Monthly Archives: July 2013

Roadtrip to Bath and WOMAD



An early start was necessary for an epic 12-hour road trip to Bath and WOMAD.  Plenty of sweets and stops helped to pass the time and on the way we delivered the rather large packages containing the totems and coracle to the concierge at the Crowne Plaza, NEC ready for the FOQ judging. After Birmingham we left the monotony of the motorway and travelled across country to Bath on The Fosse Way, an ancient Roman road. The weather was perfect and the scenery was beautiful.

We spent two lovely days in Bath, exploring, wandering and revisiting my old student haunts. The city was familiar yet there were some new areas near the bus station that had been totally transformed. It was fun to rediscover cafes and shops that had not changed at all since I left 21 years ago. I drove the Landy up and down the hilly streets pointing out landmarks and pubs and was I unable to resist driving 4 laps around the Royal Circus. We stayed in a super Edwardian terraced house in Odd Down, travelling into the city by bus. We took an open-top-bus tourist trip to experience the best views, frequently ducking to avoid overhanging tree branches. The Roman Baths were impressive and far less busy by torchlight in the evening; the children even found the Fashion Museum fairly interesting. I felt quite nostalgic and enjoyed listening to the soft West Country burr again. I have decided that “Lush” should become my favourite term of appreciation.

womad yurt

The WOMAD festival was only about 12 miles up the road at Charlton Park near Malmesbury. We queued for ages in the hot sun before we were able to get into the festival and check-in to our hired yurt. The yurt was a different design to the one we have at home since it had a much higher roof pitch. It was quite a haul to shift our large quantity of camping equipment but we made good use of it all. Our neighbours were impressed to see us making pancakes and drinking fresh coffee each morning for breakfast. The fairy lights and bunting stamped our mark on it. I was glad that I had packed so many blankets since the temperature cooled down considerably at night.


WOMAD was a great introduction to a British summer festival. It was very family friendly and there were all sorts of people there from hippies and oldies to posh people and students. Many people wore wacky festival outfits, mad hats, body paint and henna tattoos. If they had not remembered to pack any of these then these could all be purchased from a diverse range of stall holders or the huge Oxfam sales tent.

There was a terrific selection of exotic food on sale but we did most of our own catering since it would have been too expensive to eat out for every meal. The children could attend as many music or art workshops as they wanted or learn circus tricks. There were uni-cyclists, healers, chai tea shops, sari sellers, a steam funfair and in between we helped out a little in Mo and Willow’s fabulous felt stall.

The weather was glorious most of the time but after a heavy thunderstorm the parched field turned muddy. The chemical loos were rather stinky but we did have good showers to make up for that. However, after spending all day outside in the sun and wind I ended up with rosy cheeky and wild looking hair. hippy


There were many wonderful musicians from all over the world but the unlikely stars of the festival must have been “The Malawi Mouse Boys”. Everyone was touched by the story of some very modest guys from a tiny rural village in Africa who caught and roasted mice-on-sticks snacks to make their living. They were discovered by chance by an American music producer who insisted that they made a record. WOMAD was only their third ever performance for an audience and they had never even used stage equipment before.


It was a totally “different” type of family holiday but we agreed that it would be fun to do it again another year so we made a list of the stuff that we would add to our essential equipment list – a wheelbarrow would be very useful to cart around deckchairs, wine, sunhats, wellies and tomato ketchup!







We have been enjoying a Scottish heatwave which is wonderful but it has been difficult to get anything done. I wondered what I had spent my week doing as I had wound down so much that I even felt it necessary to order a hammock, although goodness knows when I will have time to lie in it…

The dogs enjoyed long walks and splashes in the unusually low river and we had BBQ’s most evenings, despite the ravages of thousands of tiny midges. I took the children on a couple of trips including a super afternoon at  Craigievar Castle. We had an exclusive tour with a delightfully ancient tour-guide and felt glad that we do not live in a 7 storey tower-house with narrow spiral stairs and no decent bathroom.

I spent time organising camping gear for our trip to WOMAD via Bath and made sure that we all had sleeping mats, mugs, plates and other useful equipment. I am beginning to hanker after a cheap caravan because at least most of the equipment could stay stowed away ready to go. Although, I don’t suppose many people try to pack cafetieres, bottles of gin and guitars for a family holiday.

womad exped

 I turned a large length of tartan flannel into a huge protective sack for the coracle and securely lashed it onto the Landy roof along with the boxes containing the totems. It was after all that was accomplished that I remembered that all of the FOQ labels are meant to be covered with a flap of fabric to hide the maker’s details during judging. All I can say is that I am NOT unpacking them now to rectify that snag and besides, even with a hidden label it would be fairly obvious who had created my pieces.

I confess that I am no further on with any Ebook projects but in my defence, I answered  lengthy interview questions for Generation Q Magazine and I spent a long time trying to get my disorganised files and photos in order on my Macbook. I always think that a tidy desk(top) will lead to feeling motivated to do some serious work.


As if I did not feel that I had enough to do already, I worked on a customer quilt on which I was asked to keep the quilting motifs understated. It may not be my preferred style of quilting but it does look simple and classic.

Instead of allowing Fenella to spend £10 on a giant plastic windmill to demarcate our hired yurt at WOMAD, I chose to spend an afternoon making bunting to hang outside. Not just rough cut party bunting, mind you; proper double-sided hemmed stuff using vintage fabrics. I may have got slightly carried away – I reckon it will just about reach all of the way around the 16ft yurt even though a short string of 10 flags would have been quite sufficient!



Honeysuckle and Prawns


chips  honeysuckle

The summer holidays got off to a good start with a week of unusually lovely weather. It has probably been 10 years since we had such heat at the end of the school term.  After a day of longarm tuition on Monday I took the kids and their friends to the beach at Stonehaven for ice-cream, paddling and chips. It became really sultry so I gave my spaniel, Wellington, a haircut because he was not losing his shaggy winter coat and he looked like a very hot bear. I got so warm doing that job that I even felt it necessary to cut my jeans off at the knees. In the evening the smell of honeysuckle was divine and we sat out on the old sofa until the midges started biting.

On Wednesday I dragged them along to the farmers’ market at Platform 22 in Torphins where we bought fresh langoustines and herring to cook on my bucket BBQ. My ulterior motive was that I could also enjoy a delicious Arabic coffee in the cafe.


Thursday was not such fun as I had to go into school to help prepare my classroom for next term. There was quite a bit of rubbish to clear out, chewed pencils to sort and walls to cover with frieze paper. It was not just small sections of noticeboard that had to be covered – the walls are entirely made from pinboard and all of the existing paper was damaged. We did not manage to finish the job and we did not have time to discuss the curriculum so unfortunately, I will have to go in for at least one other day.

The travellers returned from Rome having enjoyed two spectacular rock concerts and a lot of hard-core sightseeing. They animatedly described their gelati, pizzas and adventures before giving me some limocello liqueur in a little bottle shaped like a temple column.

I put Freya to good use in my workshop and she helped me to package the coracle and totems in huge lengths of bubble-wrap. It was a challenge working out how to sew on the labels for the Festival of Quilts so I used my initiative – laminating them and attaching them with safety pins instead.

FOQ parcels

I was reminded that I have not updated my website in almost 3 years so I wondered whether to make the changes by adding extra pages to my Wordpess blog and then perhaps decide later whether it is worth keeping the paid website. I rejuvenated an old Flickr photo account to make a gallery so now I will have to spend time adding a selection of at least 6 years worth of photos. While I was in the mood for messing about on the computer, I updated a Powerpoint presentation to include slides of the USA Yurt for FOQ. This involved hunting high and low for digital pictures that I thought were lost and then checking that all of the fonts matched neatly.


I was feeling very frustrated with the computerised attachment that I had bought my longarm machine so that I could do more basic customer quilts. I just could not get it to co-operate with me. In the end my husband checked all of the connections and discovered that one of the cables had worked itself a tiny bit loose. I practised setting patterns into blocks then started on a simple quilt that was perfect for that type of minimal quilting. It  also needed additional stitch-in-the-ditch quilting around each square. It is SO tricky keeping the SID lines straight as the seams tend to vary enormously. Just for fun I asked the computer to simulate this process but it was almost a quarter of an inch off course in some spots. I am not yet sure how much use I will make of the computer apart from when I am asked to keep the quilting super simple but if it just takes some of the strain out of those big repetitive customer jobs, perhaps I will be able to get more fancy freehanding done?

Summer is Here



It was both a long and a short week as we hurtled towards the summer holidays. It was so cold, miserable and like November on Tuesday night that I lit the wood-burning stove.  I completed my teaching duties for the term and was offered a temporary two day a week post at Aboyne until October. I have decided that two days in school is sufficient – no matter how nicely they plead, otherwise the quilting business does not get my full attention.

My husband was not given approval to fly to Rome following his recent eye operation so he had to book a series of trains and keep his fingers crossed that he would arrive before Freya and Sam who would fly out on Thursday. It was quite an adventure for them to travel via Schipol unaccompanied but they managed the trip admirably for their week of sightseeing and rock concerts.


I completed the machine embroidery on Dunes Duet and wondered whether it was really done. I could add tiny shells or crystals or I could just agree that it is meant to be subtle, therefore finished. Ann is taking responsibility for the blocking and binding so I should just have to check for yet more stray threads and spray paint the slightly scruffy reverse.

Fergus attended his Primary 7 leavers’ church service on Friday and we were surprised that when the sun came out it was actually hot! It seems to have been a long time since we felt summery and the fine weather held for us to host the leavers’ assembly BBQ on Saturday night. It was unusually balmy with just a few midges. We had a camp-fire with marshmallows, plenty of wine and sausages, toasting the possibility of a good holiday.


Just as I posted off a parcel containing a customer quilt, another package arrived for me which contained an amazing applique wall-hanging that I had commissioned from one of the Egyptian tent-makers at Uttoxeter.


The challenge for the coming week will be to keep two children busy while I teach a long-arming class over two days, attempt to make long overdue updates to my website and meet the teacher with whom I will share a class. I daresay we may need to do a bit of hoovering before the travellers return from Rome as I have deliberately let grass, crumbs and cat-fluff build up in their absence…