Friday, 28 September 2012

Cowslips and Kaffe and Kathy!

One of the "destination" patchwork shops I had actually planned this trip was to visit COWSLIPS WORKSHOPS in Launceston, Cornwall and it did not disappoint. I had read about it in a profile by Quiltmania some years back and kept it in my memory banks!
It's an adventure just to find the place......just when you think the GPS needs to be taught a lesson, you pass through a gate in a stone wall and there it is. It is part of a beautiful old working farm. It has been Jo's passion for twenty years. A cafe serving homecooked farm produce is also part of the complex and has quite a reputation in itself.

While I made a beeline for the shop, Top Gear mooched around to take photos. The shop was amazing.....I have never seen so much Kaffe / Brandon / complementary fabric in one place. I was in fabric raptures but then Top Gear appeared to tell me I had to go next door to see what was going on. There was a workshop happening and I am delighted to say that all the ladies were busy making quilts inspired by Kathy Doughty's book "Making Quilts".

I was a bit of a celebrity when I mentioned I knew Kathy, had been in classes with her and was a regular visitor to her shop in Sydney.
I spent a lovely few hours enjoying their show and tell, until suddenly it was time to go home ......and I hadn't even shopped!!!!
Jo very generously opened the shop again for me and let me play in there for a while.

Another treat was getting a sneak peek at Jo's quilts ready to be photographed for her new book......a book for beginners but the quilts were awesome, not just squares sewn together!!!!!!

But what of Kaffe you ask???? I said to Jo she had the best range of Kaffe fabric and books I had ever seen and she said I should have been there yesterday as Kaffe and Brandon had been there for the day to have lunch and to drop off a stack of his new book. Missed him by thaaaaaaaaat much! Should have been a day earlier!!!!!
Jo was generous and warm....I came away with a signed copy of Kaffe's book as a gift and managed to do a bit of shopping damage as well.

This was a day to remember for me. If you ever go to Cornwall, UK, do not miss this place!!!!!!
Happy Stitching

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Wednesday, 26 September 2012

The adventure continues!

One of the major reasons Top Gear are in England is so we ( meaning he) can attend the Beaulieau Autojumble and then the Goodwood Revival car event. We managed to book a little cottage not far from either event so I would have a place to go should I need respite from cars,cars and more cars.

This is Chestnut cottage.......quite cute, except no shower, bath only, and no washing machine but we did have a resident squirrel, who was busy collecting hazelnuts and chestnuts from the trees around the cottage all day.

I only managed to spend one blissful, solitary day there because, again, I was the GOOD WIFE and attended all the car events, even on the rainy day.
The Goodwood Revival car event was mega. We got into the swing of things by dressing retro and for Top Gear it was three days of car heaven.....I lasted two! There were car displays, car races and demonstrations, air displays, music and dance venues, food and champagne halls, and extensive markets full of all things car and vintage, including beauty parlours where you could go and get your hair and makeup done to suit your chosen outfit. The theme for the event this year was the WWII years so there were lots of soldiers and airmen stepping out with their girls and all the venue staff were dressed as MPs or ground army from the 40's.

But for Top Gear it was all about the cars.......precious ones that are usually only ever kept in museums and are worth millions of dollars......

Oh how he would have loved to be part of that era, but this was a close as he could manage!

After Goodwood we managed a few quieter days just exploring near where we were staying. We decided to visit the nearby city of Chichester but found this in the next village!!!!

This the Arundell castle, home to the Duke of Northumberland and still used as their private residence, but open to the public on certain days so we headed off for a visit. It was stunning especially the gardens. The village below the castle was great too.....full of antique and old book shops.
Didn't manage to get to Chichester that day.
We did, however, make it to Chichester the next day and of course we found the patchwork shop! The Eternal Maker was overwhelming, so much fabric, so disorganised. I walked out with nothing because there was just too much there!
So after a not so restful week it was time to start moving again, heading to Cornwall.
Our stop for the night was Weymouth, a harbour and seaside town. I thought it was great. It was originally built around a small working harbour but became popular as a seaside resort so along the water front was the kitschy amusement parks and fun fairs. It had just hosted the sailing for the Olympics so was in holiday mode.

We could have lingered longer but Cornwall was calling.
Next stop was Dartmouth, home of the Royal Naval College, last breakfast for the Pilgrim Fathers, safe haven for Drake and Raleigh and home to Agatha Christie. We decided to stay a few nights here cos there was lots to do.
First a river cruise.......

Then a ride on a steam train..........

Then a walk along the seafront......the beach huts were amazing.

Not to mention fish and chips and icecream!
Still following the coast we headed off to Plymouth, not such a nice city but along the way we found this.......

Burgh island is only accessible by foot at low tide otherwise you have to ride the sea tractor. It was the setting for one of the Agatha Christie Hercule Perroit books and subsequent movie, totally 1930's art deco. Top Gear parted with the £2 fare to get across but I had to take my shoes off to walk back.....and that water is cold! The view from the top was spectacular!

Overnight in Plymouth then finally into Cornwall and we headed for Mousehole, a little village west of Penzance. Mousehole was an experience. Tiny, narrow streets leading down to a small harbour full of fishing boats, quintessentially Cornwall. Getting the car in was a bit nerve wracking as they only just fit and when you meet another coming in the opposite direction you just have to reverse until you can squeeze past each other. It was awe inspiring watching the buses maneouvre!!!!! We had booked two nights here, right on the harbour and thankfully I had chosen one with parking provided!
Mousehole was delightful.......

It was a rabbit warren of streets, with little hole in the wall shops, selling all you needed as well as lovely art and ceramic galleries and local craft work. We even found a Michelin star rated restaurant for dinner ( specialising in local produce) and it was very inexpensive and very, very good. What a treat!
From Mousehole we visited the awe inspiring Minack theatre. A working theatre, cut into the cliffs over a period of forty years by Rowena Cade. Makes any effort you make at gardening look pitiful!

Whichever way you look Cornwall is beautiful. It is a patchwork of fields separated by low stone walls, grazing cattle and sheep atop rugged stone cliffs broken by small sandy coves and little seaside villages......just gorgeous! I can see why the people of Cornwall think they live in a separate country to the rest of England.

But for me, the best treat was yet to come.......stay tuned and
Happy Stitching!
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Saturday, 22 September 2012

The Grand Tour!

Top Gear and I have been away three nearly three weeks now and I am feeling a little guilty about not keeping this blog up to a quick catch up is in order.
We started this trip in London and I have to say I enjoyed the city much better this time than last year. London sparkled in the post Olympic / Jubilee glow, and the weather was superb.

We enjoyed visits to the Royal Albert Hall, Covent Garden, the theatre, Harrods for afternoon tea and threw in Madame Tussauds for touristy fun.

After London the touring should have begun in earnest but we had no real plan beyond picking up a rental car at Heathrow so where to next? No problem, head to Dorking in Surrey, it has two quilting/ craft shops. Top Gear didn't have a better plan so he was very compliant, though a little worried this would set a precedent for the next five weeks!
An hour out of London I was at "The Quilt Room" perusing books and fabric and then a quick visit to " Gilliangladrags", a shop full of wool felting wonders.

The next day was Top Gear's turn. We spent the day at the Beaulieu Autojumble. Let me tell you...... I was the GOOD wife!! Two thousand stalls (over thirty acres) of car junk all had to be perused. It was pay back time for all the times he has waited for me outside quilting shops all over the world.

The following day was spent in much more elegant surrounds. We found our way to Highclere Castle AKA Downton Abbey. It was lovely to see the place in real life and we enjoyed a cream tea on the lawn.

We also managed to explore the nearby town of Bradford on Avon. A really pretty, old stone town,where Top Gear got to see the old town apothecary. We finished the afternoon with coffee at this wonky little tea house built in the 1600's .

We took it easy the next day, just wandering in the car with no specific destination....until....I realised we were quite close to the shop voted "Best Patchwork Shop in the UK" . Of course, we had to go!!!!!! I spent a happy hour perusing the shelves while Top Gear had a cuppa with the gentlemanly owner of Midsomer Quilts at Norton Green.
By this time we had made our way quite close to the breathtaking city of Bath, and even though we had been before we went again. First stop was the American museum so I could see the quilts again but we arrived too early, so we headed into town to explore the Royal Crescent and attended a glass blowing exhibition for the famous blue Bath Glass. We lost track of time so by the time we got back to the museum it was closed, so no quilts for me this visit.....just a sneaky visit to the patchwork shop in Bath!!!!!!

The next morning we decided to go for a walk along the towpath of a canal that ran near the pub at which were staying. There were lots of canal boats moored and I have to admit to a bit of a fascination about how people live on these long, skinny, itinerant vessels.
We stopped to watch one couple negotiate their boat through a lock and Top Gear used his muscles to help the lady open and close the lock gates. They offered us a ride up to the next bridge so we hopped on, got a short tour of the boat and went for a ride. It was pretty much a caravan on water, except you have to jump out to negotiate locks and swing bridges.

We whiled away the morning like this then headed for Storrington in West Sussex where we had a cottage booked for the next week. More to come next instalment!
Happy stitching!
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