tialys

English but now living in the south of France near the mountains and lakes. I love to talk, create stuff, hunt down cool vintage stuff and learn new things.

Homepage: http://www.thetialys.wordpress.com

Tiptoe Through The Tunics

Remember I made a tunic for Madamoiselle Tialys the Younger recently? (If not it’s here). Well, I fancied making one for myself and it just so happened I had the perfect fabric already in my stash which doesn’t happen very often.

Not last time, but the time before that when Ali over at Thimberlina organised the Yorkshire Spoolettes meet up, she ran a competition for people who couldn’t attend to guess the total mileage undertaken by all the people who did.  By some amazing stroke of luck I hit upon the nearest mileage (in the international entry category) and Ali sent me some goodies.  I had said I wanted to make an Agnes top but she was very generous and sent me more than enough of this black and white stretch fabric so I thought I’d save it for something a bit more substantial than a t-shirt.

So I did and here’s what I made with it.

I made the same view tunic as before but with the straight hem instead of the pointy one.

In other tunic news, I’m currently having a rocky relationship with scuba fabric.  I thought I’d give it a whirl for a different style of tunic I wanted to make for Mlle T. and she chose the fabric (so don’t blame me!).

I bought this pattern which seemed simple enough but the Mademoiselle had other ideas.

She wanted bell sleeves so following Ali over at Thimberlina’s example ,although using a slightly different method,  I adapted it as requested.

I had a bit of a struggle with the neckline, back and front,  as it came out too gapey which might be due to the scuba fabric although the pattern does list ‘novelty knits’ as one of the suggested fabrics.  I’ve improved the neck problem a little by taking off the facing which I wasn’t keen on using anyway, reducing the back seam allowance and cutting the facing slightly smaller than it was before so I could stretch it round the neckline a little more which brought it in a bit though it’s still not perfect.  The sleeves and the bottom require hemming and I’m not sure how to tackle that yet – I’ll do some research.  I know I could leave it as it won’t fray and the hem of the tunic would probably be O.K. but the sleeves don’t look right unhemmed in my opinion as you can see the plain white reverse of the fabric which just looks odd.  (The trailing thread will be cut off though – I didn’t leave that as a design feature).

My conclusions about scuba fabric are that I don’t much like it.  I don’t like the slightly spongy feel and the vaguely ‘cheap’ look and feel of it – although there might be different qualities I suppose.  The designs are a bit ‘urgent’ too if you ask me.  I don’t like the floral one Mademoiselle chose – I think it looks frumpy but there you go.

I must try and get over my dislike though as she also chose this one 😮

I know what I’d like to do with it but I think the only way to get away with actually wearing it would be as a very fitted t-shirt with 3/4 length sleeves perhaps.  Any ideas or would you accidentally on purpose lose it at the bottom of your bin fabric stash?  How do you feel about scuba fabric if  indeed you have ever encountered it?  Is it just me?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Funny What Can Bring On An Attack of Nostalgia

Back in the misty mists of time when I was a teenager, I used to commute to school as my parents decided to move out of London and I wanted to keep going to the same school so I took a train every day.  As a result, all my friends were up in London and I also had a Saturday job so every weekend I would again take the train to London to work in the Kings Road in a trendy perfume and cosmetics shop and then, after work, I’d  pitch up at my friends house (smelling amazing) and we would start getting ready for the night life.  Sunday morning we would lie in and then, more often than not, we’d take ourselves off to Petticoat Lane market to spend our Saturday job money on new clothes.  Sunday afternoon we would lounge about watching old black and white films on the T.V. being horrible about the actors before getting ready to go out on Sunday evening, arrive home at all hours and then be almost impossible to turf out of bed on Monday morning for school .   Her parents must have had the patience of saints.  God bless you June and Harold.  I always sat at the back in French class on Monday so the teacher wouldn’t see that I was asleep.  If only I’d known where I’d end up living.   All this was done with my belongings packed in a carrier bag – usually a Sainsbury’s one although I must have purloined that from somewhere else as my Mum was more of a Tesco shopper then  – and I can’t think now why I never had a proper overnight bag at any time during this period.    Still, at least nobody could say I didn’t re-purpose before it was even fashionable.

Which brings me,  in an extremely roundabout, rambling and not even really relevant way, to this mini suitcase I’ve just made.

Another pattern I bought from Jodie at ricac Sews when she had a sale recently.  It’s called the ‘Small World Suitcase’ and I’m still trying to forgive her for planting that Disneyland ride song in my head again.  A particular form of torture inflicted on many parents and children over the years

Anyway, this is a pattern with slightly more to it than those little dogs, whales and stars that I bought –  a doggy further down to jog your memory about that.

It was fun to make but does involve a lot of interfacing.  Each exterior piece has two layers of mediumweight interfacing plus a layer of fusible fleece.  While the interior pieces have two layers of interfacing.  The cutting out of all those is a bit of a chore but worth it for the strength and solid feel it gives the resulting case.

The constructed exterior and interior turned inside  out to show their interfacedness (made up word).

The lining is hand stitched in and,  after I’d treated myself to an unexpected acupuncture session, I resolved to use those little pegs (aka wonder clips) next time instead of pins.

It turned out much bigger than I was expecting and I think this would take a couple of sets of undies, some cosmetics, a toothbrush, a nightie and a (smaller) teddy very nicely.

Much better than a carrier bag be it Sainsbury’s or Tescos.

It would make a project bag with a bit of a difference or a very cute bag for a little girl (or a big girl) – which is why I have another on the cutting table as we speak.  I have a Liberty fabric one in mind too which will come as no surprise to regular readers.

I’ve also made another ‘rabbit’ sewing box for my bunny loving client who commissioned  another two for Christmas gifts.  I’ve finished the first one and have the second one in production.

The wildlife enthusiasts amongst you will notice that these are actually hares but I love this fabric so much and I thought she wouldn’t mind a bit of artistic license.  I have promised to revert to bona fide rabbits for the second box.

Here’s the inside

Talking of Christmas gifts – which I sort of was – don’t forget that Sheila over at Sewchet is obviously bonkers  very kind and has decided to organise us again in another exciting Stitching Santa event this year.  Whoopee!  I don’t know what I like best – sending a parcel full of sewing related goodies (or knitting/crochet related if you prefer) to the recipient Sheila pairs me with or receiving a parcel myself.  If you haven’t signed up yet and want to participate this year, there’s still time – just click on the image below and it will take you to where you can sign up.  I sign up for the sewing and the knitting one because I like both and can’t choose – so I don’t.

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A Doggy Diversion

Last Saturday I was supposed to be helping out at a fund raiser for  Twilight the retirement home for old and disabled dogs here in France which I think I’ve told you about before.  It’s run by a British couple who take in dogs who would otherwise be spending the rest of their lives on a concrete floor at the back of a refuge somewhere being ignored by prospective owners – and that would be the lucky ones!  You can read about their work here.

Anyway, I wasn’t able to help set up on the Friday afternoon so arrived early on Saturday morning but our esteemed team leader and champion cake maker Deb was in a state because she had just found a dog on the side of the road which she thought might have been hit by a car as his eye looked swollen and red and he was holding his head on one side.  She wanted him taken to a vet to be scanned for a microchip and his state of health assessed but she couldn’t leave the venue and her husband doesn’t speak French so I went with him and the dog to find a vet open on a Saturday morning which happened to be the one right near my house that I’d left just half an hour before.

Here’s the little chap – a French bulldog who has definitely seen better days.

The waiting room was packed so I told Deb’s husband to leave me there and I’d call him when we’d been seen.

All the other patients seemed to be tiny little yorkshire terrier puppies and pristine white kittens waiting for their first vaccinations and there I was with this little fleabag straight from a horror film.

I sat up one end of the waiting room hoping that his gaseous offerings would not offend too many people.  They did.  A window was opened.  Many fleas were visible on his body where his constant scratching had caused him to suffer from eczema and lose his hair in patches.  I could sense people moving away from us and clutching their pets closer torn between sympathy and disgust.

I took him out to see if he wanted to do his ‘business’ in the vet’s garden and, when we went back inside and sat in the same seat, I noticed the floor was wet and could smell something that reminded me of flea spray.  The nurse had taken the opportunity in our absence to spray all around where we’d been sitting in case we infected all the others.  The shame! I felt like a pariah and he wasn’t even mine.  I did make it clear to the assembled pet owners when we first arrived that we had found him that morning but as he kept putting his little paws up on my knees and gazing at me adoringly, I’m not sure they believed me.

The good news is he was microchipped and, even more miraculously, we managed to get hold of his owner who met us back at the venue and I was prepared to give her what for but it turned out she seemed to be guilty of casual neglect – mostly due to lack of funds – rather than cruelty.  We would have preferred her to have signed the little chap over to us so we could then get him properly treated – that eye will probably need to be removed – but she promised me she’d go and at least discuss treatment with the vet.  I don’t think there’s any equivalent of the  P.D.S.A. or Blue Cross organisations where people with financial problems can take their animals for cheaper veterinary treatment although I might be wrong.

Anyway, I finally got back to the venue at midday and they obviously managed without me because we raised a nice amount for Twilight which was brilliant considering we were only really selling cakes, bric-a-brac, second hand books and clothes and holding a raffle.

I had pre-ordered one of Deb’s gorgeous ginger cakes which are always just the right sort of stickiness but I wasn’t keen on the label.

I’m more of a strawberry blonde.

So, a day of high and lows and I hope the little dog gets the treatment he needs for his eye and his skin and flea infestation.

Still, it could be worse, he could be a magpie.

 

75 euros if anybody wants me to go back to the junk shop and get it for them.

 

UPDATE:

The little dog has now been taken to the vet by his owner, his eye has been treated and he is no longer constantly scratching.  Perhaps we made the owner sit up and take notice and, in that case, I consider my two hours in the waiting room with a flea ridden, red eyed, farty dog time well spent.  Let’s hope she doesn’t allow him to get in that state again.

 

 

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Not Too Much Of A Stretch

 

Sorry for the pun but, after my last post where I painstakingly made a man’s shirt – albeit only a wearable muslin so far  – I fancied a bit of an easier project before I embark upon the ‘real’ shirt.

I bought this pattern in Minerva Crafts’ sale a little while ago as I thought it would be an ideal style for Mlle Tialys the younger to wear for work.

This is a close up of the fabric which is a sort of teal blue although, in all the other photos it looks more grey.  Birds seem to be everywhere on fabric and clothes at the moment – have you noticed?

I made view D with a sort of handkerchief hem (or whatever this sort of hem  is called) but with 3/4 length sleeves.  All done on the overlocker/serger apart from the zig zag round the neckline and the twin needle stitch around the hem and sleeves.

Perfect with leggings although it’s a thankless task making clothes for the younger as she’s not that interested and would stay in pyjamas all day if she could.

Ooh, hang on, she looks a bit happier here.  Maybe I’ll make another then.

I’m not sure about making the leggings on the pattern.  It seems like an awful lot of fabric and faff to make something that won’t look any different to something you can pick up for a reasonable price almost anywhere.  Unless, of course, I made them in some unusual fabric but then she probably wouldn’t wear them.  What do you think?  Would you/have you made leggings? Is it worth it?

 

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A Celebration of Concentration

Remember I told you I was making my first ever man’s shirt and, as that represented quite a challenge for me, I was going to take it slowly, make a muslin* which, in the best case scenario, would be wearable and follow a sew along by somebody much more adept than me in the shirt making field?  Well, I didn’t lie.

(* for the non-dressmakers amongst you, a muslin or toile is a sort of try out of the pattern to test fit etc.)

This is the Walden (or Negroni) by Colette and was recommended by many so I thought I’d give it a go.  I thought I’d go with the short sleeved version first as it will hopefully still be warm around here for a couple of months yet and used a locally bought, reasonably priced fabric for the muslin rather than cut into the Liberty tana lawn I’d bought specifically for the purpose shown below.

The man in question – aka Mr. Tialys – didn’t want any pockets which was fine by me so, with those out of the equation, plus no plackets on cuffs which the long sleeved version has, it was a little less daunting than it could have been.

So, some of the ‘challenges’ –

This is the back yoke and you can see that there are a couple of pleats incorporated in the body of the shirt.

This is one of the felled seams of which I am quite proud as it goes right round the armscye (or ‘armhole’ when I’m not speaking ‘dressmaker’).

Not too many buttonholes which I did on the machine anyway and, for the first time, I used my machine to sew the buttons on – which was fun.

You will be relieved to know that this is not a real person’s neck – not even one used in a scary cosmetics advert about ageing. It is, of course, one of my antique mannequins doing the modelling honours.

The kind of collar on the short sleeved version is called a camp collar :/  It’s a bit weird – having a button loop right up on that left hand side of the shirt front which would, if somebody wanted to throttle themselves, loop over a tiny button just under the right hand side of the collar.  As if.  However, I was being an obedient pattern follower so I did the loop but drew the line at a tiny button.

Reader – it fit!

 Just.

Excuse the tatty jeans but he was gardening or something when I forced him to model which, as you can tell, he feels supremely comfortable about 😉

Next time I will be sensible and make an XL which is what Mr. T. is in RTW stuff as he is very tall but the measurements on the pattern sounded enormous so I thought a large would do which it sort of does but with not much wriggle (or pretend pointing into the distance) room.

Anyway, I have decided that much as I love the idea of it when somebody tells me they ran up a dress in a couple of hours, I get much better results when I find something a bit of a challenge because when I concentrate, I slow down and don’t make as many mistakes.  I have ‘run up’ so many ‘easy’ tops and dresses on my overlocker and ended up throwing them away that I’m determined to treat every new thing I make as if I’ve never made it before and concentrate!

Having said that, I did make a tunic top in a knit fabric for Mlle. Tialys the Younger yesterday which I did fairly quickly but definitely not in two hours.  Photos to follow soon if I can persuade her to get out of bed allow me to take some photos.

Meanwhile, another shirt shot, another antique mannequin neck.

You are not going mad, these are the same doors as in the first photo but I was playing around with my photo editing and thought the turquoise colour in the first shot showed the fabric of the shirt up better.  The doors are actually red.

How about you? Do you find you sometimes mess things up when you think it’s going to be easy or you’ve made something so many times already you make silly mistakes through being over confident?  Or is it just me?

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Not Catching Up

You may have noticed I’ve been a bit quieter than usual but that’s because I had a friend visiting for a week and then I went back to the U.K. with her to spend a long weekend with my Mum.

My friend and I go back more years than I care to remember but, despite keeping in contact with Christmas and Birthday cards we’ve only recently started to see eachother again so I was really pleased when she said she’d come over to France for a visit.

Here we are on holiday in Tenerife back in the day looking bronzed but blurry on the balcony of our hotel room.

I blame the cheap camera – or it might have been the cheap alcohol 😉

Another balcony, another country, another era.

I knew that the weekend spent with my Mum would be of the quiet variety as she is getting very tired lately and, once we’d been out in the morning for a bit of shopping or a brunch somewhere, she’d had enough of the outdoors for the day so I went prepared with fabric and pattern and used her sewing machine to make another couple of dogs for my eventual doggy garland while she had a snooze.

I’m going to make another three and figure out how to make a craft stall enhancing garland out of them but I’ve got until the end of November so something will come to me before then I’m sure.

Since I’ve been back and trying to catch up on emails, Etsy shop goings ons, reading blogs and dog and cat related problems, I haven’t got much done.

The Colette Negroni shirt I’m making for Mr. T. is still at the muslin stage – just needs the buttons and buttonholes and final hemming and then I can confirm what I’ve suspected for a while – it will be too small for him.  I know it’s a muslin but I was hoping it would be a wearable one.  We won’t know for sure until I finish it though will we!

I rush quilted a couple of my hatbox blocks which was easy because the machine quilting I’m doing couldn’t be plainer or simpler unlike the lovely hand quilting Kate’s doing on her version.  Mine’s a wall hanging so nothing too fancy is called for – well, that’s my excuse anyway.

Here’s something I haven’t caught up on – the perennial ironing basket which I took from my laundry room up to my workroom as that seems to be the only place I brandish an iron these days.  As you can see, my scheme didn’t work.

I did catch up with Mlle. Tialys the elder when I was in the U.K. as she came up to see  me when I was at my Mum’s thereby killing two old birds with one stone.  Oh to be young enough to dress up as a bloody (in the covered in blood sense) rabbit thingy and  hug a dinosaur as she did last weekend.

The details of the whys and wherefores shouldn’t bother you – I certainly don’t like to delve too deep.

Off to look at the ironing basket again before doing something completely different.

 

 

 

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Having a Whale of a Time with Scraps

I used to think life was too short to stuff a toy – or was that a mushroom? – but I’ve been persuaded to change my mind.

I took a fancy to this pattern for a whale partly because he’s so cute and partly because it’s a pattern by Jodie over at RicRac and she is an amazing pattern designer.  Plus, did I mention she was having a sale at the time?  I may have bought three or four patterns :/

Anyway, I made him from scraps of some lovely canvassy fabric in seaside colours and put into use the tin of sardines I bought just because I love the illustration on the tin.  I can’t stand sardines.

This is another of Jodie’s patterns which I thought I might be able to do something with to decorate my stand at the Christmas Fair in November to raise funds for the Twilight Retirement Home for Dogs.

Nothing wrong with my pattern cutting or stuffing skills here – he’s just cocking his back leg for a wee 😉 Honest!

 

The dogs aren’t free-standing so I’m wondering about making a garland to hang in front of the stall – or over it even if I can figure out a good way to do that.  Anybody made a garland with ‘softies’ before?   Tips and hints would be appreciated and possibly followed slavishly.

 

Non-matching cotton reel for size purposes. He’s quite dinky.

Nothing to do with whales or dogs but my reasoning will become apparent – my daughter is an ‘aerialist’ – that is she does classes using an aerial hoop which sounds scary but is very good for upper body strength apparently.  It was her birthday so I made her a card using (mostly) freehand machine embroidery – although I did use a machined feather stitch around the outside of the constellation fabric (which was a scrap – so there’s my ‘reasoning’ if you read on)

I don’t know what this particular pose is called but they all look so elegant.

I couldn’t resist another whale photo and a better look at the sardine tin.

I might even use that design for a future freehand embroidery project.

The whale is actually supposed to be a pincushion but, when I stuck some pins in him for the photos, they looked like harpoons and I felt so bad I took them out again 😦

All made with scraps so I’m joining in with Kate’s Scraphappy Day here where you can click to see what the other participants have been doing with their scraps this month – see I told you there was ‘reasoning’ involved.

I have been spending quality time with visitors (this was a scheduled post) and being a visitor myself  over the next couple of weeks so don’t worry if you don’t see me around as much as usual – I haven’t disappeared under a pile of unlaundered dog blankets and left to suffocate.  Although if I’m not back after a couple of weeks feel free to check.

 

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Touching Swiftly on a Hatbox

In keeping with my pledge to add to my Liberty Hatbox wall hanging project at the end of each month I’m afraid I have failed miserably as I still  can’t decide on the final block.

 So, I made another one.


I won’t bore you rigid with the choices I face again but I’m still not sure and now I think I’ve made it worse by having three to choose from instead of two.  Kate, on the other hand, is making great progress and has started hand quilting (yes hand quilting) her full size quilt and putting me to shame.  See and admire here.

So that’s the hatbox pledge dealt with which would make for a very short post indeed .

Your hopes, however,  are dashed!

Did I mention Liberty of London fabric?  I think I told you they had a sale and I think I told you I indulged.  I’m not sure I realised there were actual skyscrapers on this fabric when I ordered it but, now I know, I like it even more.   The simple shell top on this New Look pattern that had come free with a magazine seemed just the thing….

and so it was.

I’ve decided I have a back problem in that nearly everything I make gapes a little at the back of the neck.  I think I have narrow shoulders in comparison to my bust so, next time, I’m going to cut a wedge out of the centre top of the back bodice and see if that fixes it – a tip I found on By Hand, London.  Unless anybody has any better ideas.

Also, I bought this astrology themed tana lawn in the Liberty sale to make a shirt for Mr. Tialys who had a hand in choosing the fabric.

I’ve never made a man’s shirt before but thought it was time I gave it a go as my wardrobe is full, one daughter makes her own clothes, the other doesn’t much care about clothes so that leaves the husband (or the pets and don’t think I might not go there!).

I chose the Negroni by Colette as it’s a nice, casual style but with some interesting features, it has good reviews and there is a very detailed sew along (from about six years ago!) on the Male Pattern Boldness blog so what could go wrong?  Actually, so far, very little.  I’m working on a muslin using fabric that was more expensive than the tana lawn due to the fact that there was 60% off in the Liberty sale but I  always hope my muslins (when I actually bother to make one) will be wearable otherwise I get upset if all the work comes to nought – apart from ensuring you’re making the right size of course which is the main purpose of them after all.

Anyway – how’s this for a flat felled seam?

An inside view of course – the fabric is dark on the outside and I certainly wasn’t confident enough to use contrasting thread so you wouldn’t be able to make it out.  This is the first time I’ve tackled a real flat felled seam, although I did mock ones on Tilly and the Buttons’ Rosa dress,  and I’m pleased with the way this one turned out.  I say ‘this one’ because the other one didn’t turn out quite as neat but I’m not going to show you that now am I?

Did somebody mention a sale by the way?

Fifty six 50g balls of cotton double knitting yarn in all the shades in the range and no,  I don’t know what I’m going to do with them, thank you for asking.

Mr. Tialys is still creating awesome leather things in his ‘spare’ time which is strange because I didn’t think he had any of that or that’s what he tells me if I ask him to do anything in the house or garden 😉


This is a laptop bag he designed himself and is in the kind of leather that already looks as if it’s been ‘lived in’ which is the kind I like.

I decided to have a clear out in the cupboard in the conservatory and threw some stuff in a box ready to go to the charity shop.

I know I sometimes get fed up with having so many animals but I haven’t quite resorted to this yet.

What is it with cats and cardboard boxes anyway?

 

 

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‘One Day I Will Get Organised’ Maybe – Probably Not and ‘No More Rescue Dogs’ Maybe – Probably Not

Occasionally I am inspired by my blogging friends who set themselves challenges and goals for the day, the week or even the whole year ahead.

But not for long.

This ‘to do’ list scrawled on a bit of torn out paper is about as organised as I get.

However, I have managed to work through some of those (although it is Thursday and I wrote it on Monday).  I’ve phoned my Mum and my friend Maureen although she isn’t crossed out yet.

I’ve booked a restaurant for lunch tomorrow with some friends.

The ‘Box’ entry is because the customer who ordered a little etui box like this ……..

…..liked it so much she wanted a sewing box in the same fabric.

I didn’t have enough blue bunnies so she settle on pink which I hope she will like.

I wanted to practise some freehand machine embroidery so I made her this card using a piece of the fabric from the interior of the sewing box.

The ‘crochet’ entry is because I’m running out of time to complete my two identical sections of Jane Crow’s ‘Sunshine and Showers’ crochet along before the next section is released.

So I’ve managed one and now have to do an identical one.

The lurid greenish colour in the background is a yoga mat.  Obviously!

I’m worried about wavy edges because there are so many different stitches and colour changes and I’m thinking I’m no expert yet so my tension may well wander so I’m blocking it as I go along – hence the yoga mat.

I  don’t think it’s too bad but I need to have a clean slate before next month’s section is released as some Ravelry users who did this last year say they almost gave up at that point.  Even the designer confesses it to being difficult but rewarding.  Ooer.  Stand by for a row of individual flowers on top of what I’ve already done.  Maybe.

I’ve crossed out ‘Collars’ but really I should leave them on there because, since tagging my Scottie Dog collars as Westies I have been inundated with orders from a French Westie fan club on Facebook.  I know they are a little square jawed for Westies but then most Scotties are black so I consider it to be a generic design.

Talking of dogs, mine are driving me to distraction at the moment.  As happened last year, they graze like cattle on the fallen plums and figs in the garden and, also like cattle, deposit the results in great pancakes.  Then they scent our evenings with their gaseous offerings.  I’ve tried clearing up the fruit as it falls but we have so many trees that it’s a virtually impossible task and the slightest breeze (or dog nudging at the lower branches) releases another load.

It’s just as well really because, knowing my love of German Shepherd type dogs my friend sent me this photo of a pup that has recently arrived at the dog rescue.

Then, when I foolishly investigated further, I saw this handsome fella

I’ve also heard, separately, of two young Pyreneen Mountain dogs who need a new home.  Mr. T says it must be a sign but he’s not here all the time so I’m just going to go out in the garden and shovel up some more fallen fruit – both undigested and digested – to remind me that three dogs is already plenty.

I haven’t forgotten the  ‘hatboxes’ entry and must do something with the hatbox quilt blocks before the end of the month as that is supposed to be a monthly ‘challenge’.  See, I do try.

The ‘Conservatory’ entry is sort of housework related so we won’t worry about that –  ‘after all, tomorrow is another day’

 

 

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In Case You Care About My Blog

We went on holiday – the first one on our own (longer than a weekend) since the girls were born.  We pleased ourselves what we did and when we did it.  The Mademoiselles (plus the boyfriend of one of them) were the guardians of home, dogs and cats and, astonishingly, the house was still standing and the animals still present and correct when we got back.

Remember the t-shirts, years ago,  that said ‘My Parents Went On Holiday and All They Bought Me Was This T-Shirt’ ?  Well, due to her father’s sense of humour, this is what Mlle T. the elder got for her trouble

She wasn’t amused when I texted her this photo from the apartment we were renting in Girona.  It didn’t help that the weather in France hadn’t been very good while we’d been away and she’d been looking forward to sunning herself by the pool.  She’s a sensitive soul  – but we gave it to her anyway.

We started off by going across the border into Andorra where, every year the Cirque du Soleil give free performances throughout the month of July.  No photos but I’m sure you’ve seen events on T.V. or been to one yourself so you know they are amazing spectacles peopled by incredibly bendy, muscular and (usually) tiny athletic types.

We then crossed over on to the Spanish side of the Pyrenees and proceeded on some very windy roads to a village called Bonansa and, yes, I kept humming the theme tune because I’m that old.

Around the village were several of these ermitages which are centuries old (those parts that haven’t been restored) and were used both defensively against invaders

and as places of sanctuary.

We then went further West into Aragon and to a magical medieval Moorish town called Alquezar which has labyrinthine old streets and is cut into a hillside surrounded by deep gorges.

Lots of people go canyoning but we contented ourselves with walking

of the slightly precarious kind

These walkways have been attached to the rock face so that, when the river below is in full ‘gush’, you can still walk through the gorge.  I had no trouble but Mr. T is very tall and had to almost bend double to get under some of the overhanging rocks.

When we reached the end, we saw one of the paths that had been closed and, if you zoom in (click twice), you can see why.

I was glad we’d already done a circuit otherwise it might have put me off.

Oh, and we also did lots of sitting around tlaking and eating.  I love it in Spain because they don’t even start dinner until around 8.30 whereas the French restaurants where I live are thinking about closing around about then.

From this vantage point we looked down into an olive grove where an old man tended his little herd of goats until late at night and the local feral cat population begged for food from the diners above.

This one nearly came home with us.

A face only a mother could love?

Then we continued on to Girona – very much back in Catalan country, with the flag of Catalonia hanging from many balconies – and spent the rest of the week there in an apartment in the old town and right on the riverside.

You know how I love to say ‘you can see our house from here’ – well, for three days I could say it every time we crossed the bridge.

We walked the old city walls for the views and to work off some of the excess eating (and drinking)

Quite a few scenes of ‘Game of Thrones’ were filmed here and (spoiler alert) one of the ice cream parlours make an ice cream in the shape of Jamie Lannister’s severed hand.

Here he is on the steps of the cathedral – I had a very nice Mojito at a café just at the foot of these steps although the people milling about on the steps looked a bit different when I was there.

I hope the cast didn’t need to use the loo too often though as this one is very high up on the old city wall  and just empties directly on to the street below

So, that’s the holiday snaps over with – sorry about that but it’s nice for me to have a record of our visit and my blog’s the best place for me to put it.  Back to normal i.e. sewing, crochet, knitting, patchwork, dogs and cats, next time.

On a side note, as it was my holiday reading so therefore a little bit pertinent, I read Daughters of the Dragon‘ by William Andrews.  Not your usual escapist holiday read but a very good fictional account (though based on historical facts) of the so called ‘comfort women’ taken from Korea as young as thirteen and used as sex slaves by the Japanese army in World War II.  Tortured and abused some of the survivors – women now in their seventies and eighties – are still asking for acknowledgement and some sort of repentance from the Japanese government who were aware of the provision of these ‘comfort stations’.  Shocking but also an interesting look into Korean history, the author was inspired to write the story by his Korean daughter and asks that readers spread the word by leaving reviews and mentioning it on social media in order to increase the awareness of the fate of these, often forgotten, women.  I’m happy to oblige.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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