Poppies: Weeping Window in Derby

The Poppies: Weeping Window installation opened in Derby last weekend as part of the UK wide tour. The poppies were originally installed on the Tower of London to mark the centenary of the outbreak of the First World War. It’s nice that the installation has come to Derby, it sometimes feels like not much happens here.

It’s amazing to see, a sweep of red descending from the tower and spreading across the square that viewed close up becomes individual poppies and twisting black stalks. The art suits the building somehow, I wonder what the mill saw of the war…

Cromford Canal

The week before the late May bank holiday was glorious – hot, sunny and perfect for getting outside. Except I was in the office all week… so on the Saturday I decided to enjoy the last of the sunshine by walking along the Cromford Canal from Whatstandwell to Cromford. It’s a beautiful and peaceful place, sheltered by trees reflected in the water, lovely views across the valley in places, and very few people around.

I’ve been trying to practice my sketching and water colours recently so I took my sketchbook with me along the canal, and painted my sketches later on at home. I’m not much good at trees and lots of vegetation at the moment but I’m not doing too badly on more man-made features.

Weekend round-up

Yesterday was my 2 year blogiversary, so here’s a round-up of my weekend. It’s been a quiet and lazy couple of days, I’ve done very little of what I’d planned… but I managed to do a bit of all of the random things I usually dump on my blog for want of a better recording system so it seems like a good enough celebration 🙂

Blog content type 1: random photos of random nice places, such as this view across Derbyshire viewed through the bus window on my way home from Nottingham.

And yesterday’s dramatic sunset.

Blog content type 2: post! I was in a postcard sending mood yesterday, so I replied to a postcard pal in USA, and sent postcards through Postcrossing and Postcard United to Russia, Sweden, and Japan. I’m missing receiving lots of cards at the moment, but I’m frustratingly at more received than sent on both sites, don’t like it when that happens. The bottom right card is an image of a fruit fly nervous system, they wanted to receive weird cards!

Blog content type 3: sewing, quilting, generally making stuff. And also Swap-bot swaps 🙂 I’ve now made the quilt block to match the one I sent out as a swap, with a minor change because some of my central strips weren’t long enough…

And tomorrow is the start of a new week, let’s see what happens next…

Masson Mills


In 1783 Sir Richard Arkwright built his impressive Masson Mill, just up the River Derwent from the existing Cromford Mill. Masson was a cotton mill, from bales of cotton to woven cloth, the only thing that didn’t happen here was any colour dying of the cotton thread. It was the oldest continually running mill in the world, finally closing in 1991. Now the old paper mill that stood next to the cotton mill is a shopping village, but the lower floor of the cotton mill is a museum, still full of machinery for preparing, carding, spinning, and weaving the cotton. When we visited one of the doubling machines was busy making string and some of the weaving machines from the 1800’s were started up for a demonstration. Just 3 machines were incredibly loud, a whole factory must have been deafening -apparently the workers had to communicate with sign language and lip reading. It’s a fascinating place; a building full of history, lost knowledge and huge equipment all powered by the river. Most of the machinery is no longer in use but this place was a part of the industrial revolution, this kind of machinery and factory system completely changed British production and the way people lived and worked.

I find it really interesting but I can’t identify much of the machinery! From the top left: Jacquard looms for weaving fancy patterns using punch cards, a doubling machine, ‘the Devil’ cotton bail shredder, an 1800’s Lancashire loom, and part of the cotton preparation process.

Thread, string, and cotton fabric manufactured in the mill using the old machinery, as well as old bobbins and shuttles are available to buy – I have a couple of offcuts to create something with 🙂


Masson Mill is located between Matlock Bath and Cromford in Northern Derbyshire and is open Monday to Sunday with 2 machine demonstrations each day. Go in the summer, it was freezing in March!

Chatsworth at Christmas

I’d heard about the beautiful Christmas decorations at Chatsworth House, but until recently I’d only visited in the summer. This years theme is ‘The Nutcracker’ – cue ballerinas and nutcracker soldiers, along with all the trees, light and baubles necessary for an amazing Christmas event! Chatsworth is a beautiful place normally, but the Christmas decorations made the visit extra special. Only part of the house is open in the winter (some rooms are already closed for cleaning and renovation) but there’s still plenty of festive rooms to admire. I might have found a new festive tradition 🙂


Just beyond the city…

I don’t have to go far to find fields and rolling countryside. A few weeks ago it only took a few minutes walk from where I met the Meet-up group to have escaped the city and be able to enjoy the rural autumn. I haven’t done much walking close to Derby, and I don’t know the North of the city well, so it was still somewhere new to explore even if it isn’t exactly the Himalayas 🙂 It wasn’t a strenuous or wild walk, just lots of farms and distant views of the city in the sunshine. We also saw a couple of what I think are WWII watch towers – Derby has a long history of engineering so it was probably a likely target… We only got slightly lost once, and like any good walk it ended at a good cafe for lunch and a chance to properly socialise .

In the new year I want to properly start walking again – before Christmas there’s just too much other stuff to do!

Evening view


So I’m procrastinating on moving out because it’s stressful, and I do love that distant view and the walk to work – but not so much the wasteland in front of it, or the damp, or the drunk I saw getting arrested at the end of the road earlier this evening…

Too much mess, in my flat and in my brain – this weekends plan is to tidy everything.