Thursday, 31 July 2014

British Folk Art

Yesterday I spent a lovely day in my favourite Capital City in the whole wide world ~ London!
My friend and I finally found time to go and see the Folk Art exhibition at Tate Britain, and it was well worth the wait.  
This Chicken is not quite so Cheery ~ it was made from discarded mutton bones by Napoleonic prisoners of war!
I've long been a fan of Folk Art, it has such a comfortable appeal. Unlike the grand splendour of Fine Art, Folk Art feels achievable ~ despite the obvious talent of the artisans and crafters exhibited, the rustic homeliness of their creations feels like something you could have a go at yourself, and even if you know perfectly well that your efforts will never be quite up to their standards you also know you will end up with something to be proud of.

Rainbow Roll of Honour
This embroidered cloth for example ~ a neatly stitched rainbow of the names of all those who were awarded the Victoria Cross in WWI. Simple yet stunning, and inspirational in more ways than one.
The Four Alls, a traditional pub sign. This version was painted c. 1850.
Unfortunately I wasn't able to sneak many photos without the guards rushing over so I guess you're going to have to go see for yourself the intricate needlepainitngs by Mary Linwood, the carved figureheads and shop signs, the beautifully constructed patchwork quilts.

British Folk Art will be on display at Tate Britain until 31st August. Go see it, you know you want to!

Saturday, 19 July 2014

Apple and Raspberry Charlotte

For me, the harvest begins with Raspberries. They have a fairly short season at my local Pick Your Own farm so I try to get as many as I can ~ some get jammed straight away, most are frozen so I can make fresh jams as I sell out, and of course, some I eat fresh. This weekend I managed to save a few to add to a recipe I've been wanting to try for ages ~ an Apple Charlotte.

Apple Charlotte is a yummy pudding made with stale bread and fruit ~ kind of like a fruit pie except the 'pastry' is made from crispy buttery bread. I love it because not only is it delicious, it's also a great way to use up leftover bread and any wrinkly apples you might have lingering in the fruit bowl. Plus you don't need to weigh and measure ingredients, which appeals to my lazy disposition.

Serves 2

4 slices stale bread
3 eating apples
60g raspberries
2 / 3 tablespoons sugar
75g butter

Preheat your oven to 180C / 350F / Gas 4

Peel and core your apples, and cut into thin slices. Put in a pan with the sugar, about 25g of the butter, and about a tablespoon of water. Cover and cook gently for about 10 minutes until soft. Stir in the raspberries.
Cut the crusts off your bread and butter both sides. Cut two circles for the base and top of your ramekin (you can use the ramekin as a template) and cut the other slices into 3 or 4 strips each. Press the buttered strips of bread around the sides of the ramekin. Make sure you leave no gaps and allow a little to overhang at the top and a little on the base, then press one of the circles of bread into the base.
Spoon the apple and raspberry mixture into the ramekin. Fold the overhanging strips of bread over the fruit filling then top with the second circle and press gently but firmly to seal. Sprinkle with a spoon of sugar and bake for approx. 20-30 minutes until the bread is golden brown.

Serve hot with vanilla ice-cream or custard.

You can try this with any fruit of course, how about apple & blueberries, or peaches and a little sprinkle of cinnamon? The fruit bowl is your oyster!

Saturday, 12 July 2014

Operation Tanktop!

I'm not usually a fan of yarnbombing, but when I saw this poster on talented local crafter Georgina Giles blog I thought it was a great idea. I found out some colourful odds and ends, and started making some squares to join in the campaign.
I felt brightness and variety were the order of the day ~ after all, we're covering a weapon. I'm a self-taught crocheter, and haven't been doing it all that long, so I'm taking full advantage of the opportunity to experiment and try different kinds of squares.

I can't wait until the tank is covered! I'll be sure to share some photos when it's done, but of course if you're local please do join in yourself!

Sunday, 6 July 2014

And Now For Something Completely Fabulous!

While our friends across the pond were celebrating their Independence Day, I was in our nation's capital celebrating one of the most talented and successful comedy teams of all time . . .

Monty Python!

With a combined age of 357, some critics questioned if the Python team reuniting was a good idea. I wondered the same thing myself. I'm a huge Python fan, but would this show be painful to watch or hilarious? And what about the 'One Down' - how would they get around missing the late Graham Chapman?

Well I was prepared to risk it, after all how many times are we likely to get this sort of opportunity?

I gladly spent a fortune at the merchandise stands scattered around the O2 ~ a programme was a must, and of course t-shirts! (I had to promise this would be the only time we would wear them in public together!)

Our seats were terrifyingly high up, they were the only ones I could afford! But once the lights dimmed and the show started I forgot how far the fall was, I was too busy laughing!
There was no way there was time for all the favourite sketches (there are just too many!) but of course there were Vikings, Spam, a Dead Parrot, a Lumberjack, Four Yorkshiremen, a Wink and a Nudge, and everybody expected the Spanish Inquisition! There was a Penguin on the Telly, Ann Elk shared her latest theory, and a special celebrity surprise on Blackmail.

The on-stage sketches were interspersed with dance routines (and chorus scenes, and footwork im-pecc-able!) and on screen snippets of old sketches and Gilliam's wonderful animation, including one of my personal favourites, Conrad Poohs and his Dancing Teeth!

The big screens were put to great use while costume changes were made ~ Brian Cox came on screen to explain the factual inaccuracies of the Galaxy Song, but it was ok because Stephen Hawking ran him over and even sang a few lines! As well as appearing in a few of the old sketches, Graham Chapman occasionally popped on screen to warn us when things were getting too silly, and even kicked off the final number - Christmas in Heaven.

The occasional fluffed line and corpsing Python only added to the joy of seeing five comedy geniuses enjoying what they do best. If you can get hold of a ticket for one of the remaining shows, I urge you to do so. If not, you can watch their very last show in cinemas around the country on 20th July.
Now . . .