On Sunday I took a break from preparations for my Open Studio next weekend and Cliff and I headed off into the fens to see Andy English in his studio. I've been following Andy's preparations for his open days on his blog, I also wanted to buy one his his beautiful wood engravings. We found Andy and his son printing bookplates on a small antique press in a tiny neat studio, wood engraving is a craft that requires precision and great skill – awesome detail! We were also introduced to two enthusiastic and friendly hens who are enjoying a happy life in the back garden.
Heading back towards Ely cathedral's tower rising in the distance, we stopped at Heather Maunders' studio. Heather's work is all about observing the subtle details and colours in nature – pebbles, animals and beautiful flowers from her own garden, it's no surprise that she trained as a scientist. Heather is opening her studio for the first time this year, I'm sure everyone who visits will enjoy seeing her watercolour paintings and seeing her garden and studio.
On the way home we took a short detour to Lyz Gardner's self-build home perched on the edge of a vast fen field. As you know if you watched the clash of the titans at Wimbledon, the English weather yesterday was "changeable" – a fen-blow lashed rain on the wall of glass but in the open plan living area it was warm, quiet and cosy. Lyz is intrigued with using different techniques to make lines and subtle colours, her new work combines colours created in batik with delicate sinewy drawn lines drawn with pen and dye to depict light dappling through leaves and branches. Cliff bought a pen drawing he'd seen when we visited last year - it's of Upper Langdale in the Lake District, a present for a friend who loves hill walking.
I came home with two cards of Heather's wonderful flower studies and one of Andy English's tiny wood engravings, 'Lettuce & Rhubarb, Felbrigg Hall'. When I opened the package this morning I discovered a book plate depicting Ely cathedral in winter – thank you Andy, what a lovely surprise!
Restaurant Review: Ottolenghi, Islington
7 hours ago