Monday 29 June 2009

I've Actually Done Something

There is nothing like a deadline to make me finish something!

As it is the end June tomorrow (where has the year gone?) and I didn't have any finishes for the month, I got out my scarf that I started a couple of months ago and did the huge job of threading in the ends and making the tassles. It is a ripple pattern, but it doesn't really show up in the photo.

It took all of half an hour! Huge job!

But it is finished.

I now need some cold weather, as this is a long and chunky scarf - a big coat with big pockets type of accessory.

Sunday 28 June 2009

Slack Me!

I had great plans for stitching while we were away. I saved up three Verandah Views blocks to stich in the evenings or while we were having some quiet time at the cottage.

I was clearly delving into the realms of fantasy. As the sun didn't set until nearly 10 o'clock, we were often out quite late. We even went on evening walks. All the racing practice starts at 6 o'clock in the evening. I had to keep my journal up to date. We had to catch up with Mick's mate Al down at the pub........ Do you think I need any more excuses?

This was my sum total of stitching.....just one short evening. Pathetic, isn't it!

In a couple of days I will be effectively FIVE MONTHS behind in this project!!!

When we got home I was reminded on the local radio station that Wrap with Love is now on and blocks have to be in by 7 August. I normally do just 2 blocks and drop them into the local library. I figure every little bit helps. They are quick and easy and are my "knitting in front of the football at Mick's Dad's project". Well, the footy was on the other night (NSW lost - a dismal display), so I have got one completed and the other well on the way.

I've been looking forward to my little patchwork group since I came home. Last week I thought it was on, cooked my Eccles Cakes, had my craft related souvenirs ready for show and tell, dressed and ready to go out the door, when I thought I'd better just double check my diary......just as was this week!

This week I was ready with my show and tell, planning to do a couple of things in town before patchwork....when I got the phone call...... our lovely hostess had come down with a bug that is going around at the moment and there would be no patchwork this week:<(

I think I'm having withdrawal symptoms.

I did however still go into town and finally went to visit my parents. They had the yucky bug just after we got home so we were forbidden by them from visiting. Now they are better we finally were able to give them their little gifts.

Notice that I still haven't really done anything constructive. It seems to be just excuses.

It is also only 2 days till the end of the month, so I'll be busy over the next couple of evenings.

Saturday 20 June 2009

Final Instalment. Thanks For Putting Up With Me.

This is the last of my holiday notes and photos.

The Isle of Man has some wonderful means of transport.

Firstly, there is the steam train which runs from Port Erin to Douglas. We didn’t go on it this time, but did two years ago. Very civilized.

Then there is the Horse Tram which runs the length of Douglas Promenade. The horses are well cared for and only work for 2 hours a day. There is a retirement home for the horses after they have worked for about 15 years.

This connects to the Electric Tram which runs from Douglas to Ramsey.

We went on the open car as is was such a nice day.

Then there is the Tram which goes to the summit of Snaefell.

We still haven’t managed to go on the Horse Tram but took the Electric Tram to Laxey and then the Snaefell Tram to the summit. It was a lovely day out. The day was clear and we could see the 7 kingdoms - Mann, Scotland, Ireland, England, Wales, Heaven and the Sea.

As well as these, there are lots of double decker buses going around the island. I wouldn't want to be a driver with the little narrow roads.

Now I did buy souvenirs, but I didn’t buy any clothing for me at all. I did buy several badges.

I bought 2 balls of Loaghtan wool. I don’t know what I’ll do with it. The Loughtan sheep has four horns. The lambs are nearly black, but as the sheep matures, their fleece lightens to this rich caramel colour. Apparently the fleece cannot be dyed.

These vintage iron on transfers from the op shop cost 40p. Big spender. There is even a three legs of man pattern. I know. Not your normal souvenir, but that's OK.

When we were on the Isle of Man 2 years ago, I was delighted to see they had Eccles Cakes at the Marks and Spencer Café.

I hadn’t had these since I made them in my very early teens from a book I got from the church white elephant stall. (I have a long history with that stall.) We had them again this time and also some pre-packaged ones (not nearly as nice). So, today, I pulled out that old book and made some more. I got sick of making little ones, so also made a giant Eccles Cake. I think we will have this for pudding with custard.

They are a light pastry parcel filled with currants. Loulee says they call them “Fly Graves”. I don’t care. I like them and home made ones are the best. (Yes, I’m biased.)

There you go. All done.

As you can see. The Isle of Man has us fascinated and has such a diverse variety of things to interest us. We still have lots of things to see and do and Mick still has to see a basking shark.

Now I will be able to get on with blogging my usual life at home.

It's About the Bikes!

This will probably really bore you, but it is the original reason we went to the Isle of Man.

There were motorcycle events all over the island for the 3 weeks we were there. It started off with classic racing just up the road from where we were staying.

The memorial to Joey Dunlop who won more TT races than anyone by far (26). He died in a race a few years ago. His nephew Michael Dunlop (whose father Robert also won five TTs) won the 600cc race this year at the age of 21.

There were 2 Aussie teams this year. We met Cameron Donald who won the TT last year and was a red hot favourite for this year, setting a new lap record in practice. Unfortunately he came off in practice and dislocated his shoulder so didn’t compete this year. He was very friendly and suggested I sit on his bike for the photo. I was very nervous sitting on such a valuable machine.

There was also an Aussie sidecar team. They came about last, but I reckon that anyone who finishes a race there is a huge winner. They must be very brave and a little crazy to compete.

There were classic rallies.

Mick likes his side cars and there were many variations. This BMW was my favourite.

There were even sidecar trials events. We haven’t seen that here .

But the main attraction was the TT Racing itself.

The sidecar races are everyone’s favourites.

Are You Bored Yet? - Nearly Done

Al took us out on another day to the Calf of Man. This is a tiny island off the south of the island. He picked the perfect day as the sea was like glass. No, we still didn’t see any basking sharks. Mick reckons they are just a figment of Al’s imagination!

There are 3 lighthouses on the Calf, built over time.

The boat scraped on some rocks on our way back in. A bit of a heart stopping moment, but all was OK.

The view back to The Sound on the main island is stunning. There are seals on the rocks.

The light house on Chicken Rocks is another vital part of keeping shipping safe.

We saw the Red Arrows at the Ramsey Sprints. They put on a great show.

This display in Laxey caught my eye as it was so cheerful.

On Mad Sunday there was a Vintage Machinery Display with some terrific gear. Much of it not found out here. I liked this small scale steam engine. Just the right size for a girl enthusiast.


A highlight of our trip was meeting fellow blogger Loulee AKA Manxgirl. This was the first time I was to meet another blogger in person.

Firstly we arranged to have lunch in the middle of our second week on the island. We were both too busy the first week.

This is us outside Lou's work.

Lou took me to her local craft shop where I bought some fabric and a bookmark kit, this was then followed by a HUGE pub lunch.

I gave Lou a little gift from Oz.

We arranged to meet the following Tuesday at the Ramsey Sprints, but in the meantime we received an invitation to Sunday Roast Dinner. Yummo! Roast beef and Yorkshire pudding with all the trimmings. It was lovely to meet her family. Lou’s “Hunney” is a Kiwi and we all got on famously.

Lou gave me a little gift. Isn’t it lovely. The idea was that we would both do the mini butterfly quilt simultaneously. The only problem was that Lou got carried away and has already finished hers.

She also gave Mick some lovely coasters for his birthday.

We met Lou and her son Joe again at the Ramsey Sprints.

On the Thursday we collected Lou and her son Joe and had a day at the Manx Museum followed by more great food at a pub and yummy ice cream on the promenade.

There were some lovely quilts and dresses in the museum. I bought a little book on Manx Quilts and Patchwork that was printed when there was an exhibition in the museum last year. There are some lovely quilts depicted.

Joe was very taken with the prehistoric giant deer.

This necklace was found in the grave of a high class Viking lady in Peel Castle.

Next Lou took us to see the Manx Crosses at Maughold. These were created from the 6th Century AD and are housed in a shelter in the church yard.

Then it was a final goodbye ;(

It was just so nice spending time with them. I was quite nervous meeting Lou, you never know how you will get on, but it was a delight and really made the trip.

We look forward to seeing each other again in 2 years when we go back – yes, we already have the accommodation booked. We just have to decide which bike we will take over.

Ramsey and Cregneash

The Grove is a historic home in Ramsey. It was gifted to the Manx Heritage after the two spinster sister owners died aged in their 90s in the 1970s and the furnishings go back to the mid 1800s. There are some beautiful items on display. I was particularly interested in the old sewing items.

These dolls look just too good to play with.

Ramsey is at the north of the island and has a picturesque harbour (Except at low tide when it is empty. It is strange seeing ships sitting in the mud.)

Cregneash is a crofting village folk museum. Some of the houses are still lived in.

The village is post card pretty.

Here I learnt about the Manx Roof Pattern Patchwork and picked up a brochure on how to do it. I haven’t been able to find a decent web site link. It is log cabin with no batting. Each foundation square is the span of your hand. The centre is the length of your middle finger tip to knuckle. The strips are base of your thumb to the base of your thumbnail wide and the seam allowance is the width of your little finger nail.

The strips are sewn onto the foundation with a running stitch and then folded over two thirds of the width of the fabric strips to create a pleat covering the stitching and creating extra thickness and therefore warmth. The blocks are joined together on the top layer with back stitch and then the base layer is overlapped and whip stitched together. Therefore, if required a square can be replaced.
I’ve got to have a go.

There was also a peg loom in use. Mum has used weaving sticks, which are very similar.

Playing the Tourist

There is much to see and do on the Isle of Man. If you have time, have a look a the links.

Here is me and our little hire car at the Fairy Bridge. You must wave and say "Hello" to the fairies whenever you drive past to prevent them from causing you harm. We did just on 1000 miles in the hire car in the 3 weeks. This on an island 30 miles long by 13 miles wide! Nothing went wrong on our trip, so we must have kept the fairies happy.

We visited the stunning Peel Castle.

It was a blue day and once again the place was covered in pretty pink thrift.

The Laxey Wheel is the largest surviving working water wheel in the world and the Laxey Mine used to be the largest lead producing mine in the UK. Yes, we climbed to the top.

We walked up Glen Mooar Valley to see more relics of the mining days. It is incredible how the greenery has nearly reclaimed it all.

On another day we walked up the Laxey Glen – another beautiful green valley.

More of the Laxey Glen.

Home Again

We arrived home from our holiday to the Isle of Man on Tuesday and we are finally starting to get back into the swing of things. Nothing like going straight back to work the day after a 36 hour trip home!

The main reason we went was for the TT motorcycle races, but the Isle of Man is steeped in history from the Celts and Vikings. They have the oldest parliament in the world which celebrated 1000 years in 1979. The island was a THE place to visit from the Victorian era till the mid 20th century when it became cheaper and easier to visit Europe.

Our trip was the best. The weather was great – one day was 26 degrees C – the hottest June day in 3 years. We only had a couple of wet days and it didn’t stop us doing anything.

We had the first week just playing the tourist and spending time with Mick's mate Al, the second was touristy, meeting Loulee and race practice each evening and on the third week racing and spending time with Loulee.

I’ll bore you with photos over the next few days – please bear with me.

If you have time, check out the links as they will explain things better than I can.

We travelled in the new A380 Airbus. Anyone would think we were excited to be on our way.

On our first day Mick’s mate Al took us out on his boat to look for basking sharks – no luck. There were several sightings during our stay, but not when we were out.

We stayed in Castletown - the ancient capital of Mann. This is the harbour with Castle Rushen on the right and the Castle Arms Hotel, better known as The Gluepot, next to it. This is Al's watering hole and we spent several late nights there meeting some wonderful people. We were made very welcome.

Then he took us for a drive around the Parish Walk course. It is an 85 mile walking race to be completed in 24 hours. The participants have to touch the gate of each of the 17 parish churches on the island. Some of the course is up very long steep hills. What an endurance test. This year’s event is to take place today. This was a great way to get reacquainted with the island. He took us to see the cottage featured in the movie “Waking Ned”. (You should see the movie if you haven't already done so. It is hilareous.) That’s Al in the middle.

The island was being protected by the Manannan's Cloak.

Then, the next evening, we all went on a walk around the Chasms and Spanish Head. The Chasms are just that – deep chasms in the ground – don’t leave the path. Everywhere we went the thrift was in full bloom.

The coastal scenery is stunning.
More later.....