We had bank holiday here in the UK on Monday, and so I (and my friend K) spent the day at Polesden Lacey enjoying the beautiful weather...which was even more delightful as the weekend had started off with consistent rain!
Polesden Lacey is a National Trust property in Surrey only about an hour from where I live. It was the home of Mrs Greville who was one of the foremost society hostesses of the Edwardian Era. Edward VII was a regular house guest (as was Mrs Keppel), and George VI and the Queen Mother honeymooned at the estate.
It was a beautiful day to spend at such a beautiful property...
There are over 100 acres on the estate, and some lovely gardens to explore...
This is about 1/4 of the rose garden - it must have looked glorious in June...
...and surrounded by the lovely Surrey Hills there are a range of walking routes of differing lengths. We chose a 40 minute wander through the home fields to walk off lunch and an icecream...
And in other news...it seems as if I may have bought a flat. I'm in the middle of a paperwork process at the moment re offer confirmations and arranging for marketing of the property to cease. So once we are over that hurdle I'll share some more details...
Last week I had the pleasure of spending two days at the Royal School of Needlework completing an introductory course on whitework embroidery. The school is located within Hampton Court Palace...imagine coming here to work everyday!
Hampton Court is famous for being the home of Henry VIII and the beautiful tudor gardens that remain. Day students at the RSN receive a pass that allows them to access all parts of the palace.
...and the view of the courtyard from our classroom window.
My mother and grandmother first taught me to embroider when I was little, and then I also completed some more classes when in my early 20's (when I learnt to smock and do some wool embroidery). But in recent years, I've tended to only do any embroidery when I've been making gifts for people. To some degree I had lost the enjoyment that comes from working on a project with such fine detail.
I first became aware of the RSN in 2011 when it was revealed that they had been responsible for embroidering the lace on the Duchess of Cambridge's wedding dress, shoes and veil. At the time I looked at their website and noted that they also had day courses, but it wasn't until earlier this year that I decided to book on to a programme.
I was very keen to try whitework, but unfortunately by the time I went to register the course was full-booked (the RSN courses are very popular). However, fortunately for me, one of their other students was unable to attend, so they contacted me a week before the course to see if I was still interested...and of course I was!
So I joined ten other lovely ladies for two days at the palace for our introductory course. The class participants ranged in age from 17 to late 60's...and we even had three class members who had travelled from Australia, the US and Hong Kong.
And so on to the embroidery...we each made a small needlecase which was the perfect size to undertake in the two days as well as provided the opportunity to learn some new stitches. I particularly appreciated the very technical teaching of the different stitches (it made me realise some of my mistakes over the years!).
Progress after day 1...it doesn't seem like much, but this was 4 1/2-5 hours of work
At the end of day 2...embroidery completed, and tacking stitches in place to commence drawn thread work
And the final product...
I had such an enjoyable time at the RSN. If only one could spend every day in the beautiful environs of a royal palace, meeting lovely people and embroidering! But, I have subsequently booked on three further day courses over the next 8 months or so (goldwork, silk shading and jacobean embroidery) to keep polishing my technical skills....so I will be able to look forward to returning to the palace and the RSN...
When I was undertaking my travel fellowship in the US in April I knew that there would be quite a few evenings spent in hotels...and whilst we know I became a little bit addicted to HGTV during that time, I also decided to pack a sewing project to work on in the evenings as well.
My friend's C forthcoming birthday provided the impetus, and a decision to finally trial some crewel embroidery provided the project.
Now that C's birthday has passed, I can share pictures of her gift (and not spoil the surprise). As you can see I made a cushion cover from the finished embroidery.
I do love the way that the gold work adds some fine detail to the finished cushion.
C loved her gift, and I enjoyed teaching myself a new embroidery skill....so much so that it sparked an interest in doing some more classes in specialised techniques (something I'll share in a forthcoming post!)
On L's last full day in London we entertained ourselves with two of the most famous things about England...royalty and Shakespeare. We packed a picnic lunch and wandered down the road to visit Kew Gardens. Before enjoying our lunch we spent some time in Kew Palace (part-time home of George III and Queen Charlotte and their thirteen children! (Charlotte actually had 15 children but two died during their early years).
In the evening we headed into town to visit the Globe Theatre.
I did a tour of the Globe well over a decade ago, but am again ashamed to say that I had never seen a production there. When I knew the dates of L's trip I booked us tickets to see The Tempest. I'm somewhat lazy so was a bit dismayed that by the time I booked there were only yard standing tickets left. But, on a lovely summer's evening we joined the crowd in the yard and enjoyed the play just as theatre-goers would have 400 years ago....and despite a little bit of fidgeting back and forth from foot to foot, and a brief sit down at interval, the loveliness and humour of the production kept us enthralled. Where else can you see world class theatre for £5 a ticket? I can highly recommend The Tempest. Roger Allam was brilliant as Prospero, but the whole case and production was excellent.
Over the past two weekends I was very fortunate to have my lovely friend L visiting from Nairobi....and while she was was here we made the most of the English summer (which surprisingly continues bar the odd day of rain here and there).
Saturday last we walked along the Thames path from Kew to Richmond. Despite having lived here for four years, I'm ashamed to say I've never done this walk (that is not to say that I never walk along the Thames path...just that I've never gone all the way to Richmond before).
Syon House, Isleworth
The walk took us just over an hour, and in time to partake of a coffee at one of the new cafe's that seem to have sprung up in Richmond lately.
We then hopped on the tube to head into the city for lunch by the Thames at Southbank and a meander down the river to spend the afternoon at the Tate Modern.
It was such a lovely day...and I'm left wondering why it is that I only get out and explore this city when I have visitors. Must do better...
In other news, one more property viewed, one more offer submitted and I'm still looking (this time I was beaten to the punch by a cash buyer...so I really cant blame the vendor). There has been a considerable slow down in properties coming onto the market in the past two weeks (read: virtually nothing), so I think my flat search may be going into hiatus for a few more weeks...