Thursday 27 August 2015

Walking in the footsteps of Giants

A while ago friends invited us to visit them at their holiday home in Donegal, so we decided to use the opportunity to see a part of the world that we had only briefly visited before. As regular readers know we are big Game of Thrones fans in this house, so as this trip would give us the chance to see some of the locations used in GoT it was too good an opportunity to pass up.

We flew to Belfast International Airport and headed over to the coast at Larne to start our whistle stop tour. Sadly we were too late to visit the walled gardens of Glenarm Castle so had to make do with a quick peep and a promise to ourselves to return.

Following the Causeway Coast and Glens route we ended up in Ballycastle, which gave us our first GoT connection as it is the birthplace of the actor Conleth Hill, who plays Varys in Game of Thrones.

This beautiful statue on the harbour front represents the Irish legend of the Children of Lir, who were turned into swans by their stepmother and sentenced to spend 900 years living in the loughs of Ireland.

Clearly the same artist was behind this statue at the harbour celebrating the fishing that brought prosperity to the town.

Fishing was the reason for this rather scary rope bridge at Carrick-a-Rede, as it was used by salmon fisherman to access the best places to catch the migrating salmon who passed by. No salmon to be seen nowadays, just the shoals of tourists weaving their way to and from the coach park!
It was daunting enough walking across the bridge with both hands free, I cannot image trying the same trip with one hand clutching a large bundle of salmon, can you?

If these nesting seagulls are anything to go by though, there are still plenty of fish in the sea.

Our next GoT connection was the tiny harbour of Ballintoy, which serves as the Iron Islands harbour for Theon Greyjoy's return.

With scenery like this on the doorstep it is not difficult to reimagine it as Iron Islands.

All that walking worked up an appetite, so we stopped for lunch at the Red Door Tea Room in Ballintoy, where if you ever find yourself I recommend the seafood chowder, it was delicious :)

Of course, we couldn't visit this part of the world without making our way to the main attraction - the Giant's Causeway, where legend has it that the Irish giant, Finn McCool, decided to confront the Scottish Giant, Benandonner, and throws rocks into the sea to create a path across to Scotland. When Finn arrives in Scotland though, he discovers that Benandonner is a bit bigger than he thought, so decides to beat a hasty retreat. Naturally the Scot in me relishes that part of the tale :) Benandonner was, however, deprived of his revenge by Finn's wife who disguised Finn as a baby, upon sight of which, Benandonner decided that if the babies were that size he definitely didn't want to meet the father :)

Even with the inevitable hordes of tourists clambering all over it, the Giant's Causeway is an amazing sight.

There is another unusual sight in this rock formation next to the Causeway, but I will leave you to guess what it is :)

Linking up to

Live A Colorful Life

Tuesday 25 August 2015

New to Me in August

Welcome to another New to Me monthly link party, where we celebrate flexing our creative muscles, whether we are successful in our endeavours or not!

This month I have lots of New to Me activities to share.

First up was my first ever visit to the annual Festival of Quilts in Birmingham.

To do full justice to the show, we travelled down the night before and stayed at this wonderfully historic old hotel.

The atmosphere of  Castle Bromwich Hall hotel and its' surrounding gardens were the ideal precursor to the inspiration overload that is the Festival of Quilts :)

Retail therapy at the FoQ was the impetus for my next New to Me. I have long struggled with the measuring and cutting of the last stretch of binding when finishing off quilts, so a binding ruler was high on my shopping list.

Why buy one though, when you can have three? These are the Binding Tool and Bias Rulers from TQM that caught me eye, and somehow found their way into my bag.

I can already report that they do just exactly what they say, as I used the 2.5" binding tool ruler to finish off the binding on my Word to the Wise quilt, and it worked a treat.

The location of the quilt shot above was my final New to Me for the month, as it was taken in Donegal, Ireland. Our visit there was part of a whistle stop tour of N. Ireland and Donegal, neither of which I have visited before.

  With beaches like these (Portnoo, Donegal)

and scenery like this (Carrick-a-Rede, N. Ireland) I think it might not be too long before we head back :)

So, that's my New to Me activities this month, now it is your turn.

As ever please help to spread the word by linking back to this post in your post and/or adding the blog button to your sidebar.

Check out the other links too and, maybe, leave an encouraging comment along the way. The emphasis of this link party is to celebrate the trying of something new, whether it works out exactly as planned or not, so a little encouragement here and there would not go amiss! 

The link will remain open until 23.59GMT on August 31st, so you have some time to try something new and link up and join the party :) If your New to Me involves a Christmas or Holiday project then don't forget to link up to this month's Ho, Ho, Ho and on We Sew Link Party too, you could just win a £10 gift voucher from the Village Haberdashery for your efforts :)

You will find the Ho, Ho, Ho and On We Sew Link Party this month at Sunshine through the Rain

Looking forward to seeing what you have been up to this month!

Friday 21 August 2015

A word to the wise

I am pleased to say that I managed to finish my charm square quilt in time to take with me on our recent trip to visit friends.

Last time I blogged about the quilt the blocks looked like this

and this is what they became!

It was a close run thing though, I was still stitching the binding on late in the evening before we were heading off, and the completed quilt only came out of the dryer about 1 hour before we were due to leave :)

The random line quilting was inspired by similar in Elizabeth Hartman's Practical Guide to Patchwork book. Ideally I would have quilted this more densely but the choice between more quilting and finishing in time was an easy one to make.

I couldn't resist taking photos of the quilt with the backdrop of a beach just up the coast from where this quilt now resides. I think it will fit in well, don't you?

This was such an economical quilt to make too. The backing you can see above was cotton sheeting bought in the bedding factory shop in Riga before we moved back home, the binding was left over from the Siblings Together quilt, the text charm squares were from the Texty Charm Swap I took part in on Flickr and the white for the blocks was a sale purchase several moons ago!

The pattern for this quilt was in the Aug/Sept 2013 issue of Quilt Magazine. I have hoarded this magazine for all this time as I knew that I wanted to make this particular quilt someday, so I am delighted to have finally got around to it.

Two quilts finished in the space of a week or so, I don't know what has come over me :)

If you have a finish that is Christmas or Holiday related this month, don't forget to link it up to the Ho, Ho, Ho and on We Sew Link Party over at Sunshine through the Rain

There is a £10 gift voucher from the Village Haberdashery up for grabs for one lucky linker!

Linking up to Crazy Mom Quilts

  Confessions of a Fabric Addict

Tuesday 18 August 2015

Ho, Ho, Ho and on We Sew - more drinking!

Well, given that we have not really had much of a summer this year here in the UK it is not so difficult to think about Christmas, and just so that you know there are 18 Saturdays left until Christmas! Don't say you haven't been warned :)

As it is the 18th of the month, it is time to unveil another Ho, Ho, Ho and on We Sew Link Party to encourage/cajole you into getting organised for the Christmas Holiday season.

This month's link party is hosted by the lovely Deborah, who blogs at Sunshine through the Rain . Deborah has created a brilliant tutorial for Envelope Christmas Stockings that are the perfect project for children to make as end-of-term gifts for teachers and classmates. Think how smug you will feel when you have a stack of those sitting in the cupboard so far in advance of that frenetic run-up to Christmas!

Of course, it wouldn't be a Ho, Ho, Ho and on We Sew Link Party without a giveaway and this month's giveaway comes courtesy of the generous Annie at the Village Haberdashery.

One lucky linker will receive a £10 gift voucher to spend in Annie's great store.

I know that I would have no trouble spending that :)

The winner of last month's mini charm pack from the Fat Quarter shop was Frederique who linked up her paper-pieced Christmas Forest.

My own Christmas make this month complements this wine bottle cover that I made in June,

a set of Christmas coasters!

More linen from Latvia for the tops with plain red cotton for the letters and red and white gingham for the binding. I started to make these a while ago but tidied them away in a cupboard (!) so promptly forgot about them altogether. When we come back from our next trip to France next month I will also have the wine to go with them, so one more present sorted :)

If you have made any Christmas or Holiday gifts or home decor items this month head on over to Sunshine through the Rain to link them up and be in with a chance of winning that Village Haberdashery gift voucher.

As ever we could not provide you with all of these great giveaways throughout the year without the support of these generous sponsors.

Crafty Trimmings

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Quilting Fabric at the Fat Quarter Shop

Friday 7 August 2015

A first and a finish!

Even with the diversion of a trip to the Festival of Quilts yesterday I have managed to finish my quilt from the Siblings Together Quilt Bee , and not before time as the summer camp at which these quilts will be distributed is coming up in a couple of weeks time!

STQB quilt front

Manhandling this quilt through my machine for the straight-line quilting was certainly a test of my upper arm strength, I could feel aches in places that I have never felt aches in before :)

My recent trip to the local fabric sale resulted in this great numbers fabric for the quilt back.

This was my first visit to a Doughty's Roadshow but at £7 per metre, it definitely won't be my last! The shows take place all over the UK, check out here to see if there is one happening near you. Be prepared to queue, but trust me it is worth it at these prices :)

I had made a test block when I drafted the instructions for my Bee mates, so used that with the numbers fabric for the quilt back.

You can just see the first of the title in the top left hand corner of the quilt back.

My first ever quilt label!

As all of my previous quilts have been made for family members I have never added a quilt label to the back before. The label above was donated by Spoonflower for the Siblings Together Quilts, so one email to Catherine and I had a label for my quilt.

I hope that the eventual recipient of this quilt gets as much pleasure out of using it as I did from making it.

Linking up to Crazy Mom Quilts

Thursday 6 August 2015


One of the highlights of our recent river cruise from Moscow to St Petersburg, was negotiating the 17 locks required to complete the journey.

Given that this was the size of our ship getting through the locks was no cinch!

Add in the fact that we negotiated several of them during the night, the ship's captain certainly earned his keep.

Not too much room for manoeuver here :)

or here!

The locks were too deep for ships to be tied up to the top when the water levels were changing, so they were tied to these sidewinders, which rolled up or down depending upon the water levels.

The locks we passed through were constructed between 1939 and 1964, by the use of forced labour, so the human cost of these grand structures was high.

Landscapes like these did not lend themselves to an easy escape.

Linking up to

Live A Colorful Life

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