Tales from the Sea Garden

Tales from The Sea Garden

Email me: theseagarden@btinternet.com

Tuesday 24 September 2013

Thistledown pillows

As a follow-on from my 'Foraging' post, here are the first little pillows I've made using the thistledown. I have to say it works a treat, and I thoroughly recommend it as a stuffing filler, though you do need quite a lot as it squashes down. I went collecting again on Friday, but it is now really past its best after the rain last week. 

I've had this threadbare patchwork quilt for ages, but decided to rescue what patches I could from it to make the front designs on these. Unpicking each patch and then re-stitching them together by hand was a bit of a labour of love, but I got a lot of satisfaction from saving even the tiniest piece that didn't have a hole in it! The scrappy bits of quilt left won't get thrown away though; I shall use them to decorate labels and business cards.

I really enjoyed taking part in the first Decorative Living Fair last wednesday, and a huge thank you to everyone who visited my stand. I only saw a small portion of all the loveliness that was on sale in the Chelsea Town Hall, but I could easily have spent a fortune!

I met the lovely Lucy from "Love Lane Vintage' with her beautiful handmade clothes, and she asked if I would like to take part in her fairs. So along with the Eridge Fair in May I think a business trip/come holiday in my van to Sussex will be on the cards.......already looking forward to next year!

Friday 13 September 2013

The Decorative Living Fair!

The Decorative Living Fair is coming to Chelsea! On Wednesday 18th September Chelsea Old Town Hall will be full of decorative antiques, vintage textiles and unique handmade items from over 40 different sellers, and I shall be one of them! Here are some of  the latest makes which will be on my stall.....

I haven't made cushions for a while: it was so good to get creative with beautiful fabrics again. 

I've also been playing around with old maps.....Little fabric sailing boats and bunting on the front of the cards....

open up to reveal real old photographs of family beach-time fun in the 1920's and seashell scraps

There is a tag in each pocket on which to write your message

Some of the cards have butterflies and flowers inside, like a memory of a countryside walk.

If you are interested in coming to the Fair, to save you queueing on the day tickets can be purchased in advance by clicking here. Entrance is £5. 

The Fair runs from 11am to 7pm. Hope to meet some of you there!

Sunday 8 September 2013



J and I share an interest in botany and entomology, and where J lives on the Cornwall/Devon border we are very lucky to have a plethora of natural landscapes to explore: woods and streams and fields. Last week I discovered a new meadow which hasn't been grazed for well over a year, and wading thigh deep through the long grasses I found all sorts of delights.......

the dainty lilac Tufted Vetch with its minute climbing tendrils, and the creamy froth of Meadow Sweet scenting the air

Hemp Agrimony (above) and grasses galore, so pretty

a Small White butterfly feeding on Common Fleabane, and fine spider's webs covered in the glistening droplets of morning dew.

Marsh Woundwort.....

and Creeping Thistle.....

This thistle has small purple flowers, and I've never really paid it much attention before, being rather plain and prickly, but on seeing its fluffy seeds at this time of year I suddenly had an idea.....

The seeds are as soft as down, and easily come away in the hand when teased.....I fetched a bag from the van and started collecting it with earnest. I'm going to use it as a natural filling and mix it with lavender when I stuff my little handmade pillows! I've always hated using that horrible polyester filling, and now I have found a completely natural alternative. 

Quite a few seed heads had ladybirds nestled in the fluff, so I left those be....they obviously know a good thing - it must be the perfect warm place to spend the night now that autumn is upon us.

Whist I was wading from thistle to thistle I suddenly noticed this beautiful moth had crawled onto my hand. It remained motionless, so I ignored it and carried on collecting. Presently it crawled up onto the lapel of my cardigan, and seemed completely oblivious to my movements. Two hours later it was still there! I think it must have taken my mottled cardi for a suitable piece of bark on which to camouflage itself. It's these unexpected little surprises of nature that so delight me.

My bag of thistledown.... oh if you could only put your hand in there and feel how soft and warm it is!

At the bottom of the sloping meadow a thick band of mature trees borders a stream. Sycamore and Hazel Nut.....

I found evidence of broken nuts on the ground and even saw a squirrel, but there were still plenty of Hazel Nuts to pick. Although not fully mature and brown yet, they can be eaten whilst still green; and I will show you what they are like near the end of the post.

Underneath the canopy of trees were sprawling brambles, laden with blackberries just begging to be picked......

and what absolute whoppers!

 It didn't take me long to fill my bag.

On the way home I stopped at the stall at the side of the road and bought some local apples to make a blackberry and apple crumble, something I haven't made for ages!

I thought the Hazel Nuts would make a nice addition to the crumble, so with a couple of stones I cracked them open to reveal the creamy-white kernel inside.

Eaten green like this they don't have an awful lot of taste, but are deliciously fresh and crunchy.

When the crumble was cooked, I just scattered the kernels over the top along with a generous dose of double cream, and tucked in! Such an autumnal treat. I love to forage in Nature's larder and gather food for free.
                                                  x x x

(I can't wait to go to the meadow in spring and summer next year and see what flowers and insects are to be found then. I saw the dried seed cases of bluebells. I just hope that whoever owns the land doesn't decide to put a herd of cows in there. It is so rare these days to find an undisturbed meadow. There were grasshoppers and crickets everywhere, but as you can imagine, as soon as I approached for a close-up with the camera, they were off! I also found a kind of snail that I have never seen before: it looked like a pond snail, but was in the middle of the field. I shall try to identify it. J went there a few days ago, and a deer suddenly bounded out of the bracken in front of him.)