Sunday, 19 June 2011

Bound for Botany Bay

I spent two days this week as a parent helper on a Year 4 Australian History excursion to Sydney. What a great time we had! Well, it was great once we'd survived the bus-sickness chain-reaction vomiting on the trip down! Our first stop was the Old Schoolhouse at Rouse Hill, on Sydney's outskirts. It was built in 1888, and has recently been restored and opened as a hands-on exhibit of early Australian education. 
It afforded a fun opportunity for the kids to dress up and step back in time.
Back to a time when boys dipped their hats, girls curtsied and all children were silent and straight-backed!
To a time when lessons were written on slates, or with nib pens and ink. And if you stepped out of line, the cane was liberally dispensed. Our modern day children were suitably horrified and fascinated!
As if they knew I was coming, one of the activities was a lesson in the 'sewing room'! It was special to see the boys taking to the hand-stitching with relish & boisterous enthusiasm.
There was a wonderful original reference sampler, partially stitched on the wall.
Of course, I was drawn to the botanical designs!
The highlight of the trip for me was visiting the Royal Botanic Gardens. We had wonderful, knowledgeable guides, who talked us through the indigenous and settlement history of the Gardens. And pointed out trees with excellent 'boomerang potential'!
We also went to Hyde Park Barracks, a world heritage listed convict site built to accommodate convict men and boys. It was designed by architect Francis Greenway, himself a convict transported for forgery. He was responsible for many of the significant early colonial buildings in Australia.
The students were particularly excited about trying out the sleeping accomodation - a closely strung succession of hammocks, barely wide or long enough to sleep an adult.
Wandering through this historic and very beautiful part of Sydney with the students was such a treat. 

I spent my University years in Sydney, but never seemed to make the time to appreciate the wondrous history that was on my doorstep.
On our way back home, the bus driver took us over the Harbour Bridge. One of the girls next to me started jumping up and down in her seat excitedly, her eyes sparkling - this was her very first time on the Bridge. Witnessing her genuine joy was so lovely!
The excursion left me with a sense of how privileged our children are, with how well Australia is conserving its history, and how teachers are worth a lot more money!!

Monday, 13 June 2011

Something for Kate ... at last!

This little quilt has been finished for a while now, and has been patiently waiting to have its photo taken. The weather remains dismal, so she is not in her best light.

It is (unsurprisingly!) a gift for Kate, a new niece.

The fabrics are from Melanie Hurlston's happy fabric range called 'Little Menagerie' for Windham Fabrics.

The fabrics feature owls, monkeys, and elephants in Melly's inimitable sweet style.


The pattern is the little version of my 'Abracadabra' pattern.

This quilt makes me happy. I hope it makes Kate happy too :)

Friday, 10 June 2011

An open garden

The weather has been cold and miserable here, and not conducive to photography. In lieu of sewing news, I thought I'd share some photos of a local garden we visited recently.
The garden is set stunningly amongst rolling hills, lined with vineyards.
The thing that impressed me most about this garden was the extensive and clever use of perennial plants.
It was all I could do not to whip out the secateurs and pinch some cuttings :)
The silver birches were just turning their brilliant yellow at the time, ready for leaf drop and preparing to show their beautiful, white & spotty legs!
I love the use of spiky plants in a garden ... 
... and I'm also a fan of grey or purple foliage. This garden had it all.
There was a significant collection of roses ...
... in every colour imaginable.
Brilliant splashes of cherry red coreopsis ...
 ... and deep gold and russet red.
If purple is more your style, it had that too: 

 And of course, there were plenty of spots to just sit and admire the view. 
 It is the Queen's Birthday long weekend here in Australia. I am looking forward to getting my hands dirty in my garden. Have a great weekend. Bloom x

Thursday, 2 June 2011

Some kind of wonderful ... indeed

It just happened that my youngest blossie was selected for a CWA Public Speaking competition in Bathurst this week. I could hardly visit Bathurst without popping in to The Home Patch. As serendipity would have it, Annie Downs' new book, 'Some Kind of Wonderful', had just arrived and was ready for purchase! 
Annie never disappoints. This book is filled with sweet and whimsical projects. Here are some of my favourites, and will be added to my ridiculously unachievable 'to do' list!
A very sweet, birdy cushion, embellished with felt daisies and jumbo ric-rac.
Surely the prettiest heat bag ever, with Annie's distinctive felted woollen blooms.
And a simple, and very lovely daisy quilt.

These are just three of sixteen projects in Annie's book, available at THe Home Patch, hot off the press!
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