Thursday, 30 May 2013

Sandy Bay

This crazy island only has one real beach, with real sand and it is nothing like you would imagine. Try it for me: close your eyes, picture a beach on a tropical island. What do you see?
Well, there are no palm trees. The beach is backed by a gravelly scree topped with some old cannons.

When you turn round, there are no acres of golden sands, no beach umbrellas, deck chairs or cocktail waiters. There is a little cove with black sand, grey sea (it was a grey day, it is blue in the sun shine, I promise) and a very dangerous undertow.

To the left is a parking area with barbeques and picnic tables and the defensive wall erected to stop any attempts to rescue Napoleon.

To the right and all around are cliffs made of volcanic ash and lava in layers like a rocky lasagne.

Doesn't sound too appetising does it? And yet, and yet... there is something a little magical about it.

You drive through acres of flax, banana plantations and jungly wilderness and out into the desert. It is a little like a wadi.

It is still good fun, and the black sand has some secrets to reveal...

Firstly it is not black. Yes there is black involved, but there is white and gold and red and purple. Yes purple - from these:

Lovely aren't they? Can you imagine, if you had a beach made entirely from these shells. A purple beach! How cool would that be? Sadly we don't have one of those, except in our imaginations.

These are lovely too - a pink pebble and a sea-worn limpet shell.

Behind that defensive wall is another world. An oasis in the desert.

A little stream runs down the valley, and a narrow strip on either side is intensely green.

It is very good for throwing stones into and making big splashes.

It's a big old wall and a funny old place. Do you see the abandoned cannon lying on the ground? If you look closely there is one on the top of the knoll on the right too.

Oh, and it really is called Sandy Bay.


Wednesday, 29 May 2013

Patchy perfection.

Well, maybe not perfection if you look closely but, I did it. I made a whole patchwork quilted blanket all by myself! I am so completely chuffed with it. 

I hand quilted either side of every join which was much harder work than I anticipated. I think I need a thimble contraption to stop my fingers getting sore!

But it was completely worth every stitch. I think it gives a lovely texture. All sort of quilty!

I used a wrap which I found in the island's one and only charity shop as the wadding.  I like the idea of upcycling and repurposing like this, but also, the nearest fabric shop is something over 1000 miles away!

I bound the edge in a lovely spotty blue from my stash, and backed it in a gorgeous piece of fabric given to me by an island friend.

Look here it is in all it's glory!

I worked very hard on making the corners neat and I am very pleased with the results.

Most of the squares came from a friend back in Scotland, who sent them as a wonderful surprise gift, but I added a few from my own stash.

This came from a pare of baby shorts which I bought just for the fabric, from the island charity shop.

This is a piece of one of J's shirts.

This is an offcut from Tall Girl's bean bag and the red gingham you can just see was a pantomime costume many moons ago.

Two of my favourite ikea fabrics.

A toddler blouse of Tall Girl's, long grown out of.

I experimented with my fabbie stamp and discovered that it is colourfast on fabric if ironed first, so I was able to add a label which I am super please with. There will be more labels on more things in the future!

It really was hand made with love. I absolutely loved making it. I loved working out how. I loved juggling the colours, searching out the right thread, choosing the backing and the binding, everything. I am also looking forward to packing it up and sending it off to it's final destination, which is a surprise so I'll shut up now.

I took the pictures today in a very special location, more of which very soon.


Tuesday, 28 May 2013

St Helena Day Part 2

Arg! Sometimes life gets in the way of blogging. J fell over playing football on Saturday and broke his elbow so I have been a wee bit busy! Anyway back to St Helena Day almost a whole week ago...
So, we paused, candyfloss in hand, waiting for the main event: The float parade.

Actually there were only five floats, with only two really notable ones. The Smalls travelled down the road on a recreation of the Waterwitch, a British Naval Brig which intercepted slave ships after the abolition of slavery and brought the slaves to St Helena.

For some this was temporary and they eventually returned to their home territories. For many it was the end, and there are thousands of freed slaves buried here. Some settled here as free men and women and their descendants live here still.

The other notable float was a recreation of Longwood House where Napoleon Bonaparte lived for six years while exiled here until his death in 1821.

A good mate of ours played the man himself - suitably sombre and serious...

Except when he leapt up to do a quick burst of the Boney Boogie.

He was, of course, escorted by a regiment of His Majesties finest redcoats.


It was a fab parade to be part of - jigging down the street to carnival tunes. The floats were judged, and a winner declared.

The Waterwitch came in an admirable second.

Making the most of the occasion, Napoleon decided to take part in the Ladder challenge.

He made it to the top of the 699, 11 inch steps in a respectable time.

A lovely day finished in a beautiful evening.

And a beautiful evening finished, as all the best festivities should, with fireworks.