Tue 20 Nov 2012
Out and About
Sun 18 Nov 2012
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!
Thu 24 May 2012
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 people. Edward 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.
Tue 8 May 2012
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?
Sat 17 Mar 2012
… 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!
Sun 11 Mar 2012
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!
Tue 31 Jan 2012
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 area – those 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!
Thu 17 Nov 2011
We awoke this morning to the sound of a storm force 9. We recognise the ferocity of the storms by the noise. The house booms and shudders like a ship in heavy seas, the wind turbine roars and horizontal rain crashes against the windows. I had to go up the road to feed the neighbours’ cats; it was quite scary.
I had intended to go into town but even if the big ferry is running it will be an unpleasant trip. And if the ferry isn’t running then it’ll be one of the old lifeboats and clambering onto that whilest weighed down with shopping, followed by bouncing across the bay and then clambering off in high winds and driving rain is no fun. So instead I spent the afternoon playing with a new toy and reading a new old magazine.
Our trip to the UK was great. I was thoroughly spoilt, taken to a swanky restaurant and crazy hotel – The Church Street Hotel, a little bit of Mexico in the middle of Camberwell of all places – and ate magnificent food and drank fine wines. I was showered with such generous gifts and spent time with some of my favourite people. Perfect.
One of my presents was a camera. As one who struggles with anything new and different, I hadn’t taken it out of its box until this afternoon. But out it has now come and having attached the strap - which took longer than reading the instructions – it’s now awaiting its charging battery and a bit of a play. Watch this space!
Another wonderful present was an original Vogue from November 1951.
To get this tiny waist
these had to be worn
and can you see what this incredibly glamorous picture is advertising?
At least one was allowed to be ‘not so slender’ in those days!
Isn’t this coat glorious? Look at those buttons. Sixty years on and I’d love one!
And this? From last March. Well, I wasn’t going outside again to photograph the rain!
Fri 23 Sep 2011
So. We went to London. And now we’re home, T with a streaming cold and me with a sense of relief that I don’t live in the city. Normally London inspires and excites me but this time it did neither - it seemed too noisy, too busy, too frantic and just too darned unpleasant.
But of course there were highlights. No-one could fail to enjoy spending time with this one!
He’s changed so much since we last saw him in June and his constant chattering kept us laughing. Thank you Joe.
The Chelsea Physic Garden was fascinating
Peter Jones was as you’d expect and knitting wool was bought! I was suprised by how many small prep-school children were in the top floor cafe with juice and buns doing their homework. Made me wonder if the state primary school children were around the corner in Macdonalds with burgers and chips as the bribe for their homework?
The old Express building in Fleet Street was open for London Open House.
I listened to the bells of St Paul’s and then went in for choral Evensong which included the admission of eight angelic looking new choristers and an organ scholar. Not a dry eye in the house! Sitting in the main body of that great building, even with the organ thundering, brings stillness and calm. I’m glad I went.
And now it’s autumn, officially. And with it’s arrival begins the Bere Island Ferries winter timetable. No more popping into Castletownbere on the 2.30 with just enough time to do a supermarket dash, and visit the bank and fish shop before returning on the 3.30. And the luxury of visiting MacCarthy’s Bar for a few pints of the black stuff is off, unless you want to start drinking mid-afternoon – the last ferry back onto Bere Island is 6.30pm, 8.30 for special treats on a Friday!
I’d like to say a big THANK YOU for all your generous encouragements to my last post. And an even bigger thank you to the customer who loved the wool clutch bags so much she couldn’t decide which one to have – so she bought two! Now that’s the sort of customer I like!!
Have a good weekend.
Thu 25 Aug 2011
… telephones, computers, cameras never fail! I seem to remember telling you last week that all connections were up and running. Hah! That’s what I thought! More calls to eircom, more visits from Jim, the eircom techno wizard, and finally, finally, normal service was restored yesterday.
Meanwhile, another Craft Fair – this weekend in Kinsale. Then I think that may be the last, ever! I’m wrecked. From the preparation to the travelling, setting up, actual selling for two days, packing up and getting home late on a Sunday evening, then unpacking, putting away etc., etc., and back to the sewing machine the next day. Life is too, too short to be this tired. So the decision has been made. Online shop, great. Wholesale to shops, great. Out and about selling – not great, not any more.
So, for one last weekend, here it is!
Thank you for your compliments on the new bags. So far, they’re going well! Cushions to follow soon.