Wednesday, 7 December 2016

Oxford in the Springtime Part Two: All Souls College & Christ Church Meadow

Did you see my first post about my trip to Oxford this spring? No? Click this link to read all about what I got up to in the morning, then come back here to read today's post about the afternoon's adventures... or be a magical time traveller and read this post first and then go read about part one of my day.

Ready? Let's go...

I spent the afternoon walking through the city with Polly, who is always delightful company. You can't go to Oxford for the day and not visit one of the Colleges, so we picked All Souls which I'd not visited before (I've been gradually ticking them off during Oxford Open Doors weekends and on other visits).

This turned out to be an excellent choice. If you've ever visited Oxford you'll probably have walked past All Souls College, it's the one next to the Radcliffe Camera with the fabulous black and gold gate. You can just see the gate in this photo (it's very shiny close up).


You get so many interesting glimpses through gates in Oxford, it's lovely when you get the chance to go behind the walls and see the quads and the gardens and (of course) the wonderful buildings. The Chapel at All Souls is beautiful - you can see some pictures of the Chapel interior and read about the architecture of the College here.

 

Look, there's the Radcliffe Camera viewed from inside the grounds of All Souls..


... and here's the Library, complete with a wonderful sundial. Don't those windows look like they're covered in black sequins? (Or maybe it's just my textiles-obsessed brain that sees sequins in this picture?).


The College buildings are all so elegant! Imagine studying in a place like this.


Here are those gold gates again, looking out towards the Radcliffe Camera.


It was lovely looking round All Souls, and because Polly and I are both bloggers we both wanted to take our time taking lots of photos to remember our visit by.

This is one of the great perks of visiting places with other bloggers - no-one gets annoyed when the other person keeps stopping to take photos, in fact they probably say "ooh, yes, that looks great!" and get their camera out as well! It was really nice to slowly wander, chatting and taking photos and soaking up the beauty and the atmosphere of the College.


Because Polly loves nature, I suggested our final stop for the day should be Christ Church Meadow.

Of course, we took a whole bunch of photos along the way...


I'd visited the Meadow once before, on a hot and sunny summer's day. It was interesting to see it in a different season and honestly I think it's the perfect way to end a day in Oxford, getting away from the hustle and bustle of the city and out into the wide green open space.

It was a joy to spot lots of birds and other wildlife, and gorgeous wildflowers like cowslips.


And that sky reflected in that still water! Such a simple thing, but so very gorgeous and a really wonderful end to our day.


For even more pics of the Meadow, you can read Polly's post about it here. You'll find all my posts about Oxford here. 

Have you ever been to Oxford? What was your favourite bit of the city? 

Monday, 5 December 2016

November in Pictures: Autumn Walks and Cosy Quilting

November was a busy (and quite stressful) month for me behind the scenes, but I still found time for some fun and crafty stuff...

I spent lots of time on the sofa hanging out with this fluffy fella...


... and braved the cold for some very nice days out - including a trip to East London to visit one of my favourite museums, meet up with an old friend (amazingly we hadn't seen each other for 16 years!) and do some shopping at this year's Renegade Craft Fair.


Look at all the lovely cards I bought at the fair! You'll find links to all the designers here.

 

A couple of my projects ended up in print in November: my sky pompoms were featured in Glamour magazine and two of my childhood collections were included in a fab little kids book about the joys of collecting. It makes me very happy to think that my collections might inspire kids to start collections of their own.

http://bugsandfishes.blogspot.co.uk/2016/11/in-print-fluffy-pompoms-and-my.html

Meanwhile, here on the internet, I turned my Felt Autumn Wreath into a tutorial for the Village Haberdashery blog, shared a fun gift wrapping tip, and posted the last few tutorials in my free felt Christmas ornament series.

https://thevillagehaberdashery.co.uk/blog/2016/lauras-autumn-felt-wreath-tutorial
http://bugsandfishes.blogspot.co.uk/2016/11/all-8-free-felt-christmas-ornament.html

One morning in the middle of the month, the weather was just so gorgeous that it seemed wrong to waste it so I took a few hours off work to go for a walk with my dad (flexible schedules are definitely one of the perks of being self-employed!

We went for a walk along the Jubilee River, which is actually a man-made flood relief channel connecting to the Thames. It was so peaceful and so beautiful, and the day was so mild we didn't even need our gloves. Truly wonderful.

 

I haven't had a chance to blog about our walk yet, but I did blog about a recent visit to Kensington Gardens. After my autumnal walk through Kensington Gardens, I spent the rest of the day at the V&A and met up with a friend to see their excellent and fascinating Opus Anglicanum exhibition. If you're at all interested in textiles or in history, I highly recommend seeing this exhibition if you can! We said "wow!" a lot while looking round it.


I also blogged about a not-so-recent trip to Oxford, and shared a photo from a flying visit to Clevedon. My dad was baffled that I wanted to take a photo of the peeling paint on this door in Clevedon, but just look at it! The colours and all those interesting textured layers!


I shared a wider shot on my Instagram Stories as well because it was frankly too fabulous not to share:


Back at home, I was busy putting in lots of hours of stitching on the Christmas quilt I'm making for my Christmas-loving sister.


As I finished each line of hand quilting, I marked it off on a paper chart so I could easily track my progress.


It was hugely satisfying to finally get the last row stitched! My stitching is nowhere near perfect, of course, but I'm very pleased with how the quilting has turned out.


The quilt "just" needs trimming and binding now. I wasn't sure whether to go for red or blue binding, so I asked everyone for their opinion (via my Instagram and Facebook pages) and pretty much everyone voted for red... so red it is!

I want to choose the binding in person to make sure it matches the reds in the quilt, but I haven't had the time to schedule a binding-shopping trip yet. Christmas is approaching fast, though, so I'd better get my skates on.

Talking of Christmas... if you're looking for fun felt things to make this winter, I highly recommend Fa La La La Felt and 'Tis the Season to Be Felt-y. I am a teeny bit biased because they both feature some of my designs, but honestly these books are filled with festive felt-y joy.

http://bugsandfishes.blogspot.co.uk/p/more-craft-books.html

You'll also find a few Christmas projects in my first book, Super-Cute Felt, including this snow globe ornament. If you make something I designed this Christmas, do let me know! It's such a thrill seeing what people make from my patterns :)

http://bugsandfishes.blogspot.co.uk/p/my-books.html

My final November adventure was a trip to Kew Gardens with my mama. She hadn't visited Kew since she lived in London (about 35 years ago) so I was delighted to be able to give her a tour of some of my favourite parts of the Gardens. She especially enjoyed the rock garden and the Palm House.


Then in the evening we followed the magical Christmas at Kew light trail through the Gardens. Christmas at Kew was one of my highlights from last winter - I raved about it so much that my mum was determined to go with me this year, and it didn't disappoint!


I hope you've enjoyed this little look at my November. I'll share another Instagram round-up next month, which I predict will be full of frosty mornings and festive fun.

I'm lauralupinhoward on Instagram - click here to visit my page and follow me. You'll also find me on Facebook and Twitter.

Friday, 2 December 2016

Shopping Guide: 10 Gorgeous Christmas Cards

I love Christmas and I love nice stationery and I adore sending proper old fashioned bits of snail mail... so it's probably no surprise that I love sending Christmas cards each year! I couldn't resist putting together a round-up of some of the festive and fabulous designs I've spotted recently.

Maybe you don't send many cards but have a few people in your address book you want to send a special note to? Perhaps you've bought a gift voucher and want a nice card to "wrap" it? Or maybe you're like me and have a long list of cards to write?

Whatever your Christmas card plans, I hope you'll find something to love in this list...

1. Christmas Jumpers card by Hanna Melin. Love or loathe the novelty Christmas jumper trend, they make for a very cute card. I would probably wear most of the jumper designs on this one!

  http://hanna-melin.myshopify.com/collections/christmas/products/christmas-jumpers-greeting-card-1

2. Pack of 5 Christmas Tree cards by Bo Lundberg, available at Hus & Hem who stock the most gorgeous selection of Scandinavian Design.

https://www.husandhem.co.uk/christmas-shop/5797-bo-lundberg-christmas-tree-cards-pack-of-5.html

3. Christmas Furry card by Blank Inside Design. You can also buy gift wrap to match this card, which is even more adorable and perfect for wrapping gifts for all the cat ladies in your life.

http://www.blankinsidedesign.co.uk/product/christmas-furry-christmas-card

4.  Pack of 10 Holiday Foliage cards by Quill & Fox. Sadly the weak pound has put cards from US-based companies out of my budget this year (boo) but these are so very lovely I had to include them in the list anyway. Come on, pound, get your act together so I can start buying things priced in dollars again!

http://quillandfox.com/shop/holiday-foliage

5. Penguin Dress-Up Paper Doll card by Clara & Macy. I would have been thrilled to receive a card like this when I was little. Paper dolls = so much fun. 

https://www.etsy.com/uk/listing/209011133/penguin-dress-up-christmas-card-penguin

6. Pack of 8 Black Cat cards from the British Library. These cards are so delightfully spooky, I love them - though it was hard to choose just one design from the British Library's range of vintage cards.

https://www.bl.uk/shop/black-cat-christmas-cards/p-865

7. Christmas Baubles card by Telegramme Paper Co. I bought a set of cards from Telegramme at The Renegade Craft Fair a couple of years ago and had a hard time parting with them! They sell gorgeous matching gift wrap, too.

http://store.telegramme.co.uk/collections/cards/products/christmas-baubles

8. Pack of 10 Huntley & Palmers Christmas Cakes cards, from the V&A. Growing up in Reading, I have a special place in my heart for local firm Huntley & Palmers. Luckily you don't need to be from Berkshire to enjoy a card decorated with festive cakes.

https://www.vam.ac.uk/shop/v-a-christmas-cards-christmas-cakes-pack-of-10-136153.html

9. Merry Christmouse card by Stormy Knight, available from Soma Gallery in Bristol. I do love a Christmas pun, and that little mouse is such a cutie!

http://www.soma.gallery/stationery/christmas-cards/merry-christmouse-card

10.  Finally, a set of 6 woodland-themed cards by Stephanie Cole (3 deer cards and 3 fox cards in each pack). I bought some of these to send to friends last year and wished I'd bought more because they're so gorgeous - especially that deer, oh my goodness.

http://www.soma.gallery/stationery/christmas-cards/merry-christmouse-card

Which is your favourite? Do you prefer your Christmas cards classic or quirky or cute? Are you buying cards to send this year... or maybe you're going the DIY route? Let me know in the comments!

Thursday, 1 December 2016

Lovely Leeds: Gorgeous Architecture

I spent the whole of yesterday thinking it was Tuesday... which it was not. Oops. So, here's a slightly late Wednesday blog post for you :)

When I visited Leeds this spring, the weather was so wonderful. Bright sunshine! Blue skies! The perfect combo for exploring the city on foot and taking lots and lots of photos of its loveliness.

I've already blogged about some of the great places I visited in the city, but in this final post about my trip I'd like to share a few photos of some of the other interesting buildings I spotted while exploring the city.

There were domes aplenty...


Lots of gorgeous big windows (those rooms must be filled with light!)


Lovely statues of symbolic ladies (without any clothes on of course, clothing would distract from the symbolism don'tcha know)...


... and statues of important, serious, famous gentlemen doing important, serious, famous things:


Everywhere you look, there are "functional" buildings decorated with delightful architectural details and flourishes.


The Civic Hall even has shiny gold bits! You've got to love a city that puts golden owls on its buildings.


There are owls on the Leeds Coat of Arms, and they pop up all over the city - there's even an Owl Trail map so you can go owl-spotting and discover the city's heritage along the way. I hope I'll have time to follow the trail on my next visit!

Wanna see more of the loveliness I spotted in Leeds? Check out my posts about the Corn Exchange, Kirkgate Market, Leeds waterside and the Royal Armouries Museum, the magnificent Victorian Arcades, and the wonderful Central Library.

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