Thursday, 28 August 2014

Seen from the Road Again

My Seen from the Road series seems to be coming Most Unappealing Structure Seen from the Road. I try to see the beauty in ugly buildings. Many are really fun to draw because of unusual geometry or design.

This week, Northfield Radio Mast. An enormous and impressive construction. I see this a lot as I drive north to Leith Hall or the airport. Also this is inspired by a feature in an Alain de Botton book on the design of pylons. (Many different varieties of pylons if you have ever looked.)

Sunday, 24 August 2014

Handsewing Wol

This week, I am doing a hand sewing project of an owl kit. These are available from the shop at my work so I thought I would give one a go.

I am also planning to try and crack embroidery stitches, something I have not attempted since appalling sewing lessons in school. The teacher was a very grumpy old lady who was a real tidyness Nazi.'The back should be the same as the front'. Except you don't see the back so I don't get that. Also, isn't sewing supposed to be creative?

Once I have dared to use my new sewing machine (inherited from my friend Tor) I am on two new and challenging projects:
Japanese style stretch striped top and corduroy jacket.

Tuesday, 19 August 2014

Biography of the Month

Ok, so I haven't made any progress with the mammoth biography of Eleanor Marx yet.

But I am gripped by 'Mastering the Art of Soviet Cooking' by Anya von Bremzen. A very dark history/biography/ culinary memoir of Soviet Russia.

It occurs to me I seem to have an overwhelming interest in books about Soviet Russia and the Communist Bloc. Maybe because it is something I remember from my childhood.

Sunday, 17 August 2014

Beautiful Battenburg

I made battenburg cake! Warning: there may be a lot of cake based posts for a bit because a) I like cake b) I am glued to British Bake Off and c) it helps me to relax in the face of the upcoming referendum horror (which I actually had a nightmare about last night, not good.)

Anyway, battenburg cake is an almond flavour cake with a constructional interest. In cross-section you can see the basic form of alternating strips of pink and yellow cake, glued together with apricot jam and clad in marzipan. It was delicious and sadly devoured almost in its entirety by Alistair's work colleagues.

For historians: here is a excerpt from Wikipedia on the origins of the cake: 'The origin of the cake is unknown, with early recipes also using the alternative names "Domino Cake" (recipe by Agnes Berthe Marshall, 1898), "Neapolitan Roll" (recipe by Robert Wells, 1898),or "Church Window Cake." The link to the town of Battenburg in central Germany (the seat of the aristocratic family known in Britain as Mountbatten), is purported to have come from the marriage in 1884 of Prince Louis of Battenburg to Princess Victoria, a granddaughter of Queen Victoria.' I thought that was quite interesting.

Thursday, 7 August 2014

Lovely Leith Hall again

This is the beautiful Leith Hall in Aberdeenshire, where I work on Tuesdays.

The hall dates back to the 1600s and is home to wonderful art, fascinating collections and a really interesting military museum. There are also some of the loveliest gardens in the North-East. Don't miss the Celtic Wolf Stone and the ruined churchyard!

Find out more about the hall here: Leith Hall-National Trust for Scotland

Sunday, 3 August 2014

Biography Project

The latest biography I am attempting was recommended on Radio 4, a beacon of sanity in an often weird and disturbing world.

The programme is A Good Read presented by Harriet  Gilbert. She discusses favourite books with two different guests each week. Sometimes they are classics, sometimes new books. There are always some great recommendations.

This time it was the latest biography of Eleanor Marx, Karl Marx's daughter and biographer and a noted feminist and social campaigner.