Southampton railway mosaic

Southampton railway mosaic

I've spent hours marooned at Southampton Central railway station at the mercy of delayed trains, mismatched timetables and misinformation, but whenever crossing platforms in search of a connection the sight of this colourful tiled mosaic never fails to raise my spirits.
   The mosaic mural made by artist Sue Ridge, stretches the entire length of the pedestrian footbridge and depicts Southampton's connections with sail and rail. It's a splendidly bold piece of public art and brightens what would otherwise be a bleak stopover.

Southampton mosaic footbridge
Southampton station mosaic detail
Mosaic at Southampton station
Mosaic ladder at Southampton station

The back entrance of Southampton Central is also worth a look as it's a recently refurbished example of clean and beautiful art deco architecture. From the ticket hall's oblong skylight to the streamlined sleek curves of the outside of the building it's a lovely sight even on a grey day.

Southampton Central art deco station
Southampton art deco rail station

Leave the station at the front (main) entrance however and you'll find yourself at the foot of the large grey office block that is Overline House. The imposing vision opposite is Wyndham Court - a listed building commissioned by the City Council in the late 1960s. It's an iconic example of brutalist architecture designed by Lyons Israel Ellis and deserves a photo-essay all of its own...

UPDATE: 6th June 2017 South West Trains have plans to remove the lovely mosaic! Please sign this petition to help convince them of its merit.

Investigating Booth Museum

Booth Museum of Natural History
Brighton's Booth Museum of Natural History is a curious place. Founded by Victorian shooting enthusiast and taxidermist Edward Booth, it houses his vast collection of stuffed birds, butterflies, fossils and bones.

Glass jars at Booth Museum
On entering the building we were met by a growling grizzly bear wielding a staff inside a tall glass cabinet – this set the tone nicely. Throughout, the museum is dimly lit and has a musty chemical smell (pervasive but not exactly unpleasant) it all adds to the idiosyncratic atmosphere of the place. My daughter was suitably appalled at the sight of so many preserved dead creatures on display!

Inside Booth Museum
We were there for Brighton Science Festival's Investigate the Iguanodon event held in the centre of the museum in a space decorated with cases filled with hundreds of mounted butterflies and moths. Geologist and Booth Museum manager John Cooper presented the illustrated talk which was aimed at children aged 8 and over (though there were as many eager adults present as enthusiastic children). It was simply fascinating and wonderful to see a room full of young dinosaur experts so engaged in the subject. Cooper paid tribute to Mary Anning, teenage fossil collector, dealer, paleontologist and the woman who found the world's first complete fossilised plesiosaur. We learnt that Iguanodon's teeth were found by Mary Ann Mantell (wife of fossil hunter Gideon Mantell) in Tilgate Forest, Cuckfield, Sussex in 1822.

Mary Anning
Mary Anning and autograph letter concerning the discovery of plesiosaurus
My daughter loved the talk and really enjoyed exploring the museum's interactive displays though I couldn't persuade her to come and have another look at Booth's most prized exhibits.

Eagle and lamb at Booth Museum
 Fossilised crabs
Booth Museum of Natural History - closed Thursdays

Gudrun Sjödén fabric ukulele bags

Gudrun Sjoden ukulele bagsIt's no secret to regular readers of this blog that I'm a fan of Gudrun Sjödén's fabric and clothing designs – last year I was voted Gudrun's Most Colourful Woman in London at the launch of her first UK store. I was therefore delighted to get my hands on some beautiful eco-cottons from her Home furnishing collection. Made from organically grown cotton, these fabrics have a lovely dense weave and are smooth to the touch. They cut beautifully and crisply and were a pleasure to sew on my machine.
     I made two quilted ukulele gig bags using a combination of Zigzag material in bright pink and Rita eco-cotton in spice green. I had enough left over to make two ukulele appliqué book bags – the perfect size for carrying Gudrun Sjödén catalogues.

Making Gudrun Sjoden ukulele gig bags
Ivy Arch and her Gudrun Sjoden uke bags
If you like the results go here to have a look at Gudrun's online shop which is packed with wonderful new print designs from her Spring 2013 collection. I covet everything in the fabulous Cirkus triangle motif fabric and am saving up for a Glimmer raincoat!
Gudrun Sjoden uke gig bag and book bags