Wednesday, 20 December 2017

Branching Out - Along the Ise

At this time of year it is always difficult to judge what kind of weather we may encounter the photo above is from a day in August and rains continued intermittently for most of summer and autumn.

This resulted in our route along the Ise being both overgrown with brambles, nettles and weeds as well being rutted and muddy in places which made walking an interesting proposition, especially for those who had forgotten their boots (again)!

The weather was kind to us with the December sun casting a lovely, yet melancholy glow through the leafless branches. We thought back to other walks in different seasons as we stopped to sit and enjoy our Mindfulness meditation. We allowed our breathing to slow and felt the warm on our faces, we felt calm now the muddy puddles were behind us and glad that our way was easier to navigate. 

We crossed the bridge and remembered Allan the Storyteller from our last project telling us a tale on the very bridge in a heavy downpour. We felt glad that we were warm and dry, we felt glad to have walked successfully towards another lunch with friends.

As it was a Monday we had the 
Green Patch, where some 

of our group are volunteer gardeners, 
we had the site to ourselves.

We fed the chickens and ducks in the hopes of finding some eggs and looked at these optimistic little plants

Back in the cabin Carole had arranged our fired and glazed

clay stars, birds and trees. We kept the ones we had

made to take home as gifts for friends and family.

We also wanted to leave a gift

for Sue, Nigel, Vicky and all 
the other groups and volunteers

as they are all stars!

So we hung the remaining

decorations on a tree

outside the cabin

to wish everyone all good 
things for the coming year.

After we had eaten, we all got busy tidying.
What an enjoyable walk! What a fabulous team!

Monday, 27 November 2017

Branching Out - Cranford

We gathered at Cranford Village Hall to make 
clay decorations for our final intervention,we used 
working the clay as our Mindfulness meditation.

We rolled out clay, cut out shaped, 
impressed the surface with letter stamps 
and decorated with coloured slips

remembering to make a hole to thread through later.
Carole took the decorations away to be fired, 
glazed and fired again.

The hall has a lovely kitchen as well as excellent work space
and Carolyn made salads and pizza for lunch. as it was a
blustery November day it was good to be able to eat indoors!

After lunch we went for a short, brisk walk to 

St Andrew’s Church dates from the time of King Henry II (1154 -89). Its Norman arcade and additions from every subsequent medieval century, give this church a rich and varied history. There are memorials to 300 years of the Robinson family fill the south chapel of medieval St Andrew's, which lies next to the Robinson seat of Cranford Hall. There are also memorial brasses to various Fosbrokes, who were here for three earlier centuries.
We also saw a Norman arcade, additions from every subsequent Medieval century, some Flemish glass and a complete set of furnishings from the incumbency of a nineteenth-century member of the Robinson family which gives this church a rich and varied history.

For more about the architecture visit

For more about the stained glass visit Fragile Images

Friday, 20 October 2017

Parks, Gardens, Woods, Crafts - Waddesdon Manor Gardens - Painting with Autumn Light - Kate Dyer

Surrounded by views of Oxfordshire, the Chilterns Hills, the Vale of Aylesbury Waddesdon Manor, provided our group with an ideal place to photograph and explore.  We gathered by the rococo style Aviary  in the heart of the gardens filled with rare and exotic birds. 

Photographer Kate Dyer set up an impromptu studio near the Aviary and explained to the group about how make a cyanotype or sun print, we were fortunate that Autumn was kind to us and the light was still strong enough for our purpose.

Kate hope the cyanotypes would be inspired by the walk to the Aviary 


and would be made with found or natural objects plus 
a selection of preprepared architectural line drawings. 

Cyanotype is a photographic printing process that produces a cyan-blue print. Engineers used the process well into the 20th century as a simple and low-cost process to produce copies of drawings, referred to as blueprints. The process uses two chemicals: ferric ammonium citrate and potassium ferricyanide.

Our chosen objects were lad on top of the cyanotype paper and a sheet of acetate was clipped on top, the image was them left to create a positive image produced by exposing the paper it to a source of ultraviolet light (such as sunlight). The extent of colour change depends on the amount of UV light, but good results were obtained after 10–20 minute exposures.

String made a good drying line

After exposure the paper was washed in water

and hung to both dry and develop

the results were beautiful and mysterious.

The cyanotype processwas first introduced by John Herschel (1792 – 1871) in 1842. Sir John was an astronomer, trying to find a way of copying his notes. One of the first people to put the cyanotype process to use was Anna Atkins (1799-1871), who in October 1843 became the first person to produce and photographically illustrated a book using cyanotypes

Download Walks map

After they had finished their cyanotype the group were invited to step back in time in the Victorian style gardens, gaze at flamboyant colours on the parterre amid the ornate fountains and statuary and to explore the gardens and building at their own pace, walking their own paths. In 2012, it was announced that Waddesdon Manor would be one of the sites for Jubilee Woodlands, designated by the Woodland Trust to commemorate Queen Elizabeth II's Diamond Jubilee.

Waddesdon Manor was built by Baron Ferdinand de Rothschild between 1874 and 1885 to display his collection of arts and to entertain the fashionable world. Opened to the public in 1959, Waddesdon Manor is managed by the Rothschild Foundation, a family charitable trust, on behalf of the National Trust, who took over ownership in 1957. It’s home to the Rothschild Collections of paintings, sculpture and decorative arts.

Some of the group decided to tour the inside the 

house, and found treasure trove of collections.

In the Stable Gallery they were able to Witness nature re-imagined in an exhibition that sees an amalgamation of fashion, digital art and animal specimens on show. In collaboration with the Natural History Museum at Tring, Walter Rothschild’s spectacular collection of natural history provides the inspiration for colourful virtual collages by Platon H and couture dresses by Mary Katrantzou. 

Our time at Waddesdon raced by

This is the face of happiness and wellbeing and lies at the heart of this project - to bring people who lack access to parks, gardens, woods, water, crafts and industry to places they might not ordinarily visit. For many of the group it was the first time they had been to such a grand garden, so full of richness and inspiration. It was a memorable day and one to treasure.