Friday, 29 April 2011

Congratulations Wills and Kate!

This morning the whole family have been sitting in front of the tv watching the Royal Wedding! We're not massive royalists, but wanted to witness this historic occasion. Weddings are always fascinating, and this one, between one of the favourite members of the royal family, Prince William, and his lovely bride, Kate Middleton, has caught the public consciousness.

Here is the happy couple (courtesy of Reuters - we weren't actually invited to the ceremony!) and they certainly do seem to be genuinely in love and enjoying every minute. Also, DD has been reading out amusing comments from Twitter, which added to our enjoyment.
Check out Princess Beatrice's hat - high fashion or a huge mistake? From the front, I thought it looked more like a frozen alien chicken, but then, what do I know about hats!

Monday, 18 April 2011


I have been a bit quiet on the blogging front, as I've been away to China! DH was on business, and I managed to tag along and take advantage of the free accommodation! The trip started in Beijing, and the first visit was to the Forbidden City. This photo shows only a very small part of the city, which was where the Emperors of China lived with their court, including wives and concubines, and is absolutely huge! Once people were admitted to the city, few were able to leave, never seeing the outside walls, family or friends ever again.

Here is DH walking on the Emperor's special road between the Temple of Earth and the Temple of Heaven. Only those of royal birth were originally allowed to use this route, and there were lower parallel routes for the rest of the court.

The next day DH was at work, so I went on a tour of the Hutongs (the old part of Beijing with lots of narrow streets and old houses) by rickshaw. This was fascinating, as I had a lovely English-speaking guide called Nancy, who took me to sample different Chinese teas, as well as a visit to a family home. If you're ever in Beijing, I can recommend this tour wholeheartedly.

Here is a street scene, quite near our hotel. If you look carefully, you can see the stallholder behind the red table eating her lunch! She's bending over a bowl with noodles in it, eating with chopsticks (of course!)

The next day (Saturday) we went to visit the Great Wall at Jian Cou. This part of the wall wasn't in a particularly good state of repair, but that meant that it was less commercialised than the well-known spots, and not so crowded. Here I am going up (DH is standing smugly at the top, while lovely Patrick is making sure I'm OK!).

Here we all are at the top of this section - Patrick seems especially pleased to have made it!

I was advised that the best way to come down was to sit down, and not to stand up, as it was very steep. This proved to be good advice, and apart from the damage to the back of my jeans and my dignity, much easier than the more conventional way adopted by DH and Patrick!

Next stop was Shanghai, where a walk along the Bund, the promenade along the side of the river, is a must. On one side of the river are the 19th century buildings which housed offices and warehouses for the opium trade - you could think you were in any European city looking in that direction. On the other are all these ultra modern buildings including the Oriental Pearl Television Tower (the pointed tower on the left) which has lifts to the top and provides fabulous views of the whole city when the weather is clear.

The weather was pretty good that day, and from this level you can see the numbers of high rise buildings in Shanghai. It's a very modern and very lovely city.

Last stop was Xi'an to see the Terracotta Army. Although I've seen lots of photos and films about this, there's nothing better than seeing them face to face, as it were. The numbers of warriors and the amount of work which had gone into them was absolutely mind-blowing. Seems a shame that the point of making them was for the emperor to take them with him into the afterlife, and it doesn't seem to have worked!

While we were in Xi'an, we hired bicycles to ride round the (restored) city wall. Well, we actually hired one bicycle (it was a tandem) and this is the view I got while pedalling. DH's profile is stunning (of course!) but you can also see the width and height of the wall, and the length of it. The whole wall was 8 km long, and took us about 80 minutes to cycle - including a refreshment break! Bicycles are still popular in China, although most people travel by car, making the roads very congested. There are still some hardy types though, like this man who looks to be moving house, or at least moving wardrobe and bedding!

And finally, a little fabric. I didn't manage to buy any for myself (it was mainly silk, and any cottons were shirting fabrics for the local seamstresses and tailors to make shirts to measure). However, here is a beautiful Chinese robe to drool over. Here's to my next visit!

Wednesday, 6 April 2011

That's better!

Things have been very hectic around here and I don't seem to have had much time for sewing, although I have squeezed a little bit in! I got my unpicker out and redid the Barbara Brackman block (the HSTs were all too big, which was the main problem) so here are the next four blocks.

Interestingly, I went to the Bramble Patch, which is my nearest quilt shop, to add a couple of purple fat quarters to my stash for this project, and apart from the batiks there was literally only one purple fat quarter in the whole shop, and that was of grapes! I've obviously chosen a very unfashionable colour, which is just about par for the course!

I have been trying to make up the blocks sewn by the Botcheston WI, and have only the binding to sew on the last quilt. It was fun arranging the blocks into different patterns.

This one is a barn raising design. I've bound it in blue to make it fairly gender neutral.This one is gender neutral too, and it's amazing how the yellow border brings out all the yellow strips to make it very cheery.The last one is streak of lightening, in pink - this one's not gender neutral! I'm going to take the finished quilts to show the ladies who made the blocks, and then they will be off to Project Linus. Maybe now I can get on with some of my own sewing!