Off my block!

Village Taverna

Village Taverna

Heraklion

Heraklion

Back from 10 wonderful days in  beautiful Crete with the family, and what a lovely break it was, lots of bracing swimming, and walking in the nearby gorge.

But to greet me home were the foam blocks that I promised to transform on May 11th, into two garden seats.  Not one to disappoint I set to,  feeling full of optimism after my 10 days off.  If anyone is contemplating this task do not be put off!  I was  advised to attack these 4 inch thick blocks with the serrated edge of the bread knife, dont do it!  Success came with a six inch filleting knife, a nice smooth cut.  It reminded me of filleting a very thick fish but instead of scales there were loads of  messy foam crumbs, but on the plus side no fishy smell.

I have also decided that it would be a mistake to cover the blocks  with the upholstery fabric directly on top, I have used a bed sheet as a liner as the foam clings to everything and it would be impossible to fit the blocks into their covers.

I am picking up my trusty Bernina tomorrow as she has had a break at the repair and servicing shop! Will get  these seats  finished by Wednesday with any luck, only hope they get used this summer.

Time off in Crete

imageThird visit to this beautiful Grecian Isle, the largest in the Med and definitely  my favourite. Spending 10 days with my two “children” and their partners and my grand daughter, it’s so wonderful to be all together and am feeling very lucky.

So in the heat what are we going to do today? Hit the mountains! Well the maps are out on the breakfast table on the shady balcony side of the house, will see what develops. Yesterday we lazed around the pool but the day before was a climb down the nearby gorge. A fantastic mornings effort rewarded by the stunning views and all the bright flowers. May is the month for freshness here. Previous visits have been at the tail end of the season in September when both the country and people are jaded it seemed.

KERALA Part 3

Journeying back down the lake you pass communities living as they have done for generations, and the glimpse into this alternative lifestyle confirms how lucky we are to be able to visit and experience, if only briefly,  such a diverse and at times confusing country.  Waiting for what seemed like an age for one of the many trains at the level crossing turned into  a social occasion.  There is always someone who did , or knew someone, who worked on the railways in some capacity.  It unites this huge country and operates in a seemingly parlous condition.

We were greeted like old friends at The Marari Beach, Alapuzha,  and shown our cabin a short walk from the shore of the Arabian Sea which was as warm as the swimming pool.  The hotel site is very green, both in colour and in the way it operates.  Surrounded by trees, every growing plant or tree seemed to be edible.  We were guided through a large coriander plantation, the growth so huge you could get lost.  The bird life was teeming and if you stood still and listened they fluttered down to forage.  We watched a rat snake slide across our path, one of seven venomous  types in India.

There is also a large farm  kitchen garden, where you can experience making, and tasting of course, authentic curry using the freshly picked herbs from the garden. Attached to the farm garden is the cow shed! Rare breed cattle are tethered around the site keeping the grass down and preserving the species. They are a very small breed and very pretty.

Grazing cattle

 

 

 

 

During our stay here we found time, after all the swimming walking and just plain lazing about, to take a trip back to Alleppey and visit a Jain Temple.

Alleppey Jain Temple

Alleppey Jain Temple

There are sadly only a few worshippers remaining but the sacred place was carefully tended by those few.  Our visit was really special as it was by invitation only and our visit meant a lot to the lady in attendance.  The building was beautifully ornate and was flanked by large stone elephants at either side.

Alleppey itself, must have at one time been  very grand and glamorous.  The canals are now getting overgrown, but we visited at the end of the season before the monsoons  began.  We were assured the canals would be cleared of weed by the start of next year. But ignoring this the town was a delight, lots happening and plenty to see and do.   Our visit there took us back to the water, it always does in Kerala.  We walked on the beach and wondered at the rusty old pier jutting out into the sea.  It looked rather at odds with camels and not donkeys on the sand.  A legacy of the British history in the country.

Camels on the sandEnd of the pier

 

 

I was again allowed some more fabric shopping time, which I made the most of.  But space being at a premium I am going to return with an empty case to fill. My sewing output will need to improve to make space in my stash too!

But shopping can always wait, the amazing experience of traveling to India and the joy at being there will make us return.  I realise we were very lucky to have stayed in such sumptuous surroundings but we shall return,  and soon.

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Stripe T Shirt dress

I have been sewing clothes since 12, first on a hand powered Singer with a choice of lock stitch and reverse, and oh boy what production went on with it.  I remember with great pride the bakers boy hat created during The Beatles first years of fame. Unfortunately I have no picture of this milliners perfection but I do have one of this my latest effort!

It took three machines and two hours to complete and I wonder which gave me the most joy to make, probably the hat .  Anyhow in case you would like to create your own version of this, it is a McCalls 6612 pattern. Very easy , not even a zip to trouble you. The lovely heavy weight fabric I bought online from http://www.dittofabrics.co.uk I recommend the site.

Stripe Jersey for the beach

Stripe Jersey for the beach

My Monday Make

Today the weather is said to be reaching the late teens in temperature, oh wow! And it’s still only May!  Which has made me think I had better crack on with my next sewing request. new covers for an outside bench seat!

Not too much of a challenge technically, but whenever I attempt a new sewing project that comes straight from my little brain I get a little nervous!  I have some great cream canvas for the covers and think Velcro will suit as a closure! Any one who has any ideas are very welcome to suggest!

Foam blocks

Sitting softly

Dog needs a home.

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This little chap or chapess has just arrived! You can find him on Etsy where he is looking for a loving home!

Success!  I am very pleased to say that a home has been found for this dog, and he has been named “Bruno”.  I thought that more a name for a bear but the little girl who now has him thought it fine.  I am not going to dispute it!

Kerala India Part 2

Part 2 of our holiday started with the journey back down towards the coast and to the famous Keralan backwaters. On the way down we stopped at the Connemarra tea plantation in the Western Ghats,  and learned how the tea is harvested and processed.  The machinery looked so old, it could have been Victorian, with a huge furnace to power the conveyor that sorted dried and crushed the tea leaves, the leaf size decides the teas’ use, with the almost powder ending up in tea bags.  However this does not alter its taste.  Our small group of 4 politely watched an old power point presentation shown on the bare wall, sat in a semicircle.  The visit ended with a tea ritual and a black sweet brew was served to revive us!

Tea tasting

Tea Tasting

Connemarra tea plantation

Connemarra Tea Plantation

Restored, we climbed back in the car for our dizzy descent down the twisting road. The trip was beautiful with the route down through the deep valley.  Our arrival at Kottayam came all too soon, but I was allowed a quick shopping trip in one of the many wonderful fabric shops and managed a few purchases!

Fabric shopping.

Fabric shopping.

Our car arrived at the jetty for our river trip to our next destination, The Coconut Lagoon. I thought I had arrived in paradise! The hotel is built along the largest expanse of inland water in India Vembanad Lake and its backwaters.DSC00496You feel totally relaxed and in another world with no car or motor noise of any sort. Leave me here I thought, though I knew there was more to look forward to.  We took a sunset tour of the lake to the accompaniment of a flute player, so mystical the experience stays with you for days.

Coconut Lagoon reception and taxi

Coconut Lagoon reception and taxi

We were taken around the vast grounds and butterfly gardens by very knowledgeable guides, proud to show off their efforts in conserving and promoting their passion for their surroundings.

 

Butterfly garden Coconut Lagoon

Butterfly garden Coconut Lagoon

Early morning

Dancing Butterflies

 

 

 

 

 

Our accommodation throughout our stay has been totally in keeping with our surroundings.  No high rise buildings or ugly concrete the resort sites have been very carefully planned and designed using the original buildings and features that gave the area its character so many years ago.

A couple of days and our visit to Coconut Lagoon ended and we went sailing away on our taxi boat The Darter to the last stage of our holiday.

 

 

Kerala India Part 1

Houseboats at Alleppey s famous backwaters

Houseboats at Alleppey

We have returned from a visit to the Kerala district of India back in mid March absolutely overawed by the entire holiday.  It was our second visit to India after last years must do visit to the Golden Triangle of Agra Jaipur and Delhi. We had flown down for a change of scenery and a breather, to Kerala, and knew we had to return!  Such fascinating countryside, colourful villages and people, all so mindful of the present with such great acceptance.  It made me feel very humble.

We decided to begin our stay up in the mountains in Spice Village next to the Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary.  There are still some wonderful wild tigers there, but we were not fortunate enough to see one of these beautiful beleagured  animals.  Instead we rode an elephant which was much safer although a bit uncomfortable for my husband sat behind me!

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Sita posing for her Mahout

That evening we were treated to a unique dance and mime production Navarasa at the Kathakali Centre. The mime was almost totally concentrated in facial expression and the preparations for the show took much longer than the actual event. But wow!

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