I don’t know what possessed me to leave my “good” camera out of my hand luggage and take a sewing project instead. I did not touch the sewing and regretted not having a camera around my neck in a really photographic city. The kids and I flew from Norwich via Schipol then called for an Uber taxi to take us to an apartment in the Bairro Alto (high town) area of Lisbon. The streets were narrow, cobbled and on steep hills. We settled in for the afternoon on our little patio-balcony after a visit to the mini-mercado for ripe peaches and beer.
The week was spent wandering the streets of Lisbon and I reckon my legs were far stronger by the end of the week. It was hot but not sticky and I always wore my hat. There was so much to do but we only did a fraction of it. It would have been easy to have spent the entire time in museums, finding out about Portugal’s history of exploration and colonisation. One evening we went to a lovely, old cinema to watch a strange French film with Portuguese subtitles which would have been difficult enough without a surreal plot.
The city was mostly rebuilt after a huge earthquake in 1755 and the neo-classical buildings were all crammed in, some now painted and many covered in a facade of tiles. I have never been in a city where there was so much graffiti but nobody seemed to be bothered by it and it certainly added character. The city felt multi-cultural and welcoming, teeming with tourists.
We did not rush around and used fun local transport such as the tram for a leisurely city tour, a funicular tram down a steep slope, a train to get out to the impressive contemporary Art Gallery, and even an electric Tuk-Tuk.
We had Tapas snacks a couple of times and bony sardines at a family street-side cafe but mostly we enjoyed the fresh fruit and veg. There were many shops full of tourist-tat and handicrafts but with hand-luggage only we had to be careful. I was interested to see so many bags made from cork fabric and I liked the fabric sardines that hung from balconies. The girls each bought an up-cycled lamp from the Thieves Market, a huge Saturday market selling everything from ceramics, Catholic icons, half-used bottles of perfume, old shoes, to gas stoves and table-cloths.
It was a really nice week spent exploring Lisbon, not being in any hurry, people-watching, enjoying the balcony and drinking cheap wine. I left a day before the kids to get back to Norwich where I had left my car full of camping gear and everything necessary for the next phase of my Summer Tour, Festival of Quilts in Birmingham!
With 3 days to do packing for my mega-trip I avoided packing altogether and decided to do a little light pruning. I have an enormous Cotoneaster bush outside my workshop that has grown to the size of a really large tree. It was arching over so much that everyone had to duck to get past it. The last straw was when some of its branches got tangled up in my hair and snatched the specs off my head. I only meant to snip a few twigs but 3 hours and a blister later, I had cut down so much that I was trapped behind a huge mound of vegetation and had to get my kids to help clear it all away.
I did eventually gather all of the stuff together for my trip and managed to fit all of it into the back of the Landy. I prefer to travel light if I am going away on my own but I had to include camping gear, deckchairs, a gas stove, teaching materials for Birmingham and a month’s worth of clothes for all occasions. The kids also had to pack stuff such as sleeping bags, funky outfits for a music festival and various vintage cameras. Even Bumble had luggage as she was going to spend the holiday firstly with a friend of Nella then later will go and stay with Mo. Typically, Fergus did not pack his gear until the last minute which was intensely irritating and I had to go and calm down by doing some easy-piecing.
We left on time at 8.00am on Thursday morning, drove 5 miles before we realised that nobody had loaded up the guitar so we turned around to fetch it. We completed the entire 540 mile trip in 10.5 hours, only making 2 brief stops which I would say is impressive for a noisy, old Landrover Defender!
We spent our first day in East Anglia mooching around in Beccles where we were disappointed to find that our favourite vintage junkyard was closed for the day. However, it was nice to buy some fresh, local tomatoes and I found a great second-hand rainbow raffia hat that will do nicely for Latitude. We may have overdosed on Vintage after a lengthy foray into Bungay and a fruitless trip to the old convent near Ditchingham where the goods really were just junk on this occasion.
After a busy few days everyone was ready to settle down, read, make dreamcatchers and just laze about in cloudy weather that is at least a bit warmer than Aberdeenshire. The days are not action-packed and time just slides by without actually doing anything. I have a couple of hand stitching projects with me but I will be surprised if I actually get around to doing them;)
Life is not always a beach so it is good to have an interest such as patchwork and quilting that offers an escape from worry. We had our first Eating Disorder appointment which did not wave a magic wand but at least got my daughter accepting one tiny meal of vegetables per day. This is a small step in the right direction, mainly due to the threat that she will not be able to go to Latitude if she is not fit enough.
I took Bumble to the vet because one of her mammary tumours had opened up. She is not actually unwell but we were told that she had half a dozen tumours, some of which could be surgically removed but that they would come straight back. I decided that my beloved 12 year old dog would not be put through any further operations and just asked for antibiotics for the wound instead. I am sad that Bumble can’t come on holiday with us but I can’t leave her with my folks for too long and I would have to go back to Norfolk from Birmingham to collect her so I just have to hope that she is OK staying with friends for almost 3 weeks.
One of my friends had a nasty road accident – she was badly shaken, bruised and her car was a wreck. I gave her a couple of lifts in Fergus’ little car which was making an alarming squeaky noise like a constipated hen. Hopefully it is just a dirty brake and won’t be another expensive fix.
The last customer quilt before the summer holidays begin was a cream quilt for a Golden Wedding present. It was quilted with a Qmatic pattern then I had to attach a row of slippery bridal lace. I made a thin strip of folded bias to hide the raw edges then sewed it down with a decorative blanket stitch.
A delivery van dropped off a package that I had forgotten about which was a Bernina eyelet kit. I spent a morning fiddling with settings and thread and was impressed at how well it performed. My plan is to make eyelets then layer them over silver lame fabric so they look like Indian mirrors to add to my rainbow Warli quilt.
Another parcel contained my new Bernina style trolley-rucksack. I have designed a name badge so it looks like one of the bags that I coveted at BU and I need to find someone to embroider it for me.
I decided that I needed a therapeutic “just because” patchwork project so I cut up the Christa Watson layer cake that I won as a door prize in her class. One of her patterns , “Positivity”, called for neutral greys in the background but I swapped that part for plain coloured fabrics from my stash. I really enjoyed some mindless patchwork where all I had to do was simple chain-piecing. I can just pick up around 5 blocks at a time and allow my brain to switch off.
This week we will be working through my pre-holiday/packing lists and hoping that everything just ticks along without any drama.