Monday, 1 August 2016


My hubby & I spent a fortnight/beginning of June on a Portugal road trip in our VW Campervan. Lovely, & lucky I know but I hasten to add (she says disappointedly thinking of aesthetics not the  practicalities), not in one of those really cool old ones painted a dreamy blue (which according to my hubby, would have given us nothing but problems due to their air cooled engines!).

VW Campervan

Anyway, in our fairly new VW Campervan,  we took the 24 hour ferry from Portsmouth to Santander in Northern Spain. It was a very smooth sailing and despite the length of the journey time went pretty quickly. It would have taken us 2-3 days if we had taken the Dover to Calais route and driven through France.

As we arrived about 5.30 in the evening we had already booked a campsite for the first night not far from the port. We had roughly planned our route and length of journey each day with information on campsites. Our second night was just north of the Portuguese border and by the 4th night we had reached the south of Portugal.

We tried to keep off the motorways and enjoy the scenic roads. This did prove difficult on a few occasions because some of the smaller roads weren't quite in our direction. For those unaware (& we weren't until friends told us about a month before), payment for tolls on some of the Portuguese motorways has to be made before you travel by registering your credit card at specific points when you cross the border. However, there are not many of these registration places and we entered Portugal near Braganca where there was no information on how to pay. Apparently, there are car registration number recognition cameras along certain stretches of the motorways and after a while we panicked and got off.

We had stopped off earlier in Braganca and purchased a Data Sim card for our iPad so we could have internet to help find the campsites etc so when we pulled off the motorway we spent about an hour searching online to find a way of paying. Let me tell you, the Portuguese do not make it easy even though it says "Easy Pay"! Somehow, we found a link to purchasing a toll payment card which would notify you by text when your card needed topping up. Despite buying this we weren't 100% sure it would work so we avoided motorways unless we really had no option.

I was absolutely bowled away by the greenness of the countryside and the abundance of wildflowers, not only along the verges but in the fields. I don't know how many times I made the other half pull in so I could take photos! Talking about taking photos, I really struggle to see the display window when the sun is shining or if it's really bright outside so a lot of the time I haven't got a clue if I'm capturing what I intended to capture or not. Or, even, whether its in focus or not. If anyone has any tips they would be gratefully received.

During our trip south we went through regions with mountain sides full of vineyards or eucalyptus trees, rolling hills full of Cork tree meadows, poppy or wildflower fields, cactus fields & newly planted pines and finely, a cliff faced coastline with rolling waves perfect for surfers. The Duoro Valley was especially breathtaking as were the fascinating castles and forts in lots of the cities and towns.

On the south coast of Portugal we stayed 5 nights near Lagos we spent the time mainly relaxing reading and sunbathing with plenty of food and wine. I also took my knitting. I couldn't help myself! As I wouldn't be able to sew or tend to my garden for a couple of weeks I knew I would get withdrawal symptoms so a knitting project was perfect.

On one of our trips out we walked into Praia da Luz then followed a coastal path towards Lagos. Although the path was steep up to the top of the cliff it was quite flat and wide. It lead us to the next beach where we had lunch. The grilled Sardines were delicious. The next section of the coastal path was much trickier than the first. It was very narrow and rocky and got very close to the cliff edge. And I mean, really close! That was when we decided to turn around. It was not worth the risk. 

Our journey home took us north towards Lisbon then across country into Spain then north back to Santander. As we approached the border between Portugal and Spain we had no choice but to use the motorway. We were nearly at the border when the road had been reduced to one lane when a policeman directed us off the motorway into the service area where another policeman waved us down to speak to us. Talk about scared! We thought they were going to check to see if we had paid our motorway tolls. I always think worse case scenario! We'd heard about the police in some countries accompanying you to a cash machine to pay fines and who is going to argue with a policeman when you are in a foreign country? Anyway, we were told to park over by an official looking lady with a clipboard. She came up to us and said "we would like you to come and fill in a questionnaire about tourism". What??!! How have they the right to involve the police in a press gang kind of way to get the visitors to their country to fill in a questionnaire? We didn't feel we had a choice but to do what they asked. It put a little bit of a dampener on leaving Portugal I must say.

Anyway, overall, Portugal is lovely with beautiful scenery. Definitely worth touring around whether in a hotel or under canvas or campervan.

I have just realised this is quite a lengthy post so I apologise for that, but I hope this information is helpful for anyone planning a similar trip. If anyone would like to know our precise route then comment below and I will get back to you.

Hope you all have fun where ever you get to this summer.


Wednesday, 18 May 2016

Baby Daisy's Pram Quilt

 Once I knew we were expecting our first grandchild in August last year I wanted to knit and learn crochet and quilt and sew and ..... oooo so many things & never enough time.

Dinosaur Taggy

It has been years since I made anything for a baby or child so I thought I'd start off by making a tag toy dinosaur for friend's baby to get me going.  

I knitted a blanket, I taught myself to crochet and I made a daisy granny square blanket (each new square was an improvement on the one before) as well as a cot quilt, a pram quilt and a floor mat. I also made a double sided blanket from flannel and minky.

Today I will share the pram quilt made for my granddaughter Daisy, who was born on 11th August.
My daughter chose the fabrics, pastel mix of blues, greens, yellows and pinks. As you can see, she chose floral prints (she takes after me....floral prints are my favourite!)

A couple of  Cath Kidston & Lecien fabrics in this selection. Can you see the cute Mabel Lucie Attwell Boo print on the end?

Fabric cut into 5" squares

I decided on simple squares trying the "quilt as you go" method. It was a little fiddly making sure the fabric pulled straight and that it did not get caught as I sewed the layers together.

First two rows sewn together with wadding and backing fabric

This shows the first two rows opened out

The third row placed right side down against bottomed of second row

Once all the rows had been quilted together I had to machine quilt in the ditch through all the layers from top to bottom down each row. I chose a minty fabric with white spots for the binding.

Adding the binding

Finished pram quilt

This size quilt is quite quick to make so I made three more for other new babies born in 2015! 


Saturday, 30 April 2016


I've been making loads of things since I found out my daughter was expecting our first grandchild but have only just got around to making her her first dress. I've been dying to do this for ages but I prefer making summer dresses rather than winter ones so now is the perfect time to start despite the current chilly spell.
I have loads of fabric in my stash already but with so much inspiration on pinterest and instagram and with sooooo many beautiful, cute and fun fabric being introduced I can't but help myself but order more!
I discovered some Lewis and Irene  fabric called Bunny Garden and chose the Bunny Wreath on light grey, Pretty Flowers on pink and Leo Bunny on pink.

Bunny Garden by Lewis & Irene

I decided on a pinafore dress pattern from the patterns I already had from when my daughter was small. I wanted the dress to be quite simple because as I want to make so many things I'm all for things that don't take too long to make.  I found a pattern I had traced which I think was from an old Burda magazine. I had bought quite a few of these magazines when my children were small but had thrown them out at some point. However, for some reason I had kept this one.

My granddaughter is now 8 months old but is quite long in the body and lets say, a big big for her age, so she is in clothes for 9-12 months. I chose the 62/68 size because the bigger size seemed so big compared to her measurements and some of her existing clothes.

It has been a very long time since I made a child's dress. Almost 20 years, so I could't quite remember how to stitch the bodice part of a pinafore dress, or at least in what order to do things. When I copied the pattern all those years ago I had only written down a few brief notes so I am so grateful for the internet and YouTube for all those tutorials available for things like this. I found a Youtube video which I must say was brilliant. Without blowing my own trumpet, I know most basic things in most crafts and only need a little reminder every now and again. So when I'm looking for a quick reminder I find some tutorials so frustrating because they seem to go on and on so much about why they do something or what they are using or why, so it takes forever to get to the point or help that I'm looking for. This tutorial by  Melly Sews is brilliant.

I have shared how I made the pinafore below. Maybe some of it will be helpful to someone and please ask if I've missed any stage out or have not explained it well.

Pinafore Tutorial

NB I mainly pin my pieces together and only occasionally tack things in place. If you prefer,  tacking is an option.

Cut out the front and back pattern pieces for the bodice on the fold, once in the top fabric and once in chosen lining

Placing the two front pieces right sides together stitch from the bottom of the arm hole all the way around the neck to the bottom of the other arm hole. Repeat this with the back main fabric and lining. Clip curves. Turn them right sides out and press.

Open out the side seams and pin the seams together (right sides facing) manipulating the seams to make them less bulky, pin and stitch.

Top stitch all around the edges.

Cut out skirt - to make things simple I used a width of fabric. I wanted the matching panties to show so my skirt part was quite short.

If you are happy with the length of your fabric you can hem the bottom edge now.

Using the longest stitch on your machine stitch 2 rows in the seam allowance along the top of the front and back halves of the skirt (gather stitches).

Machine stitch the side seams. Pull the bottom threads of the gather stitches until they match the corresponding bottom edges of the bodice pieces. Pin and stitch making sure the gathers and excess fabric do not ride up and get caught whilst you are sewing.

Stitch button holes on the top of the shoulder sections of either the front or back, depending on your pattern, of the bodice and sew a button on the corresponding strap.

I added a pocket and a bow on the skirt section.

I also made panties which were quite straight forward, following another pattern I had. I cut out two pattern pieces, stitch the front and back seams with right sides facing, then I had to bring the crutch sections together and stitch.

The waist band had to be turned over and stitched leaving a gap to thread elastic through. The same for the leg casings. The pattern gave a guide for the length of both waist and legs. After threading the elastic through using a safety pin and stitching the ends together, the opening had to be sewn closed.

I also made a headband from elasticated lace and a bow made from the Leo Bunny fabric.

I can't wait to try this outfit on my little granddaughter. And I hope it fits! :-)


Friday, 8 April 2016


Hello, sorry I've been away for so long! Since the news my daughter was expecting our first grandchild I've done nothing apart from sewing and knitting so have got out of the habit of posting on my blog!

There were so many things I wanted to make that all my time was taken up creating blankets, quilts and cardigans. I will get around to sharing them but just for a very quick post I'll show you the most recent thing I created using some fabrics I bought all the way from Australia.

I used spotty fabric from my stash and the ever so cute Little Lamb in blue ( little-lamb-in-blue-bambino-fabric-by-dear-little-world )   and Deer Little Friends (deer-little-friends-bambino-fabric-by-dear-little-world-pink)  with pink polka dots bought from Dolly Henry 

Hope to be back very soon with more of my creations


Tuesday, 27 January 2015

Fairy Lights!

The other day something caught my eye through the front door window....."Oh" I said to myself  "Thought I had taken down all the Christmas lights from outside!" Then I took a closer look and realised the sun was shining through the dead flower heads of a Hydrangea in my front garden.

The sun shining through Hydrangea in January

It looked magical. What a delight on a cold & windy day in January.