On Friday morning, just before my final Wii Fit session of the week, I booked next week's National Trust visit and then did a load of washing, hanging it up to dry in the utility room. After our breakfast I caught up with blog comments while Jon measured up the radiators in the lounge and middle room and placed a click and collect order with B&Q which we went and collected before heading over to Liz and Al's.
Liz and Al live in a Victorian toll keeper's cottage on the banks of the Wyrley and Essington Canal in the middle of a nature reserve in the village of Pelsall, a four mile drive from the centre of Walsall. In line with current lockdown regulations we are allowed to meet one friend to go for a walk, so Liz and I went on ahead and the boys followed at a 20 metre distance. There'll be no rule breaking here!
The West Midlands has an extensive canal network and Birmingham is said to have more miles of canal than Venice. Round these parts we call the canal "the cut" and if anyone tells you that they're going up the cut, it means they are walking along the canal towpath. It's an expression frequently used in Peaky Blinders.
After just being made redundant from her 25 year visual merchandising career (bloody Covid!) Liz is now a full-time artist. Check out her website HERE
or on Instagram HERE
It was another eye-wateringly cold, bone-chilling day but it felt good to out amongst nature.
After a bracing walk we were sent on our way with a mince pie each , the first we'd had in years, and a pleasant change from noodles! I spent the rest of the afternoon crocheting. Tea was the other half of the pizza we'd had on Wednesday along with a bottle of ale. Later we opened the rum and caught up with BBC4's new thriller series, The Valhalla Murders which is wonderfully dark and chilling, just how we like our Scandi Noir.
On Saturday morning Jon was up first. The lads insisted on going out despite the torrential rain and soon joined us back in the bedroom where we lay drinking tea and reading till 8.30am. While Jon started breakfast I stripped and changed the bed, loaded the washing machine and put away yesterday's laundry.
Breakfast was veggie sausages with poached eggs on a slice of Jon's home made spelt bread along with lashings of French's mustard. As the rain showed no signs of stopping I sat in the lounge with A Place in The Sun on the TV and spent the rest of the morning crocheting.
A couple of hours later and I'd finished my latest project - a pair of wrist warmers (aka beer mittens) in a super chunky sea green yarn. As the rain had finally stopped Jon put them on ready for a walk around the block. I wore the crochet creation I'd spent Thursday working on, a winter hat with a bastard massive pom pom in the same super chunky wool from Shaw's (a bargain at £1.25 a ball!)
Walsall is wonderfully diverse especially Highgate, the area where we live. You'll pass enormous Arts & Crafts mansions, ten-bedroom Edwardian villas, Victorian gentlemen's residences, 1930s bungalows, '60s tower blocks and tiny back-to-back terraces, a Sikh gurdwara from 1964, a cricket pitch, a huge Indian supermarket (Johal's), derelict buildings, numerous postboxes (including this one which is a designated Covid test drop off point), an empty pub, two-hundred year old cobbled alleyways and an early 19th Century windmill all within a couple of streets.
The nicest thing about walking around here though is the famed friendliness of our fellow Black Country folk. Everyone, without exception, smiles and says hello. When Jon was taking my photo a dashing gentleman told him what a beautiful view he was capturing. I thought he was talking about the wall - Jon said he meant me!
|Vintage Swedish army parka & Rockport desert boots (charity shop), Levi 510 skinnies (eBay), wrist warmers (made by me)|
|Vintage navy suede jacket (eBay), Van Allen mittens on a string (bought new in 1971), 1970s Mayur Indian gauze dress (local selling page), Ilse Jacobsen handmade rubber boots (new, retail, 2018), pompom hat (handmade by me)|
When I mentioned my collaboration with the Swedish design company on my last post I was surprised by what a couple of people saw as Swedish style mentioning word like minimal, white and festive.
When I got home from our walk I thought I'd better give one of my Lundby doll's houses a dusting down (a 1971 Gothenburg) and show you what I imagine Swedish style to be.
The furniture is mostly original Swedish designed pieces, many made in collaboration with Ikea in the 1970s.
Several room are furnished in the Gustavian style, after King Gustav (1771 - 1792), very similar to the French & English Regency style of the same period.
There are nods to the painted folk art furniture that was big in the 1970s.
Lot of the wallpaper and textiles I've used are by Josef Frank (1885 - 1967) an Austrian designer who became a Swedish citizen after fleeing the Nazis in the 1930s. He was the Swedish William Morris.
Rest assured - like my Swedish doll's houses - there'll be no minimalism or pared-down style in Stonecroft! Going by the Scandi dramas and films I've seen Swedish people decorate their homes as eclectically as we do.
All that doll's house dusting took me up to teatime, which was spinach and ricotta tortellini with Jon's homemade sauce and plenty of freshly grown basil. Tonight will involve lashings of rum and some grisly Nordic Noir.
Stay safe and see you soon!
That is a bastard massive pom pom, both knitted pieces look great! I love that your doll house is as interesting and colourful as your home. So glad you got a day out with friends - terrible your friend lost her job but she is truly talented and maybe this will have her go more in the self employed art direction rather than being at the mercy of others for employment.ReplyDelete
I was going for a smaller pompom but the biggest one felt right!Delete
Isn't it horrible to lose a job after almost a quarter of a century? Retail is really suffering (it wasn't great before), one of our biggest high street chains has just gone into administration putting 13,000 jobs at risk. xxx
Hello Vix, what a lovely walk down “the cut”. Liz’s paintings are great. I found water colour painting tricky as you really have to commit to each stroke, but Liz’s look wonderfully spontaneous. Black Country Folk are super friendly. My girls absolutely love your doll houses. Oh dear, they wouldn’t stay very intact with them around though! (This week I brought some lovely little vintage Hornby Flower Fairies on Ebay for Chrimbo – I’m hoping they don’t get wrecked!). I shall have to look out for the new Scandi Noir programme, as we have now finished the bridge (I just loved Saga and Henrik’s characters). Lulu xXxReplyDelete
It was a lovely stroll despite the winter chill!Delete
I have trouble drawing a stick man, how Liz can create something instantly recognisable is beyond me.
Hornby Flower Fairies, what a lovely pressie. Doll's houses are the best although they are a real pain to clean! xxx
I've just read the old post and here's a new one, sweet! I think I remember seeing Liz's paintings on your blog before. Did she do a portrait, a watercolour one of you and Jon? I'll check her site, thanks for linking up.ReplyDelete
Your new wrist warmers are fabulous. I love your outfit as well. The yellow boots really add some sunshine to it. Great walk as well, always to pleasure to have a look around.
Your doll house is fabulous.
Yes, Liz did a painting of Jon & I ate Glastonbury for my 50th birthday and we posed for another picture recently, Jon was swinging me round in the air. xxxDelete
I love your wrist warmers. I've just this minute finished making one myself (in a much less glamourous colour) but I can't yet muster up the enthusiasm to begin the second one :)ReplyDelete
It must have been lovely to meet up with your friends, especially ones who give you mince pies. X
Isn't it funny how the second mitt is more challenging? I had to unravel mine twice!Delete
Is that what they mean by friends with benefits - free cakes?! xxx
"......a Victorian toll keeper's cottage on the banks of the Wyrley and Essington Canal in the middle of a nature reserve in the village of Pelsall". I do indeed think this is the definition of heaven right here!! :-) The pictures are wonderful, Vix. I visited your friend's website and oh her watercolors are magnificent!! She is so talented. I'm secretly happy she has more time to devote to her watercolors now... perhaps it was destined for her job to be made "redundant". Your posts are always such a breath of fresh air, Vix! ~Andrea xoxoReplyDelete
They're in a lovely spot, Andrea, surrounded by nature and tranquility but within walking distance of shops and public transport too, the best of both worlds.Delete
You are kind, thank you! xxx
Looks like lovely place to walk by the water.ReplyDelete
Stay Safe and Coffee is on
It is, they're very lucky to have it on their doorstep! xDelete
Your crochet projects are wonderful-especially that hat. I somehow think getting out this winter, no matter the weather will be more important than ever-you'll certainly be dressed for the elements.ReplyDelete
Thank you! They weren't as tricky as I'd feared either. With no friends allowed to visit our homes and gardens woolly hats, gloves and thermals are the new party dresses! xxxDelete
We had a lovely walk around our street, or rather Sunset Hill Cemetery, Except I wasn't bundled up, I was wearing a short sleeve t-shirt and got sweaty! It's almost December, right?ReplyDelete
Cemeteries and warm weather, can we swap? xxxDelete
What wonderful knit wear. I couldn't wear the hat driving though as it would hit my roof. What a diverse neighborhood- mine is so very late 20th century and dull architecturaly. I'm Sorry for Lizs job loss and wish her well on her artwork.ReplyDelete
You'd have to make a hat without the pom pom!Delete
I love how varied our neighbourhood is, there's always something interesting to see even having lived round her for most of my life. xxx
A good walk with a good friend does a body good, doesn't it? I cherish my walks...when I lost my job in May, I picked up a newspaper delivery job and I up at 6:00am going for long walks while delivering papers.ReplyDelete
Hmmmm...and now I must knit myself some beer mittens. Yours are very inspirational.
Happy stay-at-home crafting ;)
Your newspaper delivery job sounds like something I'd enjoy, too. I love being out early in the morning and there's little to beat a walk, either! xxxDelete
‘I’m going up the cut’, what an unusual saying. Now I’ll understand the reference in Peaky Blinders!ReplyDelete
You lot look positively freezing on your walk but you and Liz look great in your layers. That’s unfortunate to hear that she’s been made redundant. From the looks of her website, Liz is a great artist.
And what a lovely neighbourhood you live in. The houses are gorgeous.
Mmmm that tortellini looks delicious. Right, I’m off to eat now. X
Isn't language interesting? Despite the UK being fairly small each area has it's own phrases and words. People say that Black Country dialect is how William Shakespeare would have spoken (Stratford Upon Avon is a short drive away). Many people round here still use words like wench and thou! xxxDelete
Late to this, but hopefully it will be of interest: have you come across Shakespeare performed in Original Pronounciation?Delete
If you search on YouTube for Shakespeare Original Pronounciation there are many videos, and hearing the language spoken so differently is glorious (well, I think so!). Stuff by Ben Crystal is excellent.
Beautiful nature and beautiful girls! And the houses - so cute! And you have a doll house too! This is just too much. :-D My aunt also has pretty little doll houses which she has decorated in antique style. <3ReplyDelete
Thank you so much! I bet the antique style doll's house is gorgeous. xxxDelete
Ohh no poor Liz, I hope everything goes well for her bloody covid. It seems no one is safe. I saw that even that Arcadia is on the verge of collapse. What a strange world we live in. Love the fingerless mittens, big fan of those I like to feel what I touch. With gloves you cannot. I had a lundby but I sold it when I moved here. The new ones are awful. I wish they would bring the old ones back out .ReplyDelete
There Liz and al live is my dream location If I still lived in the uk . It looks so peaceful. Well back to being prodded love and huggs allie
Morning, Allie! It looks like Arcadia has had it, 13,000 jobs on the brink. It goes from bad to worse.Delete
Fingerless gloves are brilliant for charity shopping and for gripping your beer if you're at a festival or dining outside.
Oh no, fancy having to sell your Lundby. The houses can be really cheap but the furniture can cost £££s. There's still a few pieces I covert like the 1970s outdoor swing seat, one day I shall find it cheap!
Liz and Al's house is in a perfect spot, no annoying neighbours but close enough to civilisation if they need it. Feel better soon. xxx
that's what I need! wrist warmers :) am getting achy wrists so must check that out. I am one of those who think of all things Swedish as white and sparse as I used to like reading Scandi home decor books but I am pleased to see there is also colour, texture and depth ... I hadn't thought of Ikea of course, where else for a bit of Sweden - not to mention the food they serve up and their tins of biscuits and their ginger bread houses ... I loved our walk today along the canal what a fabulous place you live in - all those very interesting buildings - think it's the first time I have seen so much of your area and I could move right in :)ReplyDelete
Jon's wristwarmers were just two rectangles I sewed up together, I tried another pattern to make myself a pair and even that wasn't too scary. There's some great tutorials on YouTube.Delete
Isn't it funny how your idea about Swedish design and mine are at total opposite ends to the spectrum? The Josef Frank textiles and prints are absolutely gorgeous, inspired by nature with lots of colour, I think you'd love his stuff.
We live in a really diverse place, there really is something for everyone - the house prices are pretty cheap, too! xxx
Great post, Vix, another love letter to Walsall. I really enjoyed seeing the variety of housing and it was equally interesting to see the contrast of "the cut". We're so lucky in the UK as we're never too far away from countryside or sea. Unfortunately, where I live, there are not so many ethnic stores (there are some, but they are small, expensive and, obviously, cannot stock the range of a Johal's) so I have to rely on supermarkets or the internet for exotic ingredients. You are a true NT aficionado now with appropriate woolly hat. You won't get lost either with the pom pom beacon atop! What a charming, well-deserved comment from a passer-by. Wee strokes like that make your day!ReplyDelete
Thanks, Catmac! The Black Country has an undeserved reputation for being grim and industrial but there's pockets of beauty plus the posh houses the wealthy industrialists had built, too.Delete
A trip to Johal's is like a visit to India, everything from fresh turmeric to Tibet Snow face cream, all accompanied by a Bollywood soundtrack!
I shall be investing in a fleece next.....not! xxx
Oh I like and wear fleeces but don't yet have a pom pom hat!!! I think I am a pretty typical NT visitor!!! Don't have your style, Vix. My clothing is everything you would hate!Delete
Oh I like a bastard massive pom pom! Your crochet creations look fab, lovely colours and isn't it nice how quick a chunky wool will turn into something wearable?ReplyDelete
We used to say 'up the cut' but it was just an alley between houses, nothing as nice as a canal.
Thanks, Hazel! I love how quickly crochet grows, it's so rewarding to make something wearable in a few hours.Delete
How interesting that you have the same saying but it means something totally different. I love language. xxx
How lovely to meet up with friends and to get out in the open. To me it feels like a little break, a change of scene and then I’m happy to be back home again.ReplyDelete
I’m chuckling at the Swedish thing, my friend is revamping her new home and is going Scandi as in minimalist and white. Like you, it won’t be happening in this house haha.
I like Jon’s beard, it suits him.
Take care you two xxxx
It's lovely, isn't it? I had a read of the government website last week and was pleased to see that those of us living in tier 3 are allowed to meet up in a group of six in outdoor public spaces, including parks, beaches, countryside accessible to the public, a public garden and grounds of a heritage site or castle. I thought it would remain just two people from separate households.Delete
I had no idea about Sweden being associated with minimalist style. I wonder what people consider English style - probably thatched cottages, Staffordshire flatbacks and beige Dralon sofas!
That's Jon's winter coat, he's in danger of looking like a dandelion if he doesn't shave his head.
Loads of love to you both! xxx
I think it's a real shame that people associate Scandinavian design with bland minimalist styles nowadays which like you point out couldn't be further from the truth!ReplyDelete
I love your crochet creations! I'm trying knitting at the moment and I'm missing the sheer speed of crochet by comparison.
Isn't it strange? All the Scandi films and TV series I watch have old houses with colourful rugs, roaring fires, loads of nick-nacks and fantastically bright textiles. It's like how people have this misconception that Parisian women are uber stylish, when I've been there I've been massively underwhelmed by their conventional outfit choices!Delete
I love how quickly crochet grows, it's so rewarding. xxx
liz and you are such a lovely sight in that eclectic, colourful outfits!ReplyDelete
there are some pretty antique houses in walsall - beside of stonecroft.... and thankfully not renovated in the heartless german style. must be fun to go for a walk there.....
well done crocheting some warming and fun things - i wish i could get the BW to wear mittens instead of complaining about cold hands......
have no idea why people think scandi design has to be ice cold, colorfree and boring.... i have books about arts&crafts and jugendstil - there is a special branch of the scandinavien "dragon style" which is warm as warm can be and very bold! did a post: https://bahnwaerterhaeuschen.blogspot.com/2017/12/dezember-inspiration.html
much love! xxxx
Thanks so much, Beate! It's a challenge to stay cosy but both of us refuse to wear nylon sausage coats or fleeces!Delete
A lot of the houses here have been ruined by paved front lawns and plastic windows, it appears that poor taste is a world wide problem.
I remember your wonderful Swedish Arts & Crafts post! xxx
Happy Sunday Vix, I am sorry I have not popped by for a while but I will not bore you with details lol I have caught up with last weeks adventures and loved all the pics as usual. You certainly are clever with your crochet and so glad that you got to walk with friends and you got another splendid NT visit in. I had to smile at the pattern stock as the blouse with the lace trim I made at school! too long ago!! You look splendid as usual and we are also now in Tier 3 so many people are upset at this. I have given up trying to figure at what is best and we are keeping on as we have been. ( I secretly wish we were like you and Jon) as Chritmas is shaping up to be a trying time indeed. Enough ramblingReplyDelete
Hello Shaz! Lovely to hear from you,. I've just read your comment on last night's post and I'm wildly excited about your new feline friend and happy that you've come up with a plan for Xmas.Delete
You were lucky to make that blouse at school, I had to make a hateful nightie! No wonder I didn't go near a sewing machine again till I was 40! Take care. xxx
Your walk along the canal with Liz and Al, as well as your wander around Walsall both look and sound very bracing in spite of the cold. With your woolly hats and Jon's beer mittens, not to mention your fur-collared coats, you're certainly looking very snug indeed. I'm in love with Liz's coat, and following her on Instagram, I now she is a very talented artist. Sad as it is that she has been made redundant, it must be very satisfying that she can now dedicate her time to her art! Thinking of Swedish design, white and minimal must be the last thing that springs to mind. If your new project is every bit as spectacular as your dolls house interiors, I'm sure we are in for a treat! xxxReplyDelete
Thanks, Ann! It was a lovely bracing walk on both days. It really does you the power of good being out in the fresh air, doesn't it?Delete
I think Liz is quite looking forward to the challenge, she's considered doing her art full-time for a long time so this could be just the push she needed. xxx
Had I been fortunate to be walking that path behind you and Liz, I'd have frightened the wild fowl by loudly complimenting you both on your jackets. (Have not yet mastered the trick of projecting my voice through a mask at the correct social distance, alas.) I envy your access to the Cut, Vix. Some dream of yachts in the Caribbean, I dream of narrow boats in misty canals.ReplyDelete
That made me laugh, Beth! Jon keeps complaining that I shout when I've got my mask on.Delete
I'm learning to love the Winter mist, it's a case of having to with no escape planned! xxx
That sucks about Liz losing her job - her art is lovely! Your hands are never idle, are they? I like the purple hat and the "beer mittens". I've missed seeing your doll's houses so thank you for the re-visit.ReplyDelete
I hope I get the opportunity to visit Walsall in person one day when it's safe to travel again.
She's talented, isn't she?Delete
I'd love you to come and visit Walsall one day! xxx
Adorable crochet accessories! They are certainly warm ... and cheerful! A nice walk ... How sweet your dollhouse ... reflects your style ...ReplyDelete
Thanks so much, Carmela! xxxDelete
I love the woolly goodies Vix, always nice to know nobody else out there will be wearing the same, it’s unique to us who made it. Sorry to hear about your friend Liz loosing her job, what a pain, have looked on her site, beautiful artwork, good luck to her. Loved the pic of the houses near to you, I could live in any of them looks my kind of place My small claim to fame, I was born and bred where Peaky Blinders was set, every time they mention Small Heath I cheer, mad fool. I went to school just above the Garrison Tavern in Garrison Lane and I believe that Stephen Knight the writer of the series lived there too. It’s not far from our stretch of the Fazeley canal, as you say more canals in the West Mids than Venice. Great idea for you to have a trip to Bilston, place of my maternal roots! It’s a day for by the fire, keep warm. Brummie Sue Xx.ReplyDelete
Hello Sue! You're not wrong there, there's no danger of bumping into anyone wearing the same woollens as us, wonky stitches and all!Delete
We were part of the audience with Steven Knight talking about his early memories of his childhood in Small Heath, he's a fascinating chap and yours is a brilliant claim to fame. Do you know if you've got any relatives who were part of the gang?
I was ridiculously excited when Jon mentioned a trip to Bilston, how times have changed! xxx
I love Peaky Blinders so thanks for the tip about the cut!ReplyDelete
How strange - I wore my own handknitted hat this weekend but I do have pom pom envy - I nicked mine off another old hat my daughter was throwing out.
I love Doll's Houses. I got one from Father Christmas when I was little although I later learned my mu had got it from a jumble sale and spent weeks restoring it so it was like brand new. I will have to dig out a photo.
I remember when my brother bought my daughter a doll's house for her birthday one year I think I was more excited.
It's in the loft now waiting for the first grandaughter and no doubt I will spend hours lovingly restoring that.
Peaky Blinders is the best. I was so disappointed that they had to stop filming the next series because of Covid. We went to The Peaky Blinders Festival last year (the official one, organised by Steven Knight) and were really looking forward to going back in 2020. What a year!Delete
What a lovely story about your childhood doll's house. I love them. There's some really lovely Facebook groups for doll's house fans, the attract the nicest women! xxx
Oh, well done on the hat and the mittens! My only attempt at a hat ended up as a ginormous striped effort; which would have only fit a Rastafarian with very long dreadlocks...I must have misread the pattern! I donated it to a charity shop.ReplyDelete
It is wonderful to get out into nature; and canal walks are fabulous. There's always the chance a boat may pass and even go through a lock gate! What a shame your friend was made redundant; so many jobs are going this way it's terrible.
Loved your outfits amd Jon's; you both look very stylish and cosy.
I was amazed that the hat actually ended up looking like a hat! I'm keen to make more now, in fact Jon's requested one for both him and one of his friends.Delete
It really is wonderful to be outside, we've got so many canals I don't know why we don't do it more often. Jon's parents used to take him on narrowboat holidays when he was little, I bet he still knows how to handle a lock!
Stay safe! xxx
Phew, good to hear you won't be going all minimalistic on us, Vix! Thanks for the reminder that "Swedish" doesn't just mean one thing!ReplyDelete
I love that you were able to go for a walk with Liz (love her coat, very sad to hear about her job loss!), Vix. I appreciate the slang lesson for "the cut" - my husband knows this term, but in a different way. For him, it's a clear-cut swath of forest that is open - so if you walk "into the cut" you're taking the clear and easy way into the old growth trees. It means a specific place to him from when he grew up in Powell River on the coast of BC.
Your fingerless gloves are awesome (great colour) and so is your toque! It's a very proper Canadian toque too, with a pompom and everything. We'll have you saying, "Eh" before you know it! Jon's beard is very lush!
I love peeking in your dollhouse. I adore all the colours.
Minimalism? I can't imagine anything scarier!!Delete
With no visitors allowed to our homes or gardens walking is the new socialising. I'm going to need a hat for every day of the week at this rate!
That's fascinating that L's "cut" is a clearing in a forest. I love how we speak the same language but there's so many differences!
The YouTube tutorial I followed to make the hat was by an adorable Canadian lady, she called it a toque and I thought of you! xxx
I love your hat. It's been very cold here too.ReplyDelete
By chance your friend Liz appeared on my IG feed, I realised when I checked the link and saw something I'd liked. She was part of something lots of members of the group of Cambridge artists and makers that I belong to have been doing -I haven't been doing it and can't remember what it was but it's a small world. Six degrees of separation and all that!
I like your scandi take and I dont see it as all white and minimal either. Lots of candles, beautifully painted wood and lots of crafts, I love it too. xxx
What a fabulous post!, lots of fab photos and so glad to see you enjoying a walk with friends on some picturesque paths (lovely walk along the canal!). Also lovely to have a look at some magnificent architecture around your home, so beautiful houses! and so nice people. No wonder you received some compliments, You Rock!.ReplyDelete
These new wristwarmers are really fab, and I adore your crochet hat!, woww!.