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Thursday, 29 May 2014

A trip around the South of England

Culli and I have just had a whistle stop tour of the South of England.
We started in Poole last Thursday having breakfast with my 93 year old aunt, lunch at Beer in Devon with old friends Ali and Sue, then dinner with my old school friend Steve and his artist wife Janette Kerr.
Janette is the driving force behind 'The Power of the Sea' Exhibition at the Royal West of England Academy in Bristol. It is the most amazing exhibition of historic and contemporary art associated with the sea, a subject very close to both of us. The exhibition runs until 6th July 2014 and is supported by a beautiful book with the same title. See Janette's blog here.
On Friday we met up with the rest of our group of friends from France, the boys were off to see the rugby in Cardiff and the girls were ready for a weekend of culture and shopping. It was cold wet and windy, but that didn't stop us from catching the river taxi to take us around and about Bristol.

We travelled as far as the suspension bridge then back to the City centre for a trip around the indoor market, buying books, yarn, trimmings, fabric and sandwiches from some of the amazing food stalls. More shopping then back to the hotel for G and T's before going to Matthew Bourne's Swan Lake at the Bristol Hippodrome - brilliant!

On Saturday we went to Bath for the day and did the tourist circuit, then I went to the American Museum with my friend Margaret who is a great patchworker to see the Kaffe Fassett exhibition - a gorgeous splash of colour on a grey day and the beautiful antique patchwork quilts and Shaker furniture in the museum.

On Sunday Culli and I went off to Sussex to spend a couple of days with the family, big lunch with all the grandchildren on Monday and a visit to the funfair in the rain, then on Tuesday we took Dutch friends Ed and Vera on a tour of Lewes visiting the castle and our old local pub, then to Brighton for the Pier, the Royal Pavilion and the North Lanes, in the evening we were back on the ferry for France.

Wednesday, 28 May 2014

May knitting and crochet retreat at La Verderie

The May retreat started with wall to wall sunshine. The three guests Pia, Sue and Janet were sitting in the garden with their knitting a few minutes after arriving at La Verderie.
We spent the first morning relaxing in the sun with our projects. Pia is here to improve her knitting and try and learn the basics of crochet, Sue and Janet are confident knitters, but are both keen to improve their crochet techniques. They have all brought various projects along and are keen to start.
In the afternoon we went into Saintes to the fabric and yarn shop. Sue, Janet and I all bought some Cheval Blanc recycled yarn and Pia bought some sequinned acrylic mohair for scarves.

We had a wander around the town and coffee in the sunshine, then back home for an alfresco supper and a busy evening starting new projects.
On Saturday morning we visit the market in St Jean d'Angely. It is the big market which means that the yarn stall is there, plus everything else from live chickens and geese to colourful baskets.

We buy a some bargain yarn, baskets, fresh seafood, fruit and veg and then back home for lunch and more knitting and crochet.

Janet has started on a bag made from crochet granny squares, Pia is knitting a lacy scarf and Sue is making a Pokemon crochet squirtle!
Sunday and Monday are wet and windy, but nobody seems to care as it allows us to spend plenty of time on our projects. I give a short workshop on knitting with beads, everyone is amazed at how easy it is and are quickly addicted to this lovely technique.

It has been another great week with some lovely ladies, everyone seems to have gone away with new skills and ideas which is really satisfying.

Friday, 16 May 2014

Mystery Blanket workshop - the last day

Friday started with a wet walk for me with BeBop & Buddy, followed by a morning workshop.
The group have done amazingly well, with a total of 68 blanket squares knitted between the 9 members, plus 2 bags and one and a half mobile cosies knitted by Pat and Shelley, what a result!

It was Tracy's birthday, so we had a few renditions of 'Happy Birthday' and two cakes, a yummy lemon sponge cake which Annabel made and one of my banana breads.

Culli has been busy making yarn bowls and they are selling quickly.
After lunch of potato and onion tortilla and thai chicken salad, the sun came out and we went into St Jean d'Angely for the final shopping trip.

Starting at the sweet shop, filled with mouthwatering chocolates and sweets displayed in vintage glass jars, then on to a couple of dress shops and the kitchen shop, where everyone weakened, but Debbie still managed to outshop us all.

After hot chocolates at the fun bar we stopped off at the supermarket and then home for a final knitting session, kir royale and supper of antipasto, provencal pork and creamy croissant and honey bake.
The girls gave Debbie and I a really beautiful Missoni scarf each and a bottle of whisky for Culli. It has been another great week with a lovely group, lots of laughs, lots of eating and lots of knitting.
Most of us had to be up at the crack of dawn, so an early night was needed.
On Saturday morning I dropped Pat off at Bordeaux airport for an early flight and took Debbie, Shelley, Alan and Laraine into Bordeaux. We started with breakfast at the bargain price of 3 euros each, then stumbled across the most amazing button shop that had walls lined from floor to ceiling with boxes of every type of button and fastening you can imagine.

On to the book shop, Desigual and then La Droguerie. A quick sandwich by the fountain and then a mad dash to get them back to the airport in time for their flights.