What I did last Summer

Summer has flown and I’ve been lucky enough to get about a bit this year. First stop was a relaxing fortnight in Portugal. Without the distractions of technology, we got engrossed in paperbacks, discovered beautiful beaches and reconnected with family and friends the old-fashioned way, face-to-face. My 12 year-old cracked crochet, which is the ideal portable craft for holidays. Before long she could churn out granny squares in her sleep. (I was slightly miffed as it took me so much longer to learn!)  We progressed onto flowers and made these below for the community display at next weekend’s Yarndale festival. (The background is my ripple blanket that’s been steadily growing over the summer.) There was no need to worry about mixing yarns, getting the right tension or making the odd mistake, we just needed to make them as colourful as possible. More about this project to follow after my Yarndale trip next weekend…

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Being on the Atlantic coast we experienced spectacular sunsets and I loved how the same walk on the beach would look quite different every time depending on the tides and the weather. Even the stormy skies at the beach were quite beautiful.

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Back to work for a few days then Mum and I flew to New York for a week to celebrate her big birthday. We had plenty of adventures and memorable moments.  Meeting Judy Murray at the US Open Tennis after watching Jamie win an excellent doubles match was definitely one of them. The folks back home saw us on TV waving our flags and celebrating!

Last time I was on Manhattan was 9/11. Two days before the twin towers fell, I was sitting at the top enjoying a meal, oblivious to how the next few days would terrifyingly unfold. Looking out now at this new skyline and reflecting, I was encouraged by how well the city has recovered and remembered.

IMG_3459There is such much inspiration and creativity to be found in this city. Walking the High Line, an urban park built on an abandoned rail track we were surprised and delighted by the elevated street views and artwork amongst the colours and textures of the planting.

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This ‘graffiti’ is actually found steel formed into 3ft high suspended words by the artist Damian Ortega.

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Turning another corner we saw this thought-provoking street art by Banksy.

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I was so pleased that we fitted in a visit to the Metropolitan Museum of Art on the morning before flying home.  The museum is vast and I had wondered whether we could do it any justice in just a few hours and get over the guilt of racing past and ignoring great and important works of art. Our strategy was to take an hour-long museum highlights tour (excellent) to get our bearings, then re-visit just a few of the galleries, and focus on a few paintings there that had captured our imagination.

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The space and light in the galleries was wonderful, especially being able to get up close to the paintings without peering through crowds of people. Amongst my highlights was seeing one of Van Gogh’s original ‘Sunflower’ series. It felt a real privilege to see the true colours and the textures of his brush strokes.  Also a painting that was brought to our attention by the tour guide. It portrays the chemist Antoine Lavoisier and his wife. They are both extremely interesting characters in their own right who lived through the height of the French Revolution and had an endearing relationship that is recognisable in the composition. How the drapes and textures of the various fabrics are captured in oil paint by the artist Jacques-Louis David is incredible. Notice how realistically thin the glass of the flask appears with the light source reflected in it.

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So two contrasting holiday experiences, one relaxing, the other fast-paced and energising.  I’ve returned to my day-to-day routines this month feeling rejuvenated, inspired and itching to get back to making of course!

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