Friday, July 30, 2010

Summer Holiday

That's where we've been.


We've spent a week in the Pyrenees region, enjoying the lush green scenery - corn, sunflowers and spun-gold hay.


Quite different to the landscape here in Provence which is more vines, lavender and pine trees interspersed with sun-bleached rocky outcrops. 


Our week away tied in with the mister's big race - he participated in the Etape du Tour (an amateur event where participants ride one of the Tour de France stages before the professionals come through). The course was some 180km in distance and finished at the peak of Col du Tourmalet's 6,900 bottom-cramping ft. 

He knew it would be hard, but he was riding for Australia!

Some 10,000 riders started, but only 6,800 finished. And the mister was one of them (he was in the first half of all those who finished; I'm so proud of him!) 


It took him 9 hours. He's already thinking about doing it again next year *mumble negotiations mumble*


We took a car ride up to Col du Tourmalet two days later, but unfortunately couldn't get to the top as it was shut off in preparation for the Tour de France. But I did get to see the area, which was breathtaking. Perhaps unfortunate as those riders need all the breath they can get. 



A valley full of caravans and mobile homes waiting for the Tour

We also came across a kilometre or so of messages on the road as part of Lance Armstrong's LIVESTRONG campaign. A chalk robot prints messages of inspiration and remembrance on the road along the Tour de France route. 


Some offered general encouragement.


Others were personal messages to lost loved ones. 


We thought it was a clever and very touching idea.


We went to see the Tour de France when they passed a town close to where we were staying. We sat on the side of the road for about 40 minutes and when the TV helicopters appeared we knew they were close. The four or five riders in the lead flashed by, followed by the main peloton 10 minutes later.

Here they come...

And there they go. 
(Complete fluke - but that's Contador, the eventual winner, there in his yellow jersey)

I'll get in trouble for saying this, but it's much more exciting watching it on the telly.

It was amazing the huge number of support vehicles following behind - must have been close to a hundred cars and motorbikes. 


More to tell about the holiday, but I must get back to sewing for now. The inbound baby I mentioned has made his appearance 4 weeks early. Mum and baby are fine and hopefully his blanket will be finished within the week!

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Happy Bastille Day!

A national holiday here in France, today went something like this:

  • omelettes (courtesy of the mister)
  • swim in the pool
  • Tour de France and sewing
  • lunch
  • swim in the pool
  • DVD
  • Tour de France and sewing
  • dinner
  • rush out and take photos of sewing in the dying light
In other words, a fantastic day.

The sewing started with this:


I meant to start on the baby quilt, but quickly realised I had no solid white on the shelves. I know, day one stuff.  So instead I thought I'd try one of these journal covers, a tutorial (from Roslyn at Bloom) on the Moda Bake Shop site. 

The linen was bought locally in Provence, the basket weave is from Denyse Schmidt's Hope Valley line. The little orange tree shape, punched from felt, was found in a craft shop in Marseille. 
 
I adjusted Roslyn's tutorial as I went given my notebook was quite a bit smaller.



I really enjoyed stepping away from the machine and hand stitching in some details. The mister outlined the many strategic and tactical considerations for cycle teams on the Tour, but, well, I was a little distracted by all the lean lycra-ed bottoms.  


And before I knew it, the little sucker was done. 


Thanks France for another wonderful day!

Monday, July 12, 2010

Cushions...finis

Yes, cushions.  Plural.



I made this stripy patched square for the backing but the mister, who seems to know a lot more about this cushion making caper than he lets on, thought it should be a cover of it's own. And I was happy that the log cabin triangle scraps would be out there, not hiding 'round the back.


And here's how the triangles turned out.



I decided to use white piping to bring out the centre circle (thanks owed to this very easy-to-follow tutorial on design*sponge). Note to self - next time allow for half inch rather than quarter inch seams all the way around - much less fiddly, particularly with the myriad of overlapping log cabin seams.



The backs were two pieces of contrasting Gold Folks' material and a zipper closure.


Those colours are just fantastic.


I'm so glad I love the way they've turned out as they took a looooong time to put together.

Next up, a baby quilt using this great tutorial over at Red Pepper Quilts.

And the fabrics? Well, I'm thinking about these:


All Star, by My Minds Eye. Sweet designs for a very dear little boy who'll be showing up in our extended family soon. 

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Jouques

Another weekend, another village to visit in the Luberon Valley. This time it was Jouques. It's a hard life, but someone has to do it. 




Signs of human life from 11,000 years BC have been found in the immediate Jouques area, and the village also saw plenty of action in the Roman and Medieval ages. 




We arrived a little late for the markets (one in the afternoon), but took a stroll along the Réal river that runs alongside the newer part of the ville


After lunch the mister supervised the kids playing around the fountain while I hauled myself up the hill into the older part of the village. 





The narrow streets on the way were of course gorgeous. Being Sunday, the day when most French like to sit down to a large family lunch, these alleys were full of delicious smells and rowdy family sounds. 




Past these streets I found the more medieval part of town and, thankfully, a sign pointing to the Notre Dame de la Roque chapel, which I was looking for. 


Up this way

Getting warmer (and wishing I wasn't wearing flip-flops by this stage)

Finally: Notre Dame de la Roque

Unfortunately the chapel wasn't open, but it was still worth exploring the exterior. 



And the view down over the town was fantastic.  

Somewhere down there is a fountain with my kids in it.


One of the great things about blogging is that it forces you to do some research instead of sitting around drinking wine all day. A bit of googling revealed the chapel was built in the 11th century, but unfortunately the interwebs couldn't tell me what the inscription on the steps means. It shall remain a mystery. 

Another great afternoon spent exploring southern France and we all returned home more wise and sunburnt than when we left. 




Finished the weekend with a little bit more sewing - piecing together the log cabin triangles and then cutting the result to size. Now, what to do with the off cuts. 




Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Roussillon

While our friends were here the other week we took them to Roussillon for a day.



Roussillon is a lovely village in the Luberon Valley. The earth there is rich in pigment and the town had several ochre mines in 'ye olden days' (mining ceased in the '30s).  There is a mine site to tour and plenty of shops peddling gorgeous artworks painted with the colours of Roussillon.

The best way to see the various colours of Roussillon is to wander through the streeets of the town itself. Most of the houses are painted in the beautiful bright hues we've come to associate with Provence.







I'm a sucker for a red door. Or shutters.


Also snapped, this fab trompe l'oeil painting in the centre of the village:


Another fantastic day in Southern France.

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