Friday, July 28, 2017

Potfest in the Park 2017

We are just back from a visit to Potfest at Hutton-in-the-Forest, Cumbria.

The ground was a bit muddy underfoot, thanks to all of the rain we have had recently and it seemed a bit quieter than usual because of the weather.

We started with a walk around the grounds, including the walled garden.

Then it was time for coffee and cake in one of the marquees, before looking at the competition pieces. The theme this year was "Ancestral Voices". Here are a few pieces that I liked.

 No maker's label or title found on this piece.

 "Neo-Renaissance Ceramics" by Sally MacDonell

 "Deskford Carnyx" by Fiona Duckett

"They Spoke To Me" by Paul Smith

By Valerie Price-West

By Harm van der Zeeuw (we spoke to this ceramicist as we were looking round and he said that people often praise his use of metal and clay, and he has to point out that it is all ceramic (apart from a metal chassis hidden inside the car sculptures for strength)).

As usual we were absolutely spoilt for choice, but made our first purchase at the very first stand we visited: Chiu-i Wu's. We had looked at her endearing creature sculptures, with "big eyes" for many years, and finally purchased the piece shown at left below, "Little Creature" (pinched and coil built ceramic sculpture) by Chiu-i Wu. She was telling us about the show in Perth, which had been even wetter, if possible! Originally from Taiwan and now living in York, her website lists the shows she will be attending throughout the summer. I would buy everything she makes, if I could 😄.

These two Raku rice bowls from Rob Sollis were our next find:-

I love the shape, and matte, irregular glaze on these bowls.

And finally, from the ceramicists, Charlotte and Sigi Böhmer, a salt and pepper set. We have bought something from this talented couple for the last five or six years, so have quite a collection of their dinner and side plates, soup bowls and tiny bowls, and a little bird pot. They always use the grey, mustard and white colour palette, so everything mixes and matches, although the patterns are all different.

Time to have lunch with our neighbours, Helena and Sandy, who were also looking around Potfest, and to share our favourites and purchases. The rain had come on quite strongly by now, so we sheltered under a leaky canopy while we ate our rolls, before heading home to unwrap our lovely new ceramics.

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Visit to Newcastle-upon-Tyne

Rob and I went to Newcastle-upon-Tyne yesterday. We parked by the Quayside, and had morning coffee in the Dala Swedish Café: the coffee was a bit bland, and they didn't have any gluten free cakes, so we would probably not return there.

We walked for about 15 - 20 minutes, to The Biscuit Factory, the lovely old building has been converted into an art and craft gallery over two large floors, and there are two restaurants on site.

We ate lunch in the restaurant on the first floor. The food was excellent: the best either of us has had for a long time, while eating out. The setting is light and airy with views over the surrounding buildings. There was construction work going on, and it looks like a new outdoor extension is being added.

 Quiche (one bite missing!) with beetroot, and chickpea and rice salads

 Baked potato with hummus and sundried tomatoes, served with coleslaw

Stephen Heward has an exhibition of his striking landscape paintings on display at present, but there are all sorts of other styles of art and craft, jewellery, books, cards and homewares available.

We were so pleased to have found this place and will certainly return.

It is another 15 minute walk to the centre of the city, where you can find the unique shops in Grainger Market (a covered marked with many interesting, small units, selling everything:- Mexican deli items; speciality teas and coffees; vintage clothing; books; fruit and veg; joss sticks; health foods, etc.

This collage shows some of the interesting architecture that we spotted, including derelict buildings; Newcastle University; and the Central Arcade (rebuilt in 1906, after a fire), with its seemingly unused mezzanine level and ornately ceramic tiled interior.

There are, of course, large department stores and the usual chain shops. I bought a copy of Jane Foster's book "Fun With Fabric", from Waterstones, which includes an overview of designing fabric for digital printing. Her own work is inspired by vintage printed textiles and has a colourful, simple, pattern-led aesthetic that I admire.

It is a downhill walk back to the Quayside area and we stopped off in the Hexham Waitrose to buy a treat for dinner.

All-in-all a very nice day during our week's 'staycation'! We finally picked up Brock, who had been having one of his twice yearly fur cuts, and having fun with groomer, Jenny's, dogs for the day. [Brock's before and after photos from an earlier visit.]

Monday, July 10, 2017

Picnic at Rosthwaite, Keswick

We returned to Rosthwaite near Keswick for a second walk from this beautiful village.

First, coffees and flapjack from the tearoom, which has a dog-friendly garden with an amazing view.

The walk follows a small river and takes you through woodland.

Brock enjoying the walk.

The view from our picnic spot.

The next three photos were taken on our earlier walk in May of this year.

Millican Dalton was an eccentric individual who lived in a split-level cave and led groups of people in outdoor activities for almost 50 years. This photograph shows the view from the lower level of the cave, which had a stone bench in it, which may perhaps have been his bed.

This lovely wall had pieces of slate set amongst the stones, which gave an interesting pattern.

A beautiful walk, and quite popular with walkers. There is parking in the village. The small car park by the village hall is £3 per day in an honesty box. The National Trust car park prices start at £4.

Friday, July 07, 2017

Sketchbook: Dock Leaves

I always admire the colours of the dock leaves at this time of year. These ones were collected from our road verges. This study is in watercolour/Aquarelle pencil on A3 bamboo paper. I was concentrating on colour and pattern in this piece.

Tuesday, July 04, 2017

Sandyhills Beach Walk

Another walk for us, at this picturesque beach in Dumfries & Galloway, Scotland. (Click on any picture to see a larger version).

Our previous walk here (see article below) was to the right, when you get down to the beach. This time we turned left. It is a muddier/silty walk, but still has interesting caves and rock formations to explore.

Lunch afterwards was at the Loch Arthur Cafe in Beeswing. They have an outside seating area overlooking a pond, which is ideal if you have a dog with you. The food is freshly prepared and often includes produce from the farm. I ate the dipping platter (hummus, tomato and tzatziki dips with tortilla chips, salad garnish and vegetable sticks). Rob had the cream cheese tart with mixed salads, and we both had large Americano coffees. Excellent, as always.


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