Tuesday, 29 November 2011

The Enchanted Castle

At the weekend we went to the Enchanted Castle at the beautiful Crathes Castle near Banchory.  We've been here several times in the past but have never seen it quite like this!

At the entrance our tickets were exchanged for glow sticks to be worn as necklaces or head gear!

Unfortunately my camera is not good enough to be able to capture the castle in all its glory.  The entire tower was covered in continually changing light projections - fish swimming, fireworks exploding, multi-coloured patchwork sqaures etc.  There were fire ball swingers and fire breathers on the lawn outside the castle and a magician in the courtyard.

I've been painting castles in shades of red, pink, orange and yellow for years - it was good to see these colours on the real thing!

There was a walk around the grounds where the trees and pond were lit by colourful lights, and the walled garden was especially magical.

The only slight negative was the huge number of visitors.  We went fairly early and it was very, very busy.  For anyone who plans to visit next year, if you don't have young children with you I'd recommend going as late in the evening as you can.  It was open from 5-10pm.

Wednesday, 9 November 2011


Autumn is definitely my favourite season.  Maybe it's because I was an October baby?  I don't know.  What I do know is that few things make me happier than seeing beautiful golden and red leaves on a crisp autumn day.

Last week, Kirsty and I spent a day in the beautiful surroundings of Haddo House.  We were there for their annual Christmas Craft Fair as well as to walk around the lovely grounds and park.

Kirsty took a particular liking to this gorgeous tree, and she feels inspired to create an autumnal textile piece. 

We took lots of photos and collected fallen leaves and beech nuts to provide inspiration back at home.

The ground was covered, and I mean literally covered, in silvery webs which you could only see at certain angles.  Unfortunately this amazing sight didn't work well on camera, but here's a close up of a web that Kirsty wants to incorporate into her piece.

Her project is still at the early stages, but hopefully I'll be able to blog about it once it's finished. 
Meanwhile, here's a wall hanging I made recently using various autumnal shades. 


Friday, 4 November 2011

Cafe O'Clay

Super-friendly owner Susie has opened her second branch of Cafe O'Clay in Montrose (the first is in Aberdeen) and I just have to give it a plug on here!

It's half cafe, half pottery painting, and is just the fun, modern, funky kind of place that Montrose was needing.  You don't have to paint anything if you don't want to - you can just go in for a coffee or yummy light lunch. 

The tiles in front of the counter show the handprints of staff, builders and early customers.  (I believe I've been added since this photo was taken!)  I've also painted a tile in the style of my quirky hills and sheep paintings, a number of which are displayed for sale in the cafe.

There aren't a huge number of options for children's birthday parties around here, but your little darlings can now paint their very own piece of pottery and have party food at Cafe O'Clay for £10 per head. 

You can also just pop in to paint something whenever you like - on a recent wet Sunday, I took the kids along and we had a lovely cosy, painting session.  I decorated a bowl for my breakfast cereal and my girls painted little boxes. 

Hand painted pottery makes a great personalised Christmas pressent, especially for grandparents, so if you're in the area, give it a go!