Toadstools and cake

The last two weeks have been rather full on with work. A deadline for a new needle felt pattern, which is the largest thing I've designed instructions for. And because of a workshop happening up in the middle of that, a lightening 48 hour trip back down to Bampton, to my favourite haunt, Folly Fabrics.

Sharon (lovely shop owner and my host that night) took me on a little scenic walk around the village, where I snapped the 'Downton Abbey' church. Again.

And took touristy photos of pretty cottages and houses. I still miss the Cotswolds, despite loving Shropshire. And despite the fact that I could never afford to live here. 

One of the things I miss most, is the combination of mellow light on Cotswold stone, against a darkening sky. It brings out a horribly poignant homesickness. 'The Land of Lost Content' indeed.  

The Land of Lost Content

Into my heart an air that kills
From yon far country blows:
What are those blue remembered hills,
What spires, what farms are those?

That is the land of lost content,
I see it shining plain,
The happy highways where I went
And cannot come again.

A. E. Housman ('A Shopshire Lad')

I  am sure that many of us have those places. I do find it painfully ironic that this particular excerpt comes, of course, from A.E Housmans 'A Shropshire Lad' - and that one of my favourite musical collections by Ralph Vaughan Williams is 'On Wenlock Edge' - which I now find almost impossible to listen to.  

'On Wenlock Edge' is, as you may know, based around 'A Shropshire Lad'. The real Wenlock Edge - in Shropshire of course - is also close to the ancient green woodlands where Andy rests. All of these interwoven strands combine to make a tangled knot of intense sorrow and melancholia, which I try not to dwell on too much.

So let's not. Let's have a photograph of Sharon taking a photograph of wildflowers. As you do.

She was collecting autumn inspiration colours, and these 'Fox and Cubs' (as I know them) are the most gorgeous fiery blood orange.  

That night, a cake was decorated for the workshop. They are always themed to fit whatever we are making.

And there everyone was, the next day, with the usual combination of chatter and concentration. 

It's always lovely when people come back to my workshops and this time, four out of the nine places had been taken up by people I'd taught before. 

Teatime and the traditional toadstool dance around the cake. 

I never cease to feel so rewarded at the end of a session, when everyone has worked hard, ploughed through any difficulties and gone home with something they love.

I returned home to Shropshire that night (via train as usual), a little shattered, to find a box of macarons waiting for me; a present through the post from Joe. So sweet and so pretty; the only thing to do was to Instagram them. And then eat them. And feel lucky that I have a man who sends cake through the post.

The rest of the week was spent getting on with my pattern deadline, which was all business as usual; it will be published by Christmas, and it's my favourite one yet - I can't wait to show it off! 


BumbleVee said...

and, ohhhh what a beautiful little plate!

The traditional toadstool dance around the cake..hahahhha...love that line......

what a great job they all did with their wonderful toadstools.....

Twiglet said...

Like Vee - I love the thought of the needlefelting gang doing a happy dance around the toadstool cake. So glad all is going well for you Gretel.

Frances said...

Gretel, there is much beauty and lots of heart in this post.

That deep blue sky against the sunlit stone makes a very strong impression. Even on myself, with my rather slim collection of Oxford memories.

It's grand that you've got returnees attending your workshops and that certain traditions are rising up...perhaps like toadstools? I can easily imagine dancing around that chocolate cake awaiting a slice of deliciousness.

And on that sweet topic, how thoughtful of Joe to send the welcome home gift. xo

p.s....now you've got me all curious about what that felted design might be.

Mac n' Janet said...

We visited Bampton this summer when we were staying near it, pretty little town. Love the mushrooms, they look good enough to eat, except for the poisonous red ones.

Deb said...

A heartfelt post but steeped in the warmth of the workshop, your students and the gift of macarons which (speaking as a macaron fiend) is a top gift! I must get to one of your workshops next year but will content myself with looking forward to seeing the next design.

Lin said...

I'm with Frances....you have a lot of feelings tucked into a short post.

It's my hope that someday, I may be able to travel to these lovely places and sit at the table with you and some of those talented people. And the macaroons....I want Joe to come too to bring us macaroons. :)

I'm anxious to see the new pattern!

Rowan said...

That cake looks delicious! I love those lines by A E Houseman though I've never read the whole poem - maybe it's time I did:)

ellen said...

Such a bittersweet mixture of emotions/memories and just whole parts of you here. I do understand.
I would certainly return again and again to one of your workshops...if only I could.
What a lovely welcome you had and what a thoughtful, caring thing Joe did to brighten up your night.