Goodbye UK Holiday

I flew back into Canada yesterday. John has stayed until Friday. (He has to work. It will also give him more chance to see his father; he is still very ill.)

We did have the weekend to do a last few things and on Saturday we went into the National Portrait gallery. We had never been but were recommended to go by our friend in France. I’m soooooo glad we did. It was marvellous and I’m now annoyed we didn’t go sooner…20140730-064839-24519186.jpg

To start, we had lunch in their top floor restaurant which has the most amazing view over the Trafalgar Square area…

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A Pimms and Lemonade to enjoy fully of course!

Then we wandered back down through the floors which are organised by Tudors and Stuarts, then Victorians and 20th Century, then modern day and exhibitions. There were some very historic portraits on display of Henry VIII and his wives along with Queen Elizabeth. There were some interesting ones as well like the only reliable sketch of Jane Austin…

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An almost lost portrait of the Bronte sisters that was found folded on top a wardrobe…

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John found a portrait of Octavia Hill, the founder of the National Trust and social reform housing in the UK. (Don’t ask! He’d read a book on her, he’s all smitten.)…

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Interesting, temporary exhibit on Vivien Leigh. I love her “I’ll worry about it tomorrow” motto…

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We got to see the new, first portrait of Kate Middleton, it was huge. I was taken by this one of Dame Judy Dench though…

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The main reason for going was to see the BP sponsored portraits of the year award exhibit. It was definitely worth checking out and I can see us trying to go regularly.

We got a few shopping spots in as well on the way back to the train too…

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(Hatchard’s is a beautiful old bookshop with royal appointment in Picadilly Circus, worth a look around for sure. They are opening one in St. Pancras!)

One last cheers before back to some sewing before the cottage in August…

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Yeah back to France

We were so lucky to be able to arrange our trip to see our friend in France again. His holiday home is in a sleepy little village in Francescas in the south-west of France. It’s a rural farming area with the most beautiful sunflower fields…20140728-124754-46074029.jpg

We did a couple of rides; my favourite being to this restaurant for lunch…

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This year we also went visiting some beautiful villages that we hadn’t previously got to…

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We also saw some funny things…pizza from a whole in the wall? Macaroon undies?…

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Now to share a real excitement, we got to see a stage of the Tour de France again. I don’t know how I didn’t get the places right but on Friday they were going directly through our friend’s town! We were so thrilled. Of course we’d been watching online and keeping up but I thought we’d miss it. It was a rainy day but still fun to catch. It was dry for the Caravan coming through, then chucked it down with rain then let up for the riders zooming through. They were protecting their leaders and riding in teams at this point. Got a great view of the yellow jersey…

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Goodbye France I will miss you for now!…

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The Beach

The summer adventure continued from Barcelona to Castelldefels, a beach town about 20 min from downtown Barcelona. It was an amazing decision after the sweaty and hot touring of the city. Again I think I booked a great hotel, one of the only ones on the beach side of the road and we had a balcony overlooking the sea…20140727-115349-42829667.jpg

Came in handy for watching the kite surfers one evening…thinking of my kite loving father…

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We also happened to luck into a fantastic local festival on Saturday night. It was incredible with stalls, food, a parade and massive stage set up on the beach to show a play of the local history, complete with music and fireworks…

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Further down the beach a classic beach rave was going on. It was actually quite cool with DJ beats while one guy played the electric violin and another a sax…

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I enjoyed Spain but I have to admit I was excited to drive back to France where I could at least understand the language a bit better and be back at our friend’s holiday home for the third lucky year in a row…stay tuned

Barcelona

Where was I before patchy internet in the south of France…ah yes… When we lived in the UK we asked many people if they could go to three places in Europe where would it be. For most, if not all, they said you should see Barcelona. After spending a short three days there we can see why. I enjoyed that there are so many different parts to the city. You can go to the beach, see an amazing cathedral, walk in a park, marvel at stunning architecture…and the list goes on. (Unlike other parts of Spain you could also get food at any time of day and didn’t have to wait until 8:00 to eat dinner, formal restaurants still didn’t serve until 8 though.)

Luckily, our hotel room had a balcony where we could get our first glimpses of this remarkable city…20140725-211300-76380395.jpg20140725-211300-76380032.jpg

We don’t often do this but on our first day we got the Hop On Hop off bus tour and did a loop to see the major sights in one go. (There were actually two routes and we did another on the second day.) Here are some of the lovely sights from the top of the bus…

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Olympic Park from the bus…

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And more from said bus…

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Of course there is only so much you can see from a bus. We also wandered the streets and found fountains, markets, Gaudi Park, etc…

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A highlight of the trip was going to Gaudi’s, still being built, Sagrada Familia church. (Note: for goodness sakes please buy tickets online before you go for a timed entry. Don’t be one of those poor souls lined up for hours around the building to get in, RIDICULOUS. Our time was booked for between 10:30 and 10:45 and we walked right in with only a 5 min wait for the audio guide.) Anyways, it was breathtaking. It is modern and feels very natural inside with pillars that feel like large trees. It really was breathtaking…

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There was some quilting inspiration in the museum with some of the stone work, recognise the grandmother’s flower garden pattern…

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Personally, I’d like to teach at the old school that they used to use for the children of the workers…

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It was my birthday this day so we also decided to walk down to the water to rent bikes. It was an interesting walk through an Arch de Triumph and surrounding park area…

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Riding along the beach from one end to the other was a great b-day treat…

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After our ride we walked back to the hotel through the old Gothic Quarter and found the MOST amazing gelato (I got fig and pistachio) AND fabric store. It was truly amazing filled with the most modern Japanese fabrics…

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A whirl wind 3 days in Barcelona but so happy we went! After the city we were looking forward to 2 days at the beach at Castelldefels. Stay tuned…

Summer Holidays

Well, the holidays are in full swing and John and I have been in the UK and Spain so far. Unfortunately, John’s father is not particularly well so our plans did change somewhat but we have carried on knowing he is in good hands. We were in the UK for a week and were able to go up to revisit our old home town of Harpenden. It felt a bit bizarre to be back but homey as well…

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I found quite a few teacher gifts for the end of the year (most don’t get out until the middle to end of July by the way!) I fancied this one…

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Amidst hospital visits we were able to take Johns mom to London for a morning of visiting. We had never been to the “Welcome Museum” across from Euston station, very near my absolute fav building St. Pancras. It was a neat museum of “curious medical history”. FYI, the gift shop and café were quite good…

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We happened to hit an unusually hot British summer day and St. Pancras looked stunning…

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Of course I got a new Cath Kidston bag…

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On Monday last week we left the UK and flew to Toulouse in the South of France. We rented a car and headed towards Barcelona. I’d never been and have been told many great things. On the way there we took the Pyrenean route through the small country of Andorra, gorgeous!…

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In John’s early paddling days he helped with the slalom at the ’92 Barcelona Olympics. The course was in La Seu D’Urgell and we were able to stay in this beautiful town for 2 nights. It was a sleepy town with a stunning ancient cathedral and we lucked into being there on a Tuesday which was a market day…

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John even got to paddle…

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I found some interesting crafty shops as well. There were quite a few little sewing shops for such a small town…

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It was here that we first really understood Siesta time, as the streets were deserted from about 1-5. Then you couldn’t even think about eating dinner until 8:00 when the restaurants reopened. Most don’t eat until 10:00. I had some nice truffles one night…

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Before we left John insisted I pop into a building by the hotel to check out the most bizarre box of rubber bands. It appeared to be some sort of art installation…

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The drive was again beautiful out of the Pyrennes towards the coast and Barcelona…

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Lots of tunnels and cyclists later we arrived in the city. Stay tuned for that adventure tomorrow if the internet works!…

Sewing for me

Happy Birthday Canada! I’m sorry to say it’s a rainy Canada Day here in the Tri-Cities area but I’m sure everyone is still having a relaxing time.

I have been quite focused on sewing clothes lately. Probably because it feels like I’m learning a few new things each time I make something. If you follow me on Instagram you will have already seen many of these pictures but I’ll share more information here.

I’ve had some beautiful Liberty jersey fabric cut for this tank top dress for ages and my kick off to a clothes sewing binge started with this pattern…
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I was worried to cut it out because it was so soft and slippery but I just plunged in and it wasn’t too bad…

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I think I tackled the Made By Rae Washi Dress next. It’s been so popular online and for good reason I think. There are so many variations and customized fit options. I took her advice and did a muslin to test the size of the bodice. I actually made three because I discovered I’m in between a small and a medium…

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I adjusted on the pattern and then cut the pretty fabric knowing, for once, that it would be right…

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I love the fit and can’t wait to make another with some other changes. I want to do a tank top version with a scoop neck, keeping the pockets of course…

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Next, I admittedly went a bit nuts with the Made by Rae Ruby Dress pattern. I wasn’t sure about the lack of shaping in this dress but it seems to look quite nice once it’s done. I’ve made a dress for myself and two top versions. I’ve also made two dresses for a friend and one for my mom out of this pattern. It’s too simple and easy to whip up! Love it…

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I think I may tackle the popular Staple Dress by April Rhodes today. In some of her new fabric.