Welcome to tales of my stitching life, home, family and friends.

Friday, April 28, 2017

Knitting and Traveling

I’m one of those people who like to knit on the car – as a passenger, of course, not while I’m driving.  Not all knitters can cope with knitting as  a passenger, but it doesn’t really bother me at all.  In fact, it stops me worrying about such things as the truck in front, and will that car at the intersection pull out in front of us when he shouldn’t, all those types of things.  If I concentrate on my knitting, I can leave the driving to Robin, without me worrying about the “what ifs”.

We have been on our latest road trip for the last week.  The weather has been glorious, warm sunny Autumn weather, and best of all, no wind.  There’s been a little stitching done, but nothing finished to show, just yet.

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Our travelling has taken us about 700km so far and we have seen some lovely sights.  Such as this glorious morning view of Mt Ruapehu.  There’s something about mountains – so majestic.

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Mt Ruapehu

We had heard tell of a horse sculpture made entirely of horse shoes tucked away in a tiny place in the middle of nowhere – certainly well worth a visit.   Off we went, along a steep, windy, narrow country road for 18km to finally arrive at Kaitieke.  Sponsored by the Wheeler Family and the local community, the sculpture was erected in 2015, the Year of the Horse.  It commemorates the horse history in Kaitieke and the ANZAC Centenary, acknowledging the contribution by horses to mankind in earlier times of war and agriculture.

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Made entirely from horse shoes

And visited our favourite diner in Hamilton – stepping back in time to when things were simpler, and the music of our youth.  With an American Hot Dog and a ice cream soda, we could almost have been 15 again.

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Happy Days in Hamilton

We’ve seen foggy mornings, when the tendrils of mist encompass the landscape.

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A beautiful misty morning

And seen glorious sunsets, full of glowing colour.

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And glowing sunsets

We are currently at our destination of Bowentown, in Waihi, to take part in the inaugural Leisureline Owners Club Rally.  All sorts of interesting things have been planned, and then we will be taking another five days or so to drive back home.  Who knows what else we will see?

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Anzac Day–Lest we Forget

The red poppy is the international symbol of wartime remembrance as well as the symbol of Anzac Day here in New Zealand.  We purchased this beautiful hand crafted pottery poppy in remembrance of Anzac Day and all who lost their lives in conflicts to ensure our peace and freedom.

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Our beautiful red poppy was made by Carolyn Hodgson, using traditional methods to hand sculpt the flower and lives in our garden at home.

Friday, April 21, 2017

New List Required

With two finishes recently, my List of Six needed updating.  The question was – what shall I choose to add to the list?  You all know that I have plenty lurking away in various bins or bags.  There was one in particular that I had planned to add – but I couldn’t find it!  Next time, perhaps.

So my new List of Six is:

1:  Animal ABC quilt – coming along nicely
2:  Horse quilt number 2 – not yet started
3:  New Zealand native birds – replaces Winter Welcome wall-hanging
4:  Soul Searching – replaces Candlewick Table runner
5:  Xmas Stars and Nine Patches – up to the machine quilting on this
6:  Polka Dot Apron – not yet started

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Ready and waiting

I’ve finally washed, ironed, and put away all the fabric I purchased recently at the Fabric Bazaar.  The hand dyes bled and bled after several washes.  So I taught them a lesson and left them outside on the clothesline for several days through several showers, sunshine and wind.  Hopefully all the excess dye has now gone.

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All ready to use now

Rolling the dice won’t happen  for the next couple of weeks – we are off and away for a two week trip up to Waihi in our caravan. And look at the glorious morning we woke up to.  Clear blue skies, and the sunshine is kissing the hills behind our home.  It’s a great day to travel, indeed.

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It’s a beautiful morning to travel

But I’ve packed both my stitching bag and knitting bag to take with me, plus a couple of library books to keep me occupied in any spare time.  And when we return home, I’ll be really keen to get started on my list again.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Sew Wots on Tuesday

I was determined not to miss another Sew Wot Tuesday so Robin drove me home early from the Foxton caravan rally, and then he  went back for the final night.  So I was all ready to meet up with the the ladies on Tuesday morning while he ambled back home with the caravan mid morning.

There were no finishes for Show and Tell, and everyone was busy working on their various projects.  Heather E was stitching away on hexagons and Mary was working on her Zenembroidery, purchased from the Fox Collection.  Helen admired it so much that she has purchased a similar design for herself to stitch.

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Mary’s Zenembroidery

There was knitting going on too, with both Helen and Heather B busy with their needles.  Both knitting to keep the tootsies warm – Helen was knitting cozy woolen slippers and Heather was knitting socks.

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Helen and Heather B doing their knitting

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Helen is knitting thick woolen slippers

We have acquired a whole lot of quilting magazines collected over the years by our Sew Wot member Pam who sadly is no longer with us.  It was decided that we would swap these boxes amongst ourselves, flick through and read them, then pass on again at our future Sew Wot get-togethers.  The magazines may well be old, but there is a lot of articles and patterns which may well take our fancy.

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Carol checking out the magazines

As for me, I worked on another of my Christmas ABC stitchery blocks, and I’m pleased to say that I’m coming along quite well with these.    Helen was our hostess and provided  a tasty morning tea (just love those asparagus rolls).  As usual, there was plenty of chatter -  another friendly Sew Wot get-together.

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Stitching over Easter

We had a busy long weekend away attending the National Caravan Club Rally at Foxton.  There were people attending from far and wide from other clubs around the North Island, and it was nice to catch up with others from different clubs  who we only see now and again at these kind of gatherings.  I found a little spare time to do some stitching, and have two more finished blocks (slightly changed) from the Alphabet Noel series by Michelle Ridgeway. 

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W is for Wreath and X is for Xmas

We walked up town to get a few supplies, which I carried back to camp in my machine embroidered bag.  I keep this in the caravan for occasions such as this.  The bag was made by “bagendbabe” and bags can be embellished with all sorts of sayings, from crafts, occupations, seasonal.  Do check out the web site, there is a bag for all interests.

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My caravan shopping bag

Foxton is one of those small towns which has a lot of history, shown by the interesting murals on the walls.  This one shows the merging of two cultures in the colonial days.

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One of the many murals in Foxton

We had a great time away, enjoying Easter buns and eggs, a quizz night, and dancing, morning teas and Happy Hours.

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The Easter Bunnies found us

And a big crowd of 90 happy campers went to the local RSA for a meal.  We chose roast beef, and it was certainly delicious, melt in the mouth tender, served with rich gravy and roast veggies.  All for a very reasonable price too.

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A couple of happy campers at the restaurant

So that was how we spent our Easter Weekend.  Hope everyone else had a lovely time too.

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Work before Play

I’m feeling rather virtuous.  There was mending to do that had been hanging around – now finally done.  Robin’s favourite shorts needed repairing, the inner pockets are made of such thin fabric that they keep getting holes in them.  I’m repaired them several times now, and he is always thankful that the pockets are fixed up, once again.  I had purchased new navy trousers which needed the legs shortened.  Both jobs done, and once started, of course it didn’t take too long at all.

With that out of the way, I sat down and updated my Quit Documentation folder.  Why had I let this slide, I wondered?  That’s right, I remember now.  Last time I wanted to do it, we had run out of ink for the printer.  With several finishes so far this year, everything is now up to date, pages printed off, small fabric samples added, and the pages filed away in clear plastic pockets in my folders.  And all the fabric from each project which has been hanging around has finally been put away.   It’s so nice to flick through my folders now and again, and remember what I have done over the years.

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The dice called up UFO number 1 from my list this week - which is my Animal ABC quilt.  The blocks have all been stitched, so now I need to sew them all together.  Don’t know how much sewing I’ll manage this week, as the long Easter weekend will impact on both this week and the following one.  Of course, we will be tootling off in our caravan very soon.

Making a start, I laid out the blocks, cut some colourful  sashing strips and started stitching.  It was  a lovely warm Autumn day yesterday so  I took my blocks outside onto the patio table and did my pinning in the sunshine.  Then back I went to the sewing machine.  So I’m getting my sewing started, enjoyed a little time outside in the fresh air, and the walking to and fro stops me from stiffening up after spending too long at the sewing machine.

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Pinning the sashing strips

So far, there are several rows stitched together and as the rain has now arrived today, I’ve spread this portion over the back of the couch.  Can you see where I’ve added a New Zealand touch?  K just had to be for Kiwi, I felt.

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Animal ABC quilt so far

Not sure how much more I’ll get done –  once the rain stops and the ground dries out a little, there’s caravan packing to do for our long Easter weekend away.  Hope the Easter Bunny can track us down for the Easter Eggs and Buns!

Monday, April 10, 2017

Fabric Bazaar

I joined the throngs of ladies, and a few men,  pouring in to the Memorial Hall on Saturday, all looking for a bargain at the Fabric Bazaar.  The Altrusa Club had been busy collecting fabric, orphan quilt blocks, wool, buttons, lace, and other notions, patterns, and craft magazines for quite a while.  Anything which was donated was gratefully collected from our homes, which made things very easy indeed.  I had gone through my fabric bins and pattern collection and easily filled three bags of bits and pieces to donate.

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Come one, come all, to the Fabric Bazaar

The ladies of the Altrusa Club must have spent a huge amount of time getting everything priced and packaged for sale.  And it was all done very nicely indeed.  Lengths of fabric were rolled,  wool was put into big bags, patchwork fabric was packaged attractively, three or four toning pieces displayed nicely in clear plastic bags.  Button lovers were in their element as they looked at bags full of all the different colours.  And then there was a free for all area – fill a bag with fabric pieces for a dollar! There were patterns to rummage through, and thousands of those craft magazines which everyone swears breed in the dark.  And everything was very reasonably priced.

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That’s Sandra in the blue hat, Altrusa member and also a member of our caravan club

I had a great time poking about all the various goodies, but spent most time at the patchwork fabric tables.  At one stage there was a young mum and daughter at the same table, and the little girl picked up fabric which was labelled as a cushion cover.  “Can I have that Mum?”, she asked.  The answer was, “go and ask Nana if she will make it up for you”.  Of course, Nana said yes, so that was a very happy child indeed, all for the cost of $1 or so.

There were plenty of familiar faces, either helping customers or getting on with the serious business of shopping, and even some ladies from my former Upper Hutt quilt club who had driven up for the day.  Of course I came home with a few bargains too, so I was very pleased with my purchases.  And the proceeds are going to support the Arohanui Hospice, a very good cause indeed.

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Bargain shopping for a good cause

Saturday, April 8, 2017

Winter Welcome Wall-hanging

Another week – another finish, it seems that I’m on a roll.   This pattern was a gift from my quilty pen friend Carol, a small project which consisted of a stitchery block, a log cabin block, and two small applique blocks.  I added some simple embroidery to the applique blocks.

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Another afternoon sewing and I assembled the pieces, added the border and made a start on the machine quilting.  Plugging away, the quilting was finished, the binding attached, and hand stitched down last evening. 

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I have just the place to hang my new wall-hanging, but it’s not going up on the wall for a while.  It’s Autumn here, so I’m not going to tempt the weather gods with putting Winter Welcome up on the wall just yet – I’ll leave it for another month or so, I think.  And I'm pleased to say - that's another UFO off my list.

Thursday, April 6, 2017

Wet weather stitching

It’s been a wet and wild week, just right to sit inside and do a little stitching.  I’m working away on my “Winter Welcome” wall-hanging and it is a relatively small project.  It started off like this – the Welcome banner I had stitched earlier, plus a handful of fabrics to get on with the rest of the job.

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It started like this

I needed to make one small log cabin block, and attach the applique to a couple of other blocks.  This pattern was a gift from my quilty pen friend Carol who had also included some pretty starry blue fabric pieces for the applique background, and some dark strips to use in my log cabin.  I stitched the applique by machine, and stage two looks like this.

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Stage two, log cabin block and applique done

Those little applique blocks needed some simple stitching to bring them to life, so that was my task yesterday afternoon after being out and about in the bad weather for most of the day.  I’m no great shakes as an embroiderer, but I’m pleased with my efforts of a bit of back stitch on the church and tree, and a couple of knots and x’s on the snowman’s head.

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Hand stitching added

The job today is to stitch all the pieces together and add the borders.  So I’m getting there, slowly but surely.

Monday, April 3, 2017

Another week–another project

“Roll the Dice” today brought up project number three on my List of Six UFOs.  That’s the first time out for my Winter Welcome wall-hanging, which incidentally, was a gift from my quilting pen-friend Carol from South Dakota, who has sent me many interesting gifts over the years.

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As well as sending me the pattern, Carol had included the dark blue fabric for the background, and the dark strips to make the log cabin block.

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I had already made a small start a while ago, and had stitched the “Welcome” panel.  And gathered up the fabrics to complete the project.

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So now I’ve got some tracing and fusing to do, and need to cut some light strips for the log cabin block.  Perhaps I had better get started then!

Saturday, April 1, 2017

A little more Sewing

Feeling good about a finish under my belt this week, I decided to do a little more sewing.  And chose this – “Winter Quilt Festival”.  This panel was a Christmas gift from my quilty pen friend Carol, who lives in South Dakota.  She had stitched on two borders before posting it half way around the world to me as a lovely gift. 

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Pinned and layered, ready to go

I had selected the backing, layered and pinned it all up, ready to stitch – sometime in the future.  So with a little spare time this week, I machine quilted in the ditch around the three straight lines in the borders.  The plan is to add this to my stitching bag and do some hand quilting in the centre of the panel.  Around those cheeky snow people, the trees, banner and the quilts in the background. 

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With my stitchery project, Christmas ABCs nearing completion, this little panel will be a nice change of pace for me to start working on when I’ve finished my stitchery blocks.   It’s a long time since I’ve done hand quilting, and I’m certainly no expert, but it is nice and restful thing to do.  No doubt the Winter Quilt Festival will accompany me to caravan trips all over the country.

I should really be doing more tracing on my horse head, but to tell you the truth I’ve feeling rather intimidated by it.  As I only have a small teflon tracing mat, I think I need to buy a larger size. Or could I just use baking paper taped together?  What do the applique experts think?

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Friday, March 31, 2017

A finish – candle-wick Table Runner

It all came together rather well, if I do say so myself.  Three gifted candle wick blocks, and a little left over fabric in cream patterned with pink and green from my daughter’s 50th birthday quilt all worked well together.  And here it is, machine quilted and bound.

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How to quilt it – that was the question.  I finally decided to do some echo quilting around the outline of the stitching.  And add a heart in each corner.  As I started marking the heart I had a worrying thought – hoping that I was using my Frixion pen and not just any old biro.  All was well, thank goodness.  I love the way the pen marks just disappear with the touch of the iron.

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Quilting and marking

I added a little bit of quilting to the centre of each block, to hold it down nicely.  Then did gentle wavy lines around the borders.

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The middle block

With this project finished, that’s another one I can cross off my list.  Now, what shall I replace it with, I wonder?

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New runner on the coffee table

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

The Good and the Bad

It’s good and I’m so pleased that the lovely Poinsettia which my daughter gave me at Christmas is still thriving.  Three months later and I haven’t killed it with kindness – or in my case, neglect.  I’m not much of a gardener at all, and that includes pot plants.  The label told me that these plants like diffused light, so it is sitting on the table in front of the large windows.  And although it is nice and warm, the bright sunshine is certainly diffused  by the white sun filter curtains. 

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Poinsettia on my NZ tablecloth

The plant pot is sitting on my New Zealand tablecloth, started when we did our South Island Odyssey trip several years ago.  I prepared lots of rail fence blocks using all sorts of NZ themed fabrics and pale grey.  As we travelled around I used my fabric marker pen (on the grey strips) to record places we had stayed, sights we had seen, trips we had done, (rail, bus and boat) and even special meals we had eaten.  Such as whitebait and Bluff oysters – so delicious.  The tablecloth is a great memory of our three months holiday down in the South Island. 

We have friends doing a return trip around the South Island at this time, and we wish them all the very best for a safe and happy trip.  Our plans are to go down again early next year again, there is so much to see and do.

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Our lemon tree is sick

And the bad side of things?  What has happened to our lemon tree, we want to know.  All the leaves have turned yellow and dropped off, and we don’t know if the tree is dying or just having a bit of a seizure.  One of our neighbours said the same thing happened to her lemon tree last year, and it finally started growing fresh green leaves again.  Perhaps we will just have to wait and see if our small tree recovers too.  The weather has been really weird lately, so maybe that’s the trouble.  Who knows?

Monday, March 27, 2017

What shall I sew today?

Monday is”roll the dice” day, if I’m home and not tripping around in the caravan.  It’s number 4 today – first time out for my candlewick table-runner.  Sew Wot friend Moira had previously given me eight candlewick blocks which she no longer wanted.  I had used four of the blocks in the outer corners of my candlewick quilt “Whipped Cream and Raspberries – read about this quilt here.  I had quickly assembled three more of Moira’s gifted candlewick blocks as a table runner when I was finishing up this quilt.  Which promptly  got slotted into number four on my List of Six UFOs.

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Start of my coffee table runner

Moira had added a touch of colour when she stitched four of her blocks, and I used these three as a table-runner.  And the last block has bright pink flowers so will be the just thing for a label on the back of of “Whipped Cream and Raspberries” quilt.  I had the perfect fabric for the runner, a piece left over from my daughter’s 50th birthday quilt in cream, pale pink and green.

The next step was to add the side borders and get it layered and pinned.  Then I did stitch in the ditch quilting around the three blocks to hold everything in place.

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Layered, pinned and ditch stitched

The next job is to add more quilting – perhaps I’ll leave that till tomorrow.  With just a couple of appointments this week, I’m hoping to get it all finished and bound by the end of the week.  That’s the plan, anyway.

Sunday, March 26, 2017

First Club Sewing Day of the Year

A small group of keen dedicated stitchers met at the Scottish Society Hall yesterday morning for our first club sewing day of the year.  This was a “new to us” hall as our usual one was no longer available.  It seems lots of public buildings are now considered “earthquake risks” and are not to be used until strengthened.  There were  pennants of clan tartans hanging from the ceiling, and other interesting clan information on the walls.   Although I looked hard, I could find nothing relating to my Scots ancestors, the Gunn Clan.   Before too long the sewing machines were humming, and we settled down to a good day’s sewing.

The day wasn’t just for machine sewers, two of my Sew Wot friends came along for half a day each to do a little hand work.   Moira stayed for the morning doing hand stitching, and Heather E came along in the afternoon and worked on her hexagon quilt.  Heather also brought along a quilt top she got from our friend’s Pam’s collection after she passed away.  Now quilted and embellished with some beads, it is a lovely memory of Pam for Heather to keep.

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That’s Heather behind her very striking quilt

Kath was working on her red, black and white quilt – her very first quilt!  She just has the borders to quilt now - what a great job she is doing.

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Kath and her first quilt

We were intrigued by Madalyn’s project – the Daily Dot quilt, designed by Susan Claire.  Lots and lots of tiny appliques, one for each day of the week.  This was a gift from Madalyn’s daughter, so it is really special.

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Madalyn’s Block of the Day quilt

Susan had a big job ahead of her too – she was working on a Bookcase quilt for her daughter’s 21st birthday.  She appreciated having quiet time away from home, she said, as she pondered the possibilities of the bookcase.  Several blocks had been made already, so she has made a good start.

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Susan’s Bookcase quilt

Lynne had brought along patterns and fabric to make a rotary cutter pouch.  Most of us took the pattern to do later, while Marilyn took up the challenge and whipped up a pouch in an hour or so.  These would make nice gifts for a sewing friend, I think.

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Marilyn’s rotary cutter pouch

And I worked away on my “go to” project to take to stitching days, working on paper pieced borders for my long term burgundy and cream log cabin quilt.  And, I couldn’t believe it when I ran out of burgundy strips so had to pack that project away!  One day this project will make it to my “List of Six UFOs”. 

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I’m still working on my paper pieced border blocks

Luckily I also took along my stitching bag so I spent the last couple of hours working on my Christmas ABC blocks.  I certainly enjoyed my stitching day, it was a bonus to have a weekend at home and not be travelling away somewhere so that I could attend.  It’s always so nice to meet up with other club members.