Sunday, September 20, 2009

Silver Linings

You know to every cloud there's usually a little bit of a silver lining if you search hard enough

This time last week, whilst I was keeping Nick company in hospital, in between playing games of scrabble and gleaning as much information as I could from the staff I used the time productively

There are countless leaves and berries to be stitched onto the outer border of Batik Baskets

With the unexpected time out of the usual hustle and bustle that is generally family life I have managed to get just over an eighth of the border completed - still a way to go but I keep chipping away at it, half watching Casino Royale on the tv last night gave me chance to add a few more

As for the Soft and Gentle quilt - this one really does need a better work in progress title - I've added the next round ready for more applique but have stalled at getting the bias tubing cut, stitched and pressed ready to start the handwork

The 6" corner blocks went together like a dream - all that jewel box and plaid quilt practicing obviously sharpened up my piecing skills - well something definitely needed to! :o)))

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

We're Home!!!

Just a quick post to let you know that Nick was discharged from hospital this afternoon

I have been astounded by how grown up he has been over all this - my boy is really a man in teenager's clothing on the quiet

His attitude when asked how he feels is a shrug of the shoulders and the reply "I've got to do it so I'll just get on with it"

He has to administer his own insulin injections four times a day and prick his finger to carry out blood sugar level tests regularly - all this he has mastered quickly with no fuss and great competence

He's now desperate to get back to some semblance of normality so he returns to school tomorrow

As for me - I'm shall we say somewhat nervous especially now I'm away from the hospital safety net even though they are accessible 24/7 at the end of a phone

But I'm in total awe of the way he has coped and is looking forward to the future with his usual zest for life

Thank you to everyone who both commented or emailed me privately with your support, advice and good wishes.

You've given me more support than you can ever know

So now - onwards and upwards!

Friday, September 11, 2009

Just as you thought it was safe to go back in the water....

Isn't that the famous line from Jaws?

We thought life was bumbling away nicely here at the moment

And then something comes along to turn the world upside down

Nick has been not his normal self since we returned from Sark

Perpetually thirsty

Never out of the bathroom

Generally under the weather

Starting to lose weight

Is this ringing any alarm bells with any of you?
Those alarm bells rang with me earlier this week when I quizzed him about these things - he's the sort of kid who always suffers in silence so it could have carried on for some while yet had I not interrogated him

So I booked him in with our doctor this afternoon - fortunately with the British National Health Service this is all free and we didn't have to worry whether we could afford the appointment

The long and the short of it is he has Type 1 Diabetes

It has come on suddenly as apparently it often does - he will have to live with it and manage it for the rest of his life

Lots of aspects of life in Chez Bebbs will have to change

Most particularly for my gorgeous, funny, crazy, clever boy

But we're looking on the bright side

He could have had something far worse
He's been admitted to the local hospital so they can stabilise things and will possibly be in there for several days - because it's the weekend the steep learning curve we'll have to climb won't really start until Monday when the specialist staff are back on duty but again thankfully we won't have any of this to pay for
He was more than happy for us to come home to sleep - I shall be back in with him first thing in the morning - think I'd better dig out some handstitching - and maybe a pack of cards :o))) As you can imagine posting may well be a little sporadic - bear with me

and then there were blue flowers....

Over the past couple of nights I've worked the nine flowers onto the cornerstones between the flying geese

I've merely transposed the colour placement of the wreath flowers and used slightly different fabrics

Now onto the next round................

I really wasn't sure what I wanted to do but knew that I didn't want to butt up more coloured piecing against those flying geese

But then I also didn't want to do a plain border all the way round with just applique..........


Pieced corners and appliqued sides...........

How does this look for the corner blocks? Most unlike me to start drafting out patterns on paper with coloured pencils being a cut it and wing it sort of a girl

And then although I said I didn't want coloured piecing next to the flying geese I don't have enough of any one cream to do all four sides so I think I just might piece the cream background panels for the applique

OK - Enthusiasm fired again - must dash, I've an appointment with the rotary cutter before I head into work at 9.30am

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Softly and gently does it................

Whilst we were on Sark, our hostess, Nigel's cousin Caroline, was very complimentary about Batik Baskets

Back in the late 70s and 80s she took an art/textile degree at Loughborough and subsequently she worked for Elizabeth Bradley Tapestries on Anglesey so she certainly knows her onions
She hinted that she'd love a quilt for her own bed but would never find the time to make one herself
I suggested that she might like me to make one for her and showing great delight at the prospect she also offered to pay me for it
To be honest she provided us with wonderful accommodation on holiday and would accept nothing in return so I reckon that any payment for a quilt has already been received
I did ask her what sort of colour scheme she would prefer
She intimated that, as her bedroom is all creams and beiges, a palette of soft subtle colours would suit it very well and she has a special fondness for lilacs and duck-egg blues in particular
So on our return I dug out some of my softest and gentlest fabrics to go with the creams and beiges
First a floral wreath with three tier flowers - I've made these flowers often over the years - given a considered colour placement they always look more than the simple shape they are
Also I'd rather like this quilt - which will be a large double bed square - to grow relatively quickly.
So as I'm also fond of Four Block designs, so I decided to work four of the wreaths for the centre
Then I interspaced them with scrappy flying geese - unusually for me there are no defining borders around the blocks - I'm not sure why I didn't bother because I virtually always do on a medallion quilt and I'm not totally convinced I'm happy with their absence, but I shall run with this as plenty of cream will give me open quilting spaces and help to keep the colour scheme light. The flying geese have worked out almost too randomly as there are some close neighbours in the same fabric but again I'm not going to change it - rather keep it as some naive cottagey charm
This is almost as much as I've done so far - the cream corner stones are now in the process of having similar single flowers but in different fabric stitched onto them
So what shall I do for the next round? - who knows, but again I'm resisting the temptation to add a coloured border before I work it

Monday, September 07, 2009

Projects old and new.............

................... have been worked on throughout the summer break and since our return.

'Batik Baskets' now sports a completely hand stitched vine all the way round the 10" border, all undertaken during some wonderful 'me' time on Sark when everyone else was off yomping round the island.
The major task of adding all the leaves and berries is now underway.
Plus a new project is ongoing - soft, gentle colours mixed with a variety of creams - hand appliqued wreaths surrounded by flying geese for starters.
Inspiration for the next round will no doubt come to me - probably at 4 o'clock in the morning.

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

And back to normality

School restarted this morning - well for three of us anyway.

Nigel has been back at work over a week but Sarah doesn't return to 6th Form College until Monday 14th

However the two younger ones and I are back into everything that a new school year brings and steadily on the downhill slope to autumn and winter

The summer break this year seemed very short

We went away slightly later than we usually do which only left us one full week of holiday after our return and the house has been full of a succession of guests since then - maybe that contributed to this feeling - it's certainly my excuse for not getting round to blogging until now anyway

Our holiday saw Nigel, Sarah and I revisiting a place we last went to sixteen years ago although Nigel did manage a fleeting visit a couple of years ago for a funeral so not the best reason to visit the island. For the two youngest it was their first visit to one of Nigel's favourite places.
Sark is a small island making up one of the Channel Islands which belong to Britain but sit very close to the French coast

All the Channel Islands are beautiful but Sark has the peculiar quality of being a place with no cars

The only way to get around the island, which measures 3 miles by 1.5 miles, is either on your own two feet, by bicycle or in a horse-drawn carriage

There are a few tractors on the island for essential work but no other motorised transport (unless you include the couple of invalid scooters ridden by some of the more infirm and elderly residents)

Because there is little in the way of motorised traffic the island has a very laid back, sleepy feel to it and is a wonderfully relaxing place to visit to chill out and relax

Nigel's family have long had connections with the island. His mother and her siblings holidayed there regularly as children just after World War II. Grandpa retired to the island in 1961 and Nigel's aunt and subsequently her niece (one of his cousins) have run the island's post office for several decades

To whet your appetite here are a few shots of the island and its way of life

The island is a 300ft high block of granite raised up out of the English Channel which makes for stunning coastal views

There are two parts to the island, Sark and Little Sark which are joined by a 300ft high isthmus - La Coupee - with a walkway across the top. This permanent structure atop the ridge was only constructed by German prisoners of war at the end of World War II - can you imagine negotiating the crossing in a high wind prior to its construction - it was not unheard of for people to crawl across on all fours in the winter storms. Incidentally horse-drawn carriage passengers still have to get off and walk across letting the carriage cross separately

And a view of Grande Greve - the beach on the western side of La Coupee - all the beaches have a climb down and back up again

Just the place for gathering a jelly fish in a discarded childs beach toy

Havre Gosselin - one of the lesser used harbours on the west side of the island - usually only brought into service when the weather is too rough to land at the islands main jetty and harbour on the eastern side of the island. However some of the many yachts which drop anchor around the island will also use it to come ashore.
Nick high up on the cliffs above Havre Gosselin - who's the King of the Castle?

Sark is far closer to France than England and sadly the original Norman Patois language is dying out - however it still remains in the names of places around the island

We were so lucky with the weather - after a couple of days of misty sea fret at the start of the holiday the sun shone and temperatures soared. However you can tell from this tree that the winter storms have their own way of shaping the island
Sarah soaking up some of those rays on one of the cannons on the Eperquerie Common to the north of the island with the neighbouring islands of Guernsey, Herm and Jethou in the background
Sarah and Nick had the very priviledged opportunity to ride on the back of a driving carriage similar to the one the Duke of Edinburgh races. It's owned by one of the island's residents and Sarah said the speed the horses pulled it at was absolutely breathtaking
Lou spent a lot of her time fishing with her younger cousin and managed to even catch a few now and then
Everywhere was inundated with butterflies

And here's the stunningly beautiful Jersey Moth which has bright orange tips to its wings when extended
A view of the Seigneurie - the home of the Seigneur who is the island's ruler - from across the top of the maze at the end of the Seigneurie Gardens. The last time we were there they had just planted this maze - now we can only just see over the top

Our older two certainly found the centre - and are probably sharing a joke about their parents still struggling to reach the middle

The Seigneurie Gardens are open to the public and very beautiful - the hydrangeas had to be seen to be believed - the range of colours was amazing

My favourite - clematis - rambling through the dahlias (my least favourite! - harbourers of earwigs, yeauchhhh!!!!)

A busy bee unknowingly pollinating a stunning white passionflower
And another of my favourites - this Osteospermum Whirligig always reminds me of the Seigneurie Gardens - I loved it the minute I set eyes on it during our last visit - I have the cream version in my garden now and keep on the lookout for this pink one to join it. I think the Seigneur might have had something to say if I'd dug this one up to bring home :o)))

One of the smaller carriages available for hire to tour the island - all the drivers have to do an island version of The Knowledge to give visitors a comprehensive guide as they drive them round
Of course, on an island with no motor vehicles apart from tractors, how else would you pull the ambulance to take patients down to the harbour and across on The Flying Christine, the Channel Islands emergency boat, to the hospital on Guernsey about an hours journey away. Nigel's cousin's daughter was almost born on the boat on the way to the maternity unit.

The main church on the island - this day there was a visiting brass band playing outside in the sunshine
The island post office which is owned by Nigel's cousin with the distinctive blue pillar box for the mail outside

And here is the island prison with Alan, the current Constable in the doorway - the post of Constable is an elected role which changes each year and is held by one of the residents - there are two cells inside which are seldom used, usually only if someone is more than a bit worse for wear to drink
We thought it would be fun to lock Sarah up in one of the cells - fortunately Alan was happy to let her out

Here's Lou after a lovely meal out one evening at a local hostelry

And the two oldies taking a breather on the walk down to the harbour on our journey home
Finally a farewell to the island................. until the next time