Saturday, 28 September 2013

Back to It

Good morning stitching friends! Gosh, what a week it's been. I celebrated my 21st birthday, returned to University for my final year and I'm heading out soon to complete my final two shifts for Cath Kidston. By Sunday, it will all be over. I'm having mixed feelings about leaving my job. The people there are so kind and it is a beautiful place to work. But my heart and my head both know that concentrating on my degree is the most important thing right now :)
I am gradually getting into the habit of working during the day, having an hour for lunch, working up until dinner time, having dinner and then relaxing with my stitching. I think this is a good balance :) It seems to be working, as I have a finish to share!

I found this sweet little Eeyore design in my stash. It was a cover kit from an old cross stitching magazine from awhile ago. I'm trying to get a head start with my Christmas stitching, so this one will be made into a lavender pillow and be gifted to a dear friend. She happens to love anything Winnie the Pooh! I'm making quite a few of my gifts this year, including birthday presents. I have one of those to share in another post :)
As soon as I finished Eeyore, I couldn't wait to start on some of my birthday stash! Cath from The Stitchin' Chicken gave me some lovely kits, as seen in an earlier post. I couldn't wait to get my needle stuck into this one. The darling cat reminds me of Tiptoe. It will be a fitting tribute to my old friend :)

This design has a lot of block stitching, but that means it's perfect for relaxing after a long day :)
And I've even managed to spend some time on Farmhouse this week too. The cows are finished and backstitched. I have just begun working on the border. I've also turned my attention to the backstitching on the house too, that's going to be time consuming but worth it in the end.

That's it from me today. I'm off now to do my penultimate shift at Cath. One bright side for leaving my job is that I'll have more time to stitch! And study for my degree I suppose :P
Best wishes,

Friday, 27 September 2013

Pumpkins for Cathey

Happy Blogoversary!!

Wishing you all the best :)

Tuesday, 24 September 2013

Another year older

Thank you so much for the lovely birthday wishes on my last post. I had a truly wonderful day and was thoroughly spoilt! I must say a couple of thank yous to two birthday fairies who really made me smile.
First, I got this wonderful parcel from Elisa at Old Ragged Threads. Elisa was swift to the post office and the package was tempting me for days! I was very good and waited until the big day. It's a lovely ornament alongside a M Designs chart and a very suitable card :P Thank you so much Elisa!

Birthday day gift number two came from Cath over at The Stitchin' Chicken. Cath truly spoilt me with an array of kits and charts, and even a new hoop! It was a wonderful selection, and I didn't previously own any of the kits. I can't wait to get my needle into this little lot. A huge thank you to you too Cath!

I had the most wonderful birthday. I went to Uni in the morning and then Lawrence came over and I opened my cards and gifts. I felt so blessed when I opened every card and unwrapped every parcel. I am so lucky.
Lawrence took me out for dinner that evening. We went to Loch Fyne, which I had never been to before. It was such a stunning restaurant, very welcoming and warm too. The food was certainly delicious.
This was my starter of charcuterie plate, so good. Lawrence enjoyed crab cakes.
Then for main I had this delightful bowl of goodness! It's a pear, butternut squash and pumpkin seed salad, topped with a fillet of kiln smoked salmon, with a side of chips. It was heavenly!

We split a bottle of my favourite Pinot Grigio wine too. I felt like a true birthday girl, being spoilt rotten by my love. I felt so content when I went to sleep last night :)
I hope you've all had a great start to the week too, I'll be back soon with a stitching update.
Best wishes,

Thursday, 19 September 2013

The Final Stretch

Hi all! I thought it was high time I shared some stitching on this here stitching blog! I have been working on my BAP Farmhouse design for most of the summer. When I posted my last picture before my long break, it looked liked this:
But I have been able to work on it a lot more since then, and it now looks like this!

There are only two more animal sections to complete once I have finished the cows. But alas, these last two bits are fraught with difficulty. You see, I was very young when I first bought this pattern and attempted it for the first time. Twelve-year-old me, very ignorantly, has scribbled over the only copy of the pattern in black biro! Oh the horror!
But all is not lost. You can still make out the symbols of the pattern if you look closely. It's going to take a lot of concentration, but I'm determined to finish this piece this year. I never thought I would even come close to finishing a design this big, but now I really am on the home stretch :)
I start back at Uni on Monday, which also happens to be my 21st birthday :) I celebrated with my friends yesterday with a tea party, I'll be sure to post about that soon.
Best wishes,

Sunday, 15 September 2013

European Adventure: Part Three

I've had so many lovely comments and emails about my Europe posts - you are all too kind! I'm really pleased you're enjoying them. It seems almost a shame that we've made it to the final instalment :P Today's post features Frankfurt and Paris :)


We only stayed in Frankfurt for one night. It was an ideal stop off location, as it's pretty much halfway between Munich and Paris. Going directly would have cost us more than staying over in Frankfurt, bizarre isn't it? We stayed in the best hostel of the trip, it was welcoming and very well organised. If we weren't both looking forward to Paris, I think we might have stayed on an extra night. Frankfurt is a plain city, until you reach Römer. It's the traditional area of Frankfurt and has stunning architecture. I'm not quite sure of the history of the place, we weren't there long enough to find out! Lawrence is quite keen to do a trip focusing on Germany, so maybe we will be lucky enough to return one day.
In Frankfurt we:

  • Took a long walk around the town.
  • Visited Römer.
  • Shared a huge banana split sundae!
  • Did laundry :P We wanted to be fresh for Paris!
Fantastic buildings in Römer.

Lawrence in front of the stunning church, Römer.

I'm afraid I haven't formed much of an opinion on Frankfurt, as we didn't have time to see much. I'm not quite sure it has as much to see as the other German cities we visited, but it would be worth returning to if we were ever in the area again.

Ah, Paris. Right from the start, I wanted to go to Paris. As soon as we started organising the trip and choosing places to visit, Paris was at the top of my list. I have visited before, on a school trip but I wanted to explore more of this city with Lawrence. We stayed for two nights and three days, before heading back to Blighty on the overnight coach. The hotel we stayed in was a little bit out of the way, but there were Metro stations nearby. Paris is understandably very expensive, but at this was the last stop on the journey, we did have a few treats. I loved just being in Paris, walking around and taking in all of the sights. When we first arrived, we wandered around the centre just as the sun was setting. It was very romantic and a true highlight of my trip :)
In Paris we:

  • Visited the Louvre, used our elbows to see the Mona Lisa and promptly left. It was horrendously busy in there and not enjoyable. It seems most people are there to take pictures of the art and not enjoy the art itself.
  • Visited the Musée d'Orsay, which is round the corner from the Louvre and a much better gallery. It was free entry, as we are both under 25 and held EU passports. You weren't allowed to take photos in this gallery, so we viewed the Van Gogh and Lautrec paintings undisturbed. It was wonderful.
  • Took an evening stroll to the Eiffel Tower, the Arc de Triomph and the down the stunning Champs-Élysées with all the beautiful shops and displays.  
  • Found a gluten-free patisserie shop and enjoyed a strawberry tarteflette.
  • Drank wine.
  • Ate well.
  • Recollected our glorious holiday memories and vowed to do it again :)
Yours truly in front of the Eiffel Tower.

One of the many delicious bistro meals we enjoyed.
Lawrence in front of the Arc de Triomphe.
Paris is beautiful, there is no two ways around that. I feel like we have done most of the sights now, especially as we had both already been up the Eiffel Tower before this trip. I don't think we'll return soon, but I know I will visit Paris again.
Our trip was incredible. We saw so much and did so many things and took so many pictures! There were a few grumpy days where lack of sleep spoiled it, but we soon cheered up. With careful planning, it is possible to travel and enjoy your travels. We had to save for a long time and stick to a budget, but the memories are priceless. I think we would travel in this style again, spending at least a couple of weeks moving from place to place. But not for much longer than that. By the time we got on our coach, we were both looking forward to the stability of home. It sounds clichéd, but the best part of travelling is coming home :)
I hope you've liked travelling with me through my photos. I bought this gorgeous scrapbook from Paperchase last week and I plan on getting some photos printed and making up a few pages. I collected tickets, passes and various bits and pieces along the journey, so I'm going to display them all in here.
It might take me a while to complete it, but I'm sure this scrapbook will become a real treasure :) Thank you all for visiting today!
Best wishes,

Thursday, 12 September 2013

European Adventure: Part Two

Thank you so much for your kind comments on my last post :) It's nice to hear that the pictures were enjoyed. I'll publish the next two instalments in quick succession, so that we can return to the best bit - stitching! Today's post features what we got up to in Budapest and Munich, hope you like it.
We left on a night train from Prague to Budapest. We took the cheapest option, naturally, and booked two seats on the overnight service - not a cabin. This wasn't as bad as expected and we both got a decent amount of sleep. Budapest is a strange city. The sights are stunning, but there is so much poverty. And despite being the most Eastern place we visited, they strive to be Western, with fast food chains on every corner. Still, it was the cheapest place we went to. Because of the low prices, we managed to rent a gorgeous apartment for the three days we spent there. It was luxurious, with a DVD player, fully equipped kitchen and balcony. It was wonderfully relaxing.
In Budapest we:
  • Visited St Stephen's Basilica.
  • Enjoyed happy hour at a lovely cocktail bar.
  • Visited Victory Square
  • Trekked uphill to see Buda Castle and saw the changing of the guard.
  • Took pictures of St Michael's church.
  • Climbed all the way along Fisherman's Bastion.
  • Enjoyed a day out at Budapest's Zoo!
St Stephen's Basilica. The amount of gold inside really takes your breath away.

Silly Stitching Lion posing with a stone Lion!

Lawrence and I. Fisherman's Bastion can be seen over L's shoulder. St Michael's church is behind mine.

Fisherman's Bastion - it's like a fairytale isn't it?

Lawrence getting up close to the lemurs at Budapest Zoo.

Me making a new friend at Budapest Zoo.
Budapest was Lawrence's favourite city. I enjoyed it too, but it wasn't quite as lovely as Prague :) Again, I would be interested to learn more of the history, why it's divided into Buda and Pest and how did it unite. There were several national museums on this topic, but we had become a bit weary of museums by this point :) I would definitely go back for another visit.
We went on another night train leaving Budapest to go to Munich. This was the complete opposite of the first. It was loud, the lights stayed on the whole time and we were crammed in. I must have got two hours sleep, at most. Our first day in Munich was a bit of waste really, because we arrived at 7am, but couldn't check in to our hotel until 3pm! It was hard to do a whole day out on such little sleep, but our time in Munich vastly improved when we had a bit of shuteye :)
In Munich we:
  • Visited the German technology museum.
  • Visited Marienplatz with the amazing Rathaus building.
  • Had dinner and a few beers in the Hofbauhaus.
  • Spent a fair amount of time in Bier Gartens! (I don't actually drink beer, but the wine was good and L had a brilliant time ;) )
  • Spent a fair amount of time browsing the Viktualienmarkt, the largest food market in Munich.
  • Sunbathed in the Englischergarten and had a picnic.
  • Visited the Milka outlet store - delicious!
The amazing Rathaus building, incredible detail.

Lawrence with his mammoth 1L of beer at the Hofbauhaus.

The Englischer Bier Garten. We actually preferred the smaller one near the market, it was more friendly.

The amazing, mouthwatering, scrumptious Milka outlet shop! We both left clutching purple bags :)
I really enjoyed Munich, and I know Lawrence did too, thanks to all the beer and Bratwursts! It had a really calming vibe to it, very welcoming and friendly. But there wasn't quite as much to see as in some of the other cities. Still, I'm very glad we visited :)
Going back through and choosing photos for this post really made me smile. We truly did have such a wonderful time. I am so lucky. The next and final post will be Frankfurt and Paris, and my overall thoughts of the trip.
Hope you've liked touring with me!
Best wishes,

Wednesday, 11 September 2013

European Adventure: Part One

Welcome to the first part of my European Adventure! We spent three weeks travelling to 7 different cities, so there was no way I could cover everything in one post. We also managed to take nearly 1000 photos, but don't worry, I won't bombard you with all of them :P These posts will just be a summary of our adventure, but feel free to ask questions on anything you're curious about. I just thought I'd share a few snaps and a few thoughts on the most magical holiday I've had so far :)
We set off for Amsterdam on a night coach leaving from London Victoria Coach station. The journey wasn't so bad, as we both slept, and it was certainly the cheapest way to do the crossing.
We spent two nights in a simple 4-bed hostel in Amsterdam. It was a central location and walking distance to all the places we wanted to go.
In Amsterdam we:
  • Visited the Royal Palace
  • Visited Anne Frank's house
  • Walked past some very funky coffee shops!
  • Spent a lot of time near the beautiful canals
  • Tried to stick to our budget, Amsterdam was very expensive
It was wonderful to see Amsterdam in all it's glory, but I wouldn't return in a hurry. I would like to see rural Holland, but I think I've done this city now.
Me in front of one of the many canals, Amsterdam
From Amsterdam, we used our Interrail pass to take a long train to Berlin. We were both keen to see Berlin, as we've both studied its history in school. We ended up staying four nights instead of the original three, just because there was so much to see! In Berlin we stayed in another hostel, an 8-bed one this time. It was very modern and had a stylish bar.
In Berlin we:
  • Visited the Reichstag (parliament) Building
  • Saw the Brandenburg gate
  • Visited Museuminsel
  • Saw TV tower
  • Visited the Berlin Wall memorial and museum
  • Visited the Jewish memorial
  • Visited Checkpoint Charlie
  • Ate German street food (baked potato and sauerkraut - yum!)
  • Visited the city's cathedral
I truly loved Berlin, even though it wasn't the prettiest of cities. It's so rich in culture, spanning decades and there is so much to see. It was so interesting to see the places we had studied in our textbooks, like the Reichstag building. We found Berlin prices very reasonable too and we enjoyed dinners in some lovely restaurants. Lawrence enjoyed the German beer too! I would go back to Berlin for a more laid back retreat. This time, we had a lot to squeeze in our allocated four days.

Berlin's cathedral
The Berlin Wall memorial
We spent another day on the trains to arrive in Prague. This was one of my favourite cities, as the architecture is just stunning. As Prague was fairly cheap, we stayed in a small apartment just the two of us. It was a central location, which we tried to get in every city we stayed. It saved money just to walk everywhere!
In Prague we:
  • Went to the top of the Astronomical Clock tower just as the sun was setting, stunning. And it only cost the equivalent of £3 ($4.72) for both of us to go to the top!
  • Ate lots of ice cream!
  • Crossed the Charles Bridge
  • Walked up all the stairs to get to Prague Castle
  • Went shopping in the department stores
  • Visited the John Lennon Wall. Yes, that John Lennon :P
Again, I would love to return to Prague someday. Although it has a bit of a reputation in this country for being a party destination, you can stay away from that quite easily. There is so much I'd love to learn about Prague's history. Well worth another visit.
The view from the top of the Astronomical Clock tower

The man himself on the John Lennon Wall. Bizarre and beautiful at the same time.
I think that's quite enough for Part One. I hope you've enjoyed this post. Part Two will be on Budapest and Munich, hope you like that one too!
Best wishes,

Sunday, 8 September 2013

I'm baaack!

Gosh, that was a longer break than I intended to take! Sorry for the unplanned hiatus, but I'm returning to the stitching world now and I'm so excited about it :)
I meant to post about Europe shortly after returning, but it became one of those things you only remember last thing at night, or when you can't get to a computer. I shall put up a post tomorrow with a few pictures from my adventures. I had the most wonderful, amazing, incredible trip and it's given me a thirst for more travelling.
Also this week, I'll be sure to post about my stitching progress. Even though I've taken an extended break from the blog, I've still been putting needle to thread most days. Pictures will be up this week.
I really needed to relax with my stitching lately, as I've had to make a few adult choices. My third and final year at University starts in a fortnight, and to give myself the best chance at getting top grades, I decided to leave my job at Cath Kidston. It was a hard choice, because it is a wonderful company to work for and I've made great friends. But I came to Winchester in the first place to achieve a decent degree, so I need to put my heart and soul into that this year. Of course, it will mean I shall have to stick to my student budget so I can last the year! I'm sure that will be no problem :)
I love that during my absence, my blog came to find me! Thank you so much to Elisa over at Old Ragged Threads for sending me a birthday parcel :) I've been very good and tucked it away until the big day, although I'm itching to open it :P I turn 21 this year, how mad is that?

Thank you all for not abandoning me. I've been running The Stitching Lion for so many years now, and I don't plan on giving it up any time soon :) I cannot wait to see what you've all been up to this summer, I'm going to get started on my blog reader right this minute.
Best wishes,