Thursday, 14 April 2016

Off again soon!

Right - for those of you wondering where we are off to this time I'll keep you waiting no more.


This weekend we are flying with Virgin America to Los Angeles, and then onto Ruby Princess for yet another Hawaiian cruise!
Hopefully we will get some wonderful weather and warmth. I am so fed up with being cold!

So I will not be updating this blog until after we get back, when I'll try to post a few photos of our trip. We keep thinking that this might be our last long haul flight - it's 11 hours in a plane from Heathrow. We have upgraded our seats to Premium Economy - more leg room and wider seats to mention just two advantages!

So I have spent the last couple of days inundated with washing and ironing. The two cases we are taking are almost packed, but I will have to repack, as I need to split his and hers clothes between the two cases - just in case! I will never forget the sinking feeling when our cases were left behind at Sydney Airport when we flew on to Auckland to catch a cruise liner there. Luckily our bags turned up before we were due to board the ship, but that sinking feeling that we might be in the clothes we stood up in for days was frightening. Now if the clothes are mixed in each case and one disappears en route, at least we would both have changes of clothes for a few days!

What I do have to do is sort out my stitching bag to take with me. I've made a new lined project bag (following the video by The Twisted Stitcher for guidance). I've decided that I am going to take a couple of mini kits which came as free gifts on magazines for the flights, but I'm going to pack Brooke's Advent Animal freebies so that I can catch up. I have finished up to number 18, so I have the rest printed off and the colours sorted for them. I'm also packing one of Brooke's angels - or maybe one of her little witches - just in case I get everything else finished!

By the way I'm slowly getting my disastrous Fairy Grandmother frogged, and I have marked on the fabric exactly where I should start next time! But I am delaying starting it again until after we come home.

So I'm off into the wide blue yonder shortly, and I'll catch up with you all soon.
Take care until then
Sandie

Sunday, 3 April 2016

Changed my mind!

Well today I was going to tell you about our next holiday - but instead I'm after some uplifting thoughts!

Yesterday I got out my Fairy grandmother to put a few more stitches in. Here is where I was.
Now if you compare it to the photo I posted last time, you will see where I am on the pattern - 
I had just reached the point of her sleeve up to her neckline. So I decided to move my frame to give myself a bit more space. 

HORROR OF HORRORS!

I checked and double checked - NOOOOOOO! When I actually looked at the positioning, I worked out what I had done. The bottom line I had stitched was the centre line. But I had stitched it on the line 3/4 of the way up! I tried to grid and count to see if it would fit on the fabric I had left. But even that wouldn't work. When I had gridded the extra I would need, I was right on the selvedge edge of the fabric. Could I chop off a few lines of the pattern - just not sew them? No - even that did not work as the fairy wings go virtually to the top of the page.

So I had to bite the bullet and admit defeat. I started to unpick it last night and carried on today. It is so disheartening. I have actually put it back on the frame - I have turned the fabric round, so what was the top of the fabric is now on the bottom. It means that tomorrow I can start again and unpick a bit at a time. 

On Friday we had dinner with some friends who have just come back from an 8 week holiday in Australia. They showed us some of their photos, and more than ever now I am desperate for some sunshine which might warm these old bones of mine. Now I promise more of that next time!

Sunday dinner calls - roast chicken today!
Until next time
take care
Sandie

Sunday, 20 March 2016

Updating again!

Right - dismal Sunday here. DH left me to sleep in this morning, so I actually got up this afternoon! I keep telling myself that I must have needed the extra sleeping time as my nights have been a bit disturbed lately. That's my excuse anyway!

This week, we have been chasing 2 garden firms over quotes for getting our artificial grass laid. They vary from £320 to over £600 - and both are quoting for exactly the same materials etc! The one with the lowest quote, currently has no van (it blew up a couple of weeks ago!), so depending on when he gets that back, we might get the job done during the week after Easter! We wait - and hope!

Stitching has been a little slow over the last few days. I've been busy sewing a few things for our upcoming holiday - more on that in another post - I guess those cushions etc gave me the sewing bug back! I was trying to make a waistcoat yesterday and hit a brick wall when I tried to remember how to turn it right side out! Then I realised that I have stitched the shoulder seams up when I should have left them open! So as it was dinner time, I put it to one side. I'll have to unpick those tomorrow then I can finish it! So far I've completed a dress (which has sat around for about 2 years), and a new tunic top.

My cross stitch has moved on two fronts. I completed this card which I'm going to give to a dear friend when we next meet up for afternoon tea.
This was a free gift from a magazine.

Then I picked up my Fairy Grandmother again. I was gifted the pattern by a lady in New Zealand who already had it in her stash, when she inherited a friend's stitchy stash. She kindly sent it to me along with a few skeins which would be used in it.


As you can see I've still got a long way to go, but I'm just loving the colours in it.And for a Lavender & Lace pattern there are only a few beads and metallics, so that's an added advantage!

Better go - I can smell the roast beef cooking and it's making me hungry! As I got up late we're eating our main meal tonight!

Take care
Sandie

Monday, 14 March 2016

A quick catch-up

Morning everyone! The sun has finally found its way through the clouds here and although at present my garden looks a mess, it is heart-warming to look out and see blue skies.

Our latest plan for the garden involves a large roll of astroturf! Not a football pitch sized piece, but too big for DH and I to manage between us. So this morning we had a visit from a gardener, who is going to give us a quote to lay it for us. We had a beautiful awning put up a few weeks ago, and with the astroturf laid across what was our patio, it should make the garden really good in time for summer. I'll save the pics until it's all complete rather than the mess it looks now!
This is what it looked like one night recently!

On the stitching front I am pleased to have 3 pieces which have finally not only been completed - but made into finished articles! The two sugar skulls have been made into cushions for my daughter and her husband. She really wanted a sugar skull, and I stitched this on last year's holiday to Egypt, but I never made it up. As her husband is a fan of the Star Wars movies, I made up the second one and decided to create two large cushions for them.
Shown on my bed!

I also completed the Ursula Michael Let's Unicorn. This is for my granddaughter who is MAD for My Little Pony. I made up the tote bag using a new fabric tote which I had never used as the lining.

Hopefully she can either use it to take her outfit to dance classes or maybe to Rainbows, which she started recently. Even if she only uses it to keep her collection of ponies in, it will be great! As we are driving over to see them today, I shall take them as alternative Easter presents - of the non-chocolate variety!

Better go now - things to do before we get the car out for our trip to our daughter. 

Take care
Sandie



Tuesday, 8 March 2016

Do I continue...or not?

I have finally decided that I should return to this blog. So much happened over the last year, and none of it was committed to my blog. Holidays, stitching, family, health. All passed by without comment from me! Or at least no WRITTEN comment!

The time has come to decide if I continue with this outpouring of my thoughts. It's not as if my life has been filled to the brim with exciting happenings. Mike and I tend to lead a quiet life!

This year we have decided that we are going on another Hawaiian Cruise with Princess Cruises. It may well be our last long-haul trip as I am now suffering with sciatica, and the thought of a long 11 hours strapped to an airplane seat does not fill me with joy like it used to! So after this trip we will probably keep more to Europe (although that has it's disadvantages to these days!)

Following our holiday decision, we decided to spend some more money on our garden, so this year that's where I'll be spending more time. If you want to keep up with me, I'll try to show progress pictures of the changes we intend to make.

My cross stitch is still making progress. I started the Lavender & Lace Fairy Grandmother, and also an Ursula Michael - Let's Unicorn. (current photos below)

 

I also completed another sugar skull which I aim to complete as a cushion. My daughter and her husband will get sugar skull cushions for Easter this year, and I hope to get the unicorn one completed as a cushion for Jessica. 

We went to see our daughter and Jess over half-term in February. Jess is doing really well now at school. She has also joined Rainbows (junior Brownies) and a Dance class, which all seem to be helping with her speech as well as her co-ordination. 

Still - I am so cold here now that I'm going to abandon this - sitting still at the laptop is not really conducive to keeping the temperature up! Gotta go and find another sweater!
Sandie

Sunday, 8 March 2015

Ready for another trip to Egypt?

Morning all!
Last time I promised you a few photos from our previous Egypt trip didn't I?
Well - I thought I'd better pop in with those while you're still in the mood! In 2010 when we went the first time on a Nile cruise, we did every trip we could fit in. There were included excursions almost every day, and we fitted in a couple of extras which we both really wanted to do, so here we go on a whistle stop tour!

Fasten your seat belts and off we go......

First stop - our boat for the week - the MS Grand Rose.

Bedouin children on the way to Luxor.


Egyptians on the river bank as we passed upstream.
 Catching your daily food.

Edfu Temple
Kom Ombo Temple heiroglyphs
Kom Ombo Temple Interior
Kom Ombo Temple is unique in that it celebrates two Gods - Horus the falcon headed God and Sobek - the crocodile God. Each has its own temple within the grounds and one one side there is a well where the temple crocodiles were fed. Nowadays, since building the the Great Dam at Aswan, there are no crocodiles in Lower Egypt (ie the area from Aswan to the Delta in the Mediterranean Sea). 
More fishermen
A perfect Nile view.

Countryside showing how the area around the Nile is cultivated. And also how close the mountains come to the river. You can understand how the farmers used to rely on the Nile floods to cultivate their land. Nowadays they use water pumps and irrigate the land to grow crops further inland.

 Sunset at Aswan.

Philae Temple
Philae Temple heiroglyphs
Right now we are moored at Aswan and the serious sight-seeing can begin!
Philae Temple is dedicated to Isis (the wife of Osiris and the mother of Horus). This temple was nearly destroyed when the Aswan High Dam was built as it would have been covered by the waters, However UNESCO stepped in and in a joint project with the Egyptian Government it was moved stone by stone to its current position - Agilka island near Aswan. The most famous temple which was moved? Abu Simbel - see photos below for this marvellous place.



Sound and Light show at Philae

Abu Simbel is one of the most well known temples of Egypt. People talk about the Pyramids at Giza as being a wonder of the ancient world - but to me - the two temples here are a wonder of both the old and the new world. Firstly how did the ancient Egyptians manage to build these two temples side by side without the benefit of our modern tools? Two temples - one dedicated to Rameses II and the other to his wife Nefertari - which were destined to be flooded until UNESCO and the Egyptian Government stepped in to save them. They have been faithfully rebuilt in an artificial "mound" to replicate their original setting. We took an early morning flight down to see them, and the first glimpse of them from the air is awe-inspiring. The interiors are still magnificent in their colours, and painted walls and ceilings are everywhere.

 Sun Temple of Rameses II 

 Nefertari's Temple of Hathor

After that breathtaking sight, we take a slow boat back upstream (heading north again now). Finally we moor at Luxor again. We just have time for a quick visit before dinner! First stop is Karnak Our guide is adamant that we should call it Karnak Complex rather than Karnak Temple. It is an accumulation of temples added to over the years by various Pharaohs which has made it the impressive site it is today.

 The colours on some of the pillars is almost as vibrant as the day they were painted.

Dusk is beginning to fall now quickly as we make our way to Luxor Temple Our guide is anxious to tell us all about it, but we rush off to take photos before the sun finally goes down. 

Finally we all gather to listen to the history of this building - photos securely taken. The temple was built by Amenhotep III (1390-52BC) worked on further by Tutankhamun and Horemheb and then added to by Rames II (1279-13BC). At the rear of the building is a shrine dedicated to Alexander the Great (332-305BC). For thousands of years the temple buildings were buried in the sand, and even a mosque was built over the site - the doorway which was used as the entrance is to the left of this photo - and that's Mike's head in the bottom left corner! Just to demonstrate how deeply it was buried!


We woke early again in order to make a Hot Air Balloon trip over the West Bank. To the ancient Egyptians, the East Bank was the city of the living, while the West Bank was the city of the dead (think sunrise and sunset). The West Bank is where the Valley of the Kings, the Valley of the Queens and the other important mausoleums are. 
 
Each basket could hold about 12 people plus the pilot, so they were not small balloons. Can you spot the people at the mouth of the balloon?

 Hatshepsut's Temple from the air.

Madinat-Habu temple from the air

 
Our early morning take-off allowed us to see the sun rise over the East Bank of the Nile. "Would you like to fly in my beautiful balloon?" Not that I want to worry you, but we missed a wall by about 6" on landing and ended up in a rubbish tip! Still we all landed safely and had thoroughly enjoyed our adventure.

Following that trip we hopped onto a bus which took us to the Valley of the Kings We were disappointed in as much as we were told to leave all cameras and even phones on our coach as the authorities do not allow photographs to be taken on site. However we did see some tourists taking photos, and we were assured that they would be asked to delete all images and have to pay a fine as well. So we have no photos of our own from there. Tutankhamun's Tomb is open to the public for an extra charge. It is quite small by comparison to some of the others on the site, with just the sarcophagus left inside. His other treasures are in the Cairo museum.

Back on the coach now for our last two stops. First we stop at the Colossi of Memnon. These two gigantic statues are all that remain of the Amenhotep memorial temple. Stones from here were used in the construction of other temples or even taken away by farmers!
Last stop now - it's almost mid-day and the sun is beating down. Our feet are weary and we are almost ready for our lunch. But as the coach draws to a stop, we are all bustling to get off. The magnificent Hatshepsut's temple is in front of us. 

Queen Hatshepsut was the only female Pharoah. She reigned for 22 years over 3,500 years ago. Her temple is built directly into the cliff face - a series of colonnades and terraces which it is believed were planted with gardens .

So now we make our weary way back to the boat where refreshing drinks and food await us. After our very early start, we are tired, exhausted, footsore but extremely happy to have completed our trip. 

But was it worth it? Undoubtedly YES! Would we go again? YES - we did! And although there were plenty of police around (all of whom were armed) we encountered no trouble at all. Since the start of the Revolution in Egypt in recent years, there have been no accounts of trouble in any of the places we visited. The majority of Egyptian people are happy, welcoming of foreign tourists and want nothing apart from peace in their country. On this visit we saw so many Nile cruise boats which have been laid up and stripped of their furnishings - a testament to how their tourist trade has suffered. I would encourage anyone who is able to take a trip to the ancient world of Egypt - we did - and it was a holiday never to be forgotten.

Better go now before I make you all fall asleep!
Sandie

Saturday, 7 March 2015

On our travels ..... AGAIN!

Evening all.
Not much has been happening on the cross stitch front for a few weeks now. It may be something to do with the cold weather, but I've also been suffering a bit with my health. For some years I've had issues with an intermittent pain in my left leg. I've come to the conclusion that it's similar to sciatica, but not exactly the same - so I've been doing some Googling! Fatal really if you're a hypochondriac! But luckily I'm not! I think I've narrowed it down to something called "Meralgia Paraesthetica" - but as I'm due for a doctor's review of my Blood Pressure meds next week I shall ask then. It's basically when a nerve gets trapped near the hip, and subsequently pain shoots down the outside of the thigh. It comes and goes, but when it strikes - BOY!! It's a burning pain or else it feels like someone reached in and is twisting the muscle! When it strikes, there's no way to alleviate it either. And when it wakes you at night - it's all I can do not to scream sometimes. Still hopefully the doc will have some suggestions for me to help.

Last month Mike and I celebrated our 40th wedding anniversary!
Our wedding day in 1975! (I made that dress myself!)

We decided to make a special trip to celebrate. Since we went on the Nile cruise back in 2010, we have always said that we would like to go back and relax on board rather than getting up at silly o'clock to dash off to visit all the sights! So that's what we did. We took one of our friends with us who has never been to Egypt. We stayed 3 nights at the Makadi Spa hotel, then were driven across to the Nile where we met the boat (MS Grand Rose). After 7 nights on board, we then went back to the Makadi Spa for another 4 nights. Now I shall bore you with some of the photos we took!

From here it's a bit photo intensive, so I shan't be offended if you want to skip these!
Front of the Makadi Spa hotel at night 
View of the Red Sea from the Makadi Spa hotel
Edge of the infinity pool at the hotel
The infinity pool looking out to the Red Sea
The beach
MS Grand Rose reception
Karnak Complex

Pillars in Karnak - this location was used in the James Bond film "The Spy Who Loved Me"
Avenue of Sphinxes which is believed to run from Karnak to Luxor Temple 
Entrance to Luxor Temple 
Luxor Temple
3 views of Nile boats 


Komombo Temple 
The Old Cataract Hotel, Aswan - Agatha Christie wrote part of "Death on the Nile" here.

As you can see we didn't go on many trips off the boat. Maybe next time I write, I'll add a few of the photos from our previous trip too. The only one we went on this time was the Karnak and Luxor temples - in 2010 it was getting to dusk when we arrived, so I wanted to see it in daylight! 

Well after that whistle stop tour of Egypt, I'd better let you get on with your daily life! Next time I'll bring you up to date on my stitching!
Take care
Sandie