Friday, 18 June 2010

Pottery, cream tea and a walk through the park

My candle holder! Yes, it is a tad uneven. But it was made in my first session and entirely freehand without planning or templates or anything. If I were to make another I would make a template to get it all even and perfect. 

I think the carved scroll-y bits worked out very well. I used waaay too much glaze which ran down and kind of puddled on the base.  But I think overall a good effect and I am using the scrolled carving idea on some other pieces. I love the way the glaze kind of "burns" on the edges.

It's annoying that the people who run the studio offer very little help on the glazing and I fear I may end up ruining many other pieces due to glazing problems. I made a little "organic" (read *lumpy* there) vase and dipped it in a matt white glaze which I then splattered with pink. The glaze turned out to be far too thin (and the pink couldn't be seen at all) - yet I had done it under the direct instruction of the guy who runs the studio. The end result just looks like an extremely lumpy grey thing - the lumpiness accentuated by the too thin glaze.

I was unhappy about it and I don't have room at home for, err, such ugliness, so they said they'd put it up for sale in their gallery ..... I told them I'd pay for someone to take it away lol. I forgot to photo it before I left, but I'm sure it'll still be there next week (no-one will be mad enough to buy it) so I'll try to remember to get a photo then. I think it will be headed for the bin anyway.

Said vase was the second thing I made. The firing and glazing processes all take a looooong time. The item has to completely dry out before it can go in the kiln, which takes time to fire up of course and several days to cool down before they can open the door. Then the item is treated with glaze and fired a second time. They do alternate first firing and glaze firings as they have to be done at different temperatures, and only one firing a week on average.

Pottery ain't quick folks!

Waiting for a first firing at the moment I have two bowls - one of which has butterflies impressed on the interior, the other with scroll carving on the inside. I also have two square planters I'm working on and a shell sculpture which may turn out to be a vase - I haven't decided yet.

On my way to the studio I passed these lovely Oriental Poppies which are some of my favourites though they are so fleeting, so I paused to capture them.

View from Debenhams cafe where I went with the Bear this week. You get a fair view of the Cathedral from here. You can see the hills in the distance that surround us.

We had a cream tea (I'm a sinner!) which, for those who don't know, involves a pot of tea (or coffee) with scones and jam and clotted cream. Unfortunately it didn't occur to me to take a photo. So here's a photo someone else took taken from this page (by a hotel about 5 miles from here) where you can read all about cream teas if you're a total masochist.
Bear loves clotted cream and always buys some when it's reduced. He rarely buys scones though so I don't know what he eats it on. I am not a big cream fan, so it's rare for me to eat it.

After that of course he wanted some fish and chips! As Bear wanted to avoid the traffic we walked there via a park. I haven't been in this park for a long time and was pleasantly surprised by some really beautiful planting. There were frilled Oriental Poppies, lupins, luscious roses ....

And finally, photos of the merry fish and chip shop where Bear is a regular customer - The Dolphin Fish Bar.

Hope you all have a lovely weekend!

Bearfriend xx

Sunday, 13 June 2010

Hi Dear Friends. Sorry to have been absent the last couple of weeks. I went into a sudden very low mood. I just felt totally sledgehammered by it. It's been particularly frustrating as I'd been feeling much more positive the two weeks prior to that. Wasn't anything to do with the weather either as it's been lovely and cold! The only way I can make sense of it was that my brain had to compensate for the positivity by making me feel really down for a while. Now, it seems, it's had enough of being down and it's allowing me to come out of it.

Yeah. I could really hate my brain!

So I have been sitting at the bottom of a black pit the last two weeks. But despite that I did manage to get to pottery both weeks. It was VERY difficult for me to get there, but I did enjoy it when I was actually in the studio. Last week's session was especially good as I worked for 4 hours straight and felt pretty confident in handling the clay - I'm making a shell type sculpture and some planters at the moment. I will put up photos in the future.

Award time!
This award was given to me by L at Rainbow Dreaming. She passed it on without making up any questions so I decided to use the questions given to her by Sparkle and Shine.

1. What would your perfect day consist of?

My perfect day as my life is now probably involves a bit of blogging, some time in the pottery studio, sitting in a cafe reading for a while - or going on a walk to see a bit of greenery.

2. How would you describe yourself if you were an item of clothing?

A very large somewhat shapeless black T-shirt :(

3. What hobbies are you currently working on?

Pottery and taking photos of my walks. Also blogging of course :)

4. Walking in the woods in wellies or bare foot on the beach?

Wellies are the most uncomfortable footwear ever, so it'd be barefoot on the beach.

5. Have you ever hugged or sang to a tree?

No! But I like sitting under trees.

6. Growing your own veggies or nipping to the supermarket?

I would love to grow my own but have no garden (and allotments don't feel safe to me) so it has to be the supermarket.

7. Have you found anyone exciting in your family tree?

No, my family are very boring.

8. Slap up meal in a posh restaurant or fish 'n' chips from the wrapper?

I would love a posh meal but I think we know what normally happens!

9. Which element do you most resonate with, Earth, Air, Fire or water?

Water - which is pretty strange as I try to keep away from it as much as possible these days - I hate having a shower, or washing anything.

10. Do you believe in fairy's?


People I would like to pass this award onto (should be 5 but WTH) All these people are on my blogroll (I hope!)

Sheilagh at Sixty is good
Stacia at Midlife Swimmer
Kate at Fabulous @ 50
Judith at The Art of Not Working
Suzi at SpunkySuzi
Paula at Paulawannacracker
Nora at The Choppy Sunflower
Sara at Edible
Tammy at From Fat to Fabulous
Karen at *Fitcetera*

This lovely award was given to me by Crystal Rainbow at Sparkle and Shine.

Exceptional blogs I'd like to pass this award onto:

Chrissie at A Healthy Mind and Healthy Body
Mr Stupid at Stupidation
Lola at Marine Snow
Wendy at New me: A Fresh Start
Shabana at Baili and I
Ellen at Weighting Around
Dan at Pavlov's Ape
Leslie at Something Brilliant is Brewing
Jack Sh*t at Jack Sh*t, Getting Fit

I was also awarded these two beauties by Cat at Crap on my shoes, egg in my pocket (and yarn on the needles). Thanks Cat!

I'm aware that most in my blogging community have received these already - so I'll just say that if you're a regular reader here and haven't received these awards already, then please-y squeezy feel free to take one or both of these for yourself - because you're all gorgeous!

This is an area of the Uni campus where they hold weddings. Wouldn't you just love to have your wedding photos here? The Wisterias are trained as standards. The scent was incredible.
A stone staircase leading down from there



Rhododendrons with a carpet of wild garlic 

Hope all of you have a great week ahead!

Bearfriend xx

Tuesday, 25 May 2010

Hot and bothered

Hi Friends. This last week has presented a number of challenges - and I'm happy to say that I've come out fighting! Fighting against the hell of the heat that is. I know many of you won't even think that mid 20s/70s C/F is any sort of heat to get hot and bothered about. But to me, having grown up in the north where summer was 2 months you mainly pretended were warm enough to wear summer clothes, this is just really uncomfortable.

Part of the reason is living in an uninsulated attic flat. The slate absorbs the heat of the sun and the air trapped between that and the plaster board heats up and can't escape. The walls feel hot and it takes many hours to cool down again. It is hell on earth. Getting through that is a real psychological strain.

Another difficulty is my lack of clothing. And not being able to wear my coat when I go out. It's sort of like a protection to me - and kids me into thinking I'm hiding the fat under it - which I am to a small extent.

I didn't go out Thursday as I was too done in after 4 days out in a row. So Friday was the day I had to confront the world sans coat. I'm so glad I bought those cropped trousers! I put a pair of those on and a long t-shirt and silk overshirt.

I searched for my sandals - which I put away in boxes at the end of every summer - and FINALLY found the pair I was looking for only to be presented with the shock of not being able to get my feet into them. I have worn them the last 3 summers - yet now I could no way squeeze my feet into them.

PANIC! No footwear!

I had to walk into town with my grubby flip flops on - the ones I only ever wear indoors. I must have put on quite a bit of weight even on my feet. Add to that water retention due to the heat ...

I bought the first pair of sandals I tried on in Evans - a triple E fitting - which is the widest you can get on the high street. They're gladiator style and I love them and think they look great - the multiple straps really disguise the puffiness. I've been out walking in them and on my feet for three hours at a time and they're perfect.

I've been out every day since. Saturday: took another bag of books to the charity chop and went clothes shopping. I found a pair of cargo pants in a charity shop which *just about* fit. I didn't try them on because it was too hot. Sunday: a walk in the evening taking photos - I was out for 3 hours but with a lot of stopping to take pictures. Monday: continuous walking in the evening lasting 1 hour 50 mins. When I'm in condition - and carrying less weight - I can do that walk in 1 hr 30 mins, so I have plenty of improvement to make.

The positive thing about the heat - I have no desire to eat chocolate! I have eaten NOTHING with added sugar in the last week. Lucky I'm not into ice-cream :)

I have been determined to confront the heat, and to confront my fear of going out. It took me 4 hours on Sunday to work up the courage to get out, but I did it.

Continuing my walk.
On the other side of the road are a few backs of Victorian terraces and some student halls of residence. All the time you get glimpses of the hills that surround the city - as here between the garage and some workshops.
At this point the path is waaaay above the road as you can see from the traffic sign (green oblong, middle right)
When that path comes back down to earth again ... thought I'd photo this for you as red cast iron always *does it* for me. GR means "George Regina" - all post boxes have the cipher of the monarch on them - so this one dates between 1910 and 1936 (yes I did bleeping well look those dates up!)
On the main road

The junction with the road which leads to the main campus
Looking up the road to Uni
Continuing on main road, on one side is this
And on the other side
And just so you don't start to think I live in Dingley Dell, here are some houses. Almshouses - built for the poor in Victorian times. They knew how to build chimneys in those days! They are flats for elderly people now. The modern building peeping behind is the college.

A little further on the same side
Other side of the road
And just over wall is the park where we went with the Bear's chips. I'll go back some other time to photo the fish and chip shop!
Just as a change from GREEN here's a sneak preview of my next lot of photos from a walk with the Bear. Some wisteria - which smelt fabulous!
Blimey. I've received FOUR awards in the last couple of weeks! I'll post details of all of those - plus all conditions next time - and think of some people to pass them onto.

Bearfriend xx