Monday, 20 September 2010

Bucks County Show!!!

I decided to have a go at one or two classes at The Bucks County Show, as mentioned in a previous blog, and entered a few of the domestic classes as well as the flower arranging classes (but more of those later).  I decided I would have a go at the jams, a cake, bread and the handicrafts.  I have previously blogged about the cardmaking class I entered.  Jamie also decided to have a go at a couple of classes too - although it did become even more of a family event in the end!!

Jamie's cakes - Jamie had a go at the decorated cakes class and he produced the cakes above, he got the comment of "a lovely colour palette" - he had lots of fun preparing them and fortunately there were lots of extra cakes at home for us all to enjoy.  You can't really eat anything that has been in competition as it has sat in the marquee all night and then has been judged and seen by people all of the following day.
I made some jams, a strawberry and raspberry.  I had used a different method to making them, in that I used ordinary sugar and added pectin, rather than using jam sugar which is my usual method and I ended up with a much firmer set than I usually get so I suspected I was not going to be winning any prizes!!  I didn't - but the jam does taste lovely and Jamie is working his way down the raspberry one at the moment.  The jams do have a lovely colour and flavour, which is much nicer than the shop bought varieties but they are quite solid.  I did get some nice comments about the flavour so was pleased with that!!  Silly me forgot to put a label on them well I won't forget that next year!!

I also made a Farmhouse Fruit Cake which looked very nice and the practice one I had made was delicious so I expected the second one to taste good too.  We don't have any photos of the cake, because someone had taken the wrong cake when they collected at the end of the show, so I don't even know if I had received any placing on this entry.

I had planned to make some bread too, which I had practiced but I wasn't that impressed with it really and on the day Mike made the bread as I was so busy with my flower arrangements.  I told Mike what to do at each stage and he made the bread and he won Third place for the bread, so it really was a family affair, we were all as pleased as punch for that prize.  Although we aren't sure about the comment about the tin as it was clean - I suspect it may have been the oil we used to ensure the bread didn't stick marking the bottom of the bread.  Mike was quite offended at the thought he may use a dirty tin!!

I also entered the handicrafts (as well as the card making class as mentioned before) with a scrapbook page, but that wasn't placed as there were so many really good handicrafts.  But it was jolly good fun taking part in all the classes and I suspect we will be back again next year having another go!!



Reading challenge 13/16 - currently reading If I Was by Midge Ure (struggling with this one at the moment) so I've started Angels and Demons by Dan Brown

Sunday, 19 September 2010


Again not much chat with this one just some photos from our  short holiday to Shropshire - very nice, relaxing, historic and very enjoyable. We bought a passport ticket which covered entrance into 10 museums and attractions and thought that we would have plenty of time to cover most of them, in fact we only managed 4 or 5 and so are planning a return trip to take in a couple more - as we really loved what we saw.

Here Mike and Jamie are sat at our first stop, a pub for lunch alongside the River Severn and as you can see from the picture below it was lovely.  We were heading to the Jackfield Tile Museum which was really interesting, much more so than we thought and we got to see them making tiles which were to be used in the Houses of Parliament.

After the tile museum we  headed to a craft centre, which had loads of crafting shops and interesting little retailers, I managed to resist!!  We then headed to the Coalport China Museum and Tar Tunnel.  The Coalport Museum was really interesting and lots of lovely China to look at, as well as learning a lot more about how it is made.
After a walk to the Tar Tunnel we headed to another pub and had another couple of drinks sat in the lovely sunshine and then over wandered a couple of goats for a look at us!!

They were of course very cute, although Mike is more interested in his mobile than the goats in this photo, Jamie and I were talking to them and offering them one or two nibbles.

After that pub we headed to another pub where we had a lovely meal, which was huge.  Jamie had  spaghetti bolognese, Mike had fajita and I had stuffed peppers which were divine, we had deserts too but they were huge and we couldn't even finish them!!  I had quite happily worked my way down a bottle of rose too, so was by the end well and truly tiddly!!  How I managed to take a photo is beyond me.  After that we headed to our hotel and I slept like a log!!

More views of the River Severn, just below the Coalport Museum.

A final drink in the garden before we walked (me carefully!!) to the car and onto the hotel.

After a lovely breakfast and a look through the paper we headed into Ironbridge and here is Jamie with said bridge behind him - we had an enjoyable time wandering around a few shops, I picked up some flower books at the local charity shop and then some more in the second hand bookstore a few doors down.  I just can't resist floristry and flower arranging books.
Then it was onto the Blists Victorian Town (as featured in the BBC programme The Victorian Pharmacy) and it was wonderful, a smaller version of Beamish Museum really but featuring on a time earlier than Beamish which I think is set around 1912 (ish).

Here is Mike making a beeline for the bank!

Everything is so authentic, even the posters telling you about everything were just as they would have been in the Victorian times.  You can even change up for money for old money and use it in all of the shops and places to eat selling Victorian food and sweets.  Mike trying to remember what old money was like.

Jamie stood outside the Pharmacy which featured very heavily in the BBC programme which was really really interesting .......

the chemist and the pill maker as featured in the show ......

 ....and a dentists chair, I wouldn't fancy that for any treatment!

Jamie trying to look cool - he loved the programme too and it was one of the reasons we ended up in Shropshire.

One of the houses, this was set up as a Doctors House, and had a surgery and waiting room, some of it was scary as I recognised some of the pottery and styles of furniture, which were similar to some which were in an Aunty's house at Guisborough.
A dirty pig outside the Doctors house, not being unkind its just he was very grey from rolling about in the soil.

and some very dirty chickens!!

Part of the industrial heritage, an old furnace.



Reading challenge 13/16 - currently reading If I Was by Midge Ure

Monday, 13 September 2010

My First Flower Demo

August flower club was a members evening, which means rather than having a demonstrator members of the club do the demonstrations and I was lucky (or maybe unlucky) enough to be asked to do one of the demonstrations.  It really seemed like a great opportunity for me to have a go and to "show-off" some of my skills and design ideas.  Of course being asked to do it in abstract some 2 months ahead of the date makes it look very appealing - an appeal which becomes a little less so in the 24 hours ahead of the event.
Modern hedge arrangement

Actually as it turned out I wasn't too nervous and as they say a little adrenaline can help the performance along!!
A more traditional style

There were 3 other members of the club who were also demonstrating and they did a brilliant job and I particularly liked the modern hedge style of the first demonstration.  I was third on the bill!!

M's arrangement - one of the the most talented members in the club

I knew what I was planning on doing and so headed off to the wholesaler on my birthday to get the flowers I needed, I also (as mentioned in a previous blog) treated myself as a birthday pressie to another two martini glasses to match my large one, a medium and small one!!  So with the flowers I needed purchased, the following day I  and started creating two additional arrangements in the smaller glasses to be produced after I had finished the one I planned for the demonstration.

My small arrangement - my theme was celebration .....

I prepped the materials I was using for the demo and got myself all packed up - I needed Mike and Jamie to come with to help me unload everything at Stony and hold the other two arrangements in the car - to prevent them from being damaged.  Once safely unloaded and set up, I took them home and picked up J. the glasses worked well (the tallest glass is about 90 cms tall)

As I was third on I had some time to get a little nervous, but not too nervous.  There must have been about 30 - 40 people in the room and I haven't spoken publicly to that many people since I was in Brownies and did the reading at Church some many many years ago.  I had planned what I was going to say and had a couple of amusing stories up my sleeve (one from the day itself).  (When I had returned home with my new glasses I said to Mike - don't be cross, and his first response was "You haven't got another dog" - which of course had me rolling around the floor - now of course I know how to get away with every flower or scrapping purchase - "Well pet it could be worse - it could be another dog!!!!!") 

All 3 arrangements - celebrating the wonderful hobby the club shares

Of course once you get up there things do go out of your head, but I think I didn't do too badly for my very first demonstration.  The arrangement looked great (maybe not technically perfect in floristry terms but this arrangement was a celebratory piece so some rules could be broken) and there was the wow factor when I produced the other two arrangements.  I managed to talk about some of the techniques, name the flowers with in most cases botanical and common names, tell a few funny stories and not come across as being nervous.  I got some very positive feedback from the club afterwards.

I was most nervous about doing a demonstration in front of my flower arranging tutor Sylvia - I was more concerned on getting something she had shown me wrong and so I got some very useful feedback from her afterwards of  areas to look at improving next time.  But most of all she was very proud of me and that is wonderful as she has given me such a passion for this hobby that I wanted to make her proud of me.  She did say she heard me say some things she herself says when teaching or demonstrating - well she is my mentor!!!

I feel overall very happy that the whole evening went well and I certainly would like to do some more demonstrating.  The club always raffles the arrangements and those who won mine seemed very happy and I won one too - I took M's smaller one which was very pretty.



Reading challenge 13/16 - currently reading If I Was by Midge Ure

Sunday, 12 September 2010

Flowers, Church Flowers and More Flowers

Flowers have as usual played a large part over the summer holidays and I have lots of flower related stuff I have to think about for September but more of that in due course.  I made an end of term flower arrangement for Jamie's teacher, even though he is a man - why can't men be given flowers?  This is the front view of the arrangement .....

and this is the back, just a standard oval shaped posy to match the basket using roses, gerbera, and a variety of chrysanthemum ........

....I also had a go at a double ribbon using complementary colours to the flowers in the arrangement, I hope Jamie's teacher liked it!!  I hope it's the photo above that was wonky and not the arrangement (ha ha!!) but looking at it here I may have slightly moved one flower just to take a bit more room up in the greenish space I can see - I am never totally happy with any arrangement that I do!

I also did this little arrangement for my friend Andrea's 40th birthday and I think she was really happy with it too - very simple posy but pretty nonetheless!!

Here is one of the containers I purchased at the National Show in Harrogate - very useful for modern and Ikebana style arrangements and not an expensive container at all.  I had some left over Gerbera and some odd bits of foliage so just shoved them all in this container - not too bad!

I have been loving the Gerbera racquets Tesco have been selling this summer and such good value for money - these were the real thing Gerbera and not the mini Gerbera (Germini) which are slightly cheaper - I bought these for what would have worked out at 50p a stem for Gerbera which is wholesale price - fantastic.  I used some left over foliage which I had and made a very simple line arrangement with a few roses too.  I love the Dracena or Lucky Bamboo which gives a great line and adds movement and interest because of its shape - and it lasts for ever too.  I used the ones in the picture several times over the summer and they must have lasted over 2 months as they were bought for a college assignment.

You can catch a glimpse of the other container I purchased - it is silver and square and fits a foam brick end on so is very useful - I would have preferred it in black but they had sold out - but it would be easy to spray as silver can be a hard colour to use as it is so bright it can detract the eye away from the flower material.  Below is the stand I bought too, which has already been useful to sit the silver container in and allows me to play with alternative ways of display my arrangements.

I have been doing Church flowers again with my friend J, but forgot to take the camera to get some photos of what we did.  Members of the congregation will donate funds to buy the flowers in memory of loved ones and the lady who had donated for that week absolutely loved the arrangements so we considered that to be a great success - we had ended up making 6 arrangements as there were so many flowers from the previous week which were still very usable.

Us flower ladies have also started having little lunch trips out too, which is great fun - visiting garden centres, flower wholesalers and having lunch too - what more could you ask for!!



Reading challenge 13/16 - currently reading If I Was by Midge Ure
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