The Month That...

May…The Month That

…And this is why I can’t do weekly posts, I can’t even keep up with the monthly’s haha! Let me cast my mind back and round up the month that was May 🙂

Ely Cathedral

My Mum and her friend are keen photographers so when they mentioned getting together for a photography day I jumped at the chance. We decided to visit the pretty Cathedral City of Ely in Cambridgeshire. It was a beautiful day so we sat outside and had lunch by the canal.

Ely.JPGBefore making our way up to the Cathedral.

Ely Cathedral.JPG

The Cathedral has origins dating back to the 11th Century and the City (it’s called a City due to the Cathedral, but really it’s the size of a Town) was developed around it. It is a truly beautiful place, and we were so lucky that on the day we visited the choir was practicing for an upcoming concert. To hear the voices sing as we walked around was quite something else!

Ely ChoirThere were so many interesting things to see and photograph…Ely Cathedral Pics…and I came away feeling so inspired that I am using some of the images to re-do my C&G Course Module 5… after 2 attempts at my accessory design I am DETERMINED to get this module ticked off once and for all!!

C&G Knitting.jpg

A Weekend in Portsmouth

On the last May bank holiday weekend Mr. A and I took a trip to the seaside town of Portsmouth – famous for it’s Historic Royal Dockyard which houses HMS Victory, HMS Warrior, the remains of The Mary Rose, and other national treasures.

The reason for our visit was thanks to my Mum gifting us a wine tasting voucher for Christmas. We chose to visit the Three Choirs Vineyard, just a short drive from Portsmouth and make a weekend of it 🙂

During the afternoon we got to sample 3 white wines which were each paired with a complimentary cheese.

Wine Tasting

These were the wines we tasted, my favourite was the middle one – May Hill, it was a bit sweeter than what I usually go for but paired with the cheese it was absolutely delicious!

Three Chiors VineyardIt was a lovely way to spend the afternoon, and needless to say we came away with a few souvenir bottles 😉

From here we headed to our B&B which was in Southsea, next door to Portsmouth. It was such a beautiful day that after checking in we hot footed it straight to the seafront.

SouthseaJust look at that sky!! We had a lovely time sat on the promenade, eating ice cream and watching the world go by…and in the evening we went for dinner and a few cocktails 🙂

The next morning after a hearty hotel breakfast we made our way to the Historic Royal Dockyard. Our first port (if you’ll excuse the pun 😉 ) of call was HMS Victory.

Victory Portsmouth

Launched in 1765 HMS Victory is the world’s oldest naval ship still in commission, she even still has her own crew! She is most famous for being the flagship of Lord Nelson at the Battle of Trafalgar on 1805, and the place where he met his demise (the spot where he was shot is marked with a brass plaque on the deck). She was moved to Portsmouth in 1922 where she has been preserved as a museum ship.

With a crew of 821 and 104 guns on board during the Battle of Trafalgar it’s hard to imagine what life and conditions would have been like during battle. Especially when it took 20 men to man each cannon in very little space!

Warrior Cannons

There are still 8 original guns onboard the ship – and these are the kind of things that would have been hurtled through the air…

Cannon missilesAnd imagine trying to get to sleep here…

Victory Hammocks

No thank you. A Sailors life would not have been for me!

We also visited the HMS Warrior 1860 warship and HMS M.33 – a warship from World War 1. The Dockyard also houses the 16th Century ship The Mary Rose, which sank in 1545 and was reclaimed from the sea in 1982. However the exhibition is not yet open to the public until later this year…still, it’s a good excuse to go back one day!

So that was May…oh and we also had an amazing weekend in Porto, Portugal which you can read about here if you like 🙂

I’ll hopefully be back at the weekend with a long overdue knitting post!

Travel

A Weekend in Porto

So Mr. A worked his socks off and won us a trip to the beautiful city of Porto, Portugal!

Thursday

After meeting some of the other winners in Gatwick on the Thursday morning we boarded a plane and arrived at our hotel ‘The Yeatman’ in the late afternoon.

The Yeatman Hotel.JPGAnd wow! What a stunning place…

The Yeatman Hotel PortoThis was the view from our room…View from the Yeatman.JPGAnd this was the view from our bath!

View from the Yeatman Bath

After welcome drinks on the terrace and a quick freshen up we headed to the lobby to be transported to our venue for evening dinner on the beach – via tuk tuk’s! What a perfect way to get a taste of the city!

Porto.JPGAnd what a perfect way to end our first day, with drinks and dinner at a beachfront restaurant 🙂

Porto Beach

Friday

It was an early start on Friday as we departed Porto by train to visit the Douro Valley, an area famous for it’s wine and port production. Our destination was the Quinta de Pacheca wine estate where on arrival we were met with a guide who told us all about how the wine was produced and the traditions that are still employed to this day – such as harvesting the grapes by hand and squashing the grapes by foot (which involves a military style march for a couple of hours, followed by ‘freestyle’ squashing – where they get the music on!)

It was then time to visit the cellars and sample some of their fine produce…

Quinta da Pacheca Wine estateAnd we were even able to make up our own bottle of Port to take home…

IMG_3839

….bottled, corked, sealed and labelled, all by my own fair hand 🙂

A sumptuous BBQ style lunch followed in the restaurant overlooking the vineyards…it was such a pretty setting. After lunch we hopped on a boat that took us partway up the Douro river, another chance to take in the spectacular scenery.

Douro River.JPGOn Friday evening we were taken to one of the oldest wine lodges in Porto – Grahams Wine Lodge for a tour and a spot of Port tasting.

Port tasting

We tried (from front to back) a Ruby six grapes reserve, a 30 year old tawny port and a 2000 vintage port. My favourite was the vintage 🙂 And speaking of vintage…

A vintage year

….apparently 1977 was a fine year 😉

Another beautiful dinner followed in the Barrel Room restaurant which overlooked Old Porto. Needless to say we slept well that night!

Saturday

Saturday was our day of leisure in which to explore Porto. But before we hit the streets we had chosen to do an additional activity in the morning – the Rib Boat Experience…

Porto Rib Boat

What started off as an exhilarating ride up the river with a few donuts thrown in then saw us tearing out into open sea bouncing over waves and clinging on for dear life! Talk about blowing the cobwebs away!

Fresh faced and a little wonky legged we then headed into the heart of Porto, taking a cable car up to the top of the Dom LuĂ­s bridge to take in the spectacular views.

The Dom LuĂ­s Bridge.JPG

DSC02425.JPGWhilst Mr. A and the others headed to a cafe on the waterfront, I was keen to seek out a LYS for some souvenir yarn 🙂 So camera in hand and armed with the shop finder on the Ravelry app I went exploring via the backstreets.

As I climbed my way up the city I couldn’t help but stop to take photo’s of the beautiful tiled buildings lining the roads and streets.

IMG_8030

IMG_8072Here are some close up’s of the tiles, or ‘Azulejo’s’ that I passed along the way…

Portugeuse House Tiles.jpgEventually I reached my destination – the Ovelha Negra yarn shop…

Ovelha Negra Yarn shop.jpgBottom right is the souvenir yarn I purchased…a gorgeous BFL & silk in a soft brown, a merino and cotton blend in the turquoise and 100% Portuguese wool in orange. I was one happy bunny 🙂

We headed back to the hotel late afternoon in order to prepare for the Saturday night celebratory gala dinner -time to dust off the posh frock!

IMG_3900

The venue for the gala dinner was the Old Customs House of Porto (now the museum of transport and communications)

customs-transport-communications-porto-museum-2.jpg-565x280.png

Photo taken from http://www.localporto.com/transport-communications-museum/

It was a short trip to cross the river by boat before we arrived, to be greeted by a lady wearing along fronted dress that ran all the way down the steps.

IMG_8149Apparently this is a Portuguese custom, but I didn’t find out the tradition behind it at the time and I can’t find anything on the internet, so if anyone can shed some light I would be really interested to know what it means?

IMG_8164

During the evening each winning dealership was congratulated and presented with a gold lion trophy in an awards ceremony, and what followed was a fantastic night of celebrating with great company, great food, great wine, great music and lots and lots of dancing!

IMG_8154

Sunday

So the head was a little sore on Sunday…but what a brilliant night! We were lucky in that our flight home wasn’t until the late afternoon so we had a bonus day, and the sun was shining!

Keen to make the most of the last few hours I grabbed the camera and headed out again. If you are a returning reader you may recall my obsession with abandoned buildings and boy, Porto had plenty of those to keep me happy! But imagine my delight when wandering the cobbled backstreets around the hotel I came across the Parque da Quinta das Devesas…

IMG_2655.JPG

Quinta das Devesas.jpgThe gardens of this abandoned Casa have been turned into flower gardens, unfortunately they weren’t in full bloom yet but I can imagine how beautiful it would be in the height of summer…

IMG_2638.JPG

It was a truly beautiful and peaceful place and I feel so lucky to have accidentally stumbled across it.

I headed back to the hotel to join the others for lunch and soak up the sun until we had to say our goodbyes…

IMG_3933.JPG

What a weekend…the organisation and attention to detail that went into pulling this event together was phenomenal. Thank you Peugeot and thank you to my amazing husband for winning such an incredible trip xxx

DSC02433.JPG

Travel

Adventures in Iceland!

Last weekend Mr. A, a couple of friends and I took a trip to the beautiful Country of Iceland.  We took off from London on Thursday morning and arrived 3 hours later, stepping off the plane into a flurry of snow – boy was I glad I had packed all the knits into the hand luggage!

We decided before the trip that we would rent a car as our hotel was outside of Reykjavik city centre and it would give us the freedom to explore at our leisure.  Our hotel was about a 45 minute drive from Keflavik airport, and luckily for us it was easy to find.

We stayed at the Hotel Kriunes, a family run hotel situated by the ElliĂ°avatn lake. We did laugh when we got there as we had paid a few extra icelandic krona for a lake view – but little did we realise that the lake would be entirely frozen over this time of year!

Hotel Kriunes.JPG

But the view from our room was still pretty spectacular!

View from the hotel.JPG

By the time we had finished packing it was late afternoon so we decided to spend the rest of the day and evening exploring the city of Reykjavik. We took a cab into town and headed straight for one of city’s main attractions, the church of HallgrĂ­mskirkja.

HallgrĂ­mskirkja

Towering over the City this spectacular concrete church is named after the Icelandic poet and clergyman HallgrĂ­mur PĂ©tursson (1614 to 1674). It took 41 years to build and was designed by architect GuĂ°jĂłn SamĂșelsson’s who is said to have designed it to resemble the basalt lava flows of Iceland’s landscape.

From here we walked back down into the city via the Tjörnin lake, again completely frozen over.

Frozen lake

Ducks

By now we were feeling a bit peckish and began looking around for somewhere nice to eat. We happened upon the Apotek restaurant, a stylish and contemporary restaurant with a lively atmosphere – and luckily they had a table available 🙂 We opted to go for the 6 course taster menu, offering a selection of icelandic fish and meat dishes, and I have to say the food was devine. Each course was introduced by one of the waiters and beautifully presented. It was one of the nicest meals I have had for a long time (and one of the priciest too…but the experience was well worth it).

We caught a cab back to the hotel after dinner and after a quick drink in the hotel lounge made our way to bed ready to start our next day in Iceland.

We woke early on Friday eager to hit the road and explore the Golden Circle – a trail of 3 large attractions including the meeting place of 2 tectonic plates, a geysir and a waterfall. I was super excited to finally wear my knitted Drops Design Dress; I made this dress about 5 years ago but it’s double stranded and sooo warm that I had never found the right occasion to wear it. Teamed with some thermal leggings and long thick socks it was perfect for this road trip!

Knitted dress

We piled into the car but didn’t get very far before we were compelled to stop and take some photographs of the beautiful scenery that surrounded us.

Desolate

Thingvellir National Park

Back in the car and the first stop on our trail was one of Iceland’s most historical sites, where Viking settlers established the world’s first democratic parliament in AD 930. Now a national shrine Thingvellir has been designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Thingvellir park

The site sits on a North America and Europe tectonic plate boundary which provides a stunning, dramatic landscape of rivers, waterfalls and ponds.

Thingvellir

Geysir

Next stop on our tour was the site of the Geysir (literally translated as ‘Gusher’). Located in a geothermal region the Great Geysir has been active for around 800 years, however it’s neighbour Strokkur is the one that draws in the crowds with regular eruptions every 8 to 10 minutes.

An eerie hydrothermal mist emanates from the land on approaching the site of the geysirs…

IMG_5915

Strokkur, mid-eruption…

IMG_5926

It was a pretty phenomenal sight!

Gulfoss

The final attraction on the Golden Circle trail was the Gulfoss (Golden Falls) waterfall – a double cascading waterfall with a dramatic 31m drop!

Gulfoss

The gorge was formed by flash flood waters forcing their way through cracks in the basalt lava layers.

IMG_2313.JPG

DSC02256.JPG

Here’s Mr A and I taking a Gulfoss selfie 🙂

Gulfoss selfie

And then it was time to jump back on the road. I couldn’t stop taking photo’s all the way back, everywhere I looked the scenery was just breathtaking.

Hydrothermal vents – or ‘cloud producers’ as we called them 🙂

Hydrothermal vents

The famous icelandic horses.

Icelandic Horses

That evening we stayed for dinner at the hotel and played a few games of cards in the lounge.

The next morning we went back into Reykjavik town for a spot of sightseeing and shopping. Mr. A and I went back to Hallgrimsjirkja to have a look round the Church and also took a lift to the top to the viewing platform.

The inside of the church was quite stark and minimalist.

Inside HallgrĂ­mskirkja

But the views from the top were something else!

View from Church

View over Reykjavik

Reykjavik

The rest of the city didn’t take long to explore, Reykjavik is not a very big place and it was easy to cover most of it in the time we had. Luckily for me I also managed to scout out the local yarn store, The Handknitting Association of Iceland 🙂

Icelandic Hand Knitting Association

I shall write a separate blog post on my purchases soon, but in the meantime check out all the lovely hand knits that were for sale in the shop.

Icelandic hand knit shop

In fact it was commonplace for most shops to sell a selection of hand knitted goods. Even our hotel had hand knit lopapeysa for sale!

icelandic lopapeysa

Next up on our agenda was snowmobiling! We had booked the previous night to travel up the South Coast to the MĂœrdalsjökull glacier,  an icecap covering one of Iceland’s largest  volcano, Katla. The site was close to Eyjafjallajokull – the volcano made famous in 2011 when it’s ash plume halted airlines in Europe!

IMG_5812

It was a pretty awesome experience driving across the glacier, I was happy to let Mr. A take the wheel while I clung on for dear life! We stopped at the top for photo opportunities…

IMG_5903

And to take in the view…

IMG_5912

It was certainly an experience and I’m glad I did it, but I’m not sure I would rush back to do it again…Next time I would wait at the bottom with a hot chocolate and my knitting 🙂

Before we left the South Cost we journeyed a couple of miles to Dyrhólaey, a nature reserve rich in birdlife and good for puffin spotting in season.

IMG_2394

Sunday came around all too quick and it was time to check out and make our way back to the airport via the Blue Lagoon. We didn’t realise that this was something that we needed to book in advance so unfortunately we were unable to visit to the spa as they were fully booked. They did let us take some photo’s…but I wish we had had the foresight to book as it did look pretty awesome!

Blue Lagoon

The Blue Lagoon

Still, it’s the perfect excuse to go back one day. Especially as we didn’t get to see the Northern Light’s whilst we were there either…

Whilst we were at the Blue Lagoon we got an e-mail from our flight company to say our flight home had been delayed by 5 hours so we had a bit of extra time to kill. Close to the airport there is a Viking Museum so we dropped by there on the way back. It was a really nice museum with the focal point being an exact replica of a 9th Century Viking ship.

The Viking MuseumIn 2000 this ship made the journey from Iceland to New York as part of the millennial celebration of Icelandic explorer Leifur Eiriksson’s journey to the new world!

And so it was, our wonderful weekend in Iceland drew to a close. It was breathtaking, exhilarating and full of laughs. We had an amazing time, and I do hope to return one day (with a pre-booked ticket to the blue lagoon!)

Until next time x

Travel

A Weekend in Sunny Spain!

Last weekend Mr. A and I had a wonderful time in Spain visiting my Dad and Stepmum (who I will now call D&G to save my little fingers!).

We flew out on Thursday afternoon and as the flight was about 2 and a half hours it gave me a chance to crack on with some knitting 🙂

Plane Knitting

Spain is an hour ahead of the UK so it was quite late when we landed into Murcia. D&G met us at the airport; they have been living out there for nearly 2 years now but this is the first time we have been able to get over to see them. They live just over 40 miles south of the airport, near Mazarron on the South East coast.

We woke up to warm sunshine on Friday which was most welcome. As D&G are active members of the local community they had a few commitments in the morning so Mr. A and I went for an explore and breakfast al fresco.

As it happens this weekend was also the weekend of the UK Knitting & Stitching Show at Alexandra Palace (Ally Pally). Although I was unable to go this year we did stumble across this place – not quite the same as the knitting mecca but they did do a good breakfast!

Alley Palais

We also found the most amazing shop that sold just about everything you could ever wish for – here I found my perfect wine glass!

Wine Glass

There was some amazing stuff in there but I restrained myself and just came out with these cute little jars which I am now using to store beads in.

Bead Jars

Time flew by and before we knew it it was early afternoon; time to meet back up with D&G and make our way down to the coast to see the amazing sand sculptures at Bolnuevo.

Bolnuevo Sand Sculptures

Formed by wind erosion the sculptures have occurred naturally over millions of years.

BolnuevoSand Sculptures

It was a pretty spectacular sight!

From here we headed into Peutro de Mazarron for a menu del dia (menu of the day). The menu del dia was introduced by General Franco as a way of providing affordable and nutritious meals for Spanish workers during the week. It continues to this day with many restaurants and bars offering a 3 course lunchtime menu, with a choice of 2 or 3 dishes for each course (including bread and drinks). D&G knew of a lovely place by the harbour – the food really was delicious and the entire bill came to just over €40 for the 4 of us!

Suitably full we took a stroll down by the seafront before heading back to the Villa.

Puerto de mazarron

On Friday evening we headed to a local bar for a few drinks, they had a Status Quo tribute duo on. I can’t remember the name of them but they were pretty good!

On Saturday we traveled inland to a pretty hilltop town called Aledo, located near the Espuna Mountains. One of the main features of the town is the remains of an 11th Century tower (Torre del homenaje) which luckily for us was open for viewing.

Aledo Keep

The part of the fort that still remains (also known as the Keep) is sectioned over 3 floors. The ground floor doubles up as a tourist office and the guide there explained how the Keep was used in the 15th Century. The ground floor was where water was stored, 1st floor was the storage of arms, 2nd floor was grains and wood and the 3rd floor opens up to a viewing platform.

Inside Aledo Keep

View from the top of the Keep.

View from Aledo Keep

I love this picture Mr A took from the top – he used a model village effect on it!

Aledo View

When we came back down the guide told us about another place close by that was worth a visit – the ‘estrecho’ or gorge. It wasn’t very far and D&G had never been so we decided to check it out. On arrival it looked like a picnic area but we saw some steps heading down and it lead to this…

Aledo Gorge

Gorge

Spanish Gorge

We walked quite a way before coming to a trickier part that involved a bit of climbing, we sent Mr. A on ahead to see if it was do-able in flip flops but the verdict wasn’t clear cut so we decided not to go on.

Some of the rock formations were quite spooky – Mr. A saw a skeleton in this one (right hand side, just above the middle) where as I saw a creepy monster face with an upturned nose. I wouldn’t like to be down there after dark that’s for sure!

Gorge Face

When we got back to the clearing D&G headed back up to the top but Mr A and I decided to venture round the corner to see what was on the other side. There was a well established path that followed the side of the mountain which we followed for a while, before coming to an aqueduct across the gorge. Mr. A was a lot braver than me and walked out a little way on the narrow ledge, before I panicked and called him back!

Gorge Aquaduct

Opposite the aqueduct was an abandoned house. I have a bit of a fascination with abandoned buildings so although it was a bit of a steep climb I just had to go and check it out…

Abandoned House Spain

What you can’t see very clearly is that above the door there is a number ’16’?!

Abandoned House

As always with these places I like to imagine the kind of person that would have lived here. It looked like the house had been abandoned for many, many years and it must have been a pretty remote existence.

No 16

Fascinating stuff!

We made our way back to the top and found a place for lunch. There was no menu del dia today as it was a Saturday, so instead we had a selection of traditional Spanish tapas.

After lunch D&G took us to the Espuna National park where we drove up the side of the mountain taking in some exceptional views.

EspunaView from Espuna

It was a lovely day of walking and sightseeing.

On Saturday evening we went for a curry at the local Indian restaurant and then to the Club House to watch a live band. We flopped into bed exhausted that night!

Our flight home was on Sunday afternoon so we just had a lazy morning at the Villa, soaking up the last rays of the sun and going for a lovely Sunday carvery at the Club House. D&G dropped us back off at the airport in plenty of time for us to catch our flight back home…the whole weekend went so quickly, I wish we had been able to stay an extra day or 2!

Blogging101

Shiny New Blogs on my Reader :)

Day 3 of Blogging101 was to get to grips with the Reader topics list and find some new and interesting blogging neighbours to follow. Having branched out of my usual ‘knitting’ or ‘crafting’ tag search I spent a large chunk of yesterday evening reading and following some brilliant blogs that I am really excited about. Here are just a few of them:

Young & Hungry – a great cooking blog with some fantastic recipes! I am not a brilliant cook and it’s something I really want to improve on. The blog tagline is ‘Delicious doesn’t have to be difficult’ – so that’s good news for me!

As a sideline, Mr A. and I went to the Garden Centre at the weekend and being rather late in the day we arrived at the end of a Chilli Festival. Our lateness may have caused us to miss the Mexican Pan-pipers but it turned out ok in the end as they were selling loads of chilli plants for just ÂŁ2 each – bargain! So we got 3, ‘Ring of Fire’, ‘Scotch Bonnett’ and ‘Joes Long Cayenne’.

2014-09-07 16.35.52

And also some of this…

Chilli Beer

So after finding the Young & Hungry blog I feel super inspired to impress Mr. A with a surprise dinner. First up will be….Chilli Chicken! 🙂

Helen’s Journal – Helen’s photos are simply stunning. The latest post includes some soft image photo’s taken in New York and I love the abstractness (is that a word?) of them; the images appear as if they are made up of little balls of coloured light. I’m not explaining myself very well am I – probably best you go check them out here, you’ll see what I mean!  Some photos on the blog are also accompanied by a poem or a quote. I am looking forward to following Helen’s Journal and seeing some more beautiful pictures taken on her travels.

paris: small capital – Having spent an amazing weekend in Paris earlier in the year this blog totally captured my imagination. The author is Kim who moved to Paris in 2009 and through her blog explores the back streets of Paris and the places lesser known on the tourist trail. It is brilliantly written, very funny and full of interesting stories about Paris. I will be returning to this blog soon with a cup of tea!

White Elephant in the Room – this blog actually made me laugh out loud,  I love this post about wine tasting – brilliant! The author is someone who finds fun in the everyday things and I also love the fact that each post is individually illustrated with a white elephant to tie in with the post, very clever.

Today I have been filling up my reader with lots of  interesting new topics; there will never be another dull moment 🙂

Thanks for stopping by! x

Blogging101

Who I am and why I blog

I have decided to take up the Blogging101 challenge currently being run by The Daily Post. The first challenge is to write about yourself and let others know what you are about and why they should grab a cup of tea and start reading your blog.

So… is the kettle on? Are you sitting comfortably? Then I’ll begin.

By way of an introduction – these are a few of my favourite things (please feel free to sing along):

My favourite things

Knitting and yarn shops and books full of patterns
Casting on projects and seeing what happens
Sunshine and friends, cats, cake and wine
Getting hooked on a TV show, forgetting the time
Holidays in Greece or exploring a new place
Benefit make-up to decorate my face
Writing, guitars and trying to sing
These are a few of my favourite things!

And why do I blog? I set up my blog about a year ago, mainly to write about knitting and to connect with like minded, creative people. I enjoy seeing what other people get up to and marveling at some amazing creations that fellow bloggers have made!

My page name is Jem Arrowsmith Designs as I am starting out in the world of writing knitting patterns. So far I have self published 4 patterns  on Ravelry, with another waiting to be written up and a new one on the needles. It’s a slow process for me as I work full time but I flippin’ love it!

Do stop by and say hello!

Travel

My Favourite Place in the whole wide World

Why is it times always goes so fast when you are on holiday?! The last 2 weeks have just flown by! We returned yesterday from Alonnisos, Greece. My favourite place in the whole wide world.

Most of our days were spent at the beach at Chrisi Milia, soaking up the sun and swimming in the sea.

Chrisi Milia Alonnisos

One day was spent at Chora, the Old Village on top of the hill. Chora used to be the capital of the island until a big earthquake in the 1960’s destroyed most of the houses so the people moved down to the port of Patitiri. For years the Old Village stood desolate and in ruins at the top of the hill but slowly it has been rebuilt over the years. Many ruins still remain which gives the village a rustic charm that makes it very popular with artists, and it is lovely place to spend the evening and with its many restaurants and bars.

Old Town Alonnisos Street in the Old Town Alonnisos

One night down in the port we witnessed the most amazing electrical storm. It began with a power cut that surged the whole island into darkness and for the next couple of hours the sky was a constant disco of lights. I was kicking myself though as it was the one night I had forgotten to take out the proper camera and I struggled to capture anything on my phone – this was the best shot I could get over the harbour.

Electric storm Alonnisos

Last Saturday was the annual Agia Paraskevi Island festival which celebrates the patron saint of the main church. It starts on the Friday with a big procession from the church into town, followed by traditional Greek music and dancing on the Saturday night, with the music continuing well into the early hours of Sunday morning.

Agia Paraskevi festival

The evenings were perfect for a spot of knitting on the veranda as the sun was going down. Notice the little cat on the wall in the background of this picture – we had a return visitor from last year, little Pitou (he got his name as he looks just like our cat Pea, so we called him Pea 2). He was instantly recognisable due to his unique way of sitting with his leg dangling over the wall!

Jem Arrowsmith Knitting

All in all, it was another fantastic holiday and even though it went too quick at least our little furry friends, Pea and Mike, were pleased to have us home again.

Cat in a suitcase Cat in a bag

Travel

Fun in the Sun!

Last week was spent with the girls in Turkey. This was our 3rd year of returning to the Flamingo Country Club, a stones throw from the hustle and bustle of Bodrum. It’s such a lovely place, we pretty much have one of the many pools to ourselves and going this time of year are usually pretty much guaranteed a week of sunshine and relaxation.

The resort is ideal for us – the apartment sleeps 4 very comfortably and has a roof terrace, perfect for a pre-dinner drink (or 2!). There is a little bar / cafe less than 2 minutes away and a supermarket down the road and a good choice of restaurants and beaches to visit.

This year we weren’t as lucky with the weather as we have been previously as it was overcast a couple of days – but even that didn’t stop us trying to sunbathe in gale force winds!

When we could we spent our days by the pool.

DSC07520

And on the Saturday when the weather was forecast to be the best we spent the day at ‘My Beach’

DSC07450

….which was bliss until this happened… there were actual hailstones – that was a first for us in Turkey!

DSC07462

On one of the overcast days we took a taxi into Bodrum. Bodrum is a lively city and although famous for it’s nightlife we have never been for a night out there although judging by the amount of bars and restaurants there, if we did it would be a good one! There are great shops too.

DSC07323

Check out this cool cat cushion cover!

DSC07322

During the week on our little walks I also came across some pretty and unusual flowers. I don’t know what these are called but there were a few colour combinations going on.

DSC07400

DSC07403

And these were just growing along the roadside

DSC07317

DSC07318

Aren’t they pretty!

The cooler evening temperatures did have a plus side however, it meant I was justified in wearing my favorite ‘Sweet Pea’ shawl. I made this about 5 years ago and it goes on most holidays with me.

Sweet Pea Shawl (2)

Perfect for watching the sun set over the ocean, with a nice glass of wine 🙂

Sunset in Turkey

Art

Quilts and Colour Exhibition

During our recent trip to Boston I visited the Quilts and Color exhibition currently showing at the Museum of Fine Arts. This exhibition was especially useful for me as it ties in very nicely with my current knitting course module which looks at the use of colour.

The exhibition showcases around 60 quilts from the collectors and artists Paul Pilgrim and Gerald Roy and looks at both the craft of quilting and colour theories used in the design of the pieces.

The collection ranges from early 19th century to the 1940’s, a time when women’s environments were very labour intensive. The collector Gerald Roy quotes: “That first sentence that I use in my collector’s preface—I make my quilts as fast as I can so my children won’t freeze, and as beautiful as I can so my heart won’t break —I think that is the epitome of what quilt making provided for women throughout the history of the nineteenth century. Their worlds were very much labor intensive, and to be able to escape and to produce something by way of producing it for utility, for the family, for warmth, but also having that other very, very special part was extremely important.”

The first quilt we saw was the Carpenters Wheel Quilt by Mrs. Miller made around 1890.

Carpenters Wheel Quilt

I found this combination of colours really interesting – the photo doesn’t really do it justice though as the orange was much brighter, but the complementary colors of dark red and green seemed to reign it in. What you also don’t get from the photo is the detail in the stitching, if you look really closely in the orange squares you can just about see the flower pattern.

This next piece is ‘The Star of Bethlehem’, there aren’t any details to say who it was made by other than it was made in new England in the 1920’s.

Quilt Star of Bethlehem

Here is a close up of the centre, the amount of work that must have gone in to produce something like this is incredible:

Star of Bethlehem Quilt

We spent ages in front of this next quilt ‘A Thousand Pyramids’ (1930), trying to work out of there was any pattern  or logic to the placement of the triangles or whether they had been placed randomly.

Thousand Pyramids quilt

We never reached a conclusion on that one!

Pamela Parmal the exhibition curator states:  Traditionally, most quilt makers used a high contrast, usually white with a dark color, to create their patterns, which could easily be seen. A lot of the quilts in this exhibition do just the opposite; they’ll use similar colors together, or will have no white whatsoever. In fact the majority of the quilts in the show do not have white in them.”

‘Touching Sunbursts’, made in Pennsylvania in 1854 was one of the few quilts on display that used white.

Touching Sunbursts quilt

Again, this was one when viewed close up you could see intricate stitching patterns in the white squares, details which get lost when viewed from afar. This is what made the pieces so interesting as on first glance you are drawn in by the colorful and bold overall pattern,  but when you get closer you can see the patterns on each individual piece of fabric as well as the stitches that piece it all together.

I didn’t make a note of the origins of this one unfortunately but I was totally captivated by it. It’s almost as if the dark pattern has been printed on top of the finished quilt.

DSC07067

Here is a close up – just look at the number of different individual fabrics that were used to make it!

DSC07068

Another of my favourites was this one – it reminded me of spinning records.

Quilt

Quilt 2

If you look in the red squares you can see the stitching patterns a bit clearer in this one.

Speaking of the collection Gerald Roy quotes “…can you imagine what these women, if they were alive today, would think about their work appearing on the walls of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston? I mean that would be mind-blowing to those ladies. And what a compliment.”

If only the family of Mrs. Ephraim Scott has known her ‘Sunburst Quilt’ (1856) would one day be on display – it was dubbed by them as the ‘ugly quilt’!

Sunburst quilt

This is one of the best exhibitions I have been to for a long time. Each quilt is so intricate and beautifully made it’s impossible not to stop and appreciate the detail in each one. The amount of thought, work and love that went into each one is truly inspirational.

The Diamond Field Quilt

The Diamond Field (1860) – picture taken from https://www.mfa.org/exhibitions/quilts-and-color

Travel

Boston and Beyond

It’s been a week since we got back from our trip to New York and Boston. While I was able to blog every day in NY  I wasn’t quite so organised on the second leg of our trip and since being back time has just flown, so here is a belated account of what we got up to in Boston.

I was sad to say goodbye to New York – 3 days just wasn’t long enough and while we certainly made the most of our time there thanks to a 3 day city pass there were still things that remained unticked on my list; such as the Guggenheim and the fact that (despite my best plotting-on-a-map efforts) I didn’t happen to stumble upon a NY yarn store. Bah.

On Wednesday morning we picked up our car and headed on a roadtrip to Boston, stopping at a diner for lunch.

After what should have been a 5 hour drive we eventually arrived in Boston late on Weds evening due to complications with the sat nav (not user error at all….honest!)

We had planned to go whale watching on the Thursday morning but when we arrived at the harbour we were told that the the tour was full that day. Instead we took the opportunity to explore the city.

DSC06966

 

One of the places we went to visit was the Old South Meeting House, built in 1729, which is famous for being the place where the Boston Tea Party began back in 1773. It was the largest building in colonial Boston and was used for public gatherings, a place of worship and engaging debates.

Some of the comments in the exhibit were quite funny – I would love to know what beef this person has with Queen Latifah?!

DSC06973

From here we took a stroll around Boston Common and ended up at the Cheers Bar.

DSC06982

In the afternoon we went to the New England Aquarium which has a magnificent collection of fish, animals and exhibits.

That evening we went to a ‘Quilts and Color’ exhibition at the Museum of Fine Art – some of the pieces on display were absolutely stunning and I am going to do a separate post about these.

On the Friday we drove to Cape Cod where we found the Black Purls Yarn Shop in East Sandwich where I finally got my yarn fix – yay!

DSC07087

 

The shop was very well stocked and had some gorgeous yarns to squish and drool over. I need more yarn like I need a hole in the head but I couldn’t resist these 3 skeins (this is not the best picture as the middle one is more of a browny colour and the blue is a lot darker). And I have no idea what I will make from them yet.

Lovely Yarn

 

Happy, happy, happy  🙂

We spent the afternoon at the Plimoth Plantation, a living museum showing how life was in the 17th century. There is a recreation of a small farming town, populated by actors who go about their daily life in full costume and answer any questions you have, all completely in character. It was a fascinating place!

DSC07112

On Saturday, our last day, we made it onto the Whale Watch. The weather wasn’t great and the water was a bit choppy but once we got out to sea and saw the whales it really was an incredible experience!

We saw about 7 – 8 whales in total, mostly Fin whales and a minky whale.

DSC07174

That really was the cherry on the top of a brilliant holiday!

Now, what to make with that yarn….