Saturday 30 July 2016


Me taking a photo of Manda (with Max) who was also taking a photo
While I was in Devon, Manda took me to Tapeley. This is a beautiful estate with Grade II listed gardens, and oh my, those are some gardens. Manda's lovely mum, Penny, came along too. Both Manda and Penny are brilliant proper camera photographers, whereas I'm an iPhoneographer, and the three of us had a lovely time wandering around the gardens taking pictures.

Agapanthus, taken with iPhone 6s and Olloclip macro lens

Daisies and brick steps

Flower detail on a gate in the gardens at Tapeley
Flower detail on a gate

Succulent flowers, taken with iPhone 6s and Olloclip macro lens
Succulent flowers (flowers of succulents)

After a delicious lunch of smoked trout at the tea rooms, we wandered up to visit the pigs and chickens and then Penny suggested we take a look around the kitchen garden.

As we approached the garden, a sign told me it was a walled garden. My heart did an actual skippity-leap on learning this because I'm a massive fan of the old BBC Victorian Kitchen Garden series that starred Harry Dodson and Peter Thoday, so I found the idea of being in an actual factual old walled garden pretty thrilling, I can tell you.

Door in the walled garden at Tapeley
Door in the wall of the walled garden

The garden was beautiful, and it's a working one so it was full of fruit and vegetables. There was a massive greenhouse along one of the walls and inside it grapes were growing. Back in the day, the greenhouse would have been heated by a system of cast iron pipes filled with hot water, warmed by a coal-fired furnace.

Victorian cloche

I loved the old things in the garden, like this Victorian glass cloche and the pretty cast iron grates.

Fancy cast iron grate

There were also old varieties of apple and pear trees, as well as a patch of glorious purple-haired artichokes.


Moth on an artichoke flower
Moth on an artichoke flower

Artichoke flower, taken with iPhone 6s and Olloclip macro lens
Artichoke flower macro

After lots more photography we left the garden and wandered back down, past the old Victorian ice house.

Victorian ice house at Tapeley

During the winter months, the ice house would have been packed with ice and snow and the building would have acted as a fridge and freezer.

Daisies growing on the Victorian ice house at Tapeley
Daisies on the ice house

Even the car park provided a final photo opportunity as it is next to a field of highland cattle.


Big thanks to Manda and Penny for a lovely day out at Tapeley. It was wonderful and I thoroughly enjoyed it.

Friday 29 July 2016

MangoBeads Class

Lampwork class at MangoBeads in Barnstaple, Devon

(I'm just going to ignore the disgustingly long gap between my last blog post and this one and pretend it never happened. *ignores the gap and pretends it never happened*)

Hello! Alright?

I'm here to tell you about the brilliant time I had teaching my class at MangoBeads in Devon. 

The class was over two days on the 9th and 10th of July and what a fab group of people it was.

Lampwork class at MangoBeads in Barnstaple, Devon

Manda's workshop in Barnstaple is just so lovely. Spacious and comfy and oh so glassy. I loved it. I want to live in it. Look at all that space. And it's so tidy and organised.

Lampwork class at MangoBeads in Barnstaple, Devon

The class I taught was a kind of 'improvers' class. I don't have a signature bead to teach as such, but I do have twelve years of glass-melting experience under my belt, so I went through encasing, stringer application, dots, gravity swirls, implosions and much more. Everyone did so well and they all made some great beads. We had lots of fun and many giggles. (Bertie, I will never forget your badger story for as long as I live.)

I stayed with Manda and David and they made me feel so welcome. Manda was one of my first bead customers back in the days when I used to sell my beads on eBay. We'd only met once before – fleetingly at the first UK Flame Off – but the minute I stepped off the train and into Manda's car it was like we'd known each other for always. (I hope she feels the same way or I'm going to sound like a right full-on weirdo.)

Max doing his best Princess Leia "Aren't you a little short for a stormtrooper?" pose

And this little fella is Max, Manda and David's adorable dachshund. We got on well too and on the final night of my stay Max got proper flirty with me on the sofa and snogged me. No really. He got very very face-licky and at one point he managed to lick the roof of my mouth. Manda and David found the whole me-trying-to-escape-the-amorous-sausage-dog-that-was-attached-to-my-head situation highly amusing.

Manda has invited me to teach again at the end of January. Again, it'll be an improvers class. If you can make a basic bead and want to have a go at encasing and other techniques to take your beads up a level, this one's for you. It would be an amazing Christmas present idea. All the details can be found on the MangoBeads website.

Big thanks to Manda and David for having me, and thank you to everyone in the class - you were so great and you all made some fabulous beads.