Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Shades of green

Girls on tour - a little bit of pre-match training

Trying out the scrummage machine on the indoor crumb

The beautifully manicured pitch prior to the onslaught

A London Irish shirt amid a row of yellow

The victors heading over to thank their faithful supporters

The delightful and talented Mr Kennedy looking earnestly for someone - sadly not me :o)

('or me' adds the daughter)

Another photo of himself, just because - well why not?

Another day dawns on the beauty of Welsh Bicknor

The tranquility of a country church

Early morning sun lights up a humble nettle

The Forest of Dean in all its glory

Matching nail varnish from the afternoon's opposition

And gum shield to tone - all the best dressed rugby players sport them you know

Funky tour socks on a less pristine surface - well there were some green ones in there

And finally the humble beginnings of quilt - maternity leave beckons for someone - better get my skates on

Sunday, April 19, 2009

And back to something more quilty........

When my attention was drawn to this by Clare at Dordogne Quilter I thought what a lovely idea
But which quilt to choose - although not as prolific as some I have made a good number of quilts over the past 12 years or so
Each one I make tends to be my favourite at that moment in time
But I guess the first really big quilt I ever finished will probably be my all-time favourite
It was a wedding present for my brother about four and a half years ago
I asked him if he'd like a quilt for his wedding present and he reacted with enthusiasm
Knowing of his love of celtic knotwork made the design type a bit of a no-brainer
However his original colour choice of red knotwork on a cream background scared the life out of me, and him when I explained just how unpredictable red fabrics can be on washing
So we chatted round a few ideas and decided to go for cream knotwork on a pastel ground
108" square and three years later - the result..........
I have blogged about this quilt before - some time ago now - and here is my write-up about it at the time:
These two pictures show the quilt I made for my brother and sister-in-law for their wedding present in October 2004.
It measures 108" square and was machine pieced in space dyed cotton (some dyed by me and some bought in) with yards and yards of cream coloured home made bias celtic knotwork.
It took three years to make in all and I worked on it in three different countries. In the middle of its construction I had a serious illness which kept me off work for over five months and working on the coloured square blocks around the edges kept me sane - not to mention that, without that gift of time to work on it when I was fit for nothing else, I probably wouldn't have completed it on time.
The celtic knotwork is all hand appliqued and I wouldn't mind having a pound for each inch of it - I'd be one very rich girl!
The photos are taken in our local church as I didn't have a large enough floor area to lay it out otherwise.
Once I'd completed it I felt that strange feeling you have when your baby is born that you're not pregnant any more - a real anti-climax.

Sadly my sister-in-law's ideas on decor didn't fit at all well with my brother's choice for the quilt and, as it doesn't comply with with her choices of cream and taupe, it has stayed in a cupboard for it's entire life and never seen the light of day

In hindsight I should have asked her - but never mind, who knows, when the current fashion for safe neutrals eventually fades maybe she might bring it out of hibernation

This close up shows a little more clearly all the knotwork that went into it - every single inch was made of home-made bias tubing and every inch appliqued by hand. Each of those pink, lilac and blue outer postage stamp type squares set into the pale green border measures 12" square - so from that you can guess there is some yardage of tubing
My only real regret is that I quilted it in an allover lines and swirls type pattern which completely disregarded the knotwork - although I did include in that freestyle quilting their names and the date of their wedding
Should I have the opportunity to relive the process I would use the skills I've acquired in the subsequent years and probably quilt it to complement the knotwork
However it's been a treat for me to revisit it and I hope you've enjoyed it too

Friday, April 17, 2009

England rocks!

Well if she never gets another game of rugby in (which obviously isn't likely) nobody can take away from her the fact that she's run onto a pitch sporting the white shirt and red rose of England - and it was the first pitch at the Exeter Chiefs ground which, while it's not Twickenham, is still an honour as rugby clubs are notorious for relegating their female teams to practice pitches in case they mess up the grass for the big boys!

Mind you as the shirts are the same type of fabric and construction as the current vogue for men's stretch fitted shirts I can't say they're particularly flattering - here she is on the left with two of her Taunton team-mates who look even less comfortable in their shirts

I'll gloss over the fact that the England Colleges squad were stuffed by the RFUW National Talent Development Group squad 52 points to Nil

Although I will just drop in the nugget of information that the RFUW wanted to draft her in to play for the opposition but her coaching mentor suggested that, as her parents (you know The Bank of Anne and Nigel) had paid £300 for her playing fees for England Colleges, she should be given the chance to wear that white shirt with pride

Sarah, being Sarah, played the entire 80 minutes at 110% effort - the first quarter in her natural position of flanker and the latter 60 minutes at INSIDE CENTRE! (a position she has never played in her life but actually looked pretty handy at) to cover for injury and the coaching staff's poor bench selection.

Fortunately the match was recorded for the RFUW so her efforts will be seen and probably analysed at length and hopefully stand her in good stead for the future plus her mentor will be able to point out just how much of the match she played out of position. I may sound like a biased mother here but she certainly looked a class above virtually all of her team mates.

However she is now nursing a very sore knee so it's lots of R & R to ready herself for our club Tour weekend on 25th/26th April when, among other things, we'll take in a premiership match at Sixways between Worcester Warriors and London Irish (will be thinking of you Mrs M) and then of course the next two England Colleges matches against the seriously stiff opposition of Welsh Colleges away on 1st May and at home a week later on 8th of May

Mum on the other hand has managed to fit in a little stitching - here's a hint - more to come.............

Monday, April 06, 2009

Such proud parents

What a weekend!
Ok so before we get down to the details firstly let me thank everyone for their kind emails about my arthritis
My doctor has given me some tablets which seem to be starting to do the trick - long may that continue
The four children in my house (and I include the 48 year old male in that grouping deliberately) have eased off slightly on the squabbling - again long may that continue
And finally I've broken up for two weeks for the Easter break so the work pressure's off me at least for a little while.
I'm not in sewing mode yet - can't seem to find something to inspire me - although I have lots of things I could be getting on with but just don't feel like it
So I'm pottering - giving the house a once-over as it feels like it's not been touched for months and I might fit in a little freezer stocking these holidays too
So back to the weekend
Sarah had been selected to represent the South West Colleges squad along with four more girls from Taunton plus others from several Sixth Form Colleges in the south west of England.
They were to participate in the British Colleges National Championships at Loughborough University
So she set off on Friday morning on one of a fleet of minibuses carrying students from her college who would play a variety of sports from cross country, through basketball, hockey, trampolining and tennis to swimming, badminton and rugby to name just a few.
All in all, over 2000 kids between 16 and 19 years of age took part in what is essentially the 'Olympic Games' for 6th Form Colleges in the UK
We followed later in the day once Nigel had finished work and we'd broken up from school for Easter
The kids all participated in a grand opening ceremony on the Friday evening and then the sporting events got down to business on the Saturday
Despite Loughborough Uni being a huge campus quite a few of the events had to take place off site and the mens' and ladies' rugby took place at Welbeck College, a military 6th form college just south of the town.
As one would expect from a military establishment the pitches were immaculate - like a bowling green and a real pleasure and privilege to play on - although I have to say that as our taxes were paying for the facility it was nice to get something back from the government for once.
The girls had five games through the day and the medal positions were decided on a 'number of wins' basis with points difference acting as the tie-breaker if necessary
Although the championships had previously been made up of just English regions, lately a Welsh and a Scottish squad have participated and as you would expect the Welsh ladies rugby team (essentially a national side) was a force to be reckoned with.
Much to her delight and to our pride Sarah was selected to be captain

Our girls only lost one of their games, against the Welsh side, and drew another against a strong East region side from SEEVIC college in Essex
This meant that our girls' last game, which also happened to be the final game of the day, was a nail biting decider.
The Welsh team had been unbeaten throughout the day so were guaranteed the gold medal but we went into that final game against West Midlands on the basis that a win would give our girls the silver medal but a losing outcome would put them in fourth place.
The 12 minutes each half playing a fast paced tens game (ten players on each side) seemed like an eternity as every time we scored a try the opposition answered with one of theirs. Fortunately all our tries were grounded under the posts which made the conversion kicks almost a formality, whereas the opposition tries were kept out in the corners and they didn't manage to convert any of theirs.
When they went one try ahead of us, with still 5 minutes to go, the score board almost levelled at 21-20 to us and our hearts were in our mouths as our girls defended as if their lives depended on it for the final phases of play
I don't honestly know what was strongest when the final whistle blew - the relief in the hearts of the spectators or the joy in the hearts of the players
So here are the silver medallist squad (Sarah is at the left hand end of the centre row)
The five girls from our rugby club (with Sarah far left) striking that ever-familiar 'Where's the beach' pose
A very happy bunny who's just been dowsed by her team-mates
And finally our girl receiving her medal at the awards ceremony yesterday.
A wonderful experience all round.
Now onto her first match for the England Colleges squad on Wednesday 15th April playing on the first pitch at the Exeter Chiefs ground at Sandy Park, Exeter - bring it on!!!