On the Friday morning of our sojourn in Cumbria we had a couple of hours to kill so we went along to Cockermouth as I had heard a lot about it from a friend who used to live there. Several years ago in 2009 Cockermouth suffered badly at the hands of flooding but today the town has been beautifully restored and is a very interesting place to spend time.
In my ignorance I hadn't realised that Wordsworth, that great Lake poet, was born in Cockermouth. Sadly we had arrived on the one day of the week when his home was closed. Wordsworth apparently left this home at the age of 8 after his mother died and then lived with relatives in Penrith.
Also located in Cockermouth is Jennings Brewery, originally a family concern established in 1828.
The brewery still uses water from its own well and brews its beer from English pale ale malt, Golding hops from Kent and Fuggles hops from Herefordshire. I was taken completely unawares by the smell of the malt which suddenly hit us as we were browsing the main street and I was instantly transported back more than 17 years to the days when my late husband used to brew his own beer and boil the malt in our kitchen. This process is known as mashing and the smell is rich and sweet. Other processes follow including sparging and adding the yeast and the beer is then left to brew. My late husband was an expert in brewing beautifully tasty real ales and he took a great pride in his recipe. I have always been sensitive to music evoking emotion but never before has a smell provoked such a strong reaction in me.
The beautiful Georgian Market Place of Cockermouth has been remodelled and presents a very elegant face to the world.
It was a little quiet at the time of our visit but was going to be much busier on Jubilee weekend with a street party planned.
Bitter Beck Pottery (named after the nearby river beck) is home to Joan Hardie who makes the most beautiful pottery inspired by the natural world. We had a very nice chat with Joan who prefers to work in situ in her shop rather than have a studio elsewhere and I couldn't resist treating myself to two of her lovely windchimes.
This lovely windchime now gracing my lilac tree is based on acorn cups and I'm hoping a little rain may collect in the cups for the birds.
The second windchime is based on fungi and the beautiful marks come from combining different types of clay. I love the beautiful textural marks Joan has achieved. Joan has produced the most beautiful book in collaboration with her husband and I was very tempted but for the moment have resisted.
While we're talking of creativity I have been making headway on reorganising my sewing room and spent some time sorting out my scraps. I have to confess that I have kept some very small pieces and have been a little bit ruthless with the less inspiring ones. With the remainder I thought I would have a go at making a piece of 'ortcloth' in the style of Nellie Durand.
So far I've arranged snippets of all manner of fabrics and fibres on a wadding base and backed it with cotton. I've layered tulle over the top and (not in the photo) have started to machine wavy lines across the 'sky' area. I'm planning to use Free Machining over the brighter area and then stitch and applique some kind of flowery/gardeny design. Watch this space!