is golden brown, allow to stand for about ten minutes before carving

Mmmmmmmmmm

Just out of the oven

Just out of the oven

 

ready to eat!

ready to eat!

The wisteria on the end of The Theatre is just stunning this year, the clematis is weaving its way through and it………………………..

The Theatre in its spring gown

The Theatre in its spring gown

 

rooms to let

rooms to let

 

The Roman garden is also pretty wonderful

 

The Roman garden

The Roman garden

 

the Roman garden

the Roman garden

 

And lastly The Judas tree (it’s said to be the tree Judas hanged himself on, the blossom comes directly from the bark – thus it bleeds in sorrow………. )

Judas Tree

Judas Tree

Judas Tree, close up

Judas Tree, close up

Love Susan x

http://www.susancampbelldesigns.co.uk

 

 

 

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27.04.2014.Water-colour exhibition day three, new life and old dogs

Water-colour exhibition day three, new life and old dogs

A local scene this time, just up on the coast a very few miles from here. Sorry about reflexion in the glass……….

 

North Norfolk Coast

North Norfolk Coast

 

My friend, Val, has just started water-colour painting, I think water-colour is the most unforgiving of mediums, make one mistake and it’s there for life, oils are far more flexible, make a mistake, paint over it. Yet everyone begins with watercolours. I suppose it’s because as children one paints watercolour and so little equipment is needed…………….

 

Where do the weeks go?

Holly is almost half way to her confinement, the knitting patterns are out and the yarn ready, Jan (Holly’s Mama) brought a little jumper which she had knitted for Holly many moons ago – well, 27 years ago to be precise – that’s a lot of moons. She had long since lost the pattern, so a pattern was taken from the garment, white yarn chosen with the view of adding a little pink or blue, and Jan is, even as I write this, beavering away on said jumper…………watch this space ……….

I’m actually hedging my bets and have knitted these booties……………….

Boy or girl?

Boy or girl?

I’ve added blue ribbon to one and pink to the other, as soon as I find out what the stork is bringing I shall whip the inappropriate ribbon out and replace it with the other – neat hey? I can then say “Oh, but I knew it was going to be a boy/girl all along”……………

I’m about to make up some of my knitting/sewing packs so I need to clear the studio and make a little production area, I’m itching to begin, but still await a few bits………….. I’m not good at waiting

Our very sweet Labrador, Fable is not well at all, she does have terrible arthritis, but yesterday her front right leg kept ‘letting her down’ and she just falls over, I’m more distressed than she is! The vet tells us that her days are numbered – applies to us all! I just hope her number of days are too many for me to count……………..

I’m going to spend the rest of the day with my work book and fill a few pages with all the designs that are crammed into my head. It’s a job to think whilst the brain is so crowded………… once down on paper I can forget about them and leave room for something else……………….

And last but not least, the new kid on the block…………

just born and finding her feet

just born and finding her feet

 

Love Susan x

Web site www.susancampbelldesigns .co.uk

 

 

 

 

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19.04.2014, Art exhibition day two, obsessive compulsive scarf collector and the beauty of a cabbage leaf

Sat 19th April

Watercolour  exhibition,  day two

The Somme, a hundred years on, and the birds sing and there is such a feeling of peace and contentment. It’s difficult to visualise the carnage that happened here………………..

 

The Somme at peace

The Somme at peace

 

My grandfather, a coal miner from county Durham was gassed at Ypres, he was 32 when he died, old enough to have sired 3 children – my father being the middle one of the three; so many died long before they procreated, they were very much a part of a lost generation………………

I have moved into my new ‘art’ studio – there is a bit of confusion with where I am at any given moment, ‘in the studio’ can now mean at the front of the house – in my knitwear studio, or at the back of the house in my painting studio, a change of name is needed, suggestions welcome…………..

Holly snapped this photo of me trying the ‘studio’ out, being a ‘sun room’ it’s flooded with light, so much so that a sun hat is needed to counteract some of the glare.

 

The new studio

The new studio

 

I’m designing a set of baby clothes in Rowan fine lace, it’s quite a challenge as the yarn seems determined to slip off the needles (and not in a good way) at the slightest provocation , but I love the effect it produces, really soft and, well, lacy.

I want to knit Charlie and Holly’s baby an old fashioned layette, old fashioned only in name, naturally the designs themselves will be up to the minute ‘chic’. Once designed, Jan, Holly’s Mama, and I, shall get knitting, we think white or cream with just a hint of, blue? pink?, play safe, shale/ opal ? watch this space……………….

 

If anyone is still left in any doubt, I love colour, I can’t take the monochrome route no matter how hard I try. If it’s plain, then it must need colour, and colour I have aplenty in my scarves. I do try and thin them out, but I don’t try very hard, every scarf has a memory, a dear friend, a happy holiday, or special day out. I even have the scarf that my sister bought me with her first week’s wages over fifty years ago, it’s silk and has butterflies on it and I still love it and still wear it

 

A corner of my dressing room

A corner of my dressing room

Talking of colour, this really ‘blows my mind’, I have never asked my family what they think of me waxing lyrical over a cabbage leaf, mad Mama? Sweet old lady? Just humour her? I want to take all the shades of green from this and knit something glorious – probably for me…………….. but I still have the Rowan coat with the rose border to finish and the cross over cardigan with the duplicate stitch border and the fish coat to finish, and now I’m set up to paint I just have to paint those tulips and……….. and…………and………….

 

 

 

 

Cabbage leaf

Cabbage leaf

 

garden tulips

garden tulips

stunning what a colour combination

stunning what a colour combination

I’m writing this blog a day early, as tomorrow is Easter Sunday and after Church a traditional meal is planned with family and good friends. We shall eat at The Hall as there are so many of us, I’m cooking Gigot-en-croute, the lamb is tunnel boned and already stuffed with a mixture of apricots, onion, pine nuts and apples this afternoon I shall make the rough-puff pastry, cover the lamb and let it rest until tomorrow

Don’t forget the blog,  http://www.susancampbelldesigns.co.uk

more art next week

love Susan x

 

 

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13.04.14. Art exibition day one, new life and new hope

Palm Sunday, and our valley is filled with Sunday Best Sunshine, new life surrounds us, there are dozens of lambs, ducklings, and young partridge chicks all around us. The garden is bursting with colour, and the smell of brewing coffee and freshly made bread permeate the air.

 

next year's yarn?

next year’s yarn?

New life

Look to this day for it is life

The very life of life

In its brief course lie all the realities and truths of existence

the joy of growth

the splendour of action

the glory of power

For yesterday is but a memory

And tomorrow is only a vision

But today well-lived makes every yesterday

a memory of happiness

and every tomorrow

a vision of hope

Look well, therefore, to this day

 

B catching the rays

B catching the rays

My man is enjoying the sunshine

 

my garden is awakening

my garden is awakening

The garden is a riot of colour

Charlie took the dogs for a walk, I gave him my camera and asked him to photograph anything, you, the reader might find interesting, here is the photo

 

The new barn and Moscow

The new barn and Moscow

I guess it’s a boy thing?

There is much excitement in the Campbell household, having abandoned my painting for design work (the excuse being that paint, fabric and yarn do not happy bedfellows make). I am now converting what we grandly call the ‘Sun room’ into my painting studio. The sofa has been moved to the kitchen, an act that Moscow, Charlie and Holly’s Labrador seems to think is entirely for her benefit, she’s not allowed on sofas, but seems to feel that this sofa is the exception that makes the rule!

Yesterday I found a small cabinet, the perfect size for oil paints, and today I’ll poke around in the big barn (cemetery for all unwanted – one day, may be useful, furniture). Later I hope my easel will be moved in and I’ll be away. Meanwhile I’ll brush up on my water colour skill, and today is the first day of my online water colour exhibition.

Water colour exhibition. Day one……………….

on the way to Rome

on the way to Rome

I know, I know, I paint better than I use a camera

More to read next week, meanwhile don’t forget the website www.susancampbelldesigns.co.uk

 

Love Susan x

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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06.04.14. A lovely week, new life and the Godzilla mouse!

 

Busy, busy, busy week!

Beginning with Mother’s day, a day in the year when having six children really pays off – thank you kids; but you know, without you guys, my life would not only be extremely dull (never a dull moment with you lot around) but my life would be both lonely and lack an awful lot of its purpose – no, don’t panic, I’m not about to get into the meaning of life……………… although……………..

flowers from Jon

flowers from Jon

And from Jon

flowers from Wills

flowers from Wills

And from Wills

flowers from Hats

flowers from Hats

And from Hatty

And Mother’s day presents don’t have to be flowers

Copper pans from Charlie

Copper pans from Charlie

From Charlie………..

They look much too nice to use don’t they? But today I shall test-drive  the matching saucepan

And look who arrived in the world on mother’s day…………

Our first lamb of 2014

Our first lamb of 2014

 

Mother’s day morning was spent at the Sandringham Craft Fair. Perfect weather, and the ground good and flat (for wheelchair pushing). Having a husband in a wheelchair may seem like a very negative stage in life. But hey, think how much shopping I can pile on his knee, and I get to look at everything I want to look at, in days past, clothes shopping was an absolute no-no but now he has no choice, he’s taken at my will!

This interested him, however – carving with a chain saw – it seems like a very dangerous occupation to me. But the results are astounding

chain saw carving

chain saw carving

 

All made with a chainsaw!

All made with a chainsaw!

But the top stand for me has to be this one…………Kit & Kaboodal.

Kit and Kaboodal

Kit and Kaboodal

 

Lovely, lovely linen dresses and tunic ( and lovely, lovely owners too, just visible in the background). I bought three on the day and have since sent for more. They are just so me! They actually say ‘who I am’ if that makes any sense? Okay, they are made of linen and just a little creased (like me), and they have both muted and vibrant colours (suites my various moods) and they are so, so, comfortable and easy to wear (sums my nature up perfectly!) Made in Italy but I thought they were French – as they are certainly very ‘chic’

Then came the photo shoot on Monday, three adorable children, a couple of hours photographing, then off to the pub for lunch……………. the week is just getting better………………

Some minor medical appointments on Tuesday and on Wednesday another Mother’s day gift in the form of a two night stay in a truly wonderful hotel near Newmarket………… as I said, a busy, busy week………………

But all good things do come to an end and I’m back in the studio where I am trying to make up a pattern for a toy mouse. My first attempt would put the creators of Godzilla in the shade. I got the head right but the body has certainly challenged me …………….. more work is needed!

Chicken today for Sunday lunch, with roasted potatoes, cauliflower and peas, and our own stewed plums for desert

More news next Sunday

With love Susan

Don’t forget the website www.susancampbelldesigns.co.uk

 

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30.04.14.The tree, the badly maimed bear, and an almost badly maimed optician

Summer seems to have arrived with a vengeance, sheep safely grazing – a perfect portrait of rural England,

 

sheep may safely graze

sheep may safely graze

but there is a battle at foot, sheep alone do not surround our cottage………… they bring with them flies, nasty unhygienic flies, don’t get me wrong, although not my favourite of God’s creatures I know they have a right to live – just not in my house, and if they do insist on living here, I’d be grateful if they did not lust after the food, and grateful if they didn’t find me so attractive, they seem to dive bomb me – or is that just my imagination? Maybe they do the same to B……………….

Here is a picture of the (once very handsome) bear

 

Poor Ted

Poor Ted

 

Now, thanks to the small terrier, he’s maimed and blind. That bear has lived on my windowsill since the children were small………… now here’s the conundrum, do I give in and let Hesper have it as a toy or do I place poor maimed Teddy back on the window sill…………………

 

And the almost maimed optician? I’ll spare you the detail, suffice to say that I took B for an eye test yesterday. My darling husband has Parkinson’s and is very frail but, since when does very frail translate into very stupid? When was it decreed that an inability to keep one’s hand still translate into an inability to make one’s own choices? Why was a perfectly intelligent question met with ridicule? Was I angry or what? I just wanted to spirit him away and protect him from the mean spirited and those that lack imagination and compassion……….. I paid and took him home……….

And how about this new breed of manliness who can’t help a girl place something in her car because it’s against health and safety rules? Thank you to the staff at Wickes in Kings Lynn – especially the chaps having a cigarette under the “We’re happy to help’ sign………………………..

This week marked the felling of a very handsome beech tree, it’s been dying for some years and had finally became dangerous. I knew this tree so well, my children played under it, my dogs dug under it and the sheep and lambs sheltered under it. So it is sad to see it felled, but it was quite dead – so much so that a log from it burned instantly, it’s very dry.

I thought I would give you a series a photos marking the felling. Of course my camera jammed at the moment she actually fell…………. But here’s the leading up to……….. (the felling)…………….. and the aftermath!

start the chainsaw

start the chainsaw

 

decide which way the tree needs to fall and cut a wedge

decide which way the tree needs to fall and cut a wedge

make the wedge a little bigger

make the wedge a little bigger

cut through the other side of the tree

cut through the other side of the tree

place some metal wedges into the 'back' of the tree to stop the saw from getting pinched

place some metal wedges into the ‘back’ of the tree to stop the saw from getting pinched

and down she goes

and down she goes

well done chaps

well done chaps

a platform for the lambs to play on?

a platform for the lambs to play on?

This tree was well over 200 years old, who planted it? who played under it?

This tree was well over 200 years old, who planted it? who played under it?

She was so dead and dry that when she fell her upper branches shattered into fire-log pieces!

She was so dead and dry that when she fell her upper branches shattered into fire-log pieces!

so close to home, I could almost take the log basket and bring home the fuel on a daily basis!

so close to home, I could almost take the log basket and bring home the fuel on a daily basis!

Today being mothering Sunday, I am to be treated to lunch…………………..nice. It’s probably the only day in the year that having six children really pays off!

I’ll be here again next Sunday …………. have a good week

Love Susan x

http://www.susancampbelldesigns.co.uk

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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