Upon arrival in London, a tube strike was in effect. It was a comedy of errors to get from the train station to our hotel, collect our main luggage which we'd stored while in Belgium and France, and then go back to the hotel once more. Yes, there was a reason for the double trip. And good luck grabbing a taxi when employees needed to travel to and from work. Have I mentioned that I don't recommend taking large luggage on the bus with everyone else that can't take the subway? However, we made it, not without scars LOL, and new fun began.
We were with a wonderful group of stitchers with the Still Stitching with Susan tour. Hosts were Susan Greening Davis and Sally Criswell with their companion, Penny. Before we met for a nice dinner to kick off the tour, we set off to see a few sights for ourselves.
...Trafalgar Square with the double decker buses in front
Day 1 - first stop was the V & A Museum, which was unbelievable in itself - then more sights around London. In the afternoon, we visited Joyce Petschek in her lovely studio. Joyce has been a pioneer in Bargello and gave us some history and let us look around her world at both finished and unfinished stitching. Really awesome trip. Of course we were allowed to partake of stash there, but I was good. Only bought a tiny kit and her Beautiful Bargello book.
V & A Museum with it's wondrous needlework -
...Blackwork embroidered skirt
...Jane Bostock sampler - 1598
...Court dress -
Wouldn't you want to wear this? Gives new meaning to the a version of "On top of Old Smoky,"
"On top of the school building, all covered with sand,
I shot my poor teacher..with a green rubber band.
I did it with pleasure; I did it with pride.
I couldn't have missed her; she's 40 feet wide."
With a dress like that, it's almost feasible. LOL
Sometimes it's scary the random things that float through my brain...
...One of the many gorgeous ironworks at V & A
Day 2 - bus ride through beautiful country to Stratford-upon-Avon to Anne Hathaway's cottage and Shakespeare's birthplace. Then a stroll throughout the quaint area was in order - very picturesque.
...Anne Hathaway's Cottage
...call me twisted, but I do appreciate good wit, and Shakespeare was one of the best. I had to snap these stickers of his insults from plays. Click on the picture to better read them; some are hilarious. I bought one of the mugs that had some of these and more.
Saw this riding through towns - my kids are major "24" fans. It's official - it's international. :)
That night, the Shakespeare's Globe Theatre had a midnight showing of Romeo and Juliet. Several of us had a really cool dinner at a restaurant near by and then meandered our way to the theater. A little bleary-eyed the next day, but well worth it.
Day 3 - Next morning, we had stitching time with Susan and Sally and special appearances from Lorrie Birmingham and the Doll Lady, as she is known. Susan and Sally unveiled their project for us, a beautiful spot sampler to go with our notebooks. Nope, not done with it yet. We were given all sorts of lovely little surprises all throughout the trip - one of a kind charms, lap pads, little trinkets, magnets, pictures, etc.
As for the dolls, I'm not normally a doll person, but these were beautiful and had exquisite workmanship. They were completely hand-made by Polly Nassim, a retired doll-maker of forty years. There will be no more once the inventory is gone. The dolls are dressed with beautifully sewn designs based on the Georgian, Elizabethan, Regency, Victorian, etc. English periods. Most have bits and pieces of antique lace or trim on them, also. The faces are handpainted and then stitched over. I bought two of the Georgian era, as to have one for each of my girls later. Kim set up Polly with us, and we are much indebted to her.
Afterwards, some of us girls traipsed to Covent Gardens to see what it was like on the weekend - a super large, nice flea market - very cool!
Day 4 - Off to Bath with it's wonderful Bath Abbey, Roman Baths and Pump Room, and residence of Jane Austen. I absolutely love her works. I drank the waters - expected sulphur, but didn't notice a different taste, really. Along the way we also stopped at Stonehenge and Runnymeade, where the Magna Carta began. Some went to a Beefeater's banquet (medieval) that night, but I opted out.
...Roman Baths...lovely color, hmm?!
...Jane Austen center
Day 5 - Had a special trip to Hampton Court and the Royal School of Needlework with an awesome tour. I truly wish we'd been allowed to take pictures, but they have massive WIP's they don't want revealed until unveiled in entirety. Truly magnificent works and the most impressive and beautiful Japanese raised embroidery I've ever seen. That afternoon, Kim and I had a relaxing afternoon in Kensington Park strolling and stopped to stitch for awhile on the benches. Others had taken a boat ride down the Thames. Since I'd been in London several times before, I chose not to participate in some of the traditional sight-seeing tours.
...Very small portion of Hampton Court Gardens - lovely!
...Such a graceful swan at Kensington Gardens swimming in the large fountain
Day 6 - Today's sights were the Cotswolds, the "heart of England", as they say. Stunningly beautiful countryside with the village of Bourton-on-the-Water, Chipping Campden, and Gloucester. Gloucester was just charming with it's own Beatrix Potter shop (remember the Tailor of Gloucester? - based here) and Gloucester Abbey. Beautifully crafted with 12 Green Men hidden inside and out. The afternoon was spent at Pinks Barn with Jane Greenoff. She invited us into her world and was the epitome of hospitality. I bought some stash here, I must say, and well worth it. Lovely time was had by all. Many were going to the theater that night, so off we rushed back so they could all make it.
...On the way to the Cotswolds
...Click the picture to find some of the Green men above the arch in Gloucester Abbey
...Needlepoint cushion in Gloucester Abbey - there were probably 60-70 total. This was in the priest's area and larger than the choir cushions... aren't they gorgeous? All with the same color background and different design.
...Beatrix Potter shop
...Pinks Barn - Jane Greenoff's home and shop
One of Jane Greenoff's adorable sheepdogs...
Day 7 - Spent in and around London in various places and then a wonderful farewell dinner together. While there, we were visited by the Pearlies, a dynasty of people dedicated to charity works. They all had the most elaborate suits and dresses, all hand-sewn dripping with pearl/pearlesque buttons. Some of the suits take 9 months to finish sewing and they're heavy to wear. Susan and Sally presented us with another of their little surprises. They really put so much effort into presenting us with a memorable tour. And whenever anyone was free in the evening and wanted to hang out, we went down to the couches in the massive lobby to visit and stitch. If you're wondering if you'd like to participate in one of these tours, I highly recommend it. You get so much out of it you would otherwise miss. Thanks to them both.
So if you stayed this long to see all the pictures, thanks for taking a peek into my world for that week. I'll leave you with a few more...
...Lion at Trafalgar Square
Important information painted on the busy London roads...life-saving, literally
...Stash books from each needlework place - Jane Greenoff, RSN, and Joyce's Bargello studio
...And lastly, schoolchildren coming from an exhibition. Aren't they sweet?!
Last stop, off to Edinburgh, Scotland - aye, and a grand time it was!