Long story short.. well maybe not, but I do sometimes at least try!
Mildred is my bright blue Citroen who used to be driven by my late 93 yr old mother. Mildred is a bit like me ….getting on a bit, strange shape, usually reliable and has attitude with a capital kick ass “A” …. Mildred is more than somewhat grumpy at the moment … She has gone nowhere since her driver got “Shielded”. Mildred is beyond Grumpy as she hasn’t moved now for 7 months, no jolly jaunts or adventures that I could blog or write about as “Mildred’s Marvelous Meandering Musings”. I am fed up her glaring at me through the front window saying….. “Where are all these promised Marvelous Mildred blogs then?” … so OK Mildred just for you I will try a bit harder.
No, sadly “shielding” is not some euphemism for being recruited and re-equipped as a 60+ warrior woman, although I am ex armed forces. This time round it was more akin to a very bad Monopoly game at which you are losing big time…. do not pass Go, do not collect £200, in fact go straight to jail.
If we decide to give you a “Community Chest” of basic essentials, because you can’t get an online shopping slot, and as you are not allowed to leave your front door, we will absolutely ensure that no single ingredient in your emergency food parcel is remotely compatible with any other whatsoever, to make anything resembling an actual meal vaguely possible.
A piece of cake I thought. After all I was a Fellow of the Institute of Hospitality, who had previously trained as an Army Catering and Officers Mess Manager, and onetime instructor at the Army School of Catering. How difficult could it be? Years of improvising and making something out of “stuff all”. This is a bit like a scrap quilt, throw some sashing and borders at the quilt, or throw some seasoning at the stuff in tins to make a meal. Easy! How wrong could I be?
Back to my community chest, It would have been a piece of cake if there was some flour included to even make a cake, or if it had resembled Compo (Which by the way is “Squaddy” speak for Composite Rations). In my youth a “Rat 🐀 Pack” was not necessarily a group of men who could sing a bit. Rat Packs came in different sizes ranging from 1 man to 10 men. Not being sexist in any way but what were women soldiers supposed to eat?
The 10 men pack was a bit more versatile, but think of it as a layer cake of totally non matching fabrics, all fabric but none of it vaguely sympathetic to one another. It was easy peasy if we got 12 matching packs to feed 120 men, BUT there were 4 menu’s available and we always got a mixture. The only constant was a loo roll packed in a tin 🥫 to make sure it stayed dry. Spangles were a luxury and “brown biscuits” were supplied as alternative to bread…. Really? The biscuits were quite useful, as they removed any future need to use a tin of loo roll for at least several days. We slung all the meat related stuff into one big stewpot, added any tinned veg, used the sachets of potato 🥔 powder that even the Smash brand would deny being related to, to thicken it up a bit. The finishing touch was to lob in a whole clandestine smuggled in box of Oxo Cubes to confuse everyone as to its actual food origins. The polite name for this abomination was “Range Stew”. Even the descriptions were bonkers. Instead of calling Processed Cheese the obvious name, it was on the tin as Cheese Processed. More worrying was the packaging date, in some cases way back in the 1960’s, and no sell or use by date. It is any wonder we used to call it “Cheese Possessed!
My “shielding” took on a whole sinister new dimension when I was reminded that I had promised to make a new quilted thermal door curtain in time for last Christmas 2019. There was no escape from his enquiries after we had both been locked up for the foreseeable future, and someone in authority had thrown away the key. No social distancing in this tiny house possible. There was no way back, no hopefully him forgetting that I had even promised to make one.
I have a large tapestry on the wall that I had bought back in the 1990’s which was woven in Belgium. It was a modern woven reproduction of one of the 16th Century Cluny Flanders Tapestries from the series now called “The Lady and the Unicorn”. The one I bought was entitled “À Mon Seul Désir.” I really adore the deep rich colours and the detailed milles-fleurs background.
When I saw a new range from Moda last year I knew they would be perfect to complement my tapestry’s colour palette and suit our old 1870’s house. These Moda Fabrics take inspiration from the V&A’s rich collection of work by the well respected architect and wall paper designer C.F.A Voysey. The collection features patterns and wallpapers inspired by the work of Voysey, and celebrates the depth and diversity of his work that incorporates many of the ideas and thoughts of the Arts & Crafts movement.
Requests for updates on the Christmas present for our house started back in January when I was proud to finally show my husband the completed patchwork for the front.
During February I got away with it by showing him the back that I had now pieced as well. In March I was busy doing research on the best way to make it, and what was the recommended wadding in terms of shrinkage and thermal qualities. I had ordered some “Thermal Bump” curtain interfacing online, but the recommendations and warnings I then got from friends and web pages, was that although it would OK for a wall hanging, that it would be disastrous for a quilted curtain. So plan B was ordered instead, some branded polyester wadding with the least shrinkage ratio.
Finally he could see something might finally have a chance of getting finished. That is when our conversations had great similarities with a toddler in the child seat annoying you from the back of the car …”Are we there yet?”
Having just watched a TV wildlife programme about the love lives of praying mantis it made me think that those ladies know a thing or two.
We live in a tiny cottage built in 1870 … with a well under the living room floor. It used to be the brewery for the pub next door, the Queens Arms. Our garden used to be used for horses from the stage coaches overnight. At some point the garden was also a small holding. The pub next door then changed the name to the “Pink Elephant” …. I have absolutely no idea why that name, but local friends have confirmed it was “THE” place to be in the 60’s and 70’s ….. It was the place to go if you had a motorbike and a leather jacket. My Downstairs was still used by the pub as keg and bottle storage, and the well under the living room floor was still active. Upstairs was the games room. A pool table was in our bedroom, and darts were played in the 2nd bedroom/box room. According to local rumour and folklore many babies were conceived on the pool table! Having spoken to some local men who are now somewhat advanced in years, and can no longer ride a motorbike, but were regulars back then, all they would confirm was that they all really enjoyed playing pool! 🤫😉
The need for an insulated door curtain is not just to look pretty, the front door opens straight into the Dining room, so for an old house like ours a thick door curtain is quite essential in the colder months and I think the old unlined one had been there since I moved there in 2004. It probably needs carbon dating to identify when it had been put up, but I don’t think the Ashmoleum Museum in Oxford really want it for their textile collection!
The patchwork design I used was from the Missouri Star Quilt Company called “Double Slice”. Some of the Voysey designs are so exquisite I wanted to be able to really showcase the larger designs.
I then made a padded and quilted tie back for the curtain.
I love the way sunlight comes through the curtain in the day giving it almost a stained glass effect.
A friend had given me two lovely old Victorian chairs. They had really nice covers to the seats already but I had some scraps left over and managed to make two disappearing 9 patch covers. Reupholstering them wasn’t too scary. I used a heavy duty staple gun ensuring the new cover was taut.
My friend had also given me a really sweet drop leaf Victorian table. I used some other leftovers to make a quilted table topper to prevent any unwanted scratches.
I am so in love with this range of fabric and although it no longer a current range I managed to get some additional layer cakes and some yardage. I think we need a quilt in Voysey’s awesome designs, and there is a foot stool languishing in the shed that needs a revamp!