Monday, 29 August 2016

I'm busy doing something

I know the line of the song is, "I'm busy doing nothing" but I don't seem to have stopped these last three weeks. I always thought a holiday was supposed to be restful but this one has flown by in a whirl of activity as I tried to catch up with everything and still have time to visit friends and some walking.  I still need to blog the 2nd half of my Berlin photos and play catch up with my sewing and lots more before I go back to work on Wednesday. 

Lets just start with a little slow Sunday stitching. Although I haven't joined the linky party for a few weeks I've been enjoying some slow stitching on the Sundays. It makes you slow down and enjoy life away from the fast lane.

This week I've started stitching a bookmark I found in my stocking Christmas 2015. I was trawling through my embroidery box and found it  near the bottom, moaning to itself about not seeing the light of day. It's very pretty and shouldn't take long to stitch so I pulled it out. This is the photo I took on Christmas day. I love Celtic knot patterns.

The kit came with everything I needed including a needle and the threads were cut to a good length for stitching. All I needed to do was read the instructions, sort the threads into their colours and split the thread I was using into 3 strands. Including the preparation my progress from an hour on Sunday evening looks like this.

Not a lot but I was watching Silent Witness. I'm not sure why there's a red tinge to the cross stitch fabric. Cameras can be a little annoying at times when they slightly alter the colours.I also bought some yardage at an amazing 50p a metre (I think that's about 0.65 USD.)  Not fabulous colours but the fabric has a great feel to it and I just love a bargain. I already have a purpose for the red and the blue. 

Now I need to get a wriggle on and pop to the shop as I'd forgotten that being a bank holiday here in England the supermarkets will close early. I usually shop on a Monday evening with Lucy and there isn't a lot in the house to eat!


Wednesday, 17 August 2016

Berlin in the sunshine.

The end of last week we went to Berlin for a couple of days. I hadn't been on a plane for a while and the air going was a bit 'lumpy' but otherwise it was a good flight. We flew from Heathrow which for us is great as it's on the underground.which is easy from where we live and with our over 60's oyster card doesn't cost us anything. We took a taxi to our hotel but from then on we walked everywhere. The transport system is very good in Berlin but we wanted to kick start our diet by seriously upping our exercise and you get to see so much  more on foot. The hotel was in the outskirts of the city in what was west Berlin pre 1990.

We arrived late afternoon and so once checked in we headed out to explore. Being a Brit I found it a little confusing at first to have the cars driving on the wrong side of the road. However once we'd crossed a few roads I remembered to look the right way! Walking down to the city centre we passed an amazing mixture of old and new with a lot of colour.

We walked past the headquarters of the  Federal Intelligence Service of Germany. It is an enormous complex, seeming to go on for ever. The first employees moved in when it was opened in 2014 but there is still work going on. This is just part of the building

There was a lot of building work going on all over the city.  We tracked down a delightful Italian restaurant for dinner.. We sat outside as it was very warm and enjoyed listening to the comments from the 4 young Australian men who sat at the table next to us. They were on a 4 week trip to Europe  and were spending a few days in Berlin. The other couple eating outside were from America.  As we walked back to our hotel I spotted this wall.

I wasn't too keen on the giant cockroach.

The next day, our only full day in Berlin we headed out to the city centre armed with a map and a list of places that Lucy thought we might like to visit. We knew we couldn't do the list as we planned on walking and the only way to see everything Lucy had identified would have meant catching the U-bahn. So we worked out a route that would cover the main bits. Our first stop was the Brandenburg Gate. As we waked the route we saw pieces of the Berlin wall. These are pieces that get moved around the city

It was very crowded around the gate which is situated one block south from the Reichstag building that houses the German parliament (Bundestag). Following the reunification of Germany in 1990  Berlin became the capital of the Federal German Republic and the parliament voted to move from Bonn to Berlin. The move took until 1999 to complete.

There were slightly less people on the other side of the gate so I got a picture of John to prove he had been there.

From here we set off to walk through the Tiergarten which is a beautiful city park. Looking away from the gate the park is on both sides of this road that leads down to the victory column which commemorates the Prussian victory in the Danish-Prussian wars in 1864

We turned right into the park and immediately came upon this memorial.

The memorial was opened in 2012. Many of the slabs around the pool had the names of the death camps on them. It was a very peaceful memorial but chilling none the less.

The park was beautiful and it was lovely to be under the trees and out of the direct sun. There were a lot of berries on the Elder trees. Great for wine making.

Well hidden pools with ducks and statues.

I couldn't get a good picture of the Victory column. You can go up the column and look out over Berlin. We decided to leave this until we next visit. I thought I had the camera on a slant when I took this but looking at the column it was a little squiffy. (OK not as much as my picture).

We walked back into the city through the Tiergarten on the opposite side of the road. There were several tranquil lakes,

There was a rose garden, but not  many roses, although lots of other plants. I was very taken with this stag. There was a matching stag on the opposite side of the flower bed. It was at this point I saw a red squirrel zip by and disappear into the undergrowth and then up a tree. He was too quick for me to get a picture.


Just before we exited the Tiergarten we came across the Global Stone Project. There are 10 stone groups. 5 have been placed on the 5 continents and the remaining 5 groups of stones are in the Tiergarten in Berlin. On 21st June when the sun hits the stones they are connected and people are asked to join this connection to promote global peace. John enjoyed looking at the 5 groups - well 4 groups and 1 lone stone.

There are still more photos to come but I need to go to bed. Trying to keep up my walking, get household chores done and some sewing has exhausted me so I need to sleep. I'll share more with you tomorrow and tell you how I'm getting on with my sewing.


Wednesday, 10 August 2016

Walking and other bits.

Monday was a walking day and the weather was nice and warm which made it perfect. Each year our church members do a walk to raise money for the Children's Society. The walk is organised by someone else but John is asked to check out the route and that the instructions are correct. Our friend Tony is always happy to walk so he came along as well but we left Scamp at home as the route was around 10 miles and he is only a small dog.

The walk was from Hazelmere in Surrey and took us to Black Down and the Temple of the Winds following a circular route back to Hazelmere. Black Down is the highest point in the South Downs National Park. This was a great route for big views but in parts it was misty.
We enjoyed a coffee in Hazelmere before starting and very near the beginning of the route we spotted an old town well.

As we walked we got promises of views between the trees,

and it was fun to watch these two horses playing.

The views at The temple of the winds were fabulous but misty in the distance. Just beyond the horizon is the sea.

The Temple of the Winds is named after a Bronze Age circular bank. We ate our lunch here seated on a circular stone bench, whilst enjoying the view across Surrey and West Sussex towards the English Channel. It was very quiet and relaxing.

After lunch we continued our walk. At this point we had walked 31/2 miles and still had most of the walk to do. We went down the side of Black Down and our path followed a stream bed, well I think the stream followed the path to be more exact as no stream was marked on the map but there is certainly one now. The descent was steep and muddy in places.

We hadn't had any rain for several days so it wasn't a problem but this will be an interesting route for the church walk in September if we have rain in the days before it takes place. Further on and once again on solid ground we walked between high banks with the roots of trees fully exposed.

I took this picture as I walked along the lane so I'm looking up. I'm 5 foot 6 inches tall and the bank was way above me. When we go walking I generally find Tony and John are ahead of me. They say I spend too much time taking photos or looking at flowers!

Talking of flowers, I saw a lot of Rowan trees (also known as Mountain Ash) along the way and they were generally loaded with berries. This one was a bit sparse but it was a young tree.

Having descended from Black Down we stopped at a pub for a drink. At this point we had completed 2/3 of the route. I didn't take any photos on the last part of the walk as there were several steep climbs with matching descents. The climbs left me a little breathless as I haven't had much time for exercise recently. Back in Hazelmere we found a nice tea shop and enjoyed tea and cake. I had a slice of lemon drizzel cake which is my all time favourite. They had lots of other fabulous looking cakes but I love the tang of the lemons.

In the evening I picked up my hand stitching whilst chilling watching a film. Tuesday I caught up with some more marking ( yes I know I'm on holiday but it has to be done.) I also did some household chores, changing the beds, laundry and cleaning. No sewing happened on Tuesday at all which made me a little sad but today is a good day to catch up. So far today we've walked Scamp, picked up some euros for our trip and a few groceries we needed. 
Now I'm setting up the machine and getting down to some sewing. I want to get some stitching done on a jacket I cut out ages ago. I wanted a new jacket for autumn and this fabric is just the right weight.

As you can see the pieces are all cut out. I also have fabric to make a skirt but that will be next month.

I'm planning on working on the jacket for an hour and then switch to work on the quilting on the 9 patch quilt.

I must remember I need to iron a couple of bits for tomorrow's trip but I can fit that in whilst I press sewing bits. I'll tell you how I get on with my sewing before we head to Heathrow airport.


Sunday, 7 August 2016

Catching up on projects.

Yippee I'm on holiday! June and July were exhausting with far too much work but I finished work on Friday and I'm free until September. I'm only part time but from the middle of June until this weekend I have been working full time and it isn't compatible with getting any sewing done. I'd forgotten how tired a full week at work makes you, and then there's the household chores that have to be done at the weekend. I've made a promise to myself that I'm not going to be doing that again. I need space to just be and to sew and relax.  It's going to take a strong will to keep work in check next year but I think I can do it and if not I'll retire.

Yesterday was a general catch up day so this afternoon I pulled out my projects and made some decisions. I have a baby quilt I need to finish this month so that gets priority. When last I posted about it the project had reached this stage.

The scan showed the baby is a girl so since this photo I've made  quite a number of pink blocks and I think I've nearly got enough blocks for the whole quilt. It's then a case of sewing them all together. 

Ages ago I started quilting one of my scrappy tops from the RSC 2015.  This has also got to be completed before I go back to work.

I also need to catch up with this years rainbow scrap challenge as I haven't made July's blocks yet and also the splendid sampler blocks. I am way way behind with this. 

What I have been doing is some hand sewing. I've been making flowers for the grandmother's flower garden quilt.  I have made enough for the next two rounds. It's such a handy project for when I'm travelling by train. Last week I was in Reading three days and that's a lot of time to sew. The train was hot and sewing took my mind of the discomfort. I hate getting over heated and tend to panic a little so sometimes have to get off the train early but the stitching kept me focused and on the train. This evening I will be adding the rounds to the main piece. Here's how it looks at the moment, well not quite. This is the last picture I posted but I have completed the blue round. The next round is purple.

Although there's been limited time for sewing we have kept up our walking and whilst doing that I've also been hunting out the blue plaques. The first one isn't a blue plaque but still interesting. This is the Windmill on Wimbledon Common. The sails are currently being repaired. You can see over the door there is a plaque.

The plaque says, In the Mill House Robert Baden-Powell, Chief Scout of the World wrote parts of  'Scouting for boys'  in the year 1908.

The rest are blue plaques. This one is to Gustav Holst who wrote The Planets. You can go and listen to it here

Then there is this one to Dame Ninette De Valois who founded the Royal Ballet. You can find out about how she set it up here

Finally there was this plaque which is rather difficult to see to Henry Fielding. Henry Fielding was an English author best known for writing Tom Jones. 

All three of these plaques are In Barnes. Scamp's groomer is based here and we took a walk round whilst he was being washed and pampered. There is also a delightful cafe in Barnes where we had lunch. 

Although I'm planning on Sewing a lot whilst on holiday John has been busy stripping wall paper and doing some re-plastering as he had holiday last week, so I have wallpapering and painting to do. We are really moving forward with all the work we're doing on the house and  I'm feeling confident that it will all be done by Christmas. We are also going to Berlin for a couple of days this week. We have never been but both our daughters have. We have a list of places to visit that will take much longer than our trip. 

Tomorrow we are going walking which will be fun as the weather forecast is for a good day. When we get back I'll be sewing. The machine is already set up and waiting and I can't wait.


Friday, 15 July 2016

A Friday finish and space to do some sewing.

It seems like ages since I had the space to write a post and get any sewing done. The last few weeks have been spent writing modules for a new course but it's almost ready. All the paperwork has to be ready for Monday so it can be sent out to the participants of the validation event which will happen on the 25th. I've still got a couple of bits to finish off but that should only take a couple of hours and then I'm free. The sewing machine will be dusted off and I can get back to my quilting.

Another Little Quilt Swap

A while ago I decided to take part in Another Little Quilt Swap 10. The remit was a mini quilt between the size of 10 and 16 inches square. I had been wanting to make the full sized quilt 'Cats stairway to heaven' but I have so many projects on the go I didn't want to start another. So I decided to turn the quilt into a mini. I used my 2 and half inch squares for the background and the cats, backing, binding and wadding were all from my scrap bags.  Here's my final piece.

The quilting is in the ditch and the cats are outlined. I'm pleased with the finished piece.

I need to get organised and sort out the quilt sandwich for the 'It's a dogs life' quilt. I have had the backing for a while and I've been thinking about the quilting. Tomorrow I'm going to clear all my work papers off my dining table and set up my machine. I want this quilt finished this month.

This year I also took part in the piggy bank challenge.

Piggy has been around for some years and she looks after my change very well. This year I saved 122 pounds and 64 pence. That gives me a good amount for spending at the Stitching and Knitting exhibition in October. I have more than enough projects to keep me going until then.

Tomorrow I must also make a start on the pink blocks for this months Rainbow Scrap Challenge. I seem to have rather a lot of pink scraps.

I'm linking with Finish it up Friday over at Crazy Mom Quilts.Oh I so excited at the thought of sewing tomorrow.


Monday, 20 June 2016

A hot and tiring Sunday.

Yesterday the current monsoon season here in London stopped long enough for me and Lucy to go up to town to try out her challenge route. Not only did the rain stop but the sun shone brightly and very warmly. I forgot to take sunscreen with me but by moving fast between patches of shade I didn't get sunburnt. Although there were no special events on in London there were huge numbers of people out in the capital. 

Lucy is running an event next weekend to help a group of girls from various places outside London celebrate 100 years of the Guides senior section, that's the 15 to 25 year olds. She had the broad plan for Saturday but needed to check the clues she will be giving to get from place to place and the timings. We roughly followed the route but we did make some detours to visits bits we have either never seen or haven't seen for a while.

I have wanted to visit the memorial to Bomber Command for some time, well since it was unveiled by the Queen in 2012.  It's situated in Green Park and commemorates the 55,573 members of bomber command crew who lost their lives in World War 2. One of my uncles was a rear gunner in a Lancaster bomber and survived the war but many of his friends died.

I'm not totally in tune with the fake greek style columns but the statue of the air crew is amazing and you can see the weariness in their faces.

The bomber command insignia and motto is carved into one of the walls.

A second memorial we visited was The New Zealand Memorial at Hyde Park Corner. It commemorates the bonds between New Zealand and the United Kingdom, and sacrifice during times of war. It symbolises the two countries common heritage and of New Zealand's distinct identity.

Diagonally opposite is the Australian War memorial. We decided to visit this another day as it's a bit overwhelming to visit a lot of memorials in one day. 

Part of our route took us along Knightsbridge which is the home of Harrods store. We didn't have time to pop in and browse. Maybe another day.

We also saw some interesting architecture exhibitions in Kensington Gardens. When you walk inside this one it is huge

The loop effect of this one reminded me of the way pencil sharpenings curve and loop.

This one picked up on the shapes of the temple in the background.

Had trouble taking a photo of this one as there isn't much to photograph. It was certainly causing a lot of questions...what is it? what does it mean?

Finally this one opens out like the first one so you can walk through the middle or maybe take a break on the benches. The children certainly liked this one.

I walked 25,346 steps over the day which was just short of 11 miles. By the time we got home I was worn out. I had intended to finish off my scrappy blocks but once we'd eaten all I wanted to do was chill out and watch some TV. I carried on stitching badges on my camp blanket. It seems to have been about 5 years since I last added any badges so I think I have about 60 in totally to stitch on. The badges are quite thick and I found I needed to use a thimble as my finger was getting very sore. I don't usually use a thimble as I find it slows my stitching down but I think I need to persevere .

Having finished my knitting I also decided it was time to revisit my millennium sampler. I haven't stitched on this since our holiday at the end of March. Here's how I left it at that point.

This is so close to being done and is definitely my oldest UFO. I set this as a goal for the year as I want it all finished and framed by Christmas. I stared the block of the Spitfire on holiday. It shouldn't take long to finish this square off.

Sunday's stitching was very slow. In fact I only stitched 3 badges on to the blanket. Hopefully this week will see the spitfire completed.