Monday, 6 August 2012

Time Off (Part Two)

In my last post I promised to tell you more of our adventures over the past few weeks.

One evening OH and myself went to explore Knowlton Church and Earthworks. This is situated near Verwood, a short drive from our home in Bournemouth. It is a ruined medieval church built within a Neolithic henge. People have been using this site for worship for over 2500 years.

It was a beautiful, warm summer evening and I stood on top of the henge and watched the swallows darting about and the butterflies feasting on the wildflowers that grow all around it. It is a magical place with a unique atmosphere. They still hold regular church services here, weather permitting and the sense of continuity and connection with past generations is very strong. A magical place!

Our next adventure was a long weekend in Bath. We both love Bath and when we lived in Exeter we used to visit often for the day. We decided to go for a longer stay as there is so much to do there. As this was to be our only holiday this year we splashed out and picked a good quality hotel. It is very difficult to find cheap accommodation in Bath. Apparently hotels there are more expensive than central London. I found the Ayrlington online and I was impressed by the glowing reviews. To my relief the hotel more than lived up to its reviews. Our room was large, beautifully furnished and spotlessly clean. I would highly recommend it. Also, if you like cats this is the place for you. The owner has three, two of which roam freely around the building lapping up attention from the guests.

It is a short level walk from the Arlington over Pultney Bridge to the centre of Bath

We went to the Herschell Museum and I thought it was one of the most interesting museums I have ever visited. The small Georgian house contains the telescope Willam Herschell used to discover Uranus in 1782 and two of Saturn's moons. He was also the first person to discover the existence of infra red radiation. As a gifted musician he composed 24 symphonies during his lifetime. His sister Caroline was his assistant and made important astronomical discoveries of her own including eight comets and eleven nebulae. She was honoured by the the Royal Astronomical Society. Remarkable achievements at a time when women were universally considered to be of inferior intellect to men and rarely received a good education, by our modern standards!

A statue of William Herschell and his sister Caroline in the Museum garden

Everywhere you go in Bath you see can see evidence of its elegant Regency past -

I also had time to visit the Fashion Museum and of course a bead shop (Bijoux Beads), a yarn shop (Wool) and a quilting shop (Country Threads).

 The final part of our adventures will feature in my next post.

Sunday, 5 August 2012

Time Off (Part One)

Yet again I have to apologise for the delay in posting but I have had a few well earned weeks off from work. The past year has been difficult, as last September my job changed dramatically with very little warning. I suddenly found myself with twice the workload in an unfamiliar area. The past 12 months has been a very steep learning curve. Just before I went on leave I had my annual appraisal meeting with my line manager. This allowed me to reflect on things. I wouldn't have been able to get through the last 12 months without the support of my colleagues, friends and of course OH!

I haven't been idle during my time off. The first few days was spent at home catching up with a few things and trying to relax. One of my goals was to finish a quilt. I made the quilt top several years ago. It was based on a pattern by Kaffe Fassett - Mossy Radiation from 'Quilt Road'.

The 'Mossy Radiation' quilt designed by Kaffe Fassett
We needed a summer weight quilt for our bed, so I raided my modest fabric stash. The triangles are strip-pieced so it was a good opportunity to use up all of my scraps. I decided to use blues, greens and pinks. I spent a happy two weeks sewing the centre of my quilt and then I suddenly lost confidence in what I was trying achieve. Also, at 80 inches square it is the biggest quilt I have ever made. I had decided to machine quilt it to make it more robust and the thought of trying to maipulate such a huge quilt on my machine daunted me. Disheartened, I folded up the unfinished top and put it away.

Three weeks ago, while sorting through some things in our spare room I came across the quilt top. I laid it out on the floor in our living room and had a really hard look at it. Coming to it afresh I realised that it was actually quite attractive. I just needed to add the final two borders and then quilt it.

I took a deep breath and set up my sewing machine. Two weeks later I am very proud of the result.

We have been sleeping under it for the past few nights and I am very pleased with it. Basting it on a small dining table was a challenge. I also found that quilting it on my sewing machine was not as difficult as I had envisaged. I took my time and did it a section at a time, starting at the centre. I used a blended batting - 80% cotton and 20% polyester by 'Warm and Natural'.  I normally use 100% cotton wadding, but as this is going to be a 'working' quilt rather than just decorative, I chose the blended version so that I could wash it more easily and the lines of quilting could be up to 6 inches apart.

This is my ninth quilt (I have given four away to friends and family) and my favourite so far. I am already planning my next quilt but this time I will be making a smaller lap quilt!

More about my adventures over the last two weeks in my next post.