Wednesday 30 September 2015

Nature’s Journey Stitch a Long for September

I made it!  The first time I have been able to keep up with a stitch-a-long all the way through. I'm loving seeing all the other versions.  So many girls have been able to meet the deadline, which is great.

September was the month in which our quilt tops were to come together.  Lots of 2 inch squares to cut – like 400 of the little beggars, as well as another row of pink.

At the beginning of the month I was very good, cutting some each day and then piecing them into two patches and nine patches.  My little fabric baskets came into their own.

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Then I seemed to stagnate. I think I was worried that they wouldn’t fit.  After reading the pattern and realising that I had to trim the quilt after the previous border was attached, everything came together nicely. 

It was fun working out the placement.  Joey was a great help.  He’s not usually allowed anywhere near a quilt that is being worked on, but it was a little hard to do anything about it when the quilt was on the floor.

Joey on quilt

Here we are with the first border attached.

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Next to trim down all the appliqué blocks.  Measure twice, cut once.  All good.  Here they are attached.  I was pleased that no two of the same blue background ended up next to each other.

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Finally, last night I attached the last two borders. So, in what seems to be my usual style, the month’s progress was completed with one day to spare.

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I’m really happy with how it has turned out.  It is much brighter than it thought it would be, as quite a few of the fabrics are fairly dark.

I’m also happy that then entire top is made from scraps and from my stash.  No fabric was bought.  Mind you, it doesn’t seem to have made much of a difference in my fabric piles.

Now I have to give my friendly quilter a call to arrange to have it quilted.  The end is nigh.

Thanks so much to Chooky and Susan.  As I’ve said before, there is no way I would tackle a quilt with this much work without the threat of the whip and the camaraderie of all the other girls working away with me.

And finally, I must mention Anni.  Aren’t her designs just awesome.  We are so lucky to have her in our midst.

Wednesday 16 September 2015

Bathurst Blog Meet

Last weekend saw quite about twenty bloggers descend on the little village of Perthville, just out of Bathurst, for a weekend of chatting, laughter, eating, drinking and even a bit of stitching. (Mick wonders what the collective noun for a group of bloggers is.  Is it a Blogalot?)

The hoards descended on Friday morning and left on Sunday.  Seeing as I live locally, I just joined the girls for Friday night and most of the day on Saturday.

I didn’t take all that many photos, but here are a few of the girls flat out, working away.

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Peg and Dale, in the flesh this time, after being unable to join us last year.  Both of them finished quilt tops.  Very  productive.

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Cheryl deserves a medal for travelling down from Brisbane, despite battling a nasty cold. She is doing beautiful needle turn on her quilt.

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Dory was there, being  bright and cheerful as always. Her show and tell was terrific.

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Lea shared some of the gorgeous quilts that she has made recently and was very industrious in working on the little project we were all given…..although it may have helped if she read the instructions first.  I thought that was just a man thing?

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Kate was her usual mad cap self.  She always amazes me how she can be everywhere, chatting away and still, at the end of the day, have been really productive.  Her birdy pincushion came up a treat.  Yes, she did finish it.

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And quite a few of the girls took the opportunity to sit and stitch out in the sun.  We were blessed with the best weather we have had for months.

Me, I did some more on my knitted cowl - it is nearly finished. I made a couple of Christmas decorations and made slight progress on my table mat from Nundle this year.  It was nice just doing a bit of this and a bit of that – nothing that needed too much concentration.

Anni from The Home Patch visited and provided a special project kit for everyone.  It is the most beautiful little sewing set.  I can’t wait to start it, but just have to finish couple of other things first.

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Having Anni there was also a good opportunity for a show and tell of the partially made Nature’s Journey quilts.  It was nice to see them in the flesh, so to speak.  I love the variation of colours used.  Sorry, forgot to take a photo.

As usual, there was a “Make It, Bake It, Fake It” swap.  I took along a coat hanger and camphor sachet, which went to Googy Girl.

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I was lucky to receive from Kylie a Scrap Bag from The Home Patch and some yummy Peanut Brittle – my favourite.  What a terrific gift.

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Last year there were some gifts for all sorts of silly reasons, which were wrapped in alfoil, as nothing else was available at the time.  It seems to have started a tradition, as we all had to take along little gifts roughly wrapped in foil. Mick reckons he could have even managed to wrap these.

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Mine  contained some silly little creations.

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This is what I received.  All very sweet.

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It was lovely catching up with everyone again.  I think everyone really enjoyed themselves.  Well, they all seem to be talking about returning next year, so it must have been good.

Thanks so much to Chooky for making it all a reality.  We do appreciate all the work that goes on behind the scenes.

Wednesday 9 September 2015

Our Turn for a Train Ride

After our fun afternoon chasing the steam train on the Saturday it was our turn to go for a ride on the Sunday afternoon.

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All week the weather forecast had been for a rather wet day on Sunday.  For once they got it right……Blast!  However, we were really pleased that we had been out and about taking photos on the nice, warm, sunny day and that we would be snug inside the train on the wet day.

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Here’s the lad, waiting patiently for our train to arrive.

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This time I remembered to take a photo of the “Bathurst” plaque on the train. I forgot to mentioned that the steam train is part of the stable of “Heritage Express”, which is a part of Transport Heritage NSW. The trip out west, which went as far as Dubbo was the “Great  Western Steam Tour”.

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I was delighted to see that our diesel loco that would be helping push the train up the steep climb was a lovely older engine 4490.

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The carriage we were in was a lovely old girl.

Us being silly

A bit of silliness while we waited to start on our way.

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We finally started to get under way, travelling through the goods yards. 

As I said in my last post, our first home, when we were married in the mid 80s, was in a little workers cottage only a couple of blocks from the railway station.  The older ladies over the road talked of the time when they always had to wipe down their clothes lines to get rid of the soot from the trains before they hung out their washing.  The ceiling space of our cottage had a fine black coating of soot, even after the steam trains had long since stopped running.  At night we would hear trains shunting in the goods yard. We became used to it as background noise.  Every now and then you would hear a big bang, followed lots of little ones and we would comment that they must have a learner driver on, and have a bit of a chuckle.  By the time we moved from there, eleven years later, you rarely heard any shunting, as the railway usage gradually died off.

In all my years living here I have never travelled on a train heading west from Bathurst. Until my teens there was a passenger train to Sydney that made it possible to have a day in Sydney.  There was also the slow, overnight mail train.  In the early 80s everything changed, with the introduction of the XPT trains.  These left Bathurst in the evening, returning early in the morning.  There hasn’t been a passenger service to and from  Sydney that could allow you to have a day in Sydney until a couple of years ago, when one was started after much lobbying by an active community group.  The train is being well supported……I digress again…. of as Mick would say, I waffle on.

As I was saying, I haven’t travelled west on a train.  Mum always said the train is a really slow way to go to Orange, which is only 40 minutes by car.  The train travels via Blayney, which is quite out of the way.  In the 50s mum was based in Bathurst as a dressmaking teacher and she travelled by train once a week to teach a class in Blayney, so she would have had quite a few slow trips up this line.

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Once we got out of town we could see what a dreary day it was.  Just perfect for being in a steam train.  We were fortunate in that we were on the side of the train that did not have much rain blowing in and we could still have the window open.

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The weather didn’t stop others from following the train along.

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The start of the long climb to Wimbledon.

Cuttings 1

I was fascinated by the cuttings.

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All the different textures were stunning.

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This is the spot where we stopped yesterday to take photos.  There were only two cars yesterday, and the weather was much kinder for us.

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Beautiful wattle to remind us that even though it was a bleak day, spring is on its way.

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What a colourful sight on the bridge with all the umbrellas.  At this stage we had started to head back down the hill, pulled by the diesel loco.

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Looking back behind us.  So many of these photos were taken on the phone as it handled the wet conditions better.  Just stick your hand out the window and good luck.

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Isn’t that gorgeous, all bleak and misty.

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Wending our way down the hill.

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Past Georges Plains Station, which is looking a little sad.

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The sign is in better nick than the buildings.

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More people taking photos.

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Finally, this is a rather strange photo to take.  When we were kids, Mum was telling us about steam trains, and that you never wore white clothes while travelling on a steam train as you would get too dirty from all the smuts.  I took this photo of our table not all that long after we left Bathurst and if you look closely, there are heaps of little black smuts on it.  I can only imagine what your clothes would be like after a long journey.  Yes, I remembered her advice and didn’t wear white.

We had a wonderful time on our train ride, and in the end decided that the bleak weather really added atmosphere to the experience.

We do hope that Bathurst has more visits from steam trains in the future, as it was really well received, with all the 2,500 seats available over the two days being sold out.  Congratulations to all involved, (mostly volunteers), who made the weekend possible.

Tuesday 8 September 2015

I Think I Can, I Think I Can…..

Do you remember the children’s book “The Little Engine That Could”?  It was one of my favourites.  If you can’t I found this little Youtube copy of a film of it.

Why do I mention this now?  Well, a few weeks ago Bathurst was lucky enough to have a steam train visit for a couple of days. Once we heard it was going to be here we booked some tickets, and they were selling fast. We decided to go for a ride on Sunday and just go and have a look at the train on Saturday.

Many years ago, a couple of old trains came to town.  We went for a ride to Tarana (half way to Lithgow) one time and when the Flying Scotsman from England and the beautiful 3801 engine came to town at the same time we went train chasing.  Great fun. We only lived a couple of blocks from the Railway Station then, so we could hear them coming along.

There haven’t been any steam trains here for many years.

When we arrived at the station on Saturday there were smiling, happy people everywhere.

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We were just like a couple of big kids….well, me a bit more than Mick.

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Our trusty steed was the 3642 Steam Engine built by Clyde in Sydney in 1928.  Clyde had a factory in Bathurst from the early 70s till only a few years ago (although there were name changes).  Mick worked there for twelve months just after he finished his apprenticeship.

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Just next to the signs above was another little plaque which said “Bathurst”.  This steam engine finished its days based here, so it in effect came home.

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My first train ride was on a stream train from Bathurst to Lithgow, when I was very little. I can only just remember it.  What I do remember was that when we reached Lithgow we discovered that the engine driver was “Mr Bill”, a family friend. (I couldn’t pronounce his surname, I was so little, so I dubbed him “Mr Bill”).   He said we could have travelled in the engine if he knew we were there.  Oh well, one of those lost opportunities.  I wonder if this engine pulled that train?  I digress……..

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Once the train was loaded with her passengers we hopped in the car and travelled to the overpass bridge.  It is a lovely old iron bridge built in 1888.

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Back in the car, we followed her along as well as we could.  Notice at the rear of the train there is a second diesel engine.  I’ll explain more as we go along.

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Isn’t she lovely.

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We had to wait at the level crossing at Georges Plains.  We weren’t the only cars following her.

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It was a lovely day to be out and about. We drove along, losing sight of the engine until we found a suitable place to pull over and wait for the train to come past.

The train rides took about 90 minutes, travelling west to a small locality of “Wimbledon”.  We waited ages for her to arrive.  You see, just after Georges Plains there is quite a long, steep climb.  This was too much for the steam engines to manage on their own, so they used to stop at Georges Plains and a second engine would hook up to the back and help push the train up the hill.  I can’t remember the name of it.  Then, at Wimbledon, where the grade evened out again, the train would stop and the second engine would go back down the hill to Georges Plains to wait for the next train that needed a push.

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Finally we could hear that distinct “I think I can, I think I can” and the train came into view.

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  Once again gathering up speed as the track levelled out.

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Lots of happy people were waving out the windows.  The train finished its westward travelling just past here.

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Then, the diesel loco pulled the train back down the hill, back to Bathurst.  A much quicker journey.

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We found ourselves a nice spot just west of Georges Plains to see it go past again.  Only the smoke in the picture above gives away that the engine is actually going backwards.

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Even the modern loco is nice to watch.

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One last look at the train going home.

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See there I am, grinning from ear to ear as we enjoyed our afternoon.

We took a few more photos near Perthville and got chatting to an old couple who had noticed Mick’s Isle of Man T-shirt.  It turned out they had been there, raced bikes around the traps and had had quite a few interesting old bikes over the years – even sidecars.  What a small world.

Sunday would be our turn to go for a ride.  Bring it on.