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

Sunday, December 31, 2017

Something for the Ladies

Looking through Transport World  museum packed full of cars and trucks was only mildly interesting to me, so I was delighted to discover other exhibits aimed at the female customers who accompany their husbands.  Such as a range of “Wearable Art” upstairs.  Here are some which took my fancy.  First was “The Phoenix” by Claire Maley-Shaw, and is made from fabric, feathers, sequins, beads, and interestingly, pipe lagging!  A little “over the top” for my taste, but certainly an eye catching outfit.

The Phoenix

And in keeping with the transport theme, I thought these next two certainly fitted that theme.  On the right is “Are we there Yet?” – and how many times have the kids said that on a road trip?  Made by Patricia Munro from a recycled mattress topper, polystyrene wrap, felt, buttons and various other bits and bobs.  And the pale two piece creation “Journeys” was made by the HWR Richardson Group staff using copper wire and thousands of Road User Charge labels and Vehicle Relicensing labels.

“Are we there Yet?”  and “Journeys”

I was really interested in all the lovely exhibits in the Vintage Vault, some rather old fashioned and homely, and some absolutely exquisite.  For those of you who collect old doilies, how about making a doily dress like this?  Don’t like the hat, but the dress is certainly interesting.

Dress made from dollies

Beautiful old clothing and embroidery

Vintage Singer sewing machine and washing machine

Rag rug with a difference – made from strips of woolen blankets

Even the bathrooms in the museum were themed.  Robin told me the male toilets were decorated with car memorabilia, while the ladies I went in to was much more feminine.  It was fitted with pretty pastel hand basins and had a selection of hand mirrors on the wall, just like Granny would have displayed on her dressing table.

Ladies bathroom

Robin and I met up in the café for lunch, once he could tear himself away from looking at cars, trucks and tractors.  As expected, the café had a motorized theme too, the table numbers were made from old number plates, as were the light shades.  And who would have known that there was once a thriving canned rabbit industry?  During the late 1880s and throughout the 1900s, rabbits rampaged through the country.  Bluff had a canning factory for their meat which was shipped overseas and there were also rabbit processing plants at Woodlands and Gore. Rabbit fur was also shipped back to England to be made into felt hats.


My pretty lunch in the Café – Cauliflower Soup with Beetroot Crispy Curls on top

A visit to Bill Richardson’s Transport in Invercargill was a big “must do” for Robin and he really enjoyed his day.  And I certainly enjoyed mine too, checking out some of the old vintage cars, but I gave the tractors a miss.  But there was plenty for me to see, so I was perfectly content too.

Saturday, December 30, 2017

It’s almost New Year

Time’s moving on, and we have been moving too.  After spending six nights at Mosgiel in Dunedin over Christmas, we stayed at Tuapeka Mouth, the Lignite Pit, and have finally made in down to the deep south in Invercargill for New Year.  Alice, our cute little pet camel from the Ghan Railway in outback Australia, has been traveling with us.  She is very quiet, and has been absolutely no trouble at all while we have been on the road.  I expect she spends her time looking out the window hoping to find other camels, but she will have no luck here in New Zealand, unless we take her to the zoo!

Alice, our little camel

Stitching has almost been a non event lately, obviously I’ve been much too busy doing sight-seeing as we move around.  And we certainly have seen some interesting sights.  Such as this old historic sod house, built in the 1860s, just along the road from Milton.  100 years later, the old cottage was derelict and the South Otago Historical Society undertook restoration, with financial help from individuals and local businesses.   The project was completed by May 1970 with living and bedroom furniture in place.  I loved the old furnishing of the time and the vintage sewing machine.

Old sod cottage and furnishings

Tuapeka Mouth was an interesting place to stay out in the country, with the bonus being a ride on the  historic punt.  People and goods first crossed the Clutha River on rowing boats, and the community agitated for a punt to cross the river more safely.  Built at the cost of 333 pounds, and was officially opened on 22nd February 1896.  It was a huge success and carried 336 passengers and 255 horses in the first month of operation.


Terry operates the Tuapeka Mouth Ferry (The Punt), which is the only one of its kind in the southern hemisphere using the flow of the river to cross from one side to the other and back.   To control the ferry, two heavy wire cables across the river (one upstream and one downstream) are permanently attached, and the craft is powered across the river solely by water current pressure against its rudders, attached to the rear of the pontoon hulls. This historic ferry generally crosses the 130 metre width of the river in about 4 minutes.  And it is free for both cars and passengers!

Enjoying our ride on the punt

Our next stop was at the Lignite Pit and Café, which also has a small camping area on the property.  Lignite is the lowest quality of coal, and lignite coal deposits were first worked in 1904, tunneling to start, then the mine progressed to open cast mining.  A pump was necessary to deal with the oncoming water in the pit, but when mining became uneconomic, the business closed in 1971, the  pump was turned off and water filled the pit. 

Views of the former open cast mine, now a pretty lake

Transformation of the large ugly hole started in 2004, when the owners got in a digger and started to remove the rubbish from the flooded lignite pit.  Seven years of hard work and love later, they have transformed the disused lignite pit into the nature friendly habitat is it today, a  beautiful serene place, with plenty of water fowl in the lake, and resting on the banks.  A group of young swans were making quite a racket as the busily flapped their wings on the lake, practicing their takeoff technique perhaps?

We spent a day exploring some of the Catlin area, and walked through farmland to get to Slope Point, which is the most southerly point on the South Island, and is 7kms further south than Bluff.  THere were tourists everywhere, all waiting to have their photo taken at the sign.

At Slope Point

We traveled on to Curio Bay, the home of a petrified forest.  At low tide petrified stumps and fallen trees can be viewed, due to a disaster which happened a mind boggling 180 million years old during the Jurassic period.   The forest was killed suddenly by an eruption of volcanic ash, with the ash  forming the hard sandstone beds in the cliff edges.  Eventually the sandstone strata were cut back by sea action, to reveal the broken logs and stumps still in their original positions.  Luckily our visit coincided with low tide.  It is a bit hard to make them out, and you have to get quite close to see the woodgrain on the fallen logs.

Petrified stumps and logs at Curio Bay

And last but by no means least, do you know that New Zealand has it’s own tiny version of Niagara Falls.  They were so named by a surveyor who had seen the mighty Niagara Falls and named these small falls after them as a joke.  They are really just a trickle, and people come from far and wide to look and wonder – or perhaps to snigger!

Niagara Falls, New Zealand style

We couldn’t be traveling in the deep south without trying some world famous in New Zealand Southland Cheese Rolls, could we.  These tasty little rolls are filled with oohey gooey melted cheese, and all South Island cooks think their own version is the best!  I even make some myself at home, from time to time, and they really are rather tasty snacks.

Toasted Cheese Rolls for lunch

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Christmas Day

The “Big Day” arrived – but we are having a very relaxed Christmas this year as we are enjoying a loooong caravan trip exploring the South Island (of New Zealand).  Christmas decorations are down to a bare minimum this year, but we do have one little fellow hanging about.  Or in this case, sitting.  Here is our little Christmas Kiwi sitting outside on a fence post wishing one and all a Merry Christmas.

Merry Christmas from Kiwi Santa

We had our traditional Christmas breakfast, croissants with ham and cheese, and  I used frozen croissants this time. This is actually daughter Nicky’s family tradition, and we have borrowed it to make it ours as well.  Just delicious, with some nice plunger coffee to follow, a tasty breakfast to set us up for Christmas Day.

Croissants for breakfast

We were invited to Christmas Lunch at the home of my friend Merilyn’s son and daughter-in-law, and were made very welcome indeed.  Yolande is into Christmas in a big way and loves decorating for Christmas!



We had a wonderful traditional Christmas Lunch, with hot ham, roast pork, turkey, lamb and chicken, served with a wonderful selection of veggies and salads.  After Secret Santa gifts were distributed, the desserts were set out.  What would a New Zealand Christmas be like without  a pavlova?  That was certainly yummy, and there was trifle, ambrosia, brandy snaps, etc, etc, much too much for me to try everything, I have to say.

It was a great spending Christmas Day with my dear friend Merilyn from school days, and many thanks to her son and daughter-in-law for inviting us to their home.  Here I am with Merilyn looking a little flushed after indulging in a glass of bubbly!

Merry Christmas!!!!

Sunday, December 24, 2017

A little Retail Therapy in Dunedin

We are now staying in the Dunedin area, to catch up with my old school friend Merilyn and her husband Colin for Christmas.  As I’m still after a few skeins of Perle No5 for my stitchery projects, Merilyn took me to Threads Bernina in the city.

Threads Bernina

I had quite good success – and found three out of four colours I was after.  Still need to track down the dark green I will be using in all my blocks, so I will need several skeins of this particular colour, Perle No5, colour 500.  But I’m sure there will be more local shops that I will discover on our trip, so hopefully I will be able to buy the remaining colour sooner or later.

The friendly shop owner gave me permission to take some photos of her shop, and I drooled over the lovely range of batik fabrics on offer.  I could have happily purchased some of the luscious colours, but these days  I really prefer to buy fabric as needed.

Lots of goodies in this shop

It is so nice to catch up with old friends, and we have enjoyed a couple of tasty meals at their home while we have been down here in Dunedin.  Merilyn reminded me of the cushion I stitched and gifted her for one of her birthdays, and thought it was just right for her as she is an avid gardener.

Cushion I made for Merilyn

We have been exploring too while we are here in Dunedin, and it was great to go back again to see the magnificent Dunedin railway Station, which is a real work of art.  The rather grand Railway Station was built in 1906, built in “Flemish Renaissance-style” of white Oamaru limestone facings on black basalt rock. It is such a beautiful and ornate building it is no wonder that architect George Troup was given the nickname of Gingerbread George.

Dunedin Railway Station

And the interior of the building is just as glamorous.  The booking hall features a mosaic floor of almost 750,000 tiles of Royal Doulton porcelain.  It is all simply stunning.

Beautiful mosaic floor

Our hosts directed up the long, windy drive up Signal Hill to get a marvelous view over the city.

View over the city and harbour

Dunedin is famous for Baldwin Street which is known as the “World’s Steepest Street”, and signs warned that it is not suitable for campervans, or caravans, for that matter. But honestly, who would even want to drive up there, let alone take a camper or caravan!

Baldwin Street – the world’s steepest street

We peered through the distance from the bottom of the street watching as one young lad had almost reached the top hopping on his pogo stick. stick.  Young Harry had set himself the challenge to pogo stick up the world's steepest street to raise money for Ronald McDonald House, while his little sister  Darcie was undergoing treatment at Christchurch Hospital.  Isn’t that wonderful!

We will be staying at Dunedin for a couple more days over Christmas before moving on.  It’s lovely and warm today, and I’ve got the washing done and hanging out to dry in the sunshine.  So I’m a Happy Camper indeed!

That’s me with my friend Merilyn at her home

Friday, December 22, 2017

Cozy Toes

A couple of rainy days certainly dropped the temperatures  - from 30s degrees while we were in Geraldine to a brrr – not sure how cold but my feet were feeling rather chilly.  Just as well I had a nice cozy pair of hand knitted woolly slippers.  These were a birthday gift from Sew Wot friend Mary, Just the thing for the caravan, I thought.  Thanks Mary.  Here I am, relaxing with a book, with nice warm cozy toes.  And you can just see the corner of my new caravan quilt peeping out.

Cozy Toes

“Hearts in Bloom” quilt on the bed in our caravan

I have to admit that I’ve only had time for a little stitching – not really enough to show just yet.  But I am up to date with my latest Memory Travelling quilt blocks, and this particular one is made up with New Zealand themed fabric.  Yes, I know I’ve made a couple of these before from earlier trips, but they are fun to do and when finally completed, full of wonderful travel memories.

Yet another memory travel quilt

So what have we been up to lately on our South Island caravan trip?  We are continuing to travel southwards and spent several days at Moeraki.  Two things were top of the list here, to visit the  Moeraki Boulders, and to have a long awaited meal at Fleurs Place Restaurant.

The Moeraki Boulders appear so mystical and unusual, lying about on the beach like giant bowling balls.  The local Maori tradition says that the boulders are the flotsam cast from the wreck of the voyaging canoe Arai-te-uru, which foundered while travelling south in search of greenstone.   The car park was fairly full, and the beach was alive with people looking at, photographing and clambering over the boulders.


They are in fact known as septarian concretions, formed over millions of years on the sea floor.  The seabed was uplifted to form coastal cliffs, which have eroded over time, and the boulders have tumbled onto the beach. There are big boulders, baby sized, some showing the various segments, and others which have split open.  We have been here several times, and never tire of looking at these wonders of natures.


Wonderful Moeraki Boulders

A meal at Fleurs Place at Moeraki Village has been on my “Bucket List” for such a long time and now I can finally tick it off. The restaurant was established on an early whaling station site in 2002 and was built from gathered collectables and demolition materials from all over New Zealand.  One of the quirky things we noticed about the restaurant was the fact that the interior woodwork is covered with messages from happy customers.

Our meals arrived, and as expected, tasted superb. My choice was blue cod wrapped in bacon, cockles cooked in the shell, served with a delicious creamy sauce and vegetables.  Robin chose lamb shanks, mash and vegetables.  Next was the big question about dessert – shall we or shan’t we?  Why not, we decided, it is an occasion, after all.  The beautifully presented desserts duly arrived, Crème Brule for me, and Meringue Ice-cream Cake for Robin, with coffee to follow.


Wonderful food, and so happy to finally dine here

And what else have we been doing?  Checking out some of the local wildlife.  Just look at this cute little face!

Baby seal on the rocks

And then we walked along a steep and windy track to see the Katiki Point Lighthouse.   The lighthouse was built after several accidents on the dangerous reefs and the light first shone from here on 22nd April 1878.  The wooden tower stands 8m high and 58m above sea level, and the light can be seen for 10 nautical miles.  The original lens operated with a 1000 watt lamp, but was fully automated in 1975 and the lighthouse keeper withdrawn from service.  They are such iconic buildings, and they must all have interesting tales to tell.

Katiki Point Lighthouse

Next stop is Dunedin, where we will be spending Christmas.  More later…….