And so it came to pass that yesterday I travelled up to that there London to experience the first day of the internationally renowned Kensington Dollshouse Festival 2010.
I rarely visit London these days. The journey from St Leonards on Sea takes around 90 minutes, which is not, in itself, disagreeable.
I used to live and work in London. Bought my first house in London. My daughter was born in London. I learned to drive and passed my test in London. But that was almost 30 years ago and everything is very different now.
I particularly noticed how insulated people are. Almost everyone is plugged into an electronic device of some description....... netbooks, phones, iPods and the like and actual human interaction is kept to an absolute minimum. People stay in their own little bubble.
On the tube from Embankment to High Street Kensington, a journey of about 20 minutes, the carriages were busy but not jam-packed. I got a seat in a carriage mostly full of men with a few women dotted around. At the second station, two elderly ladies got on and there were no available seats. I stood up and offered my seat to one of the ladies who took it gratefully. No one else moved. A few stops further on, a young woman who had been engrossed in her iPhone, noticed the other old lady clinging onto the handrail and also offered her seat. Not a single man moved. Except to exit the train. Chivalry and plain good manners were nowhere to be seen. I glared at the chap sitting below a sign which requested that people occupying the seat give it up for elderly or disabled passengers. The two ladies in question were probably in their late 70s so obviously elderly, yet not a single man thought to give up his seat for either of them.
Anyway. Reached Kensington Town Hall without getting involved in an unseemly fracas over bad-mannered tube travellers and joined the queue at the foot of the steps. By midday the queue had snaked its way all around the little square and right down Hornton Street into the High Street.
Once inside, I quickly made my way to the various exhibitors highlighted on my floor plans and began my peregrinations. As ever, the standards of artisanship were extremely high and just browsing was a delight. However I had a Little List so I had to remain focused and try not to get distracted.
Variable success on that one.
Nevertheless, within an hour I had managed to find several items on my list.
So, in no particular order...........
Can you guess what it is yet?
Yes, too easy, it's a nursery fender designed to stop children falling into the fire. This one is painted brass and will go perfectly with the small working fireplace bought at KDF last year.
I will probably hang some children's clothes over the fender to air.
Next I was seduced by this......
This knitted Peter Rabbit stands just 1 1/2" tall and was made by IGMA artisan, Helen Palenski all the way from New Zealand.
Did I mention that he's KNITTED! And the attention to detail is amazing. The insides of his ears are a delicate pink. He has little yellow buttons on his jacket, and even carries a knitted carrot.
I was on the lookout for a carpet or rug for the day nursery, but couldn't find anything I really liked. So I decided to look for a rug kit instead.
Yes I know what you're thinking.
What WAS I thinking? And you're right. Not only a rug kit, but two cushion kits for the window seat too.
Counted cross stitch.
On 22ct canvas.
But before you get carried away with your sniggering, I plan to take them with me on camping trips over the summer. If I work on them a little bit every day they'll be finished in no time.
Moving swiftly on.........
Rather more prosaic and utilitarian but essential for the day nursery. I intend to have two children having a nursery tea, while their two little dolls also enjoy a 'pretend' tea party. So I needed a rather basic 1/12 scale table and two chairs, plus a 1/24 scale set for the dolls. You won't recognise them by the time I'm finished with them as I will be painting and decorating the chairs and making a pretty tablecloth for the children's set, as well as prettying up the doll's set too.
These were by Federico Tores of Reina Mab Miniatures, from Buenos Aires, Argentina.
The book is simply amazing, with fantastically detailed 3-D pop up pages throughout.
I already have a few miniature Victorian puzzle boxes, including one I made myself, but this one is just outstanding, so I just had to have it for my toy collection. The attention to detail is unsurpassed. The box is perfectly made and the lid fits snugly. No mean feat in something so very small. Inside are 6 gorgeous, vintage colour illustrations of the various pictures which can be made using the blocks.
But the best bit is the 12 individual wooden puzzle blocks, each measuring exactly 3mm on each edge. Each of the 6 faces on each block has 1/12 of the puzzle picture, so it is possible, with the help of tweezers, a magnifying glass, a steady hand and infinite patience, to assemble any of the 6 different pictures. Needless to say I will not be removing the puzzle from the box any time soon.
There were a few other small DIY purchases..... glue, grain of wheat light bulbs etc, but my most favourite piece, which I collected from the artist after having commissioned it last month, was this dummy board, featuring none other than Small Dog, alongside the 19th Century Lydiard Girl.
Sue Newstead, of Past Mastery is a world expert on dummy boards and their history, and makes full size as well as miniature versions. She has been blogging the making of this piece over the past few weeks, and a fascinating process it is too. She slightly adapted the Lydiard Girl to hold a little toy doll, and the addition of Small Dog is a piece of whimsy, although she has captured the essence of Small Dog perfectly, right down to the enquiring twinkle in her eye.
There is also an interesting back story about the making of this dummy board, which I will reveal shortly, with kind permission of Small Dog and her Good Friend, Delphi Dog.
However, for the time being I'm all blogged out. Hope everyone who is attending the festival over the three days has a wonderful time. I look forward to catching up with many of you on your blogs over the coming few days......