31 December 2018

End of December Round Up

I hope your Christmas went well and looking forward to the New Year ahead.  David and I had a quiet Christmas Day at home, though Boxing Day was a family gathering at my youngest son's so that was a busy one.  All over now for another year but it was strange having to think what day of the week it is between Christmas and New Year and it'll be good to get back into a 'normal' routine!

Apart from the cruise, which has been the basis of my posts this month I have managed some crafty stuff.  On the days at sea a growing knit and natter group gathered in one of the bars in the afternoon and while going to this I got a second sock knitted for me for Christmas.

You may be able to see that I've done an eyelet pattern of a Christmas tree on one side of each sock.  Unfortunately I didn't record the pattern that I made on the first sock which got me into a bit of trouble knitting and un-knitting the rows on the second sock. So I had to wing it and hope that I got it right but it doesn't look too bad.  The yarn is King Cole Zig Zag and the colour way is Summer but when I bought the yarn it said Christmas to me.  They fit well so I'm pleased and they were worn at Christmas!

Another thing I was working on was the November Little Box of Crochet which had this gorgeous Mandala designed by Amanda Williams (which you may have seen on my Christmas Day post part done). The photo below shows the finished article. Isn't it just gorgeous?

The design is worked into the front and back stitches so it gets dense with the layers of crochet stitches, but you should see the back and I love that too.

There was also a little sheep wooden decoration and he had a little Christmas coat.  I really liked this pattern and I might possibly have a go at another mandala in the future.

No sewing happened at all in December until yesterday and I made a postcard - black and white and .. (one other colour).  I haven't done fabric weaving in a long time so I made this

Its ok, a bit boring, but it got me back into sewing again.  I wish I put a bit more effort into it.  I'll have to think about something a bit more exciting than this.

Anyway, New Year, New Projects.  I decided to make myself a jumper from watching Tina from Simply in Stitches starting a KAL (Knit A Long) on You Tube.  I ordered yarn and needles from Wool Warehouse and I wasn't worried about getting the package until after Christmas but it came the Friday before on Christmas!    The jumper is to be knitted in Drops Alpaca yarn which is lovely and soft.I've started a tension piece for the jumper and need to go down one size of needles which now means a search for the correct size circulars! Hey ho...

On the Saturday before Christmas the Little Box of Crochet arrived for December.  We were out that day (which usually happens) and it looks lovely with a really cute Amigurumi puppy designed by Kerry Lord of Toft.  As I've recently finished the mandala and got to finish the Tunisian crochet pouch from October's box I will start then when the pouch is finished.

My room was in a mess over the holidays as our shower decided not to work.  The other side of the wall from the built in wardrobe is the bathroom and there is a pump for the shower boxed in at the bottom of the wardrobe. I closed the door on all the mess over Christmas!  But I will have to get things back in order and that can wait just a little while longer...

I hope you have a fab New Year! 🎉🎉🎉. (I'm pleased that Blogger now has emojis!)

30 December 2018

Madeira and Canary Islands Cruise - Part 4 - Lisbon

This is the last part of our cruise adventure and it now seems long ago as we've been back over 2 weeks now.  The last leg came after a day at sea and the weather was noticeably colder as we headed north from the Canaries.  Approaching Lisbon the ship, Oceana, had to sail in the River Tagus and go past a few recognisable landmarks that I recognised from in Lisbon back in 1970.  The bridge that crosses the river, had been renamed being the 25 April Bridge.  There was also the Belem Tower and the monument to Henry the Navigator. The last two are now UN Heritage sites.

 Belem Tower
 Henry the Navigator
 25 April Bridge looking towards Christ the Redeemer statue
Another view of the bridge with a plane flying over

When landing in the port we were booked on an excursion around the city by coach with a vintage tram tour.  The old trams are quite short as the streets in the city are very small and twisty with only just enough room for the tram and no other vehicles! While we had our ride we had the traditional sweet custard tarts with a small glass of port.

The end of the tram tour took us to the Basilica da Estrela, a really large, impressive church.

Around the corner at the coach pick up, we saw a lot of other tram services coming and going but this tram (below) wasn't going anywhere - its an ice cream kiosk! That's not too bad a photo seeing as it taken through a glass window.

Another stop was this Cultural Square which has a museum and art gallery amongst its buildings and we were free to explore for a short time.  On our wanders we came across this Oriental structure (arch, pergola?) and waited for the young couple to finish taking photos before I took some

 And we took a silly selfie just to show we've been there!

We loved the mosaics on the pavements and walkways, and this was just a small bit of the mosaic in the square 

 And some in the city centre
Our coach dropped us off back at the terminal but we walked into the city centre and had a wander around.
 We didn't go inside as there was a long queue for the Santa Just a elevator, the back leads out to streets at a higher level
 St Nicholas Square with its Christmas market
A last look as we headed back to the ship. By now the blue skies from earlier in the day were replaced by dark clouds as the weather was changing.

After 2 rather rough sea days we came into the calm of the English Channel and disembarked at Southampton.  This was the photo that I put on Facebook (from the buffet restaurant on the ship so excuse the reflection) of a really dark and wet Southampton which continued that way for the rest of the day.

So that's it - for us a cruise is a good way to 'dip a toe' into places and to be able to explore a little later.  David and I would like return visits to Madeira and La Palma in the future and would probably not do another holiday so close to Christmas though, but then that's because of our anniversary being in December which is what we wanted to celebrate.   Trying to get ahead before we went and the catching up after we came back was a bit stressful, but we got there in the end.  

As you will probably guess I like Christmas decorations and it was interesting to see how other countries have the same recognisable Christmas icons (tree, baubles, lights, etc.) but put their own way of displaying them.  It was a pity the ship sailed late afternoon from each port so we couldn't see the lights.


This is my 700th post since starting the blog, which I've reached just before the end of the year! 

Next month is New Year so I hope to do a reflective post and look forward to my aims for the year ahead.  

25 December 2018

Happy Christmas to all my readers

I hope you have a lovely and peaceful time.  

See you soon

Best wishes

Sue x

(Above photo is Little Box of Crochet mandala and I will post about this very soon).

24 December 2018

Madeira and Canary Islands Cruise - Part 3

Our next stop was La Palma and another trip booked, this time to the Silk Museum and (what was) Sugar Plantation (now a hotel).

It was another trip from one side of the island to another and the tour was led by an English woman who is married to an islander.  The western side of the island is well known for growing bananas and could be seen as far as the eye can see!  Our first stop was a the silk museum in El Paso in the middle of the Island between Santa Cruz de la Palma and Tazacorte.  Being Sunday morning it is normally closed, but the museum was opened just for the tour.

A mural on the building's walls showing the silkworm. By the town hall on the opposite corner was a small Christmas display.
Another stop on our tour was to the Hotel Hacienda de Ajabo which has a lot of antiquities and tapestries and lovely gardens and we spent time in the gardens with tea and cake.  David took a lot of photos but I didn't take many.  There is a small chapel in the grounds which is used by the hotel as a meeting/function room but what a place it was.  I've found a link here to have a look.

Not far from the hotel is a small village, La Manchas, with a plaza called La Glorieta.  If you think this is something you would see in Barcelona inspired by Gaudi, but it was designed by Luis Morera and a fantastic display of mosaics, basalt stones and lava flow rocks. We took several photos of this so here are two collages.

It seems I put in one photo twice - sorry!

On our way back to the port it was explained that going through a tunnel in the mountain that there are two different types of weather before going in it was sunny, coming out of the tunnel it was misty!

We explored the town briefly and as it was Sunday things were a little quiet.  I could not leave the island without taken a photo of these giant baubles on the roundabout.  I put a comment on Facebook wondering if there was a tree big enough for them!

On the Monday 10th we docked in Lanzarote. There were no trips booked this time, so we walked into the town, Arrecife.  There is a newly developed area from the cruise ships to the marina and crossing the bridge into the town itself.  We walked through the town to a cobbled bridge and a fortification, which was a museum.  It turned out the museum was letting visitors in but couldn't collect entrance fees because their internet and till wasn't working.  Being thick walls we couldn't use a mobile signal for our phones to use the QR codes that would have given us an English language guide, so David and I muddled through reading what we could of the Spanish language (our knowledge of Spanish is very minimal!).  Not a lot to see in Arrecife itself so eventually we went back to the ship and enjoyed the sunshine on the deck instead,

 The ship can be seen in the middle of the pic
A view from the fort across a causeway with Fire Mountain in the distance

That was Lanzarote - much more touristy and very arid compared with the lushness of La Palma.  Before leaving we went through the marina on our return to the ship and took Christmas photos, though there was a huge shadow which made the photos difficult.  We had to go for it.

Next stop after a sea day was Lisbon.  More about that in another post.

Madeira and Canary Islands Cruise Part 2

Last week was all about catching up with washing and shopping in preparation for Christmas.  We saw relatives on Saturday and I had a day at home yesterday tidying and cleaning.  Having caught up with ourselves today we went out for a walk to our nearest NT. Kingston Lacy - gloomy weather but at least it was dry.

So different from a couple of weeks ago when we visited the Canary Islands.  The ship, Oceana, visited Tenerife, La Palma and Lanzarote, spending a day on each island.  Gloriously sunny and warm weather ranging between 23 - 25℃, so much warmer than I thought it would be!  Not having packed much summer stuff with me it was trying to find the coolest things I could wear - didn't do my homework there!

We had excursions booked for Tenerife and La Palma but not Lanzarote as nothing appealed to us.  Our excursion to the Botanical Gardens and Orchid Garden to us to the north of the island of Tenerife and a short visit to the resort of Puerto de la Cruz, which meant that the coach took mountainous roads to get there.  Our guide took us around the Gardens, although we could if we wanted to go on our own, and pointed out several trees and plants that are mainly peculiar to the island.  One of these is a Dragon Tree, which we also saw in Madeira and La Palma which has aerial roots that grow down from the branch to eventually root into the ground.  As the plant get older the tree gets wider with all the roots expanding the girth of the tree.  Unlike most trees it has a fibrous trunk so is difficult to determine its age.

 Thats the top of a tree with its clumps of spiny leaves
And the trunk of the tree with the aerial roots, you can just see the main trunk in the middle of the pic.

We saw a sand lizard sunning itself on the bark of another tree.

We saw some fruit trees as well, including a grapefruit, which smelt so different to the smell of grapefruit one gets from the supermarket and fig trees too - difficult not to take one of the plant to eat!

Next stop on our tour was to Sitio Litre garden, an orchid garden that has been owned by British families for generations.  As well as orchids there was also a fishpond (with fish food for the public to feed the fish!) and small self contained gardens.  With the buildings that surrounded it the gardens are a little oasis of calm.  At the end of the garden was a small café to have a drink of wine.

At this time of year there are lots of poinsettia's for sale which we have as indoor plants but here the are growing outdoors.

When we were in Tenerife the shops in the port town, Santa Cruz, were shut as it was a public holiday, the Immaculate Conception Day.   This disappointed other passengers who weren't on tours.

Back at the ship, before we left, the ship needed a refuel. No popping down to Asda for a fill up - the barge of fuel comes to the ship instead.

There'll be another post(s) about La Palma and Lanzarote

20 December 2018

Madeira and Canary Islands Cruise

This may be covered over several posts. Just a warning!

David and I decided upon going on the cruise after celebrating our 40th wedding anniversary last year.  Then we went to Stratford-Upon-Avon which was freezing cold and discovered a heavy overnight snowfall on the second day we were there.  We had to go somewhere warmer this year.  We were married on 10th December and we've always had to share our anniversary with Christmas celebrations so we did know there would be a Christmassy theme to the cruise. We were informed on our itinerary that Embarkation day we'd be wearing Christmas jumpers!

 The ship wasn't listing that was me taking a dodgy photo!
And and even dodgier selfies.

Where the ship (Oceana) was docked at Southampton it was near a container ship that was discharging its cargo and it was fascinating watching the cranes do the unloading and moving the containers.  The cranes and dockside were lit up and I was surprised by this photo that I took from our cabin balcony. - it actually looks quite good

We had 3 sea days before reaching Madeira and the sea and weather were calm and getting steadily warmer.  Among the events taking place was a crafting group (there was actually no crafting involved) followed by knit and natter but both merged into a knit and natter group and it was growing in number daily!  The group also ran on the sea days between Lanzarote and Lisbon then back home.

We had an excursion booked in Madeira to visit the Farmers' Market in Funchal then onto the Botanical Gardens on the island.  The market was bustling with traders and customers.

 Look at all those varieties of chillies
 Looking down into the square from the balcony above
The lovely tiled entrance to the market

Then onto the Botanical Gardens up a windy road around the mountainside but what a place it was - the following are my photos but David took many more.

That's just a few of the pics.  After going back into the town of Funchal we enjoyed a walk around and seeing the Christmas  decorations in a park near the drop off point.

 The gnomes look a little bit worried - I wonder what Santa has in store for them.  I loved the little houses.

 The photo doesn't do these lovely angels justice.  They are lit at night and must look really lovely but we were leaving before it got dark so had no chance to see

 This gloriously tall Christmas tree by the sea front

And just to prove we were there - another dodgy selfie pic!

Here's a link to Madeira's Christmas Lights.

So that was our Madeira visit, we then went onto the first of the Canary Islands - Tenerife.  I will post about that next time.

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