Thursday, 8 December 2016

Exploring pastures new

We have had some glorious weather here on the West Coast of Scotland recently, so after our ferry trip to Arran we decided to make the most of the weather with another road trip.

This time we took a ferry to Dunoon

and headed North to Loch Fyne , the largest sea loch in Scotland and Inverary, the location of the home of the Duke of Argyll, chief of the Clan Campbell. As you can see the scenery was spectacular!

My husband was delighted to come across the Fyne Malts shop on the Main Street, and even more delighted when the owner provided him with some samples to try! All of them were pronounced delightful and some of them might have found their way into our shopping bag :)

Equally delightful, but sadly closed for the winter, was Inverary Castle, the ancestral home of the Duke of Argyll. They know how to live those Dukes, don't they??

Avid fans of Downton Abbey, might recognise Inverary Castle as the location of the house party attended by the Granthams in the 2012 Christmas special!

A spectacular day was rounded off with a plate of oysters at the original Loch Fyne Oyster Bar
pronounced the best he's ever tasted by my other half

and an equally delicious fish chowder for me!

Can you tell we are really enjoying exploring our new area :) ????

Tuesday, 6 December 2016

Christmas Shopping, Island Hopping

This year we decided that we would try to do as much as possible of our Christmas shopping locally, which meant that a trip to Arran by ferry was called for!

So, on a glorious winter morning last week we headed down the coast and set sail.

Crisp, blue skies, snow-capped mountains, calm seas and glorious scenery not a bad combination for a shopping trip :)

Arran is a veritable hive of crafty activity and one of my favourite destinations is the Arran Aromatics factory shop, where we stocked up on loads of their island-made gorgeous smelling goodies.

Next up, a visit to the Arran Brewery to stockpile a selection of their great beers for the thirsty hordes who will descend upon us at Christmas :)

Whilst browsing the shelves at the Brewery, I came across this barley wine. Now normally I wouldn't have paid too much attention but as our shopping trip co-incided with Christmas Pudding making time, barley wine was very high on my shopping list! For years I have been making Delia Smith's traditional Christmas Pudding, which calls for barley wine in the list of ingredients, and for years I have searched high and low for it without success. So you can imagine my delight when there it was sitting on the shelf in front of me. That bottle was snatched up pretty quickly I can tell you.

Now, whether I will be able to taste the difference when the pudding is finally served I have no idea, but I am just over the moon that I have at long last managed to tick off everything on the long list of Christmas Pudding ingredients for a change.

After a very pleasant lunch we headed back to the ferry to be greeting with this stunning sunset when we arrived back home.

 Now wasn't that a very pleasant way to spend a Christmas shopping day! Hope your Christmas shopping expeditions are equally as enjoyable.

Friday, 2 December 2016

Tied up in knots!

It seems like an age since I had a finish to report, and not just a finish but a finished quilt! Having a deadline tends to concentrate a girl's mind :)

December 1st was the deadline for handing over the quilts being made by the group I joined when we moved. At the time of joining I blogged that meeting the deadline with one and maybe two completed quilts would be a breeze! Ha! I should have known better.

Only one of the prospective quilts was finished in time. I really have no excuse for that as the second top has been gathering dust in my sewing room since September! I dithered so much about what backing to use and how to quilt it that neither of those things happened.

On the bright side "Fit to be Tied" is completed and handed over, so one wheelchair bound child will have a bit of colourful comfort this winter.

As I mentioned before I Tie Quilted this, which was a first for me and I am really happy with how it turned out. I added a drop of Fray Check to each knot as I was worried about the thread fraying and unravelling. It made the knots stiff so I decided to wash and dry the quilt in the hope that it would take out that stiffness, which fortunately it did. I am not so sure that I would use the tie quilting method on a large quilt but it worked just fine for this lap quilt size. I think the quilting also lends itself more to traditional, block pattern quilts too, although perhaps I just need to experiment with that more :)

For extra warmth, and part of the reason for tie quilting, I used a wool check fabric for the quilt back. I was a bit anxious when the quilt was in the dryer but it all came out looking fine.

For the binding I used the Square Corner Binding method outlined by Carolyn Forster in her book "Sew Jelly Roll Quilts and Gifts" . It was a neater finish than I sometimes achieve with mitred corners, but if I am honest I prefer the look of a (neat!) mitred corner.

 So, that's my first Friday finish in December, let's hope it is a good omen :)

Linking up to Crazy Mom Quilts

Thank Goodness It's Finished Friday

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