Whitby, part 2

 Posted by at 16:03 on 4 November 2013
Nov 042013

Carrying on from the first installment, we’ll finish our wander through Whitby in this exciting second half! 😉

After admiring the coast for awhile, we decided to wander through the town a bit and see what there was to see.

Wandering through the town …
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Some of the roads are very narrow. This was just wide enough for a car – and there were doors along that wall. Watch that first step! Thankfully, the super-narrow stretch didn’t last too long, and we had a bit of sidewalk then.

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Any ideas what this thing on the left is? It was in an antique shop full of breakables, and we were laden with backpacks, so I dared not go in to ask. It’s wood, with purple velvet, a half-cylinder compartment about 6″ or so long, and then a smaller compartment next to it. With the ink staining that smaller compartment, Chris wondered if it was for writing – I can see storing ink in the small space and the pen next to it, but what’s up with the velvet surface? Anyone happen to know?

The Whitby Gothic Weekend happens twice a year – apparently Whitby was chosen because of its Dracula connections. I forgot to mention we passed The Dracula Experience earlier, down by the waterfront. Whitby is where Bram Stoker’s Dracula landed in England, after the ship ran aground there after a bad storm, and Whitby has, to an extent, capitalized on it – so it was a Goth-friendly place readymade for the Gothic Weekend. Chris was surprised this was the only Goth shop we saw, however – apparently the coverage in Fortean Times makes it sounds like the place is just crawling with Goth shops, etc. In fairness, we only explored part of the town, so perhaps there’s more we didn’t see.

I was so struck that this Poundland – an everything’s £1 shop – had these historic photographs/paintings on its window shutters. They’re all by Frank Meadow Sutcliffe (1853-1941), and these are from the Sutcliffe Gallery. Now that I look at it on the map, I realize we may have even passed that gallery later, when we were headed back to the bus. Huh. Might go inside to explore next time!

Also, we found an American-style diner! I glanced at the menu: it’s only cosmetically American, but hey, it was a bit novel nonetheless. 🙂

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Halloween isn’t done as much here as it is in the US, so this window display was something to pause and look at – and then when I saw the sign above it, “Suppliers to Hotel & Catering”, I just cracked up. I had to get Chris to take a picture (all my batteries had died by this point) – you can see his ghostly self if you look carefully. 😉 Also, though no one local here seems to understand what gourds are when I use the word, the gourds in the right-hand window were actually labelled as such! Word choices are so very localized – even down to individual households, really.

The last photo is of the rose garden at St Hilda’s Catholic Church. It was lovely – you’ll need to click on it for the larger image to see it properly.


St John’s church is a Church of England church (Anglican) directly across the street from St Hilda’s. What struck us about this building, really, was the diminished soot covering the walls. It’s not clean enough to have actually been cleaned*, yet it’s not covered in pollution like the buildings I’m more used to seeing. Chris told me they didn’t do as much industry – mills, etc – up here in Whitby as they did down in our part. Not hard to believe – the air hanging thick with smog from the 40+ mills in my town was infamous. The Industrial Revolution, born in our county of Derbyshire, did have quite a lot of downsides – massive pollution was one of them.


* Either by sandblasting or the really cool-sounding method they used inside John Rylands Library. As I recall (I can’t find mention of it online anywhere), the tour guides told us they sprayed a special foam that clung to the stone, then peeled it off. The pollution came off, I expect with a bit of the stone. They pointed out the corners where they’d not been able to clean it properly, as contrast. The corners were black; the sandstone is a dazzling array of light colors. When they did it, they got an entirely different building when they finished.

We were vastly amused at the Black Hole Ahead sign – glad they warned us! We didn’t find it, alas.

Exploring the park …

We found ourselves at the entrance to Pannett Park, so we wandered inside to see what there was to see. The first thing we found was the Lily Pond, which was quite tranquil – at least, until other people showed up!

We wandered along, and spotted the hugest monkey puzzle tree I’ve ever seen!

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It was at the entrance to the Jurassic Garden, which is, as the sign told us:

A pathway through the past

The path you’re on takes you through the Jurassic period. Each band represents a rock layer from the Yorkshire coast – the colors of the rocks and the length of each band is in proportion to the depth of the rock. The first rock, where you are standing, is the Redcar Formation and is the oldest, laid down about 195 million years ago. As you walk along the path you will travel through 60 million years of Jurassic time!

In each band of rock you will find casts of fossils, including ammonites, corals, and dinosaur footprints. These impressions are taken from actual fossiles in the Whitby Museum collection. … Alongside the path there are plants from the Jurassic period, including tree ferns, gingkos, and a monkey puzzle tree.

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I liked the crocodile best, myself.


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The garden at the top of the park – surrounding Whitby Museum and Art Gallery – was guarded by two gardeners – one here, and one on the other side of the garden. Thankfully, they let us pass – in and out again! We reckoned the sundial might work a tad better if it weren’t in the shade.

I was a bit confused about these rectangles patches for planting flowers, just in the middle of the grass. You can see one planted in the middle background behind the sundial, and one unplanted one in the far background.


Our second rainbow of the day! Ironically for living in such a damp land, I see rainbows very rarely. I usually feel the presence of Papa, my grandfather, when I see one. I do hope he enjoyed touring around Whitby with us that day. 🙂 We took time to smell the roses in this garden, while enjoying the rainbow.



The Play Area was neat! I never had anything that nice when I was a kid!


Just past the play area, another view of Whitby. I’ll bet loads of local residents want to shoot whoever allowed Whitby Hospital to take such a hideous shape (it’s that black and white monstrosity in the centre of the frame). In terms of styles, the 1970s have a lot to answer for! Hopefully the contents are better than the package.

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Our last stop was the South Seas Garden, which is filled with Maori art (the Maori are the indigenous Polynesian people of New Zealand). The sign next to the figure is informative, if you’re curious.

This chunk of the park is right up against the perimeter, so from bird’s eye view, you’d see an eye-shaped path, with the sidewalk around the outside of the park forming one part, and the sidewalk through this chunk forming the other part. While we were there, this man and little boy passed by – the man stayed on the outside sidewalk, but the very focused and determined little boy (about 4 years old, I’d guess – he was walking quite well without assistance) picked up a heap of fallen leaves just outside the garden, then carried them through the garden, then met back up with the man (father? uncle? friend of the family? never know) at the other end of the little garden, having tossed his leaves into the air just as soon as he got out of the garden and back onto the main sidewalk. Kids. *shrug*

Wandering back to the bus …

Once we’d seen all of Pannett Park, we decided we should wander back towards the bus.

A few things caught my eye, like this intricate painting on the side of a bookshop, juxtaposed with the street name sign next to it. Also, I know the pub is named after one of Captain Cook’s ships, but it still strikes me as a treasure trove of puns to name the pub The Resolution.

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The Sherlocks shopfront looked interesting – I should’ve gone in and had a look around, really. I did wonder if someone made a typo originally on the Angel Hotel (Angler) and they’ve just rolled with it since.


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This busker‘s set up was delightful – and the music wasn’t bad, either, so I stayed and enjoyed a song.

This stone is Whitby’s war memorial. I’m used to cenotaphs (which I now see come in all different shapes), so this was a bit of a surprise. The cenotaphs I’m used to seeing have the names of the locals who were killed in war engraved onto plaques attached to them. The sign informs us that there used to be a War Memorial Hospital in Whitby, but it’s gone, and besides, they’d realized not all the names that should have been listed were. So they decided to create this memorial instead: a double plinth of locally quarried sandstone at the bottom, and a piece of Masi Quartizite from the far north of Norway, where the Green Howards (the Yorkshire Regiment) saw action in 1940, and lost many men. They don’t plan to engrave names this time; they’re leaving a simple “Lest we Forget” engraved in the sandstone.

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The sky was very moody. Also, the gates outside the public toilets were oddly arty.

It was nearly 5pm, so we prepared for the long ride home by hitting the loo and grabbing a coke for me. Then the bus turned up, so off we went.

A few shots on the way home …

On the road from Whitby to Pickering, we passed Royal Air Force base Fylingdales, a listening station – a relic of the cold war, the driver told us.

We also saw this very strange cloud.

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Then Papa said goodbye with a full double rainbow – we weren’t far enough away for it to show up all at once on camera, but at least coaches have great big huge picture windows, so we saw it all perfectly (helped that it was on our side).

I was absolutely shattered – too little sleep the night before, followed by a long day – so I promptly fell asleep then, for about an hour. Then Chris and I chattered away the miles until we got home, a bit after 9pm. A very late dinner was immediately followed by bedtime!

Whitby, part 1

 Posted by at 00:04 on 24 October 2013
Oct 242013

This past Sunday, we went on a day trip to Whitby, North Yorkshire (it’s a seaside town about 115 miles northeast of here). We went by coach (coaches are charter buses, but in addition to private charters, they run periodic trips that anyone can join without having to fill the coach). We weren’t impressed with the company we went with, but we had a good time in Whitby nonetheless. This post got rather long and full of photos, so I’m breaking it into two parts. Hopefully the load time for you will be measured in something less than glacial movements!

We both love fall (autumn), and love to see the show the trees put on for us. This trip was advertised as “Autumn Tints”, and was supposed to take us past trees in color. It didn’t, but ho hum. Just another kick to get the finances in order to buy yet another car so we can go on our own trips!

Off we go – a few shots from the coach along the way.

As always, click on any photo to see the larger version. It was a gray, rainy, yucky day when we left. It was lovely in Whitby, though, so I’m glad we didn’t let that put us off – you just never can tell. We were on the motorway (interstate) for part of the way. When I lament that there are too many streetlights here, I mean it: I’m leaving this photo with the streetlight in the way because I had too many like this. They put them every 25 feet or so on both sides of most of the road – and then they wonder why we can’t see the stars at night.

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When we finally arrived in the Yorkshire Dales & Moors – which I’ve heard so much about – I remarked to Chris that it looks a lot like the Peak District. It is actually really similar geography; the Peak District is just more popular than Yorkshire because of its easy access for the city folk (from Manchester, London, etc). I related this to my friend Wendy who – I can’t remember now – either her husband or herself comes from Yorkshire. She replied, “Long may it continue!” Heh.

When we passed this feature, I heard a girl and her mother near us. The mother said this is called Dinosaur Bowl; the girl asked if it’s because a dinosaur sat there and that’s the shape of it’s bum. Made Chris and I giggle. 🙂


We’re here! We wandered through the commercial part of town first …

We got on the coach at 8am, and we arrived in Whitby at 12:30. It’s not actually that far – we were doing pickups for one and a half hours after we left Glossop, and then there was a half-hour stop at a really depressing motorway service station (these are like the ones you get on toll road interstates: exits with a few places to eat, restrooms open to the public, gas, usually some picnic tables, plus these have hotels in them). I was irritated, since I’d been told we’d arrive in Whitby around 11am – 150% of the estimated travel time is quite an error!


Anyway, so we were there. We took a few pictures as we made our way towards a restaurant Chris had scoped out reviews for the night before. We usually take a packed lunch whereever we go – less variable in quality, quicker, and easier than hunting for restaurants – but I really wanted some seafood since we’d be in a fishing village.

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It was low tide when we arrived. The difference in height of the sea is something I first ever noticed in Blackpool (another British seaside town); I really don’t remember this from when I lived in Hawaii – and I seem to recall going to the beach quite frequently there. I don’t remember it in Virginia, but beachgoing was rare there. The tide height difference is so much in Whitby that these boats were just sitting on the mud! Wonder if you could get a quick paint job on your boat during low tide…

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Chris forgot his sunglasses – so we have him to thank for the sunshine. We finally found a restaurant we wanted to eat in – The Marine – which was very small and crowded, but it was nice, and the food was good. Chris had fish and chips – he doesn’t usually eat cod, but this was sufficiently good that he ate it (the menu hadn’t specified whether it was cod or haddock). I had the smoked haddock and mustard mashed potatoes, which was also tasty.

The hallway back to the restrooms, however, is covered in a black and white wallpaper that, in that confined space, made my eyes just about cross. In a room it would’ve looked nice, I think. The toilet stall I used had this picture hanging on the back wall. In case you don’t look at the larger version, I’ll just tell you: that gold fish looks distinctly like it is frowning. It made me “…” so much that I snapped this picture to tell Chris about it. Might make some think twice about ordering fish, I guess…


Now feeling much better, we continued walking down the wharf to see what all there was. Above, you see the view of whence we’ve come. Below is the famous restaurant in Whitby for fish & chips – The Magpie – complete with the line (queue) going out to the street. Chris’d taken one look at those reviews and immediately decided to avoid them – apparently the portions are far too small and entirely too pricey. I had a look at the menu as we passed to see what qualified as too expensive – £12 for a single plate of fish & chips is rather a lot, really, when you can get a takeaway fish & chips in many places for £4. Obviously there’s some overhead for it being a sit-down restaurant, but not that much. As for the portion size, what’s listed on the menu doesn’t look small to me – all I can guess is that they’re not actually sending out what the menu says. What struck me most about this was that they don’t skin the haddock before breading it and deep-frying it. EW! Nosiree, count me out!

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The tide’s been coming in – ever so slowly – while we’ve been eating.

Below, some of the entertainments – this part looks just like the commercialized, gaudy part of Blackpool, meant to part you from your money. We whipped through here pretty quickly – interestingly, the fish market is dead center in this mess – stopping only to try to buy a map, but the machine ate my pound. Stupid thing. There was a map on display on the board, though, so we looked at that a bit, and found a few interesting-sounding things. Then we kept wandering.

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We found the lifeboat museum, but it was clogged with people, so we wandered on. We also saw this pirate ship 😉 running tours. There were many boats running tours and sea trips of varying lengths, which I was interested to go on, but was worried about the time, since we only had the 4.5 hours there. Something for our next trip!

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The last thing we noticed on The Strip, as I’ll call it, were these completely random figures flanking the doors to this restaurant. Um, okay. Whatever blows your skirt!

We wandered along the beach awhile …

We found the way down to the beach, and walked along it for a bit.

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Chris was so disappointed that there were no critters in these pools.

We also found this guy balancing rocks on their points. We didn’t stop to talk to him, so we havne’t a clue why he was doing it. It being such an impermanent thing, I vaguely wonder if he’s Buddhist, actually. Either way, they were cool to look at!



These are beach huts. I’m told they’re Very British – so much so that the winner of a WI photo competition on the theme of “British Summer” was a photo of some beach huts (nicer than these, mind). I never noticed any in Blackpool, the only other British seaside town I’d been to before Sunday, so I was very confused when I was first told about them. Apparently, they’re to give you someplace to change into your swimsuit.

Chris was more confused to see them there on Sunday – he wondered why people these days don’t just wear their swimsuits under their clothes, like he did when he was a boy and his family would visit Blackpool for a week. Once I saw that they have a place to put a padlock, though, I realized they could also be useful as lockers. When Chris was a boy, his mum would watch their stuff when they went swimming (she doesn’t like swimming); if it was just him and I who went, we’d both want to swim, though, so we’d need somewhere to keep our street clothes, towels, keys, etc. Plus I suppose you could wait out rain in them. Besides, they might have a kettle, etc, in them as well, for all we know.

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The beach huts were along the path back up to the street level, so we went up there. We thought the large building just there might be the science museum we’d seen on the map, but it was yet more arcade, etc, “family entertainment” instead. Past that, we found a theatre (for plays), and just in front of that were a couple of food vendors, including this Tibetan one! I’m interested in Tibet, so would’ve liked to try some Tibetan food – if only we hadn’t just eaten! Hopefully they’ll be there on our next trip.

We also got a better view of the maze we’d passed when we’d walked on the beach – which was in use! 🙂

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This sign vaguely amused us, so we snapped a photo of it. We were also very confused by this arrangement of bricks and fence. It’s as though there was an opening that’s now been bricked up, but that fence is only waist high or thereabouts, so it’d be a very short opening! Really wonder what happened there.

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We found some monuments …
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We were wandering back the way we’d come (except much higher), and on the corner (as it were), where harbor meets ocean, they’ve put a few monuments and a lot of benches. While snapping photos of them, I saw the rainbow! You can just see it in the left picture above and in the right picture below (you might need to look at the large version).

The statue is of Captain Cook, who gets credit for discovering Australia. He apprenticed in Whitby, was based in Whitby, and used Whitby-built ships for his three “voyages of discovery,” as the sign put it. I thought the coat of arms (?) on the front was really nifty.

I’m not sure what the other monument here is – it looks like a ship’s mast with a ship atop it. There wasn’t a sign, so your guess is as good as mine.

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The sky was very moody.

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The whale bone arch is impressive-looking, though a bit morbid: these are the jaw bones of a blue whale. The whaling industry was big in Whitby for many decades – I’m heartened that the sign tells us they used all the parts of the whale, at least. These bones came from Alaska – a twinning thing, I think (the sign is hard to read); Anchorage and North Slope Borough are credited. Apparently the original ones, erected in 1963, are preserved in Whitby Archives Heritage Centre.

From this corner we also had lovely views of the rest of Whitby – here’s the other side of the harbor.


We wandered away from the monuments …

…and the first thing we were struck by was this building that looks so very out of place. The word – Streonshalh – is the Viking word for Whitby, the internet tells us. It’s flats now, but I’d be shocked if it was built as flats. And look at it – it’s assymetrical. The bit on the left could’ve been an extension, but regardless, the rest of it is still assymetrical. Very strange. We can’t find anything else online about it, annoyingly.

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We saw this steam-powered bus go by! Delightful – and the friendly driver waved at us while we were snapping photos. It’s the Vintage Spirit. Then we found a bench to sit on and chill out, from where we saw the Board Inn. Chris didn’t realize it was spelled that way, and thought it was Bored Inn, and went on about it for quite awhile before I decided to correct him. Still, who does name their place that? Their website is entirely lacking in explanation, meh.

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We also had chance to admire St Mary’s Church and the ruins of Whiby Abbey, together with its 199 steps, and the many people going up and down them. Sadly, we were on the wrong side of the harbour and just didn’t have time to make that climb. Oh, shucks.

My friend Chris (a different one) tells me that next time, we have to climb up those steps and count them all, and when we get to the top, we’ll have the Whitby Wibbly Wobblies – since our legs will be ready to give out! Something else to look forward to … 😉

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Panning to the right, we see more of Whitby. After our rest on this bench, we’ll head off in that direction – you’ll see those pictures in the exciting conclusion, “Whitby, part 2”!


I Won!!!

 Posted by at 23:04 on 15 September 2013
Sep 152013

Eeeee! I won! I won I won I won!!! 😀


Lots of photos …

As I said this morning, I was off to this today:

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It sounded like a fabulous idea to me – just what the Inspire Festival started out meant to be. This one, with only a few weeks’ lead time, though, and focused on Charlesworth and Chisworth (two of the small villages that make up Glossopdale), was bound to be smaller. It’s also the first time anyone’s attempted anything like this – at least as far as I can recall in the past five years!

I gave the competitions some thought, and feared there might not be many entries, so decided to enter some of the classes, mostly to do my bit towards there being a decent amount of entries. I thought about entering the photo competition, but couldn’t think of any photos that answered the prompt, so gave that one a miss. Of course I’d be entering the cake class and the sewing class – I’ve made one handmade sewn item, which you’ve all heard about by now.

Just Friday, I decided I would try to enter a loaf of bread as well – this braided one I do looks nice, so I thought that’d be perfect. Mind you, I haven’t baked bread in ages – kneading it this morning, I couldn’t actually remember the last time I’d kneaded bread dough – I was just hoping I’d still recognize the point where the gluten chains all line up and the kneading has done its job. Thankfully, I did. I made no promises to myself or anyone else that the cake and the bread would come together in time – and the bread making it was looking kind of doubtful at 9am this morning, with my departure time due at 10:15, and it just starting its final rise. I must fix that recipe – I had to knead in an extra three cups or so of flour, doubling what I started with, in order to get it to a kneadable state – so kneading it took longer than it was meant to this morning. Thankfully it did rise and bake quickly enough, so I had entries for three classes for myself, plus one for Chris.

Turns out I needn’t have worried!


There were a good number of entries, in nearly every class. Yay! The cake and the scone classes each had four entries. The above flier was all the information there seemed to be on the criteria, so there was some wide variation within each class – looks like a fruit cake, a Victoria sponge, another sponge, and my coconut cream cake were all in the cake class.

Scones are what Americans call crumbly biscuits (as opposed to the flaky kind; pondering what the Brits might call flaky biscuits earlier, Chris and I decided we weren’t sure that they’d fit into British vernacular at all, which means – seeing as they’re flour-based – they’d call them cakes). I suppose there’s only so many ways to make those, but we did get plain and fruited varieties.

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The sewn items category attracted lots of entries, including some absolutely stunning patchwork. My pictures do it no justice at all – but be sure to click on them to see the detail.

The loaf of bread category also got four entires. The one in the basket was there first, and was the only other one when I went to place my entry. I looked at that basket and thought, “Oh, yeah, presentation. Shoot.” Later, when the glass cake stand appeared with that raspberry cake, I kicked myself there, too: I do actually have a nice cake stand that would’ve done; I just didn’t think about it. So yeah, I decided I wouldn’t present my bread in the foil I’d wrapped it to bring it, and propped it in the cake box top as artfully as I could manage. D’oh.

I didn’t think of just setting it on the tablecloth directly, but since it is a crusty kind, I perhaps should’ve done that.

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The children submitted several sets of decorated cupcakes.


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The gingerbread man class only got one entry, I think; the decorated rock class got quite a few. My picture of those isn’t brilliant, sadly. I quite like the three spelling out Charlesworth at the top. 🙂

I failed to get photos of the photo (adults) and picture (children) classes, sadly. They were set up on the red boards to the right in this picture. There were some stunning photos, but there were too many people in my way to get decent photos of them, argh! There was also an absolutely lovely picture put together by the kids at one of the primary schools.



I’d entered the necklace holders Chris has made for me (in his name!) in the handmade wood/metal item class. They were the only entries, so he now has a first, a second, and a third rosette! 😀

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I really don’t envy the judges having to decide about these stunning works of sewing.


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My coconut cream cake came in first in the cake category!!! Woohooo! I cut some up before I left so others could try some. I always think it’s such a waste, all this food that’s prepared for competitions, and then the judges have some, and then it just sits there looking pretty until it’s thrown out. I also think that a good way to improve one’s technique is to enter competitions and learn from what others do – not being allowed to taste the thing hinders that learning process a bit! I could at least control my own entries, so I let others have a taste – after judging!

Best of all – my cardamom bread got Best In Show!!! WOOHOOO!!!


Mind, I’ve never entered one of these things before, and I’ve never been around them, either. I’ve seen the entries on display well after judging, at Bakewell Show and others like that, but I’ve not been involved ever at any level.

At some point, Rachel got everyone’s attention to announce best in show (she didn’t announce any others, which is just as well: there were so many, really!). I was on the far side of the room from her, so struggled to hear at first until the chatting died down. She impressed on all of us that the judges had a very hard time choosing a Best in Show, since the classes were all so very different (comparing apples and oranges, basically). Then she said which class the Best in Show came from – I was fully expecting it to be one of those beautiful pieces of patchwork from the sewing class. I didn’t understand what she said, because my brain did that thing where it didn’t hear what it expected, so it couldn’t make any sense of what it heard.

Then she called out my name, and I started, and I’m sure I uttered something, and started walking towards her, on auto-pilot. After a few steps, I came to, and wondered if I was meant to go to her or what – wait, I don’t know, what am I supposed to do?! Everyone was applauding and smiling at me, though, so I carried on, and Rachel gave me the Best in Show Rosette, which I took in a daze.

Photo by Dianne Boardman, High Peak Review

Photo by Dianne Boardman, High Peak Review

Photo by Dianne Boardman, High Peak Review

Photo by Dianne Boardman, High Peak Review

See? That’s me in shock. Happy shock, of course. I really didn’t expect that when I decided at the last minute to make some bread. Especially not up against that patchwork! We were told, however, that when the judges tasted my bread, it was “like a slice of heaven.” O.O

There’s a whole nother story to tell from today, of course — the people, the day, the groups, the connections — the actual point of the day. I was going to make that part two of this entry, but this has gotten long enough that I shall close this here and post that part as a separate entry. Stay tuned!

Charlesworth Carnival 2013

 Posted by at 23:14 on 7 September 2013
Sep 072013

Get ready for some time traveling … or at least posts that I should have made ages ago, really. One thing I want to use this blog for is to share my photos and stories of what I’ve done – and part of that is motivated by my desire to get my photos in order, which have been woefully neglected for a long time.

Whilst getting ready for another Charlesworth event coming up on the 15th (the Charlesworth and Chisworth Village Get Together – facebook, flier), I’m reminded that I meant to post here about the Charlesworth Carnival, but haven’t yet, so here you go!

(Note: For all the images, just click on the image to see a larger version.)

Getting there and touring the grounds

Charlesworth Carnival is always on the second Saturday in July. It was the second of two carnival weekends in a row for me (Glossop Carnival is the weekend before). Thankfully, this second one was a whole lot less work for me (and Chris). I was only helping with one stall, not two, and what I was doing for that one was a whole lot less involved: I just needed to bake some cakes/etc for the Charlesworth WI stall. This was my first time being involved with this one; last year the carnival was cancelled. There was too much rain, and the field is on a slope, so it was a quagmire.

This year we had perfect summer weather the entire month of July, though, so the carnival was definitely on. I put my baked goods in my shopping trolley and Chris and I set off together: we needed to stop by the market first, which was having its monthly farmers’ market, to see if we could find a certain gift. We found a lovely one, yay. Then I set off to the carnival, and Chris picked up a few other bits for us.

It was a glorious, sunny day. When the bus started coming into Charlesworth, my mood was lifted by all the cheerful bunting strung along most of the village. I was so distracted, I nearly missed my stop! I snapped a few photos along the way to the village green. The first thing I noticed was another lady taking photos, looking absolutely delighted. I saw these scarecrows, and I remembered Charlesworth’s scarecrow competition should be about the same time as the carnival (turns out it’s organized by the same lot), so I asked her what the theme was this year. “Adverts,” came the reply. “Oh, right, who are these guys then?” I asked.

She explained to me that when they deregulated the phone service, 118 118 was one of the first directory assistance numbers launched. Their ads always had these twin runners, she said. Most of all, she was just delighted that the church who’d put these up had linked this to the bible – she thought it was very clever. It was a lovely, upbeat conversation which I do no justice to in the telling. Anyway, after our brief conversation, we parted ways. I’d been there a few days ago, in this church, helping put together the well dressing. It has such lovely grounds.

I also found this garden full of interesting and delightful things.

And a lovely bush full of honeysuckle – one of my favorites!

I’d not been to the Charlesworth Village Green before, but had a good idea of where it should be. I was pretty sure this was it.

This was across from the village green. The bunting is from McDonald’s and says “I’m Lovin’ It.”

I was amused by the sign on the village green.

Then I went up onto the village green.

It looked really empty to me for something that was supposed to start at 10am … and this was about 11:15. I later learned that I’d been misinformed: it doesn’t really start til the parade arrives at the village green, and that doesn’t set off til noon. Anyway, I found the WI stand. This WI owns at least one gazebo, but this time opted to share a marquee with a church. A marquee’s a large tent, and many ladies commented on how much sturdier the marquee seemed than the gazebo.

I was quickly set upon by someone asking where the display board was. Chris and I have made two display boards, which we used first at the Glossop Carnival – one for Glossopdale Transition Initiative‘s stand, and one for the WI’s cream tea stand. No one had asked me if the WI could use it again at Charlesworth Carnival. Apparently it was meant to go on that small table at the back. They were in luck: it was available this day, so one of the ladies quickly drove me home and back again to get it, and up it went.

Both of the large tables forming the L-shape were filled with baked goods – as a group, we did produce quite a bit. I’d made apple muffins, banana nut muffins, and bran muffins. There were early promising sales of these, but then it dropped, and in the end these were some of the last to go. I’ll take them again next year – maybe the people who had them this year will want them again, now that they’ve tried them – but I’ll take less, and probably some different things. I’m also pondering adding “American” to the name (since they are) and see what that does. I’m hoping it’ll change them from being “weird things I’ve never heard of” to “Oooh, that’s exotic! I’ll have that!” Companies plop “American” and “American-style” on enough labels here to make me think there must be some benefit to it.

Display board dealt with, I was bored on the stand, so I wandered around the green to see what there was there. The bouncy castle was inflated by now.

I’m thinking of making some bunting – Chris and I currently string ribbons up to decorate the ceiling for various holidays, but I can sew now and all, and bunting looks easy enough to make, and I think it’s more fun. I paid special attention to all the variations in bunting as I walked around the field, and concluded there’s no right or wrong way to do it, really. My eye was caught by this bunting:

In particular, I noticed how the sewing around the letters was done. When I did it around that banner I made for Glossop Carnival, my stitching came out perpendicular to the line I was sewing along, but here it’s angled. Can you see it? If not, click on the image for a larger version. The angles look good, and I haven’t a clue how to do that. Do any of you?

I did ask the lady in the stall, but she said her friend made it, so she didn’t know. She then told me her friend’s sewing machine is “as big as an airplane,” so I wonder if it’s just a feature my machine doesn’t have. Hm.

Leaving there, I found the refreshment tent.

After my tour around the green, the PA system announced the parade would soon be arriving, so I went to watch that. Lots more photos to come in the next part!

The parade!

Once I’d finished touring the ground, the PA system announced that the parade would soon be at the bottom of the field, so I made my way down there to see the parade. Turns out I picked a lousy spot – they nearly all stopped once they got to me – but I got a few pictures anyway. The crowd waited rather restlessly (but at least we had shade – it was a rather warm day).

Eventually, the parade arrived! It was led by the police tractor. Unfortunately, they don’t really use this tractor in policing – we sure have the escaped sheep for it, as well as the marshy ground in parts of Derbyshire, and the occassional unpassable-because-of-snow parts. Nope, they’ve borrowed it to promote their new Farm Watch scheme (I love how the government here always comes out and admits it does nothing but scheme, by putting scheme directly in the name). Farm Watch is like Neighborhood Watch, but for farms. They only plan to use it in shows, carnivals, parades, etc.

Anyhoo, after the tractor was the band.

I think this was one of the carnival queens with her attendants, probably Charlesworth’s. Here’s another queen and attendants.

Next was this horse and rider – two riders, I see now – they’d used chalk to decorate themselves and the horse as skeletons. I was vastly amused and thought it was terribly clever; just wish I’d gotten better pictures!

Another queen.

Click on image for a larger version

Then there was the Walk Like An Egyptian crowd. 🙂 I quite liked these costumes! The music sure livened up the parade; hopefully there’ll be more next year.

Then there was the one and only float of the sort I’m used to seeing – towed behind a truck of some sort, built up on a trailer. This is for one of the churches in the village. I do wonder why this type is so rare here.

Immediately after they passed, the last part of the parade – three floats – pulled up and stopped. These were of the style usually seen here, where they get a large lorry (semi truck / 18-wheeler) and use the back of the truck as a place to stand/sit, and decorate it. The closed up trucks here have sides that can be rolled up, so they roll those up and have a small bit of roof over them. There were two like that, plus one open flat bed trailer.

Once they stopped, the people on them started trying to get off them, onto this sidewalk that was already crammed with people. It was quite a scrum. I liked the decoration of the first float, so went about trying to get pictures of the floats. They didn’t come out very well at all, but here are a few snippets. The first one had a Where’s Wally? theme.

The second one had a Bugs World theme.

The last one was from the Boy Scouts.

After the parade, people poured onto the green – now it started looking much more like a carnival!

The carnival’s really going now!

As I saw on twitter around this time: “Daz/Ariel allergy epidemic sweeps Glossop as more and more men are unable to wear shirts and take to the streets topless.” It’s true!

This band was really good!

You can see and hear a video of them here (warning: it’s kind of loud because of the background noise, so take care with headphones).

Anyways, I spent a bit more time in the WI tent …

… but quickly got bored (I wasn’t serving), so I set off to see that well dressing I’d helped make.

The well dressings, and the tail end of the carnival

On the way to the well dressings, I found the only other scarecrow display I saw at all: another 118 118 display.

I also passed this warning sign, and this woman and child. He should be on her left! – that’s why it was scorching hot instead of nice and cool like a snowflake suggests. Clearly.

I found the well dressings!

The small one on the left and the big one were the ones being worked on in the church when I went; the small two on the right were made by the two local primary schools. One of the parents came by to have a nosy at ours after helping the kids make theirs next door, and the way she talked about it, I thought it’d be awful, but actually, it’s very well done!

Anyhoo, so closeups, going from left to right. My friend Ruth apparently did most of this one herself – they were really short-handed. She did a brilliant job!

This big one is the one I helped work on. It’s huge. This picture from when we were working on it shows the scale better:

On the right is what it looked like when I left Tuesday afternoon. That’s Ken spraying water on it so it doesn’t dry out. Between working sessions, he sprays water and covers it in plastic. To make a well dressing in these parts, you press natural things (leaves, petals, stones, peppercorns, pine needles, etc) into a big board of clay. Then you hope it’s not too hot and dry so it lasts the week once it’s up.

Here’s the finished board!

The design is Britain & Ireland plus a few of the smaller islands, with some national symbols: rose for England, daffodil for Wales, thistle for Scotland, and I really have no idea why the wheat(?) is there. Anyone know? I should remember to ask the lady who designed it sometime.

The primary school next door to the church made this one on the left. The other primary school made the one on the right.

After ogling the well dressings for awhile, I headed back to the carnival. I crossed paths with Ken, who I met while working on the well dressing. He is a friendly man, and we stopped and had a bit of a natter.

When I got back to the WI tent at about 3pm, this was all that was left!

While I was helping to sell off the last few, I saw this lady using a parasol – an actual parasol – I’ve never seen one in use in real life!

Once everything was sold, I let the others pack up since they knew what they were doing – too many helpers in things like that always annoys me, because you spend more time asking what to do and tripping over each other than anything else. I took my display board and headed home. A bus came before too long, and then I managed to catch a bus the rest of the way home after that (only because it was running 20 minutes late!). That display board is heavy, so I’m glad I didn’t have to carry it the mile home from where the first bus dropped me!

As I recall, once home, I peeled off my sweat-soaked clothing and promptly collapsed. 🙂

All in all, it was a lovely day, and I’m so grateful to the committee of Charlesworth Carnival for putting it on. Looking forward to next year’s!

My Header Photos

 Posted by at 18:09 on 20 August 2013
Aug 202013

I thought some of you may wonder about some of the photos I’ve used in the header of this site (that strip across the top of the screen). If you wonder why I’ve put that in the plural, try pressing the refresh button on your browser, and look again at the header image. It should have changed. I couldn’t decide on just one header image, so there are a few different ones the site will randomly choose from each time you load a page.

I know I should have stuck with ones from England, it being Dampland and all, but I wanted to include some others I like, so the photos actually come from a variety places. No doubt more will get added as time passes.

I wonder if you’ll be able to discern what one photo in particular is. I shall tell you about the others, and then see if anyone can figure out the last one.

As will always be the norm, click on any image for a larger version.

Photos from England …



This is a wonderful shot of the Dark Peak – the dark gray gritstone here causes the ground to actually look dark, as opposed to the white limestone of the White Peak – that Chris took … yeesh, a decade ago now. I love this shot; we have it hanging in our living room, actually.

These three are all local. The first two were taken on our wedding day, from our reception venue. The last one was taken on one of our walks around Glossop.




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This is from Longdendale Reservoir. The origin doesn’t really matter; the fact is, you can’t talk about Derbyshire without some acknowledgement of all the sheep here!




The first photo is obvious enough; the second photo is of Glossop High Street; the third photo is of the clock tower of Glossop Town Hall (which I only noticed has a cross atop it while putting this collage together – Edit: Chris tells me it wasn’t always a cross – it was a weathervane to start with. Ah, so the weathervane is broken, much like the clock it sits on. Fair enough.); the fourth photo is from Chatsworth‘s grounds. The last photo is Chatsworth House itself.

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The next photos are all from Blackpool, a tourist trap of a seaside town. If you ignore the tourist stuff, the beach itself is nice to visit.





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Photos from Louisiana …

All of these photos are from our first trip together, around South Louisiana in the spring of 2008. I like this first one so much that, again, it hangs on our living room wall as well. It’s from Jean Lafitte National Park.



While we were in that national park of swampland, we were both vastly amused to see this:



More swampland…



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Sadly, much swampland was at the time being choked by salvinia (floating on the surface of the water in the right-hand picture), blown in by Hurricane Katrina, our swamp tour guide told us. I don’t imagine the situation’s changed much: it sounded like it was right difficult to get ride of the stuff.

South Louisiana has not just swamps, but marshes, too. (One notable difference is that swamps have trees). From our tour, I daresay there is more marshland than swampland; I know many swamp trees got cut down during the Industrial Revolution. I don’t know if these treeless swamps then turned into marshes.



South Louisiana is a flat, flat land. It’s something Chris couldn’t get over when he first visited. Coming from the hills you just saw, he kept looking around and exclaiming, “It’s so FLAT!” I’d squint into the distance, point, and say, “It’s not flat – there’s some trees sticking up over there.” 😉 Yes, it’s really that flat.

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Coincidentally, alligators and crocodiles lend themselves very well to the shape I needed for my header image. I quite like having gators in my header images. 🙂 I started out with more, actually, and pruned it down to just these four.





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On that trip, we made it down to the coast at Holly Beach, as we drove along the Creole Nature Trail. I highly recommend the latter for anyone taken with this landscape; they’ve built many stops along the way to park and walk along a trail for a bit and really take it in.



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We also spent some time in New Orleans – happily, Chris loves it just as much as I do. Sadly, none of those photos made decent headers (wide and short photos), except the ones we took of this Mississippi river bridge (it’s the Highway 90 bridge, seen from Woldenberg Park, French Quarter).



Photos from the Ozarks …

On that same visit, we did go up to the Ozarks for a weekend. I’d wanted to go hiking, but it was miserable weather most of the time. We did find this very short trail and walked along it – I love the atmosphere of this picture.



We also found this great place to stop – randomly, on the side of the road, in someone’s yard I think, as you do – to take photos of this stunning view. We even managed to get some with ourselves in them, too. 🙂



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And one more for you to guess:


Any ideas what it is?

I made a banner!

 Posted by at 00:34 on 17 August 2013
Aug 172013

I’m no expert seamstress. I do, however, have a sewing machine, which has been woefully underused. Much of the problem has been a lack of confidence. There’s fancy jargon that I haven’t a clue what it means; I’ve just been doing simple things, figuring it out as I go along. I’ve been pretty sure I’ve been managing to do that stuff right – in no small part because it comes out the way I need it to! – through application of logic and whatever vestiges of sewing knowledge remain buried deep within my brain from childhood.

Click for more about my sewing history …

See, my mom sewed a whole lot when I was a kid. She made all – or at least many – of my Halloween costumes. I didn’t even know about the existence of the disposable costumes that populate stores every October until I was a teenager. I’ve never had to wear one of those, for which I’m so grateful. I loved my proper costumes.

Mom sewed all sorts of things, of course. I think she taught me how to cut out a pattern at some point, and I learned a lot just by hanging around her while she was crafting. I learned some in high school home economics, where I sewed a pillow (in the shape of a telephone … which today’s teens wouldn’t even recognize, come to think of it). I remember feeling so daunted then about threading the machine, every single time I had to do it.

But hey, sewing is a needed thing in my world – I have to hem pants, because they never make them the right length for me. Things need mending (and I despise throwing things out); things need altering (again, I’m not shaped like a runway model); small things can be whipped up quickly and add so much to the home. So, right, I’m going to have to do this sewing thing.

For a long while, I just figured it out as I went along. My sewing machine came with basic instruction on how to use it – threading this one is quite painless, thankfully. The first thing I think I did was sew some basic curtains to hide away this awkward alcove we have in our living room. All I had to do was cut a rectangle of fabric the right size and then hem up all four sides. Well, two rectangles cause there’s two curtains. I managed! 😉 Little things here and there got figured out and accomplished. Still, dragging out the sewing machine was a chore.

Then I won a bursary (scholarship) to Denman College, the Women’s Institute‘s own adult education college. I was so thrilled to go – I’d always heard such wonderful things about it. I poked and prodded endlessly before finally settling on a course – two, actually. I looked at the course cost, the train fare, and the bursary, and decided to make the most of my train fare by taking two courses: one right after the other. I booked two sewing courses (Sewing Machine Magic and Nip and Tuck: Altering Clothes), both run by May Martin, and she and I would be there from Monday afternoon to Friday afternoon, at the end of April.

I had no idea who May Martin was. When I got there, I found out she’d been a judge on the Great British Sewing Bee, which had just been on tv (and filling up my twitter feed) the month before. She’s quite a likeable person, and during the tea breaks (this is England, people honestly can’t function without tea breaks) she told us what it was like being on the show, and answered all the questions about that lobbed at her. Far more than that, she gave us wonderful instruction, not least of which was that she answered every single question asked of her in class, too. I asked many of them; I always want to dig until I really understand something, and she never once lost patience with me for that. I don’t quite get down to the little kid level of “Why? Why? Why?” with no end in sight, but … sometimes I get a bit close to that. She always answered with a real and true answer, and for that she’s one of my favorite teachers ever.

Most of all, though, I came away from those courses with:

  • a much better understanding of how my machine works,
  • a much better understanding of how sewing works,
  • that I don’t need to know everything about sewing to sew something,
  • that I’ll probably never know everything about sewing, given that May, after 40 years of teaching sewing tells us she doesn’t know everything, and
  • that I’d been pretty much right with everything I’d been doing so far.

Wewt! What a boon to the confidence that last bit was: learning that by applying simple logic, I’d worked out what I had correctly, so extrapolating from that means that applying simple logic in the future means I’ll probably work out future things correctly, too. Hah – The world is my oyster!

Click for lots of pictures!

In the wake of this, when one of my groups wanted a banner to put up with its gazebo in the forthcoming Glossop Carnival, I didn’t hesitate to say I could do it. Once fabric was sorted (which was my only hesitation – fabric isn’t cheap!), I was away. I made a mock-up and took it with me when we put up the gazebo the first time (a practice run well before the carnival), and it was approved, pending a few changes. I’d pinned it all together, bearing in mind May’s mantra that pins are great because you can always take them out and re-do them. 🙂 So, changes made, off I went.

I'm going to use the floral fabric as the background, then the gray fabric on top of that, and then put black lettering on top of that. Me with my straight edge for marking fabric.  I love this straight edge: it's heavy enough that it stays put, and long enough for any fabric I'll be working with.  Here I'm using it to mark the lines I'll need for the fabric edging for the display boards Chris is making.

I’m going to use the floral fabric as the background, then the gray fabric on top of that, and then put black lettering on top of that. On the right, you see me with my straight edge for marking fabric. I love this straight edge: it’s heavy enough that it stays put, and long enough for any fabric I’ll be working with. Here I’m using it to mark the lines I’ll need for the fabric edging for the display boards Chris is making. You’ll see those later.

It's starting to look like a banner!  After two days of the most mindless work I've done since I worked on a factory line, the letters are all sewn on, wewt!  The gray panels are sewn onto the floral backing, but I haven't hemmed up the floral fabric yet - I still need to arrange ties and weights and pockets.

It’s starting to look like a banner! After two days of the most mind-numbing work I’ve done since I worked on a factory line, the letters are all sewn on, wewt! The gray panels are sewn onto the floral backing, but I haven’t hemmed up the floral fabric yet – I still need to arrange ties and weights and pockets.

Ties are in and hems are sewn!  Time to put it together!

Ties are in and hems are sewn!


I was worried about light showing through the banner from the back in certain circumstances and thus seeing the letters going both ways, as you do when you hold a sheet of paper with words on it up to the light. Putting a layer of the same black t-shirt fabric I used for the letters between the two sets of lettering seems to have taken care of that nicely. I made sure to put that on first, though – I sewed that onto the back of that piece of fabric before sewing the lettering panels onto the front.

On the side with the black backing, you can also see the pockets I sewed for the poles to go into, and the bulge along the bottom seam (which is closest to the other half of the banner in this picture) is where the weights are in the bottom hem.

Those weights were originally 1m long (3′) steel poles vaguely around 2mm (1/16″) in diameter. Chris had gotten them for another project, but never made that work so had done something different there. He was easily able to cut them down for me (so they’re in 20cm (8″) lengths), so I sewed them in. In addition to the horizontal bottom hem, I sewed vertically between the weights to keep them put where I wanted them, with some clearance to either side of the vertical seams, plus about 5cm (2″) empty space between weight pockets. The empty space was so that it’d be easier to fold it up – I knew a fabric banner would need some height to its fold, unlike, say, a paper banner. This actually worked out really well.


The two sides are sewn together! It’s a banner! Woohoo!


The finished product! The top view shows it with the ties out (the ties all have buttonholes sewn in the ends as well, to tie more string through in case they should ever come up short); the middle view shows it with all the ties tucked in; the bottom view shows it with posts in it that could be used to carry it in a procession or stick it in the ground.


The stitching isn’t perfect if you look at it up close, but then, you’re not meant to.


My lower thread tension kept messing up, so it’s not quite right over on the right-hand side of this picture. It’s also very messy on the left. I’m not terribly keen on the pink, to be honest, but it was strong thread that I found pretty cheap at my local craft store, and from a distance it blends well enough. I thought having good, strong thread was more important here than a perfect color match.

I didn’t actually know about the existence of this “strong thread” until I was in the midst of this project. May had taught us about better and worse thread (and how to tell the difference), so I knew the thread that came with my machine wasn’t brilliant. When my thread kept snapping when I first started practicing sewing those letters on, I got fed up and hiked down to the craft store to demand stronger thread … whereupon I discovered some thread is actually called “strong thread” on the label. I got one black for the letters and one pink to sew in the ties and brought them home. The black sewed the edges of the letters like a dream, but I used it all up after four letters. Extrapolating, I figured out this would suddenly become a very expensive project if I carried on with that thread. I went slower with my cheap black thread and it was fine in the end. I had enough of the pink to make the ties, sew them in, and do all the edge sewing of the entire banner, so that’s good.


See? It’s a bit better from a bit of a distance.


I switched to black thread when I was sewing the lettering panels on and had to sew over the letters. I didn’t expect such a perfect color match; I’m delighted – it’s damn near invisible!

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Now that it’s all sewn together, this is what the middle of the bottom looks like. On the left: lift up the top floral backing and you find the area to tuck the tie into. On the right: the pocket the post slides into, with the tie tucked in outside the pocket. You can see the weight just under my thumb there. I was a bit concerned that would cause trouble with putting a post in this pocket, but it doesn’t, phew.


The banner in action! This is at our first event, Glossop Carnival, 6 July 2013. You can also see the larger of the two display boards that Chris made off to the right.

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The hands-on activity we had at this stand wass braiding strips of t-shirts together to then wind (in a circle or a rectangle or whatever shape you please) it up and stitch the back of it to make a mat – a coaster, a placemat, a bathmat, etc. I’d made a long braid and, with nothing better to do with it just then, used it to add a bit of color to the banner. On the right is a closer view.


The banner in use again! This time it’s at Inspire Festival, 3 August 2013. You can also see the smaller of the display boards that Chris made, off to the right.


The banner all folded up for storage. It takes a couple of minutes to fold it up, to line everything up just right because of the weights, but it does fold. That’s how it’ll look most of the time, provided I put it somewhere the cat can’t sit on it (and shed on it). 😉

I’m quite proud of this banner because I just made it up out of my head, and it all actually worked! I let it percolate in my head for awhile before commencing it, and thought up a few different design elements to incorporate, so it became a bit more than just “stick letters on a long piece of fabric and be done with it.” Every design element actually worked; I didn’t have to abandon any of my notions. None of them are perfect, but they did all come together. It does the job, too, which is always good.

I didn’t actually realize I was horrifying Chris in the process of this til I heard him on the phone telling someone about it: “When I do a project like this, I get out AutoCAD and all sorts. I think she had scribbles on one sheet of paper.” Hee. It was four sheets, actually. 😉 After I heard him say that, I horrified him further by actually showing him and walking him through my “scribbles.” He just kept shaking his head. He can’t say much – clearly my process worked!