Tuesday, 7 May 2019

The Great Outdoors and other adventures

Hello everyone,

Well I think I've defrosted! When Maggie Grey invited me to take part in the Brockenhurst Needlework Fiesta, I immediately thought "New Forest: Camping". What could go wrong?! When I decided to cancel the emergency back-up B&B, the weather was (admittedly unseasonably) warm. When I started to pack up my camping things ready for my weekend in the New Forest, there were yellow warning forecasts for strong wind from Storm Hannah!

I arrived in good time in the afternoon to set up the Green Cornet (as my husband calls it - it's actually called a Green Cone, not very original). The tipi hadn't been used since last summer, when we use it for an overnight tent on our first and last nights in Brittany, as the big tent is such a palaver to deal with. I'd forgotten that we'd detached all the little loops and toggles that connect the fly sheet to the inner, so first I had to do that. Then I had to tighten all the guys as much as possible. Then I unzipped the front ready to put my things in, and found that I'd forgotten to attach the central toggle that holds the inner up to the full height of the pole. So yes, I had to undo all the guys, take down the pole, attach the toggle, and tighten everything up again.

By the time I was all set inside and out, I was exhausted but it was time to go to the village hall to set up my stand. By then the adrenaline had kicked in, so I got everything set up remarkably easily, including the pieces of work on the wall which usually take ages to arrange, and I think it all looked quite good!

Back to the tipi for a glass of wine and some bolognese I'd brought from home, then time (and it did take time, thanks to the wind) to boil some water for a hot water bottle and tuck myself in for the night. And boy, was it windy! The wind dropped a little bit initially, but around 2am it started to build up. Luckily the tipi shape means the wind goes around, so the tent was solid and stable but it was a bit drafty. Half way through the night I threw one of the picnic blankets on the floor over me, on top of my other two blankets and wool duvet. I slept well after that, and woke to a beautiful sunny morning - if still a little breezy - and to see a large herd of deer gathered on the far side of the campsite in the morning sun.

View across the campsite towards my pitch

The first day of the show was wonderful - so many visitors, and a lot of interest in what I'm doing. I sold many creativity packs ( I love making them), my new book, and my cards. I'd taken some painted collage backgrounds that I started to stitch while people chatted to me, which was all going well until I thought someone had turned the lights out. Then I realised that no, it was my sewing machine. Again. I'd taken my middling machine, which until October was my main machine, and it's been in for repairs twice already this year to replace the power board. And I thought third time lucky. But as soon as the screen flickered, I knew it was a goner!

So the next day (after a much quieter night in the Green Cornet once the storm had passed) with the sewing machine packed away, I rearranged my stand but then didn't know what to do with myself. I ended up buying some gorgeous hand-dyed felt from 21st Century Yarns, and started to stitch something by hand, just to keep my hands busy!

Sunday brought even more visitors, more enquiries about workshops, more creativity packs, books and cards sold, and of course the New Forest is a wonderful place to visit - what could be better? So yes! I'm doing it all over again next year. And yes, I think I will camp again, and I've made a note to take a hat and gloves next time. And I'll be taking my newest Bernina - Old Faithful was declared properly dead on the Monday after I got back, and has been replaced with a New Shiny (wiping out my profits, but it had to be done). And because it takes the new bigger bobbins, like the other Bernina beast that lives on my desk, I spent a happy morning unwinding all the old silver bobbins (over 70!!) getting ready to pass them on to friends.

Because this was a Ramster year (the embroidery exhibition is every two years) I have been making cards since January to make sure I had enough for both Ramster and Brockenhurst. I've also taught five workshops, so it's a bit odd to stop now. That said, there's no rest for the wicked. I have another workshop next weekend, then a talk, a few more things later this year, and next year I'm in danger of running out of Saturdays. There are many, many things in the pipeline - so if you haven't signed up to my new newsletter, please do to stay in the loop of what I'm doing and where I'm going! Click here to join up.

Thanks for reading!