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

Monday, January 29, 2018

My very Slow Stitching

It’s fair to say that I’m getting there really slowly, but as I say all along, every little bit helps.  No excuses really, but being on a road trip slows my hand stitching time down.  And as for the weather – I’m sure that we have never had such high temperatures covering New Zealand.  I know it’s summer,  but I feel rather like a melting ice-cream must feel, as I drip away into a puddle  each day.  That’s what I imagine it must feel like, anyway!

Getting there with my stitching

This is what I’ve done so far on my Karaka Wreath block, a New Zealand tree design by Jenny Hunter.  Just got to add some veins to the leaves, and then stitch some orange karaka berries.  Hopefully I’ll get it completed next week.

We saw some “yarn bombing” on our travels.  Sometimes it seems very popular ad then just seems to fade away.  Because I’m quite a slow knitter myself, I have to wonder why other knitters go to so much trouble to cover trees and such?  Possibly just because they can, I expect.

Yarn bombed tree

Recently we took a ride on the Christchurch Gondola.  We paid our money and bought our tickets – sadly no discounts for seniors.  Climbing aboard into that swinging capsule, we were soon on our way, soaring high.  Up, up, up we went, skimming the steep rocky cliffs of Mt Cavendish, and looking down on wonderful views over Christchurch.

One going up, and one coming down

We made it safely to the top (of course we did) and went out onto the viewing platform.   This goes right around the building and gives 360deg views of the city, Lyttlelton Harbour, the Canterbury Plains and across to the Southern Alps.  The day was a little hazy, but even so, the views were still amazing.

Rather hazy view from the top

After lunch in the Red Rock Café, we followed the other tourists down the steps to an open area where everyone seemed to be taking selfies at the cliff edge.  So we did too, after all, we needed a couple to send to the grand-daughters to show them what we are getting up to.



So that’s what we have been up to lately.  Still travelling and having fun, with a little stitching thrown into the mix, now and again.

Thursday, January 25, 2018

Stitching and Holidays

The summer weather down here in New Zealand has us suffering from meltdown – with temperatures in the late 20sdegC and yesterday hit 32degC, with high temps to remain, we have been told.  That so much hotter than we usually experience.  But with a nice cool shady spot, plenty of refreshing water to drink, the occasional coffee, and a little stitching, and/or a book to read, I’ve been managing in the heat.

Stitching in the shade

As usual, we like to have a good look around the areas we travel through, and come across a sorts of interesting things.  Such as this sculpture of legendary race horse Phar Lap who was born and raised not far from where we staying in Timaru.   I grew up with hearing tales of his racing prowess from my parents, who were both rather keen on a flutter or two.  (Not me – the gambling gene has passed me by).  Phar Lap raced mainly in Australia,  including the 1930 Melbourne Cup, and he died in mysterious circumstances (possibly poisoned) in California in 1932.   His feats remain incomparable, and his great achievements lifted the spirits of people everywhere throughout the Great Depression.  Although I have to admit to not having the slightest interest in horse racing or gambling, it must be acknowledged that New Zealand has bred many outstanding race horses over the years.

Phar Lap

We spent a delightful afternoon at Peasant Point Museum and Railway riding this tiny railcar.  This little darling is quite unique, we were told.  New Zealand Railways built only two of these which ran on branch lines in Southland from 1926 to 1931 – and sadly, no one knows what became of them.  RM4 was rebuilt from original plans and photographs, and is on a 1925 Model T Ford truck chassis.  The railcar then needed turning on the turntable for the return trip, and Robin volunteered  to help the driver with this task.

Pleasant Point Railway

After all this excitement we stopped for an ice-cream at a sweet little ice-cream parlour – that certainly went down a treat!

Then we moved a little further north to Ashburton, and had a great day exploring the countryside from our base.  We drove along dusty gravel roads and past bare, barren mountains.  No wonder the Lord of the Rings were filmed in this part of New Zealand, the scenery has that desolate, forgotten look about it.

In the middle of nowhere

And I loved this cute road sign, and just had to stop to take a photo.  The GPS told us to turn left at Dog Box Corner, to take us back to civilization.

Dog Box Corner

We have now moved on to Christchurch, and have people to meet up, and places to go while we are here.  It was very pleasant sitting outside after our evening meal under the shady awning, watching the day slowly come to an end.  We are under the flightpath to Christchurch Airport and plane after plane kept flying overhead as they made their descents.  The temperature slowly cooled and we watched the colours of the sunset – pretty peachy-pink against a blue sky.

Sunset over Christchurch

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Annie’s Store and meeting up with NickiJ

Annie’s Country Quilt Store in Tinwald, Ashburton,  is a real delight.  Stepping onto the verandah of the 100 year old cottage, there were baskets of goodies to check, and that’s before I even stepped through the door.   Room after room was full to overflowing with beautiful goodies, leaving me to wonder just where to start looking. 


Passing by on Sunday, I really didn’t expect the shop to be open.  But, as I was told, they are open 7 days a week.  How’s that for great service!  I asked permission to take a few photos as I looked around the shop.  There is so much to take in, fabric, threads, kits, patterns, all beautifully displayed in different rooms.  You really needed just to quietly browse as you walked around.


Owner Rachel admits to having a passion for egg beaters, and there was a great variety strung up high, including some rather interesting large wooden ones.

Some of Rachel’s collection of eggbeaters.

After a good look around, I decided that I couldn’t really leave the shop without this – a  wool embroidery project which I loved.  I like to have some hand work to do while we are away on trips in our caravan, so will probably save this till a little later.

New hand stitching project (for later)

While in Ashburton I contacted fellow blogger and quilter Nicki who writes as Patches of Cats.  Luckily the fates were aligned and we organised to meet up last night for a meal at one of the local restaurants.  Except, being a Monday evening, that particular establishment was closed.  Never mind, Plan B was soon put in operation and we followed Nicky in her car to Braided Rivers Restaurant and Bar.

We perused the extensive menu and decided against my first choice of Roast Pork for the more exotic sounding wild venison Denver leg, served on potato and herb gnocchi, with asparagus, prosciutto, and peas finished with Red pepper coulis, feta and a side of jus.  And it tasted just as delicious as it sounded.

Robin decided on a ribeye steak, served with garlic and herb fries, beer battered onion rings finished with a bacon and Peppercorn sauce, and Nicki ordered a burger of crumbed chicken breast, served in a brioche bun with Napoli sauce, parmesan cheese, lettuce, tomato and onion served with a side of fries.  All meals were declared delicious, and we got to know one another as we enjoyed our meals.  There was plenty to chat about, patchwork and quilting of course, travel, work, and life in general.

Nicki and me at Braided Rivers Restaurant

It was so nice to finally meet up with Nicki, after reading her blog and her quilting stories.  Thanks for arranging such a nice evening.

Friday, January 19, 2018

Gidday to Lou and Tony

One of the lovely things about blogging and travelling is the chance to meet up with fellow bloggers, as we did yesterday. Lou and Tony live in Timaru and Lou blogs as Manxgirl.  I was hoping we would get the chance to meet up, and they kindly invited us to their home for a BBQ meal – so kind.  What a great evening we had, getting to know each other, meeting Belle the cat, having a wonderful meal, and of course, a little Show and Tell on Lou’s part.  Here’s Lou in her sewing room with a WIP hanging up.  As well as patchwork and quilting cross stitch and crotchet, she collects tiny sewing machines and yes, they certainly do sew.

Lou in her sewing room

Then there were all those wonderful quilts that came out of such a huge cupboard (I want one that size).  It was interesting to hear the stories behind them


Some of Lou’s quilts

We had a tour of the garden, and a peek in the glass house full of tomatoes and peppers.  There’s nothing like the smell of fresh tomatoes on the vine, is there?  Tony fired up the BBQ and started to cook our dinner.  It was a lovely meal, with a variety of salads made with ingredients from the garden.

Tony on BBQ duty

Finally we said our farewells – they are a working couple after all, not like us on holiday.  Thank you so much, Lou and Tony,  for your hospitality, it was so nice to meet you both.  I must say that with reading other’s blogs you feel that you already a little bit about them, and it is so nice to get the opportunity to catch up with other bloggers.

Lou and Tony of Timaru

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Where are we Now?

We are still slowly traveling around the South Island of New Zealand, with plenty to see and do, and if I’m lucky, time for a little stitching too.  So what have we been up to lately?  We’ve now moved on from the Otago Gold Fields and here are a couple of snaps on our last days in the area.    The lovely old Wedderburn Tavern was one of the many featured in my book about notable old New Zealand pubs,  so the driver was persuaded to stop and call in for a coffee.  The friendly server not only signed our book with a friendly greeting but also invited us to stand behind the bar while she took a photo of us both.

Wedderburn Tavern, built 1885

The big green goods shed just along the road is just as famous as the pub as it features in one of Grahame Sydney’s paintings.

Wedderburn Goods Shed

Historic Ophir was another interesting stop, crammed full of lots of interesting vintage buildings from the gold rush days.  Some have been lovingly restored, but this old Haberdashery shop is in  need of a whole lot of TLC.  A peep through the windows showed some lovely old items on display.


Old Ophir Haberdashery Shop

The scenery changed dramatically when we left Otago behind us and traveled up the East Coast and saw nice green farmland again.  A visit to the the Victorian Precinct in Oamaru to view the streets of (protected) lovely old buildings is always special.

Victorian Precinct in Oamaru

And I couldn’t help myself and just had to clamber up on the penny farthing bicycle, a little difficult but I’m pleased to say I persevered and finally made it.  Just as well the bike was on a stand and not going anywhere.

Riding high!

Down  by the coast we came across an amazing sight – hundreds of pied shags resting on the old derelict wharf.  They were all quite happy, sitting in the sunshine and preening themselves, and not at all  disturbed by the paparazzi .  We had never seen so many all together.

Pied shags sunning themselves on the old wharf

We are now staying at Waimate, home of wallabies!  Yes, that’s right, wallabies here in New Zealand. Back in the 1870s  several were brought over from Tasmania and later released.  They made the most of their freedom and their numbers soon increased dramatically.  They are declared an animal pest and land occupiers must contain the wallabies within specified areas. The wallaby is now widely regarded as a symbol of Waimate.

Hop in for a Visit

Waimate also grows luscious soft fruit, lots of yummy summer berries.  With the temperatures climbing up, we decided to take a trip to visit Butlers Berry Farm to get some fresh fruit, and maybe an ice-cream.   This must be the right place, just look at the size of those berries!  We sat and enjoyed a mixed berry sundae in the café – oh my goodness, just delicious!


Butlers Berry Farm

I’m off now to sit outside under the shady awning with a cool drink and my stitching – it’s a busy life being on holiday.

Sunday, January 14, 2018

Puriri Wreath

Finished at last – my Puriri Wreath stitchery block.  So that is one down, and eight more to go.  But I’m in no hurry, and I am treating this project as my long term stitchery project
Puriri Wreath stitchery block

New Zealand designer Jenny Hunter designed nine blocks featuring New Zealand trees as applique patterns, but I decided to do my version as stitcheries, using Perle No 5 threads. I’ve prepared all the blocks, and I’m enjoying doing a little stitching as we are travelling around the South Island on our caravan holiday. Now - what one shall I start next?

Saturday, January 13, 2018

Art Deco Delights

Lovers of Art Deco would love Ranfurly – a interesting town we visited on our travels in Central Otago recently.  Ranfurly is known for it’s art deco buildings – built after a series of suspicious fires in the early 1930s.   The fires remain a mystery and no one was ever charged for all the damage caused.  The most attractive building, in my mind,  is the Centennial Milk Bar which used to serve refreshments to passengers who alighted from the adjacent railway station. 

Centennial Milk Bar, now an Art Deco Museum

These days it is an art deco museum, chock full of art deco crockery, furniture, and furniture.  I’m sure our family used to have some of this crockery in the cupboards when we were growing up.

Lots of interesting crockery on display

There were racks of clothes from the period, and a rather glamorous flapper girl all decked out in her best dress and fox furs – dressed for a night out on the town, it seems.

All dressed up

And I loved the underwear casually laid out on the bed.

Lovely items in the cabinet

Of course, thee 30s weren’t all about glamorous dressing – house work still needed taking care of.  I found this interesting loom, and a lovely old Singer sewing machine.  I learnt to sew on a Singer treadle machine when I was growing up – sadly it’s long gone now.  There was also quite a display of kitchen items in another room, including one of those mincers which were clamped onto the bench.  I used to have one of those too, and now they are vintage! 


Weaving loom and sewing machine

Lots of lovely art deco delights to admire, and the museum was ably staffed by very friendly and helpful volunteers.

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Creative Heart – Cromwell, and Holiday tales

I have been after some dark green Perle No 5 thread for my stitchery project, and while on our South Island holiday I have visited several shops trying to find this elusive thread.   As we passed through Cromwell last week, I called into the shop “Creative Heart” on the off chance that I would find what I was after.    Not all shops keep a large range of Perle No 5 threads, I have found.  But success at last, I found the shade I was looking for, and purchased the five hanks they had in stock.  I took them all, as I plan to use the same green thread in the leaves in all the stitchery blocks I will be doing - all I had left was a few strands.


I found exactly what I was looking for

The shop has a good range of wool, haberdashery, and quilting fabrics.  The owner told me that there are a lot of stitchers and embroiderers in the area, and that hand crafts are alive and well.

Lots o goodies in Creative Heart

Luckily the weather has been good on our holiday – it is Summer after all.  So we are still busy checking out the area.  We’ve walked over the Shaky Bridge in Alexandra which seems to be a bit of a well kept secret.   Originally a vehicle bridge into Alexandra opened in 1879, it fell into disrepair and now serves as a footbridge.  And yes, it is rather shaky to walk across, just as well that we are brave!


Shaky Bridge
The Shaky Bridge, and selfie

Another interesting trip was to Cromwell, where much of the original Cromwell main street was submerged in 1993 when Lake Dunstan was created behind the newly created Clyde Dam.  The “Old Cromwell Group” together with the Ministry of Works retained as many of the original buildings as possible, creating the Cromwell Heritage Precinct.   And what a busy little place it was, some had been turned into trendy shops, while others were left as they would have been.  It was great to walk around and explore.  There were people everywhere, looking around, or relaxing on the lake edge throwing bread out to the ducks.

Visited the Heritage Precinct in Cromwell

The whole region was taken over with “gold fever” in the early days  and there are monuments everywhere to the early miners who set out to make their fortunes.  One was particularly sad and tells the story of an unknown number of miners who perished in the hills and mountains during the “Great Snow of 1863” in Central Otago.   Mining settlements and camps over an area of more than 800 square miles were isolated or engulfed by the snow, and an unknown number of men perished.

Monument to miners who perished in 1863

Another interesting day was a trip to St Bathans.  We stopped to look down at the Blue Lake, where miners dug away a 120m hill to create a 70m hole. They blasted the hole using powerful jets of water that came from races cut into the sides of the hills, using picks, shovels, and wheelbarrows.   This was once the site of the deepest hydraulic mining lift in the world.  After the gold ran out, the men and machinery went away, and the hole in the ground filled with water.

Blue Lake, St Bathans

Then we visited the Vulcan Hotel, built in 1882,  which the jewel in the crown in tiny little St Bathans, the last remaining pub out of twelve from the heady days when this was a busy, thriving gold town. The pub is said to be haunted by the spirit of a young prostitute known as Rose, who was strangled to death in the hotel in the 1880s, and allegedly still  appears from time to time.   Poor Rose, no wonder she is not at peace, but luckily we saw no sign of Rose on our visit.

Afternoon tea at the Vulcan pub