Today I drove about twelve or fifteen miles south to a village almost on the border between Leicestershire and Northamptonshire. It was a beautiful winter's day, very cold and sunny. Somehow, the sky always seems very big in the Midlands of England, at least the East Midlands.
The trees at the entrance to North Kilworth Millenium Green, a nature reserve at the back of Kilworth Belgrave Memorial Hall, next door to Kilworth Bogs, low-lying wetlands which feed into the River Avon.
I was going to a workshop run by the Textend group. It's a kind of sewing club with a workshop once a month. You can go when you like and just pay for each workshop as you go. I met lots of lovely women there: Sue and Ruth, the organisers, D'reen, Bunty, Mandy and Chris, and Debby who, it turns out, lives not far from me and told me about the knitting group at the Cradock Arms pub on Wednesday evenings, a short walk from me.
This month was the start of a nearly year long challenge, to create a piece with stitching, inspired by an artist. There is a special extra meeting in December to share our finished pieces (and, I guess, the story of how they came to be made). There may be an exhibition next year.
Today was a kind of inspiration day. There was a suitcase collection of A3 sized quilted pieces inspired by artists. Escher featured a lot, along with Antony Gormley (three pieces about his installation at Crosby Beach, Another Place), Rothko and Klimt. We had a discussion and shared books and looked at each other's sketchbooks.
It was still bright after the workshop finished and I had time before the light failed to go for a walk in the Millenium Green, which has some rare species in the nature reserve. The geology is interesting, heavy clay layers covered with gravel, with a line of natural springs.
North Kilworth is recorded in the Domesday Book. There was rich farmland around the village, used for rearing sheep and fattening beef for the Leicester market. There were lots of related agricultural industries - machine shops and milk processing plants to supply London.
I took a few photographs of the quilts. I'll be sharing these in future posts as I start to create my sketchbook. Although there were many lovely works, I took photographs only of pieces that triggered some sort of response in me. Just four in all (of about sixty items).
I wrote in my first Health Goals post about developing a gentle evening practice, preparing me for rest. That's been going pretty well. I struggle on the days I work in London because I arrive home about the time I would falling asleep on other nights. It takes me a while to get settled.
I wanted the early evenings to get my mornings back, and to enjoy the day, rather than desperately hacking through it. Although I had done some making last year, it had got lost among all the other things that were happening. I'm trying to get back in the groove. Today was a start.