Miz Lizzie rides again… Mackay to Townsville

…and we’re on the road north.

After the stresses and strains of organising the motorbike club annual national rally, we’ve treated ourselves to a week off and a road trip north. For the next seven days, this is going to be home:

Many of you will recognise those quilts and curtains. I still have a job to do there, covering the seat cushions and backs instead of that horrid pink and blue splodgy print. It’s absolutely the worst kind of 1980s commercial upholstery fabric. Miz Lizzie herself is feeling quite rejuvenated these days. She’s a lady of mature years, but we’ve given her a new lease of life with a reinforced under-frame, new heavier springs and new, larger wheels. She sits a lot higher these days, and can handle much rougher terrain; after the first day’s travel we opened the door to find not a thing had shifted. Formerly we could expect to find at least a couple of things had fallen off shelves or out of cupboards or off the bunks. She’s also a lot easier to level when we park up, which save loads of time.

We’re in Rollingstone, just north of Townsville, for two nights. It has enabled me to take the overlocker (serger) in to the mechanic here to get the motor bearings fixed; I’ll pick it up on the way back down. We’ve had a lovely lunch out, revisited the view from Castle Hill in Townsville, and got some errands done. We’ve also enjoyed the local produce: freshly caught tiger prawns for a stir-fry and a just-picked pineapple for dessert. Tomorrow, we’re packing up again and heading another 400km further north, to the Atherton Tablelands of Far North Queensland. More photos from there. Meanwhile, I’ll leave you with the afternoon view from the caravan window….

…and sunrise this morning, peeking over the edge of the mirror-smooth Coral Sea on an ebbing tide. High above, the day’s first flight from Cairns to Brisbane is just catching the light. Another day in paradise begins.

It’s hell, but someone has to do it.


The Gardens of Chiconia 47

All is dry and crispy in the Gardens of Chiconia…

Despite that, fruit trees are producing like there’s no tomorrow. Do they know something we don’t? Stress does that to fruit trees, and after one of the driest years on record, all over Queensland the mango trees are in magnificent bloom, dense and colourful. The flowers are a dusty pink, and it makes the trees really stand out. I have three in the garden, and for the first time, my youngest tree is flowering.

I have a Ducasse (sugar) banana tree in a tub. It started life as a sucker from the tree I planted in the old Gardens of Chiconia at our former home. It has grown until it’s well over 2 metres high, and now look!  That pointy pinkish thing in the middle is a flower bud. It means that one day in the not too distant future, there’ll be a whole hand of sugar bananas dangling down. There’s no chance we’ll be able to eat them all ourselves, so friends and relations will be benefiting too. After that, it’ll be all over for the tree, but as chance would have it, there’s a new sucker coming along beside it 🙂 Bananas today, bananas tomorrow…

Now all we need is a week of rain.

ScrapHappy August

Welcome once again to ScrapHappy Day!

It’s the day my friend Gun in Sweden and I host ScrapHappy, a day for showing something made from scraps.

Despite my doubts last time, it appears I did have enough paler scraps to make the blocks I needed for a 4 x 4 pale rainbow quilt… In addition to the 9 you saw last time, I’ve made another 7 blocks, and we are up to the necessary 16! The eagle-eyed among you will notice that the black/white/grey number has been removed. I found another old block in the cupboard, a brown one which was too pale for the previous quilt, so I’m going with two browns instead. In any case, the grey one told me it wanted to be part of another quilt at some stage, made with all monochromes and some brightly-coloured sashing. I still have to spend some quality time squinting at the blocks before the layout is final. I suspect it won’t be on point, because I’d need to make more blocks.

I also managed to score some shot cotton in a pretty colour that I feel really works with all those pale blocks. What would you call it? Blackberry and cream? Mulberry and cream? Not quite the $11 I paid for the dark blue in the previous quilt, but still, it’s a remnant, the ragtag tail-end of a bolt, and I did get a 50% discount so it’s honorary scrap, don’t you agree? Not sure what I’m going to do about the backing this time. I used my most unloved bits and pieces last time, so I might have to start using actual fabric (gasp!), but probably the ‘What Was I Thinking?’ pieces, assuming I still have enough of those, as well as ‘I Love It, But…‘ fabrics. And of course, I’m still thinking of a name for this quilt.

ScrapHappy is open to anyone using up scraps of anything – no new materials. It can be a quilt block, pincushion, bag or hat, socks or a sculpture. Anything made of scraps is eligible. If your scrap collection is out of control and you’d like to turn them into something beautiful or useful instead of leaving them to collect dust in the cupboard, why not join us on the 15th of each month? Either email me at the address on my Contact Me page, or leave a comment below. You can also contact Gun via her blog to join. We welcome new members. You don’t have to worry about making a long term commitment or even join in every month, just let either of us know a day or so in advance if you’re new and you’ll have something to show, so we can add your link. Regular contributors will receive an email reminder three days before the event.

Here are the links for everyone who joins ScrapHappy from time to time (they may not post every time, but their blogs are still worth looking at). If you’ve contacted me recently to join ScrapHappy but don’t see your name there, it’s probably because I need your email address and a link to your blog, so make sure I have them for next time and you’ll be there 🙂

Kate (me!)Gun, TittiHeléneEvaSue, Nanette, Lynn, Lynda,
Birthe, Turid, Susan, Cathy, Debbierose, Tracy, Jill, Claire, JanKaren,
Moira, SandraLindaChrisNancy, Alys, Kerry, Claire, Jean, Johanna,
Joanne, Jon, Hayley and Dawn

See you next month 🙂

The gang

Sorry it’s been so quiet around here…

These guys are why there has been radio silence in Chiconia for the past 5 days. They’re the members who attended our annual motorcycle club National Rally, lined up under the casuarinas by one of our beaches, enjoying a spot of ultraviolet. For the southerners (from Tasmania, Victoria and New South Wales), the beautiful warm weather and perfect riding conditions have been a bit of a revelation, considering it’s winter. Down there, they’re getting frost, in some cases snow, and it’s cold and gloomy. Up here? Well, you can see for yourself.

I won’t lie. It’s been exhausting to organise and host this event, but we’ve received a lot of thanks and appreciation for the hard work that went into it, everyone has had fun, there have been lots of interesting things to do, and enjoyment of what our lovely region has to offer. More today, a morning tea in a tropical garden, another ride, fun and games with jetskis on one of our local dams, and finally, the traditional Straggler’s Night pizza party.

And then the Rally’s over. Quite a few of them are staying on to make a holiday of it. We ourselves are having a big tidy up on Monday, on Tuesday we’ll pack the caravan, and on Wednesday we’re off on holiday ourselves. But you’ll be coming along with me 🙂

Till then, I must get back on two wheels!

Beach Creatures

I saw a clip on TV today that I found really inspirational.

I hope you’ll feel the same way. Dutch physicist turned artist Theo Jansen creates wind-powered, self-propelling creatures of ethereal beauty, architectural strangeness and inspirational simplicity. Just Google ‘Strandbeest’ (beach creature in Dutch), or go directly to his website.

NASA has become interested in the way these creatures move, and how, as a possible means of propulsion for vehicles on planets where the atmosphere and temperature are not conducive to current motor technology. Can you imagine seeing one of these fabulous creatures stalking across the surface of Mars…?

You know what else is great?  He’s been generous enough to share his ideas and designs with us. You can create your own Strandbeest, using his books, DVDs or kits.

I’d love to see these beach creatures living their own lives on all our beaches. Perhaps, though, made of sustainable materials instead…


Peacock pearls

Isn’t that a wonderful description?

Anyone who knows me well knows I have a bit of a thing (OK, a very large thing) for pearls. They’ve always enchanted me, particularly the colours, the irregular shapes of freshwater pearls, and how you can wear them anywhere, any time, without appearing overdressed.

So when a while ago a friend (thank you, Anne!) led me to the beautiful work of jeweller and silversmith Dawn Gill, and I discovered she did pearl bracelets, buying one was a foregone conclusion. We had a fun email correspondence discussing pearl colours (who knew the black ones were properly called ‘peacock pearls’ if they had different colours in them?), extra embellishment with silver rings, and a range of semi-precious beads. I chose a colour scheme, I placed an order, she made it up and sent it off. And I waited very impatiently until today.

Wonderful things come in small packages. Even though it came from the UK, postage was very reasonable.

Look how beautifully she wrapped and presented it.

Doesn’t it look great? I hope you can see the peacock colours in the photo, iridescent shades of blue, green, purple and pink. Probably not, but I know they’re there! The lilac beads are amethyst, the white angular shapes are cornflake pearls, and the little rings are silver. So much goodness in one little package 🙂

This may be the last time I take it off for quite a while. If ever…

Go and take a look: Dawn Gill Designs: Facebook‎@DawnGillDesigns and Blog

F²F³: Footsquare Freestyle July roundup

Month 2 is now complete in this third series of F²F.

July is Sue’s month, and like last month, all blocks have either arrived or are now en route. I think she has only about 3 squishies left to arrive 🙂 Good going, ladies! Sue had a classic blue and white colour palette, and the blocks she’s receiving are going to make an incredibly beautiful quilt.

If you want to see the finished blocks, go to the F²F 2018 gallery here, and if you want to check out the colour palettes, go to the Members/ Colours page here. F²F reference and finished block images are now maintained on a separate blog due to their image-heavy nature, and the home page is here, if you want to bookmark it or follow it. The galleries are a useful library of colour and block designs, and the previous session is also stored there.

August is Claire’s month, and she has chosen a vibrant, modern palette of black, grey and turquoise on a white background. I’ve picked out my fabrics, and I’ll be starting work soon. It’s going to be fun!

See you same time next month.