Tuesday, 20 March 2012


The Anglo-Saxon Church of St Marys

The Duck Pond and Green

I have lived in Norton for over 30 years and love it. Although it is now a suburb of Stockton-on-Tees it has retained its' rural character. It has a picturesque village green with a duck pond overlooked by the 11th century church of St. Mary the Virgin. The Georgian High Street boasts a good selection of shops and restaurants.

14 Harland Place

The lovely deli
Fairly new among these is a lovely deli and dining room called simply 14 Harland Place. Formerly an antique shop with traditional tea rooms it has been completely restyled by its' current proprietor Kelly, who was previously an interior designer in London and it shows.During a chat with her about the decor and the art work, that featured canvases of both the Transporter Bridge and the Angel of the North, I mentioned my "Cosmic Shower" cushions and I'm delighted to say that Kelly was keen to purchase four of them for the sofa next to the bar.
Transporter cushion

Angel of the North cushion
At the other end of the High Street, among a selection of speciality shops, is Good Taste and this gift shop now stocks a range of my linen brooches.

A Selection of Linen Brooches

Friday, 16 March 2012

The Other Richmond

Richmond, North Yorkshire, situated on the edge of the Yorkshire Dales National Park, is a beautiful medieval market town which was voted UK Town of the Year 2009. It boasts a castle, which overlooks the river Swale, that dates back to 1081. The keep of the castle is now the cobbled Market Place which is one of the largest in the country.

Richmond Castle

The Market Place

The Limestone pavement in the river Swale
Recently we had good reasons to visit Richmond twice in three days. The first was to see a concert by the lovely Karen Matheson, a Celtic folk singer that we saw perform at the Transatlantic Sessions concert at the Sage, Gateshead last month. This time the venue was very different to the state of the art Sage but equally magnificent - The Georgian Theatre Royal .

Georgian Theatre Royal built in 1788 by actor-manager Samuel Butler.
We met our friends Eileen and John at the theatre in the afternoon to take one of the guided tours of Britain's most complete Georgian playhouse. I can strongly recommend this as the place is full of quirky little things and you get to go beneath the stage and see the workings of the trapdoors and Britain's oldest scenery painted between 1818 and 1836.
Woodland scenery

The concert in the evening performed to a full house and so the seating, on benches for us, was very cosy but Karen's lovely singing voice more than compensated for any stiff backs.

Three days later we returned but this time to visit some other good friends who live in an ancient manor house at Skeeby, near Richmond. I have visited Val and Ian's house regularly since they bought it in 1981 but they have recently modernised, and move in to, one end of the house previously offices and then later playrooms for the kids, and it is absolutely fabulous. Jackie, one of the good friends I made while studying for my degree in Textile and Surface Design at CCAD, has made all of the soft furnishings which are wonderful.
Richmond Station
Station Gallery
Ian has been very involved with the restoration of the Victorian railway station which now hosts a contemporary cafe, bar and restaurant, two-screen cinema, art galley and outlets for six artisan food producers that include a cheese maker, microbrewery and ice cream parlour. On this occassion we went there to the cinema to see The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, a film about retired English pensioners, which seemed quite appropriate for the four of us!

Wednesday, 7 March 2012

Transatlantic Sessions

I thought for a change from fabric designs, knitting and stitch and wallpaper I would share some musical delights with you. 
The Sage, Gateshead
In February Paul and I met up again with good friends John and Eileen from Tadcaster. Eileen and I were at university together in the late 60s and our husbands John and Paul share a passion for music, often of the folk variety. They both play guitars and recently Paul has been learning to play the banjo so when they suggested  last year that we joined them at a Transatlantic Sessions' concert at the Sage Gateshead we thought it sounded like a good idea. Quite frankly I liked the thought of the venue and a meal with friends on the quayside, as this is one of my favourite places, more than a concert by musicians I hadn't heard of but as it turned out it was truly amazing.

A group of extremely talented musicians centred around Aly Bain, Jerry Douglas, John McCusker, Tim O'Brien and a host of other equally talented musicians and singers, from both sides of the Atlantic, meet up annually in a cottage in Scotland to record a television series for BBC 4 (which is being shown at the moment at 8.30pm on Fridays). These and other performers then take some their performances on tour including the Sage, Gateshead.
This is the fifth year they have done this and so we decided to go and see them for a second time. This year I loved hearing a familiar voice, but out of context, and that was Raul Malo who was the lead singer of the Mavericks whose song Just Want to Dance the Night Away was a firm favourite back in 1998.

We also discovered a great young Irish singer Declan O'Rourke who sang Galileo  from his debut album in 2004 Kyabram (which has since has been covered by other artists including Josh Groban) and who it turns out has toured with other artists I enjoy listening to such as Snow Patrol and Paulo Nutini. His rendition of Time Machine  is to be heard most days in our house at the moment.