Sunday, April 24, 2011

I'll rise, but I sure won't shine!

Greetings, my dear readers. I hope this lovely bank holiday weekend finds you all well. I'm by the sea with Nic, visiting his family on the Kent coast. The weather has been unexpectedly glorious, and so far we've been doing our best to make the most of it.

After a reasonably stressful start to the week, I decided to calm things down a bit by finishing off my second curtain dress - another Simplicity 2591. The first time I sewed one of these dresses, it was an unexpected success but not without its flaws. I found the gathering on the skirt a bit fiddly to do and I had some issues with the neck and armhole facings. This time around, however, she came together beautifully. The main body of the dress took me a few hours, leaving only some hand sewing to do. I used a slip stitch to secure the facings and also to hem the skirt.
Simplicity 2591
Simplicity 2591 and Vivienne Westwood for Melissa cherry shoes

I'm so pleased with how this turned out. The bold pattern and the bright colours look good in the bodice and I'm also really happy with the fit. I managed to get over my stresses around gathering (mainly by slowing down a bit and being a bit more meticulous in doing it) and I am pleased with the skirt too. I couldn't be happier with what I managed to achieve in only a few hours, and with an old curtain! Despite this being my second go at the 2591, I'm definitely game for another, and when I get back from this little holiday I'm going to make a start on the v-necked version with little straps, with some lovely John Kaldor cotton that was a birthday present back in September.

Simplicity 2591
The bodice
Excellent hemming skills
My hemming - my best-hemmed effort so far! It's nice to see progress....

I was off out to a Sew Make Believe meetup later that evening so it seemed only fitting to wear something I had made. It improved my mood immensely, as well. I had been struggling all day with a horrible headache and some social time (and some preening in my new dress and pretty shoes) did a lot to cheer me up!

After a lovely sleep in on Thursday morning and a bit of much-needed pyjama time, Nic and I caught the (freezing bloody cold) train down to Folkestone, with a short pit-stop in the courtyard of the British library for a bit of a picnic between trains. The British library is lovely, and the courtyard is a very pretty place to stop and think, but being there always makes me feel like such a country mouse - city living is probably not for me.

British Library
I feel you, C.S

The sun was still very warm when we got to Folkestone and we took a fairly leisurely walk along the seafront to Nic's family's house. I didn't grow up by the sea, but all the same I miss it in the midlands so this sight cheered my heart

Folkestone seafront
I heart Folkestone - the sea from the Leas
Happy feet
Happy feet on the beach
me on Folkestone seafront

After all of the travelling, it was really nice to relax with family, an episode of Kojak and an early night.

Nic and I go up nice and early on Friday morning for a trip to Wye to visit the gorgeous Victoria Deloria and Mr S. As it was such a beautiful morning, we took our time and even had a bit of a splash around in the sea.

me on Sandgate seafront
Sunning myself
Nic in the sea at Sandgate
me in the sea at Sandgate
me on Sandgate beach

It was really cold - just about bearable for a paddle, but not much more! It was such a good way to start the day, even if it was a bit on the chilly side. It didn't take us long to get to Wye, which is an almost impossibly pretty little village outside Ashford. After meeting us at the station (which had a poster up advertising Wye's Royal Wedding celebrations - a 'fun dog show' where owners were encouraged to dress their pets up as members of the royal family) Mr S and Vic took us back to their flat for a cup of tea and a biscuit iced with a red panda.

Red panda biscuiteer biscuits
Almost too cute to eat. Almost.

When the hottest part of the day had passed, we went out for a ramble on the North Downs, to forage for some wild garlic to have in our lunch and to visit Mr S and Vic's new allotment

Wibberly Way
The gorgeous North Downs
me and Victoria Deloria
me and Victoria Deloria
Victoria Deloria and Mr S's allotment
The good life
Tasty pasta cooked by Mr S
Pasta, cooked by Mr S, with lovely wild garlic flowers

Lunch was a delicious pasta cooked for us by Mr S, followed by some amazing Gizzi Erskine passionfruit and strawberry victora sponge, cava and cape gooseberries. Nic and I nearly needed to be rolled back to Wye railway station to catch our return train to Folkestone! It was a thoroughly delightful way to spend the day, and being able to stretch my legs after what has felt like months cooped up behind a computer felt blissful.

Mr S and Vic joined us in Folkestone on Saturday for some further adventuring. After a brief paddle in the sea - declared by Vic to be 'scandalously cold' - we decided on a road trip to Dungeness.

Vic and Mr S on Sandgate beach
Vic in the sea at Sandgate
Mr S and Vic, paddling in the 'scandalously cold' English channel
Nic in the sea at Sandgate
Nic, also being scandalised by the cold

I'd been to Dungeness before. A few years back, Nic and I took the Romney, Hythe and Dymchurch Miniature Railway from Hythe to Dungeness but it was too cold and windy to do much except climb to the top of the old lighthouse. So it was exciting to visit this strange place on a sunny day. We made a brief stop in Hythe to buy a middle-class picnic ('essential' houmous and bread from Waitrose!) and made our way out through the Romney marshes to the tip of the peninsula.

Dungeness point is a desert, and if you stand with your back to the nuclear power station you could be in the Arizona desert:
Dungeness. It's an eerie place...

It's amazing to think that people live out here, but they do. Almost all of the buildings are timber framed houses, and they look as if they have been towed here from elsewhere. Even on a hot day the wind whips across the ground, I imagine it would be incredibly bleak in winter. On the flats there are lots of little sheds and free-standing brick ovens and, strangely, this structure:

We spent quite some time trying to figure out just what this was for - further internet research at home revealed that it was a navigation aid for fishing boats - but it was eerily imposing on the landscape

me with the strange Dungeness structure
What the hell is this thing?

We didn't paddle in the sea at Dungeness but we did laze on the shingle beach to enjoy our picnic and the company of good friends in the sunshine

Picnic makers on Dungeness beach
Looking for a good spot to picnic
Nic on Dungeness beach
Dan and Vic at Dungeness
Mr S and the enchanting Vic
Fishing boat off the coast at Dungeness
Our view
Dungeness beach and power station
The power station
the lighthouse at Dungeness
Dungeness lighthouse
Dungeness beach
Dungeness lighthouse

We ambled around the peninsula a little to work off the effects of a large picnic lunch and the sunshiney sleepiness. As I've already said, Dungeness is a pretty strange place. It was quiet except for the screech of the gulls and the whistle of the RH&DR. We didn't pay a visit to the Fifth Quarter Mystical Gift Shop, despite their promise that they served faeries:

Fifth Quarter sign, Dungeness
Fifth Quarter sign, Dungeness

It was still early when we got home, so we finished off the afternoon in the garden. Today we've been pottering around the house and garden, took in the sun at the beach and generally just been taking it easy. It's difficult to believe that it's only Easter - so far this holiday has felt like a real holiday, real life seems very far away. I'm sure I will be back during the week with some more seaside photographs, until then I'll just wish you all a very happy Easter!