Sunday, January 31, 2010

How did it get to be this time?

I had a great idea, quilt till the bobbin ran out then come and sort out photos for my blog. Now I get here and find it's tomorrow already. How did that happen? Could it have been going to the Wandering Line in Purley to teach my book to a wonderful group of ladies? Could it be driving back on the M25 (which was actually surprisingly clear)? Could it be the two customer quilts I've done tonight or the third I have just loaded and started? No I don't think so. That can't have eaten a whole day. It must be gremlins playing with my clocks. Or perhaps the flying pigs have escaped the submarines and are causing trouble. Yes, that is why you never see flying pigs. They all liver on submarines. A student told me so, so it must be true. However it got to be this time, I think I need to go to bed. It's been a long but very quilty day. I've had a lot of fun, I hope my students did too. I can't wait till next month to see them again.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Email - the bane of my life

So about this paperless revolution. Anyone remember that, or am I showing my age? I had planned on looking for more Prague photos tonight but instead I've been hunting through email and putting paperwork in order. I've been finding problems with email for a long time but it just seems to get worse. I've now got a reliable system, mostly by cutting out as many links as possible, but I have to have a spam filter in place. That is where the problems start. We have 10,000 spam messages per day. These are just the ones the filter is sure is spam, I also have a few hundred I have to check. Unfortunately it seems that a few good emails are being stopped. It's very hard to track, and at the moment we can't see a solution. It's very frustrating for both sides to have this failure of communication.

If the email gets through it then needs me to do something about it. That is usually not too much of a problem until you have a few that need something looking up. I keep falling into the trap of 'it will just take a minute'. Well a minute or five, or ten. Then you look up and an hour has vanished. Argh. Still that at least all works. I then often have to print out the information and instead of being a couple of lines it is three pages, so much for paperless.

The worst part is when I need to remember an email from months back. Of course, first you have to remember it exists (darn aging, it really does eat your brain doesn't it) then you have to find it. There are thousands of messages stored on my computer (yes I do need them all, well mostly) do you think I can ever find the one I want quickly?

So is there a point to this post? Well yes. A while ago I instigated a policy that I would only make a booking if I had spoken to the person making the booking on the telephone. I am now going to extend that to anything that needs to go in my diary. So if you want to see me, for quilting, workshops or talks I need to actually speak to you. If you email me with your number I will call you or my number is on the website. Firstly I remember things far better if I hear them, secondly it makes me go through the appropriate paperwork and gives me the time to put things in my diary. It also means we both know we have achieved communication. In short, it's safer, more reliable and both parties know it has happened successfully.

We have just updated my online diary. If you have me booked for an event it is worth checking the calender to see that it is listed correctly and if you have a web site I would love to include a link for it.

On a more quilty note, I've finally given in to the idea that more of my patterns will have to be pieced by other people. It's a shame as I would really enjoy making them myself but I just don't have the time. On the other hand I think at least one of the people I have doing the piecing will really get a lot from doing it, which is pretty cool . She is a really good piecer and I think she will enjoy the challenge of this one. I can't wait to get the tops back so I can quilt them. They both will have great areas for quilting, and hopefully be striking and popular patterns. I have also started writing the pattern for the Phoenix. I have had so many requests for it, that I am giving it a go. Bear in mind it was never intended to be a pattern, and it is very different to any patterns I have ever seen. It's taking a lot of writing and re-writing and even then I am not sure if others will understand it. I'll let you know what the testers say when I get that far.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

There are days.

I'm not a morning person, I know that but when I picked up my Nintendo DS instead of my phone I think it set the tone for the day. I've been nearly on the ball all day and by the time I got home I was definately tired. I had planned on repacking the gearbox on the longarm, but that is quite a physical job so not too appealing right now. In one of my classes I had been talking about a pattern I had been meaning to write and I though it would be a nice simple thing to do tonight.

Then I walked into the computer room and turned on my monitor. No screensaver. Odd. No lights on the machine, even stranger I guess one of the cats managed to turn it off. Oh well. I turned my machine on and went to retrieve my phone. Apparently we had a major power cut today. It took out many blocks. Of course that took the computers down and our network needs bringing back up. So here I am ready to work and no computers typical. Worse than that the designs I wanted to work on are all on the computer too. I tell you pen and paper is the way of the future.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

First talk of the year and housekeeping

Yesterday I had a very early start to get to Sevenoaks for the Quilters Guild regional day there. I felt quite nervous as I've had a long break from talks (over a month) and I was worried I might have forgotten what to do. Fortunately I had a great audience and they seemed to enjoy it. I had fun too. They had a lucky dip for 50p a go. I got a pack of postcards which had some quilts that I really like. I felt that was very good value. Besides it is fun just digging in a bucket of shredded paper to find things.

From there we headed off to find a friends new house. It is on a new development and doesn't yet appear on maps, GPS or have street signs. Still we found it and the house was warmed (just gently it is still standing).

Today I had planned a good run of quilting. It was a great plan honest, and went well until I rolled on the quilt to do another area. Then I found out that my tension had drifted in one place. Oh dear. I had lunch and hoped it would look better after food, but the quilt fairies failed me again and I have spent the rest of the day unpicking the quilting. It's not quite taking the 1 hour per minute of quilting, but it is taking far longer than I would have hoped. Still it's the right thing to do and the sooner I get on with it the sooner I can get back to quilting.

You may notice I've added a couple of items to the list on the right hand side of this page. I've been noticing many more foreign visitors here so I have added a translation system. I suspect it won't be a great translation but I hope it will be better than nothing and will make life a little easier for some visitors. If anyone can recommend a better system please let me know. It's hard to judge when you aren't using it yourself. I have also added a link to Quilting Bloggers. This is a great site to find a lot of quilting inspiration. There are blogs, galleries and shops linked from one place. It's a wonderful site, and will suck as much time as you fancy spending there.

Friday, January 22, 2010

APQS Maintenance

I've just come back from a day of learning the proper care and feeding of my longarm machine. I have had quite a bit of hand on experience with it so I was expecting to largely pick up little tips. It turned out that there was one piece of maintenance I hadn't been doing at all and if left can turn expensive. Given you are supposed to check the motor brushes every year and I've never done mine we figured it was about time. From the look on Marks face I got the impression it was a sooner rather than later kind of job. so I came home and took mine out.

The handout says they start 1/2" long and if your are only 3/8" you need to replace them. I tried measuring mine and it seemed to be 1/2" so I figured the best was to be sure was to compare it with the new one I got today. Mine is the top one in the picture. It's clearly worn, although not as badly as we had feared. This is fortunate as I have a quilt on the frame and I really didn't want to have to clean out the motor with a quilt on. I would have done it if the wear had been really extreme but I am comfortable with leaving this for another 10 hours then doing a through job. I will also finally get my gearbox done. Neither job takes long and they do make a huge difference to the machine. We got to repack Chris's machine today and it was amazing how different it sounded.

I think the best thing I got today was a kick up the backside, these jobs are quick, easy and will keep my machine giving me good service. What is my excuse for not doing them?

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Irish quilting magazine

It's been another mad day but I think I will forgive it. I got the next customer quilt onto the frame and started, and I made it to the post office to pick up my package that was waiting, but more about that in a while. The highlight today was finding out that the new Irish Quilting magazine is out and has arrived at the shop. I am really pleased with the article and I particularly like the way they have used the images of my quilts. It was probably one of the trickest and most fun articles I've done. Sherry Nugent who wrote it is also the editor of the magazine and consequently very busy. She was trying to interview me at the time I was wondering if I still had a home I saw it so infrequently and we kept missing each other. One night I got home late and found she had emailed me again to try and arrange a time to call. I replied saying 'tomorrow morning would be great, or about now as you probably aren't sad enough to still be reading your email'. She was a replied saying so. She agreed that the next morning would be fine and joked that so would now. Given how long we had been trying to talk to each other I thought the joke wasn't such a dumb idea. We were both free and neither of us likely to need to rush out (it was after midnight) and unlikely to be interupted. So shortly after 1am we were on the phone chatting. I think that is just amazingly cool. Sherry has said I must stress she doesn't normally call at that time of day, I think she is worried it might scare people off. For me it was perfect far better than having to get up early (before noon) to be interviewed. I am very much a night owl and I think it shows in the article that I was more relaxed and well more me.

The package was pretty cool too. It turned out to be a book I have been after for a while. The quilters album of patchwork patterns by Jinny Beyer. It is a book of over 4000 block patterns which is right up my street and I love Jinny's work so I pre-ordered it as soon as I heard it was coming out. It got delayed and delayed, I was giving up hope of ever getting it, then I saw it on the quilt show. I was almost drooling after Jinny explained what was in it. She said there are lots of blocks using borer prints to make them more interesting. She also explained how to take one block and make it more inticate to make a whole quilt of just that block scaled. Those aspects of the book are fantastic, a churn dash with fussy cut fabric looks amazing. However there is also a whole section on drafting which is fascinating too. It isn't a cheap book, but it is good quality and packed full of inspiration. I am very pleased I bought it. I'll have to sign off now and go and get the workshop ready for tonights class.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

You couldn't make it up

I thought today would be a normal (as normal as possible for me) teaching day. Two class that should have started last week but were canceled because of the snow. I was a little concerned as last night the forecast was for 6 hours of heavy snow in Hemel and 3 hours at home, but at least it wasn't due till lunchtime. The day started well. I woke up just before the alarm and on checking the weather forecast found we were now only expecting sleet. A bit of a shame but at least my students could get to class.

There was very little traffic, which was odd but welcome and I made good time to Hemel. Plenty of time to go and buy lunch at the local supermarket. Their car park was very empty too. Strange as usually I have to park quite a way from the door, but still very welcome. However as I walked up to the door I saw a crowd gathered outside. Odd, maybe no lunch for me today, but lets see what is happening. As I reached the door the staff member who had been blocking it said "OK, you can come in now" and again I thought I was having a lucky day. As I tried to get a sandwich I startled the staff member. She obviously wasn't expecting anyone in the store and was rather jumpy. Talking to her I found out the store had caught fire just before 7 and all the staff had been standing outside for 2 hours. It did smell pretty bad towards the back of the store but at least no one was hurt and they had managed to put it out and open up.

I was greeted at the shop with the news that I had a new student. That always makes for a bit more work, but it's interesting to meet new people so we settled down. Of course, first day back everyone has a stack of questions and problems to be solved. Then the day got really weird. I could have sworn they said a film crew would be here by about 12. Nah I must be mistaken right? Wrong. London Tonight wanted to do a piece about the pennants for the London Olympics and were indeed filming in the workshop today.

The whole day has had a slightly strange feel . I don't know if you've ever had the dream when you got to work and do everything you are supposed to, then wake up and find you still have it to do? It feels just like that. I really hope this isn't going to be the start of groundhog day. On the birght side my new longarm leaflets arrived, so I don't have to print and fold at home anymore, yay!

Hand dyed fabrics

I posted a comment on this blog post, about hand dyed fabrics. I love using hand dyed fabrics of all kinds and I thought it might be helpful to share some links to people who keep me supplied. I will admit it was prompted by an email telling me another box of hand dyes has been shipped and picking up an order from Ricky Tims. So if you would like to join in my obsession with hand dyed fabrics, and you don't have the time to dye them yourself.

  • Ricky Tims - you may be familiar with his quilts and books but his fabrics are great too. He has lots of useful tools and supplies on his site too.
  • Heide Stoll Weber - specialises in 60" wide cotton sateen. Her site doesn't have a shop as such but you can contact her and request fabrics. She is usually at the Festival of Quilts at the NEC, however a lot of us know that so she often sells out of a lot of the colours quite quickly.
  • Jeanette's fabrics to dye for - this lady dyes some very interesting fabrics. Her online shop always has a good range of one off pieces to purchase. This is where I got the fabrics for my Phoenix.
  • Vicki Welsh - a regular reader and commenter here also has an etsy shop with hand dyed fabrics. She had some interesting snow dyed pieces on her blog a little while ago.
  • Starr Fabrics - this is the company that provided the kit for my 'Holiday Quilt'. They do several kits, pre-cut applique and yardage. I seem to have developed quite a problem with their fat quarter bundles. They are so yummy I just want them all.
Have fun with these, and I am very sorry if your wallet finds them a bit of a strain. I think I will have to go and stroke my new fabrics now.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Road 2 California

I've just realised I haven't posted anything about my quilt that went to the Road to California show.

I entered three quilts, Mother, Phoenix Rising and Bad Rain. Only Mother and Phoenix Rising were accepted, and they shipped to the show early December.

As you can see they made it OK. They didn't place in the show, the judges feel I need to work on my raw edge applique technique, but apparently they looked great hanging.

I was especially pleased that they had hung the phoenix so the front and the back can be seen. I am very please with the back of this quilt, although I hadn't intended it to be reversible, hence the hanging sleeve not matching the backing. At least it wasn't a calico sleeve. Just before the NEC I ran out of black fabric so a few quilts did get very odd sleeves. Looking at the pictures you can see that the wings are built up in sections and each feather is quilted individually. The ash (grey quilting at the bottom of the quilt) also shows up a lot better on the back than on the front.

Now I am just looking forward to them coming home. I do miss my quilts when they travel and the phoenix especially so. Thanks to everyone who has sent me pictures of these quilts on display. It is appreciated, it's sort of like getting a postcard from my quilts.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Prague - more pictures part 1

I've finally had a chance to start sorting through our holiday photos. There are about 1000 so it's quite a large task. Obviously a good amount are rubbish, out of focus, camera shake and the wrong exposure. I think I even have one of the inside of my coat (I was trying to keep the camera warm) but there are a lot of good ones too and I can't put them all on here.

So to keep things as simple as possible I've started at the beginning. Todays pictures were all take by Tet, I didn't take my camera out at the airport in case it scared the security people and when we arrived I wanted to just wander and look. I love taking pictures but you d see less that way.

The first picture shows the departure board from Heathrow. We were supposed to be on the 8.50 flight to Frankfurt, as you can see that was cancelled. No problem they automatically booked us onto the 9.50 flight instead. See the problem? The fight should have left but we hadn't got a gate yet. It was about an hour late leaving in the end. They had to clear the runway, de-ice the aircraft and in some cases wait for the same process to be done elsewhere and the aircraft to arrive at Heathrow.

When we arrived in Prague it was about 7pm, we went straight to our room, dropped our bags and headed into town for dinner. I suspected this was going to be the only time we saw the city without snow so I was quite happy for us to stop and get pictures. The second picture shows the view of the water front looking north from Charles Bridge. Then if you turn to look back the way we had come you can see the castle and cathedral up on the hill. It's a shame it is so hard to get really good night time shots as Prague is beautifully lit. I think these do a reasonable job of conveying the idea.

Next we have one of my favourite towers in Prague. The tower at the end of the Charles bridge. It's lovely from the outside and even better on the inside. I'll show you more of that in future posts. I joke that the city must have got a great deal on Gothic architecture. They don;t just have a few buildings in that style, it's everywhere and done well. You don't see just a hint of Gothic, you get all of it all the time and I just love it. The city also seems to have had large ornate doors thrown in free with each Gothic detail. They appear everywhere.

Once you cross the bridge you are in an area of town that provides most of the resources for tourists. Tacky souvenir shop and many restaurants. Since I had last visited there have been a lot more American franchises move in as well as more exotic cuisine. We didn't brave this particular establishment but felt we needed to share the menu.

Apparently Czech natives haven't been interested in foreign food, preferring their own traditional dishes (I can't say I blame them their food is great) but are just starting to get interested in other cuisine. Chinese food has been particularly popular. I found it quite a strange concept that many people there have still not tried non traditional food. It appeals to me that they have been able to keep their traditions this long and I do hope that their new interests won't detract from their own food.

Now for two pictures where our collective memory is failing us. The first is just a lovely window that was on a building in a side street. Remember I said they seem to have a job lot on Gothic? Well this is a perfect example. Actually the city have changed and evolved over the years, and there are parts of buildings that have become detached from their companions. I suspect there is also some war damage but there is surprisingly little and none of the tourist information seems to mention it.

The door is from one of the churches. There are many many churches in Prague. I found it very hard to keep track of which was which. To me there seemed to always be at least two that were very similar. Like some massive game of pairs. Believe it or not this door isn't particularly large, impressive or ornate which does add to the problem of trying to remember which church it is part of.

Finally for tonight we have the other tower I really love in Prague, the Powder tower. It is no coincidence that it looks a lot like the Charles Bridge tower. It was intended to complement, but like many buildings, it lost it's purpose and it's companion. Rather than being attached to an impressive castle and used by the ruler, it was used to store explosives and was very nearly not completed at all.

I hope you have enjoyed this instalment of Prague pictures. I will keep sorting through them but I am sure you will understand it may take a while. I have a lot of quilting I need to be getting on with. I made good progress today on a block of the month quilt. I'm having fun as the owner has given me free reign to do what ever I think will look good, and it is very nice to be able to see quick progress. Half a quilt in a day whatever next?

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Made my day

I spotted this blog on the net today. I love her wholecloth quilt, and I really wish I had thought of a feathered snowflake it works really well. What really made my day though was that she was inspired by Winter Star, and went off and actually made something. That is just so cool. Kinda like the quilt just had a child. I'll just grin like an idiot now if it's all the same.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Panoramic Prague

I haven't had time to sort through all of the photos, but I've been playing around with Hugin and have created some panoramic images from my recent trip to Prague. You will need to click on each picture to see the full image.

This is the view from the bell tower of the Church of St. Nicholas in Malá Strana, looking out towards the old town and Charles Bridge:

This is the view from the same tower looking in the opposite direction, back towards Petřín hill:

This one is the view from Charles Bridge, looking north:

Here's one of the bridge itself, from the riverside:

This is another view of Petřín hill, this time take from the castle:

Finally, here's one looking over the Vltava towards Josefov, the Jewish quarter, taken from the Prague metronome.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

It 's quilted!

Well it's finally off the frame, which is a relief. I can't believe how much I have learned from this piece. I am pretty happy with how it came out especially as it was intended as a proof of concept. I am happy the the other designs I have planned will work and that they do need to be on this scale. Hmm, that's going to take a while, but I am looking forward to doing them. I won't be starting until the zippers are on though. The quilt has also gained a name, "Greek Fossils". It seems a good enough name (and the quilt hasn't argued) so that's going to stay. I can't tell you how much I am looking forward to working on something where you can see your progress as you go along and on a minute by minute scale.I don;t know how many hours went into this, and frankly, I don't want to.

I've just realised the larger picture doesn;t show much detail, the in progress posts do. Try this one, or this one.

Souvenirs from Prague

Mostly I brought toiletries back from Prague. I (and more importantly my skin) love the ranges made by Manufaktura, so rather than take any with us, I bought lots and brought it home. For me that is perfect and I will be reminded of Prague every time I use them. When I run out it will obviously be time to go back again.

I thought I would also be a little more traditional and bought a couple of their gingerbread shapes. I suspect they won't last much longer unless they turn out not to taste good. I thin that is unlikely given how much I live the food there.

My other purchase is one I had been hoping for but not really expecting. Last time I was there I found an artist on Charles Bridge (there are many there whatever the weather) who I really liked. I considered buying one of his pieces but never quite made a decision. Then I regretted missing out for two years. So this time when I saw him again I knew I would be buying one of his paintings. I still nearly missed out as we didn't go across the bridge as often as I expected and I decided not to buy the morning of the first day. Each time after that it was too late and the artists had gone. It was the last day when I caught him and Tet chose this painting. I wasn't too worried I would have taken any and all of them. The colours haven't come out too well in the picture, it is actually cool blues tending to grey. I love the way he paints the buildings and nearly all his pictures contain cats. It's also good that the vendors on the bridge have a photo id to show they are the stall holder and prove they are the artist. I can't quite read his signature, so I can't tell you his name right now, but if you do go to Prague keep an eye open for his work on the bridge. He is lovely and packs the work beautifully so you can get it home safely.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

It's interesting what you miss

Well I think it is. I knew I would miss my cats what I was in Prague, that was obvious but I didn't realise some of the other things that were going to be important. I was surprised that I didn't miss quilting. The couple of days off over Christmas had been very odd, but this trip wasn't. I wonder if that is because the whole city is very inspiring to me, so I was thinking more about quilting than usual (yes that is possible) maybe that hits the same spot? I did miss my shoes a lot, I hadn't even considered that as a possibility. I've got used to having my feet comfortable, light and free. Suddenly they are trapped in very heavy (relatively) boots. Not nice. They still haven't forgiven me. Next time I will figure out a way I can wear my Five fingers. I also missed Chinese food. That one really did surprise me. I've had no virtually no caffeine for six days and all I crave is Chinese food. Go figure.

I also discovered in Prague how much I enjoy reading fiction and how much I miss it. I think I am going to have to give some careful thought to when I can find time to read. I love books but for the last few years I have only read text books. I want to read more fiction. I've also learned a lot more about art, what I like and why it works. I guess Prague inspires a lot of people. It seems to be full of artists. Certainly I feel I could work a lifetime and not make everything it suggests to me. I hope i will be able to find time to make a good dent in my ideas, a couple I had on my last trip are now very keen for me to work on them and I have many many more ideas. Some will get combined into I hope much better ideas (and will kill two birds with one stone). Yes you learn a lot from traveling.

The snow finally won

I've been able to make every other class whatever the weather btu when I looked out ans saw this today I thought I might finally be beaten. That's not much snow, and I know I could get to the main roads, but i also know it thawed a lot yesterday then refroze. When I called the shop my concerns were confirmed. The steep hill next to the shop is an ice rink. I could get to within 100 yards of the shop but not park or get into the workshop. So instead I will get an extra day to quilt. It's the right thing to do to cancel the shop, at least two students had made the same decision, but it's not good for the shop. Losing a days trading is bad for any business and more so for small ones. If you're stuck at home today how about a little retail therapy?

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

I didn't manage to get stranded in Munich last night, or indeed anywhere in London, although that was a closer call. The trip out took 12 hours almost exactly, the trip home a little under 11 hours. Unfortunately on the way home we didn't stop long enough anywhere to get any food so when I finally got home my main through was dinner not blogging. Sorry. At some point I think I will have to start a league table for good airports to visit. Prague will get points for the bidet in the toilet cubicles, even though I don't think there will be that much call for them (what do I know maybe I'm just odd)

The first two pictures in this post are of Prague cathedral. It's a truly amazing building. It is very hard to get good photographs of as it's huge and in the middle of the place. I think maybe on my next trip I might take more camera equipment with me and spend a couple of days at the castle/palace. You have to buy a licence to take pictures inside the castle itself, but as soon as I stepped inside I knew I should have done. Ho hum, there will be a nest time and I had already taken more than 600 photographs. I don't think I was really deprived. However if you do ever get the chance do go and look around the cathedral. It is one of the few tourist sites with free entry (not that the others could be called expensive at 3-4 pounds per location). It will knock your socks off. I packed my camera with the interior of this building and the views from the towers in mind so I only had a very long lens. Fortunately Tet had a much wider angle on his camera, so I will look at both of our sets of photos before posting a proper selection here.

This is the view of the town from the hill the castle stands on. You can see Tyn church, in the center of town and the TV tower right on the horizon. In the middle of the picture is the church who's tower we climbed on Sunday. We went up the narrow tower that is just behind the dome in this picture. It's not a great picture, it was taken on my phone at it's lowest quality to make the upload cheaper, but I think the dark stripe across the middle would be approximately where the river runs.

I finally remembered to take a picture of a pretty typical Czech restaurant. I love the fact that all the best food seems to be underground. There are place to dine with a view (6th floor of the U Prince is on my agenda for next time) but on the whole underground is the right answer. The food seems to be both better and cheaper. I rather like the rustic decor too.

Today I have been trying to get on top of my work again. It was a shock how much email had come in while we were away and how much was bookings or orders. At past 1am it seemed rather daunting. This morning it sunk in just how cool that was. So I have spent the day packing, posting and phoning. I have also managed a small amount of quilting. I had hoped to finished the white area on the quilt on the frame before we went but didn't quite get there. It's done now and I am motoring on the outer clack space. I am so desperate to get it done now and get on with other things. Fortunately in the huge stack of post waiting for me were my zippers for the frame, so when I start the next one I will be able to take it on and off the frame as required. I wondered why people needed zippers, I get it now.

Monday, January 11, 2010


So good news, our connection is delayed. However it's snowing signigficantly so who knows if we will actually take off. The last flight was fun though on a small prop plane. It looks like a nice airport so lets see if I get to investigate it some more.

Not stranded.....yet.

All European flights are delayed, except those from London as far as I can see. So we will be late getting into Munich, which makes our short connection really tight. The staff here say we might make it. If we are lucky we will have 15 minues from one flight landing to the next closing. So place your bets are we about to spend the night in Munich?

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Out and about in Prague

I am hoping that you guys can see two images on yesterdays post. For me one has a broken thumbnail but if I click on it is comes up with a picture of the bath in our apartment. I have no idea why it isn't working properly for me.

Today I have deliberately posted a difficult image you will need to look at it sideways because no matter what I say to my phone it always posts pictures the way round I took them. It's a quirk, sorry. The picture is of the Powder tower at night. After lunch we climbed to the top of it (mostly because you can) and found it does indeed have a good view. The tower itself was looking particularly beautiful as the snow was neatly highlighting the ornate stonework. When we came back past it in the dark I just had to stop for more pictures.

The other picture shows the astronomical clock and Tyn church. This is probably the busiest tourist area and consequently not my favourite place. It's just too busy also the astronomical clock tower is the least impressive of Pragues towers in my opinion. It does have a fantastic lift though, I will try and popst a photo of that when I get back.

Today we decided to go to the transport and science museums. These are at the top of another hill (did I mention we're tired now and about ready to come home :). We noticed on the map that we could take a tram part way then walk through a park via a metronome. Cool. Frozen actually. The hill (park) was much steeper than we anticipated and accessed by stairs which unfortunately were the only ones in Prague that hadn't been cleared. It was a mamoth trek especially as all the stairs are polished marble and very slipery if you don't stay in the deepest snow. Still we made it and found some amazing views.

Unfortunately the science museum was closed for referbishment and the guide book had had another translation error. It wasn't a transport museum but an agriculture museum. The chap in the tractor hall carefully explained this wasn't the science museum, I guess they get a lot of lost tourists and was obviously thrilled that we wanted to look at his tractors. It was a very good collection of weird tractors and I got to sit on one. My those seats are hard and bouncy.

The whole museum was just three halls but for me the tractors, the giant metronome and the views were well worth the hike.

For lunch e managed to find the first bad restaurant in Prague. I guess there had to be one. This one had poor food (overpriced too) very nasty hot wine, minute apple juice and rude service. All in all I would suggest avoiding the Marie Teresie.

On the way up the hill I had realised we hadn't been to look at the bridges from the bank of the river so we made a quick dash across town to do that, and found the artist I had been looking for on the Charles bridge. This time I bought a picture instead of waiting to think about it. I have regretted not buying a piece of his work since my last trip two years ago, Now I have one.

On the way back to the hotel we found another tower to climb, it really is the thing to do in Prague. This one was a lot less popular, which is a shame as the views are lovely and all the more so for being dusk. The tower is called the old Jesuit Bell Tower and is attached to the Churh of Saint Nicholas. Obviously it has a proper Czech name but I can't easily type that. I have been wanting to be up a tower in the dark so this was perfect. It also has lots of information on bells, and a small watchmans apartment to look around. On the way up you go through the bellfry which was nice as you get to see bells and slightly concerning as I wasn't certain they wouldn't ring them. On the way down I looked more closely and I am fairly sure there aren't ropes attached to the bells so I guess they don't deafen the tourists.

Saturday, January 09, 2010

Prague hotel

Technically it isn't a hotel, it's an apartment, but they call it a hotel. When we first arrived I stepped through the door and imediately stepped back. I wasn't expectina a glass floor over a bath. I've got used to it and it's great. I suspect I am one of the few without a jacuzzi bnath so for me this is a real novelty. You will have to excuse the mess we had just got in and dummped all our stuff.

This morning we have been climbing towers. The Charles bridge and the astronomical clock tower. For me the Charles Bridge tower is the best. I would love to live in it. It is amazingly solid and had a square spiral staircase. It's roof is the place to be in the snow.

We are now having lunch and coctails at U Prince. It is a hotel near the astrnomical clock and does great cocktails.

Friday, January 08, 2010

Prague - day 1

As you can see we got our snow. It's been snowing all day, quite lightly but consistantly. As heavy snow was forecast we started by going up Petrin hill in the funicular railway. I grew up near one and loved going on it as a child, nothing's changed I still love them. I am also a huge fan of the public transport system here. It's cheap, simple and efficient. Once at the top of the hill we headed on up. Up to the top of the Petrin tower. 229 steps on the outside of a tower in the snow. It was well worth it, the view is great even in the snow.

On the way down we decided to walk halfway down the hill. This took us past the magical cave. Yeah right. Tourist trap, bound to be. As we went past a lady popped out to entice us in. She managed it with the promise of hot wine (yes I drink wine here it's good). The magical cave is a gallery cre artist has created. He has redesigned the building, to show case his work. It's fantastic. I want to be as good as him making things glow. It was magical.

Lunch was at 'The Old Prague Restaurant'. It was obviously a popular place with natives and less so with tourists, which I take as a very good omen. It was. We each had soup and will insist ours was better. Both soiund vegetarian, Tet had potatoe and I had garlic, I am quite sure both were meaty. Mine certainly comtained pork as well as croutons and potatoes and cloves of garlic. They were wonderful, although you can be glad you aren' sitting next to me :)

This afternoon we have shopped. If you want cold weather gear go to a cold country. Works wonders. I had intended to shop for cat treats to (I hope they haven't eaten the cat sitter yet) but I think it will have to wait for annother day. Gotta go they are trying to close here and I want to post before I lose net access.

We made it.

It is pathetic how little snow stops the UK, and when we arrived at Heathrow our flight had been canceled. Geman efficiency was dealing with the problem and we were already booked on the next flight an hour later. When we tried to check in they[spotted we had a connecting flight that had to be changed too. That was mor of a problem, it had to move four hours. They were very appologetic and sent us off with a voucher for lunch. The delay being only an hour didn't require it but they felt they had a resposiblity to make things right for the knock on effect. It was a very good breakfast and much appreciated.

As it turned out we were delayed almost 2 hours and arrived in Fraknfurt much later than expected, so our connection was only a 2 hour wait. I can't recommend Frankfurt airport. It's lovely and the food looks to be excelent, but the prices are insane. Yes even relative to other airports or London.

We eventually arrived in Prague over 12 hours after we started out. Strangely though the journey had felt like a holiday. The room is from the same company as last time but much lower on the hill so less exercise this time. Speaking of which, i should finish my breakfast and head out into the snow to explore.

Wednesday, January 06, 2010

Did you pack this case yourself?

Well yes and no. I see some unpacking in my future. You see I don't own any grey and black furry clothes, that is an attempt to stow away. Fortunately I can see her even though she can't see me. She does like to try and stop me traveling by getting in the case, but this is her best yet. We are hopeful that there won't be more snow overnight and Heathrow might be working in the morning. Our cats will be fine while we are away, they have a cat sitter they love to bully. Gotta go two cats in the case now.

Tuesday, January 05, 2010

Delicate snow

I like snow, a lot, well usually. Unfortunately I am hoping to fly on Thursday so being told we would get 10-35cm of snow over night and tomorrow wasn't actually good news. However, at the moment we have a delicate dusting and the snow seems to be staying fairly clear of Heathrow too. Fingers crossed that it will work out. I had to share this picture of Trogdor, he is the only one of our cars with an artistic layer of snow at the moment. I think it looks great just as it is now highlighting all the important areas.

Despite still being ill I had to go out and enjoy the snow and I do feel better for the fresh air. It was magical being the first people to walk around in the snow, and quite odd. Normally at least one dog walker beats us to it. I did got for normal boots though so people won't be looking at apparently bear foot prints. I thought it was more important to have warm feet than confuse the neighbours.

The quilt made it off in time, but I did forget to take a better picture, sorry. I was more concerned about getting it delivered than picture taking. If I have a brain I will ask someone to do it for me tomorrow, if not it will just have to be the one that got away.

Monday, January 04, 2010

Quilting progress

It always amazes me how much a cold slows me down. Even when I feel mostly better qulting is really hard work. The small green qul had to be done before Wednesday so I had to work on it today. It is a charity quilt off to forien parts. I should be able to bimd sleeve and label it tomorrow. Of course I wanted to quilt this on the frame, but as you can see there is still anopther quilt there. I manage to jam it im at the side, just. It's amazing what you can do if you really want to.

The other quilt is coming along too. I think I am getting qucker at the really dense fill. I've nearly finished the white area now which will just leave the outer black section. Yes the zippers are on order and I won't start another until I have them. I am really looking forward to doing some customer work. Variety, completion, speed. Sounds like bliss. Funny what can become just what you need when you haven't had it for a while.

Sunday, January 03, 2010

Yay! a new Oriental City!

Well officially it is called Pacific Plaza, but those in the know will realise this is a poor attempt to throw them off the scent. If you have never been a native of North West London you may never have heard of Oriental City. It was the venue for oriental food around here. For me the best part was being able to eat an odd mix of dishes as the food hall had stands serving a wide variety of dishes. A couple of years ago the owners of the building decided it would be worth more empty and evicted all the businesses. It was a huge loss and although several did reopen elsewhere it wasn't the same.

Yesterday while looking for something else entirely I came across this review. In it is a link to a review of Pacific Plaza. I knew I had to go and investigate ASAP, but today we had to go and hunt trainers for Tet so it wasn't going to be today. Turns out our hunting took us to Brent Cross which meant we had to practically go past the door of the Pacific Plaza. Fate I tell you I had to go in. It isn't full yet but there are more stands than when the other reviewer visited. The feel of the place is spot on, and it seems that people are starting to hear about it. It wasn't busy, but there were enough customers to have a buzz. As you can probably tell, it's really important to me that this place should do well. The food court was always a great place to go at a weekend. Yes it was busy, no you can't find a seat, but that's OK there. It's how it is supposed to be. The food was fantastic, and I managed my slightly strange selection of dishes. I will be going back, and hopefully a lot more of the old favourites from Oriental City will turn up there soon.

The cold is clearing. It has slowed me up a bit which is no ore than a little annoying. I have been able to think about designs and draw up some plans, so it could have been worse. To be honest if I hadn't been ill and grumpy I might not have gone to Pacific Plaza today and that would have been a huge loss, so maybe it's worked out in the end.

Friday, January 01, 2010

A new year

I had a plan for this year, and it's already in disarray. I though that after the crazy year last year this one would be a bit calmer. After all you can't need to fill a huge gallery two years in a row. Well I was right and wrong. I don't need to fill a gallery this year but I have already got more projects than I know what to do with. I've got a lead on doing some portraits I really want to do, I got another hush hush mission and a couple of shows that would like new pieces for their displays. As well as making quilts I have customer work to fit in and a book to get finished. Eeek. It's only the first day and the year already looks full. Am I complaining? Heck no. I wanted this career to work for me, and if that means having more work than I can shake a stick at for a while so be it. I am really excited about the projects I have lined up and I miss quilting when I take time off. I feel very lucky to be doing something I love. I could live without the cough and the sore throat though. Hopefully it's just from standing next to the bonfire last night. Anyway patterns and quilting await.

Happy New Year!