Monday, 30 March 2020


My family and I belong to a wonderful synagogue called Achva. Achva is a Hebrew word which means friendship, brotherhood and unity. Back in 2014 I made a papercut based on the verse "אהבה ואחווה ושלום ורעות", "Love and brotherhood and peace and companionship". The blessing is from the Sheva Brachot, "the Seven Blessings" that are recited for a bride and groom under the chuppah, the canopy beneath which Jewish marriage ceremonies are performed. The papercut was given as a thank you gift to the then retiring chairperson of our synagogue.
A few years on and it was time for her replacement to end her time as chairperson too. The members of the synagogue once again wanted to present her with a special gift as a way of thanking her for all her hard work over the years. They also wanted a second piece to thank another hard working member of the community. I was asked to come up with something suitable.
I created this circular design with the word "Achva", the name of our synagogue, appearing in both Hebrew and English. My design is embellished with a dove of peace and flowers, and measures 16.5x16.5cm. It fits perfectly into an IKEA RIBBA frame.

Should you be interested in purchasing a similar hand cut papercut, framed or unframed, just pop me a message or look for the listing in my Etsy shop.

* This post has been shared on Inspire Me Monday, The Good. The Random. The Fun., Wordless Wednesday (on Tuesday)Make It Pretty Monday, Wonderful Wednesday and {wow me} wednesday.

Thursday, 26 March 2020

Twin Bikers

I am continuing to blog as per usual and hope you can all enjoy the distraction. A customer asked me to make two Bar Mitzvah cards for her twin nephews. Jeremy, on the left, likes biking, playing the trumpet, playing frisbee and Scrabble. Benjamin, on the right, has a drum kit, plays the ukulele and likes biking and reading.
I have shown Benjamin playing the ukulele. A small pile of books to his right represent his love of reading, whilst on his left you can see his drum kit and a bike.
Jeremy is playing the trumpet. A frisbee is flying into the picture, whilst some Scrabble tiles spell out the name of his favourite game. He's got a bike on his card as well. Since the boys are twins I made both cards using the same colour scheme, but switched the colours of their T-shirts and bikes around.
The greeting on the card wishes them Mazal Tov on their Bar Mitzvah. Mazal Tov literally means "good luck", though in practice the phrase is used to express "congratulations". One can expect to hear people shout "Mazal Tov" at Jewish weddings just after the groom breaks the glass, at brit milah ceremonies, and at Bar Mitzvahs.

Sunday, 22 March 2020

Hull 2020 - Part II

After Storm Ciara had died down and the remains of my dad's garden fences had been piled up, we set off to see the "Snowdrop Spectacular" at Burton Agnes Hall. It was rather a brave decision because it was still bitterly cold but the drive through the countryside was beautiful and I was excited to spot a few pheasants and a hare running through the fields en route.
Burton Agnes Hall is an Elizabethan manor house in the village of Burton Agnes, near Driffield, in the East Riding of Yorkshire. It was built by Sir Henry Griffith in 1601–10 to designs attributed to Robert Smythson. The older Norman Burton Agnes Manor House, originally built in 1173, still stands on an adjacent site.
Once again we found the house closed for the winter but it was anyway the gardens we wanted to see on this occasion. Every February millions of hardy snowdrops push through the cold winter ground to create a magnificent white carpet across the historic woodland floor at Burton Agnes Hall. Despite the cold and rainy weather we had a lovely walk along the pathways, enjoying the endless snowdrops and the wood sculptures of owls, squirrels and more that line the paths through the trees. After the torrential rain of the previous day, the snowdrops were a joyous site.
As the name suggests, snowdrops or Galanthus from the Greek gála meaning "milk" and ánthos meaning "flower", are one of the first spring flowers to bloom, often appearing while snow still blankets the ground. This low-growing plant tolerates partial shade to full sun, a variety of soil types, and requires almost no maintenance. It is toxic to animals and humans, but where this is not a concern, it offers the benefit of being virtually immune to feeding by deer and other wildlife. The beautiful little flower is a symbol of hope and purity; the green coloured stem of the snowdrop symbolises and links with the Pagan ideals of health and well-being, whilst the white symbolises the light of the winter sun and reminds us that winter eventually gives way to spring.
In addition to the historic woodland there is also an Elizabethan walled garden and maze at Burton Agnes Hall. There was not so much to see in the walled garden at this time of the year, but I believe that it is stunning in the summer months.
A café in the main courtyard was a welcoming end to our woodland stroll. A hot cup of coffee was a must and the ploughman's lunch was delicious! Outside the shop were pots of snowdrops and irises for sale in every colour imaginable.
The historic 13th-century church of St Martins is tucked away on the hillside immediately behind Burton Agnes Hall, below. In the centre of the village is the mere, a large pond surrounded by trees. It is overlooked by Mere House which was built as a Wesleyan Methodist Chapel in 1837 and was converted to a private house in 1987, bottom.

As we left Burton Agnes Hall I spotted a sign pointing to an ancient monument just 3 miles away. A quick google told me that is was the Rudston Monolith, above, the tallest standing stone in Britain. Of course I had to go and see it!
The Rudston Monolith is situated in the Norman churchyard of All Saints in the village of Rudston in the East Riding of Yorkshire. The stone, which predates the church by over 2,500 years, is grey sandstone or gritstone and was quarried 10 miles away at Cayton Bay. It was brought to Rudston either in the late Neolithic or early Bronze Age. The task of transporting this immense monolith over 40 miles to Rudston must have presented a staggering feat of labour and strength, showing that it was a matter of extreme importance to the architects of the stone.
The stone stands at almost 8 metres tall and is nearly 2 metres wide, a metre thick and weighs somewhere in the region of 26 tons. An excavation in the late 18th century suggested that its depth below ground is as great as its height. The top of the stone has been weathered and eroded into a fluted peak and a lead cap was added to try to preserve it in the 18th century.
It seems likely that the stone marked a prehistoric holy place or worship centre for the indigenous pagan religion, and that Anglo-Saxon missionaries followed the successful strategy of "Christianising" this already sacred object, possibly by fixing a cross to the top. This could account for the name "Rudston" since the old English word for cross is "rood" and "stane" means stone.
A popular myth about the stone is that the devil, angered at the construction of a church on this sacred pagan hill, hurled a huge stone javelin or thunderbolt at it to destroy it but, thanks to divine intervention, the weapon veered off course and landed in its present position.
There was one last treat before it was time for me to return home. I was excited to find that the comedian Michael McIntyre was appearing at the Bonus Arena in Hull as part of his Big World Tour. The man who finds the funny in every domestic scenario, from iPad-addicted sons to shoe-fixated wife, was brilliant! It was a wonderful way to end a great holiday with my dad.

* This post has been shared on Floral Friday Fotos, Friday Bliss, All Seasons, The Good. The Random. The Fun., Sharon's Souvenirs, Wordless Wednesday (on Tuesday), Our World Tuesday, Tuesday's TreasuresTravel Tuesday, Pictorial Tuesday and My Corner of the World.