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

Wednesday, November 29, 2023

Things to do, People to see

We had a busy old day yesterday, left home early and headed for Palmerston North.  But first, we had a stop at the asparagus farm.  This tasty vegetable usually finishes growing by Christmas, only a few weeks away now, so we have to purchase it while we can.  I bought two bundles, one for us, and the other for my daughter, Nicky.  We were to catch up with her later in the day.


Lewis Farms

Our first stop in Palmerston North was to the walk in Vaccination Clinic to get a Covid booster shot.  Oh no, they were closed in the beginning of each week, how unfortunate.  We weren't the only people peering in the door, there was another couple there too with the same aim as us. 

I needed to go to the opticians Spec Savers, as I had broken the arm on my reading glasses.  That wasn’t as easy as I thought either, as the frame couldn’t be repaired.  As these glasses were several years old and spent their life hanging around my neck on a cord and being put on and off  I decided they had served me well and ordered new ones.  These will be ready in a week or two, so we will need another trip back to collect them. 

Another couple of jobs crossed off the list, and then we drove through to Feilding to meet up with my daughter.  We had lunch in the local café, and would catch up with Nicky at her work place soon after.  My lunch was nice, it was a cold wet day so I ordered soup, and a little something to follow, very tasty indeed.


Soup for lunch

Granddaughter Megan was close by in her work truck, so popped into the café for a catch up.  She is a very happy bubbly girl, enjoys her job, her horses and dotes on her corgi Gracie.  We will be seeing her again soon at Christmas.


Megan with her Nana

Then we called into my daughter Nicky’s workplace.  She had my birthday gift from last month which couldn’t be posted down to me.  I gave her a bunch of asparagus, and she presented me with my gift, how exciting.


Me with Nicky

With that done, we left her to continue with her work day and drove home through the rain.   I had my sock knitting with me so did a few rows as we drove along.   The weather wasn't very nice at all, and believe it or not, Summer starts in a few days!

Now, what was in that parcel?  Some lovely goodies indeed.  A jar of my favourite baby red peppers stuffed with cheese, so delicious and Robin doesn't care for them at all, which suits me fine!  There was a bottle of Nicky’s home made elderflower cordial, I love that in the Summer.  And some chocolates too.  I was certainly spoilt.


Birthday goodies

Saturday, November 25, 2023

Another Trip Away

Pre Christmas is such a busy time, isn't it.  We had another caravan trip planned, about 8 days this time, to attend the ICA Christmas Rally, up at Te Aroha and Matamata, quite a drive away for us.  Most of the ICA members live much further north than us, so depending on where the rally is being held, we generally have the longest drive.  Our first stop was at Turangi, a well known fishing area.  There was a tap  on the door, and a lady asked us if we would be interested in a trout fillet.  My goodness, of course we would, and she didn't want any payment for it either.  (I have since found out from another fisherwoman that it is illegal to sell trout in New Zealand – I didn’t know that).  They had obviously had a good day out fishing as we saw her take fish to several other vans as well.  Our dinner that night was already underway, so I carefully wrapped it up and popped it in the freezer to enjoy another night.


Free fish at Turangi

We passed  through Tatuanui, and just had to stop here for a photo.  One of the small silos was masquerading as a can of Dairy Whip Cream outside the Tatua Dairy factory.  Very clever indeed.


Cream, anyone?

The next two nights were spent at Te Aroha (meaning love or affection) and we were one of two caravans amongst 20 or so motorhomes.  It was great to catch up with everyone again – this group only has 3-4 rallies each year.  We were parked up on a freedom camping area, and just about filled it all up with our group. 


Parked up at Te Aroha

We were parked next to a sports ground, used by many locals to exercise their dogs.  We made sure to keep Gemma safely inside away from all the dogs.


Any dogs out there?

I was delighted to discover a quilt shop in Te Aroha.  “Want to have a look?”, Robin inquired as he parked the car outside the shop.  What a silly question, of course I did.  Aroha Quilts was a lovely shop, with a wonderful supply of quilt goodies.  I wasn’t really after anything in particular, but after a good look around, I purchased some more  pink and green fabric for my daughter’s Big Birthday quilt.  This is yet to be started, but I have a good selection of fabrics now.  Also spotted was sock yarn, so two balls of variegated blue was purchased too.


Te Aroha Quilts, and my purchases

Back at the rally, we were sitting outside enjoying the sunshine when a man from one of the nearby houses approached us with a basket of goodies.  His wife makes jams and pickles so he wondered if our group of campers  would be interested.  Yes, I certainly was, I bought a jar of lemon honey and another of passionfruit spread. 


Yummy stuff indeed

Moving on the next day we stopped at Wairere Falls carpark, plenty of room for us to park for lunch.  There were plenty of cars parked up in the middle car park, full of keen walkers and trampers off the climb the tracks to see the Wairere Falls up close.  We took the easy way out and took a photo instead of these magnificent falls, they must be  even more beautiful after heavy rainfall in the ranges.


Wairere Falls in the distance

Even though we are on holiday, the laundry still needs doing.  I took my latest pair of socks (knitted flat on two needles is the way I do them) along to work on while waiting, and waiting….


At the laundromat

Our next stop was two nights at the Matamata Club.  The Maori name Matamata means “headland”.  This was the name of a new pa (village) established in 1830 by Te Waharoa on a ridge of high ground.  These days Matamata is a very wealthy horse breeding town, and is also well known as the area where Hobbiton is situated.  In fact, the Information Centre is a replica Hobbiton House, and is the most photographed info centre in the country.  Tours to Hobbiton are very popular, this is where the Hobbit’s Village was built for the Lord of the Rings Trilogy.


Matamata Information Centre

The catered meal at the Matamata Club was the grand finale to our rally.  Father Christmas and his helpers welcomed us all into the dining room and gave us all a Christmas gift bag.


The meal was wonderful, hot ham, roast lamb, plenty of salads and veggies, plus a huge dish of prawns in a very tasty sauce, I really enjoyed them! A delicious selection of desserts too, with tea and coffee to follow.  But the meal wasn’t over yet, there was the Christmas cake to cut.  The cake was delicious, chock full of fruit, just how I like it.


Merry Christmas to us

It was a wonderful evening, the food was great, and we congratulated the chef and his staff when they popped out to see us all.

Wednesday, November 15, 2023

Pink and Purple Unicorns

I have another finish to show, and no, I haven't whipped this up after returning home last week from our Anniversary trip.  This was completed a week or so earlier.  It all started with a unicorn panel looking for a new home  from Sew Wot buddy Helen’s stash.  Gemma thought those unicorns were well worth checking out.


Unicorn panel

So I cut the panels apart, sashed them with different fabrics from my stash, assembled the blocks and added a purple border.  Then one sunny day I pinned the three layers together on the patio table outside.


Next step, all pinned up

There the project stayed for a while, all folded up in the sewing room.  Finally, I decided, just get this project quilted, using my favourite serpentine stitch.


Quilting time

After each quilting session, Gemma liked to cuddle up on the WIP and keep it safe for me.


Keeping it safe

With the quilting finished, I enjoyed sitting and hand stitching the binding down, always my favourite part of the process.  And here it is at last, all finished.  I’m very pleased how it turned out and it will probably be a donation quilt, I’m sure a young girl will love it.  But perhaps I’ll just keep it to enjoy for a while before passing it on.


Dream like a Unicorn

Saturday, November 11, 2023

RSC - A finished Top

Finally, a finished top for the Rainbow Scrap Challenge.  These  batik cobblestone blocks were started in January 2021.  Originally I had planned another project,  only that it  didn't go ahead, so I started making Cobblestone blocks each month instead.  They had been tucked away for a while, and after I found them again last month, made some more blocks to give me the required number for a large quilt.

I had shown these blocks to my daughter and grand-daughters earlier but they all declared they didn't care for them.  Never mind, I was originally making it for myself, so I’ll keep it. 


The final cobblestone blocks.

Laying the blocks out on our bed, I arranged and rearranged them, until I was happy.  But are you ever happy?  I’m sure I could have spent a lot more time moving this one and that one.  Since I’ve discovered webbing, and I was very late in discovering this method, it is  so much easier to assemble the blocks.

With lots of batik bits and pieces of fabric hanging about, I sliced and diced and made some scrappy binding.  Making binding is always a good thing to do at this stage, I find.  Put away in my binding basket, I know it’s done, and where to find it.


Scrappy binding all made

The colours in this quilt is quite different from what I usually choose for myself, featuring teal blue, purple, various shades of cream, dark blue, a little green  and pink.  But batiks, in my mind, all seem to go together nicely.   I’m sure that most of these fabrics were purchased from Milton, of Wright’s Fabrics, Morrinsville.


Beautiful batiks

This bed quilt is much too large for me to deal with , so Ill be taking it to my commercial quilter Deborah soon, for her to work her magic on it. 

Friday, November 10, 2023

Anniversary Trip, shopping and knitting

Our Anniversary Trip was winding down.  But I did have time for a little shopping therapy.  Not much really, I was after some cream  wide backing for a project nearing completion, and while there picked up two half yard cuts of pink and green fabric for my daughter’s upcoming big birthday quilt. Nicky doesn't like “bright – in your face” types of colours so I found a couple of muted shades for her.


Holiday fabric purchases

You know you have arrived in Rotorua when that “rotten egg sulphur smell” hits your nose.  Not all the time, just here and there to catch you off guard.  Rotorua is known for the smell, thermal activity, Maori entertainment, plenty of activities and dining places, hot pools and lakes.  Believe it or not, there are 18 lakes dotted around the area, with Lake Rotorua on the doorstep.

Our last full day in Rotorua turned out to be a bit of a fizzer, so we had to go with Plan B.  Originally, we had planned to visit the Buried Village, a place we had enjoyed 40 years ago on our honeymoon trip.  However, when we arrived at the gates, we discovered that this attraction was closed in the beginning of the week.  Such a shame – it tells the story of Mount Tarawera erupting in 1886.  Over four frightening hours, rocks, ash and mud rained down on the Maori village of Te Wairoa, covering the village with two metres of thick volcanic material.  The eruption also destroyed the famous Pink and White Terraces.  Hopefully, we can visit here on a future trip to Rotorua.


We’ll try again next time

Our Plan B was to visit a few more of the lakes in Rotorua.  The Blue Lake and the Green Lake are side by side, separated by a small isthmus, which had a very convenient lookout spot.  The Blue Lake, Tikitapu, is named as the place where the daughter of a chief lost her sacred greenstone neck ornament.  The lake water appears turquoise blue when seen from above due to the reflection of white rhyolite and pumice on the lake bottom.


The Blue Lake, Tikitapu

The Green Lake, Rotokakahi, is named after the shellfish, kakahi, and appears to be emerald green when seen from above, due to its shallow, sandy bottom.  Privately owned by the local Iwi, this lake is sacred, and no swimming, boating or fishing is allowed.


The Green Lake, Rotokakahi

There was one more lake further up the road to visit, Lake Tarawera.  You can just make out the flat topped mountain in the background.  That is Mt Tarawera which blew it’s top back in 1886 and caused such devastation.  The lake was calm, and boat rides are available across the lake in the weekends.


Lake Tarawera

We headed back into town to find somewhere for lunch.  Our original plan was to eat at the Buried Village Café, but that didn't happen as the whole complex was closed.  Never mind, we found an alternative and enjoyed a burger for him and rosti and smoked salmon for her. 


Cafe lunch

And it wouldn't be a holiday if we didn't get the laundry up to date.  Round and round and round it went.  I must admit that this is the first laundromat we have been to on our travels where we were the only customers, usually these places are full of customers.


It’s that time again

The only hand work I had taken away with me to do was my navy cardigan/jacket.  I picked up the stitches around the neck to make the shawl collar, using those new fangled to me circular needles.  Thinking I knew better, I didn’t count the stitches as I picked them up  and then knitted several rows before deciding to check.  Oh dear, much too many stitches!  So they got unraveled and I started again. 


Knitting the collar

We spent our two week honeymoon here in Rotorua way back in 1983 at what was known as Post Office Cottages, in reality, a block of single story flats.  Robin worked at the Post Office at the time and this holiday accommodation was available to staff members at a very reasonable price.  He could remember what street they were in, but after driving up and down, we just couldn't find them.  Mind you, the flats weren't new 40 years ago, so we imagine they had been demolished and something else built on the site.  Never mind, it was worth a try.

Our Anniversary Trip is over, and we had a wonderful time.  It was an easy trip home, spreading it over a couple of days.  Robin’s knee behaved really well, we weren't quite sure how he would cope with all that driving on the long trip.  The weather was quite mixed, there were a few nice days, but we certainly had our share of wind and rain. Gemma seemed to enjoy her time away too.    The campers next to us saw we had a Birman and were very keen to see her.  They had four Birmans at home!


Gemma in the caravan

Tuesday, November 7, 2023

Our Big Day

Sunday arrived, our 40th Anniversary.  After breakfast, we drove out to one of the things on our “must do” list, the Redwoods Treewalk.  Driving into the carpark, we noticed walkways in the trees above criss crossing overhead.  Tickets purchased, we were given a briefing about allowable numbers on the walkways and platforms, and don't touch the trees as it can harm the bark, we were on our way up the spiral walkway.


The start of the walk

We weren't sure how we would both manage up in the tree tops, but it was very easy walking indeed.  The platforms had seating if needed, but I was unaware that the walkways were in fact swing bridges!   All very sturdy, and no problem really.  With 28 bridges and 27 platforms we slowly made our way around the redwoods, stopping to read the information boards at the platforms.  There were plenty of people down on the forest floor on  the walking tracks, and the forest is free entry for recreational users.


The bridges, and looking down onto the undergrowth

The walkway is suspended from the trees using a specially designed sling, which carefully wraps around the trunks without causing any harm.  The slings can be easily adjusted to allow for the growing trees.  Another feature of the forest is the Nightlights Walk and we spotted several of the lanterns on our walk which are illuminated in the evenings. The redwoods and other exotic species were planted in 1901 as an experiment to see if they would be suitable as a timber crop, to save our native forests from being milled.  But the trees grew too fast here in NZ conditions and the timber was too soft for commercial use.  A friendly couple took our photo standing in front of the tallest tree on the walk, 246ft high, and 7ft in girth.


High up in the tree tops

For all you Royal lovers out there, we came cross an info board telling of the visit of Harry and Megan to this attraction in October 2018.  By all accounts, Harry was most impressed. 


Royal visit 2018

The walk was very enjoyable and I’m pleased we finally achieved it.  Back to the van for a rest, then it as time to get into our glad rags and head out to for a ride on the Skyline Gondola, which started operations in 1985.  The ride was silent as we glided upwards, with great views of Rotorua spread out below. 


Up we go

Our Anniversary Dinner was at the Stratosfare Restaurant at the top of the gondola, and what a great place it was.  There was a queue of people ahead of us, and we were soon welcomed into the restaurant and taken to our window table, by a very attentive staff member.  With a glass of bubbly to hand, we then checked out the extensive buffet. The restaurant was quite full, and had a lively atmosphere as people chatted at their tables, gazed out the large windows, or selected their food from the buffet.


Fine dining indeed

The food was wonderful, we must say.  With plenty of overseas visitors to cater for there were many Asian dishes on offer, as well.  I tried a selection of Asian cuisine as my starter,  very tasty indeed to try something new to me and quite different.


There were plenty of choices for the main course, and as expected, a wonderful selection  of desserts too, including my favourite, crème caramel.


Many delicious dessert choices

Just as we had finished a cup of coffee each, and nibbled on some cheese and crackers, our waitress appeared carrying a tray which she presented to us.  On the tray were some extra dessert goodies, Happy Anniversary written in chocolate, and a card signed by the staff.  Guess we had mentioned our special occasion, and we were overwhelmed with the thoughtfulness of the management for doing this for us.


Such a lovely thought

After such a wonderful meal, we hopped on one of the gondola cars for our downward journey, and drove 5kms or so back to camp.  It had indeed been a wonderful evening.

Not so for poor Gemma, she  was quite agitated with the noise of  fireworks outside.  Our anniversary date is 5th November, Guy Fawkes night, the time for lighting bonfires and letting off noisy crackers.  She settled down once we returned, thank goodness.  There have been calls to ban fireworks altogether here, because of injuries and fires, and the noise upset animals, with farm animals frightened and often running into fences and injuring  themselves.