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

Tuesday, December 27, 2022

A Little Christmas Show and Tell

Now that Christmas Day has been and gone, Merry Christmas everyone, I can now show some hand made Christmas gifts which I made for family members.  Firstly, a set of cushions I made or my horse mad grand-daughter Emma.  These were made from a set of panels donated to me.  I machine quilted around the outline of the horses, and around the circle, to make them stand out a little.  Emma’s life revolves around her horses, so I thought they would be right for her.


Emma’s horse cushions

Younger grand-daughter Megan is the proud owner of Gracie, her corgi.  When I saw this free stitchery pattern offered after Queen Elizabeth passed away, showing a corgi and the Union Jack flag, I just had to stitch it.  So a set of placemats came into being.



Royal corgis

I have been checking my photo files for the gifts I made for my daughter Nicky and sadly they have disappeared.She is a great lover of dark chocolate and and I stitched her a tea towel showing a bar of chocolate and the message “I could give up chocolate, but I’m no quitter!”  I also made her a double handed oven mitt featuring the chocolate fabric, and a big bar of choccie too, of course.  Take my word for it, I thought the items turned out very well indeed!

You are probably wondering how our South Island trip is coming along.  On Christmas Eve day we drove out to Mapua Wharf.  Originally a fruit shipping port, the old cool store buildings are now home to shops, galleries, and cafes and restaurants. The wharf was a hive of activity, splash, splash, with locals busy jumping into the water and climbing back up the ladder.  Teenagers, adults, and quite small kids were all having a great time.   Perched at the end of the wharf was a life like  sculpture a white heron, created by local man Arthur Hawke about 10 years  ago.  This is in memory of Hamish, who visited the Mapua Wharf each winter from the 1980s till 2010.


Mapua Wharf

We were determined to sample again some of the world famous fish and chips from the Smokehouse.  Our lunch was just as delicious as we remembered, and it certainly was very pleasant sitting there, eating our fish and chips out of the paper.  It was all very casual, just as we and the steady stream of customers like it.  The Smokehouse also specializes in smoked fish, and I purchased some salmon pate, smoked mackerel and a salmon and leek pie to take back to the caravan.  We noticed a couple of  panic buyers rushing in to purchase several packs of smoked salmon for their Christmas feasts.


Fish and chips on the wharf

While we were busy taking in the sights, Jan and a group had been out at the crack of dawn to go line fishing, and arrived back with five rather large snapper.  As non fisher folk we were most impressed.  We ate our meal out on the deck, delicious crumbed fish, salad and chips.  What a great way to end the day.  As an extra bonus, we were given a bag of  vacuum packed snapper to put in our caravan freezer for a later meal.


Jan and his son filleting the fish

Christmas Day dawned beautifully sunny and warm, just the sort of weather we would expect in sunny Nelson. 


Our home for Christmas

We prepared our traditional Christmas breakfast for everyone, croissants with ham and cheese, and took them into Kaye's house to heat through in her oven.  They were certainly delicious and we ate them together of the lovely large deck.


Ready to be heated through

Two  surprise family guests on Christmas morning, so the place was buzzing.  We all sat out on the large deck with cool drinks  and nibbled away on cheese, pate, smoked salmon, dip and crackers.  Jan’s younger brother and his wife were traveling across on the ferry so Christmas Dinner was held back till they arrived.  And what a spread it was.  The stars of the show were Kaye’s glazed ham, and Robin’s BBQed stuffed lamb shoulder.  And there was a great selection of salads too, plus freshly dug baby potatoes from Kaye’s garden.


Robin and Jan slicing the meat

Friends of the family arrived too, bringing extra food for the table, it was a veritable feast indeed.  And the desserts were just as delicious, trifle, meringues, ice cream cake, cheesecake, something to please all tastes.  The food was laid out, we served ourselves, and all ate outside on the roomy deck.


Dinner is ready

I was quite keen to watch King Charles Christmas very first Christmas speech, so Kaye turned the TV on for me at the appropriate time. 


The King's speech

What a wonderful Christmas Day we had with Kaye and Jan’s family and friends.

Friday, December 23, 2022

Watch out for Chickens

We have moved on to Kaye and Jan’s home for Christmas, Robin’s young sister and hubby.  They have bought a delightful small holding on rural Richmond a couple of years ago, so this was our first time visiting.   The home is surrounded with lovely gardens, and plenty of fruit trees.  They are fattening up a couple of beef cattle, and Kaye is the proud owner of five hens, two different breeds, white and brown.  The birds have a cozy custom made hen house, and provide daily eggs.


Two brown chooks

Gemma has been having a fine old time, outside on her lead, keeping an eye on these big birds.  The hens  like to wander around the garden, pecking at insects and whatever else they find.  Poor Gemma met her match today – one of the white hens took exception to her and loudly squawked and flapped her wings. Gemma slunk back inside the caravan to get away from this threatening behavior.

Robin needed help maneuvering the caravan when we arrived, it was just too long to swing around and back up easily.  Luckily, Jan came to the recue with his dinky little digger, using the tow ball on the front and backed our van backwards into place.  That made it easy, and we are facing the correct way for when it is time to leave.


Thanks Jan


Our home for Christmas

There is a lovely looking rustic red barn on the property.  It may have seen better days, but had an earlier productive  life as an apple packing shed.  Will it stay or will it go?  Kaye and Jan aren't quite sure whether to fix it up or demolish it.


The old red barn

We braved the pre-Christmas shopping crowds to get a couple of last minute things.  I was on a mission to find some cherries for Christmas day, I'm pleased to say I was successful. 


Cherries for Christmas

The weather here has been strange, warm and sunny for part of the day, then the clouds roll in and the heavy rain comes down.  We are hoping for a nice sunny Christmas Day.

Wednesday, December 21, 2022

A little Stitching, and Traveling On

I've spent a little time on my first Noah’s Ark Stitchery, and finished one.  It’s only small, but after all, every little bit helps.  I had to go shopping the other day to buy some black Perle no.5 thread as I had run out.


Two rabbits, done

So where have we been on our South Island trip these last few days?  St Arnaud was on my wish list for this trip.  I remember travelling through this tiny alpine village back in 2018 and remarking that I would like to stay here for a night or two next time we were down this way.  Situated at 650mt and according to Mr Google, the population was 120 a few years ago.  But I suspect it may have well increased since then, as there is quite a few flash new homes built on the hillside by the caravan park.  We had the whole park to ourselves.


Staying at St Arnaud

St Arnaud is situated on the edge of Lake Rotoiti and we drove the short distance down past the camp to the lake edge at Kerr Bay.  There was a water taxi tied up at the wharf ready to take trampers where they want to go, and it is also available for group tour around the lake.



Moody skies down by the lake

It may well be our Summer, but according to St Arnaud we were due for plenty of rain and cold temperatures.  I had to wear long trousers and warm socks to keep warm!

After two nights it was time to get moving again,  leaving the pretty alpine village of St Arnaud on the way to Wakefield.  The reason was that the nearest dump station was in Tapawera, you don’t want to know about this as it is a very important camping job which husbands have to do.  Hop growing is a big part of the local economy, and we passed plenty of these vines growing up the supports.  As every beer drinker knows, hops are an important part of the beer brewing process.  I presumed that this large building was a hop processing plant, but no, hops are grown inside under cover.


Hop growing at Tapawera

We had previously stayed at Tapawera on a farm POP, travelling with three other vans on tour and I remember being encouraged to milk a goat.  Which I did rather tentatively, concerned that the goat would take exception and would kick me.  Our hostess gave us some goat milk to take with us when we left.  Here is that significant picture from all those years ago of my fumbling efforts!  Ten years younger and not quite so grey.


That’s a younger version of me, trying my best

Moving on, we made our way to Wakefield, close to Nelson for our next stop.  The traffic was definitely getting busier as we drove along.  90km later we arrived at Higgins Heritage Park, our stop for the next two nights.   Once again, we are camping on our own.


Once we settled in, had a quick lunch, it was off to find a laundromat.  A I often say, just because we are on holiday, the washing still needs doing.  This is the first time in one of these establishments that I have ever seen any cleaning or maintenance take place.  These are such busy places, well used by locals and travelers alike.  Knitting helped pass the time  as we waited around.  I’m knitting the back of my cardigan and its coming along nicely.


Knitting at the laundromat

Back at camp Robin and Gemma had a little snooze, they were worn out, it seems.


Gemma and Robin

While they were busy doing that I went and had a quick look around the park.  Higgins Heritage Park has a series of large buildings, housing specialist collections.  It runs a series of Open Days and it appears that in-between times, club members come and work in their own areas. 


Plenty to see


There's us, looking back through the fence

Monday, December 19, 2022

Just a little Shopping

Black thread  - that’s what I needed for my traveling stitchery project.  Luckily we found out where the LQS was and I made a quick visit.  I was after Perle No 5 in black, and luckily they had some.  Then while browsing around,  found some nice stripy fabric which could work well as the borders on my Noah's Ark stitchery.  Or not, perhaps I should have waited till this project was completed to see if it would go well with the stitchery blocks.  Never mind, I’ve bought it now.


My purchases

I’m not expecting to make our South Island Trip a Quilting Shop Hop, but I’m sure I’ll come across a few shops which will pique my interest.  The Sewing Store at Blenheim had a great range of fabrics and tools and I received nice friendly service.  Always a must have bonus for me as I'm sure we have all been in shops where the friendly service has been sadly lacking.


Inside The Sewing Store

I’m sure you would like an update on our South Island Adventure.  We drove off  the Inter Island Ferry at 5.30AM, drove 8km to Koromiko,  opened the gate, chose a site, kept the car and van hooked up, pulled the blinds and curtains and climbed into bed.  We were so tired, but Gemma took a while to settle down, no doubt still a little anxious after her time alone in the caravan for several hours crossing Cook Strait.


Gemma is outside after a bit of shut eye

This is a pretty camp, surrounded by beautiful mature native totara trees.   For book lovers like me, this camp has a rather quirky book swap set up.  The books are inside an old fridge, with a power cord seemingly plugged into the totara tree.  I had a book to swap, and came away with a couple more.  In my view there is nothing worse that not having book to read at bedtime.  The birds were singing in the trees all day long, and across the road came the occasional bleat of sheep in the paddocks.  I loved the look of this old barn, certainly rustic, and it has it’s own type of beauty, I think.  We sent several hours during the afternoon sitting outside,  just relaxing, and chatting to the campers next to us.  .


At Koromiko Camp

The following morning was wet, and we moved on to Blenheim.   After choosing a site, settling in, and paying our camp fees, we had a quick lunch then set out to find a laundromat.  May as well spend a couple of hours doing the laundry on such a wet day, we reasoned.  The laundromat was busy, and one customer came in and commandeered five large washing machines!  She did mention that her machine at home had broken down and a  new one was not available till well after Christmas.  Seems she will be looking forward to many more visits while waiting for her new machine to arrive.

The next coupe of days we went exploring, and discovered an  “Old English Pub” for lunch.  Stepping inside, we were warmly welcomed indeed.  With thick ceiling beams, a large brick fireplace, and plenty of brass and jugs everywhere, the Cork and Keg certainly had an English country pub ambiance.


The Cork and Keg

We placed our lunch orders, and sat out in the beer garden, sheltered with plenty of sun umbrellas and a large sun shade.  Our lunches arrived, popcorn shrimp for me, something I’d never had before, and buffalo wings for him, and Robin indulged in a large glass of Guinness.  I’m not really a beer drinker but I can remember having the occasional small Guinness myself when we traveled around Ireland some years ago – it seemed the thing to do at the time!


In the Beer Garden

What’s that sign we spotted driving back to camp?  Fresh strawberries were for sale – just what we needed.  Not only that, but strawberry snow freeze ice-creams too.  The car park was packed, and happy customers sat outside licking their ice-creams.  And if they were anything like me, trying to finish the ice-cream before it all melted and ran down my hand.


A giant strawberry, and Robin waiting with the ice-creams

Gemma had been wandering in and out of the caravan on her lead, but the caravan next to us had a young terrier dog which got excited when Gemma poked her nose outside.  We waited till they went out in their car, before letting her outside in peace.  Otherwise, she is happy to rest inside, and particularly likes to snooze inside the lap top bag while I am busy blogging.  She is such a big help!


Relaxing, that’s what cats do best

Thursday, December 15, 2022

Holiday Handwork

While packing for our South Island caravan holiday I had to make sure I had plenty of hand work to do.  First, some knitting.  I quite enjoy knitting on car journeys, so I cast on a double knit cardigan/jacket for myself.    I bought the big cone of pure New Zealand navy  8ply, double knit wool at a good price so I’m very pleased with that.  The design is reasonably plain so should be fine for car knitting.


A cardigan for me

And just in case I feel like a change, I gathered up some part balls of yarn to made two toddlers jumpers.  One for a boy, and one for a girl.  Any leftovers can be used for baby beanies.  I had some of this yarn given to me so it will be good to use it up.


Extra projects, just in case

I really need a stitchery project too  so decided to do Noah’s Ark. This had been on my mind to do for some time.  Bur first I had to get the pattern enlarged – it was designed for stranded cotton and I like to do my stitcheries in Perle no 5.  Gemma jumped up to help me with when I got the light box out to start tracing. 


She is such a big help

It’s nice to have some hand work to do in case the weather turns bad and we decide not to get out and about exploring.   Or sitting out side after dinner in the cool of the evening.   But if not much gets done, it doesn't really matter – if will be available if I need it.

Let me tell you about our journey down to the South Island, there was certainly a speed bump involved.  Tuesday was a lovely day, nice and sunny, just right for a trip across Cook Strait.  But it wasn’t to be.  We left Plimmerton in good time for check in, and arrived at the terminal.  There the staff told us that the 1.00pm sailing was cancelled, due to Covid wrecking havoc on staff numbers, and it was unable to sail!   Turn around and go home we were told, keep your phone turned on, and wait for an update. So we headed back to Plimmerton camp.    As the day wore on, a message came through to advise that we had been booked on the 2.00am sailing on Wednesday morning.  It was a long day waiting, and we sensibly indulged in a Nana nap in the afternoon.

Back to Wellington we drove at 11.30pm, lined up in the queue at the booking office.  Here we were given our boarding pass and various large coloured tags to display on the dashboard.  I thought the “old folks label” was very apt!  We also had to fill in a declaration for Gemma – she was taking her journey inside the caravan. 


Our various tags



For a treat, we had decided to book into the Premium Lounge, a first for us.  A little pricey, but very comfy indeed, and no children allowed. As it turned out there were only about ten of us in the lounge, but we were told that sometimes it is at full capacity, so it made for a nice quiet sailing, as we all tried to get a little shut-eye as  the trip continued.  As we arrived we were presented with a glass of orange juice.  It was  breakfast service  on this trip, so we enjoyed bacon, eggs, and other delights from the self service counter.  Pastries were available, hot tea and coffee, and a trolley of sushi was on offer later in the evening, or should I say, very early morning.  It certainly was a nice experience, and I would like to sample it again during a day time sailing.


Breakfast at 2.00am

The ferry arrived in Picton at 5.30am, the break of dawn, and we were soon off and away to Koromiko.  We were so pleased that this camp had a policy of “arrive anytime, settle in, then make payment by direct debit”.  So we did,  settled down and climbed into bed for a couple of hours, catching up on that missing sleep.  It had been a very  long day and night!