The right tools for the job

Hello there hope that you are having a nice weekend. I am despite the pouring rain! I am nice and snug and warm – have been having boiler fettling again today due to a radiator issue and a broken fan but all is well now (fingers crossed!) so I have been enjoying being inside doing a little bit of crafting. Only a little bit as most of this weekend has been taken up with work but that is ok as it has been fun stuff.

Just after Xmas I treated myself to some proper cutting tools for quilting. I had already bought a rotary cutter which is fab but now have a large A2 cutting mat and two rulers, an 18 inch long one and a 6 inch square which make life a lot easier. I have been cutting out the pieces for this project –

Bunny quilt
A cute little cot quilt

Sorry the pic is a bit pale – that is a photo of the pattern, I have had it in my file for long time and actually bought the fabric last year but I am only just getting around to it now.It is called Bunny Hugs and I got it as a freebie download from the Free Quilting website .

I am making it with a selection of lovely paisley fabrics in pink and turquoise. The pattern has lots of different sized pieces so I have come up with a nifty idea to keep check of what I am cutting out. I have made a list and as I cut each one I tick it off and label it on the reverse with a little peel off sticker.

Bunny quilt 1
My new tools and lovely fabrics!


Bunny Quilt 2
My labelling idea

It will be a while till I get chance to sew it all together as I have another packed week and then I am off to sunny Spain but I am pleased with the cutting out so far – the proper rulers make all the difference and mean I don’t risk cutting my hands!

I had a very lovely evening yesterday – we were invited to go and watch a presentation by the Project Nepal 2 team who went to do their build last Oct. You may be aware that I went to Nepal two years ago to do a similar thing – check out my pages on Project Nepal and My Time in Nepal if you want more details of my adventures.

It was lovely to meet up with old freinds – many who went out to Nepal again this trip and they had a very interesting time. It made me really nostalgic for the time I spent there, I absolutely loved it and really want to go again (just checked out prices for flights and it’s not that expensive – but can’t go for a few years yet!)

The pictures they showed of the mountains were again amazing – they went after the build in the village to stay at Pokhara in a beautiful hotel on an island – check out these views.

fishtail lodge gardens
The view from Fishtail Lodge gardens
View from Fishtail Lodge Pohkara
The view of Machapuchare - Fishtail Mountain - from Pokhara

Heaven, heaven, heaven. I think Pokhara is one of the most beautiful places on earth and I am very priviliged to have been there. A wonderful evening and it made me quite emotional.

Anyway on to other very, very exciting news! Fingers crossed and all being well I am going to teach in China later on this year! I am really thrilled as I have wanted to go out to work in China for a long time – the University runs lots of joint courses with a Polytechnic there and there are always offers of work but they have always been longer term and I have not been able to go. Well this is for just over 2 weeks and I will be going in September and hopefully then again in March 2012. We are going to be doing workshops on teaching creatively with groups of Chinese teacher trainers and using a translator as most of them don’t speak English so that will be a very interesting experience for me.

The place I will be going to is called Guangzhou and it looks incredible – it is the third largest city in China and I got some pics from Google to show you what it looks like.

guangzhou 1
The city was host to the 16th Asian games last year
guangzhou 2
guangzhou 3
I really want to go and visit this tower

Incredible isn’t it – I am very lucky! We will get about 5 days off while we are there so time for a bit of sightseeing, and there may well be textiles! I wonder what the luggage allowance is and whether I can persuade any of my colleagues to share their space with me?

I do hope you have all had a lovely week – I will not be posting next week as will not be in the country so shall update you all on my return. Am planning a black hat finish and at least one Xmas ornie completion while in Spain – just wish they would let me stitch on the plane!

Thanks again for visiting.

Nepal – one year on!

It was a year ago that I went to Nepal with Scouts to build a hostel for the school at Melamchigaun village. Full details of that can be found under the Project Nepal and My Time in Nepal links at the top of this page and there is a summary of the project on the CAN website  (including a pic of me – about halfway down taking a break from building – pink t – shirt and baseball hat!).  To celebrate the anniversary I just wanted to update you with some recent pics that we were sent from the headmaster.

Shortly after we left the building looked like this –

The hostel complete with green tin roof!
The hostel complete with green tin roof!

In the last year the villagers have completed the build and it is now fully occupied. There are 4 bedrooms for the children as well as a room for the matron.

The boys in their hostel room
The boys in their hostel room

 Although I spent most of the build sorting stones into piles and then moving those piles to the stonemasons and back to the builders (fab workout for the stomach muscles!) I did get to do some actual building – Andrew my stone team partner and I built a toilet and shower room.

The shower and toilet - behind these tiles lay my carefully laid stones and mud mortar!
The shower and toilet - behind these tiles lay my carefully laid stones and mud mortar!
The water butt and solar panels for heating the shower water
The water butt and solar panels for heating the shower water

The village have commemorated our visit with a plaque on the wall of the hostel.

The project plaque
The project plaque

I am immensely proud that I was able to be involved in the project and thanks to all those people at work and home who supported me practically, financially and emotionally to be able to do it. It was Gandhi (I think!) who said ‘ we must be the change we want to see in the world’ and I really believe that it is up to all of us to try and make a tiny bit of difference by being nice and helping others and all of that little stuff that added together can bring about bigger stuff.

I have thought a lot about the project and the people I met – both here in the Uk and in Nepal over the last year. Sometimes I can’t believe I actually was there – it was so remote and so different but in a way I felt very much at home there. It truly was a fantastic experience.

 Sadly I can’t be part of Project Nepal 2 which has just started with plans to go and build next October but hopefully I can still be involved with the charity in the future in some way. I am planning to make some more Xmas decs this year and sell them to raise funds.

I do have some very lovely reminders of my trip around the house – as I mentioned in my page about the trip the textiles there are amazing and I brought back a beautiful wall hanging made from recycled garments which hangs above my computer.

Most of the hangine is made of beaded necklines from old garments turned into the most wonderful crazy patchwork
Most of the hanging is made of beaded necklines from old garments turned into the most wonderful crazy patchwork
Detail of the wonderful goldwork in the centre of the hanging
Detail of the wonderful goldwork in the centre of the hanging

I also bought a Buddhist thanka – a religious picture which hangs in my hallway. The detail of the painting is wonderful.

The thanka painting mounted in silk brocade
The thanka painting mounted in silk brocade
Detail of the painting
Detail of the painting

 I would love to go back to Nepal one day – hopefully with the rest of the family – and take them to the village. I am so lucky to have had this amazing experience and I really hope that the Project Nepal 2 participants enjoy it as much as I did.

The next post will be the magic 100th one with the giveaway and will be all about textiles! I have been very busy just recently – have finished the Noro scarf and have started another scarf with some wonderful wool that I got from the lovely new knitting shop that I have been going to for Knit and Natter. Can’t show you pics of that as it is a pressie! Also been working on my pieces for the Creative Textiles class and have just posted my latest exchange piece to Wendy Jo in the USA. As soon as she has got the parcel I will post pics of that – it was a new finish for me and I was pleased with the way it turned out.

Bye for now.

Project Nepal Update

A couple of weeks ago I went to the official dedication of the new building that we built at the scout campsite as part of the Project Nepal experience. It was really lovely to see everyone again and I will post some further pics of the building on my Project Nepal web page. The main structure is finished but it still needs work on the interior and landscaping.

This is a pic of me next to the stone in the building that I carved my initials on. You can’t see them but they are there honest!

My bit of the wall!
My bit of the wall!

We had a lovely evening with a fab meal and talk by Doug Scott, the mountaineer who set up Community Action Nepal the charity we worked with , who showed us some of his pics of mountains. We also saw the videos that were made of both the build in the UK – over the 12 months of the project- and the build in Nepal – over the 2 weeks we were in the village. That was just brilliant to see and brought back so many memories. It was a very emotional moment. I am very glad that I was able to go given all that happened last summer and it was such an amazing experience. It was so good in so many ways – re-affirming my faith in myself and my restored health, the fact that I managed all the very hard physical work given the state of my mobility a few years ago, and just brilliant fun as well.

There is another project planned which will start later this year – I would love to be involved in some way but don’t know if I would be able to go to Nepal with them again. Lots of things are still very up in the air with job and future plans so can’t really make any definite arrangements for Oct 2010 at this point but hopefully I can help with the project anyway.

As well as the success of the project in terms of the building we did there were some lovely outcomes that no-one expected. We were saying at the evening that there definitely must have been something in the water out there in Nepal as three romances came out of the project  , two between project participants and one between one of the project members and one of the Nepalese team who looked after us out there. Kim went back to Nepal in Feb and married Bijou and she is now waiting for his visa to be sorted so he can come to the UK.

There were also two weddings, one just before and one soon after (and that couple now have a baby on the way!) I think that the reason why all of this happened is that when you are halfway round the world away from all the people you love you realise what is important in your life and what you want to hang on to. It is lovely that there was so much happiness from the project.

Things have been busy at work but my full time students have finished – they bought me some lovely presents which was very kind of them.

They know me very well and bought me some very nice wine and the most enormous glasses to drink it from.

The box with the very large glasses!
The box with the very large glasses!
The very lovely red wine
The very lovely red wine

We are away this weekend at Ashby de La Zouche Castle with the re-enactment group – I am nearly done with the packing for this and we will be there till Monday evening. Hopefully we will have some good weather as it has rained really badly most of the week here!

Hope you all have a fun Bank Holiday!

I’m back !!

Apologies for the lack of posts recently. Have been back from Nepal for a while but returned to various technical issues including lack of PC and Internet and since those have been fixed have been trying to find time to put together a summary of my trip including whittling down the 800 odd pics I took to a selection for this blog. I have finally done it so please visit the page – it will take a couple of minutes to load as there are about 50 pics on it. Unfortunately I have had to change my site theme so that you can see the link to the new page – don’t like this one as much but will work on it.

What was it like? Very much as I imagined it to be – I have read so much about the country and seen so many pics that much was as I expected. Was not expecting such lovely hotels and restaurants – a lot of it was much more sophisticated and we had swimming pools and lovely food when we were in Kathmandu and Pokhara as well as the roughing it in the village.

The work was as hard as I had expected and it was very, very hot but we coped and I am very proud of myself for being able to do this project. Two years ago I had major health problems that meant I was walking with a stick and in considerable pain so the fact that I went at all makes me very pleased. I would also like to thank my Mum and lovely children who supported me so much in wanting to make the trip. You are all fab and I really, really missed you while I was away.

Life changing experience no – don’t want life to change any more have had enough changes for a while! Life affirming yes – very much so, have come back stronger, physically and mentally and knowing that I was able to do something really special.

I will leave you with a few recent pics – one from graduation this year with my students – my last as the Foundation Course leader as I have gone part-time for this year.


 The next is my lovely kids again – this was taken on a recent night out. They are still so supportive and have been so wonderful this year.

Ellie and Jake
Ellie and Jake

 We went to a friend’s wedding reception on Sunday – congratulations to Nick and Clare from the Team Falchion re-enactment group. We had a great time and this is me and my lovely kids in our medieval costumes as it was a fancy dress event.

My lovely (and very tall!) kids
My lovely (and very tall!) kids

Promise that there will be regular updates from now on – as long as my internet does not die again!