Out and About

After spending 4 days looking at this

it was a relief to get home, even though it looked like this!

Showcase Ireland was again successful and the Irish Tweed Handbags were selected .

So the workroom is once again untidy but productive.

Just as well as this stuff is getting very tedious.

I think Rosie and Hercules were pleased to see us back – on a blanket in front of the stove is probably better than a basket in the shed at this time of year!

I’ll try and get back with some more colour at the end of the week.  Keep warm!

What a year that was!  It raced along at breakneck speed and I sometimes struggled to keep up. There’s been a birth

and a marriage

Cattapilla Designs has raised its head above the parapet

and hundreds of Gorgeous Wool Bags were made and sent all over the world.

We had sunshine in March

followed by a summer of snails.

We celebrated our own Bere Island Jubilee Party

I enjoyed watching more sport than I have ever done before and was proud of my very own south London Superheroes!

I was interviewed about Cattapilla Designs for Irish TV and later took part in a remake of an old ‘classic’   R Whites TV ad.

And that’s just what I can remember without having to think about it too hard!

And what does 2013 have in prospect?  Cattapilla Designs is going to trade shows in Dublin and Harrogate and my new husband and I are off on to sunny climes for our honeymoon in February.  That’ll do for starters!

A very happy 2013 to everyone.

At 11.11am yesterday the world did not end as predicted.  Instead a giant vacuum sucked all the colour from this bit of the earth and left us in monochrome for the shortest day.

Meanwhile, next to the Christmas tree and traditional static crib, a strange  grey shed has appeared in the square in Castletownbere.

The door remained firmly closed.  Perhaps rehearsals were taking place for the ‘live’ performance next Tuesday.  No-one seemed to know.  And I shall probably never know as I shan’t be going into town again before Christmas day.  But it makes you think, doesn’t it?

To brighten your day, the beautiful tulip tree, Liriodendron tulipfera, spotted on UCC campus ten days ago.

I have serious tulip tree envy!

Hello.  Is there anyone still out there?  I’m back  and have some pictures to share.

We recently  spent a few days in Dublin – I went to the Knitting & Stitching show, more of which later – and we stayed in one of those big impersonal but warm and comfy city hotels.   Ballsbridge, an area named after Mr Ball who built a bridge over the river Dodder, is a very grand part of town with wide tree lined streets with large elegant Georgian houses.   Bewley’s Hotel in Merrion Road may be impersonal inside but the outside is very grand building.

Nowhere in the hotel is there any information on its history although it obviously has Masonic connections.  It was in fact built as a Masonic Female Orphan School and the adjoining assembly hall added a few years later.  It was by all accounts well kitted out and a comfortable and warm orphanage;  during Ireland’s Celtic Tiger it was converted into the hotel it is now.

Last weekend we spent in Cork where Cattapilla Designs was at the Craft Fair at the Glucksman Gallery.  It’s a very new building and stands in University College Cork’s campus, on the banks of the river Lee and surrounded by masses of mature trees.  It’s worth a visit if you’re ever in Cork.  T was most impressed, marvelling at the deep cantilevers and use of concrete and wood.  It’s a remarkable and unexpected building.

Of course the bright sun, blue sky and golden leaves all helped!

Having completed two thirds of my very big bag order (big order, not big bags!), the Chief Cutter and I decided to have a treat and take ourselves away.  Deciding where to go is always tricky, living as we do in the most beautiful place.   We decided to head up country to Lismore, a small town just across the border from Cork in County Waterford.  And it was lovely.

We stayed at the Ballyrafter Country House Hotel which is not quite as grand as it sounds but is old and comfy and friendly.  Peat fires in drawing and dining rooms, an old glazed door telephone cubicle in reception which is now a broom cupboard and worn rugs on polished wood floors.  Just right.     

Lismore itself stands on the magnificent Blackwater river and boasts a fairytale castle, cathedral and associations with an eclectic bunch of peopleEdward Burne-Jones designed one of the stained glass windows in St. Carthage’s Church of Ireland Cathedral;

 the indomitable traveller and writer Dervla Murphy was born there;  Fred Astaire’s sister, Adele, married the Duke of Cavendish and lived in the castle in the thirties and, as recounted by Eric from Greystones, Co. Wicklow, Lismore castle is ‘where Charles and Camellia chose to stay when they visited Ireland’.

And what a castle it is.  Standing high above the river it has the look of a film set and romantic thoughts of knights on chargers galloping along the riverbank to rescue damsels crying out from its high towers sprang to mind.  The building is private but the gardens are open and even on a grey damp day, they looked wonderful.

These pictures are from the top garden which is beautifully maintained and very English with its miles of carefully clipped box hedges and neatly mown lawns.

The lower garden is less formal and has trees – tall, straight, beautiful trees.  I miss trees, living on an island blasted by Atlantic storms and sea spray.

And vast rhododendrons that really are this pink.


If it wasn’t for the traffic crossing the bridge from where I took this picture, I could have looked at this view for hours.  I’d like to go back when there’s a blue sky and sunshine.  I bet it sparkles then.


Blogging – both posting my own and enjoying others’ – has had to take a back seat recently since work and life have got in the way.

I had planned to post about the snow on Macgillycuddy’s Reeks in late April


and our drive through the Gap of Dunloe and into the Black Valley.

  Then I had another big bag order.

I had also planned to discuss the pros and cons of new versus old sewing machines. 

 But before I could get around to it the new one packed up so there’s  no contest – the ancient Frister & Rossman wins hands down.

Then last week was turned completely upside down and instead of sewing bags, stirring marmalade or even trying to blog, I found myself in London.

To begin at the beginning.  Many, many years ago myself and another actor spent a day in someone’s house in London filming a television commercial for a certain lemonade.  A job, nothing more, nothing less.  Last week, 39 years later, myself and the same actor found ourselves in someone’s house in London filming an exact replica of the original, this time for a lemonade lolly.

 I was flown to London, met at Heathrow by a man holding a card with my name on it (never happened before, quite exciting) and whisked to a hotel in a swish black car.  This meant I had the unexpected treat of spending an afternoon with the grandchildren (Delilah, now 5 weeks, is becoming even more beautiful), and a lovely meal later with younger son.

Then I spent a day being an actress again!  Crazy!  The new ad. is going viral – I pretended to know what that meant and have since discovered that it’s going out online – with newspaper coverage too.  When, I don’t know.  I shall probably miss it as I now have so much catching up to do for bag orders and marmalade!

I could actually do with a holiday.  Back to the Black Valley perhaps?

… is a well-known traditional Irish greeting that Irish people don’t really use any more!

But as it’s St Patrick’s Day or, as it’s referred to here, Paddy’s Day, I thought a bit of  ”oirishness” wouldn’t go amiss!  And being the greenest day of the year in a very green country, I thought I’d share some of the forty shades.


Such as the green grass

the velvety green moss on tree roots

the bright new green of wood sorrel which is what I like to think of as shamrock rather than the pots of wilting  greenery they sell in the supermarkets

the greens of moss and heather under the trees at the Killarney lakes

the greens of the holly that grows everywhere

more mossy green trees – there’s a lot of moss about

the green of new montbretia

and the green of emerging wild strawberries.

Plenty of green!  Enough not to have to paint buildings, roads and faces perhaps?

Happy Saint Patrick’s Day!

I’m really pleased to be part of the Selvedge Spring Fair at the end of the month.   I’ve been busy making  new Vintage Print Summer Bags

 Vintage Print Cushions

and I finally went through my stash of antique embroideries and have now got some wonderful Antique Embroidered Cushions.  These aren’t on the Cattapilla Designs website yet but I’ll get them on as soon as I can.

These and more will be coming with me.

So if you’re able to get to London on 31st March I’d love to see you.

P.S.  I think spring may be coming!

Can’t believe it’s nearly a week since Showcase ended.  I had hoped to see a bit of Dublin city but the walk from hotel to the RDS in Ballsbridge was all I saw.  It was  tiring but a very successful show and Cattapilla Designs feels like it’s made a big step forward.  Setting up was relatively calm thanks in no small part to T’s calming influence and muscle power, and I was pleased with the stand. 


My bags were everywhere, on a mannequin in the entrance

 in the Trends Area


( my  bags in the Trends areathose are words I never thought I’d write!)

 in the Fashion Show and, best of all, in the Top 50 Best New Products display.

Lots of new customers, a good number of orders and a positive reaction to bags and cushions alike.  The tidy workroom of a few weeks ago is now a serious mess again  – well, after all, it is a workroom – as I get down to a marathon bag and cushion making excercise.  Luckily it’s too cold to do anything in the garden although I have noticed snowdrops, primroses, witch hazel and camelias all flowering with daffodils beginning to show colour.  If we get any sun soon I’ll try and get out but for the time being I shall be chained to the sewing machine!


« Previous PageNext Page »