Tea Towels and Lockdown (53)

It seems like a really long time since I did a ‘Tea Towels and Lockdown’ Blog. I’ve really missed seeing everyone’s tea towels; I’ve missed the feeling of Tea Towel Envy because I don’t own any of those that people have wanted to share. I am in awe of so many different tea towels. I received a message from @nw1inverness the other day: “Wowzers, there’s an account all about tea towels???”. How has someone missed all these tea towels?

So now to the ‘Headliner’ which is from Turkey. Pamela submitted it but it belongs to a friend of hers. She said “Maggie is from New York (we met at college in Swansea in ……) but now lives in Quincey, outside Boston. When I visited her in 2007 she took me to Province Town, Cape Cod which is where we bought the same tea towel from a store that sourced lots of its towels and linens from ships. It was a great place.” Pamela has already shared the tea towel that she and her friend bought; it appeared in Tea Towels and Lockdown (33). That Turkish tea towel is striking but in many countries abroad their tea towels are not designed for tourists; they are plain and utilitarian.

@dlenn7 has sent two tea towels of Owls. The first one, of the head of an owl “is from M&S”. I have no idea which branches of M&S people are getting these beautiful tea towels from. Because my M&S tends to sell rather naff tea towels. I remember @BitThing showing us a beautiful Robin tea towel. The second owl tea towel is ‘Woodland Owl’ “From our group’s stall @eczemasociety”. I’ve seen other animals in the same style but not the owl, lovely.

Now we have two commemorative tea towels from @CampievanBears who discovered them in a collection of her late mothers, which came as a surprise. I am sure that many people have collected commemorative tea towels (including me), but again these are not ones I am familiar with. We have ‘The Battle of Britain’ and the ‘Queen’s Silver Jubilee’

@melissaforfitt has sent two tea towels concerning cats so that seems like a nice pairing. Cats are very popular as a decoration on a tea towel. I really like the one with different types of cat. I’m not sure exactly what the black and white one is about, other than cats.

I was sent a close-up of a piece of ‘waffle’ tea towel with a message from @BitThing “I love a bit of waffle”. There was a second photograph of it in action. Love it!

And finally, for today are two tea towels sent in by @JanCherryJovi. They are ‘Vegetables’, accompanied by a message “Happy Birthday Tea Towel Blog”, sent in on 18 April 2021 when this Tea Towel Blog celebrated it’s 6th birthday. The second tea towel was blue; I’m not sure what it is a picture of but it is a very vivid blue, quite like the ‘lace’ edging.

And finally, here’s a opportunity you shouldn’t miss. To celebrate the Opening Up of non-essential shops, Seasalt are offering a free tea towel for shoppers spending more than £60. Always worth a free tea towel, with Whales.

Still more tea towels to come!!

Opening Up (5)

Since I started writing ‘Opening Up’ I’ve had a lot of very positive comments, from both the designers mentioned and Readers. I think some are worth a mention. @DanTheScribbler, whose tea towel was a ‘Headliner’ in ‘Opening Up (3)’, said “Thanks Barbara. My 2020 Tea Towel is now a Collectors Item. All sold. Will be doing one for 2021 though”. He added “I’m still compiling content – hoping it has a happy ending”. Am I as hopeful as him‽ @EricaSturlaArt (also from ‘Opening Up (3)) said “Thank you for the mention. A great read and some brilliant designs”. @lizmac307 said of ‘Opening Up (4)’ “I think this is a beautiful tea towel and a great reminder of our local park”, adding “Wonderful to hear about Tea Towel Designers carrying on through Lockdown. ‘Keep calm and Design Tea Towels’ comes to mind.” And finally, from @almuckersie “Aw brilliant Barbara! Every single one is so well illustrated. And, as ever, so well written”.

I always have the problem in ‘Opening Up’ of which tea towel to use as a ‘Headliner’. It seems unfair to pick one from today’s Tea Towel Designers so I’ve chosen a Calendar Tea Towel of 2021, from Peoples Friend Magazine.

And now to our next three Tea Towel Designers, and all so different. The first one is towntowels (Instagram rather than Twitter). This is the modern version of traditional tourist tea towels that focus on places, rather than animals, cartoons, art works etc. All their tea towels are about different aspects of particular towns/places. This is a new company, set up in September 2020, yes, that is during the Pandemic. I came across them on Instagram with their first post, and immediately followed them. I love the art work of @smillership, that they use. “All our Tea Towels are designed, printed and hand-sewn in UK, using 100% half panama unbleached cotton”. I love all tea towels but I do think it is important not to forget those tea towels that promote particular places. Their first two are ‘Battersea’ and ‘Newcastle’. Two cities, two unique aspects of them and so totally different colours. Love them.

The next two are equally colourful, equally distinctive but also totally unique: ‘Brighton’ and ‘Oxford’. That orange sky of Brighton and the mellow yellow of the City of Dreaming Spires can take you there, transported on a wave a dreams, that yearning to be somewhere else just for a short time. Maybe someone is thinking that about their one of Nottingham (while I’m wanting to escape for a short time).

In other times, maybe ‘God’s Own Country’ wouldn’t be my favourite but the idea of being in the countryside, in the warmth of the sun, sounds like heaven to me and that is the beauty of the designs. I wonder if they will do ‘Angel of the North’, if so that might be my favourite.

The second Tea Towel designer today is @MollyMacLiving. A big contrast but equally wonderful. I came across @MollyMacLiving in November 2019 when my cousin Amanda sent me a Merry Christmas one with reindeer. I was so excited; I must admit she is able to track down some unusual tea towels. @MollyMacLiving has been around for more than ten years, based in Jersey, and has “created a brand that is full of colour and humour, adding a splash of joy to even the most mundane of tasks; tea towels are a design statement and you will be judged!”

I asked @MollyMacLiving to send me their latest design “We don’t really have a latest. The pandemic and Brexit has made us cautious”. I asked about their oldest design “The first one we hit on was the idea of a multi-pattern and this was the chicken design. It’s been updated a few times”. The one on the Aga was the original one. The ‘Animal Alphabet’ illustrates their liking of animal illustrations.

The animal theme continues with ‘Cat’ and ‘Dogs’; ‘Wild Flowers’ adds a contrast. You can see their USP but each is so different. There is the ‘wild’ cat, blue and highly decorated, the multi-coloured dogs and yet that last one of wild flowers offers a gentle, calming feeling. So talented. But their comments about the effect of the pandemic and Brexit are a bit scary. What will the future of British tea towels look like in a couple of years?

The third Tea Towel Designer today is @chloegarnerart. I came across her work recently when I started ‘Tea Towels and Lockdown’. This was where people were invited to send in photos of their own tea towels which I could then place in the Virtual Tea Towel Museum. One person took a photo of her’s, then people were struck by it and others bought it. I then became fascinated by @chloegardnerart’s website and online shop. Such a range of work with a use of colour in so many different ways. Each Tea Towel Designer has been asked to submit five tea towels; not @chlorgardnerart, she sent a number of pictures and asked me to choose what I wanted to use. I don’t want to be the one making those choices. Then I decided. I’ve become hooked on watching ‘Criminal Minds’ (not too late at night because it’s a bit scary). They are always talking about ‘getting into the minds of the unsub’. So I have put myself in the mind of Beth. Beth is a Reader of the Blog, lives in California and is coming to UK in October. She is a big Tea Towel Fan and it was her that recommended ‘Criminal Minds’ to me. Beth is a huge Puffin Fan, and a huge Scotland Fan. So that is how I’m choosing the first tea towels: Puffin and Highland Cow.


The next two are the multicoloured Stags and the Boxing Hares.

And finally there is the ‘Loving Scotland’s Nature’ because if you can’t choose which tea towel you are going to buy, buy one with a lot of images! And for this ‘getting into the mindset of Beth’, I am expecting a whole load of pictures of tea towels to arrive in October after she has had a wonderful holiday.

I’ve really enjoyed looking at the works of fabulous British Tea Towel Designers and there is still some more to go. But most importantly, get buying tea towels (and also sending me photos of them)!!

@chloegardnerart. http://www.chloegardner.com

@towntowels (Instagram). http://www.townteatowels.com

@MollyMacLiving. http://www.mollymacliving.co.uk

Happy 6th Birthday to My Tea Towel Blog

18 April 2021 is the 6th birthday of my Tea Towel Blog and is therefore the 6th anniversary of my Twitter account. They are inextricably linked. 18 April 2021 is the day that I celebrate 1071 Blogs!! It’s surprising just how easy it is to bore people about tea towels. 18 April is also the birthday of my friend Fee; I could use this Blog as a ‘birthday card’ because I have a feeling mine won’t have arrived yet.

Fee has been a big supporter of the Blog, advising on punctuation and, more particularly, on the quality of photos. Why did I start Blogging? Easy. I was about to retire and I needed to have something to keep me occupied. I already collected tea towels, but it was a bit of a secret. I’m not sure that I thought being a Tea Towel Collector would be good for my professional image. As soon as I could ‘come out in the open’ about my obsession, then I thought I would write the story of them, a bit like a memoir and here we are 1071 Blogs later and still going strong.

So has anything exciting happened over the last year of Tea Towel Blogging? The Pandemic‽ Of course, the Pandemic but that has meant (a) I haven’t been out and about, on holiday, away where I could buy myself a tea towel, or two or more (b) against all my principles I have bought one tea towel online (Kinder Mass Trespass) (c) people have been sending me tea towels to Blog about which is really nice (d) I have been interviewed on the Radio twice and (e) appeared in the newspaper twice.

However, the two most important things for me that happened are ‘Tea Towels and Lockdown’ and ‘Opening Up’. On 5 January 2021 I randomly asked Twitter if people would share photos of their tea towels which I could then put in #TheGreatTeaTowelSharing Collection in the Virtual Tea Towel Museum. I expected a couple, I received more than 500 and they are still coming in. I decided I would Blog about them before putting them in the Collection. 52 Blogs later, each numbered, it has been a joy. As the process of opening up non-essential shops started, I invited some Tea Towel Designers to send me five images of some of their tea towels in order to tempt Readers to buy a new tea towel to celebrate. Three designers per Blog. I’ve done three, three more to go.

So, what tea towel am I going to choose to be a ‘Headliner’ for today’s celebration? It is ‘special’, ‘memorable’ and not particularly loved by the people I have shown it to. On 12 April 2021, at 10am, I walked down to our local shops. There are several Charity Shops, two dress shops and a clothing and gift shop. I thought my best bet was the Gift and Clothing Shop. Why‽ Of course, because on the first day of opening of non-essential shops I was going to buy a tea towel, from a real person, in a real shop. I had actually never seen tea towels in @indigonottingham before but I thought I’d have a try. There in front of me, in one of those display baskets, were three different tea towels, wrapped in cardboard bands. Proper ones. All three from the same company, all three of dogs (I’m more of a Cat Person, myself) and one of which I already had, bought at Bradgate Park several years ago.

The fact is I was going to buy one, whatever. So here is ‘Beware! Opportunist thief operates in this area’. It’s certainly not what you expect on a tea towel. However, I did have a strange reaction to this tea towel, not wanting to look at it. It took me five days to work out why!

From the time I was about three, I used to spend Wednesday afternoons with my Grandma, this went on until I was about 13. Sometimes I stayed overnight. My Grandma lived in a huge house that she shared with her son, his wife and later his children. One afternoon, I was very, very sick in the kitchen. As with most children, if they are sick, they can be sick everywhere, over all the floor, work surfaces, people. This afternoon, I threw a tomato omelette up. It was vivid. I can remember it so clearly. Since that day (that is many years later) I have never, ever, ever, been able to eat tomatoes and egg on the same plate. I love eggs. I love tomatoes. The thought of eating them together can actually make me ‘heave’. As I look at the little dog, eyeing up the breakfast, there are two eggs and masses of tomatoes on the same plate. There is no way I will ever forget the day non-essential shops opened up after Lockdown Number 3 and which tea towel I bought!!

Tea Towels and Lockdown (52)

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Amazing that #TheGreatTeaTowelSharing is still going strong. It started on 5 January 2021, the first day of Lockdown Number 3, and more than 500 tea towel images later, from a wide range of people, in England, Wales, Scotland, USA, Canada and Italy and probably elsewhere. It has offered people the chance to have a bit of a laugh and to display tea towels that they are proud of. @CampievanBears wrote about Blog 51, “Love this Blog and the fact that The Bleatings turns up in many places. Jealous of a few especially the Orkney one and we enjoyed our trip there. May need to be repeated”. Me too, I loved Orkney and that tea towel made me want to return; in fact, seeing so many tea towels, from so many places and artists, makes me want to get out and about once more (even though I’m scared) .

I am keen that if anyone has been out to a non-essential shop or even to somewhere new that if they buy a tea towel (and I hope they will) that they will let it be part of #TheGreatTeaTowelSharing.

On to today’s offerings. The ‘Headliner’ is from @BitThing “It spells ‘wet’ in nautical flags. It encourages my husband, a Master Mariner, to do the drying up”. I love those crisp, clean lines and distinctive colours.

The next two are ‘Chatsworth’ and ‘Land of My Fathers’. @JanCherryJovi sent ‘Chatsworth’ “It’s a new one I had for Easter”. I think @JanCherryJovi might be a source of new tea towels as non-essential shops open up! ‘Land of My Fathers’ is from @dlenn7 “Husband has Welsh relatives so we get given Welsh ones as presents”. I love a tea towel with words: poetry or songs. I also love a Male Voice Choir. This one reminds me of a concert I went to, in Nottingham, (when we were allowed to go to concerts) with Only Men Aloud; they sang this. I’d booked for their concert in Birmingham last December (obviously cancelled) so watched their concert at the Millennium Stadium instead. They were good but still not the same as a live concert.

Two of the more ‘promotional’ type tea towels now: ‘Harry Potter’ and ‘Tale of Two Continents’. Both of these were submitted by @melissaforfitt. They both belong to friends of hers. I asked her what the ‘bright blue’ one was. “It is a Harry Potter one, as they are big Harry Potter fans”. Obviously, I’m not a Harry Potter fan, otherwise I would have spotted it. The ‘Tale of Two Continents’ was a big promotional tea towel for PG Tips; I don’t know if they gave them away free but you can find them in many Charity Shops and on eBay. Go for the Charity Shop ones because they are so much cheaper!

@WalsinghamBound submitted ‘Clarice Cliff Teacup Designs’ “This one was bought many years ago from Past Times”.  I loved Past Times as a shop; the sort of shop you could wander around, browsing, without actually buying anything.  @dlenn7 added ‘This is Yorkshire’ to #TheGreatTeaTowelSharing, a nice simple touristy tea towel, with cartoons and humour.

And now three from @CampievanBears, with an Australasian link: ‘New Zealand Native Trees’, ‘Australia’ and ‘Rennington’. These all came from a family home. The ‘Native Trees’ looks brand new, unused. The first time I looked up Rennington on google, it came up as being in Australia, hence it’s inclusion. Today, google tells me it is in Northumberland, so who knows‽ But it looks like a Scarecrow Competition. The Australian one is by Patrick Hines Designs; it looks great but as with everything else, I couldn’t find him to see if there are others. It is so distinctive.

So a short Blog today, more tomorrow but I wanted to try and achieve another ‘Opening Up’.

Tea Towels and Lockdown (51)

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Photographs of Tea Towels are still coming in, for #TheGreatTeaTowelSharing, so exciting and still very few duplicates. One day soon I’ll find time to insert, and label, all these Tea Towels into the #TheGreatTeaTowelSharing Collection in the Virtual Tea Towel Museum. ‘Tea Towels and Lockdown’ will continue for a good while longer, even though non-essential shops start to open up and we can eat outdoors (In England that is. It is difficult to keep track with Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland). While it is nice to think that life gradually turns back to normal, there are too many warnings about a ‘Third Wave’, as in Europe. For me, tea towels have kept me going, and will continue to do so. They are what has kept me safe.

I got a message from @Inheritance_Ade yesterday who said “2020 was the year of the smallest growth in my collection – people didn’t go on holiday so I didn’t get any tea towels as gifts”. @Inheritance_Ade is an owner, and collector, of tea towels. He has some nice old ones. I suggested that he might want to share some of his tea towels for #TheGreatTeaTowelSharing and have a huge wave of ‘Tea Towel Envy’ when he sees what has been offered on the last 51 Blogs. “I’m in” he replied.

After ‘Tea Towels and Lockdown’, I did have a second idea: this was to challenge all those Tea Towel Lovers out there, when Non-Essential Shops open up, to go and buy a new, interesting tea towel, from a real shop, from real people. It doesn’t matter whether it is touristy, arty, informative or just interesting (or even just a tea towel) and for those people to share those tea towels in #TheGreatTeaTowelSharing. I have a particular challenge in this area, asking @stephenkeeler to go out and buy a tea towel of Ullapool. Look forward to seeing one.

And thirdly, to ask any Tea Towel Lovers, who are brave enough to go on holiday, to buy a Holiday Tea Towel and submit it to #TheGreatTeaTowelSharing.

Back to the day-to-day business of Tea Towels and Lockdown, today’s ‘Headliner’ is the ‘Campervans’ submitted by @dlenn7; I love a Campervan and a repeat of them, especially with some VWs, is so attractive.

@CampievanBears submitted ten towels yesterday. “Been to ower hoomums late Mum’s house and found these”. I offer you two traditional British tourist tea towels. The first is from ‘Wiltshire’ and the second ‘Bleatings from Northumberland’. When I first had a look at the Northumberland one, I thought “I’ve got that one” and realised mine had the same pattern but said ‘Bleatings from Beddgelert’. I bet there are similar ones from all over Britain, just with different names of towns.

From @Spacexecadet comes ‘Orkney’ by @emmaballltd. “The Orkney tea towel was a gift and is very recent featuring a rather excellent artist, Emma Ball. When I was in Orkney in the 1970s I was captivated by the idea that, due to the Northerly location, in Midsummer one could sit outside St Magnus Cathedral at midnight and read the paper which I decided had to be done. Of course, if I returned, I would take a tea towel to study at night”. The second tea towel is from @JanesHeroes, ‘Tower of London’. This is another of the ‘Make Your Own Tea Towels’ from Tiviot Prints. She had just completed this one. I know there were two so she is keeping one for herself.

From @JanCherryJovi we have ‘Hedghog’ “Here’s a hedgehog one that came with a tea set my daughter had when she was little”. That’s a very grown up present for a little girl. From @melissaforfitt we have ‘Bats’ which I personally think is a very scary thing to have on a tea towel

@WalsinghamBound submitted three recently. This time I offer you ‘Bargoed and District’ “One from the South Wales Valleys”. Bargoed was a colliery town and that colliery was the subject of a painting by LS Lowry. I love LS Lowry’s work and I ended up down another ‘Rabbit Warren’ to see if I could find that painting. In keeping with the theme of this line there is another from @dlenn7 ‘Welsh Language’. “My husband has Welsh relatives so we get given Welsh ones as gifts”

@MoleyMole01 sent in ‘Lullingstone Roman Villa’ “It has signs of wear and tear from antiquity but you can just about make out the mosaic of classical coworkers orking”. There was a long thread of people contributing to the subject of ‘orking’, fascinating if you know what they were all talking about. This is alongside what I can only describe as ‘Black Waffle’, another from @melissaforfitt.

A fine selection of tea towels today and there are still more to come.

Opening Up (4)

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From July 2020 to yesterday, and for many more days to come, I have visited Wollaton Park in Nottingham. It is within less than half a mile from my house. It’s a large park, a Deer Park with big house that is a Museum (but of course not opened). At the height of the Pandemic it was within my ‘Stay Local’ guidelines. It is the walking route for dogs and their owners, mothers and their toddlers, students (when they were around). There are two cafes that serve socially distanced take-aways, on extremely socially distanced tables. And there are toilets, always useful if you are going for a walk, and as long as you take bottles of sanitiser.

Since July 2020, Liz and I have been in a ‘Bubble’ with Pete, so Wollaton Park has been a regular venue. We have tried lots of other places within the confines of ‘Local’ like the Nottingham Canal, Hemlock Stone and Bramcote Ridge but we always return to Wollaton Park.

Liz, Pete and I had Christmas Lunch on a picnic bench in Wollaton Park. We brought a table cloth, hot drinks and rolls (with stuffing balls). No one else had Christmas Lunch but there were a lot of people trying out their Christmas presents: scooters, bikes, roller skates, new hats, scarves and gloves, dogs with new coats. It was a joyous place.

Wollaton Park has two shops as well as the cafes, ice cream vans and coffee carts. The shops have been shut for a long time. Yesterday, I noticed one shop was open. Armed with face mask, I ventured in. It felt scary but there was no one else there. I just wanted to know if, by any chance, they had a tea towel, something I could celebrate the ‘opening up’ of non-essential shops. The assistant said “I’m sorry we only have one of a stag”. This is a Deer Park, what would be wrong about a stag? I know, in the past, they had one of Wollaton Hall, but I already had one of Wollaton Hall. Trying to contain my excitement I asked whether I could see it. She held up this glorious, colourful, magnificent tea towel. I said with a subdued voice “I’ll have it”. That didn’t sound very polite and so I apologised. “I don’t need a bag” I said quickly because I wanted to rush out and show Liz and Pete. There was a look on their faces which said ‘There’s going to be no stopping her now’.

As we walked passed the second gift shop, Pete said “That one’s open too”. I walked on, muttering to myself “That one will be for the next visit to Wollaton Park”.

Since the Pandemic began, I have always said that I would continue to support shops and places that have kept me sane for the last year; recognising I might need them again in the future. I will continue to go to Wollaton Park shops as long as they have new/different tea towels. I don’t want duplicates. But then I have truly learnt from the Tea Towel Designers that have already appeared in ‘Opening Up 1, 2 and 3’ that there are so many designs out there, waiting to be bought. Let’s do it.

I believe this is ‘Woodland Stag’, designed by Sue Gardner for @Wraptious

Opening Up (3)

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First day of Opening Up of non-essential shops in England, day before yesterday. I was down at my local shops, virtually no one there. All too scared? I went into @indigonottingham. They don’t usually have a tea towel but there they were, in a basket, three sorts. I was so excited. Not my first choice of tea towel because I’m not really a ‘dog person’ but I had to have one, a memory of the process of ‘Opening Up’ after Lockdown Number 3, of being able to buy a tea towel from a real person and to have a very brief conversation.

Referring to ‘Opening Up (2)’ @almuckersie said “Some really great ones today and so different”. I also got a comment from @thesorries who were mentioned “To be fair we weren’t really known for our wild rock n roll credentials anyway, but to emphasise how far out to sea that ship has already sailed – we have Tea Towel Notoriety! Thanks for the mention, Barbara, hope the tea towel is still holding up”. And the answer is ‘yes’, that tea towel is holding up well. And now what do I offer as a ‘Headliner’? So difficult to choose when I am giving you three great Tea Towel Designers. @DanTheScribbler admits to have only designed one tea towel. It is a ‘Tea Towel of the Times’, ‘2020: A Year from Hell’. My cousin Amanda bought this for me. I was so excited when it arrived through the post. The Pandemic will always be a significant period in history and I need tea towels that will remind me of that time.

Today, I offer you three more Tea Towel Designers. The first is @GardinerStuart. @GardinerStuart was the first Tea Towel Designer that I interviewed in ‘In Conversation With….’, in the Virtual Tea Towel Museum. I first came across his work in a tiny, boutique gift shop in Derby, in one of the lanes that runs off opposite the Cathedral; it is no longer there. There were several @GardinerStuart designs. I chose ‘Tea’, a fabulous tea towel with all the information you could ever want about tea, tea being my drink of choice. @GardinerStuart’s USP is ‘Infographic Designs’. They are the sort of tea towels you want to shove in your pocket when you go to a Pub Quiz; they will provide all the answers. The first two @GardinerStuart tea towels are ‘Breads of the World’ and ‘Chilli Peppers of the World’. I think these really sum up ‘Lockdown’ – so many people suddenly baking their own bread and delving into the world of cookery when all restaurants were closed. I love that bread one, makes me want to try some different breads.

The next two @GardinerStuart tea towels are ‘Bee Friendly in Your Garden’ and ‘A Guide to Gin’. Bees are a very popular subject for tea towels these days and I wish I drank alcohol because that Gin tea towel looks really interesting. However, I am adding my favourite @GardinerStuart tea towel, which I own – ‘Cheeses of the World’. I have used this as a means to try some cheeses that I am unfamiliar with. You can always buy one of his tea towels in gift shops and deli’s.

My cousin Andrew lives in Italy and he loves a tea towel. On his trip to UK in 2017, he bought ‘Tea’, ‘Coffee’ and ‘Chocolate’ and stands proudly with them on a line in his lounge!

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The second Tea Towel Designer today is @AlisonGArt who usually uses Instagram as alisongardinerdesigns. I am assuming no relation to @GardinerStuart, but who knows? I wasn’t familiar with the work of @AlisonGArt until my cousin Amanda sent me her one of ‘Nurses Through the Ages’ from the Florence Nightingale Museum, quite early in the Pandemic. This celebrated the bicentenary of the birth of Florence Nightingale. Sadly, it looks as though the Museum will be permanently closed through a lack of funds. Once I’d seen this tea towel I started researching her work and there are a number of fascinating tea towels, mainly with a historical theme and mainly with people. While @AlisonGArt has a very efficient online store, you will find her tea towels (and other goods) in appropriate Museums, tourist shops, and in USA (if you were allowed to go there). Personally, I recommend her jigsaws, especially those with a Christmas theme. The first two tea towels today are ‘Votes for Women’ and ‘Jane Austen’

The second row of tea towels contains ‘Six Wives of Henry VIII’ and ‘Shakespeare’. I will add my own one from the Florence Nightingale Museum, with a hope that they will be able to reopen one day; after all, the Pandemic has been a challenge to hospitals, nursing, treatment and recovery.

The third Tea Towel Designer of the day is @EricaSturlaArt (Or ericasturlaoriginalart on Instagram). I first was introduced to @EricaSturlaArt on a market stall in Stratford-upon-Avon, outside the RSC theatre. There were loads of different designs, mainly of quirky quotes attached to historical figures. They didn’t have Shakespeare but ‘Julius Cesar’ caught my eye with “I came, I saw, I conquered the washing up”.

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I found ‘William Wallace’ in a shop in Edinburgh and ‘Marie Antoinette’ In Carlisle. But today’s one s are different “They are my latest designs and are produced for me by @Wraptious”. The first two are ‘Skating Rink’ and ‘Lido’. Is the ‘Skating Rink’ outside Somerset House at winter? I ask myself. But the ‘Lido’ reminds me of my favourite Art Deco Lido in Stonehaven. It always seemed like an unusual place for a Lido, in the colder weather, by the sea but it is lovely.

The second line of tea towels is ‘Sailing Boats’ and ‘Shopping’ (just what we need at the time of Opening Up) and I add ‘William Wallace’ because I love that catch phrase “Be brave…it’s just a wee pile of dishes!”

What an eclectic group of Tea Towels and Tea Towel Designers and this is why we should all be out trying to find some great venues for shopping. We can’t just moan that shops and Museums are closing, we are the answer, we have to support them!

@StuartGardiner. http://www.stuartgardiner.com

@AlisonGArt. http://www.alisongardiner.co.uk

@EricaSturlaArt. http://www.ericasturla.com

More Tea Towel Designers tomorrow

Opening Up (2)

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Today is Opening Up Day (in England, not until a couple more weeks in Scotland and Northern Ireland). The day I will be able to go and buy a tea towel in a shop; I just hope they are stocked up. Yesterday, I questioned what the ‘Headliner’ for today would be when I am displaying the work of three designers and there needs to be a fairness in this process. Then I thought “Yellow Checks”. This will shock some people. In February 2021, in the midst of Lockdown Number 3, I desperately wanted to buy a tea towel, and buy it in a shop. We live near a eclectic group of shops; one I call the ‘Posh Pound Shop’. It was still open and they had some very cheap tea towels (nothing wrong with a cheap tea towel). I ventured into the shop, hurriedly bought the ‘Yellow Check’, rushed home, sanitised everything, immediately washed the tea towel and sat down to enjoy my new addition. It was good to be able to buy something.

Yesterday’s reaction to the first three Tea Towel Designers was very positive. @rachblacklabel said of yesterday “So many to choose from but I think my favourite is the Collective Nouns from @PerkinsMorley. A Squabble of Seagulls, a Prickle of Hedgehogs and a Romp of Otters. Fabulous!” @Judy_at_TW wrote in “Thank you Barbara for featuring my good friend @ShelliGraham as a designer in your excellent Tweet! You have given so much pleasure to followers in @myteatowels. Enthusiastic and interesting content in these difficult times”. Beth who lives in California said “With all the puffins in yesterday’s Blog, I feel like you composed it just for me. Thank you. Can’t wait until ‘I cross the pond’ in October so I can stuff my suitcase full of tea towels. I might not be able to see my beloved puffins then but I can surely bring back loads of puffin tea towels”. So we now move on to the next three designers.

The first is @radicalteatowel. I came across @radicalteatowel when I was given ‘Votes for Women’ for my birthday. I had just discovered some speeches my mother gave in 1967, hidden in a box I hadn’t been through, but which had sat for more than 25 years in my garden shed. She gave a speech at Ellen Wilkinson Grammar School in Ealing, to some sixth formers, talking about the importance of always exercising your right to vote. It brought tears to my eyes. When I asked @radicalteatowel for images of two of their tea towels they sent ‘Stonewall’ and ‘The Cooperative Commonwealth’. Two stunning ones, beautiful colours and demonstrating campaigns don’t necessarily generate high profile status. Great choice.

There can hardly be a campaign or fight for justice, or the individuals that led those fights, that isn’t represented on a tea towel by @radicalteatowel. Their next two are my absolute favourites: ‘Kinder Mass Trespass’ and ‘Europe’. The Kinder one seems so appropriate at the time of the Pandemic, the rights we have to walk in the countryside, enjoy the outdoors and then to realise what we lose when Lockdown occurs. It makes you appreciate, and be thankful for, the work of the Kinder Mass Trespass. Lockdown Numbers 1, 2 and 3 came at the time we were having to cope with Brexit. Since the 2016 Referendum, when the UK voted to leave Europe, I had hoped and prayed that something would happen so that we would remain in Europe. My cousin and his family are Italian, live in Italy but because his mother was English he has always seen part of his heritage in England. He felt that we, his family, had rejected him. No matter how much I said that I never voted to leave Europe, he took that vote personally. Was he exaggerating things? No clearly not. When the paperwork involved for a trip to England grew, that he needed a visa, he did feel rejected. I hold on to John Donne’s quote epitomised in this tea towel. I add my own personal ‘Votes for Women’ tea towel, my first from @radicalteatowel. @radicalteatowel has a very efficient website and sells lots of other products with a political theme. I love their Fridge Magnets! However, if you’re wandering through some small independent book stores you will often find ones of authors. That’s where I bought ‘GeorgeOrwell’.

The second Tea Towel Designer today is @ClareBaird.  I have been to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival most years, since 1976.  I try and cram as many shows in as possible, of all genres as well as Museum Exhibitions, watching Street Entertainers and wandering around market stalls.  I had intended going in 2020 and booking to see the Edinburgh Tattoo.  Not to be.  My last visit was in 2017.  I was walking up the Royal Mile on my way to the Quaker Building to see @thesorries (and they sold a tea towel).  Near St Giles Cathedral I spotted some market stalls.  Always like a market stall and caught a stall with some tea towels pinned on the back ‘wall’. Tthere was the cutest Red Squirrel.  This was my introduction to the work of @ClareBaird.  I needed to show some restraint in how many I actually bought but her work is stunning, focusing on Scottish wildlife.  

When asked if she would like to join ‘Opening Up’ she said “I was thinking if I could share the Mountain Hare as one of a (late) Easter Theme?”  Oh yes, it is good.  As is the ‘Pheasant’

@ClareBaird added ‘Ladybird’ and ‘Bumble Bee’.  The detail of each is eye-catching but I will add ‘Robin’ (or Rocky as I call him) which is the latest of @ClareBaird’s work that I have.

The third designer today is @CBerridgeStudio.  A very different designer because most of her work is around West London, and is of places.  I was born and brought up in Ealing; I moved to the Midlands after I left University.  My parents lived in Ealing until they died.  After 1990, I  knew no one in Ealing.  Friends and family had moved away but I always regarded Ealing as my home.  I hadn’t been back to Ealing for many years until 2017, when I went on a ‘pilgrimage’ tracing my roots.  I thought that I really needed a tea towel of Ealing because I didn’t have one.  I had no idea where to start, Ealing has changed with regard to its shops.  @lizmac307 had a great idea “I’ll google ‘Ealing Tea Towels'”.  She found @AllOriginalEali, a shop displaying the wares of many local craftspeople.  Sitting on a shelf were loads of Ealing Tea Towels; after all these years I’d found an Ealing Tea Towel.  @CBerridgeStudio, during Lockdown 1, 2 and 3, when @AllOriginalEali was closed, offered to hand deliver any items from her website if the customer lived within a 30 minute walk of where she was based, customer service and daily exercise in one go.  I think that’s what I love about small tea towel producers during the Pandemic, the ability to be imaginative about how to continue, not give up.  When asked about joining ‘Opening Up’ @CBerridgeStudio said “I though in the light of Pub Gardens reopening on 12 April 2021, the ‘London Pubs’ Tea Towel would be perfect for your Blog Post”.   But she also has a ‘Richmond Pubs’ one too!

When I told her I needed a couple more, she suggested ‘Kew’ and ‘Richmond’.  I add my ‘Queen of the Suburbs’, a tea towel she gave me.  It brought my memories of youth back, so much so that I gave one to  each of my Uncles, Aunts and Cousins, who had all lived in Ealing but had moved away.  They loved them.   The slightly out-of-focus picture of Ealing was taken by my Aunt Catherine.

There is no question that Tea Towel Designers have so many different styles and I feel privileged to have ‘found them’.  I suggest that now we are starting to ‘Open Up’ that Readers also find them, and others.  Pictures of new tea towels you have bought can be shared in #TheGreatTeaTowelSharing.  More tomorrow!!

@radicalteatowel.                             http://www.radicalteatowel.co.uk

@ClareBaird.                                      www.clarebaird.co.uk

@CBerridgeStudio.                           http://www.charlotteberridge.com

 

Opening Up (1)

Many Readers may remember a random Tweet that I sent out on 5 January 2021 “Alright the news is miserable and scary. Let a tea towel help you out. Anyone want to send me a photo of a tea towel and let it be part of the Virtual Tea Towel Museum?”. I can remember sitting on my favourite armchair, feeling sorry for myself. It was the start of Lockdown Number 3 AND I felt ill, not COVID-19 but the results of my first nocturnal seizure. I’ve had seizures for more than 20 years but never one during the night. It felt scary. But the amount of pictures of tea towels swamping my Twitter account truly cheered me up.

It seemed to me that it would be disrespectful to all those beautiful tea towels, to just post them in the Virtual Tea Towel Museum, without a little ‘flurry’. To achieve this I wrote a Tea Towel Blog called ‘Tea Towels and Lockdown’ and I knew I was going to have to number them. Each Blog had at least six tea towels but more commonly ten, sometimes even fourteen.

A day later, on 6 January 2021, I added “I asked for pictures of your tea towels to put in the Virtual Tea Towel Museum, something to do if you were bored in Lockdown. The response has been amazing. Thank you so much much but keep them coming in. I haven’t seen a duplicate yet”. From more than 500 tea towels there were only three tea towels that were duplicated. And I still have enough tea towels for yet another three Blogs, at least.

We have been in Lockdown Number 3 in England for many weeks. The Prime Minister announced a ‘Road Map’ out of Lockdown Number 3; he said it should be dependent on “data not dates” but, as usual, he confused the country. Stage 1 was children going back at school; five weeks later, data would be reviewed and if everything was OK, Stage 2 would be introduced – the opening up of Non-Essential Shops (some of us are still confused how Garden Centres, selling clothing, weren’t considered non-essential but, hey ho, let’s move on). 12 April 2021 is Stage 2. One night, I lay awake and thought that I should celebrate the ‘Opening Up of Non-Essential Shops’. Tea Towels will be on sale again. But that isn’t exactly true because there are a lot of Tea Towel Designers who have adapted their websites and continued selling Tea Towels galore, very efficiently. I thought I’d like to introduce my Readers to some of them, with the hope that on 12 April 2021 people will go out and seek shops selling unique, British made Tea Towels.

“Hi, I have been doing a project on Twitter called ‘Tea Towels and Lockdown’ where people have shared pictures of their own tea towels. 50 Blogs so far, more than 500 tea towels….On the day non-essential shops open I would like to display some of the best tea towels that people can buy. Would you like to share photos of four of your latest/best sellers/ ones you want to sell, to put in the Blog?” I had some great, and enthusiastic, replies “Fab” “Wonderful, I’ll get them over to you” “That would be great, thank you” “That’s a lovely idea”……. Why not invite some tea towel designers/producers to submit a tea towel, or two, to co-incide with Opening Up on 12 April 2021? Great idea but taken up with so much enthusiasm that I realised I needed to make some changes. I have invited Tea Towel Designers/producers and asked them to submit four designs each. Each Blog will introduce you to three such designers. Here we go!

All the ‘Tea Towel and Lockdown’ Blogs had a ‘Headliner’ tea towel. How was I going to to that with three designers to a page, and be fair? I’ll worry about that later because today’s is a really awful photo but significant. Yesterday, I went for a walk at @ElvastonFriends, a beautiful country park in Derbyshire. They have a small shop and Information Centre which has only been open for the selling of chocolate and drinks for a year but I knew they had sold tea towels and I knew they did have some pinned on the walls. I went inside and there were three still on the wall, not for sale, behind the Perspex glass. I asked the assistant If I could take a photograph. I imagine she thought I was bonkers but allowed me anyway. “On Monday, this part of the shop will opened up” she said with such excitement “Can’t open the whole shop yet but at least it’s a start”. I told her I’d be back because I will buy all three of those tea towels. Sorry about the quality of the photograph, it was the best I could do with a phone, through Perspex. It’s the nearest I’ve been to a Tea Towel in a Shop for five months.

Today, I’m going to introduce you to the first three, very different, designers. First is @PerkinsMorley. I have been aware of their work since 2016 when my friend Fee bought me one of their Collective Nouns Tea Towels. They are stylish and distinctive. “The Collective Noun tea towels are our three best sellers”. And I know why.

The Collective Noun tea towels with 15 ‘squares’ are their most recognisable but they have expanded to doing one Collective Noun on a tea towel, like the Circus of Puffins. That colour is absolutely stunning. However, I will add the Hum of Bumble Bees because I won it in a competition. The Collective Nouns are also available as coasters, mugs, key rings and much more. Their goods are available in many niche gift/card shops but have an excellent online service. Personally, I highly recommend their Collective Nouns jigsaw puzzle (Since Lockdown Number 1 I have become addicted to jigsaw puzzles as well as tea towels).

Today’s second tea Towel Designer is @ShelliGraham. Anyone who read ‘Tea Towels and Lockdown’ might be familiar with @ShelliGraham’s tea towels because she has some big fans. @ShelliGraham’s USP is her ‘Alphabet’ tea towels, creative, coming up with an illustration for every letter of the Alphabet under the theme. I’ve seen her ‘Cats’, ‘Gardening’ and ‘Christmas’ already. Her first two today are ‘Dog Alphabet’ and ‘A Very Scottish Alphabet’

But @ShelliGraham has expanded her range of tea towels to towns so I also offer you ‘Bristol’ and “Birmingham’. However when she said I could choose my four she said “However, ‘Lockdown’ has pretty much sold out (only one in stock) so probably avoid that one”. A tea towel about ‘Lockdown’‽ I had to have that. It arrived today so I will add that to the next line.

The final Tea Towel Designer for today is @emmaballltd. I bought my first @emmaballltd tea towel in 2015 in Sidmouth, of ‘Sidmouth’. It brought back some incredible memories of my mother, who went on holiday to Sidmouth in about 1985 with her friend, a year after my father had died. I remember her telling me that she and Beryl sat on their hotel balcony, drinking gin and tonic, looking over the sea. I wrote a Blog about it and ended up being interviewed by the local newspaper. They wanted me to be able to pinpoint the exact hotel; it was 35 years ago and I wasn’t even with them on that holiday! Today I offer you “Our best selling Puffin one, can’t discontinue that one and a new one for us by Eric”

But @emmaballltd does a lot of place-specific ones, as well as some really cute ones. I am adding ‘Sidmouth’, which is mine, to ‘Penguins in Jumpers’ and ‘Birds’ because it has happy memories. But the thing that I didn’t know is that @emmaballltd’s business is based in Nottingham. I could just pop down the road for my next tea towel.

I am challenging any Reader to buy a new Tea Towel once the Non-Essential Shops are open and send me a picture so that it will have a place in the Virtual Tea Towel Museum. We need to support the Tea Towel Designers and small shops. If you prefer to buy online here are their contact details:

@PerkinsMorley http://www.perkinsandmorley.com

@ShelliGraham http://www.yeticardsandgifts.com

@emmaballltd http://www.emmaball.co.uk

Tea Towels and Lockdown (50)

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I would never have imagined that I would have got to Tea Towels and Lockdown (50). It started on the first day of Lockdown Number 3 and we are no way out of Lockdown yet. I think, as long as all goes well, that 12 April 2021 will involve a change a title. I am hopeful; that once ‘non-essential’ shops are open there will be a flocking of people to buy a new tea towel and I hope that they will share them with me. I don’t mind if they are from down the road, a holiday in Britain or, for those brave enough, a holiday abroad. In the meantime it is Tea Towels and Lockdown.

I am very excited by today’s ‘Headliner’ because (a) I am a big fan of the prolific Tea Towel Designer @emmaballltd and (b) I am a huge fan of a Calendar Tea Towel. My love of Calendar Tea Towels has been ‘lumpy’, as @MattHancock would describe the distribution of the Vaccines. I used to think they were a ‘bit boring’ because they always have to have the centre image the same, a calendar. That was until I started Blogging about my tea towels, using them partly as a Memoir Jogger and then I realised that I had so few. A Calendar Tea Towel can locate events by time and place. Now I am a Big Fan. Today, I put out a Tweet saying “I have shared many of my tea towels so how about you sharing some of yours for the Virtual Tea Towel Museum?” It was only a few minutes later that @emmaballltd said “This one is currently being printed” – a 2022 Calendar Tea Towel. I asked her if I could use it in a Blog “Help yourself Barbara – honestly no need to ask, just tag me in”. And here it is, a tea towel for every kitchen, a tea towel with hope for next year, a tea towel with the essence of a holiday and some freedom, and, just a tea towel.

Today is Easter Day so I thought I would start with two offerings from @BitThing, as she says “Digging out the seasonal tea towels”. Here are two Easter Egg tea towels; they are so cute. They made me wonder what the origin of the Easter Egg was. This was another ‘Rabbit Warren’ that I disappeared down. They originated in 18th/19th century, made of chocolate and usually decorated or dyed. I am told Easter Eggs symbolise the empty tomb of Jesus from where he was resurrected; I’m not sure I get this so maybe I should have ignored trying to find out about Easter Eggs.

Moving on, we’ll go to ‘Carry on Camping’. Wouldn’t it be good to be able to go camping once more? This is a submission from @Spacexecadet which he describes as “more of the same”. I was looking at the cast list on the tea towel, sadly, all dead. @GwynFraser has submitted ‘Chickens’, has a bit of a ring about Easter. @GwynFraser has no idea where this came from, but adorable. They did however keep chickens at one point, so maybe it originates from that time.

The next two are very different. Firstly, Umaynah’ s tea towel is her favourite “Eat, Sleep, Cook, Repeat’; she likes baking. The second is from Catherine called ‘If We Get Caught….’. She loves the humour of it.

I will end today on ‘Royal Tunbridge Wells’, a traditional touristy tea towel. This was submitted by Rachel, and her Assistant.