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

Thursday, February 27, 2020

High Tea at Oruawharo Homestead

I like to imagine that I’m a “High Tea” sort of girl – so what could be nicer than High Tea with our ICA rally friends at the wonderful Oruawharo Homestead, built in 1879?  Sounded like my sort of outing.  The house was built by Charles Tringham, a Wellington architect, in the Italianate Style.  We had been here some years previously, so were very keen to return.  Our High Tea was served in the pretty little church, Vincent’s Chapel,  which had been moved onto the property several years ago, and is now used for weddings and other functions.

Vincent's Chapel

After a very interesting talk given by owner Peter Harris about the history of the property, his wife Dianne served our lunch.,   Savouries, fancy little sandwiches, scones with jam and cream, and a selection of cakes arrived at our tables, with a choice of fancy teas or coffee.  All served on “granny's” best bone china and fancy tea cups,   it was lovely indeed.  I was particularly intrigued with the tiny silver tongs to lift the sugar cubes out of the dainty lidded dish.

High Tea is served

Fully fed, we were invited to have a look through the homestead.  What a wonderful building it was – lovingly restored after years of  neglect, and only weeks away from being demolished.  The Harris’s couldn't bear for this to happen, so stepped in to buy it.

Oruawharo Homestead

Here we are, enjoying our visit

When you realise that the roof leaked, all the glass was missing from the windows, the house was infested with possums, rats, birds, and no doubt insects, and vines were growing through the walls, you can imagine the dedication and passion needed to bring it to a livable condition.  The house was empty, so suitable period furniture had to be sourced, along with everything else required.


Beautiful warm wood everywhere inside the homestead

I remembered that the lady of the house was a quilter so was thrilled to see examples of her work in the bedrooms.  Sadly, I didn’t get a chance to talk quilting with her, she was much too busy looking after all the guests.


Dianne Harris is a quilter too

There were lovely old photos on the walls, gorgeous paintings, tapestries, several collections of old dolls, wonderful colonial furniture -  such a lot to look at and admire.  I rather liked this set of Russian dolls set out on top of a gorgeous wooden cabinet.

Russian dolls

It was a wonderful visit, and our hosts were so generous in letting us wander through their lovely old homestead.  They appreciate all their visitors, we were told, as it all helps to fund the never ending maintenance bills.   A visit to remember, indeed.

Sunday, February 23, 2020

Back to Napier for Art Deco Festival

After staying for a few days in rural Maraekakaho, south of Hastings, the next stop on our ICA rally was to Napier for the Art Deco Weekend.   The Art Deco Trust puts together a very full programme,  and as first time attendees, everything was new to us.  The highlight to us was the vintage car parade, with 300 pre-1946 cars registered.   We spent some time admiring these beauties as they awaited the start of the parade.  How did the passengers clamber up into those dickey seats and get settled while dressed to the nines, I wonder?


Lovingly restored vintage cars

In my opinion, there is nothing more thrilling than a pipe band - the Hawkes Bay Highland Pipe band started playing and got my toes tapping and my (diluted) Scots blood racing through the veins.  Then there was the  Royal New Zealand Navy Band looking extra smart in their white uniforms as they started playing before the parade – two great bands indeed.

Hawkes Bay Highland Band and the Royal NZ Navy Band

The navy played a crucial role in Napier during the 1931 earthquake.  At 10:46 am on 3 February 1931 an earthquake registering 7.8 on the Richter scale shook throughout New Zealand, its epicentre just 15.2 kms north of Napier. The initial shock lasted for 2.5 minutes.  In the city of Napier, buildings and chimneys toppled, roads broke apart and the earth heaved and opened.   Water rushed out of the harbour as the ground rose. Veronica was ‘left high and dry, all the wire mooring lines broke, but the ropes, made from New Zealand flax, held, and prevented her from rolling over on her side.’ Commander Morgan landed rescue teams to assist the injured, feed the hungry and help establish a sense of order amidst the chaos.  Fires were ablaze on shore, power and water supplies were cut and hundreds discovered they were homeless.  Two merchant ships at anchor nearby, the Taranaki and Northumberland placed themselves under naval command and assisted in the relief efforts.

Once the car parade, the bands, and marching girls had moved off, it was time to make our way to see some of the other delights on show.  Ladies walked by dressed in their beaded finery, fancy feather headdresses, and some sporting fox furs around their shoulders.  The gents were also elegantly dressed, braces, hats, some in knickerbocker trousers too.    My daughter Nicky was also in Napier enjoying the festivities and we arranged to meet further along the street.  “You always want to take photos”, she complained.  “That’s what mothers do”, I told her.  

SIL Robert, daughter Nicky, and her friend Heather

There was a “Traction Trundle” taking place -  look what fun this bunch of revelers are having.  Other working vintage engines were on display.  Flying displays by the Warbirds Display Team roared overhead.  We watched as the planes flew in formation, and looped the loop.  Then one would break away from the group, fly up high, then nose down seemingly in a suicide mission, luckily pulling up in the nick of time and continue on his way.  Thrilling stuff indeed!


Vintage steam engines

Later in the afternoon our group had their own Best Dressed competition, and what a lovely bunch we were.  After the judges put their heads together and made their decisions, the winners were announced, Best Dressed Couple, Best Dressed Lady, and Best Dressed Gentleman.  Congratulations to the winners.

Art Deco Dressup

All dressed up

Our time at Napier experiencing Art Deco has come to an end, next stop is Kairakau on the east coast.  That should be fun, we have never stayed there before.

Tuesday, February 18, 2020

A few days in Napier

We are staying in Napier for a few day - Napier is known as the Art Deco Capital of the world.  Following a massive earthquake (7.9 on the Richter scale) on the morning of Tuesday 3 February 1931, fires destroyed most of the commercial heart of Napier. The city was rebuilt in the style of that era and by the end of the decade Napier was the newest city on the globe. 

Later in the week we will be enjoying our very first Art Deco weekend, when the city is full to bursting with visitors, mostly dressed to the nines, we have been told.  I was delighted to discover Napier Central Store which specialises in Art Deco clothing.  We purchased some braces for Robin and beads for me, so that we will be suitably attired when we return to enjoy the weekend.  The shop was full of beautiful beaded outfits, but sadly no photos were permitted inside.  I snapped these headdresses through the shop window.

Seen in the Napier Central Store

Our camping neighbours recommended we visit  the Art Deco Masonic Hotel for a coffee and to check out the historic photos on display.  That sounded good to us, so off we went this morning. What a lovely place it was.  The hotel had a checkered life, burnt down and rebuilt, and destroyed by fire in the huge 1931 earthquake.  Luckily it rose from the ashes again, as good as new. 


It was lovely and cool inside, with the decorating style heavily slanted to “vintage”.  Toys and old suitcases were elegantly displayed, and there were cabinets full of the sort of things that Grandmother would have in her home.  I spent some time checking out the historic photos, thanks to our neighbours for the tip,  not somewhere we would have thought to visit.

Masonic Hotel

After enjoying our coffee we drove on to Havelock North, a very pretty and affluent village, especially to go to the Birdwood's Sweet Shop.  Set is a cute little cottage, stepping inside is like a sweet lovers wonderland.  Filled to the brim with jars and jars of sweets – you are invited to take a bowl or two, a plastic glove, and select the sweets you were drooling after.  I chose Acid Drops and Robin was after Blackballs – we keep these in the car to perk us up on long drives.

Cute little sweet shop

And we couldn't leave without indulging in a “real fruit ice-cream”.  Coffees and ice-creams are served in the spacious sculpture park at the back of the café and gallery.  This really is a rather delightful property.

Time for an ice-cream

Monday, February 17, 2020

Slow Stitching Outside

It’s been nice to relax outside finishing off some slow stitching.  Our weather has been quite warm, too hot sometimes to sit out on the patio, so then I take myself off to the back of the house, where it is cooler and shady.  Much better to be in the shade on a really hot day, and I’ve been sitting down stitching the binding on  my Autumn Wall-hanging.

A seat in the cool of the shade

Our cat Gemma often joins me outside too.  On a hot day she heads straight to the rhubarb garden – it’s just as good as a sun shade, she thinks.   Here she is keeping cool sheltering under the large rhubarb leaves.

Gemma under the rhubarb leaves

With the binding stitched down, and a hanging sleeve added, my Autumn stitchery is now complete.  Hand embroidered and hand quilted, I’ve really enjoyed stitching this little wall-hanging.  In case you are wondering, this is a free pattern from Crabapple Hill Studio.


Here in New Zealand our Autumn officially starts on 1st March, that’s only a couple of weeks away.  But it is sure to continue being warm and sunny for some time yet.  I’m pleased that my little Autumn wall-hanging will be ready for the change of season.

Saturday, February 15, 2020

More Orange Sewing

I have to say that Orange is not one of my favourite colours, and I don't have a great deal of it.   But as I’m joining in the Rainbow Scrap Challenge again this year, orange is February's colour.  And it doesn’t look too bad used in my chosen blocks.  These three orange butterflies look very pretty, and are sure to flit across my butterfly quilt quite nicely when all their different coloured friends have been stitched.

Three orange butterflies

And I’m really pleased with how the checkerboard blocks turned out, a nice easy block to make, and will eventually become a boy’s donation quilt.

Orange checkerboard blocks

As we are heading off this weekend for a three week trip in our caravan, I will be running late with the RSC blocks for March.  Never mind, I’ll just have to play catch up when we return home.  Wonder what colour will be chosen for March?

Friday, February 14, 2020

Valentine’s Day

As I’m sure everyone knows, February 14th is celebrated as St Valentine’s Day.  Saint Valentine was a clergyman in the Roman Empire who ministered to persecuted Christians. He was martyred and his body buried at a Christian cemetery on the Via Flaminia close to the Ponte Milvio to the north of Rome, on February 14, which has been observed as the Feast of Saint Valentine (Saint Valentine's Day) since 496 AD.

Although we don’t tend to go “all out” here in New Zealand, it’s nice to celebrate with your partner.   We personally don’t do flowers or chocolates, but on a grocery shopping trip today I was delighted to see some big burly young men departing with bunches of flowers for their special someone.  Our own Valentines Day celebration is usually a meal out together - we are booked in to a local restaurant tonight to enjoy a nice meal together.

And to keep things romantic, my quilt “Hearts of Love” gets it’s turn on the bed during February.  And again in November, the month we wed.

Hearts of Love

Tuesday, February 11, 2020

Cot Quilt

Just a little sewing has been happening this week.  I thought it was high time I started finishing off a couple of quilt tops made last year, before I start making a new list again.  The first one chosen to work on is a little girl’s cot (donation) quilt, not too big to deal with.  Yes, I have a piece of batting which will do, but would you believe it, just a little short.  So some “franken-batting” took place, as I joined some left over strips to two sides of my batting piece.  And you know what happened when I got the  pretty pink  winceyette (flannel) out for the backing – once again, not wide enough, so again I added pieces to the sides.  No wonder it took me a while to get some actual sewing done.

Quilt top and pink backing ready to be pinned together

After I’ve been down on my knees on the floor to put a few safety pins in my quilts, I often then carefully pick it up and lay it on top of the glass topped picnic table under the gazebo to finish the job.  Much easier on my back, and it’s very pleasant sitting outside on a nice day, remember, it’s summer in my part of the world. 

I like to use plenty of safety pins

At the moment I’ve stitched in the ditch around all the blocks, so that’d \s a good start.  Not sure if I’ll get any more done this week, there is a lot to squeeze in, and then before we know it, we are off on another caravan trip.  Have to make the most of this good weather.  But I have prepared the binding, the same fabric as what I used for the borders. 

Quilt binding prepared

When we return home after our three week trip away, this project will be top of the list again.

Sunday, February 9, 2020

Weekend at Pohangina Valley

We had a busy and very interesting time over Waitangi weekend at our caravan club weekend away, staying at the pretty Pohangina School Reserve.  Sited in the old school grounds, and surrounded by lovely old trees, this is a favourite place of ours to stay.  The weather was perfect, but then, February is usually a great month weather-wise here in New Zealand.

Staying at Pohangina School Reserve

There was a very full weekend of activities planned, so only a little stitching got done.  Plus a little knitting, although I pulled out what I had started and went down a needle size as I thought it looked too loose.  So I’m starting again, but I’m much happier with the tension.

A little knitting got done

On our trip up we stopped at the track to the viewing platform at the Wind Farm, and  I came across these two kereru sitting on top of the fence.  And managed to snap a photo before they realised I was there and flew away.  The kereru or New Zealand pigeon is the only pigeon endemic to the New Zealand mainland, a big heavy bird which gorges itself on the berries from native trees.

Two kereru sunning themselves

Have you heard of the Hat Game?  Rather like Musical Chairs for oldies, but instead of racing around we stayed seated in a circle.  Everyone except one person was given a hat to wear, and as the music played the idea was to remove the hat from the head in front and place it on your head, over and over again.  Once the music stopped the person without a hat left the circle, which got smaller and smaller, until it was a fight to the death with the last two players, who were now facing each other. 

Reaching for those hats

Kath and I were in the final round, with Cath being the eventual winner.  Such a fun game, for players and onlookers alike.

Myself and Cath in the finals

The next morning kicked off with a Champagne Breakfast.  Everyone was up bright and early to fire up the BBQs for bacon, eggs, sausages, whatever took their fancy.  One couple cooked up some pancakes, served with blueberries and whipped cream, that looked so nice.

Enjoying our Champagne Breakfast

In the afternoon there was yet another social occasion, Devonshire Tea at the local café, Country Fayre,  just a short walk from where we were camped.  The tea rooms are run by a bunch of very dedicated volunteers, doing their bit to keep the Pohangina Village viable.  The café also sells a range of cheeses from local cheesemakers, Cartwheel Creamery, and I purchased an interesting selection to take back home, including a piece of their interesting “Blue Rhapsody”, I’m sure it will taste as good as it sounds.  The café building was the former Pohangina County Council rooms, and we were seated at the rather impressive boardroom table.  

Scones with jam and cream served at Country Fayre

There were the usual quizzes and games in the evenings to keep our brains active.  One evening we were invited, if we wished, to give a short 5 minute talk about aspects of our lives, which others may not necessarily know.  Geoff talked about how he and his parents happened to make the decision to emigrate from England to New Zealand, they were advised that New Zealand was a tropical country and they would not need winter clothes of coats – not true, of course, while others talked about their early working lives.  I spoke about my life when I ran a dairy (corner shop) with my former husband and two young children.  Getting up at 5.00am, and closing the shop doors at 9.00pm, it was a very busy and rather stressful time in my life. 

Our beautiful Birman Gemma always seems to enjoy our caravan weekends away.  Safely tethered with her harness and lead, she likes to venture out into the great outdoors.  There are birds to watch, insects to pounce on, and what’s this, someone left the outside locker door open.  That’s worth exploring, she thinks.

What’s in here, I wonder?

And this is what she gets up to while I am sitting at the caravan table while I’m busy blogging.  The lap top case makes a great place for a snooze, she thinks.

I’ll watch the bag while you are tapping away

Tuesday, February 4, 2020

First Sew Wot Meeting of the Year

It’s been a long time coming, but today was the first Sew Wot get-together of the year.  I had the honour of being the hostess, and our little home was packed with a bunch of happy stitchers.  It was a full house, with all the usual suspects, plus we welcomed two new members, (another) Jenny, and Sandra.  Gemma greeted all the visitors with a sniff or two, then settled down for a snooze on the dining chair, with her head tucked away under the table cloth. 

Who cares about the visitors?

I had acquired some rolls of silky tie fabric going free late last year from Sander Tie Co in Otaki and had them out on display to see if anyone was interested.  Yes, some of them were, so lengths were cut and stowed away in the ladies bags to take home.  Some of the fabric would be suitable for lining bags, I think, and I’m pleased that some of it is going to new homes.

Ready to share

Show and Tell is always fun, and Helen showed us all the tiny baby hats she had knitted recently for the hospital – so tiny, with some a little bigger, and all for a good cause.

Helen’s knitting

Mary had been providing us with heart block patterns over the last coupe of months – sadly mine had been put on hold.  But Carol had made completed quilt for herself, and stitched another top together for her daughter, done in Christmas fabrics.

Carol’s been stitching Christmas

Moira had completed her heart quilt too, stitched in the muted “old rose” colours that she prefers.  It is all pinned up and she has started hand quilting.

Moira’s Heart quilt

Heather had made her second Cat quilt from printed blocks, this one in lovely rich shades of coffee and cream – this will be donated to the Hospice.  There were still plenty of these cute cat blocks left over, so she presented us all with one each and set us a challenge, to make something with them!  No time frame, just take them off her hands and use them up.

Heather’s Cat quilt

So what else was happening?  Most of the ladies were doing some knitting, myself included.  Mary was working on a stitchery, Moira was starting a new Sashiko project, and our new member Jenny was embroidering foxgloves.

Jenny’s foxgloves

There was a box of lace and old doilies doing the rounds, thanks Heather,  and I took a couple to recycle, possibly to use as quilt labels.  Very pretty, here they are with my cat block from Heather.

I’m giving these treasures a new home

It was so nice to catch up with everyone today, and welcome our two new ladies to the group.  Sadly, I will be way for the next two fortnightly meetings as we are off on another three week caravan safari shortly.  With a different group, and a different itinerary than our last trip, but we will be returning to a couple of places we had been to recently.  It’s sure to be another fun caravan trip away.