The English Lakeland

The Great Escape for us from Cambridgeshire to Cumbria, what a sense of freedom. So missed.

We drove there but left the car firmly in the car park in Ambleside and took to the bus, with our ” senior passes” its a no brainer. The roads are smaller and twistier than I ever remember, very pretty dry stone walling covered in wild flowers ferns and brambles. In June it was beautiful, and we had a week of almost dry and sunny weather. Its not called The Lakes for nothing!

The attraction for me to Ambleside Windermere and nearby Coniston is predictably Beatrix Potter and her legacy, the awesome countryside and the Herdwick sheep. They make me smile with their smiley faces. But I always find some connection with sewing and thread, this trip was no exception. We discovered Stott Park Mill one of the only remaining working wood turning mills making thread bobbins only now for the tourist industry rather than for the textile industry.

A selection of the bobbins

A few photos I think may give you an idea of the place, I hope you enjoy them too.

The Faces of Kerala

I have just returned from another amazing visit to Kerala India, and thought to share with you some of the fascinating faces seen in the Kerala Folklore Theatre and Museum Thevara, Ernakulam.  This museum has been created on three levels each depicting different architectural styles of Kerala,  Malabar, Cochin and Travancore.  The building and its artifacts have all been rescued and it has taken 25 years to complete the project, so very worth it. Here is just a very small taste of the artifacts with a link to the Museum site at the end.  Enjoy!



Kerala Folklore Theatre and Museum

Holiday fun!

It’s kind of quiet from me at the moment, no stitching getting done or words posted on the Internet! My little world is all upside down, in fact we are enjoying the delights of Kerala, India again. Such a wondrous place, but just to show you I have not completely switched off, I spotted this very smiley chap busy running up a few garments. He was very happy to give me a lovely bright smile and it made my  day!  There are just a few things I have found to stash away, will show you later!



Rome – The Eternal City


A mosaic, not a painting, in St Peters.


Piazza San Pietro


Colosseum showing the newly built floor. Underneath was where the gladiators and animals were held before battle commenced.


First glimpse of the Colosseum from the metro.




Santa Maria Maggiore

My first visit to this most wonderful city of Rome, and I have left it so late! Makes you remember to travel while you can and are able.  Would not have been able to get round this beautiful place with wheels and muscle power alone.

We made a sudden decision to take a long week end, only a two hour flight from London and only 1 hour time difference, what luxury.  Travel around the great city is so easy, the Metro is very efficient and the trains are very open in design, you do not get claustrophobic!  Buses are easy to navigate too, and everyone is very helpful.  We had offers of help from passers by, but perhaps because they took pity on two poor old dears?!

I cannot possibly add anything to what has already been written about this city!  Every where you look there is another amazing basilica, piazza or ponte.  I had done my homework briefly before we left, and you need to, but the guide books cannot prepare you for the whole experience.  It is very busy with tourists, yes, and there are vendors and waiters wanting your business too, but I never felt threatened.  Everyone is very aware of the pick pocket nuisance too, but all you need to employ is common sense and a body purse.  My husband looks quite chubby in a couple of photos!

It goes without saying the food is delicious, I love all things Italian in the kitchen, maybe holding back on the pizzas a bit as they are so calorific.  So eating out is no problem and the wine just complements the food no matter your choice.  We had picnic lunches for a couple of days and the delis are very pleased to serve you their finest with a smile and good humour at our attempts at Italian.


Galleria delle Carte Geografiche ceiling

Trevi Fountain undergoing cleaning.

The Island of Aphrodite, Cyprus

We  have been away again and now I want to get back into my other passion, sewing!  But I keep thinking about our latest visit to this challenging Island of Cyprus!  We have been visiting it for about 30 years on and off, and our visits concentrate mainly on the Southern Paphos region, Pissouri especially.

Our children spent three happy years here during their primary school years, and they too are constantly drawn back to visit and renew their memories and have their own experiences with children of their own.

This last holiday we visited Limassol old town, which is now being gentrified with a huge new marina and seafront.  I used to shop for dress fabrics down its main street which we named ” Zig Zag Street” and dealt in Pics and Cyprus Pounds.  Now it is Metres and Euro, not nearly half as much fun!  One of the shops is still there, though for how much longer I don’t know.

We had a spectacular lunch of kebab and salads high up on a ridge overlooking Akamas, a particularly empty and breathtaking peninsular on the eastern coast.  Followed by a cooling swim in nearby St Giorgious bay, perfect!

Aphrodite’s birthplace continues to intrigue me, a fascinating island that is so rich in history that I sometimes wonder why it wants to embrace so completely, all the not so nice aspects of modern day livingSouthern Cyprus in the Akamas regionSAM_3480SAM_3435Perfect day!.

A couple of these photos were taken on previous visits, but I have posted more of my favourite Cyprus shots on Pinterest. Click the button below.

If you would like to know more about the history of Cyprus I really recommend the following reads:- ” Bitter Lemons ” by Lawrence Durrell and ” Journey into Cyprus” by Colin Thubron




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.


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!


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!