Monday, 22 September 2014

A few days in Lisbon

An old school friend and I spent a few days in Lisbon recently and found it to be a fascinating city. The architecture is amazing, even the buildings that are only shells, hold a certain magic. We found the hop on, hop off buses the best way to see the different areas which was great when the sun shone but not so good on the rainy days, especially when we didn't realise that the seats were wetter than we thought and both had a nasty surprise when we stood up!!
Here are a few highlights from our trip.
Torre de Belem, built in the 16th century in the Manueline style on the banks of the River Tagus.

This amazing Discoveries Monument, a little further east along the river, was built in 1960 to commemorate the 500th anniversary of the death of  Henry the Navigator, who led Portugal's discovery expeditions into the New world.

It is in the Belem district that the famous Pastel de Nata (Portuguese egg custard tart) were first made and of course they had to be sampled. I understand that it is compulsory to eat at least two with a bica (coffee).

Several thousands of these tarts are made daily at the Pasteis de Belem where we partook of the delicacies!
Other highlights of our visit were the amazing pavements,
the building art,
a trip to see the palaces of Sintra,

in particular Pena Palace (below),
which had a fascinating courtyard with walls and floor covered in a wide variety of tiles.

Back in the city centre there were wonderful views from the many hills which could be enjoyed from the steps while eating dinner.
Castelo de Sao Jorge can be seen in the distance.

Back home now and preparing for the start of my new courses this week.
Chris was busy while I was away setting up his new blog, do take a look as all comments and feedback would be much appreciated.
Thanks for visiting, I'll be back soon.


Saturday, 6 September 2014

Summer time

So far 2014 has been a very busy year with lots of teaching and exhibitions to prepare for so I was determined that following Festival of Quilts I was going to have a couple of weeks at home to relax and 'do my own thing'! And I am happy to say that is exactly what I have done. Of course that doesn't mean to say that I have lazed around doing nothing but I have caught up on many of the things I have intended to do for a long time.
I have made new curtains for the lounge using an amazing eyelet tape I discovered in a local soft furnishing shop. It was extremely easy to use and I am very pleased with the results.
I have also experimented with an overlocker that I bought secondhand over 18 months ago (where does the time go!)
I must admit I was a little afraid of this machine but once I took the time to play with it (after being shown by a good, patient friend!)  I was pleasantly surprised by how easy it is to use. After producing several metres of perfectly overlocked seams I dug out fabrics and made a skirt which has beautifully overlocked edges and a tunic made almost totally using the overlocker.
I have managed to sneak a few days out as well and yesterday I went to London to Tate Modern to see an exhibition of Matisse's later work, The Cut Outs. This was definitely not to be missed but the exhibition does finish on Sunday 7th September. During the latter years of his life, Henri Matisse worked with scissors to cut and sculpt painted paper to create masterpieces such as the Blue Nudes, all four of which were exhibited and were my favourites. I was amazed at the size of many of the cut outs considering how incapacitated he was towards the end of his life, which was when these pieces of work were produced.
As we were fairly close to the Tower of London we took a stroll along the banks of the Thames to  view the installation of ceramic poppies 'Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red' created by Paul Cummins and set by Tom Piper throughout the moat surrounding the Tower. By Armistice Day, 11th November, there will be 888,246 poppies 'planted' to represent the number of British servicemen who lost their lives in the First World War. A sobering thought.

Each poppy is for sale and the money raised will support six service charities in the UK.

Thanks for visiting.