Look closely- Mountstewart and more

It wasn’t till I started Julie Douglas’ art class that I realised how little we really look at the things around us.http://juliedouglasdrawingpaintinglearning.blogspot.co.uk/  There are many things that deter us from looking and the main factor for me is time. I tend to want to see everything quickly and know I need to slow down to really appreciate what is around me.

 On a recent visit to Mountstewart I discovered things in the garden I had never noticed before and yet the time and skill involved in the creation of these stone sculptures were very detailed for that day. The hours involved in this work and yet I have barely gave it a glance before.
  What else have I been missing out on as I rush through life.
Now that I am up a lot earlier in the morning there are other things I see that the hustle and bustle of the latter part of the day scares away.
 Maybe some day soon I will take the time to sit and sketch some of these sculptures. I did get back to art last week for some water colours and was surprised how quickly I got back into sketching and painting but then maybe you would be the better judge of that if you can recognise my work


I did get back into my cross stitch this week that I purchased approx 17 years ago.


  Although I need to finish this x stitch I would like to reproduce older designs and convert some pictures to needlepoint.

Mountstewart- Visiting and Volunteering

 Despite the fact I had made an agreement with myself that Iwould volunteer a few hours once a fortnight and this has became three days a week, I am still managing. To have my regular visits with Smudge. Can’t have her getting withdrawal symptoms. The weather has allowed a few picnic days so we can stretch out our time there and therefore walk more.

At home Smudge likes to sit on the back of the chair watching the neighbours or visitors to the area. At Mountstewart she also likes to people watch, bird watch or generally make sure everything is as it should be. These donated benches are great when you add one of her blankies.
This gives us time to rest before journeying onward. It’s either the woodland and lake walk or the formal gardens and out toward the rose garden which we are looking forward to seeing when it is completed. Other days we just take to the new trails of which another one is ready to be opened but we have already investigated and adds a few km to our blue route. The folly is so beautiful with an ideal drinking spot that it’s a must on any of the trail walks.
The wildlife seem to be as familiar with Smudge as she is with them.
 The new jetty looks great but with gaps between planks similar to decking Smudge stays clear as if she has any chance of falling through!
I finished reading the book I bought on Mountstewart in a year and reflect on various parts of my walk.
A reminder that it’s not just what we see but the smells around us and noises of all the little creatures


At 0830 hrs it’s a different story when I arrive at Mountstewart. There is the noise of birds tweeting and sometimes  a little noise coming from the restaurant kitchen as staff start to organise for the day and the vacuum cleaner in the reception area. I make my way to the conservation store and get my notes together in order to document the footfall from the day before, the weather which may impact the central hall floor and if there were any special events to be aware of.  I vacuum and inspect the three parts of the floor which I can only say are looking fantastic. I then liaise with the house staff manager to see what else I can do to help out before visitors arrive. A little dusting along the horizontal surfaces within the visitor route or a more thorough dusting of the dining room table and all its crockery andcutlery replaced just as if the butler were still in residence. This week was a little different as I learned how to clean the marble plinths for the wonderful sculptures in the Central hall. Slow work but so rewarding when you see the after look. Difficult to get a before no after photo because of reflections but trust me there was a big difference and we are not finished yet as we plan to keeep in it for a few weeks to bring out their best.

 The cotton balls tell the story.


Coffee and Craft- sharing skills

 Many traditional craft skills have fizzled out over the years but every now and then there is a little revival. I gain so much satisfaction from creating. I recently met with some friends and ladies from Lambeg craft club and we worked on. Some designs from one of Jennie Rayments books.

Such concentration as everyone focussed to a point then we all did our own little twiddling with the fabric. You very soon realise that although you may start with the same design in mind it’s amazing how many variations there are by the end. I have always enjoyed working with fabric although creativity doesn’t stop there for me and many if my friends.


When only a few ladies get together despite the chatter, coffee and cake it’s amazing what can be produced and not just materially but the sense of webeing that comes from creating. If we think back to creation and how pleased God was with it.
These little chocolate muffins went down a treat with delicious chocolate cream cheese frosting 
Considering repeating these yummy cinnamon rolls for my next group of ladies.
I am ever so grateful for the kind donations that come in for our monthly raffle raising between £20-£100 per month in aid if Kiwoko hospital in Uganda. This months throw will be ideal to snuggle up with on the sofa.