Tuesday, 30 April 2013

Yet More on Cappadocia

Today we were another nice quiet walk in the Red River Valley. The guide could be sued under the Misrepresentation of Goods Act. It was down hill all the way, I grant you, but most of it was vertical including a lengthy climb down a rickety rusty steel ladder. There was a lot of grumbling. And it took two hours not one. We suggested that next time he timed a walk he should take his granny with him. The real problem was that, while the scenery was stunning, all most of us are going to remember is looking at our feet.

View on the walk
Wild iris. We also saw a bright yellow single rose, ornithogalums, cornflower. Not to mention vines, apricot trees and other fruit trees. These were growing in tiny valleys along the way. They sell a lot of dried apricots here along with dried plums ( rather a high proportion of stone), pistachios, pumpkin seeds, saffron. In the middle of nowhere there are tiny stalls selling these products.
After this, we were taken to a ceramics factory and given a demonstration, then the soft sell.
A typical large plate - about 30 inches across and costing hundreds of pounds. Then on to a turquoise shop where I did succumb.
The highlight of the day was lunch in a private house. Apparently the tour company supports girls to college and the family of one of them gave us lunch. The menu was
Soup of rice and yoghurt plus lots of spices, very good bread (I really like fresh Turkish bread - very moreish), wheat pasta with meat sauce, rice and a stew of meat and vegetables. The pudding which was a rectangle of sponge, loaded with poppy seed and soaked in syrup, topped with homemade pistachio icecream. All this sitting in a courtyard under an awning. We then went and viewed some frescoed chapels carved out of solid rock. Tomorrow we fly to Georgia - by way of Istanbul so it is going to take all day. I have decided I will improve the shining hour by writing some postcards.

Still in Cappadocia

Yesterday the day included a trip round an underground city. There are eight layers in Derinkuyu and a lot of narrow low tunnels. All carved out of rock and used for protection in times of war. The tunnels did not bother me as much as I expected except for one which was steps -hundreds of them with no passing places. So I was out of breathe and exhausted by the time I got to the top and had to insist on a five minute rest. Fortunately for my self esteem, some others suffered the same way. I took no photos because it would only be rock faces. A photo cannot show the 3D ness of the place. I noticed there were no decent postcards for sale either. A major plus was a small market outside which had a few notebooks bound in leather. I had to have one!

It has a very complicated lock.

Later we walked along a valley, high above the river. The path was not the safest in the world and various people came to grief.

View seen when not watching my feet.

In the afternoon, we were taken to a Government carpet place. Definitely a show place but interesting in that they use nothing but natural dyes. Rose hips, walnuts, tobacco, indigo. The guide was unhelpful about mordants. The carpets were done to various standards with matching prices and there were some stunning silk ones whose price was out of my league. However I did buy a wool one of the highest standard. Dark Blue with a field of flowers. Four foot by six. It is being shipped home. As salesmen, they were superb. If you were the least bit interested, you plus carpet of interest were removed to another room on the grounds that it would be seen better by itself. And the salesman had two assistants running about fetching other carpets for you to view. I had trouble deciding between two and fetched some others of the group to help. Priscilla Lowrie said 'Shut your eyes and see it with your furniture round' and someone else 'Ask your self first Do I like it? Then ask yourself Do I love it?' And that settled it.

Skeins of natural dyed silk

Two carpet silks about14 inches wide

A carpet done in undyed wool relying on the natural fleece colour for the pattern.

After that, there was another walk but some of us had enough of walking so we sat on couches covered with carpets under an awning in the middle of nowhere and drank tea and admired the view. We were told later that the walk was dreadfully dangerous so we three felt very smug. Then to Goreme where we are staying two nights. But first to a Turkish bath in an ancient building where we were steamed and thumped and polished and definitely ready for dinner.

I have never been keen on moving every day. It is not worth unpacking but you always need something which has got to the bottom of the case so you have to repack anyway. And as for getting washing dry!! The best place was Pamukkale where I had a balcony. I put the washing outside and it was dry in an hour. Today I have the windows open and the washing outside.



Monday, 29 April 2013


Yesterday we travelled further east and visited two caravanserais on the Silk Route. These were both built in the 13th century and it is clear that trade was highly organised. They are forts and had a guard of soldiers. The merchants stayed for three days and during the night all the animals and people were locked inside. There was a small mosque in the middle of the fort. The merchants paid a tax on entry into the country and got three days free board and lodging at the caravanserai in return. Merchants did not do the whole Silk Route from China to the West but, rather, bought goods at one place and moved them on the Silk Route by several hundred miles then sold them on, bought things from the West and took them back home.

The main gate on a caravanserai. There was only one gate which was locked at sunset. There was a covered section for use in winter but in the summer everyone stayed in the main courtyard.



The mosque at a caravanserai. All very complicated and the caravanserai served as a sort of bank as well.

By this time, we had reached central Cappadocia where people lived and still live in houses/caves hollowed out of tufa. We took a long walk by an icecold river which had cut a gorge through all the volcanic stuff. Very pleasant but approached at the start by a rickety wooden staircase of 308 steps. And there were huge numbers of people. Fortunately all the others seemed to do was go back up while we walked 3.5 km to the next exit where the bus was waiting.

The gorge - you cannot see the high cliffs on either side. Debbie is just appearing round the tree trunk. Then on to the hotel so called. It consists of several converted houses in a village built of rock and hanging on to the hillside by its finger nails. My bedroom is solid rock to about 8 ft above the floor and has a barrel vaulted ceiling of solid stone. It is about16 ft high. There is a window - sort of. There is a foot square hole in the ceiling which does have glass in it. And that's it. The bathroom is in the same style.

A bit of my bedroom. Needless to say, there is no wifi here. But there is in the restaurant. So I will take the iPad over at breakfast time. It was very cold here last night.





Saturday, 27 April 2013


Today we were bussed about 500 km eastwards to Konya. The countryside is high mountains with snow on them and large fertile valleys between. There were lots of cherry orchards in flower. We even saw a few flocks of sheep moving across the countryside with the shepherd walking in the middle of the sheep. The houses in the towns and villages look just like European houses. Four square with red tiles on the roofs.

At Konya, we were shown round the school/establishment set up in the 12th century for Dervishes. All very interesting . There were a few coats on show dating from 12/13th century. The basis was ivory moire sIlk. Rather nice. The cloths used to drape over the coffins were heavily embroidered with tulips, carnations and other flowers. Like stump work only in gold thread.

But the highlight was a room full of books!!! They mostly had Arabic style binding in dleather. Imagine a normal leather bound book where the back cover had an extension in the leather terminated with a third cover so that when this was folded over, it covered the front cover. Lots of gold tooling with very fine detail. Another book had octagonal pages about two inches across. Calligraphy was readable but the writer must had good eyesight. The whole was contained in an octagonal box.

I saw these outside the library where photography was allowed.

Note the tulips which are the Turkish national flower. The Museum shop of course had nothing about books and only a very expensive book about calligraphy.


Istanbul Last Day

I have got behind hand with blogging and have missed a day which was in Istanbul. What we did was Topkapi Museum and then in the afternoon had a trip on the Bosphorus for a couple of hours. In the evening we went out to eat. I have to say that I like Turkish food but then a mixture of aubergines, lamb and tomatoes cannot go wrong.

Topkapi was packed with queues for everything. So I skipped the jewellery section and did the clothes instead. Interesting but no photos allowed. Clearly it was the sultan's clothes which were on display. No female clothes at all. Mostly of silk and figured at that. There was some velvet and a fantastic coat where the complex pattern was of pieces of red velvet sewn on by hand plus hand embroidery on the rest

The most interesting bit to me was that the ambience was lovely. Mature trees, flower beds of tulips, peonies and roses, green grass. All very carefully looked after. There were a lot of people around but not too many to appreciate these gardens.

Tulips amongst the kiosks.

A kiosk with a golden roof -a stunning view over the Bosphorus

This is a Byzantine water cistern - 527 AD. Enormous and quite beautiful.



There is a New Zealand sheep farmer in our group and we have been discussing sheep breeds. The Kiwis have developed their own sheep breeds. He has Romney x Border Leicestershire with a little Texcel and Finn Landrace. These are for meat. Border Leicester is Cheviot x Leicester. For fleece, it is Romney x Border Leicester with some Poll Dorset and Suffolk. It was a very interesting conversation. He indicated that the objective was to produce a more-or-less self-sufficient sheep which needed little looking after.

I told him about the Newbury coat exercise and he was duly appreciative. He says they do similar Sheep-to-shoulder exercises but with everyone knitting.

We have just had dinner and watched a belly dancer. Definitely not for me.

Friday, 26 April 2013

Still in Venice

Yesterday was a day of extreme pleasure and extreme discomfort. We went to the Accademia first thing. Nice coffered ceilings and portraits by Memling and Giorgione. And a room full of pastel portraits by Rosalba Carriera. The rest were religious paintings which were not my style at all. After a cafe lunch, we went to the Guggenheim Museum which was wonderful. Mind you we had a first rate guide who taught me a great deal about 20th century art. So that was all enjoyable. By then, it was 1400 hours and started to rain. This got heavier and heavier as the afternoon wore on. Not at all the weather for a walking tour of Venice even with raincoats and hats. So the group got grumpier and grumpier until it revolted. The guide was not at pleased but we skipped San Marco and went home by vaporetti to dry off and warm up!!!! In the evening, some of us went to eat supper in a student cafe 100 yards away. Very good value indeed and very edible!

We all agreed that stopping for a coffee in the morning would be a good idea.

I do like Calder. The one below is of silver and was Peggy Guggenheim's bed head.
And she went in for Byzantine marble as well. The above is intended as a well head. It is actually the hollowed out head of a marble column. Below is a section of a throne in the garden which is made up from sections of Byzantine carvings. I thought I would not bother taking photos of the paintings as I would be able to buy postcards in the shop. Not a bit of it. They had hardly any postcards. Oh well!



This morning we were out of the hotel at 0430 on our way to Denizli which is East of Istanbul. No, I had not heard of it either. A tiny airport with a village attached. We went by bus to Heiropolis. If I had done my home work, I would have known that it was the ruins of a Roman city. But first we were taken to a hotel to have breakfast. I assume what we had was a Turkish breakfast, olives, goat's cheese, cucumber, tomatoes, bread and jam. The Turks are very fond of jam!! And have it in tea. Anyway, this was a very acceptable breakfast.

The temperature was about 15 degrees but with a cloudless sky and, by the time we done with sightseeing, it was nearly 30 degrees. Heiropolis is situated above a very large and green valley. There were in the background with lots of snow cover. A lovely place with a lot of ruins, including baths and an amphitheatre. There a necropolis just outside one of the gates with plenty of sarcophagi littered about. What was nice was that there were very few people about and no built-up areas around either. Very unlike Istanbul which is heaving with tourists and people trying to sell them things. No noise of traffic either.

Mountains from Heiropolis

Ruins in Heiropolis

They go in for lovely blowsy roses! What is also at Heiropolis is travertine which where high water bubbles out of the ground and calcified. Lots of spas around as well as some spectacular calcified waterfalls.

And a rather fetching lizard.


Thursday, 25 April 2013


We walked round Istanbul yesterday from 0900 to 1800 and were worn out - too much! We saw the Hippodrome, the Blue Mosque and Hagia Sophia not to mention two bazaars and going up to the top of the Galatea Tower to look down on Istanbul and its waterways. So where to begin?

The Spice Market

Tiles in the Blue Mosque

An internal door in the Blue Mosque above and a cushion in Ikat below. There were two or three stalls in the Grand Bazaar selling Ikat - very bright colours. Mostly what the sellers were pushing was carpets but our guide says No, not in Istanbul, wait till we get to Cappadocia. I have no intention of buying a carpet anyway. I have asked where the Turkish marbled paper is but the guide does not know and has promised to find out. There is said to be a roomful at the Topkapi Museum where we are going today.

Our guide has led us to two decent restaurants where the food was (presumably) Turkish. Very enjoyable and not at all expensive.


Wednesday, 24 April 2013

Last day in Venice

I am finding the dating of blogs a bit confusing as I have taken to writing up the day's events on the following morning. We are now in Istanbul and I will going out in 20 minutes.

Yesterday we walked over to St Mark's Square. Most of the group wandered off to take photos but a few of us went to the Library to see Marco Polo's will. This took a bit of organising as no one had booked us in. Eventually a very helpful librarian offered to show us a photograph. It was of course in handwritten Italian (not a holograph) but they supplied a typed version which was compressible. He left most of his goods to his wife, Donata, and their three daughters, ?, Bellela and Moreta.

After this we went by boat to Murano to see a glass factory. A major selling exercise. Most of the stuff on sale was nasty. Then to Burano which is a lovely island with multicoloured houses and lots of shops selling Burano lace. I priced a very small piece I fancied (about four inches square) and they wanted 1600 Euros for it. Oh well! We had a very nice lunch and then back to Venice. Ate an icecream in the square nearest to the hotel, collected luggage and set off for the airport. Rather a lot of doing nothing for the next 7 hours while we were transported to Istanbul. We arrived at the hotel after midnight.

A few photos of Burano are above.

Now it is Do-Istanbul time.


Monday, 22 April 2013

Venice Sunday 21st April

Up too early, Terminal 5 at Heathrow by 0615, sat around half asleep until 0830 and then off! When I reached Venice, Debbie was there already but no transport. So we hung around until the Kiwis arrived, looking ragged. I will pass over the shambles at the hotel reached by water taxi. They were coping with a party of 30 or so Americans not to mention us, a party of 12. All the others went to bed but Debbie and I set out to walk round Venice, looking for some paper shops. Venetian marbled paper is very famous and I wanted to suss out the three best shops with a view to returning to buy when they were open during the week. The first one was open, Sunday or not!! It was very good - but not good enough. Debbie thought I was mad to turn up their offerings of paper.

So we hunted round the back streets of Venice and eventually found Mr Ebru's shop where he had the 'right' paper!! And he was open. If I go home now, the trip will have been a success. This is a world-famous man who talked to us, telling us all about how he got started. The big problem was that I was not expecting to find anyone open and had to get Debbie to pay with her card because I had not brought enough money or a card!! Gorgeous beyond belief. I had seen his stuff in books on marbled paper, saying here was an artist. So I decided that I would restrict myself to 10 sheets which he very kindly put into a cardboard tube and wrapped in brown paper.This will be posted back to my daughter, Anne, before we leave Venice.

He did tell us that he would ship stuff to us. He does his designs on silk as well and had some fabulous scarves which we both fancied for Christmas and birthday presents. (www.albertovalese-ebru.it). We spent quite a long time there an then went off to Saint Mark's Square and sat at Florians having an ice cream. I might say that two icecreams plus one coffee cost 48 Euros which is about 40 pounds. But we went in honour of Michael! 47 years ago, when Anne was 3 and Ruth was 5, we walked round Venice for a day. When we got to Saint Mark's Square, Michael collapsed into a chair at Florians, with me remonstrating. We had an icecreams each and it cost 30 shillings. When we got home, I framed the bill! And we had it hung up for years. But we did sit there for an hour, resting and watched the world go by

As we did this time too.


Then we walked home by way of the Rialto and took a water us back to the hotel. A great way to start the trip. We did look at the architecture too.


Saturday, 20 April 2013

Ready for Off

On Thursday evening, by working hard and going to bed late, I wove enough of the donsu to provide me with the 44 samples I needed for the Complex Weavers Fine Threads Study Group. By rising early (0530) and again working hard, I had 44 printouts detailing the fabric and draft with the samples attached all parcelled up and ready to be posted by 1100 hours. I really did not want to back out this year as I had to give up last year because the builders were in the studio and access to the Megado was impossible.

The rest of the day was spent doing paperwork and preparing for the Homesitters who arrive today. The biggest job was sorting out the manuals for all the household equipment which I have not done for 6 years. I managed to reduce 4 large Lever Arch files to two, one large and one small, so that's a good job done. But it was after 11 again by the time I got to bed.

I have a small amount of repacking to do but first to get my hair cut. At lunchtime, I take the train to Egham to stay with Ruth overnight and tomorrow - well tomorrow Venice! And the start of this great adventure. I have a note of the three best shops for marbled paper!!.I reckon I can walk there from our hotel. I intend to get the hotel to post it home for me if, of course, I find anything I like. I have been very surprised by how interested everyone is  in this trip. I had to have my annual blood test on Thursday and the nurse (who  I had never met before) immediately asked about the trip. When did it start, where would I visit. 

I did look up one interesting fact. The straight line distance between Istanbul and Xian is over 3500 miles. 

I think I have done everything I should have done, promised someone else to do. But it is going to be too late soon.

Thursday, 18 April 2013

Green and Gold Donsu

I am probably mad but then my readers have known that for a long time. Yesterday, I removed the Megado box of tricks (relays actually) with the help of a friend. I was not expecting to see the cause of my problems but we could see that ten years of dust and fibres was present.We very carefully removed what we could using very soft paint brushes. Louise was in favour of using the Dyson on it but I was not keen on that idea. Eventually we used a hair drier set to cold and about 12 inches away. When we thought we had done all we could, we replaced the control box - - - and it worked!!!

Last night was spent checking the warp and the loom and this morning I wove the first few inches of Donsu.


So am I mad? I have done a trial pack and it weighs 12 kg. Usually when I go on holiday I take good clothes. This time it is all ancient clothes I can discard along the way! I still have paperwork to see to.






Blog Archive

About Me

I am weaver and - -. I dye my yarns with acid dyes, I paint my warps, put fabric collages and stencils on my weaving. I have three looms, a 12 inch wide, 12 shaft Meyer for demos and courses, a 30 inch Louet Kombo which is nominally portable but has a stand, two extra beams and a home-made device containing a fan reed. And last a 32 shaft Louet Megado which is computer controlled, has a sectional warp and a second warp beam and I am the proud owner of an AVL warping wheel which I love to bits and started by drilling holes in. I inserted a device for putting a cross in. I have just acquired an inkle loom and had a lesson from an expert so I can watch TV and weave at the same time. I am interested in weaving with silk mostly 60/2 although I do quite a bit with 90/2 silk. I also count myself as a bookbinder with a special interest in Coptic binding.