Summer holidays

Chris snatched a day or two away recently, thinking that if Barbara could swan off to southern Spain, the least she could do was trundle southwards in dear old England.  It was the usual British summer’s day – ideal for a walk along the beach –

summer at the beach

– howling winds, torrential rain and clouds of sea spray. At least it blew a few cobwebs away. ‘Bracing’ is to put it mildly.

A little bit of patchwork was discovered while away too. There may be another quilter coming along.  Great-niece, who is seven, is making a quilt with Granny. Hand pieced squares over papers.

doll's quilt

It is destined to be a doll’s cot quilt for a younger cousin. No camera (again) so I’m afraid its grainy and fuzzy phone photos but you get the idea. It is a ‘secret surprise’ too, so don’t let on.

And now its back home to classes and more website building – and the weather has turned warm and sunny!  How did that happen!

Inspiration, possibilities, procrastination, Projects, Travel

Activity update

Chris has been very busy re-organising a pond and has had various adventures in the course of finding suitable supplies for said renovation. Now, she says, it’s just a matter of replanting – or will it be that simple? There’s also been much muttering along the corridors of the executive floor of C&B Towers – it appears that a new website is being constructed and the entire IT team (aka Chris) has laboured for days to complete the project.

Barbara meanwhile has been scouting possibilities to move our HQ to Spain – this looked like a good candidate, two chairs are already set out!

The view is good from the terrace

and from the table


Not too far away is the news kiosk

which would mean we would still have reading matter to hand. On the floor inside the church is a lovely Lone Star picked out in tiny squares of marble to make the design (apologies for a slightly blurry pic) –


All this is really in the realms of fantasy and our usual procrastination. Back in the real world the next major event will be Festival of Quilts (eek! in less than 7 days) and Barbara is mentally gearing up and finishing the planning for her spot in the Quilting in Action section of the show. This year she is contemplating selling some of her quilt and stencil design samples – and Chris distinctly heard “selling quilts to make space”. So if you are visiting Festival, stop by and see what the decision was!

procrastination, Travel

In the summertime

We have slightly different views about summertime, when it finally arrives.  Chris has a sun and heat tolerance which stops at 25 degreesC, claiming generations of Celtic heritage are responsible.  Barbara has a particular fondness for desert landscapes and a dry heat tolerance up to 40 degreesC, neither of which are easily achievable in the UK.  So we usually adopt quite different strategies in Hot Weather – Chris takes herself to the further ends of C&B Towers, fans on, and shaded windows, to catch up on light reading, Barbara marches outside clutching sufficient supplies to quilt or sew for days and resolutely stays put.  However, during the last week, Chris found herself sewing outside (and BY HAND too!!)

al fresco stitching

hemming down bindings on a whole multitude of table mats (there must be a class on the horizon somewhere – Barbara).  A couple of hundred miles away, Barbara was sewing indoors – does an orangery count as indoors? – with a lovely group of ladies

indoors - just

Chris was taking a well-deserved day off at Pashley Manor Gardens and some of the pics she took of the fabulous gardens will doubtless show up in coming weeks in our Wordless Wednesday posts.  But there are still samples to be made, planning to be done plus our usual procrastination – various gardening bargains have been acquired and all sorts of things we don’t really need.  Barbara has made a start on some new quilting designs, looked out a few fabrics and has a small corner of her table strewn with coloured pens –

Barbara's quilting sample

cut these up?

ready to design

Chris is adamant that it is far too hot to do anything except get things ready for two classes and check that there will be fans in the classroom.  Wonder how long summer will last?

classes, procrastination, Teaching, Travel

Another lovely summer’s day!

Yes, its cold and wet and windy. So … Barbara is up in Stirling at a Quilters’ Guild event, teaching and talking. Chris is supposed to be Wandering the Web as its getting near the end of the month and deadlines are looming. There is a note somewhere of the deadline but there are a lot of notes on the calendar and its too far away to read easily right now! Some procrastination is called for (hence writing this post? – Barbara). Rain has stopped play in the garden, but at least the pots won’t need watering tonight.


Time perhaps to continue work on the charm square picnic set from yesterday’s workshop at The Corner Patch.

picnic set

All we’ll need then is picnic weather!

Inspiration, Travel

Busy weekends

Monday’s post should have been published on Friday but …. Barbara disappeared to Denver and, as Chris was travelling as well,  between us and technology (or lack of) our plans went astray. So … while Barbara enjoyed the delights of Heathrow and an upgrade on her flight, Chris sat in that huge carpark known as ‘The Motorway’  on what was possibly the hottest day so far this year. Which isn’t saying much, but it felt hot. However, a good weekend was had once the destination was reached and a restorative cup of coffee or two had been drunk. The following morning we explored the town and to our delight it was a special market day with an antique/curio market, a craft market, a ‘local produce’ market and all sorts to look at. No photos (of course) as Chris’s camera was back at the hotel conserving its energies (and batteries) for The Wedding that afternoon. Which is possibly what Chris should have been doing – it might have been cheaper too. Finery donned (yes, even Chris!) a great day was had – the bride looked fabulous, the church was lovely and all went well. The following morning Chris’s brother had suggested a walk – an app exists (?!) with guided walks of the area, so those with smart phones downloaded it and off we went. A ‘flat and easy walk of about 5 miles’.  Which it was – kind of. But probably better if not sleep-deprived. This time the camera did come along –

walk k

walk a

The trouble with this sort of landscape is that not only can you see how far you’ve walked – you can see how far you still have to walk to return to civilisation and a cup of coffee!

walk b

walk c

walk f

walk g

And the inside of this church –

walk h

walk i

And finally – a door grille Chris could not leave unphotographed


And for those who haven’t guessed (or recognised) where Chris was – it was Kent.

And now, for Chris, its back to her garret in C&B Towers and planning classes for the rest of the week. Barbara has emailed to say its warm with blue skies in Denver – for once we’re not envious as we’ve the same here. However she is staying in a place with quilt shop attached. Is this a Good Thing?

classes, quilt shows, Travel

Special quilts

Barbara has made it home from the show in Veldhoven just in time to pack her things up again to go to Quilts UK in Malvern next week. She is probably going to be missing from the corridors of C&B Towers for some time, there’s a trip to Denver, one to Stirling, one to S Wales all lined up for the next month. Chris thinks she will be much more sensible and stay home to enjoy the delights of her new roof. Featured at the Veldhoven show was an exhibit of Joyce Dawe’s quilts – Joyce is best known to us as the owner of The Contented Cat, and a familiar face at UK quilt shows for many years.

Many of her quilts have a circle theme, all hand stitched and hand quilted – we’re sure you’ll agree that they are quite special







Chris is teaching 2 classes this week and, somewhere among all this activity, we might find time to post the next “not block of the month”…..

Inspiration, Travel

Keeping busy

Barbara has been whizzing about the country visiting friends and doing grandmotherly duty while Chris has also been visiting friends and viewing quilts. An invitation from our friend Ann Jermey to explore her quilt cupboard was not to be missed.  Ann’s cupboard is legendary and its not just a cupboard – there’s at least 4 large drawers in it as well and then … there’s the banisters (always a useful quilt storage place we’ve found – in Chris’s last house you could hardly get up the stairs for quilts over the banister) and there’s also the sewing room cupboard which is more of a small room than a cupboard.  A very happy afternoon was spent emptying this cupboard and examining the quilts, old and new, before they were re-folded and put away again.

quilt cupboard

And the reason for all this activity, apart from the sheer joy of handling quilts?

Chris and Ann have got a new website for patchwork patterns so were rummaging around to find suitable quilts to write patterns for. And (unsurprisingly) there were quite a few. Probably enough to keep Chris glued to the computer for several weeks while they get written up and posted on the website, and to keep Ann busy taking photos. Next stop might be … Barbara’s quilt cupboard (a.k.a. the Tardis) ? But not for a while, let’s recover from Ann’s cupboard first.

classes, Travel

From our overseas correspondent …

Chris has been left in charge of C&B Enterprises yet again while Barbara gets on and off planes and collects airmiles in the name of quilting.  The outside temperature at C&B Towers is somewhere around the 2 degrees C mark, and this is the view from the classroom in Cairo where Barbara has been teaching this week, outside temperatures middle 60s Fahrenheit (a great improvement in Barbara’s opinion)  –


Here’s a quick glimpse of some of the class production too – a Mystery session,  based on one of our Chris & Barbara classes from 2011, a dyeing session, and an applique session.

first cuts in the Mystery


one Mystery resolved


some of the daring dyers


Diane's completed Mystery


conquering points


Whilst she is in Cairo Barbara will also be visiting the Street of the Tentmakers (doubtless there will be some serious retail therapy – Chris)and would like to encourage everyone to visit this link and perhaps get involved –    

“Normal” UK classes begin for us on Saturday 23 February, when we hope the skies will look like this –

Under Egyptian skies



Piecing, quilt shows, Travel

Better late ….

… than never – a somewhat delayed report on the show at Nantwich. Despite the weather we decided to go – we’d promised we would and it isn’t that far away, and Barbara has the Tank (and she now knows how to engage the 4-wheel drive). So at a somewhat ungodly hour of the morning (but not as early as Chris had feared) Barbara drew up at Chris’s and the Tank was loaded up with extension leads, sewing machine, brochures, and other ‘stuff’.  A fair amount was left behind, such as the display boards for the quilts as we didn’t want to be carting stuff back and fore for ever if it was snowing heavily (as forecast) later on and we needed to make a quick getaway. Barbara, of course, was demonstrating hand sewing so just had her small bag of sewing kit and a selection of pieces wrapped in a linen napkin – it was Chris who needed all the paraphenalia associated with machine piecing. As it happened we needn’t have worried – the roads were cleared (mostly) and the promised snow didn’t come until after we got home. Even better – people came to the show. We were fewer in number – both visitors and traders – than in some years when the weather has been kinder, but it was still a good turnout and we had plenty to chat about to old friends and students who’d braved the roads and the forecast to come from far and wide.

It was good too to see quilts we recognised from classes, finished and hung – here’s Barbara’s snap of Bren’s ‘Grow your Own’ quilt


And in between chatting we got on with the serious business of demonstrating – Barbara was sewing her Antique Rose and can report that she now has 6 (or was it 7?) rosettes completed.



Chris was still playing with the blocks she started at the show in Bradley back in November. A slight panic when she realised she hadn’t actually looked in the bag since November – were all the pieces and fabrics still in there? Yes, they were, but not cut out as she thought she remembered; thank goodness a cutting mat, ruler and cutter had been thrown into the bag too. By the end of the day 16 blocks had been put together.


This started life as a doodle in EQ. Still not sure about it – the colours, the design … does it need more blocks … a border … will it just get shoved to the back of the cupboard for a few years??

In the meantime since we got back, it has snowed some more … and some more … and melted a bit and frozen a bit and snowed some more … especially last night, but this morning is a lovely bright sunny day and the snow is melting fast. So now we’re promised floods. Hoorah. Barbara has escaped all this and fled to the US to visit her friend Pat Cox and look over Pat’s collection of antique quilts. Which means Chris is in charge. Again. So apologies in advance if Wordless Wednesday is late arriving ( I never know what day it is – Chris).

Inspiration, Travel

Autumn weekend

Barbara may be in Houston but Chris (abandoning C&B Enterprises to its fate) went to Surrey for the weekend and  squeezed in a brief visit to Wisley. The camera of course was still at home so the photos are from the fuzzy phone. The colour combinations of the planting – especially in the greenhouse – were amazing; plenty of inspiration to be had. So just a few photos – the less fuzzy ones – to show today, including the fishing bear sculpture and a view from the top (almost) of the gardens showing some of the autumn colours.

You just have to admire his mossy coat

The railings had a lovely curly design on – there was a close up but even fuzzier than this one, you get the general idea though.

This was the weirdest flower, it looked as if someone had come round in the night and glued two totally different ones together, but the combination of that brilliant pink and purply blue was amazing. Would you dare to reproduce that colour combination on a quilt? With the grey-green leaves it looked fabulous.

This was another colour combination we all fell for. Can definitely see this in a quilt.

Normal service will be resumed soon when Barbara returns from the delights of Houston to teach the next evening class on Wednesday – though jetlag may dictate differently, perhaps Chris will teach and Barbara take photos.