Sunday, 30 March 2014

From Amsterdam to Essen!

Thought it was about time I bought everyone up to date! This is an epic blog so grab a cuppa before reading! It is sometimes hard to get the internet connections and time, together in one place to write a blog!
After a lovely visit to Amsterdam we caught the fast train to Paris to pick up our hire car. We only spent one night in Paris as we are coming back at the end of our trip. It was a beautiful evening. We had dinner in a traditional French restaurant and then a walk by the Seine ....... not bad just to pick up a car!

The next morning it was hard to resist another quick taste of Paris so we headed out again for a coffee and another stroll.

Paris was magic in the spring sunshine but our car beckoned!

Where to, I said? I dunno, he said. Well, we have to go north, I said. Yes, he said? Belgium, I said? Been there, he said. Luxembourg,I said? Good idea, he said. Got the Tom Tom, I said? Yep, but it's not charged, he said. Uuuuuuuurrrrrrggggghhhhh, I said.

Heading out of an underground car park in the middle of Paris, without a working sat nav and driving on the right side (wrong for us) in an unfamiliar car was not our best moment! We only caused a minor traffic jam when the car stalled on the wrong side of the road, blocking a major entrance to the Gare Du Nord! After lots of tooting and hand waving, a not very nice French man, muttering under his breath, begrudgingly helped us start the car and we were away!

Luxembourg was the perfect destination. I had not been there for over 30 years and the beauty of the unchanged city hit me again as we drove in. Now world heritage listed, it is spectacular! Built around the rock gorge of the Petrusse Valley, it is a unique and truly elegant city!

That's me, standing on the Chemin del a Corniche, translated as "Europe's most beautiful balcony". Have to say I agree!

We decided to spend a day just wandering! The 2.5 hour self guided walking tour took us over 6 hours by the time we deviated down every little alleyway, window shopped and stopped for coffee.

Such a lovely place!
Our goal was to get to Essen in Germany, so off we went again! Next stop Bacharach!
Situated on the "Mittelrhein" (Middle Rhine) it is a lovely little German gem! It is a small walled town, right on the River Rhine, that boasts spectacular views of the river from it's castle, has it's own church ruins, hillsides of vineyards and a market platz with local cafés and pubs. We stayed in a pensione for two nights and the local couple who owned it welcomed us! Not quite open for summer (most places open at Easter), they cooked just for us and pointed us in the right direction for good coffee, local wine and food, and sightseeing .
This area of the Rhine is gorgeous and the cruise boats sail right past to stop at the bigger centres!

Castles abound at every turn along this part of the Rhine!

Sorry about the quality of the pictures but I was taking them from a moving car as we made our way up the Rhine heading to Essen!
Hmmmmm Essen, modern, commercial, not very picture postcard but we are here for a very good reason. Top Gear is going to the biggest car show in Europe.......for three days and yes, he has bought me a ticket!
Day one, he went off by himself to get an overview. Left me at a loose end, so what is a girl to do! I shopped! Essen doesn't have much else to do and I have to say the shopping was excellent! Good quality German-made shoes on end of winter sales, coats and scarves......perfect for heading back to an Aussie winter! I was a happy camper!

Next day I felt I needed to be the "good wife" so headed off to the car show with Top Gear! Big mistake! Twelve convention halls filled with cars of every make and model, car bits, car posters, car clothes, car museum displays, on and on and on! Five hours in this was me!

Notice only men in the background!!!!

I have new respect for Top Gear when he trails around with me at these quilt shows I go to! I think I might release him when we get to Nantes!
Still in Essen,today is a day of rest.......time to write this blog, read and sew a bit......I think we deserve it!
Stay tuned for the next part of the adventure! Only two weeks in, five to go!
Happy stitching!

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Friday, 21 March 2014

And so it begins!

Well, I made it! I was happy in my groove at home, enjoying my friends and sewing time, looking forward to the balmy autumn weather but no, it is time to travel. So, after procrastinating over packing and dreading a long flight Top Gear and I are languishing in Amsterdam. After all the angst, I managed to pack in a couple of hours and our flight was helps that the second leg our plane was only 2/3 full and I got to lay full length over four seats!
Amsterdam is as beautiful as I remember it! It is a city with a bit of a vibe, old but modern, lively but quiet, busy but relaxed, traditional but stylish. Our hotel is just a few streets back from the main centre and overlooks a canal but it is quiet, just lovely. This is the view we wake up to each day......

The first day we just wandered.......taking it all in! We ended up at the Rijks Museum, perusing the art of Rembrandt, Van Gogh and their friends! When our legs got tired we took a canal boat home!

Day Two I was on a mission......I had walked past Den Haan and Waganmaker, the Dutch fabric shop, the previous day but it was early and still closed so I timed it better the second day. I spent a lovely hour or so perusing their shelves and chatting to the lovely ladies. It was impossible to leave without buying chintz........

so this kit is coming home with me!
Next stop was Top Gear's choice, so we headed of to the famous Gasson Diamond factory to see diamonds being cut. Apparently this old Jewish company are world famous for the quality and cut of their stones and jewellery. I may have made another small purchase here too......but enough said except "thank you, my darling husband!"
The day was bright and sunny and my day sparkled in so many ways.
It was a pretty afternoon just relaxing by the canals!

The next day we awoke to the sound of gentle rain and it was the day we had booked to go to one of the top destinations in the world.....The Kuekenhof Tulip Gardens!
Forget the rain, it was still beautiful. Although we were early in the season there were enough tulips to ooooh and ahhhh over. The gardens are immaculate

and the colours are spectacular!

There were swathes of colour at every turn!

I even got to be a little Dutch girl........well, the giant clogs helped with the "little"!

And yes, the sun came out just as we were leaving!!
Last stop for the day was the Amsterdam museum and I was quite taken with the carpet in the entrance hall......have to say I quite liked it!

Stay tuned for more adventures.......only six and a half weeks to go!
Happy Stitching!

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Wednesday, 12 March 2014

Day trip to Avalon

What could be better than a day out with a friend, well, that would have to be a day out with a friend to a quilt show and a quilt shop!
Last weekend Cardygirl (sorry, this app won't do hypertext, so google it!) and I headed south to a beautiful part of the world to visit the Avalon Quilters annual show. It was a happy, easy day and lots of fun.
First stop was, of course, a lovely quilt shop....Cottage Quiltworks. It was necessary to stock up on some essentials, such as beautiful fabrics, a cute sewing box and some thread.

We then spoilt ourselves with a healthy lunch at one of the local cafés before heading off to the Quilt Show.
It was a good little show. There were a diverse range of quilts and it was easy to see these girls love what they do with individual style.
I loved the quilting on Jan Powell's beautiful quilt. She had made it her own with quirky appliqué and endless, meandering and doodling quilting.

I know the photo is not very clear but you can get the idea!

There was a little bit of everything, from quirky......

To pictorial...........

To traditional.........

This one by Kerry Dear of "Candied Hexagons" fame.
Even the sale table yielded some treasures. A new sewing pouch and nifty needle keeper came home with me.

We were warmly welcomed by the friendly ladies and even scored an invite to a sewing get together in the future! We'll hold you to that invite, Jan!
The whole day made me smile and I feel lucky to belong to the community known as quilters!
Happy Stitching!

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Thursday, 6 March 2014

A Generous Chance Encounter

You will have read from my last blog post that I have been on a road trip to Canberra. Along the way, Top Gear obligingly stops at any patchwork shops I want . One such stop was The Craft Depot at Pennant Hills. There I found a fat quarter of a bright, acidly, limey yellow floral. I wanted more, so with it clutched in my hand I proceeded to peruse the shelves for meterage. Alas, none was to be found and staff said the computer wasn't showing any left!
Up stepped Marianne! She had been eavesdropping on my search and went on to tell me she had about 2.5 m of it in her stash and that I could have it if I wanted. I wanted!!
She apologised that she had already cut it into four wide strips but it didn't suit the project she had bought it for and would probably never use it so she would send it to me.
I gave her my details but I honestly thought I would never receive the fabric.....she was just being nice.
She was truly nice. I arrived home a few days later to find a parcel waiting for me, just as she promised.

How very, very generous. Thank you so much Marianne. It has confirmed my belief that quilters are truly the best people on earth.
The red and white fabrics I collected on my trip have turned into a container of hexies!

I am thinking a simple Grandmother's Flower Garden project to take on the next overseas jaunt, looming fast! The background will be hexified too, but thinking......
maybe this........

Or this.........

I do like the yellow and I want it to be a bit out there, colour wise.
Sensible me, will probably choose this..........

I pondered green for a while but the blue draws me back!
Anybody like to help?

Decisions, decisions........ I think it really is all an avoidance tactic for packing clothes. Why ,oh, why can't we board a plane in our PJs then wake up refreshed at the other end with our bags packed with exactly the right clothes for the climate. I need to be 5 again, where all I had to do was pick my favourite toy to take ( now my sewing) and then Mummy does all the rest!!
Still a few days yet, no need to panic!!!!!
Happy Stitching

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Tuesday, 4 March 2014

A Cultural Interlude

Last week Top Gear and I had a quick trip to Canberra. I can't say I was looking forward to it as it sounded a bit like a school excursion to me.
To soothe my cranky soul, he detoured via Berrima on the way to Canberra......but it backfired because Berrima Patchwork is closed on Tuesdays. I had to suffice with a luscious lunch at The Magpie Cafe.....with cake for dessert!
There was a full agenda in Canberra. Treasures of the Incas at the National Gallery, Ancient Maps at the National Library, the War Memorial, Parliament House, the Telstra Tower........the list went on and on.

The War Memorial was my favourite place. I even managed to find my grandfather's name on the roll of honour and left a poppy for him! It pleased me to report back to my 89 year old Dad that I had done this.
The Telstra Tower was pretty good too! It was good to get perspective over Canberra and surrounds.

The map exhibition was intriguing, maps from Dampier, Tasman and Cook and how they finally pieced our coastline photos allowed
To be fair, I did enjoy it but my brain got tired........but Top Gear knows how to fix that. Time out here was the perfect pick me up.

This shop has a great range of fabric...... I managed to add to my stash of red and white fabrics.

All in all, we had a great few days and to top it off Berrima Patchwork was open on our way home!
Happy Stitching!

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