Historic costume and historic eateries

I am writing this in the aftermath of another storm, luckily the only damage to me is some blown over bins but we have had a lot of flooding in the area both last weekend and this, which may have contributed to a very strange dream I have last night where I was asked to run a session on the link between climate change and sewing! To my knowledge I don’t think seamstresses and embroiders have any negative effect on the climate, rather we are a force for good 🙂

We had some more wonderful costumes to look at in Liverpool last week, again in the Walker Art Gallery with a small collection of Regency garments.

It is always particularly fascinating to see these as of course they would have been completely hand stitched, unlike some of the Victorian and Edwardian and are all the more impressive for that. The embroidery on the men’s jackets and waistcoats is just mind blowing, so perfectly done and so detailed.

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I also have finally realised what a polonaise is which is very useful for my Steampunk costumes. Here is an example of one, the fashion of which was revived in Victorian times.It is an overskirt which can be hitched up at the back to create the ruffled look.

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One of the styles that I love is the ‘sack back gown’, with the train at the back and I love the ruffles on this one. It is made of silk which would have been so bright as the time.

There was a small collection of underwear including stays and a shift and also some wonderful padded stockings, for men who did not have the required fashionable shapely calf to go with their breeches.

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There was also the added excitement at the art gallery of coming across some unexpected Pre-Raphelite paintings. I love these, not least for their medieval costumes and amazing attention to detail in the work, especially the backgrounds of the paintings.

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We also had some lovely meals out in historic eateries, we chose our lunch venue on Saturday from Google Maps based on the fact that it was located in an old church and it did not disappoint.

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The Alma de Cuba took over the de-consecrated church in 2005 and have very tastefully combined the original architecture with its new function as a restaurant and nightclub. I loved the fact that it was candlelit and had strings of lights in the ceiling. Many of the bars were lit in this way with fairy lights and it looks so lovely in the gloomy weather.

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We chose a little vintage style cafe Rhubarb for our very lovely brunch on Sunday , near our accommodation in Lark Lane, which has lots of really beautiful historic buildings and a wide selection of places to eat.

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We sadly did not mange the Victorian pumping house converted into a pub for lunch due to coming home early but will save that for next time.

I have finished one of the celebration projects, 19 hours sewing of lace has been completed this week, in 3 days actually which impressed even me! I had a very nice time doing that and will be able to show you the photos in a few weeks.

I am now just about to start on another dress after a very successful shopping trip to the wonderful Bombay Stores yesterday. I was very good and only spent £4 on needles, invisible thread and a metre of lovely braid but there were many yards of glorious fabric purchased by my friends for the event which is in April. There will be all sorts of lovely costume at that one as it is Middle Earth themed so I will make sure that I take lots of photos for you.

I am off to a writing retreat with work tomorrow to work on the revisions on my doctorate. Not as much fun as sewing but it will be lovely to spend time with colleagues and it is a very beautiful place. I have been twice before and am really looking forward to a few nice walks as well, weather permitting.

I will be back next weekend, hope that you all have a very good week ahead and hopefully there will be no more weird weather. Take care and thanks for visiting.

The leaving of Liverpool

We had a very lovely time this weekend, although we did leave in a bit of a hurry due to the awful stormy weather. We were looking round the Maritime Museum, ironically we had just visited the section on emigration, when the museum closed due to the bad weather so we cut short our visit.

Luckily made it back to the car in one piece as it was very blowy and made it safely home through a few bits of flooded road. I now do not have to leave the house for three days as I am working on my doctoral rewrites and some marking which I am very grateful for! It is now sleeting and very cold out so I shall hide indoors and sew 🙂

We were there primarily to visit An English Lady’s wardrobe exhibition at The Walker Art Gallery which was very good. It was an unusual exhibition in that it was the collection of one person, Emily Tinne, who was born in 1886 and died in 1966. It was also accompanied by letters that she and her family wrote and photos of them, sometimes wearing the garments.The portrait photo below shows her around the time of her wedding.

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The garments date from around the time of her marriage like this silk evening gown and a beautiful tiny waisted lawn dress with its whitework detail, to the clothes she wore as an older women after seven pregnancies. Emily did comment on how she could not believe that she had ever been so slim.

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The blouse above has the most beautiful embroidered detail on the sleeves and I love the ruffled cuffs. It is the sort of thing that I would love to try and make to go with my Steampunk outfits.The silk dress below has gorgeous embroidery and is one of a collection of her day dresses.

There was also information about the shops in Liverpool that she bought from, copies of adverts from magazines and  information about her dressmaker so a real social history of the time and fantastic detail for costume historians and sewing enthusiasts.

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There was a little display of some of the sorts of patterns that she used, the illustrations here are gorgeous so I bought a notebook and bookmark from the gift shop with some of these on.

What was lovely was that there were many things that she bought, such as some of the evening gowns, and never wore or that were not even her size or style but the family said that she probably just wanted to keep supporting shops and the salesgirls who worked on commission during the difficult years of the Depression. I think that is a fabulous reason for buying things and one that I can use as well for supporting fabric retailers.

There were also 150 hats in the collection, we were talking to one of the collection stewards and he was telling us that a group had recently visited in 1930s and 40s costume and he loved the hats and why didn’t we all wear hats more often and we both agreed. One of the lovely things about re-enactment and Steampunk is the wearing of hats and head dresses that instantly make you feel more glamorous.

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The evening dresses were, as you would expect from a 20s and 30s collection, full of the most wonderful beading and embroidery.

Emily was also a very good needlewoman and made many of her children’s clothes herself. I love the two versions of this dress with ruffles.

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The smocking on this ivory silk dress below is so skillful and tennis dresses so elegant. The little embroidered dress in white and blue at the bottom of the display is one of the ones there was a photo for, showing her daughter wearing it at the age of about three.

I have been watching some more videos on You Tube about historical costuming while I have been sewing which I will post about another time. It was fascinating to see all of the underwear as one of the vloggers has just made some combinations like the ones here. The detail of the pin tucks and lace is so gorgeous, especially as this was not going to be seen.The last photo is of a chemise that was never worn and still has the price tag on it.

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One of my favourite pieces was this velvet evening jacket on the left of the picture below. I love wearing velvet, though not sewing it, and I have a gorgeous black jacket that I have added lace to for Steampunk. I also loved this amazing georgette evening cape. I would love to have the skills be able to make something like that.

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We also saw some more Regency gowns which I will post about later and had some lovely meals out in historic properties. There is still so much to see in Liverpool so we will definitely go back and visit more of the museums next year.

I am working on a couple of secret projects for a friend’s wedding and another friend’s partnership celebrations and those are going to take priority for the next few weeks so will only be able to do a little bit of my own crafting in the evenings. I am going to focus on getting some more of the Barbie things finished for the first set of birthdays in April and early May as those and the wedding things have to be done before we go to Japan in only seven weeks!

I hope you are all having a good time and are not too storm damaged. Take care and thanks for visiting.

La Marina sunsets and other Spanish delights

Happy 2020 everyone! I know I am a little late with my greetings but have only just got back from my very lovely and much needed break in Spain. I had a horrible bug before I left which lasted well into the holiday so have spent much time coughing and feeling rough but have come back feeling much better.

It was brilliant weather all the time I was there, much warmer than usual with temperatures of 27 degrees just before Christmas so I was able to go for lots of lovely walks in the sun and had a couple of very warm beach picnics on Boxing Day and New Year’s Day. I love the fact that it looks like this in January! Look at all blues in this picture.

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We also visited the local spa a couple of times which was heaven and I spent lots of time sorting out at the house and sitting on my terrace enjoying the sun.

One of the best things about La Marina are the amazing sunsets over the mountains, I know I have mentioned them before but the sheer beauty every night never ceases to amaze me and I try and go for walks at dusk to see them.

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There are such amazing colours of purple, pink and orange in the sky as the sun sinks behind the mountains.This is one of my favourite areas to view the sunsets and I love the contrast of the cacti against the sky.

There are equally lovely sunrises over the sea but due to me getting up very late whilst on holiday I rarely see those, this picture was taken on my last morning when I had to get up early for my flight home.

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I love finding new areas to explore on my walks and last visit went over the other side of the urbanisation and found a new verde, or green area, so went there again this trip. I will go back again as I was not wearing proper shoes to enable me to explore fully but I found another one of the cultivated garden areas that people make in these wild spaces.

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This one was not so much a secret garden as it is beside the road but was still a wonderful collaboration of planting and seating areas by the owners of the neighbouring houses.There was a fir tree in the middle that had been decorated for Christmas as well which was very lovely.

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I also found a couple more areas where people had converted the verde in the middle of a block of houses into a communal pool area and they looked equally gorgeous with the back gardens of all of the houses looking onto this beautiful shared space.

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I just love wandering around looking at all the houses and gardens and getting inspiration for mine. The plants are so beautiful against the blue sky and there are oranges everywhere on the trees lining the roads. They are too bitter to eat but I have plans to make marmalade and orange relishes when I am there permanently. The bottom two pictures are from one of my favourite gardens, it looks like a mini stately home and there are terraces and gorgeous tiles everywhere.

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My own house needed some TLC as since I last visited there had been some severe storms so the rain had come in under the front door. My Mum had to treat some damp which meant the loss of a few items that had gone mouldy. I also had a water leak under the front terrace which meant that my beautiful bougainvillea had to be cut down leaving the garden looking very bare. The whole of that back wall used to be covered with flowers.

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My Mum gave me some money for Christmas and my Aunt Maureen took me to our favourite garden centre where I bought lots of new terracotta pots and pretty flowers so everything is looking much brighter now.I even have a tiny new bougainvillea.

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I also bought a cute new lizard for my wall. My neighbours who live there permanently have offered to water the plants for me so hopefully some will survive until my next visit in June.

I have already taught the first session of the year and am looking forward to this term.Things are a lot less hectic than last term as I only have about half the teaching and am on the the last stage of the doctorate so am going to be planning lots of lovely sewing and knitting which I will post about next time. I have new fabric (some I bought and some given as presents) as I treated myself to some for Steampunk outfits so am going to spend some of next weekend sorting that out and will take pictures of all the gorgeousness for you.

Meanwhile hope you are all well and happy and enjoying the first bit of the new year, although it is miserable weather again here I am very much looking forward to the next couple of months as there will be lots more crafting time. Take care and thanks for visiting.

Home from home

As you know I love camping and last week I had an extra special trip because I went away with my sister, Jacky, in her camper van to the beautiful Yorkshire Dales. I have been looking at camper van videos on Youtube constantly for the last few years as I am hoping to buy one when I retire (after learning to drive of course!) so I was very excited to be staying in one.

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The van is a custom conversion which was made for her by the previous company she bought a van from and is based on a standard van with a fitted out interior.

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There is a small seating area, with table at the entrance and then a kitchen and storage area with fitted units and a double bed across the width of the van with lots of storage underneath.It has a working sink and also has a portaloo so it was real luxury compared to being in a tent 🙂

Jacky is an experienced van owner, this being her fourth one, but she had not done a lot of camping in it since getting it in August as she had mostly used it for festivals. This was also a test of how it would work with two people and the conversion of the living area for a single bed. It was lovely to see the cushion I made for her in situ as well.

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We stayed at a beautifully located campsite, Woodend Farm , just outside the village of Austwick in the Dales.Below are the views from our pitch, we also had electric hook up so had lights and heating! Real luxury 🙂

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I can heartily recommend the site as it was very well maintained with amazing views across the valley and a little stream running through it. It would be great for kids to play in the summer as there was lots of space and being a working farm there were lots of sheep. The whole of the Dales is covered in sheep in wonderful dry stone walled fields so I felt very at home.

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It is an area I have visited before, we camped there quite a few times when the children were young but I have not been for about 15 years. The weather was brilliant, we had three days of sunshine and so were able to go for lots of walks, mainly to see waterfalls as we both love those.

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Gordale Scar was our first trip, the gorge leading up the waterfall is really beautiful with impressively large rock walls and a babbling stream which leads into a cleft in the rock where a waterfall tumbles down.

There were lots of adventurous people climbing up it, Jacky went much nearer than I did and you can see her in the middle picture. I am have not done much off road walking in the last year due to the arthritis and I didn’t want to fall.

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The views were just stunning, couldn’t believe that the weather was so good. We even stopped and had ice cream at the little refreshment van on the way out it was that lovely.

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That afternoon we went to Malham Tarn, owned by the National Trust as Marsden Moor is, and very similar in scenery to our local reservoirs. We saw a little deer there in among the trees and lots more sheep.

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The next day we went to Stainforth Force, another impressive, though lower waterfall where I did manage to slip on these rocks and fall into the shallow bit on the bank in the picture below.

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Not too injured but very wet we spent some time in a cafe at the nearby Langcliffe Park caravan site drying off and had a little wander admiring the vans and their beautiful views across the valley.

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One of my early retirement plans before buying the house in Spain was to live in a static caravan and I just love them. I may end up buying one yet, so many lovely reminders of childhood holidays and nowadays they are very luxurious.

After going back to the van and changing (one of the advantages of having your house with you!) we climbed up the hill to Catrigg Force. The path took a bit of finding and it was a steep climb but well worth it as the waterfall is located in a wonderful glade and comes crashing down from the moor above into a deep chasm. This time I stayed safely above the rocks while Jacky went exploring!

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A really brilliant break, it was lovely to spend time with my sister and we both really appreciated the time away from work. She is a primary school teacher and works very long hours in a school with lots of challenges so it was great to just unwind, go on lovely walks, sit and play cards and games in the van at night and generally enjoy life. There were some beautiful sunsets and skies and we just loved all of the gorgeous walls with their moss cladding.

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It has been a very cold and wet week here, as for most of the country, so I have spent a large majority of the time very damp as I have started doing my placement visits. Much as I enjoy this part of my job standing at freezing bus stops is not fun so I have appreciated working from home today in the warm and dry.

I am hosting a Christmas ornament making session on Sunday for the Wool and Wine group which will allow me to finish off a couple of things. Despite my best efforts I am still going to be rushing to finish everything in time, thank goodness I made some ornaments in Jan.

I hope that you have a good weekend ahead, take care and thanks for visiting.

Historic Scotland

We were staying quite a distance away from most of the National Trust for Scotland properties but did travel across to the other coast one day to visit the historic town of Culross.

We stopped for a cup of tea in a very cute little cafe and as I was looking out of the window I thought it looked familiar and I might have seen it in a film and turned round to see a signed picture from one of the stars of Outlander. I have really enjoyed this historical series, particularly looking at the costume, so I was really interested to hear about the locations that were used for the series.

The two pictures below show how the market square above was transformed for some of the scenes in one of the earlier seasons.

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Scotland Culross-Outlander 2

The whole of the town is beautiful, there are such gorgeous cottages along winding streets leading up to the hill with views across the Firth of Forth.

We also visited Culross Palace, really a manor house rather than a place with amazing painted ceilings. No pictures were allowed inside so I only have ones from other travel sites.

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Scotland Culross Palace

There was a gorgeous garden as well that goes all the way up to the hillside. There were some wonderful thistles and cardoons. The gardens were also used in the filming as they grow lots of traditional herbs there.

The most wonderful thing for me was that there is a Culross Needlework group who have been working on some gorgeous things to decorate the rooms. This picture is from the National Trust website.

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There were so many amazing examples of 17th and 18th century embroidery including sweet bags, pillows, pincushions, bed hangings and coverlets.

Sadly I have not been able to find many other pictures of their work apart from these few from the Trust website but there is an article about them here. They had also recreated one of mine and Ellen’s favourite pieces, the Layton jacket, which was in one of the bedrooms.

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With each piece there was information about the embroidery and the stitches used. It really made the place come alive and I hope it is something that the Trust encourages at other properties.

We also enjoyed a visit to Kilchurn Castle which stands in an amazing location at the end of a loch near where my friend lives. It was a gloomy and wet day when we visited but I can imaging the castle in all its glory and its location makes for some amazing photos.

We also met a lovely pair of Highland cows and had a chat to a photographer who works there taking amazing photos in all seasons.

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This is one of mine from across the loch through the rain in a very nice hotel where we had some tea and a chat to Jake all the way in Japan via the miracles of the internet.

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We ended our trip with a visit to Charles Rennie Mackintosh’s Hill House, which Ellen was particularly keen to see as they have built a box around it to preserve it from the weather. I love the Art Deco designs of Charles and Margaret Mackintosh and her wonderful artwork and embroidery.

A really excellent holiday combining all of my favourite things, camping, mountains, historic houses, needlework and of course family and friends. I will definitely be back soon!

Yarndale is taking place this weekend so hopefully Sharon and Sarah will have had a good time, I managed to make a few things for sale so I will be back in a while to post pictures of those. I am having a very relaxing and creative weekend. I was hoping to do a bit of walking but it has been so appallingly wet that I am quite content to stay in and watch the pouring rain from the comfort of my sewing room.

Hope you are all having a lovely time and are not too wet where you are, take care and thanks for visiting.

 

 

Scotland the beautiful

The holiday to Scotland seems a while away now that we are gearing up for the new term but I am planning to go back next year as well for more exploring. I have been to Scotland a few times before but not for about 14 years and the beauty of it never fails to amaze me.

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We stayed just above Loch Lomond for the first three nights in a lovely campsite which is right on the West Highland Way. There is our lovely green tent with wonderful views over to the hills.

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Most of our fellow campers were walking the 90 odd miles of the way so we just saw them arrive early evening and then pack up and leave the next day. We did feel sorry for them the mornings it was raining!

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The campsite is called Beinglas and I can highly recommend it, very lovely with a bar and restaurant and well equipped shop and a little river running through it.

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The main access bridge to the site had been flooded but Ellen did a brilliant job with going up and down the slightly bumpy back access road.

We stopped en route at a the gorgeous Lowther Castle in Cumbria, another Victorian castle build which is now a ruin with very creative gardens within its walls and beautiful parkland which is slowly being restored.

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There were some lovely little follies and architectural treasures all around the park.

I love these hydrangeas in the picture above, they always look like they have butterflies landing on them.

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Our first day was a trip to Lochgoilhead for a wander which was just gorgeous,it was a slightly cloudy day and I just loved seeing the clouds hanging over the hills.

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There were some beautiful plants on our walk and interesting moss and ferns on the walls and lots of mussel shells.

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We visited the old church as well. I love the decoration on the gravestones and the rusted ironwork.

Then it was back to the campsite for the last BBQ of the year in the UK, I have however just booked my flight to Spain where I shall be spending both Christmas and New Year 🙂 so I will be having a BBQ on Christmas Day after a picnic lunch on the beach.

We went to Scotland specifically to see my friend Sue who has partly retired there, she is living in the most gorgeous cottage, not quite in the middle of nowhere but about 2 miles from the main road in the forest with amazing views.

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It was lovely to spend the day and night with her, especially after a slightly damp end to our camping, the wood burner in the cottage was much appreciated!

We also managed to pack in a bit of a tour of Scotland to see some of the National Trust for Scotland properties so I will be back later in the week with some pictures of those. I hope that you have all had a nice weekend, take care and thanks for visiting.

 

Giveaway winner and a quick update

Just a quick update for you. I have so many wonderful pictures from Lincoln and Scotland but just wanted to pop in and tell you that the winner of the giveaway is Julia’s Creative Year. Please e-mail me at alisonmryan@yahoo.co.uk and let me know if you would like a brooch, hairslide or hair bobble and which colours you would like and I will get creating.Thanks to everyone who liked or commented on my posts.

Scotland was so beautiful, I took so many of photos of the amazing mountains and lochs. We were there partly to visit a friend who lives very near this castle at the edge of a loch and this is one of my favourite pictures with Kilchurn Castle in the distance. The weather was mostly good and the stormy skies at times just added to the atmosphere. It is an amazing country and I will have to go back there as there is so much we did not get to see in the time that we had.

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Lincoln was brilliant as well, as usual but so warm! I have no idea why most of my hobbies end up with me dressed so inappropriately for the weather but was very glad of the parasol. Here is a photo of my beautiful Ellie in her house of Worth dress complete with new hat. I know I am biased but she does look stunning.

Ellie at Lincoln 2019

In other exciting news Jake is in Japan 🙂 He has been there for a week now and we have been having regular chats via the miracle of the internet. He has just moved into an apartment and starts his teaching job tomorrow.

Exciting times and I am so happy for him that all his hard work has paid off. He has had time to do a little bit of sightseeing  and has been sending us pictures of some of the beautiful parks. I am really excited to go and visit him next year.

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Tomorrow will be mainly devoted to crafting as I have some stock to make for Yarndale. I have almost finished the final draft of my doctorate so will be doing that first thing and then it can be e-mailed off to my supervisors and I can relax.

It has been a busy and somewhat stressful few months finishing that and waiting for all of Jake’s things to be finalised for his job so I am looking forward to peace, quiet and tranquility for a while  🙂 Here’s hoping anyway.

I will be back soon with more pictures for you, meanwhile take care and thanks for visiting.