Sunday, 31 May 2015

More Barcelona

Today is so grey and blowy, I walked up the hill earlier from church and thought what a huge difference the sun makes. Everything looks better under a blue sky, we have a beautiful country here it just needs more sun! I have just seen a link that someone shared though that says we are going to be having glorious weather by the end of next week so I look forward to that.
For now here a a few more pictures of my trip, below are some of Sagrada Familia again we didn't get inside as the lines  went right around the building  for tickets and that was on both sides. Also the children were not as interested as I was, they looked at the outside, declared it impressive then continued their conversation with each other about something totally unrelated. It was also expensive to go inside I thought for a family, there is some further information here
So much work still going on here.

A few random tourists in this shot!

These pictures really do not do it justice, the scale and detail are incredible. It is so busy in the area though it was difficult to get good photos as somebody was always in front of you with their head in the way!
We walked from Park Guell  to Sagrada Familia using our map and stopped halfway down for lunch. After we spent a bit of time in that area everyone was ready to head back. 

Lovely palms I wish we could have these in the garden, we have had a few palm plants before that looked amazing but they always die in our cool climate.

                                           The view from my apartment on Friday
So now I need to go and tackle the ironing mountain, cook the dinner, walk the dogs under the grey sky (boo! grey sky) and get back into routine. 

Saturday, 30 May 2015

Barcelona Trip

Hello we got back from Barcelona at 3.30 am today! I was very tired and said I was not going away abroad again because the journey back had me shattered. Well  after a good sleep I have decided that was a silly thing to say as we had such a good time and I love the place.
 I could live there it is so lovely, I have to specify that it is on the coast where we stayed about forty minutes on the train outside the city. I would not want to live in the centre, cities are too crowded and rushed for me with not enough open spaces.  The place we stayed appears to be a Spanish resort so not full of English tourists, we have been before about seven years ago (I thought it was less) and we like the fact that it is mainly Spanish people, you go away to other countries to experience their culture not recreate what you have at home.
I would say in a lot of the bars and restaurants they don't speak much English, same again in the shops but again this was not a problem you can make yourself understood and it forced me to order all  our food and drinks in my limited Spanish. My husband also managed with a bit of point and mime!
We are already planning to go back next year, either the same place or just up the coast one train stop away. We have visited Barcelona City a few times now so next year we will get the train to other places but the coastal area is just beautiful so we will return there but stay out of the city.
I love the Spanish way of life and how everyone comes out and socialises in the evening, children enjoying meals with their parents and the relaxed nature.  Here are  a few pictures below, I may have to post some more tomorrow.
 This was quite a quiet beach really, you can see it is not overcrowded and what a pretty place.

This is Sitges where we visited on the train, the trains are so regular and cheap.  It is a gorgeous place and worth a visit if you are ever close enough.  I know lots of people go on trips organised by tour operators on holiday, don't! They really rip you off by charging way too much, if you don't like getting the train buses are also good. Even an expensive taxi journey for a family of four would work out better than paying tour operators excursion prices per person.

The entrance to Park Guell you can read about it here we had a good walk around the park  but the fee paying bit of it had a three hour wait so we gave that a miss.

A view from near the top.

I have to say if you are going to visit Park Guell in Barcelona please bear in mind it is not for people unsteady on their feet or have health breathing issues.  We are all fit and well but it is all up hill and steps, lots and lots of steps, plus it is very hot.  It was also scenic with lovely views when you get to the top.
We got a train into Barcelona then I asked at the tourist office and we caught a bus outside that took us close by.  It was quite funny because I was following all the stops with my map so we didn't miss it and we were about to get off when a lovely Spanish lady (who must have been watching me checking all the street names and stops) said Park Guell another two stops, in Spanish. We thanked her and the bus stopped at the bottom of the hill.  That is another thing you have a hill to walk up before you even reach the park.  Very kind of that lady to help us.
I will post more tomorrow.

Friday, 22 May 2015

A Smaller Garden

I posted a while ago about how we were having to move our boundary fence due to a letter from Network Rail, well last half term we stayed home so my husband could move the fences and take down a small wall etc.  The garden is quite a bit smaller now and there is still work to due, plants to go in and we haven't decided what to do with the stone from the small wall that was at the top.  Some of it has been used to make a retaining wall for a small rockery but that is all.
Here is the top of my garden now ( work to do still so excuse poppies and bits poking through!)
We have had to move the seat sideways on now to make it fit, before it was beside the tree seat at the top.

This is how much garden we lost down the side.

It is a shame but nothing we can do, the weeds and brambles will grow back up to the fence now as Network Rail never maintained the land. Maybe we should send them a letter about trespassing when their brambles start to grow over our fence again!
We are off on holiday and my parents are house/dog sitting for us (dogs not coming with us as we are going to Barcelona) so rest of garden work will have to wait.  Must remember to get outdoor furniture out as my dad likes to sit out in the sun, if there is sun here next week.

Changing the subject a little if anyone knows of a good online fabric site that delivers to the UK could you send me a message. I'm having real trouble finding fabric that isn't all the same stuff they have been selling for years. I don't want to be wearing the same pattern for the rest of my life so I have resorted to buying a couple of bits to take away but it always annoys me as I could have made them if I could get hold of the fabric. There are some fabulous U.S sites but the delivery to the UK is ridiculous I don't understand why as I have bought books and CDs from there and the cost has not been so ludicrous. So if anyone knows of somewhere that stocks fashionable fabric please share.

Tuesday, 5 May 2015

Make what you wear

 I have been thinking while planning what to do with some fabric that has been left forgotten in my sewing box that I'm sure many of you watched the sewing bee when it was on.  I bet you also wondered if you could tackle some of the challenges that were presented to the contestants as the series progressed, they always make sure they have to show a range of skills to get crowned the sewing bee (whatever that means!)  I always think they all do remarkably well and are far too hard on themselves.
A lot of what they have to make I wouldn't want to have a go at, for example corsetry, millinery and 3D fancy dress design.  They always throw in some weird stuff and I wouldn't want to tackle that  at home let alone with a camera crew breathing down my neck.
People do love a challenge though and some may also love that that challenge if it takes place on T.V and good for them.  My sewing is preferred in private, where I can curse the mistakes and quickly turn them into something else before anyone else sees!
So this brings me to what I was thinking about with the fabric, don't make something just because you haven't got one or haven't made one, it will likely end up at the back of a cupboard unworn.  I know this now from experience, I also know I don't like waste, time or money.  If on the other hand you will happily spend hours and hour on  replica gown from the 19th century complete with accurate corsetry and petticoats just for the thrill of knowing how to do it, well go right ahead and have fun.
My wardrobe does need some variation but usually the stuff I make I wear as it is similar to other items own and sticking with this involves less waste for me.
Below is a variation on a dress pattern I made myself which I have shown before, but here the dresses are side by side so you can see that I have just altered the sleeve, neck or length to change the look.

 All of these have been worn often including the cream checked one which is the latest.  My least favourite is the one in beige with small dots on the end, I did a tapered skirt on that one, not pleats or gathers. The fabric is a bit dull and I don't think it will be around for long. (charity shop calling)
Sometimes sleeves or detail at the front can change the look and really, dresses are all pretty much the same shape.
With this in mind there will be more of these added because they only use a metre of fabric and are very quick. I do really need to make some t-shirts though as I often need these to go with jeans and just find I have a wardrobe full of dresses, a couple more skirts in solid colours would also also be useful.  I did buy the fabric to make a grey skirt last year then made a bag out of it instead, but at least the bag sold.
I've been feeling pretty rubbish this last twenty four hours with a migraine that has only just lifted, I will try and resolve to make t-shirts and add a bit of variety.

Saturday, 2 May 2015

Books and Garden Plans

The weather today has not been very good here, lots of rain and grey sky. So while we were having a cup of tea and looking outside at the gloom we were thinking about what to do with our pond.  We have had a pond at all three houses we have lived at and my husband has built all of them, recently however we have lost all of our fish in quite a short time, over a couple of months.
 We had ten very large koy carp, we had them from small and some moved here with us, a few months ago they started to disappear and three died. This has left us with an empty pond, my husband thinks it was a heron that took them as we have seen it around but due to the nature of where our pond is they can't usually fly in at that angle or so he thought.  It did crash into the kitchen window one day though and went with a right bang!  So, I'm not entirely convinced that it got away with so many huge fish but what other explanation?
This has made him think is there any point adding more fish for them to be poached by the heron, so earlier he suggested keeping the stone base there and building me a greenhouse on top. He would have to cut an opening at the bottom and build the wooden frame and roof.
Here is our empty pond...

So I quite like this idea, I have a bit of extra time in the week now that  I finish at lunch on Thursday, it would be good to try and grow stuff we can eat. We would probably keep the little pond at the side for a feature.

I had a look at a few images and liked the look of this one...
I don't know if this image will last it's just one I found on google images, just as an idea that sort of door, plain frames, painted but we would probably have it all wood at the back as we wouldn't be able to get to clean the glass on the other side.
So if we can source materials cheap enough this may be happening later on.

I visited the library earlier and got three books to read, well two to read and one cook book.

I thought the Allergy free cook book might be useful as I am not impressed with the gluten free cooking so far! It used to be the case that I could make pastry and buns and everything would be edible, now it is all very hit and miss and sort of puts you off trying any baked goods.. The gluten free bread that I made was great when fresh but when I froze it as recommended it did not taste good defrosted! Or toasted. 

 The other two looked interesting the cover of smart change mentions how technology is supposed to make our lives easier but people are more prone to procrastination than ever, checking facebook etc.  I can see that would be a problem I know there are people who are on that all the time, I choose to have a look about once a week just in case there are messages for me on there but I  have thought maybe I will close it. The only benefit I see is  that you can sometimes sign into stuff with it for speed. 
Black Swan is about random, improbable events and how we can't always rationalize or have predicted them, it looked a bit different and was likened to Outliers on the cover and I enjoyed that. 

Friday, 1 May 2015

Repairing Shirt Sleeves

Today  I tackled a ripped sleeve on one of my husband's favourite shirts, it was not a long job but one that had been put off.  Why is that always the way? You have these little jobs hanging around which are really quick to do but you put them off and keep moving them out of the way when really you should just get on with it.
So this rip in the sleeve is a common problem in men's shirts that get a lot of wear, pressure at the elbow and a gradual thinning of the cotton means eventually they just give out. Usually it is a neat rip in a straight line rather than the jagged tear you get from snagging it on something.

Now a lot of people would just throw the shirt in the bin (wasteful!) if the shirt was looking worn or damaged in other areas or was no-longer regular wear then maybe I would break the fabric down to be used as something else, failing that take it to the charity shop. They do get paid for the weight of rags they receive also so don't go thinking things are not good enough to take, just check with your local store.
The shirt is in very good condition every where else, it is still a favourite (Paul Smith shirt found on a sale rack a few years ago) and therefore worth the time.
So what I usually do is just add a fake seam going across the back of the sleeve to hide the frayed, torn bits. 
Turn the sleeve inside out and pull it flat...

Sew a straight line of stitching just on the back part of the sleeve tapering it as you start and finish just like you would if you were sewing a dart.  When you have done that set your machine on a small zig zag and sew across again to capture all the frayed bits.  Then repeat on the other sleeve making sure you sew in exactly the same place, this way your shirt will not look odd.

Now on the good side as you can see this shirt is checked so you lose a little pattern, however this is a close up shot and it is not noticeable when hung up or worn. I think someone would have to know and be having a really close up inspection of your elbow to see it. ( Who does that?) 
Another nagging little job done and it didn't take long at all. If you have more damage to shirt sleeves than this you could always consider making them short.
I have also used this similar method on my son's chino's when he fell and made a small hole to the knee (they were new!) I did the same seam across both knees and on that occasion I also top stitched it. It just looked like a design feature and so saved them from being ruined. 

Another Shift Dress

The dress I made today is from the free New Look pattern I got with Sew magazine last month. It is very similar to the scuba dress I made bu...