Tuesday, July 19, 2011

What I did on my holidays

I go back to work on Wednesday after two weeks off .

As Mr LRH didn't have holidays, I took off  to NZ to visit two of my lovely brothers for the first 10 days or so of my break - and it was great. Not the best weather for a visit (cold, wet, a bit dreary) but nice and relaxing after lots of changes and stresses at work. And good, too, to have a visit unrelated to sad times - previous trips over the past five years or so have been when my mum was ill and for her funeral.

One brother and his partner live in Wellington with their two littlies; it was such fun to get to know my niece and nephew (4 and 1 respectively later this month) and enjoy family outings and simple things like reading stories to my niece (who loves books and libraries and was so impressed to be told that her auntie works in a library). She and I had a fun outing on the cable car to the superb children's playground in the Botanical Gardens. If you're in Wellington, make sure you visit the Minerva Bookshop in Cuba St - it specialises in textile books and magazines; be warned, you'll be there for ages!
I made a quilt for my niece when she was born so I just had to make one for her baby brother. I had a lot of fun choosing 'boy' fabrics and not so much fun putting it together (blame my terrible spray basting technique). With some unsticking and restitching (and nervously machine quilting with the walking foot on my new machine for the first time) it turned out well - phew! I used a free Two Little Banshees tutorial; what a great pattern . I'll definitely do that one again.

I travelled by bus to Auckland - where my youngest brother and his wife live - because I wanted to see more of the countryside. The land was so lush and green and despite the grey, gloomy weather, the scenery was beautiful and I really enjoyed the trip, although it was a long one - 11 hours or so.

We had some lovely outings - to Devonport, a pretty suburb across the harbour, where we had a delicious lunch (zucchini and mussel fritters for me, yum!) and mooched in bookshops, galleries and craft shops; and to Matakana, about an hour north of Auckland, where there was more yummy food and a fabulous pottery. Some gorgeous pieces made their way home (intact, I'm glad to say) in my hand luggage.

At the weekend I took a bus to Paihia in the Bay of Islands (four hours each way) just because I could. The weather was wonderful, the sea views divine and it was just so relaxing. I stayed in a so-so motel on the waterfront and enjoyed mooching around in the sunshine. 

On the Sunday morning I took the ferry over to Russell, a little town that was briefly the capital of New Zealand in the early days. Russell is a lovely little place that wasn't always so peaceful - think Maori Wars and a rough, tough frontier atmosphere and you'll get the picture.

Then it was back to Auckland and back home the next day after a very boring flight and horrible food. It was a short trip, but a merry one.

Add to that a couple of enjoyable catch-ups with crafty friends, lots of reading and general mooching, getting up late... well, you know what holidays are like.

Back to reality tomorrow, alas.

PS: Sorry about the red background; I just can't seem to get rid of it.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Christmas in July swap

I've mentioned before that I'm part of an online stitching group called
Friends in Stitching. And yes, we all think of each other as friends although many of us have not met (although we are planning a get-together next year; fingers crossed).
We do regular swaps for each other and the latest was a Christmas in July stocking swap. I don'tknow about Queensland, where some of the girls in the group live, but in Ballarat, where I live, it has certainly been cold enough to feel properly Christmassy.
Anyway - I received my stocking from Tracy in Narromine on Friday and have been admiring it ever since. I love the choice of fabrics and that quirky reindeer stitchery.
Maree was my swap partner - I raided my stash and coincidentally used the same pattern (by Anni Downs of Hatched and Patched) as Tracy. Aren't the results so different!
And I was lucky enough to be able to hand over Maree's stocking in person. Maree and her family live on a farm in NSW and have been travelling around for a few weeks. They'd arranged to get together with fellow bloggy friends Jodie (Vintage Ric Rac) and Rachel(Four Wise Monkeys) and we had a lovely afternoon tea and lots of laughs at Jodie's house - thanks, Jod! It was great to meet Maree and her lovely family.