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Cassiefairy's thrifty little lifestyle blog – DIY crafts, sewing, food & fashion – what more does a girl need??

snape maltings Sarah Lucas public art Perceval bronze horse 2006


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Stunning shire horse sculpture in the Suffolk countryside

I recently visited a sculpture that I’ve never see before. That’s not to say that I’ve never been to the location before – I have been to Snape Maltings many times (only last month : see my blog post on the Henry Moore sculpture here) – and that’s not to say that it’s a new addition to their art collection. This public artwork has been standing in position for years and it’s not as if it’s easy to miss: Perceval is a life-sized bronze sculpture of a Shire horse pulling a cart carrying two giant concrete marrows (which looked like massive peanuts to me before I found out what they were). The piece is almost to the scale of a real Shire horse at 2.3 metres tall by 4 metres long including the cart. So how did I miss it before?

snape maltings Sarah Lucas public art Perceval bronze horse 2006

I guess I’ve just never walked that way around the reed beds before. I must have always stopped short of going into that field. Maybe the grass or reeds had grown so high that they had masked the sculpture in the past? Whatever it was, it meant that I was experiencing this artwork for the first time and I loved it. At first I couldn’t believe what I was looking at across the field -  a full-size version of the classic ornament that I’d seen on many mantelpieces over the years – and I sped up as I approached it. I literally skipped towards this massive monument. And that’s because I actually owned one of these china ornaments as a horse-crazy youngster. Quite an unusual choice for a 10 year-old’s bedroom I know but I was SO into horses that I loved it just as much as all the My Little Ponies on my shelves and my Horse Sense magazine collection. Back then I never could have imagined that I would one day stand beside a full-size version!

Perceval scupture by Sarah Lucas

The sculpture is by British artist Sarah Lucas, now a Suffolk local living in Aldeburgh. The piece I visited is one of 5 massive versions of the china horse made in 2006, which reflects Lucas’s fondness for British culture. Lucas regularly examines everyday objects in her artwork and I found this particular sculpture both amusing and heart-warming. Perceval is the artist’s first and only piece of public art and she claims that the idea came about when Damien Hirst saw the small version of the knick-knack at Lucas’s home and said, “You really ought to make that big”.

sarah lucas british artist sculpture 2006 perceval at snape maltings suffolk

 

It was quite surreal walking around the scaled-up ornament. Had I shrunk..? Or had my childhood china horse really grown?! I even patted the horse as if it was real – that’s how lifelike the size of it is. I thought I’d got away with doing this in secret but it turned out that hubby had captured the moment on camera.

sarah lucas perceval scupture

Perceval has been received with great affection and it’s nice to see a familiar item in a suitably rural landscape. If you get a chance to have a look at this sculpture, please do – it’s behind Snape Maltings Concert Hall in Suffolk. The concert hall itself is a fab venue to experience orchestral music (I’ve even seen comedian Tim Minchin perform there during the proms – read my review here) and The Pearl Fishers ENO production by the English National Opera is another performance not to be missed!

Another second Perceval owned by Damien Hirst was displayed near the southeast entrance to Central Park in New York and another is installed in Aspire Park, Doha, Qatar. There are 2 more Percevals out there, but I’ve not been able track them down – and now I know just how lucky I am to have seen this rare piece of art, and I can’t believe it was at a place that I’ve visited often before!


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Time for a Cuppa ~ Britain’s Tea Break Tradition

As a reader of this little lifestyle blog, I’m sure that you’ll know how much I love tea. I can’t get through the day with quite a few tasty cuppas and you can read about my nightmare day when my kettle died here. So today, I thought we’d discuss the tradition of the tea break and how important the great British cuppa is to all of us!

Though the coffee market has grown in Britain, with global espresso chains springing up on nearly every corner, tea remains the country’s drink of choice. As a nation, we consume 78 million mugs of tea every day and over half of us still prefer it over coffee in the morning. In offices across the UK, the ‘tea break’ plays a vital role in the daily routine. How did this ritual begin? Does it add value to our lives? Here’s a brief guide to the tea break tradition:

Cup of tea and a broken kettle

History of Tea in Britain
Tea may be the nation’s favourite drink today, but it was once a luxury item enjoyed only by the wealthy. The tea-drinking trend began among the aristocracy after Queen Catherine of Braganza, King Charles II’s wife, brought the tradition to Britain from her native Portugal.

It’s interesting to note that up until the 17th century, tea was always green when brewed, following the natural colour of the leaves. However, the process of oxidising the leaves preserved them better for exporting from China to Europe, also turning the leaves black. Today of course, green tea is nearly as popular in this country as black tea, along with many other herbal varieties.

But it was only in the late 18th-century that tea became affordable for the masses. In 1785, the British government cut the tax on tea in order to abolish the growing illegal tea smuggling trade. As tea prices fell, more and more Britons were able to enjoy the beverage on a routine basis. Employers began offering free tea to their workers as an incentive – and thus the tradition of a workday ‘tea break’ began.

Tes-Gro Cup of Tea image by Kanko 53310292_30bf6ac4aa_z

Image by Kanko, used under Creative Comms license

More or Less Productive?
The average cup of black tea contains 14-61 mg of caffeine, providing the ideal boost of energy during a long work day. However, with the average adult spending 24 minutes a day fetching colleagues teas and coffees and costing their employer £400 a year, it begs the question: is the tea break good or bad for productivity?

Well, despite absorbing so much of our time, the ritual tea break is most certainly a positive influence on productivity. The importance of rest and social engagement during the workday cannot be overstated. Time and again researchers have discovered that regular rest breaks help people recharge and work more efficiently.

Oh Crumbs!
Most good things come with some element of risk, and you might be surprised just how risky a tea break can be. As the Telegraph reported in 2010, approximately 25 million adults have sustained an injury during a tea or coffee break. Most of the injuries were a result of dangerous dunking techniques – with a third of those surveyed admitting they’ve burnt themselves trying to retrieve a fallen biscuit from the scalding liquid.

Despite these tales of tea trauma, the UK’s tea break tradition does not appear to be going anywhere any time soon. A ritual steeped in history, the ‘cuppa’ remains the hottest item in Britain’s beverage culture.


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A beautiful rainbow over a rural landscape

I really don’t think there’s anything better in nature than a beautiful rainbow. It’s a mini-miracle in the sky and it happens so rarely that you really have to stop and stare when then sun breaks through the clouds on a drizzly day. I love rainbows (and not only because they definitely have a pot of gold at the end) and am always amazed by their beauty, but I find it really hard to capture the magic of a rainbow in a photograph. Skies in general are hard to photograph and I find that the resulting image is nowhere near as good as the scene you’ve seen with your own eyes.  So I’m very happy that these photos came out looking so pretty. Enjoy!

beautiful rainbow photo over field landscape


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It’s all over… The London 20120 Olympics closing ceremony & fireworks video

I’m sad to say that the London 2012 Olympics are all over. This has been an amazing 16 days since the opening ceremony and I enjoyed the game more than I ever thought possible. As the least sporty person you’d ever meet, and as the kind of person who turns over the TV if a sport is on, I even surprised myself at how much I enjoyed the Olympics. Was it just because it was held in the UK? I’ll have to watch Rio and find out. Was it just because Team GB were achieving amazing medals in practically every event? Maybe, because I certainly got into the whole ‘shouting-at-the-telly’ excitement of a GB athlete crossing the finishing line. 

Whatever it was, I was gripped throughout the whole Olympic Games and the closing ceremony was bittersweet. I enjoyed the performances (Spice Girls come back!) but had a tear in my eye at more than one point throughout the ceremony. I did not want that Olympic flame to be extinguished! But I couldn’t stop it, and as the London 2012 Olympics raced to a close, I felt proud and a little smug that (in my eyes at least) our Olympics had been the best yet.

Here’s the explosive fireworks at the end of the closing ceremony – and if you haven’t seen the whole event yet, do check it out on iPlayer because it was amazing! And bring on the Paralympics!


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Summer Holiday update – lovely seaside snaps

Here’s a few snapshots of my lovely staycation holiday in sunny East Anglia:

We had a great time walking the coast, photographing beach huts, playing in cheesy seaside arcades, bowling and eating lots of lovely treats! And we were very lucky that the sun shone and that hubby won at Bingo! Great fun and our staycation will definitely be repeated soon :)