Tuesday, 24 March 2009

A Bientot!

Well, things are starting to get rather manic around the place now that departure day is only one sleep away! Suitcases are being dusted off (isn't it funny what you find inside them from the last trip !!) clothing is being stacked in piles on the spare bed with the usual cries of 'I've got nothing to wear!!' William is hiding under the bed as he knows something not very nice may be happening to him soon , like being bundled into his travelling case and delivered to the cattery -which he hates, and I hate leaving him there so DH gets 'volunteered' for the job ! Trip to the PO to arrange for our post to be held until our return done! Grass cutting and strimming all completed so that we can come back to a reasonably tidy garden - Phew!!!!

Sometimes you have to wonder if all the preparation for this kind of trip is worth it - not a holiday as such, but usually a very tiring experience as we always end up trying to do too much!!Family and friends take up most of our time, but then there is the shopping (!) which is always a treat. We have some lovely shops here in larger cities like Rennes, but nothing really compares to the 'British' shops that we are used to for items not available in France!

Much as we enjoy our life in Brittany and hard as the preparations, disruptions and journey can be sometimes, I feel very glad that we are near enough to our children and grandchildren to make these frequent visits (and for them to visit us) . After all, what compares to a bear hug from a grown up son or daughter, or to a pair of chubby arms wrapped around your neck and a little voice whispering in your ear 'I love you Nannie!' ! This is really why we 'go home' and why it's not hard at all in the end !

I don't expect to post whilst I'm away, so 'au revoir' and take care until the next time!

Sunday, 22 March 2009

Quilting Quandary Resolved!

Back in May last year, I wrote about a new project on this post. This is definitely the biggest headache I have every given myself when it comes to being over confident with my 'I can do that' attitude and it is fair to say that working on it has been a total love/hate affair!

I have absolutely hated every singly thing that went wrong, and there have been a few believe me! I hate myself for all the tantrums when things did go wrong! I hate all the times I've taken the project box down off the shelf, given it one look then put it back again for several more weeks, because it was the easiest thing to do! I hate the nagging thought at the back of my mind all these months that it would never be finished!

I love the way that each border eventually (!) added changed the look of the quilt. I love all the colours that blended together without having to give any really thought to their placement. I love the feeling each time I manage to get something right ! Most of all I really love the fact that I've made it to the finishing line !!!!!

Two photos, one inside, one out, neither of them do the colours justice, but our sunny weather has deserted us today and this is the best I can do!

The sailing date for our trip to the UK is very close now, William goes off to the cattery early Wednesday morning, then its into the motor and drive up to the Caen /Ouistreham ferry port on the Normandy coast. Caen , the burial place of William the Conqueror , is also minutes from the famous WWII Pegasus Bridge , and central to the Allied landing beaches ,War Grave Cemeteries & Memorials . An overnight crossing, into Portsmouth at 6 am (!) Thursday ready to face the second leg of our journey- the drive up to Manchester!

Thursday, 19 March 2009

Beating the Credit Crunch !

I am sure we are not the only ones suffering from today's economic climate, certainly the £ against the Euro exchange rate is hammering the likes of us in Europe, and I expect the same can be said for ex-pats worldwide!

Shouldn't moan too much about it really, as we are here from choice not by force, and our relationship with the exchange rate is a bit like a marriage at times, ' for better or worse'! Not so long ago we were rubbing our hands together because we were getting a very good rate, which boosted the old pension no end, so now we just have to take the 'worse' end of the stick I guess!!

All is not doom and gloom though , there are still ways to feed my addiction to quilting without having to find yet another 50 ways to cook minced (ground) beef :-)

So if you feel the same way ,and if you haven't already done so, hurry along to Quilting on a Budget's new Blog to find lots ways to keep quilting without breaking the bank !! Some of the ideas may not be new , but here they are all in one place ! Anything that helps save money and keep me quilting has to be good in my book!!

I keep forgetting to mention that I joined in Linda's Spring Swap

Sorry Linda, but it might be just as well, as I am hopeless at keeping secrets !

This swap has been a big challenge, as my partner gave me no clues whatsoever as to her likes or dislikes! I've trawled her blog from end to end and still no help!! I just hope she likes her package (!) which is all wrapped up and ready to be posted on 25 March! This is a little earlier than the official date of 3 April, but it's the same day as we leave for the UK and as it is going international (like all my swaps - surprise!) hopefully it won't arrive too soon before the 3rd!

Tuesday, 17 March 2009

Spring Flowers - Long Post!

I enjoy walking , as you will know by now, but its time to confess that not all our walks take place on canal banks or at the coast! We try to walk every day, weather permitting, and for the greater part these walks start at our own front door in the very rural countryside that surrounds us! Today , as we are still enjoying the most glorious weather, I thought I would take you on a typical 'ordinary' walk , but with the added bonus of seeing the countryside as it wakes up to Spring !

After leaving our hamlet, we have a walk of some 300 metres along quite a fast road before being able to access the absolute maze of small farm roads and 'chemins' (in this area the term normally refers to dirt tracks used by tractors to get from one field to another!) that criss cross the whole area! At the moment the main road is lined with Blackthorn & Hawthorn trees full of white and cream blossoms

A little later will see the wild plum trees burst into flower, and if we are lucky enough to have a mild April/May without too much wind to destroy the blossom, there will be kilos of fruit going begging later on which makes the most lovely jam!!

Through a small wood where the daffodils are huddled under trees

and along the edges of the field

into the next hamlet where the hedgerows are full of Forsythia

and Mimosa

A stop to chat to the nearly neighbours and admire (again) the little filly

'Look at me! Haven't I grown - and this is me and my Mum!'

Eventually we get away after promising to call on our way home and share a glass of Kir , white wine (or champagne!) mixed with blackcurrant liquer, a very popular before lunch 'apperitif' in Brittany, and very nice too !

We wind our way through a couple of hamlets, passing dwellings ancient (ish!)

and modern (ish!)

along narrow roads and lanes, with the banks and ditches filled with Spring flowers

Periwinkles ( I think!!)

Cushions of primroses

and I even spotted a few very early violets - see how dry the ground is though! Passed a small crab apple orchard

one of the many in the area that are the mainstay of the Breton cider industry.

A short stop to admire the views before attacking the 'chemin' back home - have we really got to walk all that way still ???

Thank you for keeping us company today, I hope you enjoyed it as much as we did !

Monday, 16 March 2009

Birth of a Monster!!

Sometime weeks ago, Kate had a block 'clearaway' on her blog and I swapped this mini...

..for 9 of these blocks!

For the last couple of weeks I've been laying them out, shuffling them about and having finally decided on a setting, spent hours debating on what to use to try and complement the many colours in these scrappy blocks!! I think I must have pulled every piece of fabric in my (modest!) stash before coming up with a combination that I thought might work and then set out to try another 'first' for me - on point settings!

Now, anybody with an ounce of sense tries out new techniques on small items - yes? You won't be surprised to hear then that starting out on 15 inch finished blocks was not a good idea but one guaranteed to cause big problems!! No rulers long enough to cope with diagonal cuts ; no square ruler big enough for the job either (20.5 is my largest!!); no single cutting mat that big , arms not long enough (!).......need I go on ???

Eventually, after getting DH to help with the drafting and cutting of a couple of templates from some very sturdy card, clearing off our dining table and taping together several cutting mats and praying that the multiple rulers didn't move off line under pressure , which was achieved by virtually lying on on top of them across the table (not a pretty sight I assure you!!) setting triangles finally appeared !! I am sure some of you out there know an easier way to cope, but this was the best I could come up with on my own - nothing about this dilema in any of my books or mags!!

The top is 4 ft 8 " x 6ft 8", a lot longer than I'd thought it would be even though I only used 8 of the blocks !! At one time I was going to make additional blocks to try for a better setting - then it would really have been a monster!!

So, without any further ado, some not brilliant pics (mainly!) because of its size , this is my latest UFO !!

The sashings are chocolate brown , the corner stones quite a strong pink and the setting triangles are tan with a small red/brown all-over folky heart pattern even though it looks like polka dots from a distance!

Now that's over with, all I have to cope with is - how many sleepless nights will be spent worrying about quilting it!!!!! May even manage better photos then too!!

Sunday, 15 March 2009

Sunny Sunday!

I love water, any kind of water -well, except perhaps for Winter rain (!) -lakes, rivers, canals or the ocean , they all give me a feeling of peace and content! I also have a big thing about trees , so to spend time near both on a mild, sunny Spring day gives me lots of pleasure!

A good long walk along a new stretch of the Nantes-Brest Canal, not a soul in sight and the only sounds those of a blackbird singing its heart out in the treetops and two ducks paddling on the canal - bliss!!!!

Wednesday, 11 March 2009

Claim to Fame 2

Just for Elizabethd !! I'd forgotten about the photos, but this is the postcard I 'practiced' on

Don't know what happened to that, think it must have gone to another swap! This is the one I sent - Indian Summer

The colours of the silks were brighter in real life and the gold threads really sparkled ! I enjoyed my FPC swaps , but the postage kept on getting more expensive, and as I had to 'import' a lot of the materials also, it meant a double increase! The other reason I had for stopping was - what do I do with them all ?? I received some lovely cards over the months, and it seems such a shame that they are all now neatly stored in boxes - except for my Christmas cards, they come out each year !

My photos don't enlarge as I edit them, having once read on someone's blog (can't remember who sorry !) that by doing so it helps to reduce the amount of 'space' used by Blogger - I don't know if this is true or not, but it's worth a try!! More importantly, it gets rid of the sometimes 'messy' background - particularly on those taken in my sewing room :-)

Tuesday, 10 March 2009

Claim to Fame ?

Wow!! I got my name into print - how exciting is that, and I didn't even know about it!!!

February 2008 I joined in a fibre postcard swap being organised by Susan Lenz for a proposed exhibition called Cyber Fybers . Susan was inviting you to swap a FPC or ATC with her for display at the exhibition and some 400 worldwide swappers joined in , together with a number of invited well known textile artists - Maggie Grey to name but one! Can you imagine organising and controlling a swap of this size (!) but Susan managed it and the exhibition was opened on 9 January this year. Susan very kindly kept us all up to date with frequent postings as to what was happening, but once the exhibition closed, I have to admit I forgot all about it!

Imagine my surprise this morning when, not expecting anything at all from the US, I received an envelope with a return address in South Carolina ! Inside was this magazine

with a note from Susan, directing me to pages 22-26

where I found my postcard (bottom - far right with the 'vine') and my name!!

I don't even mind that it's spelt wrong on this occassion!!

My card was made of silk snippets with gold sewing machine cord and FME leaves stitched onto water soluble film - I thought it was lovely (!!), but never thought it would make it into print !! What are the chances that out of all the entries mine was one of those fortunate enough to be photographed .

Saturday, 7 March 2009

Production Line Sewing....

....... or what I'll be using for wrapping Easter Eggs !

A small bag for DGD1 - who thinks she's a teenage even though she's a couple of years to go yet !!

..... pencil cases for her younger sister (plus a couple of friends who can't be left out !! )

.....and another for DGS

As we don't often get to see our grandchildren around Easter, it's usually a cheque in the post to the Mums so they can buy something on our behalf - this year we won't actually be there Easter weekend, but close enough to it so that we can leave a small egg and a pencil case full of goodies which will last after the chocolate has gone (Well - that's the theory !!!)

Another kind of production line sewing, I've been making my first string quilt blocks and I think I could be hooked!! (Not sure if my Spider's Web quilt counts as strings or not thinking about it !)

They are really scrappy as you can see - but what a wonderful way to use up all those "' Did I buy THAT! Why!!" fabrics, and I am sure there are some I couldn't have bought, maybe they just appeared :-) The really surprising thing is that they all look so good together !!

No special walks this weekend - the rain is back !!!!

Thursday, 5 March 2009

Another (mini) Finish!

Don't know if you remember seeing this picture of the lap size Tumbler quilt I finished October of last year which was inspired by Kathie's ?

Well, I've turned into a ' Kathie Kopy Kat' again (see her post of 13 February!). Measuring 21" x 16.5" and using reproduction fabrics,unfortunately mine is not hand quilted (I wish!!) but I love it just the same !

Sorry the photo is a bit dark, I think the battery needs a boost !

Thanks Kathie, for your help in getting this one started!

Monday, 2 March 2009

A Day with the Stones!

We've had the most glorious weather the last couple of days,sharp cold nights with starry skies, cold and frosty mornings and then enough sunshine & blue skies to bring a smile to everyone's face ! Saturday the temperature reached 15 C by 3 pm - what an end to February !!

As it was such a beautiful day we went off on our wanderings again to another new place and this time - no water!!

Brittany has a number of sites boasting multiple ' Menhirs' (Standing Stones or Monoliths) and you'll often come across the odd one or two out walking! Carnac on the south coast is probably the most well known and most visited, but Monteneuf is actually just 30 minutes down the road from us - and yes - this was our first visit!!

The Stones are dated back some 5000 years, but it is thought that many on them were destroyed about 1000 years ago. There are 400 plus scatttered over an area of 7 hectares' mainly woodland, and were only discovered just over 30 years ago after a series of fierce forest fires - the area is now a major archaeological site in Brittany. As they cover such a large area , we decided to aim for one of the main sites, Les Pierres Droites.

After following a well sign- posted road, and reading information provided in a number of languages

we found the Stones !

These details refer to the big guy just behind the bush on the left of the photo above

and just to give you another idea of their size, DH agreed to make his Blogger debut (after some 'gentle' persuassion from me!!) by standing alongside one - he is just under 6 ft so you can see how big they are !

These are just a few photos of one site , but I am trying not to get too carried away and keep the post reasonably short :-)

After taking in all the Stones, we set off on one of the official circuits

through a beautiful forest

Oh..ooh!! I said no water !!!!!

Managed to get ourselves lost ..again, well, perhaps 'lost' is the wrong word! We'd got almost around the circuit and could actually see the car park in the distance across a couple of fields , when we were stopped in our tracks!! This part of the walk went alongside some farm land where the local farmer had managed to tear up the lane with his tractor wheels and leave behind a HUGE deep puddle of rather unpleasant looking mud - I know it was unpleasant as I managed to step in it !! There was no way we were going to get across without waders so we had to turn back and do the whole circuit again!! Not really a major problem as it was such a lovely day but I can tell you we slept well Saturday night !!

Almost back at the car park we came across another of Brittany's claim to fame -hordes of cyclists!!

A big ' Bonjour' plus a wave (!) and lots of shouted comments about me taking their photo - what better end to another lovely afternoon !!!