Friday, April 27, 2012

Two gifts in one week

In the past 5 days I've been truly spoilt and received two amazing gifts from a wonderful new friend.

Sarah, at Sarah Sews Quilting Blog, kindly awarded me the Liebster Award for my blog.  We met through blogging and through our mutual enrollment with the School of Stitched Textiles - Sarah doing her City and Guilds Patchwork and Quilting, and myself doing the Embroidery Level 3, and now we have a lovely friendship where we chat about everything and all sorts, not just our C&G studies.  
The Liebster Award is a blog award, which apparently originated in Germany, to showcase bloggers with fewer than 200 followers.  Upon accepting the award the recipient must then pass it on to five more blogs of note, which is a wonderful way of introducing bloggers to your own favourite blogs.

The Liebster Convention says you must:-
1. Thank your award presenter on your blog and link back to him/her;
2. Copy and paste the award to your blog;
3. Present the Liebster Award to 5 blogs (with less than 200 followers) that you love;
4. Leave a comment on their blog to let them know;
5. Have faith that those award winners will spread the blog love.

For my own list of 5 favourite blogs, Sarah's would be one of them, but of course I can't pass the award back to her, but please do pop over and read her blog as its very enjoyable.

I would now like to send this award to the following 5 wonderful blog sites that I've been following for quite some time :
Louise at LouGardiner
Miriam at  77 Belle

And on top of all of this, yesterday I received a parcel in the post, once again from my lovely friend Sarah, and inside was the most wonderful hand made bag and a massive bar of chocolate, to congratulate me on completing my City and Guilds course after 7 long years. 
The bag was made by Sarah and is just delightful and a brilliant size for so many things - its fits a giant block of chocolate PERFECTLY!!  I'm going to use it to keep my mini scissors and needles in when I'm stitching in the evenings and shall think about Sarah each time I see it.  Thank you Sarah, its wonderful, and I will cherish it!

Isn't blogging a marvellous way to meet the most wonderful people?!

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Beautiful Albany

Last week we took ourselves down south to beautiful Albany for a few days of well earned rest.  The last time we were in Albany was about 12 years ago, and this time we saw huge changes, but its still a quaint and scenic city, and I'd love to live there!
The climate was a bit of a shock to the system when we arrived after going from low 30's to 15C, but we soon got used to it and relished the fresh air and cool temps.  We stayed in the most beautiful accommodation at The Rocks Hotel overlooking Princess Royal Harbour, built in 1882 for one of Albany's first Mayors. Later it was a vice regal residence of state governors, a maternity hospital, a school, a surgery and doctors residence, a US Officer's rest and recreation centre and a Girls hostel.
Its the only 5 star heritage accommodation in WA, and the attention to detail  that the owner Noelene has put into the decor, gardens and building is second to none.   

You can just spot hubby on the balcony outside our bedroom doors.  Below is the room we stayed in ... pristine clean, and very comfy.  
We had the run of the hotel to ourselves for the two nights we stayed, but couldn't stay longer as there was a wedding party coming in the next day (perfect spot for a wedding!) which was a shame as we'd love to have stayed for another couple of nights.  This is the billiard room next to our room, and where we spent the first night playing pool. 
The next two photos are the view from our balcony.  It was so scenic that the first night we didn't go out to dinner, instead we sat out on the balcony watching the rain coming in, and nibbling on cheese, crackers, cold meat and dips with the most delicious bottle of port we've ever had.  It was a Yilgarnia port vintage 2007 from the local winery Yilgarnia near Denmark.  Great night! 

The Rocks has three garden areas, one is the front lawn and sweeping driveway into the property with a tennis court below; another is a garden to the side of the property with native plants and urns, and the third is this stunning formal garden with herbs and lavender, roses, garden benches and hedges.  I must've taken a hundred photos just of the plants in this garden.

Breakfast was delicious - a cooked one of course, but there are about 5 or 6 different types of breakfasts to choose from, all taken in the breakfast room.  You can see through the open door that there is another room to guests, this is the sun room flooded with natural sun light and where two little pooches like to play. 
One in particular, Eskimo, was very cheeky and loved attention, whereas his mate Mac is older and quieter, but none the less appealing.  This is little Eskimo wanting her tummy rubbed.
Despite some rain on the first day it didn't dampen our spirits, instead it blew away the cobwebs and refreshed us.  Check the rainbow behind me.
Tea and scones at Emu Beach were scrumptious, and the beach was beautiful.  The water was really clear and clean ... if this is what its like on an Autumn day, imagine how nice it is in summer!
Although it looks like a storms coming in, it blew over quickly with just a light rain shower. 

The view from the Anzac Memorial is spectacular, looking left to Middleton Beach, beyond this the next stop is Antarctica.
It seems appropriate with Anzac Day tomorrow to share Albany's memorial dedicated to the fallen soldiers. It was from Albany in 1914 that 70,000 Australian and New Zealand soldiers left these shores to fight in WWI, many never to return, with Albany being the last place in Australia they ever saw.  Of the 3,000 horses that accompanied the soldiers, only one returned.  "Lest we Forget".

 The view from the top of Mount Clarence looking down at the memorial and into Frenchman's Bay.  The statue is of a mounted Australian soldier assisting a New Zealand soldier whose horse has been wounded.
Of course, a trip to Albany wouldn't be complete without visiting the Gap in Torndirrup National Park.
The water just surges up through this gap, crashing into the rocks, and the noise is incredible. The Gap was formed purely by the waves of the Great Southern Ocean crashing against the granite and carving the gap, forming a 25 metre sheer drop.  Even though we were standing on a platform with railings around, my stomach was up in my mouth and my legs were like jelly.
All along the coast here are granite rocks and crashing waters, and the colours in the water are amazing.  Later in the year you can spot whales in this area, but it wasn't the right season for us, so it's a good excuse to go back again later in the year for some whale watching. 

I wasn't too keen on Ian standing so close here, but its not as close as it appears in the photo - but close enough!!!  My stomach was churning all over the place, I definitely wasn't comfortable until we were heading back to the carpark. 
 And another of nature's spendours in Albany is the Natural Bridge with the ocean surging underneath.  Its incredible the beauty nature gives us.
We drove around to the old whaling station and on the way stopped to look at the beach at Frenchman's Bay ... can you spot the fisherman?  On the shore you can see a cluster of rocks with a huge rock sitting atop ... this rock weighs 100 tonnes and was washed into its place by a king wave, quite a feat considering a 100 tonnes is the power of a steam locomotive.
The next day were took a drive to the nearby town of Denmark and had lunch in a pub overlooking the park and Denmark River. The colours on the autumn leaves were lovely and of course, I had to collect some for my sketchbook. 

All too soon it was time to head home again, but the break was lovely and now I'm refreshed and ready to get back into some creative work.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Finished !!!!

The last few months have been busy, busy, busy with my head down and bum up, working on finishing my Level 3 - Embroidery City and Guilds course, and ..... I've done it!  Module 12 is on its way to the UK as we speak (or read) and hopefully I've submitted enough for the final EV's assessment on 18th June.
What a relief, after 7 years of studying.   Yes, I know I'm slow, but sometimes life just gets in the way, and thats the beauty of distance learning, you do it at your own pace.  I've thoroughly enjoyed it, although there were times when I struggled to think outside the box, and the down side of distance learning is that you've no-one to bounce ideas off, so you're really on your own, and at times I wondered if I was on the wrong track, but all that is par for the course.  In the long run thats what determines your own style of work. 
I haven't yet found a particular "style" that I could say is "me", but I know what I'm comfortable with and what I enjoy doing the most.  I'm not a very loose artist, I find it hard to be very free in my designs and way of working, I'm more constrained and like to work in a precise way, but thats just me.  On saying that, the loose methods and designs I did do, pleased me, and probably surprised me in the end as well, so who knows, now I'm free to work at my own pace I might loosen up more. 
The other night my hubby was looking through my work from the very beginning and asked if I could believe I'd done some of the work, and I have to admit, some of it surprises me, but it also shows how far I've come and what I've learnt.  I have a better understanding and appreciation of modern art, varying techniques, how designs evolve and come about from primary sources, history - not just in textiles either, and a whole load more.  I don't regret it for one second and would encourage anyone who's considering undertaking such a course to go forth and grab the chance, because you won't regret it. 
I've included photos of some of my note books I created ... the first one was my notebook on Fabrics, Conservation & Laundering Methods.  I used up hubby's old shirts to create the cover as a little bit of a tribute to wonderful man who has supported and encouraged me throughout.
The second book was all about my white work techniques and was made with layers of fabric and net, free machined around the contours of a layer of lace to give it dimension. 
Next was a sketchbook, covered with pva glue and tissue paper, and washes of acrylic paint and wax.  Makes a good hardy cover, idea for a lot of handling.
The last one is my notebook on Patchwork Quilting and Applique and consists of brown paper, vliesofix, scrim, hand made felt and some hand stitching.
 And finally ... you can see the aftermath of all my work in my studio ... yes, I've a LOT of cleaning and tidying up to do, but thats for another day ... for the next couple weeks I'm putting my feet up and relaxing.