Travel Feed

Today is the day- I hope

Yes I'm off on another adventure.  The bag is packed and I hope to be away for the next 4 weeks, that is what I have booked for but who knows what will eventuate.  I have a friend who went to India and came back the next day!  Something was wrong with her visa.  My visa waver from the USA is still pending.  They said to expect it within the next 72 hours but I will be on tender hooks until it comes through.  I may have to spend a little more time in NZ than I planned. I intend to just take it as it comes but I must admit to panicing.


I am not sure how I will go with this blog.  It may go into hybernation during this time or I may not get away at all and it will just continue.  Internet charges at hotels could feed a family for a year and from what I have read there isn't much internet reception in South America, or not where I am going.  When I get back I hope to have enough material to keep posting for the rest of the year.

See you, maybe sooner than I planned.

Postscript:  My Authorization has been approved just hours before I leave


5 days to go

It has been some time since I was on a countdown for overseas travel.  I think the last one was a trip to NZ and that didn't go well back in 2011.  (Tasmania doesn't count.)  I had a fall and broke some ribs and ruptured a hernia!!  It has taken 6 years to be off again after lots of medical problems and this time I am going to be very careful with myself.  I have a whole lot of travelling I want to do after this trip.

I have got to the point where I have given up worrying about all the things that aren't right.  Like the fact that  my Houston paper work hasn't arrived as yet. ( I sent them an Email and they said they would print it out again when I got there. )  Or that they sent all my paper work to Boston for my trip to South America.   Just "go with the flow" and take it as it comes.  Who knows, it might mean I do something even better?

I said to myself "think peaceful thoughts", which sent me running to the computer to do some drawings for October's 'Peace Embroidery".  The connection?  Well, when I was in Toowoomba I also visited the 'Japanese Gardens'.  At the entrance they had a board that gave a layout of the garden and some history regarding it's design.


The park is called Ju Raku En,  "Enjoying Peace and Longevity in a Public Place".  I thought about just embroidering "Enjoying Peace"  but decided to use the Japanese words because they said so much about this place and how peace can be enjoyed.

On the day I was there it was very hot, around 38 degrees C and it was busy with lots of people looking at the gardens.  There has been little rain over the last few months and everything was dry.  The ground was rather dusty and the water in the lake brown but it was still beautiful.  There was a 'peace pole' just inside the entrance but as the saying was similar to one of the past embroideries I am still thinking how I could use this one.


As at all the parks, people had brought picnics to sit and enjoy the day.

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I walked the circuit to look for inspiration and to just enjoy the park.  I love the use of the colour red, at the gates and on the bridge.



You can view the bridges from a number of vantage points and everyone gives a lovely picture.


There were blossom trees in bloom,



and that same red was mirrored in the flowers and foliage.



The water in the lake was rather murky,


but the ducks and ibis didn't seem to mind.



You could just see the tortoises


And lot's of children were feeding the cat fish who had made the water even worse as they fought with the ducks for the spoils.


But the little streams that feed the lake were clearer


and this is where the birds were drinking.


It really is a peaceful park and I liked the secluded parts away from the central lake.

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I have put all this aside in the last few weeks and have decided that I like the name of the park and would embroider something simple to enhance it that reflected the simplicity of the garden design.  So this is what I have decided to embroider.

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Hope I get it finished before I go.








Time to panic

I had a lovely few days away.  The weather was cool and the company good. The mornings were foggy,

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and the clouds as they rose over the escarpment, memorable.

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In the evenings the skys were the most amazing colours as the sun set over the western downs.

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 I was introduced to another woman who is travelling to Houston for the festival and she said,

"Oh yes, I leave in under two weeks".

  I thought,

"She must be going early." 

Now I have looked at the calendar, it is less than 2 weeks before I leave.   It is all shaping up to be a disaster.  My paper work and tickets have been sent to Boston for Guatamala, (I live in Australia.)   No paper work has arrived for my classes at the festival.  I have an email confirmation which says I have to have the paper work for the classes, the email is not good enough.  But they have deducted the payment for the classes from my account so I am hopeful that this might still work out.  I think I need to make some international phone calls and I am not good on the telephone because I have a hearing problem.  I must transfer money into another account just in case the other credit cards don't work.  (My husband has given me another 3 credit cards on top of the 3 I already have.) Stress, Stress, Stress.

 I need to get the samples finished for next years classes and they are not going well.  The drawing are great, the stitching isn't bad but I have chosen the wrong colours for one piece and will have to start again.  That is the one that needs to be finished in the next couple of weeks.

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 The furniture is still being delivered for the city town house and I need to buy a dining room set and my daughter keeps suggesting very expensive ones.  The washing machine has just broken down and as I have had it for some time I think we will have to get a new one.  No one delivers to the island so that means carriers and stress.

 On the upside I do have a new suitcase and I have got all my clothes organised.  I have cleaned out my wardrobe and the back of my car is loaded with donations for the charity bin.  My new ipad is packed ready and my camera is working well.  (Got to find that passport.)

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I finish a dummy run on the crocheted bunny, very cute.

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Look at that fat tummy, and I love the tail.

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(I still need to make clothes for the girls bunnies.)  I used left over yarn from the shawl.  Lots of adjustments to make and the next ones will be white rabbits.  Of course the only crochet hook I don't have is a size 3, the one I need for this wool.

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I think it is time to make lists and start to find some control in all this mess.


A short break

I have been pouring over the International Quilt Festival Catalogue trying to decide just what classes I will do.  There are so many good ones.  The best classes are already full but there is still a lot of choice.  As I am travelling onto South America after the Festival I don't want any class which will require a lot of supplies and I want to have everything finalised today.

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Because of all the difficulty with my husbands health I have delayed my enrollment for classes and missed out on most of the good quilting ones I would like to have done but there are plenty of others and the quilting ones require a lot of equipment that I would have to take with me.  So in a way I'm glad I missed them.  I have choosen quite a few technology and design classes plus some hand embroidery, which I will probably already know, but I wanted to do a class with these particular tutors.     I would love to have done Yoko Saito's class but that was full before it was announced.   I have learnt from past experience not to book too many classes, that leads to brain overload.   I still may have taken on too much!  

Update:  Everything is now booked, classes, travel, accomodation and insurance.


I am off to hospital tomorrow for a small procedure.  Hopefully it will just be an overnight stay but I have been told they won't know until they have an explore, Gall stones are not very exciting.    I am planning on just the overnight stay but am taking my knitting and embroidery with me just in case.  It is not an ideal time for this to have to happen with my husband still not fully recovered  but these things happen.  I have lined up my daughter to look after her father and the dog.  I should be back fairly soon.



I pressed the little send button

I have been debating with myself about taking a trip to South America later on this year.  I have had a few health problems, which seem to be under control but I worry about leaving my husband.  He has had the serious health problems.  But I might not get this chance again, so I have sent off my reservation request to travel to Guatemala latter in the year.  This is a trip with my friend Pam and you can read all about it on her blog here.

The colours that shine from Pam's photo's just call to me.  I want to see the embroidery.

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(image from I am Pam Holland)

The weaving,  which I have admired for ages..

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(image from I am Pam Holland)

I used to be an intrepid traveler but over the past few years haven't been anywhere very much.  A broken arm and foot being the main reason.  So I have committed to hitting the road again.  My great aunt rode a camel around the pyramids  to celebrate her 80th birthday and although I'm not nearly that age I did so admire her spirit.  Maybe this will be the first of many trips.


The world and travel

This is  going to be my travel year, or, I hope it is going to be my travel year.  With everything that is happening in the USA what the year will bring is very uncertain and I, like many others, watch unfolding events  there with dismay.  If sane heads prevail, my plans for the year are , Sydney in June to see my family, then onto Japan in August, followed by Huston USA in Oct./Nov for the International Quilt Festival.  Then on to Guatemala in South America.

You might ask why Guatemala?  Well friend Pam is taking a group there and I plan to join them.  I had been tossing the idea around for a while and then I received this wonderful gift from her.

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This is a 'Huipil ' which comes from Guatemala.  It is a vintage piece from the highlands around Lake Atitlan.  The Mayan women usually wear their traje (traditional dress), which consists of a huipol (blouse), corte, (skirt) and Faja (belt).  These designs date back to before the Spanish Invasion.  in the 1600's.

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I am surprised by just how heavy the fabric is. The blouse is made of two pieces of fabric, woven on a back strap loom and then joined with embroidery across the centre to achieve the width needed to make a garment.

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 The embroidery design in then transferred onto the fabric and stitched.

Back of stitching.  You can see how the neck has been scalloped and then faced.

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Front of stitching.

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Close up of stitching.

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I love this piece and would also like to buy one with the bird embroidery on it.

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You can see lots of other examples here.




Finally, the shopping

I wandered off to get back to the main square and finally found a bench where I could sit and consult Google on my phone about fabric shops in the CBD. I found a reference to a group of shops in an arcade and as luck would have it I was sitting just across the road from it.

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After climbing the stairs up to the second floor I found L’ucello’s fancy goods and Haberdashary. It is a beautiful little shop.

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I was perspiring so profusely that I didn’t want to touch the fabrics but I was able to buy some lovely pieces and they had a wonderful selection of pure wool felt, I bought quite a colour range of these. Up the hall I found the Kimono shop but I had all the Japanese fabrics that I need so just had a look here.

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By now it was 4:30pm so I walked to the tram stop and after a bit of a wait got a very crowded tram back to near the apartment. That last bit of walking back was terrible. I got into the apartment to find my daughter had given up the heat long before me. We sat and had a glass of wine and a rest before heading out for dinner.

As this was our last night we wanted to try one of the bars and found a very busy one next to the Princess Theatre. It was full of exotic looking creatures both male and female and we made out way to the back of the bar that was air conditioned. (I’m past sitting in the heat to be seen.) We had a pleasant meal and a few drinks and then headed home again. Gee it was good to be cool.

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It came to our last day in Melbourne and finally the sun came up blazing into the sky. It lit all the windows in the sky scrapers with fire but I was just too tired to get out of bed to get my camera so this will just be a memory that I will carry with me in my mind.

We are finally getting the lie of the city and where everything is. Now it was me to leave, wouldn’t you know? I had a final wander around, went into a shop, come out and was completely lost. I had to ask the direction I was facing. After feeling rather stupid I made it back to where I said I would meet my daughter. This is one time I was glad that I am so pedantic, as I was nearly late, thinking I was early. I must have caught the time setter on my watch and wound it back.

We got a taxi to the airport with plenty of time. I was interested to see that some of the planes had figureheads painted on them. I wonder if these will be cut off and kept like the old see ones.

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We drove the 2 hours home and there was my island waiting for me.  No noise, just the birds, wind and sea.  Now it is time to get back to stitching.

Still shopping, and other things (Continued)

Returning to my time in Melbourne.

By this time it was getting very hot, and I live in the heat, but this was a dry scorching type of heat that burns your lungs every time you take a breath. Non of the trams I was on were  air conditioned and the windows did not open, so I was glad to get off at Fitzroy Gardens. I thought a walk through the park amongst all the trees would cool me down. It didn’t.

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Fitz 2

Firz 3

Fitz 4

I was headed for the St. Mary MacKillop heritage centre.  This is housed in a beautiful old victorian era house. It was air conditioned inside but I was finding the heat very distressing by this time. After all the walking my heart rate was up too high and I find it difficult to control my body temperature.

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The house is a peaceful and inspirational space. At the back of the shop there was a gallery, an open space with a wall of glass looking out onto a secluded square. I sat there in the cool and recovered. It is a restful, contemplative place and I was able to recover my equilibrium before venturing out into the heat again.

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Mary Mac Killop was an inspirational person.  She let nothing get in the way of what she thought was right and if she saw a need she acted to fullfil it.  In 1871 she was excommunicated but after a visit to Rome this was reversed.  I have often wondered why this happened and searching the records it reveals that she had a pedophile priest removed and returned to Ireland.  This brought retribution down on her and her sisters. The order was disbanded and the sisters put out on the street.   With all the controversy that is in our courts, all over the world today, it is good to know that there were members of the church who stood up against this behaviour, no matter what the cost.  

After leaving here I had to walk and again that heat was a problem and I didn’t have a hat either. It was just too hot to try and walk all the way back to the apartment in the middle of the day so I got on a city circle tram to go back to the shopping district. On the way I noticed an alley full of graffetti so hopped off the tram to take some photos.

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The graffetti just didn’t have that cutting edge of social comment that I had remembered from the past but there were some interesting bits.

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There were only two pieces that commented on social issues.

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Every church in the city had banners and notice boards that welcomed refugees.  In some churches there were stalls with food and clothing and offers of legal help.   This is one thing that marks Melbourne as being different from other Australian Cities, it's commitment to social justice.




Melbourne - More shopping

It was SO hot, 39 degrees C and there was a hot dry wind blowing all the time on some days while we were in Melbourne. I was never so thankful for the air conditioning. But it came to my last shopping day and I needed to buy fabric to take back as travelers squares for my quilting friends. I had been searching the internet for days looking for shops that were in traveling distance from the city. That is, I could get there by tram.

But first we wanted to see the Chinese Museum. It is just down the road from the apartment and every other time we had been there it had been closed.

You enter via a narrow alley and

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It is in an old building that rambles over 4 floors.

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There was an exhibition about the gold rush days, some info on Nth Q’d and some interesting artifacts. I loved this old embroidered costume, and the dragons. The embroidery on the costume was beautiful but hard to photograph.  It was mostly couching of gold threads and the needlework was perfection.

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Each of the scales on the dragons were perfect.



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Most of the immigrants came from southern China and this is where they returned when their old dragon needed to be replaced.

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The problem was that in the interveening  time the cultural revolution had taken place and no one knew how to make dragons anymore. They finally found the son of the dragon maker who said he would try to make it although it was over 30 years since one had been made. They sent lots of photos of their original dragon and finally a new one was shipped off. It is only awakened at Chinese New Year and for the Momba Festival.

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Here my daughter and I parted ways. She to do some shopping and me to my patchwork shop.I had finally settled on “Hatched and Patched” which was about a half hour away by tram. I got a tram to the central city and then changed onto another tram for the journey. When I got there I found the shop had been taken over by an “Ethical Grocer”. So I turned around and waited for another tram back to the city. Somehow I had a feeling that finding a fabric shop was a doomed enterprise.



Melbourne - Japanese design

One place I was determined to visit during my time in Melbourne was Zazari + ziguzagu.
This establishment has antique Japanese and Chinese Furniture and art with some African pieces as well. As soon as I entered I wanted to buy everything but I kept my eyes focused on the textiles at the back of the store.  On the way back there I did notice this bronze  hare and

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this  antique sewing box.  These boxes were over $500 each, so I kept walking.

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Beautiful antique textiles. Silks, Cotton, Hemp. I choose some antique indigo hemp and mosquito cloth to do some Kogin stitching on. I bought my daughter an African necklace and my grand children some small  antique dolls.

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Then, right at the back of the shop, under other fabrics I spotted some Boro pieces. Again I wanted them all but settled on a short jacket.

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It is worn and patched.

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It has been Sashiko stitched to attach the patching fabrics,

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Some of the seams are coming apart but this gives one a insight into how they were stitched together.

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On the wrist band of one of the sleeves there is a small metal tab from a pair of Japanese sox that are worn with thongs. From the inscription on this it would appear that this is well over 100 years old.

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I think the jacket was probably pre 1950 but I couldn’t be sure of it’s exact age. Now it is my treasure and I intend to hang it in my new bedroom.  Good thing this shop is in Melbourne and not in Brisbane. I would be very poor otherwise.  But there is still the temptation of the online shop.  Oh dear.