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

Sunday, June 30, 2019

The Sewing Day that Wasn’t

I was all set on Saturday for a day of stitching with my quilt guild members.  My packed lunch was all prepared, and I had sorted out my hand stitching projects to work on.  I took plenty - you have to make sure that you don’t run out of things to sew, do you?  Plus my camera, and note book, after all, there’s sure to be something happening which is blog worthy.  Waving goodbye to Robin, off I went to the hall.  But on arrival I could see that the gate was locked up tight, and not a soul was in sight.  So I waited for a while – perhaps the organizers were running a little late.  After a while, I left to do a couple of small jobs, then returned to see if the Sewing Day was underway.  Nope, the hall was still locked up tight, nothing for it but to return home.

So I had a sewing day at home, just by myself.  First I did some hand quilting.  This little Christmas stitchery will be turned into a Christmas cushion to be used in our caravan.  I thought I’d share two little gifts which I use when hand quilting.  The little wooden needle holder was made for me by Lewis, a woodworker friend who sadly passed away several years ago.  His wife Shirley and I share a love of patchwork and quilting. 

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I keep my small supply of hand quilting thread in this pretty little pouch, another gift.  The pouch was made for me by Peggy of http://crazyquilter.blogspot.com/

After lunch I had a change, and did some more work  on my Autumn  stitchery.  I used a pretty variegated orange thread to stitch my Autumn hued leaf.

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After a phone call to our President to find out what had happened, she called me back later to say that the Sewing Day had not been cancelled.  The organizers had simply forgotten that it was on! 

Although it was a shame not to meet up with my quilt guild buddies this time, I’m pleased that I used the time to sit and quietly stitch for a while.

Saturday, June 29, 2019

Selvedge Bag – Finished!

I’m so pleased my selvedge bag is finished – now I can cross it off my list.  I had the top bands to complete, and the lining to sew in to the bag body.  It always seems strange to stitch the lining and the body of the bag together around the top edge, then turn it right sides out through an unstitched portion of the lining.  But this method works, just like magic, it seems.  With a good press, some top stitching, and a little hand sewing to complete that partial seam in the lining, the bag was finally done.

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Selvedge bag is now finished

The design, “Spring Fiesta” was from the magazine Simply Patchwork and Stitching, Vol 10 No 3, and was shown in the magazine made from bright floral squares.  I stitched a nice little collection of small selvedge squares to make my bag with.  Then tucked them away with the magazine and forgot about them for a while.

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Thursday, June 27, 2019

Socializing this week plus a little Sewing

Once again, it’s been a busy old week.  Plenty of outings – Sew Wots on Tuesday, Morning Tea on Wednesday, and a ladies Lunch today, Thursday.  In-between all this socializing I rolled the dice to see which of the projects on my List of Six.  It was number 4, my selvedge bag.  Last time I worked on it, the bag was up to this stage. 

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I’ve now stitched the the pieces for the top of the bag, and made the lining.  Hopefully I’ll get it all assembled tomorrow.  Watch this space! Then I’ll be able to cross this project off my list.

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This little piece is what started me on my selvedge journey.  It was sent to me by my pen-friend Carol from South Dakota several years ago, to show me how it was done.  I’ve now lined this little square and have added it to the lining as an inside pocket.

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I really must write a new List of Six, as several projects have now been completed.  I’m sure I’ll find some more UFOs hiding in the wardrobe to add to the list.

Tuesday, June 25, 2019

Sew Wot Tuesday Again

We enjoyed another Sew Wot morning at Mary’s home today.  Mary is a very keen gardener and her garden is always bursting with colour, just walking up the pathway is always a delight.  Both her daphne and lavender bushes were flowering in the winter sunshine.  And her mandarin tree was laden with fruit – almost ready for eating, Mary said.

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Just look at that gorgeous fruit

Inside Mary’s home the fire was burning, always such a welcoming and  comforting sight, aren’t they.  Takes us back to our childhood when most family homes had open fires – not so much these days though. 

Show and Tell started with gorgeous baby knitting, you can tell what the Sew Wot ladies have been getting up to on these chilly wintry evenings. Mary had completed this lovely little baby set, and it will be tucked away in her “Granny Box” for future additions to the family.

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Mary’s baby set

Helen had some baby knitting to show us too, this is going to a new arrival in the family.  She had just completed this little cardigan and found the cutest little teddy bear buttons.  She made a matching beanie too.

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Helen’s baby knitting

Then Mary showed me what she had done to a “painted” table cloth I had passed on to her – I had actually forgotten all about it.  First she crocheted an edging which made it so much nicer.  Then she is embroidering around the painted flowers, which is making so much difference to the look of the cloth.  Such a clever idea.  I can’t wait to see it finished, Mary is usually such a quick worker I’m sure it won’t take her too long.

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Embroidering over the painted flowers

But wait – there’s more, as the adverts say.  Mary has been really busy, trying to use up bits and pieces of fabric, and had two easy designs to show us.  The whirly-gig design is made from 5in squares, and the more masculine plaid top was cut from light and dark rectangles.  The patterns are both very effective.

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Mary’s quilt tops from scraps

As the whirly-gig design was a little more complicated, Mary showed us how to layer, cut, piece and trim the blocks. 

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Mary at the sewing machine

Once again, I didn’t open my stitching bag, and I don’t think I was the only one who just sat and chatted.  We enjoyed a lovely morning tea, thanks so much Mary for being our hostess today.  Heading home, I certainly felt inspired by those two designs – perhaps I can add them to my list of “things to do”?

Sunday, June 23, 2019

A little stitched gift

Now that the cute little mug rug I stitched has been posted, traveled across to the other side of the world, and arrived safely, it’s time to show it off.

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I made this for my pen friend Janet, who lives in Cromer, England.  Janet is a quilter too.  We have been very lucky to meet up with her and her husband Alan when we had two trips to England. I seem to recall that their kitchen is blue, so hopefully this will fit right in with the d├ęcor.

This little stitchery didn’t take too long at all to do.  In fact I’ve made a second one, in different colours, and that will be posted off to another pen friend who lives in USA for Christmas.

Saturday, June 22, 2019

Christmas Mystery

This week I’ve been working on my Christmas Mystery quilt.  Started late last year, it got put away instead of being completed in time for Christmas.  Never mind – this project should be done in plenty of time for the coming festive season.  With the blocks already stitched in rows, and sashing strips made, I then stitched it all together.  As the quilt top contained quite a variety of Christmas reds and burgundies, I decided to use some “shot cotton” for the plain border.

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Quilt top finished

And while I was on a roll, I got the binding strips cut, stitched together, and pressed, all ready to go when the time is right.

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Binding prepared.

I had hoped to get this quilt layered and pinned, but…….would you believe it, I was out of batting!  Never mind, I’m sure I can find something else to keep me busy while I’m home tomorrow (Sunday).  Maybe that secret squirrel quilt I’m working on?

Tuesday, June 18, 2019

Roll the Dice Again

I don’t know what happened last week, but no dice rolling got done at all.  I’m rather pleased that this week the dice stopped on number five, my Christmas Mystery quilt.  It will be good to be working on it again.  This is where I was up to last time, with the twelve blocks put together.

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Twelve blocks done

So over the last couple of days I’ve been cutting, pinning and stitching sashing strips and sewing the blocks into rows.  Here they are, rows of blocks and sashing strips, laid out on the quilt rack in our bedroom.

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All in rows

The next step is to assemble the rows into a quilt top – I’ll probably get on with that tomorrow.  And add a border fabric too.  One step at a time, I’m slowly getting there.

Sunday, June 16, 2019

Slow Sunday Stitching

I’ve just finished hand quilting the second block of my New Zealand Botanical quilt.  I’m doing Big Stitch quilting, and using a Sue Spargo thread, Perle No 8 in a pretty variegated pale green.

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This block shows the Chatham Island Forget-me-not, and has large shiny leaves, with clusters of sky blue flowers.  The plants are widely grown in nurseries and gardens throughout New Zealand and overseas.

It may well be winter in our part of the world, but I got to sit outside for an hour or so making the most of the wintry sunshine.  Block number three is in the hoop, it’s all prepared and I'm ready to start.  Perhaps a cup of coffee might be a good idea too.

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Ready to start the next block

Our young Birman cat Gemma came outside with me to enjoy the fresh air.  She always likes being close by.

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Who's a pretty girl then?

I’m making the most of an afternoon outdoors as the weather for the next few days will be getting worse, with quite a drop in the temperature, we have been warned.    It is winter, after all.

Saturday, June 15, 2019

Choosing Dark Blue for RSC

This month the colour for the Rainbow Scrap Challenge is dark blue.  This fun challenge is run by Angela of Sew Scrappy.  Blue is my favourite colour to wear and I seemed to have amassed quite a collection of this colour in my stash from light to dark.  Strange as it seems, although I love to wear blue, I haven’t really stitched much in this colour range.  It seems a “cold” colour for furnishings, I feel.

I made a real mess rummaging through my blue baskets, pulling bits of fabric out for this month’s RSC blocks.  No lights, or medium, I was on the hunt for darkish  blue.  If possible, I like to use up smaller pieces if I can, but sometimes, I just have to cut a chunk off a larger piece.  I stitched my two Asterisk blocks first, using up a few more selvedges.

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Asterisk blocks

The blue Bow Tie blocks were next, and once cut out, they are quite quick to assemble.  But I made an error in the cutting, when I discovered that my bonus HSTs were smaller than the previous ones I had made.  Seems I took a guess how small to cut the little squares and I was wrong!  Never mind, I won’t be redoing these blocks.

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Bow Tie blocks and bonus HSTs

Winter has now arrived in our part of the world, so that means soup time.  I felt rather virtuous when I simmered the carcass of our roast chicken dinner to make chicken stock.  With lots of veggies added to the stock, and a handful of soup mix (split peas and barley) it was a tasty soup indeed.  Just the thing for lunch on chilly days.

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I love home made soup

Thursday, June 13, 2019

An Inspiring Speaker

Our monthly quilt club meeting was full of eager quilters ready to hear the lecture given by Kathryn Harmer Fox from South Africa.  A coach full of ladies had travelled down from Palmerston North, so the hall was fuller than usual.    Kathryn is a textile artist and related that she got her love of textiles from her Mother, who was a seamstress. 

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Kathryn Harmer Fox

All her works start with a drawing, and Kathryn loves being part of the computer age, making research so much quicker.  Previously, she spent many hours in the library, taking home armfuls of heavy books.  We were shown slides of some of her work, and she explained how her pieces developed from the drawing stage to the finished product.  Kathryn works with collages, and using heavy free motion quilting to hold everything in place.  She is taking classes while here in New Zealand, and brought along a multitude of samples.

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Samples of Post Card classes

These gorgeous pieces were on the stage, so I was able to get up close to them – but still wondered “how did she do this?”

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The detail is amazing

We all admired Kathryn’s colourful orange top, which she had made,  but were astounded when she told us that she had also stitched her pair of matching orange boots.  Not too hard she said, and only took three days!  She concluded her talk with four observations.

1:  Inspiration, be inspired by what you see and feel.
2:  Repetition, practice makes perfect.
3:  Let yourself make mistakes, and learn from them.
4:  Laugh, and release your younger self.

Truly inspiring, and such a lovely lady too.

I was sitting next to Felicity and Jenny Hunter  so told them I really must have a photo of them both.  Felicity is a blog reader and came down with her fellow quilters on the bus, I often bump into her at quilt shows so it was lovely to meet up with her again.  And Jenny Hunter belongs to our quilt club and is the designer of the New Zealand Botanical blocks I have just finished stitching.

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Felicity and Jenny H

After the talk concluded I had to rush to the kitchen as I was on supper duty, helping to serve the teas and coffees.  There was plenty of chatter going on as the ladies had their cuppas, and then the call went out, the bus was ready to leave for the return trip.  That really got them moving.  The kitchen helpers tidied up, washed the dishes, packed everything away, and then it was our time to wander home.  It was certainly and inspiring evening, but I draw the line at making boots!

Tuesday, June 11, 2019

Sew Wot Tuesday

It always amazes me just how quickly our Sew Wot mornings roll around.  We met at Moira’s home today, had a look at her new Archgola over the patio, then settled down inside.  There was not a great deal of stitching going on, but the knitting needles were clacking on the sofa, while Moira worked on her tapestry.

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Heather, Carol and Moira

Heather proudly showed us her wonderful masterpiece, stitched in wool and felt onto a dark green hessian background.  The house patterns were from Carol, and the embellishments used were from her stash, with some special buttons gifted from Moira and Mary.  Each building was embellished with buttons, lace, and  embroidery stitches – so much detail had gone into making this.

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Heather's Houses

There  was one other item for Show and Tell, a very pretty quilt made by Moira from mainly Kaffe Fasset fabrics.  The quilt had just come back from being commercially quilted.

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Moira’s pretty quilt

Moira served us a lovely Morning Tea, commenting that she had made the fruit and nut slice from one of Jamie Oliver’s recipes from his TV programme.  We all thought it was absolutely delicious, so Moira kindly copied out the recipe for us all to try at home.  And Heather had brought along some fruit for us all from her country garden, many thanks for that. 

Another lovely morning, and all I managed to stitch was  a green leaf or two!  Never mind, it was great to catch up with the Sew Wot ladies again.

Monday, June 10, 2019

Welcome to Winter

Winter arrived on 1st June down here in New Zealand.  We were told by the weather experts that June would be a lot colder than the balmy days of May which we had been enjoying.  It’s time to change a couple of wall hangings in honour of the new season. First up is Welcome Winter, hanging just inside the main door.  We don’t have snow on the ground where we live, although the Tararua Ranges behind us often have a dusting of snow on the tops during winter.

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Welcome Winter

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First snow fall of the season

Hanging on the wall is my International Maple quilt, made from a block swap from around the world, and replacing my Autumn toned quilt.  I know that golden maples mean Autumn in the Northern Hemisphere, but I’m using this as a Winter quilt because of the black background.

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International Maples

And lastly, I changed the small wall hanging in the sewing room, replacing my High Tech Tucks (made goodness knows how many years ago), with Winter Quilt Festival.  This was a printed panel and I hand quilted around the design.

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Winter Quilt Festival

So that’s my little salute to the change in season.  Hope you are all keeping cozy, or cool, wherever you live.

Sunday, June 9, 2019

The Slow Saga of the Selvedge Bag

I’ve never been good at jigsaws, and I’m not much better at putting the pieces of my selvedge bag together.  This is in spite of having an illustration on how to lay out the diagonal pieces in rows with setting triangles at the end of each row.  What I got completely wrong was trying to fit the setting triangles onto each corner to square things up.  Mind you, the instructions had this step shown quite clearly, but I hadn’t read them thoroughly!

Finally, I got it all sorted out and started sewing the rows together.  As I got towards the end, I realised that some of my selvedge blocks were turned the wrong way.  You know what that means, lots of unpicking, just to turn those pesky little squares the right way round.  I wasn't quite ready to give up for the day, so stitched the ric rac over the seam lines, and stay stitched all those bias edges.

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The body of the bag

Then today, I stitched the handles for the bag, and read through the instructions on how to add the lining.  That didn’t make much sense to me, so everything got put away, and I’ll have to study it again.  So that’s where my bag is at, still in pieces but definitely a step forward.

I’ve been sitting at the dining table doing a little hand quilting yesterday.  Although chilly outside, the sun was streaming in the window and it was very pleasant.  Our Birman cat Gemma decided that my empty quilting bag was just to her liking and settled down in it.  After all, she is probably thinking with her pussy cat brain, if I’m busy quilting, she can sit behind my chair and keep an eye on me.  Gemma likes to be close by.   

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Gemma is helping with the quilting, so she thinks

Thursday, June 6, 2019

One of those Days

Guess I’m not the only one who’s day doesn’t always go to plan.  With Robin out and about, and a day to myself at home today, I was looking forward to spending some time at the sewing machine.  But first…… a load of washing, followed by a stint of ironing.  Perhaps I should clean the bathroom, to make it look fresh and clean.  Now what about the floor?  With threads from sewing, and a white cat who seems to drop fur everywhere, there were bits and pieces all over the carpet.  I did contemplate leaving this chore for another day, but then, what is someone popped in?  So out came the vacuum cleaner, that horrible noisy thing which had Gemma scampering away to hide – anyone would think her life was in danger! Job done, and I have to admit it looks so much better.  Made some broccoli and cheese soup in the microwave, and finally sat down at midday with a bowl of delicious soup and toast, and the day was half over. 

So I only achieved a little sewing in the afternoon on my selvedge bag.  The blocks have been laid out and stitched in rows, and some setting triangles added.  This is what I’ve done so far, it doesn’t look too bad.

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Starting on my selvedge bag

The plan is, once again, to work on this project again tomorrow.  So hopefully I’ll have more to show at the end of the day.  I doubt if I’ll get it completed, but each little bit helps, one step at a time.

Wednesday, June 5, 2019

Donuts and Donations

Quite a busy day today, driving 50kms to Palmerston North for a medical appointment.  Nothing too bad, I was booked in for a Bone Density scan, so nice and peaceful, not like the noisy MRI from a few weeks ago.  After crossing another couple of things off our “to do” list, we headed to the Food Hall in the Mall for lunch.  So much choice – what to have?  We decided on a Bento Box of chicken and rice.  This was the first time we had tried it, and it was really tasty.  I needed a coffee after that, and perhaps a cinnamon donut to go with it from Donut King.  I’m always interested in watching them being made, and very kindly shared them with Robin.

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Coffee and Cinnamon donuts

Leaving Robin relaxing in the Food Hall I went to drop off a bag of donations.  Foster Hope is a charity working with children in foster care.  Children were arriving at foster homes with their belongings in a plastic rubbish bag.  To change that, Foster Hope provides backpacks with pyjamas, underwear, toiletries and other items  for each child moving into care and other items are welcome, such as quilts, drawstring bags, knitted items and toys.  I was happy to donate two small children’s quilts, and made several drawstring bags.  The craft coordinator told me that the bags are used for toiletries, or keeping pens and pencils in.

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Donations for Foster Hope

The little bags are easy enough to make, but I do like to line them.  As quilters, we seem to have so much fabric in our stash, don’t we, and some of it probably won’t be used for quilts.  So I am happy to make use of some of the novelty prints, and want to make sure that I make some more boyish ones as well.   And as  I often do “leader and ender” sewing, this is an easy way to stitch small quilts together.

There was a dismal failure  last week when I rolled the dice to work on my selvedge bag – I feel like hanging my head in shame!  Never mind, I’ve decided to carry over this project for the current week, starting tomorrow, Thursday.  Where has the week gone?  At least we will be spending the weekend at home, instead of being away in the caravan, so I hope to spend a few hours at the sewing machine.

Sunday, June 2, 2019

A Little Hand Quilting

A four day weekend away with caravan club friends – what could be nicer?  To be truthful the weather could have been much  nicer, but then, the season has just clicked over to Winter on 1st June.  After a long and very mild Autumn, Winter has arrived with a vengeance.  Winds strong enough to buffet the caravan, torrential rain, and low temperatures.  Thank goodness for fluffy winter sheets on the bed, and warm socks and slipper to keep our toes warm inside!  My quilting bag was packed, so I’ve been tucked up inside doing a little hand quilting today.

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My Pumpkin Bag, made long ago

I’m working on my New Zealand Botanical quilt – perhaps I’ll find a nicer name for it sooner or later.  During the week at home I finished quilting the first block of nine, pohutukawa flowers.  This tree is also known as the New Zealand Christmas tree, as it flowers over Christmas, in our Summer.

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Pohutukawa block

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Quilting block number two in the caravan

Of course, Gemma came away with us as well.  She is quite at home in the caravan, and spent some time yesterday watching the rain drops run down the front window.  Otherwise she likes to curl up somewhere for a snooze.  On the bed with the sun streaming in the window suits her admirably.  Looks like the rain has finally gone away, although those strong cold winds are still hanging around.

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Snoozing in the sun shine

We are currently staying at the Manawatu Caravan Club grounds, which have many static caravans and their club members often come out for weekends.  We have got to know Pam whose unit is not far from where our caravan club vans are.  Pam is an ex- breeder of Birman cats, and a Show Official at cat shows.  She knew we had previously lost our elderly cat Muffy, so I popped over to ask if she would like to come and meet our new baby. 

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Pam with Gemma

Gemma couldn’t get enough of cuddling up with Pam, who told us she “had a good shaped head”, for show purposes, so that is nice to know.  As Gemma is maturing she is developing “golden hues” on her back, which is also a desirable feature of the breed, Pam remarked.  Not that we are going to show her, Gemma was purchased as a pet, and she is a real delight.

In between the showers we took a quick trip down to Foxton Beach, which is only a stone’s throw from the camp.  There were a few hardy souls out for a brisk beach walk, with the wind surely blowing any cobwebs away.

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Foxton Beach

Let's hope those strong winds abate before we tow the caravan home tomorrow.  Monday is a public holiday here, Queen's Birthday, so the roads may well be rather busy.  Luckily it is a reasonably short trip to get back home.