Sunday, 5 December 2010

Christmas - woohoo

Hello Everyone,

It's December (just thought I'd tell you incase you haven't already noticed!) and a particular favourite time of the year. I love Christmas. I love wrapping presents, putting the decorations up, looking at the Christmas lights in York and smiling at the sometimes grim faced Christmas shoppers in an attempt to get a smile back! Even John (my lovely grumpy Yorkshire husband) has been getting into the spirit (...must hide that bottle... - only joking honest!) and has been asking me when I am going to be putting up the Christmas tree - this is practically unheard of! Mind you he has only just told me that he thinks that my bright glittery Christmas baubles in the shape of parrots are incredibly tasteless and horrible. He prefers a subtle tree that is just decorated with a single colour set of lights and possible a touch of tinsel.....haven't told him that I have just ordered some more birdy shaped baubles from the RSPB website (British birds this time)...ho ho ho.
My Dad really loved Christmas. One of my childhood memories are of his planning of the food (making sure that we had plenty of everything including chocolate brazils..yum!), the practically military operation of getting the decorations down from the loft and then putting them up in the living room. And of course the fairy lights never ever worked first time and my Dad (an electrician by trade) would curse and go through all the bulbs one by one in an attempt to see which one was the problem. I think of him everytime that I switch mine on.
The snow is still lying thick upon the ground here in York and I can see an illuminated gold star on York Minster - it all looks very festive out there. Web sales have been going very well, especially it seems with all the snow, as I think people have been doing more and more of their Christmas shopping on line. It is nice to think that my embroideries will be wrapped and given as Christmas presents.
Time to get sewing again. I still need to embroider more Robins (see Christmas designs at the top of the blog).
But mustn't forget my 3 B.T.'s
1: Our trip to Skye - the scenery was fantastic and the birdlife brilliant. Ravens, Hooded Crows, Common Buzzards, Rooks, Jackdaws and Robins (and most seen from the hotel window!)
2: Looking forward to wrapping presents and putting up the Christmas Tree.
3: Smiling at people that I see in York in the hope that they will smile back and enjoy Christmas rather than endure it - if only for a moment.
Bye for now,
Love Ruth xx

Tuesday, 26 October 2010

Autumn and Orders, Orders, Orders


What a crazily busy October we have had, in fact I would say that it has easily been our busiest time ever! The girls (Sophie and Alanna [Banana]) have been working like troopers and John (ever the busy bee) has been moving so fast that he is more of a blur than an actual physical shape. I of course have been lying on my Chaise Longue, reading books and eating of course I haven't just testing to see if you are paying attention. I have been busy sewing away in our studio, which fortunately has a window with a nice view of York Minster and a number of lovely trees all now in their Autumn glory.

The trees along the river Foss have been full of birds.We regularly see flocks of Gold finches (so pretty, no wonder the Victorians liked to keep them as pets, although I must say that I prefer to see them flying free!), also groups of Long-tailed Tits, and Blue Tits. Starlings are also gathering in the city centre and as we walk to the post office or the bank we can hear them chattering away in the towers of a church or on the mast of the nearby telephone exchange. I do love to see and hear birds.

This brings me to my one complete and utter indulgence of the week, which is watching 'Autumn Watch'. I say 'complete and utter indulgence' because it is probably the one time in the entire week when John is not allowed to mention business, we both completely stop work and sit and watch this great programme - including 'Unsprung' afterwards. I think that the whole team are great (although I must admit that I have always had a particular soft spot for Chris Packham since being a teenager - don't tell John!). I love nature and I also love books and one of the things that I find myself doing, generally, during 'Unsprung' is trying to see if I can make out what books are on the shelves. I know, I know, that is really 'sad' of me and when I told John what I was trying to do, he laughed and said that I needed help - is there a book addict's anonymous???

Mumsie and Little Biddy are well. Mumsie has discovered that Little Biddy is particularly fond of cucumber (by the way, for those of you who don't know Little Biddy is my 87 year old Mum's Guinea-Pig!). I mentioned to her (I'm talking about Mum and not the G.P.) the other day that I would like a new scarf and before I knew it she was busy knitting away. Mumsie loves balls of wool in the same way that I love books. So now for Christmas I will be getting a multicoloured 'Dr. Who' style scarf.

In between the orders, I have sneaked in a few new designs. These are quotations from our friend Angela Topping's poetry, complete with a Sumptuosity motif or two. We have created three designs (for now) and just need to finish the printed text on the back of the packaging and then we will be good to go! We will be putting them up on our website and Angela will be selling them at her poetry reading events etc. I am really enjoying embroidering these new designs, Angela's poetry is so fresh and lively, it is such a pleasure to sew!

Tempus Fugit and it is time to get back to my sewing machine and get embroidering.

3 B.T.'s

1: John has discovered another new talent and this time it is making fruit smoothies. They are delicious and we now drink one most mornings and it really puts a zing in your step...or should I say your sewing?

2: Birds in the city, it is amazing the range of life that you see even in a city if you look.

3: Mumsie, telling me how she is enjoying knitting my scarf, the number of colours that are in it and how long it is going to be.

Bye for now,

Love Ruthie xxx

Wednesday, 29 September 2010

Agggggghhhh it's nearly the end of September!

Hello Everybody - if anybody is still out there as it has been about a month since I last wrote a blog - oh dear this is starting to sound like a confessonal!. Anyway the good news is that all is well and good at Sumptuosity Towers. I have just about got everything organised (still a few tweeks here and there to accomplish) and we apparently have this fluffy thing on the floor that I have discovered is called 'carpet'.

This is just as well as we are super busy even more so than this time last year. August saw an incredible number of trade orders and so we thought that September would be a little quieter in comparison.... but no! even before we got to Top Drawer (Trade Fair in London), the spreadsheet for September was filling up quickly - as Sophie would say 'Woohoo'!

And speaking of Sophie (and of course Alanna [Banana]), they seem to be really enjoying the new working processes. Sophie decided to visit friends in London on Tuesday and Alanna (Banana) is always off somewhere seeing friends or family. Alanna is also now finding time to work on her own designs and is hoping to do a craft fair in November with a friend from university. She is a real jewelry fanatic and so is currently designing some rings, I won't say what her ideas are (there are some fabulously wacky ideas) but will keep you posted as to when they can become public. Anyway, they both seem to be able to cram lots of activities into their lives and still come to see us with a mountain of embroidery, so we all happy bunnies.

John has just submitted his last assignment for his first Open University course, he has really enjoyed AA100 - The Arts Past and Present. It has also given me more opportunity (as if I needed it!) to look for books on abebooks and Amazon. The idea being for books to help with John's studies but what can I say occasionally one or two books have come through the post for me....

We are so busy that we haven't had much time to get to Askham Bog, although we have taken to having a walk around the Museum Gardens in York. On one afternoon we counted (at least) seventeen squirrels! The view out of the windows at Sumptuosity Towers is wonderful. I saw a Kingfisher fly along the river early one morning, although generally we see more geese than anything! The Greylag Geese and the ever-present Canada Geese are making more noise than usual and often fly in 'bomber-command' like formations past our window. In fact sometimes we see them flying across the city and straight towards our window!....fortunately to turn left or right at the last moment and land on the river. I don't fancy the idea of a couple of kilo's of goose crashing through the window and into the living room...

And so time to go to the sewing machine, orders won't make themselves!

3 B.T.'s

1:The sight of a Kingfisher flying along the Foss, it's jewel-like colours of bright orange and turquoise looked as exotic as anything you might see in the jungle. Simply gorgeous.

2: Saw Mumsie on Sunday, she has been away for a week on holiday and so 'Little Biddy' has had a holiday of her own at Avalon Guinea-pig Rescue and holiday home. Please make sure I get the right Guinea-pig back she said.....arhhhh she is soooooo sweet and at 87 still busy knitting and baking cakes!

3: Alanna (Banana) had a holiday in France with her boyfriend while we were at Top Drawer Trade Fair. She knows what a bug fan I am and so when she saw a Praying Mantis she just had to take a photograph for me. I am not sure who her boyfriend thinks is the craziest...Alanna for taking the picture or me or wanting it......think it is me ;-)
Bye for now,
Love Ruth xxx

Friday, 13 August 2010

News from the world of Sumptuosity.

It is busy busy busy here in the wonderful world of Sumptuosity, which is just the way that we like it! However, we are also in the middle of a big restructure. No not plastic surgery or even Botox before anyone suggests anything cheeky! John and I have decided to leave Barleycorn Yard and move the business back home. Don't worry, we haven't thrown Sophie and Alanna (Banana) out into the snow, we have set them up so that they can both work from their own homes (or in Sophie's case from her own studio). We all meet up on a Tuesday for tea, gossip amd of course the girls to drop of their embroideries and to pick up more silk, thread and fabric. It was a tough decision but we have decided that we wanted to concentrate on our retail sales through our website and of course our many trade stockists. It will also (hopefully) give me a little more time to work on new designs, as I have got lots of new ideas that I want to work on. It is sad to leave Barleycorn but we are happy that it will give us all more freedom, as we will no longer be tied to average shop hours. Alanna (Banana) and Sophie have been working from their own homes for the last two weeks, while John and I have just started today. Alanna said last week that she is loving it as she is gets up, has her breakfast and has been known to start sewing by 8.00 a.m. while still in her pyjamas! Her parents are happy for her to work from home as long as she remembers to vacuum up all the threads at the end of the day. I also have to make sure that my work area is tidy at the end of the day, although I am not allowed to work in my dressing gown - it soooooo unfaiiiiiiirrrr!

Lots of design work to do at the moment, I have got some new bookmarks to create using some lines of poetry by one of our Sumptuosity friends from Facebook. Angela Topping's work is great and complete with some Sumptuosity images should make for some truly fab bookmarks!

We have also been asked to design some more natural history inspired bookmarks for the Natural History Museum in Oxford and I have been working on some more 'bug' designs, including one of the world's largest stick insect (not quite life size!). I also need to do some seashells and of course some more Dodos and Chamelons. By working from home I can easily refer to my library and read from the comfy sofa (not a chaise longue...yet).

3 B.T.'s

1: Have started to read Richard Fortey's book 'Dry Store Room No: 1' - a sort of 'natural history' of the Natural History Museum in London. It is hilarious.
2: Saw a Peacock butterfly on one of the Buddlia's next to the river - the first one I have seen in York this year.
3: While planning for our next trade show in London, we make arrangements to do fun stuff as well as business..

bye for now,

Love Ruthie xxx

Sunday, 25 July 2010

Hoorah for Sammy!

It has been a 'bit of a week' to say the least. We were seriously down on numbers as Alanna (Banana) was on holiday and Sophie was off sick, John was also poorly but was soldiering on (one of the few men that I know who doesn't get 'Man Flu'!). However, I was fine and we fortunately still had Sammy. She was on her second week with us on a work placement from University and I don't know what we would have done without her! She has been a real treasure, hard-working and with the ability to pick up new tasks faster than anyone I have seen. We were all really sad to see her go at the end of the week - and Sammy had even bought the team some Thornton's chocolates as a Thank-you. So it is a big 'Hoorah' for Sammy and good luck with her final year at university.

So because it was 'all hands to the pumps' at work, I haven't had time to add in the new bookmarks to the website. I do promise to do it soon and there is now the possibility of some new designs, poetry quotations from a poet that has joined our list of Sumptuosity friends on Facebook. So I'll keep you posted with how discussions with that new project are progressing.

On Saturday after taking the parcels to the Post Office, I went to have another little look at the booksale on St. Saviour's Gate....what can I say? except to quote the nineteenth century writer Mrs Oliphant who said that 'there was nothing so costly as bargains'.

Sunday morning was glorious and sunny and so John and I went to Askham Bog nature reserve. Most of the flowers have gone over at this time of the year and the few birds who are still singing are generally well and truly hidden by the leaves of the trees and bushes. Although I could distinctly make out the sound of the Chiffchaff and the Wren. There were some fabulous insects to be seen, Common Blue Damselflies and a Four-Spotted Chaser Dragonfly. The absolute hightlight was the Water Vole. We had been standing quickly by the sound of the pond looking at the insects, when out he/she popped merrily swimming along, gnawing at reeds and then taking the stalks back to it's house. It was tooooo gorgeous for words and even John (a.k.a. grumpy Yorkshireman) was delighted at seeing it and said that it was very cute, so you can imagine how lovely it was in real life. The photograph at the top is a 'valiant attempt' (his words not mine, I think it is great) by John with 'limited resources'.

Now it is time for our Sunday evening Martini....

3 B.T.'s

1: Working with the lovely Sammy, she has been great, to say the least.

2: Finding a book for my brother Ed at the booksale, I can't wait to post it to him as I am sure that he will love it...just hope he doesn't have it already. He does have quite a few books, although that is a classic case of the kettle calling the pot black!

3: Seeing the Water Vole at Askham Bog was wonderful and well done to Yorkshire Wildlife Trust for managing the site so well that such fabulous creatures can take up residence.

Bye for now,

Love Ruthie xxx

Monday, 19 July 2010

Re-organising in the Flat and on the Website...

Monday morning and it is our day off and so of course we are doing work on the website! John has been busy altering some of the images that can be seen at the beginning of the site and I am going through the shop area and seeing what we need to put up on -line. I have only just started with the bookmarks and am already up to number 45 (!!!) on my list. A few require new pictures as the original design has evolved but many of the designs that we now do simply aren't up there! I have even thought of a few new ideas while writing out the list of designs to be embroidered and photographed.This is something that I promise to get stuck into in the next few days.

Yesterday (Sunday) was our other day off - I know two WHOLE days can it be true? and so John decided that arrangement of the living room still wasn't quite right. The television was not in the right place but to move it would require a new longer cable and where could we find one at 3.45 on a Sunday afternoon? Fortunately we live quite close to Barnitt's in York and they sell everything under the sun and so we managed to get the cable. However, in order to move the television we had to first move one of the small bookcases. So I took out the books and arranged them on the floor but then in order to put the new cable in place we had to get to the television socket which was behind another bookcase....yes you guessed it I had to take all the books out of that one as well! Then I decided that I wanted to swap the books over from the first bookcase to the second one. Added into this fun mix is a beautiful but annoying rug that will NOT stay in one place and which must be contantly flatten back into position...However, in the end after much jiggary pokery we managed to get everything sorted. Yes, honestly, we did..... It is fab in fact, as we now have our dining table against the window and are able to eat our breakfast while gazing at the view (York Minster, archeologists at the Hungate Dig Site, the birds, fish in the river Foss and of course not to forget the men repairing the pavements...). Yes, I think that we have finally sorted out how we want the living room to for the rest of the flat!

In the Studio we have had the company of a lovely student called Sammy. She is studying textiles at Demontfort University (one of my old stomping grounds) and wanted to do a work placement with a craft business. She is being introduced to all the glamour of working for yourself (although I hasten to add that I haven't got her to sweep up the floor or make the tea), but we are getting her to cut up the endless pieces of fabric for the embroideries (e.g. white blouses for icing on the Cupcakes). Don't worry, we are letting her have a go at the embroidery as well as and she is really picking it up very quickly. Although would you believe that the one problem that she is having is that her embroideries are a little too small! I know, hard to imagine but someone who actually embroiders tinier images than we do. Sammy is with us this week as well before going home for the Summer.

3 B.T.'s

1: Sitting on the sofa with a Martini after re-arranging the living room.
2: I have got three new friends on LibraryThing this week - I am addicted to this bookish site.
3: I went to a booksale at St. Saviour's gate in York and came away with a bag full of books and all for £8.60.

Bye for now,

Love Ruthie xx

Tuesday, 6 July 2010

Oxford and York

John and I had a fabulous time in Oxford. The weather was glorious and the sun shone down on the dreaming spires. It was a real mixture of culture and beer (a bit like an episode of Lewis - but without the murders!) and John and I found a number of wonderful museums and real ale pubs to visit. My favourite was the Oxford Natural History Museum, which is an absolutely beautiful building, although rather over fussy in John's opinion but that's Victorian gothic design for you. John enjoyed the Pitt Rivers Museum because he was able to do some research for his latest Open University Project. This assignment is about the Benin bronzes and while we were standing there, another couple walked up to the exhibition case and began to stare intensely at the objects. Hello, I said, are you studying at the O.U. as well? It just so happened that the man was, and then the next minute another man walked up to the case and began to make some notes. Hello, I said, are you studying at the O.U. as well? The man looked quite amazed and said that Yes he was but how did I know? Oh just a wild guess...... the fact that this wonderful museum was crammed full of objects and yet the largest crowd was in front of the Benin art in one small corner gave me a clue...

At the Natural History Museum, we had a coffee with Jennifer who runs the Museum shop, although we have talked and emailed quite a few times this was our first face to face meeting. Sales had been going well and she was interested to see if I could get any inspiration from the museum collections and/or the building decorations. She loved the new Dodo and Chamelon designs. The really exciting piece of news that she had to tell us was that the museum had been visited by Tim Burton and Helena Bonham-Carter and they had purchased some of our Alice in Wonderland designs! I was sooooo excited I couldn't wait to tell Sophie and John (whose Laptop is never far from his side) put it up on Facebook before you could 'Wonderland'.

Oxford was wonderful but it was nice to get home to York. The first evening at home we watched an episode of Lewis and enjoyed guessing which bits of the city they were in and/or which pubs! It is incredible the number of times that Lewis and Hathaway seem to be walking past the Radcliffe Camera (the picture at the top of this blog)!

An interesting job that Sophie and I have worked on this week, has been the embroidery of a preaching scarf for a friend of Father Tim's. It was a real 'rush job' as it was needed for Sunday morning and he didn't bring it into the Studio until Saturday morning. However, we did manage to get it done and he was very pleased with our embroidery. It had been a real departure for us as Ecclesiastical devices are not our usual type of thing - to say the least.

The Swifts have been screeching above the city of York although not as many as last year. These birds are one of my favourites. The Buddleia blooms are coming out along the side of the Foss and I am avidly looking out for buterflies. This is our first Summer in this area of York and so I have my fingers crossed that I will see more than I did last year. In fact any would be nice...


1: Saw a beautiful demoiselle Damselfly in the garden of the Merchant Adventurer's Hall in York

2: A Red Kite (bird of prey) seen spiralling over a field near to Tring Natural History Museum as we left to start our journey home to York.

3: John and his O.U. course - he is doing so well and is getting into his seriously into his study. Not bad for a 'thick Barnsley boy'! I am so proud of him.

Bye for now,

Love Ruthie xx

Sunday, 20 June 2010

Sewing, Wildlife and Middle-age.


First I must apologise for my lack of posts this month. John will probably put this down to my exhaustive viewing of Spring watch - both on BBC2 in the evening and the webcams on the internet during the day. I must admit that there may well be a bit of truth in that, as there are only so many hours in a day and what with all the Sumptuosity sewing and Springwatch there hasn't been a lot of time in between! However, I must also admit to feeling somewhat down having had visits to both the Doctor and the Dentist - nothing major wrong just niggling signs of 'middle-age' - just what you like to hear! So I have been feeling a little maudling or to put it more accurately 'Mardy' as we say in Nottingham. I think I need a holiday, so it is just as well that John and I are off to Oxford on Thursday morning!

Speaking of Nottingham, John and I visited Mummsie today and we (that is me and Mum) did some gardening. I have managed to clear out the overgrown plants around her bird baths and so now she can reach them again. So she is very pleased. I have also promised to come back next Monday (after Oxford) to cut the front hedge, so she is even more pleased! It was lovely being in the garden (even if I do have scratchers from the dreaded Brambles!).

John is doing well with his O.U. course - he was busy reading about the latest subject (Benin Art) while Mummsie and me were in the garden. He has been getting very good grades and so wants to keep it up (Swot!), he has even discovered where we can see some Benin art in Oxford. I have discovered a real ale pub next door to a bookshop, so we should both be happy!

Meanwhile in t'Studio, we have done some samples for a Christmas project for Waitrose - yes, I did say Christmas. The main news is that we have finally finished and sent off the 1000 mirrors for the conference order. It was incredible how these mirrors completely took over the Studio for a few days! Even packing them was a mammoth job...

3 B.T.'s
1: I have loved watching BBC2's 'Wild Night In' - I think that the Spring watch team are great and am really impressed by the projects that the Wildlife Fund sponsor. - if you haven't contributed then please do so soon. xx
2: Clearing away the vegetation away from Mum's Bird baths and seeing her happy face as she cleaned and then refilled them with water.
3: Planning for Oxford. Lots of Museums, bookshops and pubs for us to visit.

Bye for now,
Love Ruth xx

Sunday, 6 June 2010

Spring Watch, Eye of Newt & the DHL delivery man

Sunday morning and I am at home with a mug of tea and the sound of the Canada and Grey Lag Geese kicking off outside. These creatures are some of the most noisy and troublesome birds I have ever come across. Still I don't really mind, it is nice to be able to hear nature and in between we can hear anything from a blackbird, to a Chaffinch to a Wren - not forgetting the pipping of Gold Finches.

This brings me to my one real complaint about Spring Watch (which I love), is that they rarely - if ever seem to feature nature in cities. Simon King is always filming in the wilds of Scotland (although this time admittedly he is in Dorset) and Kate and Chris are placed in the midst of a beautiful nature reserve. For many of us nature is seen on the way to work, or where we live and not simply a visit to a specific reserve. The river Foss is next to our flat and we see a variety of fish and birdlife, although admittedly (and sadly) we also see the detritus of city living, including beer bottles, fastfood cartons, etc so I suppose it wouldn't always make such a photogenic scene! However a walk around the city walls will soon give the observer an appreciation of the biodiversity that can be found within a city and I believe that this should be celebrated.

Meanwhile in Sumptuosity Towers, we have been busy embroidering bookmarks for Shakespeare's Globe Theatre. They wanted more of the 'Eye of Newt and Toe of Frog design', half in Scarlet and half in Firefly (orange) - the very bright colours are obviously the most popular! A really nice woman from California came into the Studio on Tuesday, she was over in England visiting her son and couldn't resist coming in to see what it was that we were doing, having first viewed us through the front windows! She bought a number of bookmarks and badges as presents for friends back in the States and also purchased a lot of the samples from our 'Runts and Orphans' bowl, these were to be used for her own scrap-booking. Everything was 'fabulous' and she even took photographs of the outside of the Studio as well as the work-room. Sophie and Alanna (Banana), also had their picture taken, which is not surprising as they are both very pretty!

On Friday and Saturday we started work on the Museum of London order, so lots of Fried Eggs, Teapots and Cups & Saucers were being embroidered. Sophie and I still have the Bowler Hats to accomplish but these will have to wait until Tuesday.

On Friday, John and I decided to enjoy a bit of the Summer sunshine and so we went and had our elevenses in the garden of the Merchant Adventurer's Hall, where you can have a nice cup of coffee from our friends at The Hairy Fig deli & cafe. We have been working so hard lately that we had started to forget how important it is to also take time to enjoy yourself. To 'stop and pick some daisies'.

3 B.T.'s

1: A mug of tea on a Sunday morning with the knowledge that today I can do what I like.
2: Spring Watch has started this week and so for three weeks I can look at nature even while in the Studio through the magic of their wonderful webcams.
3: Our lovely DHL deliveryman brought a parcel for me to the Studio even though it had our home address on it because he knew that we would be at work and he remembered that I was waiting for a parcel from the O.U.

Bye for now,

Love Ruthie xx

Sunday, 30 May 2010

Kate's visit, eating & re-organisation

We have been busy as bees all week at Sumptuosity Towers, the new layout for the studio is working well (much easier for me to sweep the floor, etc!) and we have been trying new methods of organisation in regards to the sewing, making up and packing of the orders. Sophie has proved to be John's 'Mini-Me' and is always cracking the whip! John has also been busy with the website (it is not unlike the painting of the Forth bridge...) and has now grouped the Mirrors and the Bookmarks into relevant subject areas. This means that whether you are looking for flowers or fashion you can immediately go to the area that you want to look at. We have now finally decided to put Sophie's beautiful embroidered Alice in Wonderland pictures for sale on-line. The greeting cards are now firmly established and so we are now in a position to let them go...although to tell you the truth I shall be sad to see them go as they are lovely!

What is this I hear you cry all work and no fun at Sumptuosity Towers??? Don't worry, as usual we have had a number of pleasant diversions this week. On Thursday we were visited by a lovely student called Claire. She is currently studying illustration in Cumbria and wanted to visit Sumptuosity Towers to see what we got up to.... After swearing her to secrecy and making a blood oath (....only joking!) we demonstrated our various skills, including free-hand embroidery, being silly, drinking tea and even let her have a go on the sewing machine. Basically, I told her exactly what Naseem Darby told me all those years ago - just have a go and don't worry about anything!

On Friday, we were visited by our mate Kate from Oakwood Aromatics. She appeared as if by magic the second that Sophie said that she was going to make the three-o-clock cup of tea! She and Phil had been busy at their stall with 'Made in Yorkshire', but she still found time to come and see us (which is always great) and even better she had brought a rhurbarb tart for us all to eat. John had just popped out to do the banking but I was good and made sure that we left him a honestly I really did!

I am really looking forward to our long weekend in Oxford - this is to celebrate our wedding anniversary and not to do with the business....although we do have a stockist in Oxford that we will be visiting while we are there! Don't be too sorry for us, as it is the Oxford University Museum of Natural History and I am absolutely desperate to visit again as it must be nearly twenty years since I was last a small child obviously.... (ho ho ho). I am hoping to get some more natural history inspiration for embroideries. I'll keep you all posted...

3 B.T.'s

1: Sophie and I went to Space 109's 'Gorrilla Cafe' for our tea yesterday. It was wonderful veggie food and a great arty/musical atmosphere - it reminded me of the sort of fundraiser I used to go to when I was a teenager living in Forest Fields in Nottingham... we also both ate a piece of Lemon Meringue cake..... fabulous!
2: Kate and the Rhurbarb Tart - always lovely to see her cheeky face at Sumptuosity Towers.
3: Re-arranging my bookshelves so that I can fit more on....

Bye for now,

Love Ruth xxx

Sunday, 23 May 2010

Fish in the Foss!

The weather has been superb in York this week and all of the Sumptuosity Fairies have been enjoying it...well, I say all but Sophie (who is a little Alpine Flower) has been feeling the heat and been wilting slightly. She is very pale and so burns very easily as well and keeps covered up, while Alanna (Banana) is a real sun worshipper and has been completely in her element.

I enjoy seeing the sunshine, even if it is through the windows of Sumptuosity Towers as I sit and sew away! I did have some time off this week, as Wednesday was my birthday and I had an 'extended' lunch break to go book shopping. It would have been longer but we are super busy and so couldn't really spare any more time. However, I did manage to find some nice titles to add to the Brompton-Charlesworth Library. What was super nice on my birthday was that Alanna (Banana) had made me a gorgeous Chocolate cake! It was huge and we all had large slabs of it with our morning and afternoon tea breaks....mmmmmmmmmh! The girls had also got me some lovely birthday presents - a Salt and Pepper set shaped like Guinea-Pigs ( I am Guinea-pig mad) and the CD soundtrack of 'Bend it like Beckham'. This is one of my favourite soundtracks and I had previously told the girls about how my copy had got scratched to bits in John's Land Rover. It was so sweet of them to spoil me like this, although I hope that they won't regret buying me the CD, as we have played it about three times already this week! It does have a brilliant song (one of many!) called 'Feeling Hot, Hot, Hot'. We have decided that it is Sophie's Sumptuosity Summer Song.

Fiona and Alice from 'Grace and Jacob' (next door at No: 7 Barleycorn Yard), popped in on Saturday, with a large Chocolate Muffin (complete with candle) and a lovely felt flower brooch (made by Fiona) for my birthday. Isn't it incredible how everyone seems to know that I like chocolate......? It is really good to have another creative textile-based business here in Barleycorn Yard.

The sunny weather seems to have really brought out all the York Wild life, as I am pleased to state that the Swifts are back in York and flying high overhead and I have even seen a Swallow flying above the city walls (which is a first for me here in York). What has been really nice is that we have spotted two Grey Wagtails flitting about over the surface of the Foss and we are currently busy looking about to see if they are nesting nearby - fingers crossed! What has really amazed and delighted me this week is the sight of lots and lots of fish in the Foss. When the sun hits the water it is possible to see much deeper than is normally possible and both John and I have been 'fish watching'... a bit like bird watching but instead it is fish! I am sure that yesterday we saw a Pike lurking among the Lily pads and there are lots of fish with a dark line down the centre of their body, although I don't know what they are. I think that I need an 'Observer's Book of Fish'! Anyway, the point is that it is great to know that the Foss is so teaming with life.

3 B.T.'s

1: John and I have been watching a Grey Wagtail most mornings are we walk along the Foss on our way to the Studio. It is wonderful to watch it flitting above the surface of the water catching insects.
2: The swifts are back in York and can be heard screeching above the city and this morning I was surprised (although very pleased) to see a Swallow.
3: Book buying on my birthday. I have now increased my Gerald Durrell collection, including one written by his sister, which is called 'Whatever happened to Margo?

Bye for now,

Love Ruthie xxx

Sunday, 16 May 2010

Re-organising the Studio...

Ahhhhh Sunday morning and our first 'day off' for about a fortnight. I do love to do trade fairs but because they are invariably at a weekend it means that we don't get a day off until the following weekend (unless you count the day we travelled back and unpacked the Land Rover at home and the Studio?). Anyway, we have already been out and 'follopped' around the city walls (when will it start to get a little easier?) and now having a little us time, John is reading some material for his O.U. course and I am of course writing up my blog!

I actually did some baking this week. I made a batch of iced buns complete with Fairy sprinkles for the Sumptuosity Fairies as they have been working so hard this week and I wanted to treat them. Sophie (whom John has know put in charge of production figures) says that we should have cakes as a treat on a Friday BUT only if we have managed to hit all of our making targets for the week. She thinks that this will give us plenty of incentive to really get sewing...I'll keep you posted with how we do!

Yesterday, John, Sophie and myself took a complete day off from production to re-arrange the Studio space. We originally had all the work tables in the centre of the room but have now placed them around the walls. This will mean a lot more light for Sophie and Alanna (Banana) at their work tables and I will be nearer to the Studio shop area, so that I can leap up and chat with the people who find their way to Sumptuosity Towers. We have been able to make much better use of the old bar settle, which is a feature of the room, although not for drinks! It now holds zillions of little 'Useful Boxes', all labelled according to their intended subject matter, e.g. bits of red fabric for Ladybirds etc etc. It was a bit scary taking off a complete day when we are so busy to do this work but we believe that it will be well worth it both in terms of productivity and a nicer, less cluttered area to work in. In fact there is now so much space in the centre of the room, that me and the Sumptuosity Fairies would be able to dance around our handbags to Alanna (Banana)'s Motown C.D.s. Only Joking John! We will of course be chained to our machines completing our orders...

I am counting down the days until my birthday (which is Wednesday), not that it is a particular age, it is just that I always enjoy my birthday! Alanna (Banana) has told me that she is going to make me a cake (how sweet of her!!), but that it will be a surprise as to what type it is. Everyone at Sumptuosity Towers is very keen on cake and as Alanna (Banana) is so fabulous at baking it will of course be wonderful, whatever it is! I am also going to take the afternoon off - yes, John has heard about this, I wasn't simply going to sneak off at lunchtime. I shall be having a walk around the bookshops of York, at least as many of those that I can manage in an afternoon. Who knows I may even find a book or two to add to the 'Brompton-Charlesworth Library'? I 'll meet up with John in the early evening in order to visit our beloved local for a little drinkie and then we are going to an Indian restaurant - my favourite food. John did ask if Alanna (Banana) was going to put candles on my cake....yes, you can guess where this line of conversation was going! He said that it was alright if she did because Sumptuosity Towers has it's own fire extinguisher!

This afternoon, John and I are off to the cinema to see the new Robin Hood film. This continues to be the cause of some 'discussion' between us or as John likes to call it 'The Yorkshire/Nottinghamshire Divide'. Robin Hood as all correct thinking people know was from Nottingham!!!! He was definitely NOT a Yorkshireman. Why? Well, let's look at the evidence...What is Robin Hood renowned for? - He robbed from the rich and gave to the when have you ever heard of a Yorkshireman giving anything away! I rest my case....

3 B.T.'s

1: Baking cakes for the Sumptuosity Fairies - they really liked them, especially the Fairy Sprinkles.
2: The river Foss currently has lots of little fluffy goslings swimming about on it and it is so lovely to see them in a line following their parents.
3: Sleeping in my own bed after being away at a trade fair - bliss!

Bye for now,

Love Ruth x

Tuesday, 11 May 2010

Back from Bath

Whhhhhew! We are back from Bath, having been there since Saturday for a trade fair. We love being in Bath as it is such a beautiful city and it is great after a day at a show to be able to go out and find somewhere yummy to eat and of course a real ale pub for John... for medicinal purposes of course! It was an interesting fair and I was particularly pleased to have talked to a number of different museums and municipal authorities in regards to bespoke designs. This is something we are increasingly doing and is definitely a favourite of mine to work on. John checked his emails at lunchtime (while we were in a service station - is he joined to his laptop or what??) and discovered that we had just had another large order from the Museum of London, so it looks like me and Sophie will be busy embroidering more Bowler Hats designs...

During breakfast at the B&B in Bath, I showed one woman my new Dodo design and I told her about the remains of the specimen that is in the Oxford Museum, "oh My" she said "were Dodo's actually real birds?" One of my fellow exhibitor's told me about a conversation he had also overheard at Breakfast . It went like this " How is this Grilled Tomato cooked?"..... Answer "it is grilled"...

One of the things that I did love in Bath was the discovery of a wonderful bookshop. I had spotted Topping & Company Booksellers before but had never had the chance to go in, however, I went out on Sunday lunchtime in order to find some food and found myself inextricably drawn towards this shop. I felt that a little look in couldn't hurt.... Anyway, no sooner had I gone in through the door when I saw a large and beautiful book. It was 'Bugs Britannica' by Peter Marren and Richard Mabey. I had been waiting for this book to be published and so was pleased to see it, but I was soon to be even more pleased! I looked at the acknowledgement page and I was listed!!! A couple of years ago I had responded to a email request from the charity Buglife in regards to stories/information about insects and their relationship with humanity. I had sent in some information (from the Ph.D.) about the use of the Bee in 19th century literature and more especially in the trade logo's of the Lace company 'Birkins'. This information had found it way into the book and I was delighted. So delighted in fact that I had to buy the book, particularly as the shop had a signed copy. Books, bugs and finally some use for my Ph.D. - how could I resist?

Yesterday was Mummsie's birthday - she was 87, I was sorry not to have seen her but we did send her a large bunch of blue and white flowers and of course I did use the mobile phone to ring her and sing Happy Birthday - much to the amusement of the other people at the Trade Fair! Today she has been to visit a Bluebell wood, which is something that she has always wanted to do. I talked to her on the telephone tonight so that she could tell me all about it. There was a choice of two paths through the woods, a short one and a much longer one, Mummsie insisted that now she had finally got to her Bluebell wood she was not going to do anything but the long path!!! She is absolutely fabulous.

Tomorrow, we are to be up early and into the Studio, it will be nice to get back behind my sewing machine, as I do miss my embroidery, if I am away from it for a few days. We have got lots of work to be getting on with and I will have to tell Sophie that she needs to sew lots of Bowler Hats.... I'll make her a cup of tea first!

3 B.T.'s

1: Nice new book - Bugs Britannica is wonderful and a great addition to this brilliant series.

2: John and I visited No:1 Royal Crescent Bath, this is now a lovely museum of 18th century interior design. I especially loved the portrait of Mrs Delany by John Opie, she was a great Blue-Stocking.

3: Mummsie happily telling me about her visit to the Bluebell Wood.

Bye for now,
Love Ruthi x

Sunday, 2 May 2010

Dodos and Chameleons

Yesterday morning (about 6.15am) John and I went for a walk/jomp/run around the city (with emphasis upon the walk!) - call it our mid-life crisis but it is definitely time for us to eat a little less and move a little more...

Later the same day ( after our yomp) I had been busy drawing new designs - so I will soon be embroidering Ammonites, Dodos and Chameleons. The key stage is to work out a simple shape that can 'easily' be redrawn but that still looks like the creature (etc) that you are trying to convey. For us at Sumptuosity it is important that what we draw is completely freehand and NOT a template, as this will create a truely unique and fresh item for both the maker and the buyer. I shall be writing about these designs in more detail for a 'guest blog spot next weekend. We have been asked by the lovely ladies at 'Copy and Paste' to give a contribution in celebration of their first year of postings. It is a great site and we are more than happy to do so! Apparently they are are fans of Sumptuosity Towers and love to hear about the goings on and thought that we would be suitable........ - the crazy people!!!

John has been busy in negotiations regarding conference organisers who are looking for 1000 handbag mirrors for their delegates and so me and the other Sumptuosity Fairies are all poised to see if we are about to beging the mass sewing of 250 Damselflies etc. Don't worry, if we do get the final confirmation I promise to let both Sophie and Alanna (Banana) home at night..... honestly.

I am looking forward to SpringWatch, even though it doesn't start until the end of May! In the meantime I am able to watch the wildlife out of our flat window and of course as we walk around the city. My main area of interest ( and I know that I have mentioned this before) is of course Bennie the Bunnie. He has been out in force in the 'Brown Field Site' opposite to our home. Yesterday morning I was looking out of the window when I was horrified to see Bennie being hotly pursued by a large and angry looking Carrion Crow. It is just as well that I am not an impartial BBC wildlife photographer as my first instinct was to scream and yell 'RUN BUNNY RUN'. I am happy to state that Bennie lived to chase about another day but my heart was definitely in my mouth... Has Bennie learned his lesson? Well it would appear not as John and I watched him later that morning first running circles around Wood Pigeons (until they took off) and then chase a gaggle of Goslings - until the angry parent chased Bennie off. But then and I couldn't believe my eyes, Bennie took on a large Greylag Goose. He ran his usual circles around the Goose and then began to chase him! It was an incredible sight to see this bunny basically attack this huge Goose. "What are you thinking of ??? I shouted at the window but in the end it was the Goose that had had enough and took off in flight. I think that Securicor should think of employing this rabbit as he is definitely fiestier than an Alsation.

Bank holiday Monday - we went for another yomp/walk/run this morning and then once back at home I have been on t'netbook. I have recently become the Hon.Secretary for the York Bibliographical Society and so have just set up a Facebook page for them, as well as updating their information on LibraryThing. John has been busy with his O.U. assignment but now it is time to dodge the showers and have a leisurely wander around the walls (not charging around like a couple of middle-aged Hippos!).

3 B.T.'s
1: Have just seen some Lily pads in the river Foss (it is the slowest river), so hopefully Lilies will not be far behind.
2: A wren was singing away outside our window this morning, for such a tiny bird they make an incredibly loud noise - I wonder if they have mini microphone systems, like aerobics teachers wear??
3: Sorry, but it just has to be Bennie the Bunny again. His escapades make my day.

Bye for now,
Love Ruth xx

Friday, 23 April 2010

St. George's Day!

Hello and a Happy St. George's Day to you all.

John and I decided that in order to celebrate our National Day and the Birthday of Shakespeare we should create a public holiday and so Sumptuosity Towers is closed today and the Fairies are flitting about doing their own thing. John is currently in his study (his lair...I think that he will soon put up a sign that states 'John's Study Kee Pout'!). It has definitely become his province just as the 'Living Library' (an amalgamation of Living Room and Library) has become mine!

Anyway, to keep you all up to date with the happenings at Sumptuosity Towers... Sophie's debut into York Open Studio's went very well, with lots of visitor's and lots of comments/reactions. I was very proud of her as she really got into talking to people about her work and her ideas. She has now got added vigor to update her own website and to actively pursue more venues at which to exhibit - go Sophie! go!

We had a successful time at the BCTF trade fair and orders are still continuing to flood in, even some more coming in from Scotland's Spring trade fair that we attended in January. So it is all go at Sumptuosity Towers. John and I are spending some of our 'day off' looking at new designs, as we have had lots of specialised requests from current stockists and potential stockists. It is a very eclectic mix to say the least and I shall be looking at a range of things from the poems of Robert Burns to wild daffodils and Ammonites...

It looks like Spring is finally making a break for it here in York and John and I have had some very nice walks around the City Walls. It is wonderful the number of species of birds that you both see and hear around the city. On one of our last walks I counted 16 different species of birds, including a very fleeting sight of two House Martins. I am looking forward to when the Swifts arrive, as I love to see them flying high above the city. The Bunny is still occasionally seen in the brown field site opposite our flat and is still chasing pidgeons and even the odd Jackdaw off his patch. This he does by running in circles around the said bird until it becomes fed up and flies off...although if this does not work he will also charge directly at the bird! Sophie and John think that 'he (the bunny) is not quite 'right', although I prefer to see him as merely eccentric. If any one else has seen a bunny act in this manner I would love to hear about it.

3 B.T.'s

1: Bird song in the morning - hurrah for the Spring!
2: Bennie the Bunny running circles around pidgeons.
3: John and I have booked a long weekend in Oxford for our wedding anniversary in June and we are having a great time deciding all the places to visit.

Bye for now,
Love Ruth x

Wednesday, 14 April 2010

Back from the Trade Fair and Open Studios

It is now Thursday morning and I think that I am a little more awake than I was yesterday as the first day back from a trade fair I always feel like a sleepwalker. We were in the Studio yesterday but I didn't get that much made as I was trying to tidy up and sort out all of our wares from the fair. We also still had some customers come into the shop area, one man was busy looking for a card for his wife's birthday and resorted to going through a box of cards that I had yet to unpack! Needless to say he managed to find a nice card with hens on it, one of a collection that we have just got from our friend Phil at Beamer's Designs. Phil has even given us our very own 'spinner' in which to display the cards and so I spent a pleasant few minutes emptying the box (after the customer had gone) and arranging the designs on it - until I got a look from my hubby that suggested that I stopped 'playing about' and got on with some real work!

Mind you it is still all 'up in the air' at Sumptuosity Towers as this weekend is the York Open Studios and we are hosting Sophie's work. Sophie, as many of you know is a Sumptuosity Fairy by day and at all other times a fine artist (mixed media sculpture). So for the past week or so, work has been appearing in the studio and we have all had to be very careful not to tread, sit on or walk into any of the pieces! On friday morning we will be clearing the shop area and Sophie (who has booked the day off) is spending the time, finishing off the window displays and preparing the main display area. We have also got to finalise the food and drink (always essentials at Sumptuosity Towers!). It is all very exciting and we are all looking forward to the event and seeing the work in it's full glory.

3 B.T.'s

1: We looked out of the window this morning and John said 'is that a Pheasant over there?', I got out the binoculars and lo and behold it was indeed. Now you might not think that the sight of a Pheasant is that strange an occurance and you would be correct except that we live in the middle of a city!
2: Yesterday morning I spotted 'Bennie the bunny' on the brown field site across from our flat, I haven't seen him for a while and so was pleased to see that he was back and still chasing pigeons - go for it Bennie!
3: Alanna (Banana) had made some cakes for Sophie's birthday and had saved a couple of them for when we got back from the show - what a sweetie!

Bye for now,

Love Ruth xx

Monday, 12 April 2010

Day Two of the BCTF


Well, we are just back from day two at the BCTF (British Craft Trade Fair) and to say that John and I are tired would be an understatement! There is something that is just so peculiarly mentally exhausting about a trade fair unlike any other type of work I have ever done. Firstly, there is the standing in one spot all day (except of course when I sneak off to buy coffee or to look at 'pretty things'), smiling all day, talking to people (or not depending upon the footfall at the show) and trying to not be 'away with the fairies' as a potential stockist can appear at any time - in fact we had our last buyer today right in the last minutes of the show! It is not the same as doing a craft fair (although that can also be very tiring), because there you get to count money at the end of the day and at a trade fair it is orders (hopefully) or simply the amount of information given out that you hope will eventually become orders! No, a trade fair is on a level all of it's own.

However, it is proving to be a good fair and we have taken a number of orders and got some interesting new commissions, for example work for the National Trust for Scotland in relation to Robert Burns. I also have to embroider 30 crabs for a gallery in Cromer as there is a crab festival going on there at the moment - never a dull moment at Sumptuosity Towers! I have also been having a lot of fun placing some orders with other crafts people for items for our little studio shop. I have been given strict instructions by John that it is not simply about 'pretty things' that I like (although the orders I have placed are indeed for things that I think are pretty but that is another issue). We are also going to be having a lot more cards in the shop area, as these are always popular and there are just so many gorgeous cards at the fair this year. Our new Alice in Wonderland cards are also going down a bomb and I can't to get them into the Studio shop and on-line - we will of course keep you posted!

3 B.T's

1: There is one section of road on our way to Harrogate, where the roadside banks are full of primroses - beautiful.

2: I ate my sandwich on the steps outside of the venue in the warm Spring sunshine, looking at the lovely Yorkshire countryside and listening to birdsong.

3: John has made a lovely curry for dinner, after a long day what more could I want?

bye for now,

love Ruth x

p.s. John has purchased a Mi Fi (mobile internet thingy) and so if you are 'down with the kids' you can follow our adventures at the BCTF on Facebook, as we are updating through the day.

Tuesday, 6 April 2010

Bats in the Belfry

Back to work at Sumptuosity Towers after the Easter break. I always find that I am a little confused as to what a day it is after a bank holiday, although there are probably many who doubt that I know what day of the week it is at the best of times!

The Sumptuosity fairies had fun this after with an order from the Museum of London, we had to design and sew 'Bowler Hats' brooches. We all had ago, Sophie's were rather like Steed's hat (from The Avenger's), while mine were more like Mr. Ben's. We came up with something that we were happy with in the end (John has put some pictures up on Facebook - are we down with the kids or what!!!). We also had to sew 50 'Egg & Chips' designs, it made us all hungry, nothing new there.

Sophie and Alanna have been telling me about the Easter Eggs that they had had this Sunday, they weren't too happy about be thought of as 'too old' by many members of their families to be given Easter Eggs. Mind you we all ate so many chocolate crunchy nest cakes (some made with corn flakes and some with rice crispies) that we were all a bit 'hyper' by the end of last week, so goodness knows what the fairies would have been like if they had had even MORE chocolate...

So home to our flat at the end of the day - it seemed to fly! While John and I were eating our dinner, I noticed something flash (or should I say flitter?) past the window...and again. It was too fast and erratic in movements to be a bird so I went to have a closer look and discovered that the BATS are back. Hurrah - does this mean that Spring is finally here??? We live right next to the river Foss and the bats (there were two of them) were flying up and down the river. It was great. I'm not sure what type they are - I know more about birds than bats. Spring watch in York...


1: Talking with Sophie and Alanna (Banana) about chocolate.

2: Pasta, Pesto, artichoke hearts and cheese and herb bread from The Hairy Fig - Scrummy.

3: Seeing Bats flitting about outside the living room window.

Bye for now,

Love Ruthie xx

Saturday, 3 April 2010

Adventures of Nellie the Netbook

We have been having some real fun in the Studio this week with Nellie the Netbook, although she sits on John's desk rather than on my work table. This is because Nellie needs to be plugged into the router in order to gain connection to the Internet, although I also think that John likes to keep an eye on me and check that I am not on 'LibraryThing' rather than doing 'proper' Sumptuosity related work! (As if I would....). We have been updating the Facebook site on a regular basis over the last couple of days and Sophie has been especially enjoying herself by bossing John about and making sure that he has photographed any new designs that we have made.

I have enlisted Sophie and Alanna (Banana) in my mission to get fans on Facebook, this has been inspired as Alanna (Banana) is is real Facebook girl and has been contacting all her chums and invited them to the Sumptuosity page. John was really amazed when he first saw the numbers shoot up and wondered how I was doing it. Just like George Washington I cannot tell a lie (unless it is about my book buying habits) and admitted that it wasn't me but the lovely Alanna.

If you are on Facebook, why not join us as a Fan and not only will you be helping me in my 'Facebook Challenge' but we will be putting all our fans into a prize draw at the end of April and fifty lucky winners will receive a Sumptuosity item (brooch, bookmark or mirror) of their choice - this was John's idea and coming from a Yorkshire man that is pretty impressive as normally "if you are going to do owt for nowt do it for thy sen".

We are busy preparing for next weekend's trade fair - the wonderful British Craft Trade Fair. This is my absolute favourite show, as it is wonderful to meet up with people that we know and look at the lovely work that British artists and craftspeople make. It is (of course) very tempting and John is always reminding me that 'we are at the fair to sell our wares not for me to buy pretty things'. It doesn't stop be doing a little bartering at the end of the show...

The weekend after this is York Open Studios and this year we have sponsored Sophie to participate. We will be emptying the Studio shop area, window space etc and letting Sophie have free range with her sculpture. Wild and crazy items have been appearing over the last couple of weeks and Sophie is now sure (just about) that she has enough work for this exhibition. However, she is now worried that no one will come and see her work - that girl is just a born worrier! I have told her that it will be a brilliant event and that she should 'trust me because I'm a doctor'...

3 B.T's

1: The river next to where we live has a variety of birdlife but one of my favourites is a little wren that can be seen scuttling around the walls and has the loudest and most beautiful song.
2: On the way to the Studio this morning we saw a family of pretty little goslings bobbing about on the river (John took a picture and put it on Facebook).
3: John and I watched the new episode of Dr. Who tonight and I must admit that even though I loved David Tennent and was ready to not enjoy it - I really liked it in spite of myself.

Bye for now,

Love Ruthie xx

Wednesday, 31 March 2010

Latest Challenge - Mission FaceBook

Since I have got Nellie the NetBook John has been teasing me that I will spend all my time on LibraryThing. This is of course not true but it doesn't stop him from saying it! Although in order to combat this supposed theory he has come up with a new challenge for me - that I should take over from him on FaceBook and start to build up our profile on this site. This will of course require some advice from my Sumptuosity Fairies as I can only learn to 'get down with the kids' through people who are either much younger or simply more up to date with the technological world than me (this is probably most people!). Any ideas please let me know?

Meanwhile at Sumptuosity Towers today, I was so fed up at the cold grey skies that I decided to nip out just before afternoon tea and buy some cakes for me, Sophie, Alanna and of course John. I purchased some lovely butterfly cakes from The Hairy Fig - I might not be able to find the time to make anything yummy like Alanna (Banana) but at least I know where I can buy something nice! It has been so cold today in York - it can only be British Summer Time...

3 B.T's
1: One of the things that I have found on FaceBook is the Fags, Mags and Bags site - they even have the 'famous wall of crisps'.
2: Black Books on Dave - I never saw it the first time around and am really enjoying it.
3: Blackbirds singing after it has rained - the British Spring does have its compensations.

Bye for now,

Love Ruthie xx

Tuesday, 30 March 2010

Nellie the NetBook

Just got a new 'NetBook' courtesy of some money that I have received from Lloyds Bank (it would seem that blood can be got from a stone after all!). The grand plan is that I will now be able to do more regular blogs and maybe even do some work on FaceBook etc, as Alanna (Banana) would say "I am really 'down' with the kids!". I may even take it to work so that I can update the world in realtime on 'Sophie questions and Alanna's cakes'. This is surely things that the world needs to know....

John and I are finally settled into the new flat, we are even getting used to the sound of all the noisy geese and I have got my bookshelves sorted into a recognisable system and so all is right with the world. Of course the collection (having been a little pruned) is beginning to grow again - well that is what happens when you do some pruning it encourages growth. It began the other day when I received a surprise parcel from Sumptuosity friend Alison of the Amazon. She had been kind enough to send me the new book by Simon Barnes 'My Natural History' and I have not only been able to find space for it on the bookcases but have used my day off from Sumptuosity Towers to read it. It is a really good read and great to know that other people grew up mad about birds and wild life. One of the good things about the move is that I have found a piece of work that I did at Junior School about 'My Interests' and is full of drawings of birds, fossils and dinosaurs. I feel rather like I have come full circle and maybe need to do a dinosaur design? I shall get John to take some pictures...

Have you seen the new square brooches? We love them and it proves a nice new challenge for the Sumptuosity Fairies to embroider some new designs and/or come up with new compositions. We also have a new range of rectangular designs about to come out so keep posted...

3 B.T.'s

1: Fabulous parcel from the wonderful Alison of the Amazon. I really love the book and I was the first person to catalogue it on LibraryThing.
2: John's pizza - he has just started to back them from scratch (pizza dough and everything!) and they are delicious to say the least.
3: A 'Who has got the longest Hair competition' between me and Jason in our local pub - haven't played that game since my niece Charlotte was a little girl. Nice to know that I still haven't grown up!

Bye for now,
Love Ruthie xx

Tuesday, 23 March 2010

I'm Back! Bobby the Bunny(?) and books

It is half past six on a Wednesday morning here in York and while I write I can hear bird song; not just the beautiful sound of Robins, Wrens etc but ducks and geese quacking and honking away. Don't worry we haven't been flooded out, John and I have moved home and are now living right next to the River Foss. This major move (which was a downsize as well as a move) has been the reason for my Blog silence. I have not even been on LibraryThing for ages and you know how addicted I am to that website!

On Saturday we had a new face at Sumptuosity Towers, Ellie (who is currently finishing her GCSEs) will be spending a few afternoons with us to experience what life is like in a craft studio.... Sophie really took her under her wing and showed her how to make the brooches and bookmarks etc (all of which I have sworn her to trade secrecy!). While towards the end of the afternoon, we let her have a go at freehand machine embroidery and after having a few goes at writing her name went on to the more ambitious project of designing a hot air balloon. It was great!! So good in fact that next week, we might see if we can make it into a brooch or bookmark design. I am already beginning to think that I can get my Chaise Longue ....

Into our Studio on that rainy Saturday came Alison (of the Amazon) and husband, they had been to visit their daughter who is at University in Leeds. I felt very guilty about my lack of blogs and explained that we had just moved home and (major trauma) had to down size my book collection. Alison, then told me about a new book by Simon Barnes, who writes wonderfully about nature (I already have 'How to be a Bad Bird Watcher') and I began to wonder if there just might be room on my bookshelves to squeeze in another book...

During the past month that I have been quiet on the blog front we have still be busy at Sumptuosity Towers and people have been coming into the Studio shop - many who seem to read the blog and new me and the Sumptuosity Fairies by name. " I know all about you" said one very nice lady, "All about the tea that you drink, the cakes that you eat and what you listen to on Radio Four!". Sophie looked a little worried, what exactly do you write on these blogs she asked....

3 B.T.'s
1: Bobby the Bunny - he is a rabbit (although we now think that he may actually be a Hare) that John and I can see from our window. He lives on a Brown Field Site opposite and seems to take great delight in running circles around any bird (duck or pigeon) who is foolish enough to labd in his territory. I am sure that I will be writing more about this creature as the weeks progress.
2: 'Fags, Mags and Bags' - one of the funniest comedies that Radio Four has ever commissioned. It is brilliant - especially the 'Wall of Crisps'.
3: The wall of Books - I have now finally organised my books shelves (when we first moved in John Ruskin was next to Nogin the Nogg and I just couldn't bear it!

Bye for now,

Love Ruthie xx

Tuesday, 23 February 2010

Sumptuosity is invaded by Vikings!

Hello There!

Thought I would do a quick blog about Saturday's invasion - as briefly mentioned by John in his blog...

Well, as you know, life in Sumptuosity Towers is always interesting, especially because being within the city walls of York we see all life passing the studio windows. Last week it was the famous Yorvik Viking Festival and so walking past our window were numerous Viking men, women and children, all magnificently bedecked in their Viking regalia. The Sumptuosity Fairies and I have been fascinated. Well, on Friday night, John and I went out for a little drinkie with our friend Brian to the 'Mucky Duck' (The Black Swan) and low and behold, there were Vikings standing at the bar. I had drank a couple of small sweet sherries by this time and so decided to say hello and ask them about their clothing, etc. The Vikings were very friendly and kindly answered all questions but sadly John didn't have his camera with him - no pictures. This was when I hit upon the brilliant plan to invite them around to Sumptuosity Towers for a cup of tea, if them happened to be walking along Walmgate on Saturday! Saturday morning came and I told Sophie all about my meeting with the Vikings and about my invitation to tea - You didn't! She said... Oh yes, I did! I replied. Well, the day wore on and as usual we were busy with our orders and so I didn't really give it much more thought, until about 3.00 in the afternoon when John said "I think your Vikings have arrived...." In through the door at Sumptuosity Towers came not just the three Vikings I had been talking to but about 12! Our studio was full to busting with Vikings (Sophie, who had been very chatty all day, was very quiet - shocked I think at suddenly having to share her Studio with hordes of Vikings!). Well, I had promised them a cup of tea and you don't want to go back on a promise, especially to people carrying axes and shields. I ended up using every cup and mug we had in the Studio but it was well worth it for a very entertaining half hour. The attention to detail displayed by one and all was brilliant, my particular favourite item was a bone comb and case. I asked the rather simple question "Why Vikings?" To which the reply came "Because Vikings were awesome!" - well I did ask!

During this invasion, we were also visited by Pauline from the Costume department of the York Theatre (this is just across the road from Sumptuosity Towers), she had seen us sewing away through the main windows and decided to pay us a visit - I am not sure what she thought about the Studio being full of Vikings but she was brave enough to come in anyway! We have been invited to pop in and see her workplace whenever we are free - something that we will definitely make time to do.

The photograph is of the youngest Viking visitor - He had been born into it and was very happy at the chance to go 'Feral' (his Mum's words not mine!) at Viking events. I was rather jealous and quite fancied becoming a Viking myself...

Bye for now

Ruth x

3 B.T.'s

1: The Viking bone comb - it was stunning.
2: The Vikings coming to tea - could only happen in York!
3: Footprints of Geese in the snow at the side of the Foss.

Wednesday, 17 February 2010

Cakes and Lace

Tuesday was a great day. In the first instance the lovely Alanna (Banana) had made some yummy scrummy Butterfly Cakes and even John (who doesn't normally have much of a sweet tooth) said that they were delicious. Alanna had been especially generous and made enough little cakes for us all to have one each with both our elevenses and our 3.00 cup of tea. We do love our tea and cakes at Sumptuosity Towers!

The big event of the day involved John and I driving down to Nottingham as I had received an invitation to attend the Opening of the Nottingham Trent University Lace Archive. In what now seems another life ago I worked on this collection (making an initial catalogue and writing a thesis) for my Ph.D. It has been a number of years since I have even been in the centre of Nottingham let alone back to the University and so it was with some trepidation that I accepted the invitation. The collection had gone back into storage after I completed my studies but now thanks to the hard work of devoted members of staff in the Faculty of Art and Design (particularly Dr Amanda Briggs-Goode), funding has been found and there is now a designated area for the collection with proper archival movable shelving, digital cataloguing of the collection etc and even two Ph.D students working with it! I was absolutely delighted to say the least. What was especially nice (and here I blush a little) was the fact that so many people shook my hand and thanked me for all my hard work in making the initial catalogue of the collection and how this had proved invaluable in aiding the application for funding. All those long hours (so long ago!) now seem worth it. In fact one of the Ph.D. students asked me how on earth I had managed to create a catalogue and write a thesis - I had to reply that I am not sure either! The reception was held in the main foyer of the Bonnington Building, and on a number of tables were glass topped boxes with key items from the collection. I had a real 'blast from the past' when I saw many of my original hand written labels - some of which were dated 1998 on individual pieces of lace and again when we went down into the Archive, I realised that I was looking at boxes with my writing on them. My lovely husband rather wryly commented that my handwriting hadn't improved - you can always trust a Yorkshireman to bring you down to earth! It was a great evening and I am really happy that this collection is again seeing the light of day and being put into active use.

This morning (Wednesday) we were back in the Studio early and my first job was to sweep the floor - just call me Cinderella! It was nice to see so many of my colleagues from my ol' Ph.D. student days and to be back in such a wonderful university as Nottingham Trent but I still wouldn't swap being at Sumptuosity Towers - even when I am doing the sweeping up...

3 B.T.'s

1: Alanna (Banana)'s Butterfly Cakes - the butter icing was out of this world it was so delicious.
2: The Snowdrops are coming out in the church yard of St.Denys. There are large swathes of them and they are lovely.
3: The official opening of the Nottingham Trent University Lace Archive, it was great to see so many friendly faces!

Bye for now,
Love Ruth x

Sunday, 14 February 2010

Love is in the Air

We have had a busy few days at Sumptuosity Towers - mostly men popping into the Studio Shop to buy a little gift and of course the all important card! Alanna (Banana) has also been busy with her own Valentine preparations, she has been making her boyfriend Dan a huge GingerBread Man (Alanna loves to bake!) and so that he also has a more permanent Valentine present she embroidered a GingerBread Man onto a bookmark. It was such a nice design that we may well bring into the Sumptuosity range - we will keep you posted!

We have also been making a few special requests at Sumptuosity Towers. A very nice lady called Ruth (well she would have to be nice with a name like that) came in with a request for 21 small silk drawstring bags to hold the lovely 'Betty's Chocolate Hearts' that she was going to be giving the guests at her birthday party. Her husband was treating her to a hand-made dress by Thimblelina (a great dressmaker further down from us on Walmgate) and she wanted the silk of the bags to complement her dress. Our lovely purple silk that we use (Sorbet) was just the ticket. Ruth offered to leave one of the chocolate hearts with us in the Studio so that we could use it as a measure but given how me and the other fairies love chocolate I decided that it wasn't too safe and took measurements instead. Ruth came in on Wednesday to pick up the bags and was delighted - so much so that she gave us a thank-you card and a Chocolate heart - yum.

On Friday afternoon a young man came into the Studio shop for a Valentine gift for his girlfriend, he liked what we made but wondered if it would be possible for us to make a bookmark especially for his girlfriend with her name on it. It was very short notice but who am I to stand in the way of true-love? and so I said "Of course, not a problem!" (John says that I am too soft!). Anyway, he wrote his girlfriend's name, which is just as well because it was long and foreign and said that she also liked sheep. Saturday morning and I had just finished embroidering an extravaganza of a bookmark (again on Sorbet), with the girl's name and sheep and hearts all over it...oh dear I thought have I got a bit carried away? I had just finished making it up when the young man appeared at the door - talk about 'Just in time'! He loved it and even shook my hand and thanked me for being so kind. I may be 'soft' but it is times like that which make it all worthwhile. I'm just an ol'romantic at heart!

3 B.T.'s

1: John and I visited Askham Bog Nature Reserve on Tuesday and saw lots of Long-Tailed Tits and Goldfinches.
2: Conrad's bookmark, girlfriend's name, sheep, hearts et. al.
3: Ruth's Thank-you card and Chocolate heart - many happy returns for yesterday!

Happy Valentine's Day to all,
love Ruth xx

Sunday, 7 February 2010

The Globe, Kelmscott and Dove Cottage?

I spent yesterday morning doing a full spring cleaning of the Studio shop area. Since Christmas it had been looking a little neglected - We have been so busy with Stockist's orders that we hadn't paid enough attention to it, but now that the snows have gone (fingers crossed) and York is starting to get busy again it was important to make the area look fab! We now have special areas for all our new designs and have done a big display for Valentine's Day. It must have worked because 'Heart' cards and brooches were practically walking out of the door by the afternoon. It just goes to show what you can accomplished with a bit of time, some thought and a 'Cath Kidston' flowery duster...

However, one of our shoppers told me in a shocked voice that 'Cath Kidston' dusters were not actually to be used! It did make me wonder what on earth you were supposed to do with it, if not to use it for actual dusting?? answers on the back of a postcard to; No 1 Barleycorn Yard... In any case it was part of my Christmas Present (along were some matching flowery rubber gloves) from my ol' Uni friend Jo and I am sure that she would be glad to know that I had used it... in fact given how untidy I was at University she would probably be 'amazed' that I knew how to use it but that as they used to say on 'Tales of the River Bank' is another story...

The exciting news this week is that we have received new orders from The Globe Theatre (Specially commissioned Bookmarks and Handbag Mirrors). Kelmscott Manor -Home of the William Morris (again specially commissioned Bookmarks and Handbag Mirrors) and have sent upon request similar samples to Dove Cottage - William Wordsworth. We also need to work on samples for Scottish National Trust in reference to Robert Burns and some vintage fabric brooches (1930s & 1940s) for the NPG. So definitely no rest for the wicked at Sumptuosity Towers! I really do love to do the historical/literary work because it means that I get the opportunity to use both my university education and a lot of my more specialised fabric stash; for example a bag of scraps of Indigo-resist Dyed cotton by Morris and Co, or my nineteenth century patchwork scraps. I am always telling John that these purchases will come in useful and so they do....eventually!

One of the things that is fun about working at Sumptuosity Towers is of course the lovely Sophie and Alanna - the Sumptuosity Fairies! And a key part of this is what we have now got to come to call 'The Sophie Question', when during any given time of the day Sophie will go a little quiet (as she is obviously thinking) and then come out with a 'random' question. An example that leaps to my mind this week is "Do young women still become Nuns?", Followed by "How does one become a Nun" and "How do Nuns earn a living?"... These questions always come completely out of the blue and leave you often reeling for an answer - I can only imagine the questions she must have asked her parents as a child, probably followed by the inevitable "why?" Needless to say I first discerned that she didn't actually want to become a nun herself before suggesting that she google it. I will try to make a note of some of the even more random questions that we get during the week so that you get more of a flavour.

This all reminds me of one of my favourite episodes of BlackAdder, where Edmund BlackAdder is helping Baldrick to fill in a form... 'Any sign of insanity in the family?', mmm he says, "I shall cross out the 'In' part. And so 'Any sign of Sanity at Sumptuosity Towers?'...absolutely not!

3 B.T.'s
1: Using my 'Cath Kidston' flowery duster to Spring clean the Studio shop and finding out that I am not supposed to actually use it.
2: Seeing a family of Long-Tailed Tits in a tree in a courtyard on our morning walk to the Studio.
3: Finding a copy of Bee Wilson's book 'The Hive' at Minster Gate Bookshop to add to my Bee collection of Books.

Bye for Now,

Love Ruth x

Sunday, 31 January 2010

Alice in Wonderland, Hamsters and Guinea-Pigs

Well we have been back now for a few days and I must say how nice it has been to be sewing again. I am sometimes asked (often by people of the Academic fraternity) if I don't get bored with all the sewing that I have to do? The emphasis being that I 'must' do really... However, I can honestly reply that I love to sew, especially after a few days away at a trade fair when to return to my sewing machine is with as much joy as a smoker takes their first puff of a morning (although without the hacking cough and much much healthier!). The running of your own business is wonderful, often stressful, sometimes worrying, sometimes brilliant but never never BORING! If I ever look a bit down in the mouth by husband reminds me of some of the names of my least favourite students from the last Higher Education place that I taught at... it does the trick instantly (I of course will not mention anybody by name... even the girl who refused to believe in the existence of Nano-technology).

The rectangular brooches are now back at Sumptuosity Towers, we had some trouble between the machine and the silk that we use last Autumn and didn't have the time to sort it out until after Christmas, but now it is all systems go! Silk (as any sewer can tell you) is often somewhat troublesome to work with but it more than makes up for itself with the vibrancy of the colours and the lustre of it's sheen. The designs that are proving to be of particular interest are our 'Alice in Wonderland' range, some of these are embroideries onto silk, while others are on to sections of text from the book. We have got lots more ideas for this area and shall be putting them on-line as and when they are produced - so do keep coming back! The Sumptuosity Fairies and I are all looking forward to the new Alice in Wonderland film by Tim Burton that is due for release on March 5th, we are currently trying to persuade John that it would be a good idea for us all to go and see it as a Sumptuosity trip out - for inspirational research purposes obviously and nothing to with the inclusion of Mr. J.Depp in the cast.

At about five-0-clock on Thursday morning, I was awakened by a strange noise and lay in bed wondering what on earth it could be... then I remembered it must be Guy and Johnny in their wheel! Sumptuosity Fairy Sophie and James are away for a few days holiday in London and have left their beloved dwarf hamsters with us to look after. So that they are nice and comfortable we have put their cage on a table in our hallway - this is the warmest spot in our whole house and an area that we are always walking through on our way to the kitchen etc. and so we (o.k. me) can talk to them. All that John keeps saying is "Don't get attached because Sophie will be back soon!"

The last piece of news is that Mumsie has now got a new Guinea-pig! When her beloved Biddy died just before Christmas, she wasn't sure that she should have another pet (mumbles along the lines of being 87 in May..), however the whole family stood firm and said that it was important that she should rescue another piggy and so last Monday, Mumsie, Eddie and Barbara drove to a Guinea-pig rescue centre in Nottingham and chose a pretty little one whom Mumsie has named 'little Biddy'. Both Mumsie and Little Biddy seem very happy.

3 B.T.'s

1: The 'musical' Capybara in Gerald Durrell's book 'Three Singles to Adventure' - absolutely hilarious.
2: Guy and Johnny, our little furry hamster guests.
3: Talking to Mumsie on the telephone on Monday night, she sounded so happy now that she has got a new Guinea-pig.

Bye for now
Love Ruth x

Wednesday, 27 January 2010

My feet hate me!

Well we are back from Glasgow!

We have emptied the Land Rover at both our house and the Studio and have even been shopping for some bits and pieces in order to make some nice dinner. Yes, even as I write John is busy preparing one of his wonderful curries (don't worry, I chopped the vegetables etc so he hasn't been left completely to his own devices!).

It was great to be in Glasgow - even though we heard Frankie Boyle on 'Mock the Week' state that it was both the country's friendliest city and the murder capital! Needless to say for us it was simply very friendly! Sunday was very busy for us at the trade fair and I had made the mistake (what was I thinking????) that I would wear some slight heels to make me look more the sophisticated business woman and less of the mad embroider that I normally look! By mid day my feet were yelling obscenities at me and by the end of the day I had actually taken them off fortunately none of the buyers seemed to notice or at least didn't care... The second and third days I wore my trusty Doctor Martins but still my feet and me were not on speaking terms - I am afraid that standing for long periods is not much fun whatever you are wearing! John's feet also hated him, although I hasten to add that he wasn't wearing heels just his posh Chelsea Boots.

It was a good fair, as we not only met up with a number of our existing stockists (some of whom we hadn't met face to face before) but because we made some new ones - all are welcome as stockists at Sumptuosity Towers! The stand opposite us was selling 'Scottish' products - namely beach towels that look like kilts and Nessie key rings etc, but one of their very nice salespeople gave us all a 'Scottish Tablet' packet (which looked like fudge but was much more sugary). I decided that I would only have a little square of it and save the rest for when I was back in the Studio BUT I am afraid that the sugariness was really rather yummy and just what was needed when standing all day at a Trade Fair and so by the end of the day I had polished it off! I felt a bit like the enamel of my teeth was dissolving by 5.30 and time to leave for the day...

One of the saddest things about doing a 'regular' trade fair as opposed to a 'craft' trade fair is that you are often near people who import all sorts of 'stuff' from the far east. This wouldn't be so bad if you didn't have to go through lots of endless questions where you explain that "yes, we really do actually make all these items, ourselves"... "yes, I really do, do a lot of the sewing myself...", "No, we really don't have these items made and then shipped in from China...". Then after they finally believe that you really do make all the items that you have on display, they then look at you like you are insane to make things yourself.... Oh well as my Mum would say - "It doesn't do for us all to be the same!"

3 B.T.'s

1: Many thanks to Rob on the stand opposite to us for giving me a 'Scottish Tablet', it was yummy.
2: I finished reading Gerald Durrell's 'Birds, Beasts and Relatives' - it was wonderful and I heartily recommend it to all who like both humour and the natural world.
3: As we drove back to York we saw a huge flock of Lapwings, all in the air and with their characteristic flight - beautiful.

Bye for now,

Love Ruth xx

Saturday, 16 January 2010

Midnight Feasts and Lashings of Ginger Beer

Hello Everyone,

the title of this blog is sadly not to do with any Midnight activity of my own but a radio programme that Alanna and me listened to on Tuesday morning. It was brilliant, all about 'food' in Children's literature from Enid Blyton to Roald Dahl. It was on at 11.30 and made us absolutely ravenous! My lovely husband always remembers the bit from 'Matilda' by Roald Dahl where Bruce Bogtrotter eats an entire chocolate cake much to the annoyance of Miss TrunchBull and so everytime we are having a meal out and I eat whichever pudding has the most chocolate in it he calls me Bruce - true love you can't beat it!

The programme before this on Radio Four was also wonderful it was about the Juan Fernandez Islands and the issue of biodiversity (2010 is the International Year of Biodiversity), particularly in regards to the 'Firecrown Hummingbird'. Although it was the Radio and we couldn't see this lovely little bird the sound of it was just incredible! - It reminded me of a sort of a cartoon birdie (a bit like Tweetie Pie or rather a cousin of him). I don't think that the programme is available on iplayer but you can see this bird on Youtube.

In Sumptuosity Towers I noticed that Alanna (like me) was covered with bits of thread - do you end up with them in your house I asked? Yes, she replied "Mum gets really cross with me because they really stick to the carpet - in fact if Hanzel and Gretal had used thread instead of breadcrumbs they would have never have got lost!!!

It has been a busy week at Sumptuosity Towers and me, Alanna and Sophie have been busy working on new designs. John has been busy working on more photography for our first trade fair of the year - Scotland's Spring Fair in Glasgow. However, orders have stared to really pour in now that the snow is leaving us and John stated today that we are now 'officially' busy, so definitely no rest for the wicked!

In the meantime, I have put up an image of the 'sign the letter' campaign. This is on the behalf of the RSPB and and I would urge you all, if you care about the future of the planet to sign it.

Now it is time for one of John's Martini's....

3 B.T.'s
1: Midnight Feasts and Lashings of Ginger Beer - a fabulous programme on Radio Four and Alanna and me loved it!
2: Juan Fernaandez Islands on 'Nature' another Radio Four programme, this time about biodiversity and Firecrown Hummingbirds -wonderful. although very poignant.
3: A number of people have come into the Studio and requested specialised Valentine presents - it is nice to know that 'Love is in the Air'

Bye for now
Love Ruth xx

Monday, 11 January 2010

Goodbye to the Snow?

On the way to Sumptuosity Towers this morning I was pleased to see that it was raining and that the snow and ice was (fingers crossed) finally starting to go - yes, I know that this makes me sound like a grumpy old curmudgeon! However, walking to work has taken twice as long as it usually does, the lovely Alanna has had to fight her way through ice and snow on her drive from West Yorkshire and my little Sophie has been looking more and more like 'Little Nell' as she wraps herself up in her winter coat, hat and gloves. One day last week, Alanna was snowed in (although it did mean that her and her Mum could make a snow man) and on another day Sophie was late because her front door had frozen up and she couldn't get out of the house! No, I am glad to see the back of the white fluffy stuff!

The walk to work this morning was slightly Edgar Alan Poe'ish, not because we were being followed by a Raven crying 'Nevermore' but because we felt like we were being constantly followed by an annoying teenager who wouldn't pick up her feet. All along Gilly Gate and down St.Peter's Gate and half way across the city was the never ending sound of slouching boots being dragged along the flooooooooorrr and always the same distance behind us.

I have been on the internet and found my ideal Beehive - it is called a 'BeeHaus' and is a modern design of beehive. It is just as well as I have recently finished a book called 'A World Without Bees' and it looks like they need all the help that they can get - if not then it is a bit like we are 'allllllll doooooomed'.

In the meantime it is business as usual at Sumptuosity Towers, with sewing, tea drinking and listening to Radio Four....

3 B.T.'s

1: I like to see bird footprints in the snow - probably Blackbirds.
2: On Saturday morning Sophie came into the Studio and said that the River Foss had frozen and that Ducks were standing on it and that we had to come and have a look - so off we all trotted with our hats, coats and boots. It was great and again I saw bird footprints (this time belonging to the Ducks) on the ice.
3: The BeeHaus beehive is fabulous and I have ordered a brochure, so that I can mull over it at my leisure.

Bye for now,

Love Ruth xx