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

Monday, June 29, 2020

Home again

Our three week holiday ended with us attending a weekend rally at Masterton.  This was the first caravan club rally since the months of Lockdown, and it was great to meet up with everyone again.  The rain continued most of the weekend, making things rather wet underfoot, but didn’t really dampen our spirits at all.

Mawley Park Motor Camp, Masterton

The days were fairly free, and several took the opportunity to have a nice lunch out downtown, while others did a grocery shop, all helping out the local economy. The usual club Morning Teas and 4zees took place, and in the evenings Dave had organised a few quizzes for us, to see how our brains survived lockdown. Robin and I did quite well in the general knowledge quiz, coming first equal with another couple!

There was a special occasion on Saturday morning when we had a Flag Breaking Ceremony, for our new club flag.  This had been ordered months ago, but going into lockdown slowed things down and the order was put on hold.  As our longest serving members, Eileen and Geoff were given the honour and asked to pull on the cord to unfurl the flag.

Geoff, Eileen, and Selwyn with the new club flag

After rain showers on Sunday morning, the skies cleared and the sun came out, isn’t that usually the way when it is time to go home?    Then it was time to pack up and head for home, and I made sure I had some knitting ready to do on our journey home.  That’s if Gemma is snoozing on the back seat, it certainly doesn't work if she wants to climb on my lap.

Maybe I’ll get a bit of knitting done

Now we are safely home, after traveling about 1800km during our time away, I can get back into my sewing again.  You may remember that I dropped my sewing machine off to Barry for a service when we started our trip.  As we didn’t come home via his town he is quite happy to drop it around to our home on Friday, when he is down this way.  How’s that for service!  I’m sure I've got things to potter around with and keep me busy till then.

While we were away, I replaced my camera, and luckily got it on sale, so that was good.  The poor thing had a hard life, got dropped several times and one of the dials came off, making life very difficult when I wanted to change the settings. My camera is in constant use, although my grand-daughters thinks it is terribly old fashioned.  “No one uses a camera these days, Nana”, they tell me, as they do clever things with their phones.  Well, I do, I tell them, I’m not much of a cell phone user.

My new camera

Friday, June 26, 2020

Rainy Days Camping

Time to move on again on our trip, and we drove along the Desert Road.  No chance of a photo of Mt Ruapehu this time, the mountain was covered in low clouds.  After a brief stop for lunch, off we went again.  Turning off SH1 we took the road over Vinegar Hill.  Vinegar Hill was named after an incident in early colonial times: a bullock cart carrying barrels of vinegar overturned after the bullocks slipped on the muddy track on the hillside, covering the hillside in vinegar from the broken barrels.  Couldn't you just imagine the mess, and the smell!

Before too long we arrived at our destination.  Ashhurst Domain has sports grounds, play areas, a pretty little camping area set amongst plenty of mature trees, and is extremely popular with families over the Christmas/New Year holiday season.  Some families return here year after year we have been told.  But plenty of room at this time of year, with only a few camping in winter.  And just across the way through the trees is a peaceful cemetery.

Such a pretty place to camp

During the night the rain came down, and the wind blew through the trees sending debris down on our caravan roof.  We did wonder how the bad weather would impact on our trip the following morning.  Luckily the wind wasn’t an issue and we drove over the Saddle Road where the wind turbines on the Apiti Wind Farm appeared out of the mist at the top of the hill.

Wind turbines on the hill top

Our stop for the weekend was at Mawley Holiday Park, Masterton, where we are meeting up with our caravan club friends.  More rain, but we mustn’t grumble, in this part of the country the farmers always seems to need rain.  Much too wet outside for Gemma’s dainty paws.

Baby, it’s wet outside

Just the sort of weather to sit inside all nice and cozy and do a little stitching.  I stitched a few more flowers on the garland surrounding my cute little teddy bear.  The blue dashed lines are quilting lines.

A little more stitching

Sunday, June 21, 2020

Holiday Stitching

Not a great deal of stitching has been happening on this trip – just a little more on my teddy stitchery.  I’ve now added some blue flowers to the yellow daisy garland, it’s looking quite nice I think.  By doing a little stitching here and there, it all slowly adds up.

A little more done on this

We had a fun day out with Awakeri Rail Adventures the other day   on one of those dinky little  rail carts, traveling along the former Taneatua Branch Line.  Rail traffic declined over the years and the line closed in 2001.  Awakeri Rail Adventures was set up by former NZR engine driver, Paul Francis in 2014, after hard work clearing the overgrown track.   We were to travel on modified golf carts, although we weren’t going anywhere until we were given the necessary safety briefing.

Ready for our adventure

Luckily the heavy morning rain had eased before our trip started.  Robin was given instructions on how to operate the cart, and I was given responsibility of becoming the radio operator.  This notice was firmly attached to the steering wheel, which incidentally, does no steering at all!


The wheels on the cart made a delightful “Clackety Clack” railway sound as we trundled along, slowing at the Slow and pausing at the Give Way signs as the railway line passed over bridges and farm tracks.    The two way radio crackled to life instructing Robin to “Pull up here by the orange cone”.  My goodness, just look at all the birds racing to meet us, chooks, ducks and geese.  They know it must be feeding time, and we were handed a container of corn to feed them.  I’ve never had such a crowd so happy to see me!  There was some rather handsome plumage on the roosters, together with very sharp looking spurs, I noticed.

They all know it’s feeding time

Our next stop was at the 4.5 hectare  White Pine Bush Reserve, a rare example of untouched lowland kahikatea forest.  We took a bush walk into the reserve and our guide pointed out a 600 year old kahikatea tree so tall we couldn't see the top.  How wonderful that this piece of forest has been saved from the axe for all to enjoy.

Kahikatea trees and Nikau Palms

Our next stop was  in the middle of nowhere at a rather rustic shelter.  The billy was boiled, tea,  coffee, and biscuits produced, and we settled down to enjoy our afternoon tea.  Then we traveled up to the end of the line, and the rail carts were turned around on the small turntable.

Cart on the turntable

It was much quicker on the return trip with no stops on the homeward journey.  We spotted several pheasants and quail on the side of the track as we traveled along, they soon flew off when we came too close.  And look, here we are, back we we started from at Awakeri Station.  It was a wonderful trip, something we had wanted to do for a while, and we certainly enjoyed our afternoon riding the rails.  Thoroughly recommended and such good fun.

Such a fun afternoon

We are now at Island View Holiday Camp, joining in with our ICA friends for a three day rally.  At the beach we got a glimpse of the volcanic island Whakaari / White Island, which erupted on 9th December 2019.  There were 47 people on the island at the time. This tragedy left twenty-one people dead, including two who missing and declared dead, and a further twenty-six people suffered injuries, mainly severe burns.  We took a trip out to the island some years ago, it is a weird place with the smell of sulphur in the air, I remember we had to wear hard hats and gas masks.

Whakaari White Island

Previous to coming here,  we had get permission to bring our cat Gemma, so she became a “pre approved pet”.  And sign a Dog Policy when we checked in, (yes, we know she is a cat) agreeing to keep Gemma on a lead on our own site,  and not walk her around the camp.

What’s in this bag, she wonders?

This rally is the “Big 0 and 5 Rally” for those celebrating major birthdays and anniversaries this year.  We started off with a splendid roast lunch cooked on members BBQs, roast lamb, roast pork, roast veggies, oh so tasty.  Followed by celebration cake, we were certainly spoiled.  Everyone helped with cooking, preparations, or dishes.  And we were rather taken with our dining friend’s snazzy wine bottle cooler, just right for a couple of “grey nomads”.

Lunch time

Then the awards were made.  Two couples were celebrating their 60th Anniversaries, and there were five big birthdays, including me!  (I’ll be turning 75 in October).  Cathie made and presented  all the beautiful cards.

Happy Birthday

Today, Sunday, is the shortest day of the year.  And it is pouring with rain outside, so no chance of sitting outside doing a little stitching in the sunshine.  What sunshine?  Gemma is quite happy, doing what she does best, relaxing on the caravan bed.  Cat’s certainly have a great life, don’t they!

Time for another snooze

Sunday, June 14, 2020

Where have we been?

So where have we been?  Rotorua, for a start – which has a love story to tell.  From where we were staying, I could just get a glimpse of Lake Rotorua and Mokoia Island.  The Maori legend tells of two lovers.   Tutanekai lived on Mokoia Island and Hinemoa was a princess of a tribe that lived on the shores of the lake. Though deeply in love, Hinemoa's parents had forbidden them to meet. In desperation Hinemoa swam to Mokoia Island guided by Tutanekai's flute, and so began Rotorua's most famous legend. Arriving at the island Hinemoa rested in the hot natural pool where she was found by Tutanekai  - they married, their tribes united, and descendants of the two still live in Rotorua today.

From here we went to Hamilton to have our caravan serviced.  We stayed overnight outside the factory and there was a knock on the caravan door bright and early at 6.30am.  As they towed the van around the back of the factory to work on, we had gathered our things, a water bottle, put Gemma in the car, and off we went out into the dark and foggy morning.  There was only one thing to do at this time of day, we went out for breakfast. Scrambled eggs for me, and poached eggs with bacon for Robin.

Early morning breakfast

It was still early, so we drove down to Lake Rotoroa to sit and relax.  There were plenty of ducks and pukeko relaxing on the lake edge, waiting for the sun to break through and warm things up, no doubt.  Lake Rotoroa was formed about 20,000 years ago, when the Waikato River changed to flow out at Port Waikato It was originally  a braided river, but most of its braided courses were left as lakes once the river cut its present lower level. Peat then dammed and increased the size of the lakes.

Serene morning at Lake Rotoroa

We collected the caravan after it’s service and traveled on to Waihi.  The discovery of gold in the 1870s attracted miners from California and New South Wales, with production reaching it’s peak in the early 1900s.  The massive open pit Martha Mine sits on the edge of the town, it certainly is a sight to see.

Martha Mine in Waihi

Our next stop was at Katikati, where we found a handy laundromat.  On holiday or not, the laundry still needs doing.  So I sat and waited, just as well I had an interesting book with me.

It’s laundry time

Katikati was founded in 1875 by Irish settlers.  There are many kiwifruit, avocado and citrus orchards in this area, and the town has many murals painted on the buildings, showing life in earlier times.  We called in to visit my cousin Brian and his lovely wife Bev and had a great catch-up with all the news.


At the moment we are overnighting at Omokoroa, looking over the estuary.  Such a lovely peaceful setting, and this is our view out of the caravan window.  How lovely is that!  There are all sorts of boats anchored in the water to admire, and the area boasts a very popular cycle track.

Omokoroa Estuary

Friends Andrew and Debbie live close by, and we were invited around to their home for afternoon tea.  And to say hello again to their two rag doll cats, Beau and Van.  These two had certainly grown since we saw them in the New Year, particularly Beau who is now a very big boy indeed.  And smaller Van looks so cute with his eye patch.  They were having fun hanging about  on their cat tower.  Later on Andrew and Debbie came back to our caravan and we shared a fish and chip meal together it was so nice to spend time with them again and catch up on all the news.

Beau and Van

Our own cat Gemma always seems quite happy in the caravan, snoozing her day away as most cats do.  She does enjoy a little walk outside with Robin too, and bounces along at the end of her lead, until a loud noise sends her scurrying quickly back to the safety of the caravan.  She likes to curl up in the laptop bag while I’m busy tapping away writing a blog.

Curled up in the lap top bag

I’ve done a little knitting while we have been away and some work on my stitchery project too.  This is getting there slowly, I’ve now added some leaves and yellow flowers since I last worked on it.

A little more stitching done

So that’s what we have been doing over the last week.  Traveling, some sightseeing, a little knitting and stitching, and catching up with family and friends.

Monday, June 8, 2020

Off on a Road Trip

After three long months at home it was time to pack the caravan and get traveling.  We are off on a road trip again.  Three weeks away - how exciting!  I made sure to put nice cozy fleecy sheets on the bed before we left home – our last trip away was in summer but things are so much cooler now.


And since we are off on holiday, it seemed the ideal time for my hard working sewing machine to get some TLC.  We called in to see the wonderful  technician Barry who will give her a good clean and service while we are away.  Poor Barry is overrun with sewing machines at the moment after having none to work on during Lockdown.  All the ladies who were sewing up a storm during these months at home, myself included, have decided it is now time for their machines to be serviced too.

Going to visit Barry

After a lunch stop at Taihape, we then traveled on along the Desert Road.  Not much chance of seeing “my” mountain, I expected, with rain and low cloud around.  But there it is, at least part of it.  I never tire of seeing majestic Mt Ruapehu when we pass along this road.

Mt Ruapehu

We are staying the night at Turangi Holiday Park.  Turangi is a small town on the west bank of the Tongariro River, built to accommodate the workers associated with the Tongariro hydro-electric power development project and their families.  Many of the single men were housed in over 400 small huts, some of which are still on site here at the camp.  It would have been a cold and miserable place to stay in these small uninsulated buildings over winter, I imagine.

A few of the remaining huts for single men during the project

We are much more comfortable in our caravan, parked up on power, diesel heater keeping us warm, nicely insulated, all facilities we need on board. The temperature is sure to drop right down overnight, but we should be nice and cozy.

Staying the night in Turangi
I’ve packed my knitting bag and I’ve a stitchery too which I hope to work on while we are away.  Nothing to show today of course, but I thought readers might be interested in this photo.  We attended a caravan club meeting last week at Barry and Dianne’s home.  They asked me if I would like to see the quilt I had offered them last year.  This was made for my son’s 40th birthday some time ago and features musical fabric which is his passion.  Michael decided he didn’t really want it so I offered it to Barry who is also very musical.  Here it is on the bed in their guest room, I’m so pleased it has a home.
Music in the Stars quilt, now happily rehomed

Saturday, June 6, 2020

Pink and Red

There was more pink sewing for the Rainbow Scrap Challenge this week.  Three pretty pink butterflies made their appearance, although I’m sure they were not too impressed with the cold wet winter weather we have been experiencing lately.

Three pink butterflies

They fluttered off and soon settled down with the their friends.  Did you know that a group of butterflies  is called a "swarm", "rabble", "kaleidoscope" or "flutter" of butterflies!  A flutter of butterflies certainly seems to describe them best, I think.

My flutter of butterflies

My second bit of RSC sewing this week was checkerboard blocks.  As these will be made into a boy’s donation quilt I did not want to use pink, but chose some brick red squares instead.  If red is chosen for RSC  later in the year, I can use brighter or deeper red then.

Checkerboard blocks

It’s always fun stitching the RSC blocks each month, then just as much fun to check out all the other beautiful blocks which appear in the Linky party.

Thursday, June 4, 2020

Taking Stock

I’ve just done a bit of a “stock take”  This came about because of a recent question I had from Janice who blogs at http://jannimary.blogspot.com/.  She wanted to know if the sampler quilt blocks I had just made into a top was my oldest UFO?  I knew there were a couple of other half done old projects still hanging about, so perhaps I should get them out of the crates and see exactly what I had.  This partially constructed Clamshell top is the oldest one.  I started it ages ago – so long back in the mists of time that I have forgotten when.  This is machine, not hand pieced and started in a class.

Purple clamshells

I have taken part in numerous internet block swaps in earlier years, and these cat blocks date back to 2003.  I provided a choice of patterns with the request to use black homespun for the cats, and any color plain homespun for the backgrounds.
Black cat swap blocks

And lastly, there is my paper pieced log cabin project, in burgundy and cream.  I really love this, and it will be for our bed.  I’m not sure of the date, but I know I brought it with me when we moved house, so it is probably 8-10 years old, I expect.  Most of the blocks are completed, and I’m part way through paper piecing the border blocks.   It looks like I have them organised into rows, so I’m a good way through this project.   Why did this one stall, I wonder?

Burgundy and cream log cabin blocks

I enjoy doing stitcheries and have two in bags with the corresponding fabric to finish them off.  It wouldn’t take too much effort to complete these, I expect.  And they are not too old, I think I stitched them last year.

Two little stitcheries

Then there are the Leaders and Enders projects.  I’m a real fan of this type of stitching and it seems to suit me very well – I always try to have some little bits and pieces ready to stitch along with whatever project I’m working on.  Once again, there was more here than I remembered.  I have only recently finished stitching the boy themed blocks, and the fabric squares all came from a bag of goodies dropped off from Jean.  And the coins for boys, (not trimmed to size as yet), was stitched from scraps in mostly greens, tans, cream, both of these will be for donation quilts.  I’m always happy to use up these bits and pieces of fabrics that have just been hanging about.  Then there are a pile of house blocks, I really enjoyed making them, and another pile of little tile blocks, both using scraps from 2 1/2 in strips.

Leader and Ender projects

And just to show that I can't really help myself, and there is really no hope for me, here is my next L&E project ready to go.  I have some little cat blocks and sashing all cut out ready to put under the needle as I stitch the next “real” project.  Leader and Ender sewing really seems like getting something for nothing to me.

Next Leader and Ender project, all prepared

What else?  I found some star blocks, a bunch of HSTs, and two more sets of 9 patch blocks.  And then there are the “not yet started” projects, usually a pile of fabric put away with an illustration and the idea of starting it one day soon.  These probably don’t count as UFOs, but may well get added to my list one of these days.

Oh dear, seeing them all set out like this is a bit daunting.  I can either panic, or take things calmly, adding these projects to my List of Six as others get completed. I’m quite keen to get on with the log cabin, the boys blocks, and finish up the stitcheries fairly soon.  As I often tell Robin, I’ll never run out of things to do!  Do tell me that I’m not the only one out there with more projects than I know what to do with?