Category Archives: Travel

The Colours of the Caribbean

Over the years I’ve discovered the Caribbean from afar. I’ve read books and articles about the islands, seen documentaries, and drooled over friends’ holiday photos. I knew that all the islands have a different character, and were a riot of colours. That the flowers were hot pinks and reds, the foliage lush and green, the sands (generally speaking) almost white, soft and fine, and that the sea was a glorious, ever-changing shade of turquoise.

But it wasn’t until 2 weeks ago that I finally made it here for the first time and the beautiful reality of it just blew me away.

As a quilter, I love colour, and so, naturally, I was in my element! And all I’ve been thinking about for the past few weeks is how to capture the essence of the Caribbean in a quilt.

Or, indeed, in several 🙂

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Blues, aquas, turquoises

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Luscious shades of green

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Yellows and oranges

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Hot pinks, purples and reds

These photos may not even begin to do it justice, but hopefully will be enough to spark memories of the beautiful colours that we saw during our wonderful holiday.

I’m still not sure how I want to capture all this vibrancy in quilt form, but the Caribbean we saw was gloriously untamed and wild with colour, so I’m pretty sure it will be scrappy and probably quite improvisational. And thanks to an impromptu gift from the wonderful RR, I know what I’m going to use for the backing…

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And one more thing I’m sure of is that I just can’t wait  to get started!

Cricket in Barbados

RR and I love to travel. We love re-visiting our favourite spots over and over, as well as seeing new places for the first time. For us, one of the best things about travelling is the opportunity to try new things. Sometimes this can be as mundane as trying a new food, other times it’s a new activity, like when we went to Japan and learnt the technique of roketsu, or wax-resist dying, or Catalan cooking on Barcelona. But in Barbados it was cricket.

Yes, cricket!

Like many Brits, cricket forms part of the backdrop to my childhood. Dad was always watching the cricket on the tv, or listening to Test Match Special on the radio. Cricket scores were ever-present on the evening news and in the newspapers. And, of course, there were always the summer-afternoon matches on the village green. But until this week, I had never even watched a match on the television, let alone in person.

Whilst RR and I aren’t exactly fanatical about sport in general, we do love to watch baseball (a legacy from our time in the US). And to be honest I had always considered baseball to be the exciting and fast-paced relation to the interminable cricket matches I vaguely remembered from my childhood. When I thought of cricket, I thought of matches that seemed to go on for days and days without anyone actually winning. Dull or what?!

Then we came to Barbados, and all that changed.

Just before we left to come on holiday, RR realised that England would be playing the West Indies in the final match of a 20:20 series on the day after we arrived. Given that cricket is so popular in Barbados, we thought that it would be sold out, but we contacted our hotel on the off-chance to enquire about availability. The upshot was that the wonderful Mr J offered to pop into Bridgetown on his day off to pick up a pair of tickets for us. We were more than impressed – I mean, can you imagine anyone taking the time to do that in England???!

And so, on the Thursday morning, 2 cricket tickets were delivered to our breakfast table, and a mere four hours later, we were at the Kensington Oval cricket ground in Bridgetown.

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It was hot and sticky, and we were in what seemed to be the cricket equivalent of the bleachers, surrounded by fans of all ages, from well-behaved and immaculately turned-out school kids through to excitable 70-something grandmothers shouting abuse at the umpire. England won the toss and elected to bat first, and so began an wonderful afternoon.

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I have to admit that I couldn’t quite manage to follow all the rules, and cricket-terminology still leaves me totally stumped, but even I got quite caught up in it all. As the scores mounted, and the beer flowed freely, excitement reached fever-pitch, until the West Indies were left to score 6 from the last ball to win the match.

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They didn’t. England won. The visiting fans were ecstatic (apparently we don’t win very often…), the West Indian fans congratulating them, and happy chatter surrounded us as we made our way back out to meet our taxi driver. And I really enjoyed the whole experience. It was something totally new for me, unexpectedly entertaining and enjoyable, and, clichéd though it may sound, it made me feel like we connected a bit more with the real Barbados.

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Travel broadens the mind, as they say. And the cricket certainly broadened mine, challenging my cricket-is-boring prejudices. It was brilliant! And who knows, I may even go and watch another match some day. It makes a change from sewing in any case!

Hotspot with a view

This morning our boat anchored just off the coast of Ile-des-Saints, Guadeloupe, and RR and I took the tender into the marina at Terre-Haut in Marigot Bay.

It is just beautiful.

Although we’ve loved all the destinations on our cruise, this is our favourite so far by a mile. Bizarrely enough, we find ourselves feeling more at home here, on a French-speaking island, than we have done on any of the English-speaking ones we’ve visited.

And having explored a little, and spoken some French, we’re now partaking of a drink before lunch in a beautiful café on the marina, with the most glorious view.

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Last minute holiday sewing

As I write this post, I am on my way to Barbados. And boy do we need a holiday! New York over Thanksgiving was marvellous, and the UK a few weeks ago was wonderful too, but with so many friends and family we wanted to see and so much we wanted to fit in, neither could really be classed as relaxing. Lots of fun, certainly. But exhausting too. We’re bone-achingly tired. 10 days of proper rest and relaxation is most definitely called for.

I’d already made some clothes to take away with me, primarily a couple of pretty skirts, but the last few days have seen a veritable flurry of activity in my sewing room. My first little project was caused by the realisation that I needed a plain white top to wear with said new skirts. My goes-with-everything top from last year sadly no longer fits (it must have shrunk in storage…), and I couldn’t find anything suitable in the shops in Lausanne. So I decided to make one, using some white broderie anglaise fabric I had in my stash. The result was this precious little top, which I adorned with a little turquoise ribbon as a pretty trim.

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After that, all was ready to pack, and as I was merrily putting things into cases, I came across RR’s ratty old drawstring bag full of various cables, chargers and adapters. I have always hated this bag. It’s too big for what he uses it for, so everything ends up in it all higgledy piggledy. You can never find what you’re looking for in it, and everything gets all tangled up and messy. Now, I had some Spitfire fabric left over from a cushion I’d made him for Christmas, and I wondered if I could make a better bag to contain all those cables.

Of course I could! And here it is.

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I used u-Handbag.com’s Sugar Loaf Pouch pattern again, only this time I borrowed the template from my friend Ms C, so it actually turned out the right size. I still can’t work out what went wrong with the printing the first time around, but thankfully this time it worked like a dream.

Then I decided to make myself a couple. Just because I was already all packed and I had the time and I was jealous of RR’s bag. I used a couple of fat quarters I’d had prettying up my stash for a good three or four years. I made the larger size for all my cables, and the smaller one for a little holiday medical kit – tablets, plasters, etc.

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Sitting together, pretty as can be…

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Side view

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View from top

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Check out that top-stitching!

I’m pretty sure I’ll be making some more soon, given that they’re so pretty, and so easy to make (once you have the right size pattern template, that is!) Imagine what a lovely little gift that would make, stuffed full of yummy Swiss chocolates 🙂

But for the next few weeks, all I have to concentrate on is deep rest and extreme relaxation.

Bring it on 🙂