Riding for the Disabled – National Championships

Today was Day 2 of the 2015 National Championships for the Riding for the Disabled in Hartpury, Gloucestershire.

RDA Nationals

A truly inspirational event when you see the joy and enthusiasm with which everyone participates.  The incredible connection between rider and horse to be so professional and accomplished in their abilities.  Truly their various disabilities don’t hold these riders back and it is an honour to see the culmination of many many hours of practice and dedication for these riders in the National Championships.  Well done everyone.

My very talented niece once again made it through to the finals of the dressage and it was my absolute pleasure to be there today to support her.

Fortunately the weather this year was glorious (unlike last year) and Tori was one of the first in her group to compete.  I’m no expert but I could see a huge difference in her performance from last year and the previous year.  Here’s a little video.

And some pictures.

Tori riding

Tori’s test card and her well deserved rosettes.  Fourth place in her group (green rosette)Tori RosettesHighest Place Rider for the Pony Club in her GroupPony Club Highest PlaceAnd lots of love for Jinks afterwards.

Jinks loveWell done Jinks and Tori (my super talented oldest niece).  xxx

PS  If only there was an equestrian category for Intellectually Disabled in the Paralympics… why isn’t there?

PPS Huge thanks to Tori’s cousin, Danielle x

La Boheme at the Royal Opera House

I know I say this a lot… but WOW!

Im ready for La Boheme

Tonight I was treated to a night at the Royal Opera House to see La Boheme.  No ordinary production either.  Conducted by none other than Pacido Domingo who has performed this opera many many times but whom you could clearly see was proud to be conducting a flawless performance from both orchestra and singers alike.  An incredibly gifted man leading gifted actors.

But there’s more.  Just before curtain up, we were told that this was to be the final John Copley’s production and therefore there would be a couple of ‘added extras’ (as if we needed more!).  The whole cast would do an extra curtain call between Acts 2 and 3.   (Usually the child actors and many extras for Act 2 are long gone by the time of the curtain call.)

AND as this would be the final time the set was to be used (after 40 years), the set change between Acts 1 and 2 would be done with the curtain open.  Wow and Wow again.  I managed to video most of it and I think you’ll agree it’s an incredible skill to create such intricate sets and then to orchestrate the changeover swiftly, precisely and, it seems, effortlessly.  Click here for video.

The whole performance was spellbinding, glorious, magnificent and emotive.   Truly never fails to disappoint.

And the final curtain….

IMG_9622An amazing evening and such a gift for me to have been there.

Guardian Review
Telegraph Review

Don’t you just love this bar… everyone SHOULD be dressed in evening gowns and black tie to complete the picture!



Kew the Music – Caro Emerald

You know me.  Yes Girl!  If I’ve not tried something or been somewhere and get asked, I’m sure to say ‘yes’.  (Well to most things!)

So when my friend asked if I’d like to see an open air concert at Kew Gardens, I jumped at the chance.  I bought my ticket and then googled Caro Emerald to see what I’d be seeing/listening to.

Andreya Triana: 6.30pm – 7.00pm

Jack Pack: 7.15pm – 8.00pm

Caro Emerald: 8.30pm – 10.10pm

Caro Emerald

Seriously fabulous smiley music.

What a beautiful setting.  We had glorious weather and thank heavens the rain held off.  A small picnic, drink and gossip first on our picnic rugs and then the concert began.

A great atmosphere and variety of ages loving the evening’s entertainment and location.


Proud Aunt Moment

Today I was invited to attend my nephew’s end of term Celebratory Event.  Many of you will know how supremely proud I’ve been that he was invited to be Head Boy this year.  I had absolutely no doubt that he’d step up to the added responsibilities, carry them out with his usual enthusiasm and zest but also to understand that to be a Head Boy is often so much more than just new tasks.

Today was his final day at a school he’s loved for the past 6 years.  I remember when he started, a small ‘squirt’ of a boy who looked up to the Year 8s both in stature and with a mix of admiration and fear.  Now he was Head Boy, Year 8 and was being looked up to.

The school not only looks at education, academia and sport but also encourages all their pupils to adopt and behave in accordance with The Prior Way.

Prior Way

I’ve always known my nephew has all these qualities in truckloads but today he was awarded by the school for doing so.  What better qualities for life and living are there, than those in the Prior Way?
Joe & Award

As Head Boy, he was asked to speak at today’s Celebration.  OhMyWord, Joe was amazing.  He wrote the speech himself and honestly I think he’s found his new vocation.  His delivery was fabulous.  Timing amazing.  Inclusion of funny and serious elements perfect.  Here’s Joe’s Speech.

I think you’ll agree with me, he’s fabulous.  And Lewis Moody on Twitter posted:
Lewis Moody Tweet

I’d adopt him as my son any day :-)…but certainly no doubt about his speaking prowess.

Some pics from the day:
Joe Collage

On the way back to London I heard this song being played… yes you should wear sunscreen but hey there’s a whole lot of other great advice for living in here too…. Click here

Saturday Fusing & Slumping Glass

I signed up for a short course at the College.  10-4pm for four consecutive Saturdays.  This course was all about learning how to cut flat glass and then fuse with other pieces of glass, powder and frit to make some flatwork.  Then either leave the piece as a flatwork or, if you wish, to slump this into shapes to form bowls, plates, signs etc.

Some photos to demonstrate what we covered.

Picture 1 – using pencil and paper we considered what we’d like to make.  Drawing out exactly what we wanted to achieve.  Then cutting out plastic pieces to match this.  When I was with David Mitchell a few years ago he taught me to draw out the design precisely and then use the paper and pencil as a template.   Personally I’m not sure the plastic pieces helped whereas measurements and precise paper template would suffice.

Glass Slumping RACC Saturday

As you can see from my piece below I didn’t follow the design but did end up with a fun piece that had many sharp lines and angled cuts.

Glass Slumping RACC Saturday1I also created this.  I wanted to see what would happen in a high fuse when I had pieces laying over one another.  The blue pieces lay on the top of the green for the firing.

Glass Slumping RACC Saturday2Making the piece below, I used transparent and opaque glass together with frit, powder, confetti, stringers and a copper flower (made and donated by another lady on the course).  I’ve left the piece flat and enjoy the light coming through it when on a stand.

Glass Slumping RACC Saturday3Our tutor also showed us how to make our own moulds.  Firstly using clay to get the shape, wrapping clay around to dam it, then adding plaster to become, once set, the mould.

Glass Slumping RACC Saturday4Then I tried my own mold.  I was keen to use a shell for some shape but was, it turned out, too gentle and should have pressed much harder to get the shell shape in the clay.  The second thing I learnt from this exercise was not to wipe around the clay so it’s damp when I pour the plaster… it sticks to the board and will break when removing it!  But I was determined to use what was left of the mold, hence below.

The red piece Dad now has against a window in his conservatory.  I thought I should use the smaller mold piece and created the blue dish which I think I’ll incorporate into something else in time.

Glass Slumping RACC Saturday5I created a small round piece with opaque and transparent glass and then using the tutor’s mold slumped it to give a funky shaped piece.

Glass Slumping RACC Saturday7I wanted to experiment with rods and created a triptych for a friend.

Glass Slumping RACC Saturday6Then a little experiment using float glass and frit to then slump over to get a handkerchief piece!

Glass Slumping RACC Saturday8Finally a few pictures of some of the other work created by my classmates… so much more gifted than I!

Glass Slumping RACC Saturday9

Wimbledon 2015 – Day 5

Tennis in SW19 never fails to excite the nation and unite us in supporting the Brits.

My only visit to SW19 this year was to Centre Court.

Wimbledon 2015

I managed to get tickets in the ballot and was delighted with the matches being played on on Day 5:

Richard Gasquet (FRA) [21] defeated Grigor Dimitrov (BUL) [11] (6-3 6-4 6-4)

Novak Djokovic (SRB) [1] defeated Bernard Tomic (AUS) [27] (6-3 6-3 6-3)

Serena Williams (USA) [1] defeated Heather Watson (GBR) (6-2 4-6 7-5)

How fortunate were we to be in Centre Court for what I consider to be the match of the year – Williams v Watson.  The atmosphere was electric.  The majority of the spectators were supporting our home girl, Heather Watson.  The game was so incredibly close and (bias I may be) Heather so nearly won!

I think this little clip shows the level of excitement.

A beautifully hot day where fans and sunscreen was the order of the day for players and spectators alike.  A wonderful little video across Centre Court at the fluttering of fans.

Hot day in Centre Ct

And, of course, time to visit the No 1 Ball girl at Wimbledon again.  My wonderful Abi.  I think this slo-mo video shows you the extent to which they are trained and professional.

Henley Regatta 2015

I know I’m blessed with fabulous friends who invite me to wonderful occasions.  Today was no exception.  I was invited, for another year, to join a party of friends at Henley Royal Regatta.  Amazing day, gorgeous Pimms, delicious lunch (yummy beef!), energetic rowing to watch and the company of great friends (new and old).

Henley 2015

La Traviata at the Royal Albert Hall

I’ve always loved this opera.  I love the emotion, the drama and, of course, the music and voice.  When Issy and I ‘talked opera’ we discovered we both loved La Traviata and both wanted to see it in Milan.  Toward the end of 2014 we spotted La Traviata was playing at La Scala between Christmas and New Year.  Sadly Issy wasn’t well enough at that time for us to risk arranging tickets and flights and we said we’d go see it together one day.

A couple of pieces from Act 2 of La Traviata were played at Issy’s funeral.

There was no way I was going to miss tonight’s performance at the Royal Opera House.  Only one seat required.


It was utterly magical and majestic.  Incredible in so many ways.  The staging was brilliant.  Classic but brilliant.  The lighting extraordinary.  The orchestra magnificent and the opera singers so truly talented.  Fabulous, engaging, beautifully performed and truly emotive.  There might have been a little leakage from my eyes!  Issy would have loved it too.

la_traviata__c__catherine_ashmore_499x350A huge thank you to the ROH staff who managed to get me from ticket collection and into my seat in minutes… with seconds to spare before the concert started.  Thank you.

Ooh and look, what a beautiful building.


Glass Memories of Washington

When I visited Washington at Easter, we (Andi, Sam and I) chose an object that I could use to create something in glass.  The object we chose was a pine cone.  You’d think that’d be simple to use.  Perhaps to create the object in glass?   Perhaps use the texture from the cone?  Or something else?  When I showed the tutor she dismissed creating it in glass as the cone was open and difficult to cast.  She suggested I use the base to create a latex mold and then add these ‘flowers’ to a piece.

Over several weeks, I’ve been making the wax ‘flowers’.  I decided that I’d like to do a bowl with the flowers around it.

The process is the same, create the was ‘flowers’, create a wax bowl, affix the ‘flowers’ securely and try to close up the gaps to reduce risk with plaster.  It takes an age to get the completed wax model.

Then I mixed up the plaster and flint mix to pour over the wax model.  Next stage is to steam out the wax.  I purchased some emerald green gaffer glass which flows faster than bullseye glass.  I then handed it over to the technicians to fire in the kiln.

All the above I did without telling Andi how I was creating the piece.  I was excited to create it and then present it to Andi as a completed piece in the future.  In June I’d not heard from Andi for a few days and was worried.  A few days later she messaged me from the hospital… and told me she was wrapped in her AnnaBlanket which made me smile.

AndiBlanketAnd I let her into the secret and told her what I was doing with the pine cone and a few photos.

IMG_0362After all that work and with the terrifically important reason I was making this piece, the pressure was on for this to be perfect.  Only a few days later I was at college and the piece was cooling in the kiln.  I could tell that something had happened as the technicians asked me to look in the kiln.  The mold had cracked and glass leaked.  So incredibly upset.

GreenAndiBowlI love that damaged imperfect bowl.  It’s not useable and needs a lot of work to clean up or reuse the glass.  Right now, I can’t do anything with it except be disappointed and sad.  Maybe one day soon I’ll create something with the glass that will work and be an Andi treasure.

Saturday Images on Glass – results with screenprinted stacks

Following on from the screenprinted images, I retrieved the pieces from the first firing.  On the first picture the screenprinted ones are the Teddy Wolfe ‘line drawings’.

Mum and Dad fired

You may recall that I also fired a few as ‘stacks’ with multiple sheets of glass, each with the image on them.


A few photos of the fired stacks.  The one of Teddy has images with both black and blue enamel.




IMG_9115 IMG_9116My next job for these pieces is to grind and polish the edges.. no quick fix for this one so I started with the machines.  You mark the edge up and grind it off, starting course and ending up with the finest grade.  It’s a long process and I’m still working on them.  I’ll post again when they’re finished.  I’m hoping with pollished edges the 3D effect of stacked images will be even more obvious.