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

Monday, November 30, 2020

Hello Santa, Train Ride, and a little stitching

Santa and his Elf friend came calling while we were at Pauanui, weren’t we lucky he knew just where to find us.  Guess the pair of us had been very well behaved this year as our names were called up to go and sit on Santa’s knee.  Poor Santa, we didn’t really want to cause him an injury, so just gave him a cuddle instead.


So nice to see you, Santa

I had a mishap in the caravan when we first arrived, tripping and falling and giving my jaw a great whack.  So spent the rally sporting  a large bruise, which seemed to get darker and more purply each day.   I’m sure the club members were looking at the pair of us sideways, wondering what on earth had happened, but rest assured, Robin was completely innocent, I managed to do it to myself.  Not a pretty sight at all, but luckily nothing was broken.

At the end of the rally we oved on to Coromandel, named after HMS Coromandel, which arrived to pick up a load of kauri timber, just the thing for ships masts.  Down by the waterside is “Ship in a Bottle”  by Rebekah Pearson to commemorate the 200th anniversary of the anchoring of British Naval Ship HMS Coromandel off Colville in June 1820.  It really is a beautiful piece of sculpture and only completed this year.


Ship in a Bottle

Right at the top of our “must see” list during our short stay in Coromandel was a visit to Driving Creek Railway.   Last time we were here, about 25 years ago we reckon, the train tracks only went part way up the hill, and now go to the top.  If we had stopped to think what the name “Driving Creek” actually meant, I’m sure we wouldn’t have worked it out.  It refers to the early days of kauri logging, much prized by the British Navy as masts and spars.  The loggers built dams across the creeks which slowly filled up, and the felled logs were placed in the dams or in the dry creek bed below.  When the dam was full, a rope was pulled, releasing a large wooden gate, and the water drove the logs down to the harbour.  So ingenious, but this practice also carried much silt and debris down too, causing them to start to silt up.

Potter Barry Brickell purchased 24 hectares of hilly scrub covered land in the 1970s, which just happened to have plenty of clay needed for his pottery.  The idea of the railway came about to transport the clay down the hill, plus pine to fuel the kilns, but has come into it’s own as a tourist attraction.  The narrow gauge railway winds up through the hills, with steep grades, curves, tunnels and viaducts.  As New Zealand’s only narrow gauge railway the track also has zig-zag sections for gaining altitude within a limited space.  All the trains have been purpose built in the workshop to Barry’s designs.


The scrub covered hills have been replanted over the years with native trees, tree ferns, kauri, totara and rimu much in evidence.  The story goes that Barry swapped large quantities of  his famous home brew for thousands of young trees, with are thriving on the hills.  Quirky pieces if pottery are placed by the track, and the areas of clay digging are much in evidence.


On our way to the top

We chugged over the viaducts, through several tunnels, reversed into the switchbacks, stopped while the driver jumped down to change the points, and climbed ever higher.  One last tunnel, and what a beauty it was.  We had reached to end of the line.  The view from the top was amazing.  The bush clad hills were covered in flowering manuka, ferns and native trees, hard to imagine this was once scrubby farmland, with the coastline in the distance.  This wonderful area is protected in perpetuity by a QE11 Trust Covenant.  Barry Brickell died in 2016 at age 80, and is buried on his property.  He truly was a man of vision, combining his love of art, conservation and engineering.



View from the top

We are now back in Taupo and the weather has turned wet, cold and miserable.  But there was a definite bright spark to the morning today when we called to see Linda and Peggy, my Colourpoint Cat quilt was finished and waiting for me.  I’m only giving a little sneak peek at the moment, and it goes without saying I’m thrilled with Linda’s quilting.  When we return home next week, this will be top of my stitching list, to get the binding and hanging sleeve applied, and then I will show it in all it’s glory..


Colourpoint Cat

So what else have I been doing?  A little more hand quilting on my teddy bear cot quilt, and some knitting on another baby beanie.  Plus another laundromat visit, but that really goes without saying.


Stitching and knitting

Tomorrow we are driving over the Napier-Taupo road to see my sister Kathleen.  She is not well and is scheduled for an operation soon, so we want to take this opportunity for a visit before we make our way home.  The Hawkes Bay area, where we are heading to, usually has warm sunny weather so we are looking forward to a change of temperature, after several cold days.

Tuesday, November 24, 2020

Where are we Now?

Leaving Taupo behind we spent the next night out in rural Paeroa.  You may remember that we had discovered that the young Lone Pine planted behind the  National Army Museum had originated from seeds collected in 2012 from the Turkish red pine growing at Paeroa Golf Course.  We were so close – of course we wanted to see this famous tree.   So we drove off to see if the staff at the golf club could help us in our quest.  They were so helpful and we were kindly escorted over the greens to see the tree and the accompanying plaque.


“There’s some more info upstairs in the club room” we were told, so we trudged up the stairs to see a framed newspaper article about the famous tree.  How kind of the manager to go to all this trouble for us, we think he was pleased that the “famous in Paeroa tree” was getting the attention it deserves.


At Paeroa Golf Course

There was one more photo to take while we were in Paeroa, one of the famous “big bottle”.  Lemon and Paeroa drink is a New Zealand favourite, also known as L&P.  Created in 1907, it was traditionally made by combining lemon juice with carbonated mineral water from the town of Paeroa, but is now owned and manufactured by multi-national Coca-Cola.


L & P, world famous in New Zealand

Our next overnight stop was the NZMCA Park at Waihi Beach.  It was such a lovely afternoon that we drove down to check out the beach.  People were in the water, sunbathing, and generally having fun in the sun.  The sky was a beautiful shade of blue, and the beach looked so inviting.


A beautiful day at Waihi Beach

Then we drove to Pauanui to meet up with fellow club members for the ICA Christmas Rally.  The holiday paradise of Pauanui is a resort town designed and built with relaxation in mind  for the wealthy, it seems.   Just how many places have an airstrip for those private planes, with hangers built into the homes?  Certainly not something we see in our hometown.  It’s not just airplanes which are catered for here.    There is an area of exclusive real estate built around a series of canals, with private moorings for each home owner. It’s certainly rather posh here in Pauanui.



Room for private planes and boats

I’ve had a nice time sitting outside under a shady tree doing a little hand quilting.  Not fine quilting by any means, I’m using Perle cotton and following the blue dotted lines on this panel.


Time to make a start on the hand quilting

Gemma helps out with the blogging too, she likes to curl up in the computer case to make sure it can’t escape.


She’s a big help

Unfortunately we had quite a fright with Gemma just after we had arrived here.  We were sitting outside enjoying the sunshine and Gemma was with us, sniffing around the grass and trees while safely on her harness and lead.  Another camper’s dog, running loose, came barking and running over to Gemma, baled her up against the fence  and goodness knows what would happened if we had not been outside too.  Luckily Robin intervened, shouted out to the owner about his dog running free, managed to pick the dog up by his harness, and gave the owner a piece of his mind, as I did too.   It was all rather upsetting, and I did feel that I had behaved rather like a fishwife, when it was all over.  But all campers should be aware of the rules which clearly state all dogs should be kept on a lead and under control at all times, as we do with our cat too, no excuses.  This incident left us feeling quite shaken, and it could well have ended badly for Gemma if she had been attacked.

Wednesday, November 18, 2020

Cats on Tour

We are away on another trip (lucky us), the weather was good and the car and caravan just hummed along.  We had our  favourite radio station belting out all the songs from the 50s, 60s and 70s “songs that you know and love”, as the adverts say, rather like spending time with good friends, as we hummed along.  Gemma came too, of course, and she is quite good on car rides, she usually spends her time beside me, leaning on the consul with her head facing backwards as we drive along.  Rather like an ostrich with her head in the sand, I often think.

Arriving at Waiouru we parked behind the  National Army Museum for lunch, usually plenty of room plus a café and restrooms inside the building if required.  The museum building looks rather like a castle, I always think.  We ate inside the van enjoying “something I had prepared earlier”.  I did check out the café which is now under new management, maybe we will lunch inside next time we are passing by.  And check out the wonderful view of Mt Ruapehu through the café window.


Mt Ruapehu

A small tree and a plaque were close by our lunch spot behind the museum.    Australians and New Zealanders  all know about the Anzacs and the Gallipoli Peninsula battle at Lone Pine during WW1.  A solitary pine tree stood at the battle site, and this remaining tree was almost destroyed during the battle.  Once the fighting had subsided, two Australian soldiers collected pine cones still attached to the branches used to cover the Turkish trenches.  These pine cones were carried home with the soldiers after the war, resulting in the germination of Turkish pines throughout Australia.

This tree is one of many raised in the Scion research nursery in Rotorua from seeds collected in 2012 from the Turkish red pine growing at Paeroa Golf Course.  This tree is an authenticated New Zealand descendant of the Gallipoli Peninsula’s original Lone Pine, and three seedlings were gifted to the museum as part of the ANZAC Day centenary in 2015.   How special to see this tree surviving here in New Zealand so many years later and so far from home.


Lone Pine at National Army Museum

Then on to stay at Taupo for two nights, with the “other” cats on tour, my Colourpoint Cats quilt top.  Remember these blocks I laboured over while I was taking part in the RSC each month?  Those arcs and curved piecing almost got the better of me, but I persevered and finally got the nine blocks completed.  I was meeting up with Linda of Razzle Dazzle Quilting who had agreed to work her magic on this wall-hanging.  We sat a discussed what I would like, and what Linda thought would look good.


Colourpoint Cats

Linda showed me a lovely gift she had received from fellow blogger Nancy who writes at Wyoming Breezes.  I read Nancy’s blog too, isn’t it wonderful how we are all connected through blogland!


Linda with her pretty scarf

Of course I had to take of photo of Linda’s sister Peggy too.  She was tucked up on a comfy chair,  busily sewing in the thread ends on a quilt, and one of the family cats on her lap.  IT was a picture of contentment.


Peggy and one of the cats

While at their home I admired some of the lovely quilts on display.  I loved the little village quilt with the matchstick quilting, don't those lights in the windows glow!  And I was in awe of the wonderful quilting on the dahlia panel.  It was so nice to meet up with these two lovely ladies again.



Two examples of Linda’s beautiful work

Then it was time for a little shopping before heading back to the caravan.  We had to make an urgent trip to the local vet, not because Gemma had taken poorly again.  No, I had forgotten to pack her Hill Science Diet crunchies, and they are only available through a vet, not a supermarket.  We arrived home, unpacked the groceries, and Gemma decided to see what was inside the shopping bag.  Maybe she could smell the meat we had purchased at the supermarket?  The bag certainly made a great cat sized hidey hole.


Gemma hiding in the shopping bag

Monday, November 16, 2020

A Slow Week

It’s been rather a slow week here, as far as stitching goes.  No rolling the dice, and sadly, no chance to start assembling one or other of my Rainbow Scrap Challenge projects.  But…… I did get one out, my little spool wall-hanging I’m making for the sewing room, look at it to see how I want to arrange the spools, and that’s about it.  Does that count for anything?   The only actual stitching I’ve done is for a secret squirrel Christmas project, and you know I cant show that just yet.  Or maybe, just a smidgeon.


Secret Sewing

Actually, our last week has been rather trying, as we had to rush Gemma to the vets.  She had been sick multiple times during the night, so something was obviously wrong.  After a check, the vet suggested we leave her there for the day, while they took blood for tests, rehydrated under the skin and gave her an ultrasound.  We collected her later in the day, paid the princely sum of $700 for her big day out, and waited several days for the results.  Luckily she didn't have pancreatitis as suspected, so that is a great relief.  One of her tests came back slightly elevated so  will be monitored in the future.  Poor little Gemma was rather stressed during her stay at the vet’s we were told, and happy to return home, shaved tummy and neck and all.  Thank goodness she has bounced back nicely, so we aren't really any the wiser what was the cause of all the upset.


Recovered and just chilling out

Tomorrow we are heading north with the caravan for three weeks, so that will curtail my sewing time again.  Mind you, I’m taking some hand quilting, plus my knitting bag, so hopefully will get some of each done.  Plus taking my Colourpoint Cats quilt top up to Linda in Taupo to work her magic, she does such beautiful free hand commercial quilting.  It will be lovely to see her and her sister Peggy again, it’s been a while.

Wednesday, November 11, 2020

Sew Wot Tuesday

It was my turn to host the Sew Wot morning this time.  Baking was done the previous day, and then I whipped up a batch of Cheese Puffs (rather like an airy  cheese muffin) in the morning, goodness me, they smelt nice coming out of the oven.  As it was a special day I gave my “Sewing” runner an outing on the coffee table.



Any Day Spent Sewing….

Just a smallish group this time.  Carol started off the Show and Tell with another of her knitted dolls.  This one is Samuel Sprout, the Greengrocer, carrying a basket with veggies in one hand, and a leek in the other.


Samuel Sprout

The only other Show and Tell was from Heather, and she really excelled with her recent finishes.  She had made two bags featuring Kiwi fabric for mother and daughter friends.


Two tote bags

Then she had finished her little baby jumper and had enough yarn left to knit two little hats.  Seems there is a family baby expected soon so this knitting has already found a good home.


Heather’s baby knitting

And last but not least Heather had made two rice bags for the Cancer Unit.  These are warmed and placed over the cannula when people are having chemo infusions – I didn't know that, what a good idea.  Plus she made a little Christmas ornament, just because.


Two rice bags made

That was all the Show and Tell for the morning, no one else had any finishes.  There was a bit of knitting happening during the morning, Heather, Carol and myself were clacking the needles.  Mary was stitching down papers for her EPP project, and Moira was working away on her wool applique.  It was nice to see Helen for a short time, she popped in briefly before heading off to an appointment.  Another very pleasant Sew Wot morning.

Monday, November 9, 2020

Such a busy weekend, quilts and all

We have been away up in Takapau in the Hawkes Bay celebrating our Caravan Club’s 600th Rally.  Robin and I were Rally Captains for this rally, so were in charge of organising the activities.  And of course we had to order a 600th Rally Cake to share with all the members.


Our first outing of the weekend was at the grand old Oruawharo Homestead on Friday morning when  for High Tea.  This was served in the beautiful Vincent’s Church, moved from Takapau township in 2012.  Used as a wedding venue, birthdays, anniversaries  and High Teas, this church has been lovingly restored and the warm timber interior is a sight to behold.   We were regaled with stories of the history of the property, and the trials and tribulations of dealing with council officers  while endeavouring to restore the historic buildings.  High Tea arrived and we enjoyed dainty savouries, sandwiches, scones with jam and cream, as well as sweet treats.  There was a wide selection of teas to choose from, and coffee was also provided.  According to Samuel Johnson, “Tea’s proper use is to amuse the idle, relax the studious and dilute the full meals of those who cannot use exercise and will not use abstinence”.



High Tea at Vincent’s Church

After partaking this lovely spread, we were invited to walk through the lovely old homestead.  Oruawharo was completed in 1879 for Sydney Johnston and his bride Sophia.  Constructed of kauri, totara and matai, the homestead, stables, coach house and gardens are a Heritage New Zealand category 1 classification.  In it’s heyday Oruawharo was the scene of lavish house parties, with tennis, croquet, picnics, horse racing and hunts to entertain the guests.


Oruawharo Homestead

Over the years the fortunes waxed and waned, and home was eventually shut up and suffered damage.  It was purchased by current owners Peter and Dianne Harris in 2000, just days before this lovely old although sadly neglected homestead was to be demolished.  The homestead remains a residence but with commercial activities to help fund the maintenance and ongoing restoration.  All the furniture had been removed, so every period piece had to be purchased and replaced.



We were permitted free range of the homestead, climbed up and down the three sets of stairs, and wandered in and out of the many bedrooms.  How about this room with the fancy bath?  Could well be the honeymoon suite, perhaps.  All the beds had quilts, so I enjoyed myself checking them all out.



Lovely quilts on the beds

The following day we had fun of a different kind, when we took our group to visit Lex and Angela’s Private Museum.  Lex gave us a talk in the Museum telling us about the hunting trophies on display.  This was followed with morning tea and we all enjoyed Angela’s yummy cheese scones.


At the museum

Also in the museum were several old Singer sewing machines.  Like most young girls, I started sewing on our Singer treadle machine.


Angela and I got talking quilts, and I was invited inside her home to see her latest creation, such a nice thing to do.


Angela’s new quilt

The highlight of the morning was the display of Lex’s war machines, all built by him.  Trebuchets – also known as siege engines, made to fling large rocks at castle walls to break them down, and flaming projectiles were also fired up and over the walls.  Such interesting machines of long ago.  Gunpowder was lit, fiery arrows were hurled aloft – it was certainly an exciting exhibition of early warfare.



Earmuffs  supplied for when things went “boom”

All the fees for museum visits collected by Lex and Angela are donated to the Fred Hollows Foundation to provide cataract surgery for patients facing blindness in the Pacific Islands.  Such a good cause.