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

Wednesday, 6 January 2010

Arabian Nights, Snowy Days

Last night Barbara and I went to see 'The Arabian Nights' at the Royal Shakespeare Company in Stratford-Upon-Avon. We set off despite the heavy snow in York and the forecasts of terrible weather throughout the country - I know that it sounds a little fool-hardy but I had telephoned the theatre to see what the weather was like there and Barbara had packed the car with warm throws, bottled water and plenty of yummy sweeties in case we got stranded. Needless to say we were desperate to go and see the production as everything we have ever seen by the RSC has been brilliant and we were not disappointed (the travelling was fine and the staff were amazed that we had come all the way from York!). It was a fascinating production with little scenery but with the actors and a variety of props and puppetry becoming every aspect of the story. The tickets were purchased for Barbara as her Christmas present and as Arabian Nights is one of my favourites I had splashed out and we were on the front row. This was great as we were so near the action but also a little scary as we were very close to the 'forty thieves' as the raced around the stage and even more scary was the huge skeletal head of the Ruhk ( a giant bird that feeds on Elephants) as it 'flew' around the stage and moved a little too close for comfort!

By lunchtime today I was back at Sumptuosity Towers and John had given me a list of things to do - no rest for the wicked! I did get the chance to tell the girls about what a good time I had had over a cup of tea and one of Mumsie's Iced buns.

3 B.T.'s

1: The huge Ruhk in the R.S.C's production of The Arabian Nights it was wonderful, scarily beautiful!
2: Finding that my skirt and show programme had both a sprinkling of glittering sand and paper flower petals during the interval of the show.
3: Mumsie had stayed up to see us (we stayed in Nottingham over night on our way back from Stratford) and had baked cakes especially for us - yummy.

Bye for now,

Love Ruth xx

Monday, 4 January 2010

Happy New Year - Happy Valentine!

Hello Everyone,

I hope that you all had a wonderful Christmas and a good start to the New Year!

Books (of course) featured significantly in my Christmas stocking but I was also delighted with some presents that had been handmade. 'R' Kid (a.k.a my sister Chris) had knitted a pair of Victorian Mice for me and they are now sitting on my Victorian literature bookcase (and looking very happy). My friend Karen ("I'm in Charge", a.k.a. 'Our Leader') had knitted a slice of Cake, complete with a beautiful strawberry on top. It looks delicious! I shall get John to take some photographs so that you can all see what clever talented people I know.

My television hi-light this Christmas has definitely been 'Cranford'. Judy Dench et al were all wonderful as usual but my favourite was the magnificent Macaw that stole every scene that it appeared in.

Today was the first time since we broke up for Christmas that me and the gang were back in Sumptuosity Towers and already we have been working on our new designs for St.Valentine's Day. John has been busy taking photographs and putting them on-line for you all to see (as well as showing our stockists the latest designs). We had already had a design discussion (in the Blue Bell) one afternoon last week and so we able to 'hit the ground running'. No rest for the wicked!

3 B.T's

1: The Magnificent Macaw on Cranford at Christmas - beautiful and hilarious.
2: John hanging onto the last copy of 'The Greatest Show on Earth' by Richard Dawkins to be found in SALE at Waterstones in York on Bank Holiday Monday. Nobody was going to rest it out of his fingers, as I searched for my book token from 'R' Kid but he did enjoy showing it (at a distance) to a couple who were busy searching for this book in the sale....
3: Watching a pair of Crows walking about on the frozen lake at Potteric Carr nature Reserve - I have never seen crows wandering around amongst Ducks and Geese before!

Bye for now

Love Ruth x