Tuesday, March 29, 2005

Easter in Portugal

Farol Design Hotel
Originally uploaded by Hells Bells.

I only found out the night before we were leaving that the Lisbon hotel I booked wasn’t actually in Lisbon but 30 minutes away by train. But it turned out to be a good mistake. The hotel website said it was “5 minutes walk from the town centre”. I had assumed Lisbon town centre – but the Cascais town centre – a gorgeous beachside town outside Lisbon was lovely. Our Farol Design Hotel was so nice we only managed to leave for a couple of sightseeing missions to Sintra and Lisbon and out for one dinner. The hotel restaurant is highly recommended. Chef Gerhard’s food was divine and waiter Paulo’s service super friendly. Not to mention the amazing ocean views.

We went to the World Heritage listed nearby town of Sintra, and visited the amazing Castelo dos Mouros (Moorish Castle) with walls reminiscent of the Great Wall of China and the even more amazing palace, Palácio da Pena. It was quite a wait to get into the Palace and I think that the outside was more spectacular than inside – the carving of the Monster with fish feet (mermaid legs?!) was something else.

Wandering around the town later we settled on a little café for lunch and found ourselves sitting opposite Kyan from Queer Eye (grooming). Jo and Steve had to forcibly restrain me from asking for an autograph but at least I did catch a smile when I got busted staring at one point. I can only gather that Queer Eye hasn’t taken off in Portugal yet. That, or the Portuguese are much more polite as no one else was taking any notice.

The next day we took the train into Lisbon. After losing ourselves in the windy cobblestone streets of the old town we climbed up to the impressive Castelo de Sao Jorge for amazing views over Lisbon. But we couldn’t stay away from Cascais for long and headed back for some more of Chef Gerhard’s seafood delicacies.

Sintra Palace
Originally uploaded by Hells Bells.

Wednesday, March 23, 2005

Long Short Week

These short weeks are deceptive. I start out the week thinking its going to zip by but then some weird space time continuum thing happens and looking forward to a long weekend somehow stretches the week out even more!

It’s still been go go around here – last weekend I caught the train up to the lakes to put the finishing touches on our painting at the cottage. In general it was pretty relaxing apart from the paint + rental car incident (note: 5 litres of cream paint tipped into the floor of a rental car is not a cheap accident to fix!). But the yummy breakfast at the Melmerby organic bakery made us forget about that. And yes – this current obsession with food while not doing any exercise at all is making it much harder to fit into jeans.

This week Jo M arrived and we are heading out to Covent Garden to catch up with her London friends and birthday drinks for Nomes, before escaping to Lisbon for the weekend.

Friday, March 18, 2005

Waverton Good Read Awards

One of the things I appreciate most about living in the UK is the seemingly high level of eccentrics around the place.

For example, the Waverton Good Read Awards that was featured on the BBC Culture Show last night. What a great idea – crazy, but great. The organisers Gwen and Wendy, two Waverton Village inhabitants decided to host their own book award, an alternative to the Booker and Whitbread, for first time authors. And the judges are all the villagers that want to participate (which I take to be pretty much everyone in the village).

A pool of books are left at strategic points around the village, bakery, post office ect, people pick them up and rank them on a feedback form. In the mean time they have meetings with discussion and talks from some of the nominated authors. Then the top five books are shortlisted and everyone has a couple of months to read them and vote on their fave. The shortlist was announced last night – check out their website and a story from one of the nominated authors from last year, Tony Saint. For those moments when you want something new to read but aren’t sure if you want to take a risk on something new – these people have done the work for you.


Originally uploaded by Hells Bells.

As predicted I couldn’t resist ordering a couple more greens from the very efficient and helpful Tabbycat. And of course in order to avoid the £2 postage charge I thought I’d better order a couple of other pieces as well. So I SAVED money really.

Gorgeous Green Spots
Originally uploaded by Hells Bells.

And look – aren’t they fab? The greens are perfect, the checks always useful and my favourite – the green spots is just gorgeous.

More Trees
Originally uploaded by Hells Bells.

Am very glad I did go for the other greens – much better and I made most of the trees last night – just have a couple to go and then put it all together into one leafy suburb.

Wednesday, March 16, 2005

Little Houses

Little Houses
Originally uploaded by Hells Bells.

I had an evening of sewing last night and made quite a bit of progress. Here is my little street (suburb?) of houses. I now need to make a few more and some more trees. I’ve been putting off doing the trees as I’m just not sure about any of the greens I have. Although I want to avoid the process I chose the sky blue – ie buy 10 different blues to choose from. But its important because one of the greens will be the border for between the rows and frame the edge. Hmmm maybe I will order a couple more just in case.

Sunday, March 13, 2005


Snow in the Park

Steve excelled himself in the kitchen this weekend. I have been treated to French Toast with bacon, banana and Canadian maple syrup, Sweet Potato and Capsicum Soup, Grilled Salmon with mango salsa AND divine White Chocolate Cheesecake with berry topping.

With all that decadence we agreed that we at had to make it to the gym at least one. I’ve noticed that there is a noticeable difference between the women’s change rooms in London and Frankfurt. In London its quite a modest affair with people getting changed using the Tent Manoeuvre, shimmying into undies under the cover of their towel. This is more in line with Australian style of public change rooms. In Frankfurt this modesty is completely dispensed with. The move de jour here is Moisturise and Chat. At any time you are likely to encounter several women flaunting toned bodies, saggy boobs, Brazilians and caesarian scars equally nonchalantly, thoroughly moisturising every inch of their bodies while chatting to their gym buddy. This is all done in a slow leisurely fashion and they are usually still there after I’ve showered, changed and blow dryed my hair. And I can report that the myth of hairy German women is completely unfounded.

Saturday, March 12, 2005

Potential Quilt


I have been reading with great interest the quilting activities of Hilary at Wee Wonderfuls and was especially inspired by her amazing Kimono Quilt and Amy at Angry Chicken who creates works of art out of fabric.

I bought a quilting book last week and have about 10 ideas of things I want to make. I’m going to start with a design with houses and pine trees in baby size.

Then I struck an obstacle. Patchwork fabric is not that easy to come by in London. Despite the fabric district in Soho being full of shops stacked to the roof with bolts of silks, satins and anything else you can imagine, they don’t stock the small cotton prints ideal for quilts. After much web surfing I found several online stores but I feel that the fabric selection process really needs to be done with the tactile method of feeling the fabric and lining the colours up together to see if they go.

I finally found ONE specialist quilt fabric store in London at Kew, Stitch in Time and popped in there on the way to the airport yesterday. Well as you can see I got a bit carried away and left with enough fabric to make several quilts. I really find it surprising that there are about four or five stores like this in little Brisvegas but as far as I can work out the next closest quilting stores here are one near Milton Keynes and one in Birmingham! I guess Londoners have too many other distractions to be into crafty stuff?


Second trip in a row that my Friday night flight has been INTERMINABLY delayed at LHR.

Last time, two weeks ago I was expecting it because it was snowing and I just didn’t have very high expectations that flights would be on time in those conditions.

This week the weather is a balmy 6-7 degrees C and I was really hopeful we’d get away on schedule. But after an hour sardined into the Piccadilly line and arriving at the check-in the friendly desk guy greeted me with “No check in. Plane still in Frankfurt. Delayed. Go and wait for announcement.” Heart plummets. Apparently high wind in Frankfurt was preventing planes from taking off there. So a few of us rebels just stayed in the queue in hope of it being a short wait while the lucky buggers going to Düsseldorf and München shuffled past and checked in.

Happily after about 10 minutes we were allowed to check in and go through. The big advantage of this was access to alcohol so I found a bar, ordered a large white wine and settled in to read my book. Meanwhile the “delayed for 20 minutes” message beside our flight number became a more and more obvious lie as our flight rose to the top of the list and only a couple of other flights remained after us. As soon as our gate was announced a flood of people hurried to the gate and squeezed in with a running commentary from the Americans in the queue behind me “Do you think this is the queue? I think this is the queue. Do you think it’s the queue? Is this the queue? (to everyone in 10 metre vicinity) etc”. In the end we were only delayed about 1 ½ hours.

Phew vent over.

Thursday, March 10, 2005


I didn’t really get into last months softies theme as I had never read Alice in Wonderland as a kid. And I still haven’t read it. And that’s my excuse for the fact that Smithy’s Caterpillar is BEATING my Rabbit (37 views vs 16 on Flickr). Not that we are competitive at all!! (jeez if I can’t be better at sewing I should just give up now). But I’m really warming up to this month’s theme. I like the idea of doing a regular doll after the animals. And I’ve enlisted Mum’s help to trawl through the old albums for inspiration. Some classic material coming through on the email (Mum is a guru on the scanner) and this one shows I’ve always been a dork. Doll collection circa 1981. For your amusement.


Tuesday, March 08, 2005

Norths VS Souths

Norths VS Souths
Originally uploaded by Hells Bells.

Smithy took me to the rugby on the weekend for the best of North and South Tsunami game. It was freezing cold but nice and sunny. And slaughtering the Norths, despite the support from guy in front of us yelling out "Come on the Norths!" every two minutes at the top of his lungs, was good. Actually don't tell Smithy but I got a bit bored in the second half when there was no tension about who would win. My favourite bit was Umunga's first try.

Monday, March 07, 2005

Sew Obsessed

I am very excited that the Softie gallery for February is up. I am always amazed at the creative interpretations people come up with. My rabbit looks pretty average compared to these funky guys from Trish Millener and Natascha Rosenberg.

I’m also very excited that I’ve been given a sewing machine from the lovely Smithy and won’t have to hand sew my next creation! And I’m also itching to get back into the quilting bug that bit me when I was at home last time.