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!…

Moving Days?

I bet you think that because the moving company is packing us up to move to Canada that I’d have been frantically clearing out on the weekend, right? Well we were but of course there were some last minute sewing projects to finish! Moyna, my lovely apparel guru, came back on Friday and I finished up a custom corduroy skirt. Didn’t have enough material to do a waistband so did a facing with lining. Also, we experimented with a lapped zip which you normally wouldn’t do with this type of waist but it worked out fine…
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Hand hemmed…
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Fits great I think. Don’t mind the bottom shots but wanted you to see the full effect!…20140113-023142 pm.jpg20140113-023204 pm.jpg20140113-023219 pm.jpg20140113-023229 pm.jpg20140113-023239 pm.jpg20140113-023249 pm.jpg20140113-023257 pm.jpg

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I also whipped up a special beach tote with oil cloth for Lady Fia and Lord Isaac for when then summer in the Channel Islands…

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Oil cloth is a bit sticky to sew with, to say the least, so I took some internet advice and used masking tape on the foot. It helped a lot I think. I also tried putting tape directly on the area I wanted to sew and then pulled it off afterwards, that worked too…

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Packing in full swing now and I’ve had to say goodbye to my extraordinarily lovely UK sewing room…

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Back to the UK

The first week of school is finished so now I feel like summer is truly over and the autumn has begun. I flew back to the UK last week and bizarrely had trouble with my WordPress app on the iPad so was waiting to make my first post back after the summer. Magically, as all things computers seemed to do, it just started working again.

I had a wonderful summer at the cottage and was lucky to also be able to see many friends that I haven’t seen in some time. It’s always nice to catch up with people. I was even able to give another dress away to a very sweet peanut…

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Yes, she’s a dancer!

At the cottage mom and I worked hard on our hexagons too! We didn’t finished, of course, but we sure did sew a lot. I actually didn’t get as much reading time, my only regret! I can’t complain though because I think I probably had the most beautiful place to sew on earth…

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It was funny because I couldn’t stop taking pictures of my little finished hexi pieces. They were so cute all piled up and then sewn together…

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I also got pics of mom’s fabric way as well…

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We did so many that I even had to take out some of the papers from the inner flower…

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Tip: take the time to hole punch your pieces for easier taking out.

I will leave you today with some cottage shots. Especially check out my pet frog in his interesting housing choice, my dad’s kites and as always the amazing Georgian Bay rocks and sunsets…

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Goodbye cottage, hope to be there next year!

Mom and I keep sewing away on our hexies so I will definitely keep you updated. I’m also trying to convince mom to do some “Mom Monday” posts so we’ll see what happens there. She’s making so many neat things that it would be a shame not to show the off too!

Touring Jersey

Jersey has been a whirl wind of sight seeing. We started with a tour of the beach and church where Lady Fia’s parents were married. It’s always been a sore point that I couldn’t attend their wedding 10 years ago because I was in New Zealand. I vowed to see Jersey at some point after that. They were married in the cutest church…

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Interestingly there were many German soldiers buried here who have since been mode to a grave yard in France…

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For a more organised tour we went to the Jersey War Tunnels. It was originally built as a dry armoury in tunnels underground but when the Germans thought they may be attacked by the British they also made it into an underground hospital. It was never used. It was incredible as there are kilometres of tunnels and larger rooms. The museum was very well done, explaining the surrender to the Germans, life under occupation and the final liberation. You can also see unfinished tunnels. It’s hard to imagine that prisoners were able to build something so stable and lasting…

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I also found a bit of crafty information, of course for a very real purpose not just for fun…

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Most of the rest of our time has been spent ogling the beautiful scenery. We even got out in Fia’s grandpa’s fishing boat for a tour. Here are some scenery shots from around the island…

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We’ve also had some lovely times with our friends. It’s been so fun to see the kiddies having fun. For those interested check out our fun below…

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Jersey cream soft serve ice cream can’t be beat. It’s the best soft serve I’ve ever had, so buttery and thick.

We ended the day yesterday with a lobster and crab feast, caught by Fia’s Grandpa. My dad would have loved that!…

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A Jersey Bean

We are having the most wonderful time visiting Lady Fia and Lord Isaac in Jersey. I don’t even know where to start!

When we left France for Jersey we caught the ferry from St. Malo in France…

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It was a quick hour and twenty minutes to Jersey and the view coming in was beautiful…

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Lady Fia was in full silliness when we arrived as she was very excited to see us. She quickly tried on her seashore dress…

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It fit her perfectly I think!

We said a quick hello to her mum’s parents and hit our first beach, lovely soft white sand…

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The island is amazing as it’s riddled with history from both early French and later German fortifications. Like the above in the water, you can see these all over the island.

Later in the day we cycled to and had ice cream on a German bunker, as you do…

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The view is outrageous! Stay tuned for more Jersey adventures…

Paris Stage 21

What a day! Not sure where to start…

John and I got up early yesterday in Le Mans and took an hour train ride into Paris for the final stage of the Tour de France. (I’m glad the new royal baby didn’t over shadow yesterday’s events lol! Congrats Kate and Will! Closer to my Aunt Nora’s birthday I believe than mine so no money coming my way!) It was a gorgeous day to be in Paris, much better than when we went in February brrrrr. It was an evening finish this year so we had lots of time to walk around and eat macaroons by the Seine, too yum…

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We also spent some time in Jardin du Luxembourg. It was lovely with so many people out and about. The little lake in front was adorable with children playing with the sailboats that you could rent for 2 euros, just John’s thing…

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There was even a Highschool orchestra playing in the gazebo…lovely…

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Outside the garden gates L’Equipe newspaper had put up a whole set of stunning blown up photos of past Tour stages, it was fabulous…

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Then off to the race. We headed for the the Place de Concorde just before the bend to the Champs Élysées. It was shady there and a wall to sit and stand on, so perfect! You have to walk by the Louvre of course first…

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We also just had to get our photo at Norway corner…

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We were a tad too early but we did get a good spot. There is always something to see as the caravan comes in before the race. We each snagged a green PMU sprint jersey shirt too that they were giving out free to the crowd so that was cool. The atmosphere was electric. We tried to get as many pictures as we could but once the race started it’s hard to get good ones as they whiz past!…

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As you can see Team Sky lead the way for the first lap with their leader and winner Christopher Froome…

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Overall it was so great to see them go around so many times. It’s definitely worth the effort of getting there. I’m totally gutted that Mark Cavendish didn’t win the sprint finish but at least I did pick him out of the pack. You really have to look as they do go by amazingly fast. I also picked out some of my other favourite riders…Andy Schleck, Cadel Evans, Alberto Contador and the new best young rider from Columbia! It’s fun to catch a glimpse in person.

It was a late night when we got back to our hotel in Paris near the train station (by the way if you are looking for a decently priced and standard/modern/clean/know what you are going to get hotel in Europe try a Mercure. We’ve stayed at a few now in different cities and they have always been totally modern and fine for a couple of nights). This morning we got up at 6 to get our train back to Le Mans at 7. Tired now!

We had a full day today going to the Canadian Juno Beach centre (I’ll write about that soon) and tomorrow we are off to Jersey to cuddle Lady Fia and see her mummy’s home. Can’t wait.