For best results view blog in Firefox or Safari

All pictures can be enlarged by clicking on them

Saturday, 30 April 2011


Anyone who knows me well knows I have this conviction that sewing machines are the work of the devil!

You press a pedal and the thing goes crazy! This little needle bounces up and down, you get a big tangle of thread and a snapped needle!

You do!

After telling Helen this on twitter; she decided to teach me how to use her sewing machine....she taught me how to make a little square lined drawstring bag. I thoroughly enjoyed it and decided I would add sewing to my list of craft hobbies.

I visited our local Singer distributor and picked out a nice looking machine that the assistant told me would suit an absolute beginner, like myself, but would also suit someone more experienced - good machine to grow with!

As they did a layaway plan, I went for it.

I took possession of my fancy machine just before Christmas 2009......and haven't even plugged it in since then!

Fast forward to this year.

I taught a friend of mine to spin and she said she'd teach me to sew in return. I was very excited about this and she took my machine away to give a service and to familiarise herself with it. She bought it back just before we went to Italy and declared it a good machine and ready to go!

I took some material and interfacing to Italy with me, deciding that if the feeling grabbed me I would make two carry cases; one for my Sony Pocket Reader and one for Mum's Kindle. Naturally, I didn't get the time.

On Tuesday I received this gorgeous purse from Marianne! I'd sent her the fabric and some cash and she sent this back with my latest fibre club parcel? There was even some material left over. Marianne even put an iPhone pocket in it for me!

So after watching Prince William marry Catherine Middleton on the TV yesterday (wasn't her dress stunning!), I summoned all my courage and with my trusty twitter running; I got out my machine!

I started off by pinning the lining tight around the reader.

When I was happy with the snugness, I took a deep breath and sewed the two seams. I SEWED!!

Then I pondered how to attach the interfacing. After a bit of quick discussion with twitter, namely andsewtoknit, I decided the best course was to unpick the two fabulous lines I had done and redo it, but with the interfacing in place too.

I also ran a seam along the bottom fold to make the fold a bit more tidy.

I was on a roll!

Then I spent the next several hours cutting, fitting and sewing the outer layer into place.

After about three hours, I had made THIS!

I am sooooooooo proud of this! I'm going to buy some of that Velcro on tape to make a closure for it (I forgot to add a button loop in my enthusiasm!), but that can wait. It fits and it fits snugly!

Now I've just got to make one for Mums Kindle!

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Wednesday, 27 April 2011

Holiday Photos

OK, I was going to do a post of each place and just fill it with photos.

But I took a lot of photos.......

So here is a link to the photos I took.

They're all kind of jumbled together and I'm sorry about that, but I'm sure you'll enjoy them anyway :D

Don't forget to click on the sub-albums on the right of that page!

Italy Week 3!

We reached Tiber campsite before lunch and had a nice relaxing day doing very little.

Monday 18th April

We went to Roma again, purely to see the Sistine Chapel. We took up the offer of a guide and set off for the museum.

Unfortunately, you have to go through the Vatican museum to get to the Sistine Chapel and doing a tour was the easiest and quickest also meant we got to skip at least 3 hours of queueing!

Much to my dismay, it was absolutely heaving! There seemed to be no limit on the amount of people allowed in at once and it was almost impossible to see much unless it was at least six feet up in the air! Our tour guide was a guy named Anton from London, he spoke far too fast, our group was too large and if he went beyond ten feet of me; his mic didn't transmit to our headsets properly. It was all very frustrating and hot!

After two hours and far too much walking, we reached the Chapel.

It was PACKED!!!

Contrary to what we had previously been told - and what is on the Vatican website - we were allowed to take photos and I took loads. The ceiling was, of course, amazing! Parts of it looked 3D and the nine panels in the middle told the story of Genesis.

Mum and I were in an awful amount of pain by then and were, frankly, pleased to get out at the end - the pain followed us all the way back to the campsite :(

Tuesday 19th April

I was very stiff when I woke this morning, but was soon able to move after some tea and a shower.

We set off for Venezia; Sean the SatNav said it was just under 500km and would take about five hours.

In reality, it took six and I was shattered when we arrived at Fusina campsite. We checked in and hunted for somewhere to stick the van - there's no organisation in Italian sites, you put your van wherever there is room and hope your electric cable will reach the hook-up point!

We ate dinner and read for the rest of the evening.

Wednesday 20th April
Today is my mothers 69th birthday and today she got to go to Venice and ride on a Gondola - something she has always wanted to do!

Venice is incredible - even when you disregard the fact that the whole place is slowly sinking - there is NO road traffic! A city with no cars! It's so quiet and relaxed and peaceful!

We only managed to explore a small section as we were still feeling the effects of walking around the Vatican museum and then driving for a whole day! But we had a lovely day and ended it with a lovely meal followed by a gondola ride.

Thursday 21st April
Mum went back to Venice today, the boys, Isis and I elected to stay at the campsite (which is a LOT quieter in the day - there seem to be nightly parties here unfortunately!) and I had a lovely day of sun bathing burning, reading and knitting!

Friday 22nd April
We left the Venice campsite at lunchtime, I have today, tomorrow, Sunday and until 3pm Monday to get to Calais which 1397km away - I need to travel approximately 350km a day!

I travelled 300km today, we made it out of Italy and across the Austrian border. As we're travelling along roads without tolls; there are very few places to stop overnight, so we've stopped in a little town car park for the night.

Saturday 23rd April
I've had to drive 400km today to get us to the halfway level. My right leg and foot really hurt and I'm hot and tired.

We've made it across the border into Germany - that means there are Rastenplatz! We found one on the A8 near Stuttgart - it's surprisingly quiet and there are toilets!

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad


Italy Week 2!

Forgive me if this rambles, my iPad ran out of battery and i didnt get it charged until the end of the week lol.

We found a lovely campsite near Rome - all green with daisies (daisies always seem so summery to me!)

We didn't really do much else once we had got there, except make use of the hot showers and sinks for washing dishes and clothes.

On Tuesday, we caught the free bus to the train station, then a train from Prima Porta into Rome. We then had to switch to the underground train to get to the Collosium - holy shit, that thing is MAHOOSIVE!!! we wandered around the outside of the Collosium for a bit, but decided not to go inside due to the massive queue.

Then we got on a tour bus and travelled around the city on that for a bit. We got off at St Peter's Square and ogled the Vatican for a bit.

Another huge queue put us off trying to visit the Sistine Chapel (which we all regretted once we were back at the campsite!)

On Wednesday we left that site and set off down the coast as we wanted to get to Naples and Pompeii. We stopped at a site near Vesuvius, but it wasn't very nice and we discovered after checking in that they don't accept dogs. We kept Isis hidden and left the next morning.

Thursday we drove round the base of Vesuvius and around the outskirts of Pompeii. By evening, I had no idea where we were, we had driven through some towns that had really narrow streets and completely insane local traffic. It was also a complete shit hole - rubbish everywhere and it was filthy!

Just a quick note - if you're planning to visit Italy and youure an animal lover; don't go to southern Italy. They let their dogs roam loose and don't pay any attention to whether they live near a busy road or not. Everyone on the road is a complete nutter - they pay absolutely no attention to the speed limit, other drivers or lines painted in the road.

I've seen ten dogs since leaving Rome, 3 in the local village, 1 on the beach, 3 on the campsite and four dead by the roadside.

But we found a gorgeous site, right on the coast with private (pebble) beach access and a fantastic view! Mum says we're on the Amalfi coast but we don't know the area - we're staying at Camp Nettuno; it's a small camp with all the amenities needed, but it's basic - the view more than makes up for it though!!

When we arrived, we had a quick walk around then Matt, Alex and I went to the beach, the water was cold and the pebbles hurt our feet, but Alex & I managed a swim. We spent the rest of the day sunbathing :D

That evening we agreed we would stay here another night and just spend Friday (today) relaxing, resting and sunbathing.

It started to rain at 6am and hasn't stopped ALL day!!

We've met several other English couples, one couple are touring Europe (they're off to Greece tomorrow) in their camper (they sold their house & bought the camper!) and they told us the best time to get into the Sistine Chapel is late afternoon, there are hardly any queues!

We've discussed it and we've decided that tomorrow we are going to visit Pompeii properly, then head back to Roma before going on to Venezia!

Saturday 16th April
We got up this morning and set off for Pompeii. It didn't take long to get there, we walked around the 'new' city for a bit then we discovered an information point where a lovely woman loaded us with free guide books and lots of information.

We then spent a couple of hours exploring the 'old' city - the archaeological ruins of what is left of Pompeii after Mount Vesuvius blew it's top in 79AD.

It was fascinating to see how well items had been preserved, although these casts of bodies were distressing!

After we left the old city we had some lunch at a restaurant with dreadful service and a waiter who tried to overcharge us by €20! After a lot of calculating, he adjusted the total, but it was still too much. He got the manager who then got all stroppy, ripped up the bill and told us to pay whatever the hell we wanted while muttering something in Italian about the English - I refused point blank to pay the 15% service charge for a waiter who had to be asked to bring part of our meal (which was shoddy at best) and who couldn't even add up with a calculator!

Then we headed for Vesuvius. We had been told that we would be able to drive to within a kilometre of the summit and from there we could walk up. To my surprise; the van handled the drive up really well!

Alex, Matt, Isis and I walked the remaining 1100 metres while Mum stayed in the van and had a coffee. The view was spectacular! You could see miles and miles of Italy and right at the top, you could look down into the crater of the volcano!

After we drove back down, we headed for Roma again. We're about an hour away from the campsite now, but it's nearly 8pm, I'm tired and it seems a bit daft to pay for a spot on a campsite when we can just sleep here in a truck stop for nothing!

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad


Italy! Week 1

Tuesday 5th April 2011

We arrived safely into Calais around 5pm last night, we have to see the vet in Belgium today so we can't go far.

We decided to look for a spot near La Plage (the beach) and headed for Cap Gris-nez. We found a car park behind a radar station/lighthouse and all went to sleep early.

Woke early this morning to rain - it's now lunchtime, we're in Belgium and it's still raining.

I also have a cold :(

We stopped for a cuppa and I discovered that iTranslate (which I downloaded for use in Italy) doesn't work without a poxy Internet connection! How stupid is that!?!?

We drove for most of the day and by Tuesday evening were in Luxumberg. We found a parking complex and got settled in for the night then a big 18 wheeler parked behind us and put his music on really loud, so we moved to another part of the car park.

Wednesday 5th April

The day has started out beautifully, sun is shining and it's warm - the only problem is that our water tank is empty!

Thursday 6th April
We eventually found a water source and headed toward Como. We got stuck in traffic and lost at least an hour.

As it was getting dark; we started looking for somewhere to stop - I ended up pulling into a lay-by. When I turned the lights off; it was pitch black and there were MILLIONS of stars.

This morning we woke to find we were surrounded by mountains - beautiful sight first thing in the morning!

We headed for Lake Como - as it was so hot, we were hoping for somewhere to swim, but that area is very touristy and built up. We pretty much drove round the lake and continued south.

So, we made it as far as Thursday before Mum and I argued about her completely crappy map reading skills - when I am among four lanes of busy traffic and surrounded by 18 wheeler lorries; she cannot be vague about which way to go!

We are in some little village just north of Milan. We've stopped for dinner and plan to drive some more into the evening, which will be cooler....I hope!

Saturday 9th April
We spent Friday night in a Autogrill motorway service station surrounded by lorries then headed south towards Firenze.

We headed for a campsite that was in the Caravanning & Camping guide, but were a bit annoyed to discover the pool won't open for another month and although the park is open; they're not exactly READY to be open.

But we stayed here last night, we're going to catch the bus into Firenze today and stay here again tonight before heading onto Roma tomorrow.

It's VERY VERY hot and the scenery is gorgeous! We've driven over mountains and through valleys! I'm looking forward to seeing the stunning architecture in the Italian cities though!

Sunday 10th April
Oh wow, Firenze is a beautiful city - especially the cathedral! I took loads of photos of it, it was just so immense! Unfortunately, we didn't go inside as the queue was horrendous!

We also walked across the Ponte Vecchio - it's a bridge with shops on it, mostly jewellery stores. Some of the jewellery was gorgeous and I'm extremely glad I left my credit cards at home!

We're heading to Roma via Monteriggioni today, I can't wait to see the collesium!

It's Sunday evening, we went to Monteriggioni - if you've ever played Assassin's Creed; you'll understand why. It wasn't what I was expecting, it was smaller and we couldn't find the Villa Auditore lol.

We are now stopped on a roadside near a Marina, Alex and I have been for a swim and we've had dinner. We're probably just going to sleep here tonight (hopefully no one will tell us to move) and head on to a campsite near Roma tomorrow!

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad