Thursday, 1 September 2011

Day Two :The Angel of the North and Beamish

Day two was a bright morning so dry for taking the old tent down. We were soon packed so set off up the road past the Dovecot and up onto the road south towards Beamish,a few miles out of Newcastle upon Tyne. I wish I'd had more time to draw and paint pictures but I'd set a tight schedule so not enough time.
Driving near Gateshead I suddenly remembered The Angel Of The North by Antony Gormley http://www.angelofthenorth.org.uk/  we started looking out for it. ...Then there it was up on the hillside looking magnificent. Of course we had to follow the signs and park up in a car park built near it and take a short walk up to it. Brilliant, quite brilliant, it made me feel quite dizzy looking up at it.

We were back driving and soon past the entrance for Beamish ,passing a pub with lovely carved figures above its door,on our way to the nearest campsite.
Bobby Shafto Caravan park  (http://www.ukcampsite.co.uk/sites/reviews.asp?revid=3831 )  was rather sterile and the opposite to Budle bay. The staff were more like jobsworths saying that due o a government ruling all pitches have to be supplied with electricity so they had to charge for the electricity even though quite a lot of the tent pitches including ours had NO electricity ! Also had to deposit £20 for two electronic tags one for opening gate and one for getting into loos...it didn't make them any cleaner. After saying we were going to Beamish it was on the following morning that a fellow camper said that you get money off the Beamish ticket from the campsite shop if you stay on their site. I don't remember seeing a single smile from staff or campers,so I was glad to get going the next day,two nights would be too much !



Beamish was great..we were lucky and had a sunny day, theres a lot of walking between the pit village and little town which is nice to do,and  there are lots of trams and buses with facilities for the disabled so no need to walk if you don't want too

Personally for visiting reconstructed old buildings I prefer St Fagans near Cardiff http://www.museumwales.ac.uk/en/stfagans/ )( , and The Black Country Museum  ( http://www.bclm.co.uk/ ) but there were a fair few that I would happily have moved in to.
Years ago when I worked for Relic Antiques in Wiltshire we had an auction every year and the people from Beamish bought a lot of things, so it was good to at last visit. http://www.beamish.org.uk/
Proggy mat in front of The Range.
One of the local crafts was the craft of making Proggy mats. Rough Hessian mats were turned into beautiful coloured and patterned rugs,often by families working in dimly lit one up one down homes during the winter months.
Most working families used mats because they were easy to shake and beat unlike expensive fitted carpets. The family often bathed in a tin bath in front of an open fire so mats were again much easier to look after but still be warm on the feet.
The backing of the mat needed to be a large tightly woven hessian sack that would have been used for wheat and oats. The bags would be opened out,shaken and washed before starting. The design would be drawn onto the fabric with ink. Designs often used straight lines, diamonds and triangles, and circles because you could draw around plates and bowls. If someone was artistic they would draw favourites such as cats and flowers or subjects such as ships taken from newspapers ,advertising or postcards.
Next was the making of 'clippings'. These were strips of cloth about an inch wide taken from worn out clothes preferably of hardwearing fabrics such as tweeds or wolen cloth. The brighter colours often came from worn out sunday best or jumble sales. Some mills would sell off cuts. The long lengths could be wrapped around a matchbox then with one cut a few clippings could be made about three inches long.
Once the hessian was fixed onto a frame the decoration could begin. A progger ( a pointed pices of wood or bone) was used to make a hole in the hessian and to push one end of a clipping through the hole half way. Another hole a few threads away would then be made and the remaining pice of clipping would e pushed through. The proggy mats were made working from the back but hooky mats were made from the front using uncut long clippings, making holes and hooking loops through to the front of the Hessian.
I have opened a shop on Etsy  

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