Welsh Quilts

What a lovely day I had yesterday…

Some weeks ago Sue (Going Batty in Wales) mentioned to me that she wanted to go and see the summer exhibition at the Welsh Quilt Centre in Lampeter, and suggested that we go together. So, we met for coffee and then visited Red Apple Yarn before having an unexpectedly large lunch (the café we went to had run out of the soup I wanted) and then going to the exhibition.

The quilts on display represented the past ten years of summer exhibitions at the Quilt Centre and so we had the opportunity to see a wide variety – from Kaffe Fassett creations to Victorian quilts made from tiny scraps of reclaimed fabrics. There were examples made with flannel, beautiful cream coloured quilts made for Claridge’s in the 1940s and marketed through the Rural Industries Bureau, a single printed tree of life panel made in 1810 and paisley scarf quilts.

Whilst it’s hard to single out any one quilt, I did love the creations where the quilting itself was the star, and the cream Rural Industries Bureau quilts were perhaps the epitome of this, but I particularly liked the yellow quilt that I have featured some corner detail of above. The pattern in this demonstrates the traditional Welsh characteristic of a central design surrounded by borders comprising smaller motifs… or at least, so Sue tells me. The other quilt that really caught my attention was the Victorian patchwork one displayed on the bed… mainly because it featured a large mend (that I completely failed to photograph) where it had either been torn or worn along a fold. Several of the quilts had been repaired or had small unfinished sections and I was particularly drawn to these features that reminded me of the women who worked so hard to make and maintain these works of art.

Altogether it is an inspirational exhibition and we had a lovely day out. If you are visiting mid-Wales I highly recommend a trip to the Quilt Centre where the exhibition runs until November.

In the market for…

Transition is a grassroots network of communities that are working to build resilience in response to peak oil, climate destruction, and economic instability (Wikipedia). Which translates, in practice into communities where you find food groups, community owned bakeries and breweries, transition street projects (where householders work together to reduce costs and energy use), REconomy projects (creating jobs, building the local economy and even creating their own currency) and community-owned energy schemes. If you live near a transition town, you will often find thriving local businesses and access to local products.

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I live on the west coast of Wales, about 12 miles from our nearest Transition Town –Lampeter. One of the successful community initiatives there is the People’s Market, which takes place on the second and fourth Saturday of each month and boasts a wide range of stalls all selling local products.

The aim of Lampeter People’s Market is to encourage Lampeter to become a thriving Market Town once more where local people cater for the majority of local needs for food, products, skills and services.

Last Saturday – the second in November – I decided to take not only my shopping bags but also my camera along so you can get a picture of what it’s like. The market is held in Victoria Hall – officially opened in 1905 as the town’s assembly rooms, to be used for concerts, dances, theatrical performances and public meetings, and now being resorted through the efforts of a community based, not for profit, social enterprise group, Transition Llambed Development Trust, for the benefit of the people of Lampeter (this is one of the action groups born out of Transition Llambed).

Although not on the main shopping streets, Victoria Hall is very close to the centre of the town and, on market days, signs lead the way:

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And just outside the door, there are examples of the goodies inside:

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I had intended to talk to all the stall-holders, but I spent so long chatting to a few of them, that I didn’t have time! However I did manage to chat to a reflexologist who has a stall selling essential oils and blends, a heating engineer who bakes bread and sells it at the market, a pig farmer, the Simply Caws ladies who sell cheese, a local artist who invited me to visit her home to see her original pictures after I had commented on how much I like her prints (she wasn’t even a stall-holder, she was a customer) and various friends who I bumped into. The balcony gave me a great vantage point to appreciate the bustling market:

A busy market day

A busy market day

But it was down chatting to all the people involved that gave me real pleasure.

White bread, wholemeal bread, olive bread, rolls... all delicious

White bread, wholemeal bread, olive bread, rolls… all delicious

From the HedgeRose - free range, rare breed pork

From the HedgeRose – free range, rare breed pork

Denise preparing wool for spinning whilst tending her stall

Denise preparing wool for spinning whilst tending her stall

Local cheese from Simply Caws - mileage specified

Local cheese from Simply Caws – mileage specified

I could also have got my bicycle fixed, bought fruit and veg, found out about the transition town, selected from a range of crafts, swapped a book, CD or DVD and bought cakes. All finished off with a nice cup of tea and a cake from the COASTAL cafe (who help people gain experience to help them into work).

Information on Transition and the COASTAL cafe

Information on Transition and the COASTAL cafe

I had  a lovely  morning and came away with lots to think about, one invitation to visit a farm and one invitation to see some artwork, not to mention cheese, bacon and bread. If you have a market like this near you, do go along and support your local farmers, producers and crafters – you won’t regret it. And if you are in west Wales, go to THIS market and say hello to all these lovely people and more.

(Earth and People) Care in the Community

Sustainability may begin at home, but it’s also good to get it out in the community. With this in mind I give my support to a local environmental education charity, Denmark Farm Conservation Centre. They are working on a great project called Wildlife Where You Live, which aims to help build robust rural communities through conservation and biodiversity work. It’s not just experts coming in and telling the community what to do, it’s about engaging all sorts of people in environmental activities.

The newly installed wetland water treatment system is just awaiting ground flora planting

DFCC also run environment-related courses, many in conjunction with Aberystwyth University. Whist I was up there today there was a beginners’ bird identification course going on… by lunchtime their species count was up to 16, they told me. It’s a lovely place to go to learn and teach (I run several courses there each year), with great habitats (ponds, scrapes, woodland, rhos pasture, wildflower meadows) and increasingly more examples of sustainability in action (a new wetland water treatment system, solar water heating, solar pv, rainwater harvesting, compost toilet, compost heaps and – coming soon – a biomass boiler). All-in-all a great demonstration site.

As well as being used as a venue for courses DFCC is open to the public, with a network of freely accessible paths: free leaflets describing the site are available. So if you are near Lampeter in Ceredigion, why not call in? And if that’s not near you, why not support your own local charities that are encouraging sustainability?

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