Monday 28 December 2020

A Relaxing Few Days

We had a lovely Christmas Day, with perfect weather, yummy food and family with us.  We also spent time with good friends, so a rather busy day.
My friend Lou and I do a little Christmas gift swap each year.  She really spoiled us this time.  A beautiful cross stitch, zippy pouch, hand cream, NZ choccies, some fun coffee fat quarters, an advent calendar for next year, a tulip pin cushion with suction cap to pop on your sewing machine and two little pins.  So much loveliness.
The little pins may not mean much to most people, but are rather special   Queen's Pier is a Victorian pier in Ramsey, Lou's home town and it is undergoing some much needed restoration. These are a nice little treat.
I sent off a couple of covered coat hangers.  Funnily enough, Lou had thought of a similar gift.
Santa brought me this box of biscuits.  Well, Santa may have brought me a really cute tin to store my Christmas projects in, that just happens to have some biscuits inside.  I'm sure they won't go to waste (maybe they will go to my waist!!??).
Boxing Day is the day where we look forward to watching the Boxing Day Test cricket and eating nothing but lots of leftovers.  Trifle features prominently.

I did make a slight detour into my sewing room and made something I have been scheming on for several years.  I knew I had blogged about it at the time. Yes, I saw a table cloth made from tea towels at the CWA stall at the Australia Day event, way back in 2010!

Since we purchased a rather large outdoor setting when we moved into this house, nearly five years ago, each summer I keep saying I should make one.  I have a little stash of souvenir tea towels, but Mum has quite a large stack that she has collected on her travels and never used.  

I sorted through them and selected fourteen that were of places within Australia that Mick and I have visited.  I also chose only linen tea towels. Once I consolidated my tea towels with Mum's the tub is brim full again.
I wasn't sure how to hem the table cloth along the bottom of the tea towels, as they vary slightly in length, and in the end left them as they were, as they show a lot have information on where they were made or printed on them, which is interesting.

I saw a few versions on Pinterest and had a little chuckle when one made a plastic cover to protect the cloth.  My opinion is that you wouldn't be able to get anything more washable, as being tea towels, are designed to be laundered often.

Anyway, it was a fun, simple make and should create a little bit of interest when we sit down to our next barbecue with friends.

Oh, and it is a finish for OPAM for December.

Mick, meanwhile, had an excursion to the shops and bought himself an electric motor for his kayak.  Merry Christmas!  His shoulder is jiggered and last time he went for a paddle it just caused a lot of pain and was not at all pleasurable.  This should make it more fun for him.
Yesterday we had a day trip to Carcoar Dam, where my brother was camping with friends. 
It is a relatively small dam, but rather scenic, with the wind farm in the background.  We looked down on this area from Mount Macquarie on one of our recent Friday Funday outings.  There is free camping and we were surprised that there weren't more people camped there.
It was a good opportunity to try out the new motor.  The three fellows headed off in their kayaks, while us girls stitched and chatted. Their campsite was under some big shady trees, so it was a very pleasant way to spend the afternoon.
I had quickly traced a stitchery for another Christmas ornament and was very happy to actually finish it while we were out there.  Now my problem is that I can't find my favourite pattern with the template for the felt backing.  I was obviously slack and didn't put it away properly when I made one during the year.  I'm sure it will turn up.  Maybe this is the kick in the butt I need to get in and give my sewing room a big tidy up.

Once we returned home it was time to start the big job of putting Christmas away.  We don't wait till after New Year or for Twelfth Night, but prefer to get everything packed away before it becomes too stale.  A big job, but I'm glad it is done.
Today has also been rather lazy.  Each year I make a great long list of things I want to do during the break before we return to work after New Year.  Each year I barely scratch the surface.  You would think I'd learn, wouldn't you.  No worries, I won't beat myself up about it.

I have not stitched a stitch towards my December goals, other than the Santa.  

Not only that, I am now looking at a new project starting in January.  Yes, another stitch along. Rhonda Dort is hosting a stitch along to make a quilt using vintage doileys, something I have wanted to do for ages. You can start to read her posts about it here.  She also has a facebook group for it 1914 Boehm House Vintage Linens Retreat. The official start date is 1 January 2021, but we have been given instructions on how to launder our vintage linens.  I have several in soaking as we speak.  I hope they come out nice and fresh.  It will be hard to cut into them, but they are not precious family ones, so that will help.

So that's where we are up to now.  Mick goes to work tomorrow for the next few days, so I think I will settle myself into the sewing room and stitch "something".  I know that most of my goals will go unmet, but as I always say, this is to be fun, not a chore.

Friday 25 December 2020

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas everyone.

We are blessed in that we are able to have both our Mums, who live in residential aged care, come for lunch, as earlier this week we didn't think it would be possible.

Our thoughts are with those who are unable to be with close family this year.

Here's looking forward to a brighter 2021.

Monday 21 December 2020

On The Road Again - Home to Bingara

We had been waiting patiently for the Queensland border to reopen so that we could travel north and meet our Queensland friends half way.  We had to have a plan as our friends don't have a caravan and needed to book accommodation.
The plan was to leave home after lunch on the first Wednesday in  December, travel to a free camp near Coolah, then travel on to Tamworth the next day via Quirindi and Werris Creek before heading north to meet up with our friends on Friday.

You know what they say about "The best laid plans of mice and men...." ..........

I went home sick from work on the Monday morning with a tummy bug!  It got worse on Tuesday.  I slept all day on Wednesday.  

I was finally well enough to head off by late morning on Thursday.  Obviously, our plans had to be curtailed.

Another saying is "Every cloud has a silver lining".

I have wanted to visit the little patchwork shop in Coolah for ever.  However, it only opens on Monday and Thursday.  We would now be travelling through Coolah on Thursday.
I was on a bit of a mission to add some extra fabrics to the mix for Block Heads 3, as I was getting pretty low on some colours.  No luck, but I did add a neutral fabric to the stash.
Harvest was in full swing and we had to follow this headed and tractor towing the comb for quite a while.  We expected to see more on the road, but these were the only ones on the entire trip.

We would now be taking the direct route, so our destination for the night was Gunnedah, somewhere we hadn't planned on visiting this trip.  We chose a caravan park with a pool, as it was stinking hot. However, our swim did not eventuate, as we ended up experiencing quite a spectacular electrical storm.
We got up fairly early the next morning, as we had noticed something as we drove into town.
There is a new bypass with a bridge over the railway line that had only opened a fortnight before we were there.
What had caught our eye was the painted silos.  When we got closer, we could see that it was still a work in progress.  The artist is Heesco, who also painted the silos at Grenfell and Weethalle.  It is now nearly finished and you can read an article about it here.  It features Dorothea Mackellar and her poem "My Country", as she haled from Gunnedah. We'll have to go back to see it finished.

From there we decided to head up to the Pensioners Hill Lookout.  Fortunately, it was very accessible with the van in tow.
After the previous night's rain it was a lovely peaceful place to be.
There were some great sculptures.
The story goes that this hill was the place where swaggies and their families camped during the great depression in the 1930s, as it had a railway reservoir close by to provide them with water.  The park started to be developed in the 1990s, with the sculptures being added in 2012.
The view is rather grand.
You look straight down the main street.
Our next stop was over by the swimming pool where there is a nice statue of Dorothea Mackellar.
The main reason we visited here was to see some more artwork on the former water tower, now the museum.  It features Vietnam War images. The artist was Jenny McCracken, an award winning artist. She also painted the water tower at Gulargambone.
The scene on the back of the water tank is an interpretation of a photo of dedication of the Battle of Long Tan memorial that was erected in 1969. The artwork was officially opened on Anzac Day 2019.

We had visited all these sites before nine o'clock, so we decided to have a wander up and down the main street.

The shopping strip of Gunnedah was really vibrant.  
Nearly every shop window was decorated for Christmas. There are also some lovely old buildings. 
We also found some more murals in an alleyway through to a car park.  The whole town was well worth visiting.  There is a rural museum and I think there is something to do with koalas, as it is a place they inhabit, but we didn't have time for that.

Oh, and I found some fabric is suitable colours in a nice little shop. Score.

Gunnedah was another silver lining to the cloud of leaving home a day late.
From Gunnedah we started to head north and the first little town we came to was Manilla.  Mick and I have stayed in the Royal Hotel here on several occasions.  The area is renowned for paragliding, gliding and ultralight flying.

When we have stayed here it has been impossible to get a coffee or breakfast on a Sunday, other than the pub help yourself breakfast.  Things have changed in the last few years and apparently there are three cafes open on a Sunday morning.

We had morning tea at a nice cafe, which also sold vintage wares, beautiful teas and gourmet preserves etc, and then found another with a substantial antique shop attached.  There were also an op shop, with interesting bits and bobs. Quite a change from when we have previously visited. The town's proximity to Tamworth would have to help.  

On an aside, when my Mum was a dressmaking teacher at Tamworth  in the late 1950s, once a week she would catch the train to Manilla to teach a class in a room at one of the local pubs.  
The next little town, as we travelled north, was Barraba.  Another town we have previously stayed at, in the pub.  

As you drive into town the first sight is another silo that has been painted up.
They were painted in 2019 and the artist was Fintan Magee.  The subject is a water diviner, a practice which was frequently used in the area.
Seeing the ute parked in front, you get a bit of an idea of the scale.  I don't know how the artists do such detailed work on such a large scale.

We had a wander up and down the street, visiting the op shop on our never ending quest for the elusive orange mug.  
Mick found some Christmas biscuit cutters. So now we will have to learn to make gingerbread.
I found this cute little vintage nativity scene to add to my tiny collection.
There were some nice old buildings.
A courtyard had an interesting mural of the hills and river made from various old sheets of tin.

Our destination for the day was the next small town of Bingara.

It was here that we met up with our friends from Queensland and we stayed in the caravan park by the river.
Once again we had a spectacular electrical storm, but apparently nothing compared to the previous night.  It did give us a colourful sunset.

We had two nights in Bingara, so I will share more soon.

Sunday 20 December 2020

It's Not Long Until Christmas

Christmas isn't far away and I can't believe how quickly it has snuck up on us this year.  The fact that we ran away in our caravan for ten days at the start of the month may have something to do with us being a bit out of whack.

We did put up our outside Christmas lights before we left, as our street should be renamed "Christmas Street" for the month of December. Most of the houses put on a bit of a light display with a couple going all out. This year there were more than ever.  We added timers to our lights for when we were away, and it certainly makes things easier.
We are the first house you see, and just give a little taste of what is to come. 
We didn't put the tree up until we returned home and I threw as many lights as I could at it, and I must say it does make quite an impact.  This photo doesn't do it justice.
The little wreath is nice and colourful.
These are just a few houses in our neighbourhood.  This one, a few of doors up from us regularly wins a prize.
All these are within walking distance from home.
We do enjoy going for a walk around to see them.  It is quite social, with lots of people out and about, although the weather has been quite cool, so not as many out as usual.

Inside, we have made a few subtle changes to our decorations this year, adding a few of my creations from during the year.
I bought a mini quilt hanger during lock down and hadn't done anything with it.  I found my little mini Santa quilt that I finally finished back in January.  It is a bit big for the hanging rail, but I had added two little triangles to the back corners for a dowel, and very happily they fit perfectly over the outer corners of the frame.  It was meant to be.  He fits in nicely in the entry foyer.
My new twisted table runner I made in March goes nicely on our dining table.
Our little truck has its Christmas tree again.
When we were away I found a little vintage nativity scene in an op shop (the one in the centre). It was a nice addition to my tiny collection of them.  It is a duplicate of one I already had, but my old one had a couple of the figures broken off.
Of course, our twig tree showcases my collection of handmade and very special decorations.
In pride of place is this beautiful beaded decoration made by Loulee and just arrived yesterday, after an anxious wait, as it was posted in November.  It is so detailed. No wonder she was making these at one a month.  Very special.
There were also a few of these sweet decorations featuring the Legs of Man and Manx Tartan ribbon and some with a Manx cat.  As I told her, you can never have too many Isle of Man decorations on your Christmas tree.
When I was decorating the tree I realised, after having hung all the lights and started on the decorations, that I had forgotten to put the tinsel on the tree.  I wasn't going to start again, so this year there is no tinsel.  It still looks fine, with all the decorations, and especially at night with the lights on.
Just a slight change to the mantle this year.
Of course, we had to hang the new bunting I made. One string on the sewing room doors.
The other about the back door. They fit well. Yes, I've just noticed looking at this photo, that it is hanging lop sided.  I'll have to fix that when I finish here.
On an aside, we picked our first tomatoes yesterday.  It's always the aim to have tomatoes by Christmas in this neck of the woods, but rarely achieved.  The large tomatoes still have a long way to go, but we will take this victory.  The yellow ones are lovely and sweet.  They went well with our breakfast.