Another outing to Western Springs with my little friend last week. The park is almost overrun with birds - seagulls, pukeko, swans, geese, ducks, coots, pigeons, hens. There few still a few fluffy ducklings and cygnets around. And, best of all, if you linger on one of the bridges and peer into the dark water you're bound to see a slippery fat eel or two.
Reading:The non-conformists by Martin Parr and Susie Parr
This is a really interesting book of photos taken by Martin in 1975 while he and Susie were living in a small mill town in Yorkshire, England. It's a sort of documentary about a traditional way of life in a rural community that was already in decline. Susie wrote the text that describes the people and their day-to-day lives. I especially liked her description of the Lydgate mineral water works that made cordials and "fizzy drinks".
Let me introduce you to illustrator and graphic artist Nathalie Lété. I was looking at her beautiful work on the internet and thinking that it's not really my cup of tea but I like it and wouldn't it be wonderful to have a little bit of it. Nathalie's work seemed so familiar and then I realised that I might have something of hers - a little tin bucket that I'd bought as a gift for a friend a few years back. I began to doubt that my friend would like it so I bought her something else and kept the bucket. I hadn't known who the designer/illustrator was but now I see written on the bottom of the bucket "Nathalie Lété pour Vilac." How weird is that?
Nathalie has illustrated a children's pop-up book Promenade de la petite fille (Ramble of the little girl) and you can see her reading it here. And you can visit her website to see more of her work - i.e. if it's your cup of tea.
Reading:Stoner by John Williams Eating: strawberries fresh from the garden
Waiheke Island on Saturday for lunch at Cable Bay vineyards to celebrate my sister-in-law's birthday followed by a slow late afternoon walk to catch the ferry home.
Then on Sunday another ferry to see the sculpture on the shore exhibition. I gave my vote for the "people's choice award" to Subtlehack by Audrey Boyle - a wire and stretchy fabric sculpture reminiscent of supplejack.
And we ended our weekend in fine style with dinner on the beach - fish and chips and a glass of wine - with some good old friends.
How was your weekend?
Reading:The mad boy, Lord Berners, my grandmother and me by Sofka Zinovieff
I planted a small cutting garden a few months back hoping to have plenty of flowers for picking over the summer. Everything grew tall and green and then got blown over in a storm and died. I've had to start over. So disappointing. But a few things from last year - like the foxgloves and geranium - have self-seeded. (This is a very good reason not to weed too often or too well). And, of course, there are always weeds. Someone once told me that weeds are just plants you don't want. But some of them - like the forget-me-nots - are so pretty why would you not want them?
If you live in Auckland and go past Victoria Park you may have noticed what looks like a mini wilderness near the skate park. It's actually a conceptual artwork called The park. It's a hexagonal garden planted with calendula, nasturtiums, borage etc with six horizontal beehives (the strange boxes in the top photo) at the centre. The idea is to inspire people to plant their own "pollen hotels" to encourage bees in the city. If you want to participate you can add your bee-friendly garden to a map here. At the end of the project you get to share the honey.
Today is Labour Day in New Zealand - a public holiday - so it's been a three-day weekend. Hoorah! I did my bit for the bees and worked in the garden for the first time in ages.
Children's picture books have become a regular item on my library (and credit) card now that I'm a grandma. These lovely illustrations are from 1 to 20, animals aplenty by Katie Viggers. I love that she's included one of my favourite animals - the capybara.
And today, for the first time, I saw Peppa Pig on TV. Isn't it great? I love Daddy Pig's voice. And all that giggling from Peppa and George.
Today we celebrated hanami - a glass of pink champagne under the cherry trees in the front garden then inside for brunch. We finished up with coffee and Rose pound cake. I found Trine Hahnemann's recipe on The guardianhere. Unfortunately I couldn't get the essential rosy ingredients - the rose jelly and pink rose petals - so we had Pound cake with pink icing and a few pink sprinkles instead. And it tasted great.
Reading:That uncertain feeling by Kingsley Amis Watching:Project runway season 13
I made these cushions for the new sofa over the weekend using fabric that I bought at fabric-a-brac two years ago. I only had enough for one side per cushion so I backed them with bright red linen - which I think looks great - plus it gave me an excuse to go the the fabric store. I love it when unexpected things/mistakes turn out better than the original plan.
Look at these amazing quilts. They're from this book - Unconventional & unexpected : American quilts below the radar 1950-2000 byRoderick Kiracofe.
My favourite is the spotted quilt. It's actually covered in tiny pompoms used to tie all the layers of the quilt together.
There are so many quilts in this book - 150 or so - and they are all wonderful.
I've been keen on koalas since this trip to Australia last year so a koala seemed a good choice to get back into softie making. I'm trying to think up a name for him/her. Alliterations like Kevin and Kylie seem too obvious.
Watching: Re-runs of A touch of Frost and Frasier - still good after all these years
There are things about my neighbourhood that I really like. I love the idea behind these two street book exchanges. They're just sweetly decorated cupboards really - one on the edge of a park and the other in someone's garden. The idea is you "take one out, put one in" and not necessarily at the same time. I don't know if the libraries are monitored in any way but I have noticed there never seems to be a shortage of books and there are always different books so maybe it just works. Nice.
Reading:The New York dog by Rachael Hale McKenna. This is a collection of photos of dogs living in New York City. Best quote - "One of the great things about having a dog in the city is that it encourages you to socialize. You can meet interesting people for about five minutes, which is a nice chunk of time." William Wegman (artist)
Just as Spring is arriving I've finished my pom-pom scarf. I've been knitting without following a pattern - just a few simple things like scarves and beanies.
For this scarf cast on enough stitches so that the scarf will be about 16 cm (6 in) wide. Work in garter stitch (knit every row) until the scarf is as long as you want then cast off. Voila - scarf! I made mine 180 cm (70 in) long. Then, if you want, gather up the ends by threading the cast on and cast off "tails" in and out across the ends of the scarf and pull tight to gather. Make pom-poms and sew on to the gathered ends. After a few failures I discovered you don't want to make the pom-poms giant. Big is big enough. I made mine using cardboard rings about 10 cm (4 in) in diameter.
I used Patons Cosmos 12 ply yarn and 8mm needles. But you can use any yarn and just see how it turns out.
Thursdays with my granddaughter are getting more adventurous. We went to a local park today to see the birds - ducks, geese, black swans, gulls, pukeko - that hang about there in large numbers. We were lucky to see ducklings and fluffy grey signets. It must be spring.
How's the weather in your neck of the woods?
Reading:Butler's ringlet - a novel by New Zealand writer Laurence Fearnley
Photos of two very different orchids from the New Zealand Orchid Society's Auckland show that I visited today. I don't know - sometimes I think orchids are beautiful and sometimes I think they're creepy. Especially the really big blooms that are so perfect they look like they're made of plastic. Maybe just don't look too closely at them.
Reading:Can't we talk about something more pleasant?- a memoir by Roz Chast. The author is an only child and her parents are in their nineties. It's about how she experiences their decline and deaths. And it's honest and sad and funny.
... yellow for mine and grey for a friend's new granddaughter. I've been experimenting with beanie patterns and found this guide that allows you to use any wool and just go for it. I had to adjust the shaping a bit but it worked. For the yellow beanie I used a lovely soft hand painted alpaca/wool mix that was so nice I went back to the store for more colours.