Yay - Knitting on the BBC!

It’s not often we get to see a programme on our favorite craft on TV – so I was really intrigued when I saw that the BBC was showing an episode from The Fabric of Britain, called Knitting’s Golden Age.
The programme attributed the rise of knitting in fashion to Price Edward in the 1920’s and for sure he did have a big influence on knitwear as a fashion statement.  However there was surely more to study about knitting’s heritage – for instance knitted stockings both woolen and in fine silk had been handmade for centuries before then.  But that said, I really enjoyed looking at the rise of knitwear in the 20’s and especially beyond to the Second World War and the post war boom.  I loved that Susan Crawford got involved – I love her take on vintage knits.
 There were many memories of patterns that were, for years, in my mother’s collection – think Poodle bottle covers and the ubiquitous knitted toilet roll holders made to look like Barbie in her best prom dress!  I am also sure that in terms of the baby matinee jackets, my mother had knitted every single pattern which exists (she still knits them today, aged 84 – although to try and get her away from white, pale blue and pale pink acrylic is simply wasting my time!).
What was disappointing though was that the final 10 mins of the programme seemed really rushed and barely touched the surface of knitting in the 70s and 80s (when I was setting out on my knitting journey!).  Yes we saw the monstrosities jumpers worn by  Gyles Brandreth, but this was the time when Rowan was starting out with designers like Jean Moss etc and high fashion was still showing hand knitwear – revivals of 50’s ski jumpers for instance (I knitted one from the Phildar Magazine – gorgeous mohair in shades of pink!) were very popular.
Again sadly, the ‘new revival’ of knitting was noted – this revival must be 10 years old now, surely that makes it an integral part of society, like playing poker or watching football?????
Don’t get me wrong – we need more programmes like this, knitting is creative, social and keeps us (mostly) away from rack and ruin!!! Perhaps next time the fine art of yarn bombing can be discussed – bring on Deadly Knitshade!
If you have access to BBC iplayer then I would recommend a watch - the BBC are pretty hot on security of their programmes, so I doubt whether it would be on one of those dodgy TV streaming services......... (I need to have a VPN here in the UAE - which is quite ironic since I do still pay my licence fee back in the UK!!)

Cupcakes and Possum

So I am finally getting to grips with my holiday sickness..........aka home sickness which manifests itself as chronic misery that I am not living in my latest holiday destination!  I have had this a lot over the years....Scotland, Italy........ but never as bad as New Zealand.  I have spent hours on the net hoping to find the perfect job in the perfect place, read NZ literature, bought NZ apples, watched every film and TV programme I could find with NZ as a backdrop (Top of the Lake - just fabulous!) - looked up any Kiwi acquaintance I could remember and suddenly sent them chatty emails - seriously I have had it bad, very bad this time!  Although K is no better - I swear he is at the point where he would seriously struggle if he had to watch England against the All Blacks - especially if Rory McGraw was playing (remember our camper van......!)

Will we emigrate again?  Well lets never say never......... but we are now at the stage where we have been in the desert coming up 5 years and this time of year is particularly hard - we have not been able to go outside for any significant length of time for 5 months now and September promises so much - yes its cooling down a couple of degrees but its still F* Hot!!  I know that in a month or so the fun will begin with the F1 and I will start to enjoy it again - but the thought of too many more summers here is beginning to weigh heavy in my heart when I so love walking in the woods with a dog or two......... The kids too are asking more and more to go 'home' wherever home will end up being - who knows!

Anyway, moving away from the philosophical...... I have been knitting and baking - mainly to take my mind off work, which is hideous but I wont bore you with the gory details!

Firstly I have cast on a shawl from the gorgeous possum yarn I bought in Arrowtown, in a little shop called Woolen Sttitches.  I wanted a big warm shawl and this yarn is just so soft and a gorgeous variagated autumn colour way!!  So I am starting off with just a garter body - the colours work so beautifully together that there really is no other need for anything fancy!  Once its big enough then I will put quite a simple border on it and just let the yarn do the talking!!

Gorgeous Touch Yarns Possum

This photo is probably a better idea of the colour way

So watch this space for an update........

The other thing I have been doing is to try cupcake making - but this time rather than guess what to do, I decided to look at some tutorials on You Tube.  These were my first attempts and although you can't see on the photos, I even made the sponge on the inside multicoloured to reflect the icing - yes yes I know thats probably a bit anally retentive - but what the heck thats just me!

They tasted fab (recipe from the Hummingbird Bakery book Cake Days) even though I think they were 15 points each on WW!! Until next time.................

Photo is not great because we were desperate to eat them!!

Follow me on Bloglovin!

So I have been trawling around the net ever since Google Reader's demise and my Mac is now deemed to be 'old' so its been difficult to get new feed apps!

Then I found Bloglovin so I thought I would give it go! I use Pulse on my ipad but sometimes its better to read on the laptop!

Anyway I have added Dropped Stitches - so please follow me over there :)

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Day 19 - A Sad Farewell

So with very heavy hearts we got up on our last day and packed our bags.

The lovely people at the camp had said we could stay as long as we liked on our last day - so we took advantage and had a fantastic last walk along the beach.  The day was glorious and we stopped for - yes you have guessed - a lovely coffee and of course a cake!!

We then made the last journey back to Auckland where we made a very tearful farewell to our trusty 'Black Beast'.  Can't understand why I would be tearful about leaving a motor vehicle - but I was.  We had shared adventures together and due to the fact that the livery was certainly unusual, we had met lovely people who commented and smiled when they saw it!  I wonder who is now driving No 7 around - I hope they have as much fun as we did!

From the drop of point we went to the Novotel at Auckland Airport - yes reality was kicking back in!

Our flight was early in the morning so we settled into bed - none of us said much - our thoughts were back at the beach..............

Without a doubt this was the best holiday I have ever taken and I am totally and completely in love with New Zealand.  My first thing to do when I got home was to Google how to emigrate!  Of course its not that easy - but I would live there tomorrow if the opportunity arose; absolutely fantastic people, stunning scenery, fabulous wildlife and a way of life which is unpretentious and in line with my values...........well lets never say never................

Goodbye New Zealand - we promise to come back some day soon and thank you for the blast..........

Day 18 - An expected 'Unexpected Journey' to The Shire

We left Waitomo and headed to the destination I had secretly been most looking forward to when we were planning the trip! Matamata!

That probably means very little to most people, but it was the location of 'The Shire' from both the Lord of the Rings and of course now The Hobbit!

The countryside became more and more lush on the way and really began to feel like the right setting!  Eventually once we had gone on a very long and winding road (not that comfortable in a camper van!) we arrived at the 'Set Tours'.

Well we had a great time, as usual very well organised without being regimented and we got to spend a couple of hours in the set - Fred was in his element.  This was topped off by a drink and snack in The Green Dragon - probably the best pub in the world!

We left Matamata with a heavy heart - but we were not to be disappointed - we were on our way to Waihi Beach and when we got there we had a pitch right next to the beach!  The vast expanse of sand seemed to go on forever, and it was just what you would expect of a slightly wild and pretty beach!

All in all a pretty good day - even though we were all feeling the impending doom that was leading to our return home.........

The Shire!

Bilbo's House

Fred checks out Samwise Ganges' house

The Green Dragon - probably the best pub in the world!

Day 17 - Lake Taupo to the Waitomo caves

We started off the morning by going along to a dam to watch the release of the waters.  Now I thought that this would not be particularly interesting, but I went along with it!  So first we climbed up to the upper viewing point and waited for 10.00am patiently..........

When the gates opened up it seemed like a slow trickle at first, but then the water came down in heavy torrents with its energy being captured by the power station at the end of the gully - just goes to show that its quite possible to harness natural power!

We then headed off to Waitomo where we visited caves.  My personal favourite was the Glow Worm cave where we lay down in a boat and went through an underground river with the twinkling lights of the glow worms overhead - simply magical.  Sadly of course, we were not able to take photos - but I will remember the experience for a long long time!

We spent the evening in Waitomo itself and walked up to the old hotel on the hill - although when we got there it looked a bit spooky and deserted so we turned on our heels and hurried back down again!

Gushing down the Gully!


Day 16 - Whanganui to Lake Taupo

So we left our friends the Ducks and the Goat and headed off to Lake Taupo.

Again this was a long journey, but we always had the scenery to accompany us!

Fred had become a bit travel sick by always sitting in the back - so I offered to swap places with him!  Sitting in the back gave another perspective - but it was not the most comfortable - its really a place for children!  On the bright side I did not have to worry about navigating - even with a sat nav, somehow i need to reassure Keith we are going the right way - and of course I am not always sure myself!!

Lake Taupo turned out to be yet another lovely lake and we spent a few hours in the small town.  The people of New Zealand really are exceptionally laid back and friendly - we had coffee in yet another of the many excellent coffee shops - I am an absolute convert to the 'flat white'!!

Parked up and replenished our booze stocks - row of Gnomes in the off licence......well why not!

Lake Taupo - lovely vista for lunch!

Day 15 - Goodbye South Island

So today we said goodbye to the beautiful South Island!

Of course we had the fantastic journey ahead of us where we saw the Cook Strait from another angle - but there was still a tinge of sadness in leaving the South Island behind - we had seen so much, yet there was still so much to see!

The voyage was not quite as calm as on the way out and I was beginning to feel a little queasy by the time we got into Wellington!

Still - we needed to press on to get to our next campsite!  The journey to Whanganui was actually the first time we had encountered any traffic!  However there was of course truly lovely countryside to observe on the way!

The campsite was on the river bank and we had our own attendant Ducks and a Goat!  Although Fred was more interested in the 'jumping pillow'!!!

No snow on the North Island but this was a lovely waterfall amongst the green

Day 14 - Greymouth to Picton

Today was one if those 'utility' journeys - quite lovely scenery but our main job was to get to Picton so that we could catch the early ferry next morning.

After a quick walk around Greymouth (where precisely zero was happening) we headed out.

We passed though some lovely wine country including passing the Cloudy Bay vines - just a beautiful location! I might only ever drink Cloudy Bay in future - although it's a fortune in Abu Dhabi!!! 

We arrived in Picton much earlier than expected (there really is NO traffic on NZ roads!!) so went to explore....

The marina area is very pretty but nothing was open with only a handful of other humans wandering the town.  Amazingly the mini golf was quite popular and we played an exciting 18 holes! I won!!!

We frequented the local historic hotel for a few drinks before heading off to the Fish and Chip shop - where we met the loveliest old Kiwi guy who told Fred about all the local fish - he as a true gem and a gent!

After running home with our bounty we enjoyed fish and chips a la camper and the boys watched sport care of Sky Sports whilst I really got into my book about 2 gay Americanguys who buy up a small Olive grove in NZ - what an idyllic thing to do........ Just maybe I want to do that too!!!

Different vista - still as beautiful!