Wednesday, 24 November 2010

Thanks to SAA!

I received a lovely surprise in the post this morning from the SAA (Society for All Artists). Earlier this week, having failed to get a response locally from craft suppliers, I emailed the SAA with a request for a couple of art related items as a donation. I didn't receive a reply, so assumed that they too had decided not to contribute. How wrong I was!

In the parcel was a black long brush case (seen on their web-site here) and a Derwent black A5 sized sketching journal. These will be used as prizes for a competition at the Christmas Craft Fair I'm running at the theatre in Bilton on 4th & 5th December. The competition is for children to design a Christmas card and already it has generated interest from the members of our Junior section at the theatre. I have also invited the children from the local primary school in Bilton to come along - they run an art club at the school so I'm sure there will be plenty of children interested in joining in.

I also received a lovely box full of items yesterday from fellow Rogue Gene Collective artist, Andrea Farmer. Her hand-made brooches, hair accessories, bib necklaces and some small paintings on canvas board are all coming with me to the craft fair. I'm sure a lot of these will sell - particularly to the teenage girls who I know will be attending. Andrea usually sells these crafts on her Etsy store here.

Wednesday, 10 November 2010

Christmas Craft Fair

The organisation is in its final stages now for the Christmas Craft Fair I am holding at the theatre in Bilton, Hull. The theatre itself has been home to the Bilton Amateur Dramatic Society for the past 60 plus years, 20 of which I have been involved with!

The craft fair started out as an idea to bring together all the local crafters on Etsy, Hull. I have since had to widen the net a tad to include a few more local artisans, but I'm sure it will create a varied fair with affordable yet quality gifts for all.

Excluding myself, there will be a photographer specialising in floral subject matter. Her name is Katie Railton and you can see more of her work on Etsy at or on her personal web-site here. As well as selling prints of her photographic images, Katie also supplies personalised or blank greetings cards. She exhibits regularly in the Yorkshire region and also has a blog page on her website. You can follow Katie on Twitter , too.

Jonathan Le Vine is a jewellery maker  who has a shop on Etsy, where he sells "Unique hand crafted jewellery.... Gifts for ALL occasions.... I sell hand crafted items worldwide from my Yorkshire workshop in the UK.... including.... Pendants, Cufflinks, Earrings, Brooches, Tie pins etc. Tactile Thuya Wood gift boxes & geology specimens." You can visit his shop by clicking here. I am particularly looking forward to seeing some of his ear-rings and cufflinks - I feel a Christmas gift for my Dad emerging there (that's the cufflinks, not the ear-rings). Jonathan also sells a lot of his work on ebay - I love the Thuya wood box he has for sale on there.

I will be writing more in the weeks to follow, promoting the fair and the people taking part as I do so. Please make a note in your diary for reference and if you know anyone else who may be interested in attending, pass the details on.

Wednesday, 3 November 2010

The Forbidden Corner

Last week it was half term for most of the children here in the UK. As a birthday treat for our eldest grand-daughter, we'd arranged to take her and a friend to a place called The Forbidden Corner in North Yorkshire. You can read all about the history of the place here , but it is the sort of place that is hard to describe well enough without actually visiting it. I had heard about it via a friend on Facebook - I'd seen some photos that looked interesting and asked where they were taken. Once I'd been on the web-site, I thought it would make a great day out for Matheea's 9th Birthday.

So, last Tuesday we set off - leaving our house at 9.30am with Matheea, home-made flap-jack and a carton of juice for the two children nestling in a cool bag along with some fruit for snacking on too. We collected Daniel and left Hull shortly before 10am. I'd bought a small bag of Haribo sweets for them as a treat during the day, too. The two hour and 10 minute journey was mostly a happy one. Daniel and Matheea were playing noughts and crosses and hang-man in the back of the car, we chatted about all sorts of things and were all excited about exploring the venue. Matheea was guessing about the sorts of things we would see - she'd already heard from her Nan that there would be a surprise when you enter the place. Small monkeys were mentioned, I believe!

We were almost at the entrance to the driveway leading up to The Forbidden Corner when all went quiet in the back. I asked Daniel if he was OK, he said he felt a bit sick. I said "do you think you're going to actually be sick, or do you just feel sick?"  He said he just felt sick, so I just said to let us know if he thought he was actually going to be sick. We turned the corner into the driveway and then a gushing sound emanated from the rear of the car. Unfortunately, Daniel had not had the time to tell us he was going to be sick before it rushed out of his mouth and onto the seat between his legs. It all happened so quickly and there were several more outbursts before we had chance to pull over. I then realised that a full bag of Haribo sweets had been consumed by them on the way there, along with several pieces of flapjack and most of their cartons of juice. This was evident on the back seat of our car. My immediate thought was "How can such a small child hold such a large amount of liquid?" I managed to get Daniel out of the car and stand him at the verge, then Matheea climbed out of her side of the car and promptly threw up twice on the grass verge. I am usually quite an optimistic person, but even I struggled at this point to see the positive side! Matheea then said "Can we go home now?" which urged me to focus on making the best of the situation and trying to cheer her up into actually enjoying the rest of the day!

I may have been silly in giving the kids a bag of Haribo sweets - not thinking for a second that they would simply eat the whole bag in such a short time - but I was at least slightly prepared for a clean-up operation to some degree. I had taken a full pack of wet wipes with me in case Matheea or Daniel needed to wipe their hands or face during the day. The whole pack was used to mop up the mess on the car seat, from Daniel's coat (which had been on the floor in front of him at that point, so didn't get too badly spoiled) and from the trousers where he'd been sitting in it. All these wipes were then stored in a carrier bag I'd taken to put rubbish in. We couldn't quite get rid of the whole of the sick, and there was no way Daniel could sit back down on the seat of the car where he'd been previously, so we were grateful that we had a sheet of thick polythene in the boot of the car to place on the seat.  Once Daniel had put his coat on and Matheea was in a better state of mind, Keith drove up to the car park and us three took a walk in the fresh air to meet him there. First job was to try and get Daniel some more trousers - I'd hoped they would sell them in the gift shop, but no such luck! Tee-shirts, sweat-shirts and hats were the only clothing on offer. We had planned on having some lunch in the cafe before entering the Forbidden Corner itself, but after the sickness episode, nobody felt like it much so we just had a drink - water for the children! I sent Daniel's mum a text message to let her know what had happened, and so that she wasn't too shocked when he turned up at the end of the day with smelly clothes!

I felt sorry for Daniel as he had to spend the rest of the day wearing the trousers, but he was not at all perturbed by this and both him and Matheea thoroughly enjoyed the day. Here are a few photographs to give you an idea of the sort of things we saw.

Matheea & Daniel at the entrance

The whole area was like a treasure trove of sculptures, gateways and underground tunnels leading to even more doorways. We'd not been in for long when Keith went ahead of us along a path and got soaked with a sensor triggered water spray! As it was a cold day, he did not relish this very much - I'm afraid we all laughed, which didn't really help, much, either! We soon learned that there were many more of these hidden along the routes, and the only way to avoid them was to time your crossing in between the bursts of spray! Had it been a hot sunny day, we may well have enjoyed getting a good soaking, but we mainly avoided them!

The first thing we encountered was a huge "mouth" which we walked through, and which burped loudly as you walked through it - hilarious for the kids! Above are Daniel and Matheea in the mouth.

There was a maze, which we explored for what seemed like ages, and along one of the many paths in the gardens we saw a statue of a naked lady with a tattoo on her buttocks - again, the children thought this was extremely funny. I forgot to take a photo of that, but I'm sure we will be visiting again next year, so will try to get more photographs then. The views of the surrounding countryside and of the land at Tupgill Park were stunning. I especially liked looking down at the field of deer - we took a walk down a tree-lined path to get a closer view of them, too:

We were lucky that the rain held off for the time we spent in the grounds, as it had been raining constantly on the journey there. It was a bit cold, but not too bad, and as lots of the areas to explore were underground (with scenes reminiscent of Alice in Wonderland), we managed to stay dry and warm for the day.

I thought this glass sculpture was beautiful, and further along the adventure, we even got a view of it from inside and underneath. So much thought has gone into the planning of this place - it has such wide appeal, too. Even if you just wanted to go for an interesting stroll in the gardens, you would enjoy it, I'm sure.

Inside one of the tunnels, we entered a huge circular room through one of many gothic styled wooden doors, and there was a water pool in the centre. Daniel was eager to explore every other doorway that was around the room (there were at least 5 or 6) and the first one he opened actually started a water fountain and music in the centre of the room! Magical. Along some of the corridors there were recorded voices whispering to you as you went by and there was one door in a corridor that made a loud knocking sound, which prompted you to open the door and this is what you were greeted with:

Matheea & Daniel on a wooden black boar!

At almost every path, there were engraved notices with rhymes giving you clues as to which direction you should take - although even these were not to be taken seriously, as you often ended up in a dead end and then had to retrace your steps.

Once we'd thoroughly explored the place (apart from the tiniest tunnel which neither Keith or I wanted to attempt to crawl into) Daniel and Matheea wanted to go back to the mouth and have a go at punching the uvula of the mouth! The resulting burp pleased them enormously!

I would heartily recommend this place to anyone either with children or not - although I would imagine that it would appeal more to children over the age of 6 perhaps - some of the effects can be a bit scary for younger children, and toddlers could find it difficult to explore without stumbling, I would think. Adults will also enjoy it, as there really is so much to see - I would love to visit the herb garden in the summer, as even though I could still smell a lot of the herbs, it was past its best, really.

You need to book your tickets prior to visiting and you get allocated a time slot so that there are not too many people trying to get into all the different areas at once. Booking can be done online or by telephone - just visit their website for details.