I’ve been down south to Oxfordshire, for a crafting weekend with my mum. We are both members of the Women’s Institute (motto – inspiring women!) her in a small town in Berkshire and me in a new Institute in the centre of Manchester (www.cottonopoliswi.com). I’d seen on an email about a ‘mothers and daughters’ weekend at the Denman College, the WI’s education centre in Oxfordshire, and asked my Mum if she wanted to join me. It’s a lovely place to spend the weekend – and the food is great too. I had a lot of fun learning new skills – and meeting new people – it’s a packed schedule as youre on the go from breakfast at 745am until the entertainments finish about 930pm.
Denman was founded in 1948 – it’s played a big part in teaching women (and men) skills and is an important part of the history of the Women’s Institute. The main building is listed – and running costs are high so we’ll see if this remains part of the Institute’s activities in the future. Member’s come from all over the country, often funded by bursaries.
We didn’t stay in the mansion though some people do. Instead, there are mini blocks in the grounds with well-appointed ensuite rooms much like those on University Campuses.
A slightly wonky sundial
2. Borders 😉
Always good to name your borders 😉
3. Dahlias everywhere
These are my favourite types of dahlias – I’ve grown the various ‘bishop’ colours before but all my dahlias struggled this year despite the hot weather in June/July – it should have suited them as they originate in Mexico.
My garden is looking a bit bashed about at the moment – it’s either been hurling down with rain or it’s been sunny but very windy. I’ve been tidying in the garden and planting Spring bulbs (go big or go home). There’s plenty of Autumn colour around the garden – with the leaves turning too. Life has been very hectic recently – I feel like I’ve been doing 27 things at once and not achieving much. But there’s been some good times too. Last week, I went on a pottery course to ‘hand building a clay ornament’ held at Create Bolton (in Lancashire). I’d been to a few fundraising events there as a pal works for them, and knew their work well. So I was very pleased to see something I could manage with my arthritic hands. I don’t think I could make pottery using a wheel as the water would make my hands too cold and make my arthritis pain worse.
Pottery – Handbuilding a daisy style flower
Regular readers of my blog, will NOT BE surprised to hear I decided to make two flowers 🙂 for the garden I’m not going to go into great detail here how to make them, as there’s youtube videos and Pinterest. But I thought I’d show you a few photos of the initial work I’ve done.
Draw a paper template and pick out the lines where to cut with a needle tool – you do dots that you join up – either to mark the decorations or cut away the clay.
cut and shape the clay, wipe with sponges to get smooth edges.
Mark out the internal decorations and use a scraper to ‘clean’ the lines
I cut out extra decorations for the leaves and added these with slip (which is like clay glue) and hashes on both sides
Next step – my flowers dry out for a couple of weeks – then they’re fired in the kiln
Then we go back to glaze and allowed to dry
the flowers are fired again – and I collect to take home – they’ll be on big metal poles in the back garden next year.
Note: It’s very important not to get any air/bubbles in the pottery as this will cause the clay to crack when it’s fired.
Fingers crossed they survive 🙂 I’ll show you the result in a few weeks 🙂
clay flower paper template
clay flower just about to score out and clean the petals and centre
As you can see it’s going to be a big, abstract daisy flower – I made two. I’m already thinking about what colours to choose for my flowers.
If you’re local to Manchester have a look at the courses – painting, creative writing, lampshade making 🙂 and look out for their events around Christmas. They also run 6 week beginners pottery classes – one of my pals from Cottonopolis has signed up – she makes fimo jewellery already.
My fellow learner at the course made a penguin for the garden (a round one using a balloon as a base). He’s very cute. I’m looking forward to seeing how he turns out. A couple of years ago, I did some pottery painting using glass paints at local pottery cafe in Chorlton, Manchester. It was very relaxing. I’m not an artist so the hardest thing was choosing a design which I could do easily. Hardly a surprise as lavender is my favourite flower.
Purple painted pottery fired – at Pottery Corner Chorlton Manchester
I went with my pals from Cottonopolis WI to do pottery painting. It was great fun – we used glass paints as they’re easy to use and have strong colours. The owner of the pottery cafe paints a clear glaze and fires the pots and you get to take them home a few weeks later.
Red rose blue pottery pot with gone for lunch book walk book
Miniature Red Rose -In a Vase on Monday
The rose is from a miniature patio rose – it usually lives on our green bistro set – it’s a scarlet red – very jaunty. I bought the pot at a craft fair many years ago but it seemed like the sort of thing I might be able to make one day – who knows. I don’t post roses very often in In Vase on Monday – mainly because I only have an orange rose in the front garden. It’s a stunner though – started flowering again last week. Check out #rose
Rose – full bloom – 10 August 2015
As usual, I’m linking up with Cathy and the In a Vase on Monday crew at Rambling in the Garden. She has a stunning collection of blue flowers in a vase which could be the big brother of the one I’ve used. I promise I took the photos before looking at her post for the week. The idea of In a Vase on Monday is very simple – it’s to pick flowers or plants around your garden or locality on a Monday. It’s truly fascinating to see what people grow and find. It’s not dull in the winter either. Do join in 🙂
Micro-actions and books
I picked these books as props for my photo, as they seemed to be about small changes or activities – miniature things.
Gone for lunch – 52 things to do in your lunch break – by Laura Archer
This is dived into four sections – Inside, Outside, Sitting and Active – many good ideas within some need planning and some are more spontaneous. It did make me smile as not everyone has a lunch hour but I know what Laura means – short activities 😉
Walk – the path to a more mindful life – by Sholto Radford
As readers will know I try my best to get outside into the fresh air every day #OneHourOutside It helps me be more mindful, concentrate on ‘being in the moment’. I’m going to review both these books in more detail shortly. I wrote more about micro-actions last week too.
I try to be mindful in my life and activities every day ‘try to be in the moment’, it doesn’t always work out, so I just start again the next day. I try not to overthink too. There are many organisations, groups and people that help me with my mindfulness – in particular, The Blurt Foundation, Spark Support and Gabrielle Treanor. I love following photo challenges, so I was thrilled to see Gabrielle has started a prompt for September 2018 – #BreatheSeptember2018 launch on Instagram. This is the third year she has run this – you can check out previous hashtags too. People get involved on twitter and facebook too.
My Previous photo challenges
I wrote about what you might want to include in a photo challenge in April 2018, when I asked if readers wanted to join in with this hashtag:
My advice for getting involved with photo challenges:
There’s no right or wrong way to do a photo challenge – it’s up to you. Don’t feel you have to post every day, nor does it have to be public photos. Just do whatever is best for you 🙂 Previously, I’ve joined these photo challenges:
‘Happiness is like jam, you can’t spread even a little without getting some on yourself’ Author: Unknown
The weather in Manchester has made a return to its usual Summer windy, soggy-ness but that’s a good thing as you almost hear the plants sucking up the water. Everything is looking a bit more chirpy than last week. I’m still pottering along gardening in the shade, sorting out the house and making changes – it’s been a good summer so far especially as my arthritis pain just about disappears when it’s very hot.
I’ve been pondering a few things this week – in the garden as out and about. We’ve got a few trips planned including a trip to Derbyshire at the weekend and a WI camping trip in September. It was jam making of all things, that inspired my In a Vase on Monday.