Sunday, November 24, 2013

Quilting's Cool: Go Big or go Home.................

Quilting's Cool: Go Big or go Home.................: I was thinking the other day, as you do, about our friends in Northern Ireland, Jim and Heather. We still keep in touch on a fairly regula...

Go Big or go Home.................

I was thinking the other day, as you do, about our friends in Northern Ireland, Jim and Heather.

We still keep in touch on a fairly regular basis by phone, and we have seen them since we moved out here. I can't tell you why the following story popped into my head, except to say that it involves them, and it had to be the silliest time we ever spent together.

The husband used to go to Northern Ireland on a fairly regular basis, if it was Tuesday, it must be Northern Ireland sort of thing. Jim was the husbands agent there, so they would go off and see customers together, talk business etc,etc,. On many occasions I would fly out on a Friday and then we would all enjoy the weekend together. We also used to go over every New Year, as they would always have a New Year's Party to which we were invited, and it became quite the joke as Heather used to be smitten with a stress migraine on the day of the party, and I would invariably end up doing most of the cooking. The evenings were very jolly and Heather usually perked up as it went on. It was always the joke that "the caterer's were coming from London" for new year.

A couple of times a year, they would come and stay with us, and for some reason I was thinking about one particular occasion when they came over, and we went to France for the weekend.

Heather was in the process of having her kitchen remodelled. Some of the work had been quite major, and every time we spoke there was a new tale to tell, usually quite hilarious. The work had more or less come to an end at this point, and so it was that we decided it would be nice to go to France. I had at some time, bought a useful little book on "Factory Shopping in France", and the husband and I had been over at some point, and found our way to the Le Crueset factory. We told Heather what deals we had found there, and this was partly the intention of our trip in that we would go to the factory shop whilst there.

We went on the Chunnel so we were able to take the car, and had booked a really lovely Chateau Hotel through a club that we had signed up for which got really good deals on hotels and travel, so it wasn't in the same league as Relais et Chateau, but not bad. The Hotel was lovely and we had a very pleasant room and it was maybe an hours drive from Boulogne. Details of where it was have faded from my memory now annoyingly, (why does that happen when you leave somewhere you lived most of your life? There is so much I have forgotten), but I can see this huge Chateau in my minds eye and discreet and pleasant staff.

So there we are. We awoke the next morning and had planned our day around visiting Le Creuset. I do remember that it was quite a drive to get there, maybe a couple of hours, and the area the factory was in seemed to be around the back of a small town, with an uneven car park, and a small low building which was the factory shop. In we troop. On our previous visit, the husband and I had bought a couple of pieces to go with what I already had at home. I love Le Creuset, and had a full set of pans, and a couple of casseroles, if you know it you will know how heavy it is, but it lasts for ever. Although I now have new pots I still have my original set which must be thirty years old now. We had also discovered that they spoke not one word of English, but we managed to make ourselves understood to each other, and worked out from what she was saying that different countries went for different colours, e.g., the Brits loved the Flambe Orange whereas another country would prefer the deep red and so on. Very interesting to know what the nations psyche was up to.

Anyway, Heather was looking at pots, and had decided that she would go with a deep bottle green to match her kitchen, so she picked up a pan here, a pan there, when Jim said, "Sweetheart, have whatever your little heart desires! Get the casseroles as well!" So we are now in a flurry of activity as she is choosing all sorts of pots, frying pans, casseroles, my head was spinning. Jim looked at the husband and asked if we could get this home to which the reply was yes, of course. So the transaction was done, one very happy friend got what she wanted and the husband and Jim were left to load the purchases into the car.

It was at this point that the husband said to Jim, "When we get this home, how are you going to get it back to Northern Ireland?" It was at this point the blood drained from Jim's face and then they both started laughing hysterically because he had absolutely no clue!!!!! Oh well, we'll work something out.

Once back in the car, this fact was relayed to Heather who was then, through her laughter, worrying that she had bought so much. Don't worry, says Jim, we need a new ski bag and that should be big enough to put it all in,and with that thought, we continued our journey back to the hotel.

We duly met in the Restaurant of the Hotel for dinner, and were a little subdued as we were all so tired. The restaurant was quite large and there were a few other diners quietly having their meal, and we sat there quietly when all of a sudden, we got the giggles.

 It's bad enough when one person does it, but when four of you start laughing hysterically, it's even worse. The service was very good, and they were infected by our good humour. When the main course was brought to the table, the plates were covered with big silver lids, and then a great show was made of removing all the lids, voila!! There was your meal sitting on the plate. For some reason, that set us off again, and by this time the repartee was flowing thick and fast.

We managed to get through the meal, and were then asked if we would like dessert? Oooh, yes please, may we look at the menu? We duly ordered from it, and sat there waiting. By this time we had managed to clear the entire restaurant, so we were the only patrons left. Would you really want to have your meal with four maniacal idiots? No, I thought not.

As we awaited this wondrous delight to appear from the kitchen, we suddenly heard the most enormous sneeze. This set us off again and I jokingly said that it was probably my dessert that was sneezed over, all we could hear from the kitchen was laughter. Eventually one waiter and the maitre d' came out and with due aplomb, removed the silver lids while trying very, very hard not to laugh. By this time we were almost puddles on the floor, with the kitchen staff peering round the door enjoying the joke too.

The next morning we were due to go home and we had the car loaded and ready to go. The husband was busy paying the bill, and mentioned to the maitre d' who was putting the transaction through, that he would love to know what they were laughing at the previous evening, he was swiftly told, "No, you would not", which almost set us off again.

The journey home continued uneventfully, and we stopped in Boulogne at the Carrefour supermarket where Jim purchased a very large ski bag, and then we continued the journey back to London. The next morning the husband went to work and left me to sort Jim and Heather out as I was taking them back to the airport.

Jim had packed the Le Creuset in the ski bag, and was standing there practicing how to pick it up without breaking into a sweat. We loaded everything into the car and off we went to Gatwick. We found a cart for the luggage and wheeled it to the check in desk for their flight back to Belfast. There was a short queue with a very irate passenger at the front of it who was arguing with the check in desk about her overweight luggage. Eventually she went off to pay her excess baggage and the girl looked across at us and said she could help.

Here was the big test.

Jim gamely lifted their suitcase on and then the ski bag. "I'm sorry sir, but your luggage is overweight".

"Oh! I didn't think there was a weight limit on domestic flights". (Try that one now and see if you get away with it).

"Hang on, I'll ask my supervisor", whisper, whisper. "No that's fine sir, it won't be a problem".

You have never seen three people walk away from checking in baggage holding each other up as their sides ache from laughing so hard....................

Thursday, November 14, 2013

The Musings of a China Restorer..............

I have just been going back over past posts. Not something I do, but I just thought it would be interesting to see what I had written, the title really doesn't give away too much.

One post I wrote said that this would be MY last year as Workshop Director of ACCQF. How dumb was that!? I can reassure you that it won't be, as I'm having way too much fun, and things will be easier as I now have an International Consulting Committee, so our title will be ACCQFICC, (or if it's easier, "aquafik" as opposed to Aquavit which is a Danish Schnapps).

I had a lovely day yesterday, which sort of led me back to my older posts as I had friends visiting for lunch. They were interested in seeing my studio. Lunch was wonderful, and we had great food, conversation and even let the husband join us for a little while, then we all trooped downstairs, minus the husband. I showed them some of my work, and then we started talking about china /ceramic repairs, did I have any I could show them? Well only those I did for my diploma about 20 years ago, but like most restorers, you never did your own work, bit like the shoemaker's children.

I thought I might bore you to death with this post and explain in a little more detail the finer points of Ceramic Conservation.

I sort of fell into it almost by accident. At the time, I was trying to make a living as a dealer in 1930's china. The only thing was I wasn't very good at it and didn't always buy the things that people really wanted to buy, but on the other hand, as a collector, I collected some pretty choice pieces. I had high hopes for the pieces I did buy, and some good items came my way but were damaged. Well, that was a shame, and they were not as easy to sell because of that, so...........oh look, The local Adult Education brochure has landed on the mat. I wonder if there is anything interesting? English, French, computers.... now lets have a look at the Arts section.,oh, dance, watercolour Acrylic, well I can't paint so no point, oh, what's this? China Restoration? A one day class on a Saturday to let people try it out with a view to them signing up for a full course, well, what do you think husband, shall we give it a try?

I spent a bit of time running around collecting bits for the class, broken ceramics were not a problem,  it was the materials needed, and off we went. There were quite a lot of people there, and our tutor was a lovely elegant Dutch lady called Blanche. She explained what we would be covering during that day, which wasn't much really, but just gave a taste of what it was all about. I obviously enjoyed it very much as I signed up for her class which ran every week for a school year.

Blanche was fun to be with, and had a class of about 12 eager students.  She explained how to take old repairs apart, clean them  etc,. etc., but, if I explain how she did it, it negates my post, I want to tell you how I did it. Anyway, I was with Blanche for about a year, at the end of which she said to me, "I have taught you everything I know, you can go off and restore for other people". Well, that left me a little scared and nervous to say the least.

I had a subscription to the Antiques Trade Gazette which arrived faithfully every Tuesday morning without fail, and was something I read avidly. It listed upcoming Auctions, Antique Shows, viewings at Auction houses nationally and in London and Auction reports.

I mentioned in an earlier post that I would visit Auction houses in London just to be able to see things I could never afford, and to handle them. My area of interest as mentioned was Art Deco, and I also liked Art Nouveau, but Deco ceramics were my thing. I could generally be found at a specialist sale in Christies South Kensington viewing Clarice Cliff,  Susie Cooper and any other number of bits and pieces, silver, jewellery and anything else that was on offer. I had some very good buys for our own collection, a Susie Cooper plate painted with a Scottie dog which had been bought by a friend on behalf of someone else who didn't come through with the money, so I was able to take that off his hands, another time, I was able to purchase a Wilhelm Wagenfeld glass tea set after the sale as it wasn't sold during the auction. I still have it, and the surprise is that it is as light as a feather, there is no weight in the cups or saucers and they are so delicate. Anyway, I digress, it was through the Antiques Trade Gazette that I stumbled across an advert for a China Restoration Diploma course to be held at Burton Manor College on the Wirral. If your wondering where the Wirral is, it is that piece of land that sticks out between Liverpool and North Wales and looks a bit like an arm on the map of Great Britain.

It was a two year part time Diploma, and would mean me travelling up every six weeks from Friday to Sunday and a week long Summer School. So off I went.  I was very nervous the first time, and found my way -pre GPS- and checked in, the college was residential and quite old fashioned as a building, it had been the home of the son of William Ewart Gladstone.

Burton Manor College  photo by Nigel Cox

The main building housed the students and we sometimes had our classroom in there too, there was a dining room and we were fed well. 

My tutor was the lovely Helen Potter. Helen was a wonderful restorer and worked for Museums as well as doing private work. She also taught Botanical painting which I did a couple of times with her. We became very good friends and I would often go up and stay with Helen, who lived in a delightful cottage behind a Hotel in Wallasey with her Mother and her daughter. The cottage was just lovely but small and had originally been part of the coach house of the Hotel, it was down a very narrow lane with a very sharp L turn and enough parking for one car only. I used to sit with my eyes closed if we went out anywhere, as Helen and her Mother were no taller than four feet nine inches, and they would reverse the car out into the street around this L turn, (it wasn't even a curve but a definite L). As I am five feet nine inches tall, I felt like a giant in this cottage. Helen's father had renovated the cottage and it was lovely, the stairs were open plan wooden planks and no hand rail, both Helen and her Mother, because they were short would come down in stilettos, I would crab walk sideways and I wore flat shoes.

But back to restoration. The weekends at Burton Manor were  also very social, there were a couple of ladies who came down from Scotland, so it was a bit of a competition to see who had travelled the furthest. Helen stayed over too, so the evenings after class finished were quite riotous with laughter and one evening, we stacked all the furniture in the sitting room along the walls while a couple of them got their accordions out and Helen and the teacher of Massage, who was Scottish, taught us Scottish Country dancing, it was hilarious as we had no clue what we were doing, but we gamely threw ourselves into it.

Now Helen and the husband share the same birthday, albeit some years apart, but she always referred to him as her "bruv". One weekend, the husband came up to Burton and took part in the class. He and Helen were standing in the queue for lunch, and Helen said to the chef, "have you met my twin brother?" The husband was standing right next to her. It is worth bearing in mind that the husband is over six feet tall and dark haired, and as mentioned Helen was 4 feet nine at a push and blonde. Chef looked at the husband and said he didn't know how he lived with her!! We thought it was very funny.

I tried to do a fair bit of homework in between, and generally went up with items in various stages of repair, but tried hard to keep to the curriculum. The week long Sumer School was great fun, and we did colour charts. I'm sure some of you might be thinking this is so BORING, but trust me, knowing how to paint a colour chart and use it has stood me in good stead.
My first colour chart and colour wheel below

We used 7 colours to create almost 200, and also did a white chart which was even harder. When you look at ceramics,- and I mean REALLY look- you find that white is not white. I think most people who know nothing about restoring think you slap a bit of white paint on and thats it,  so what's the problem? Well white contains more than white, Titanium white is the purest white, so that was always my base colour and then you looked harder and could see other colours in it. The basic recipe was always Titanium white, Raw Umber and Cobalt Blue in varying degrees, try it and see what you come up with. Use the white as the base, and add the other two in small increments, dab a tiny amount on your white china and see if you can match it- I dare you. it's not as easy as it looks, but after 20 years I'm (almost) a dab hand at it.
The white chart

I redid the colour chart a couple of years ago now, but it didn't hurt to go through the exercise again. We all see colour differently which is another good reason to do it, for some reason, my colours are always pale, although I dress in much richer shades  

I seem to remember uproar at painting the charts, there were one or two who felt that it wasn't necessary, but I am so glad I did. Even if I couldn't match a colour from them, it pointed me in the right direction. But, I am jumping way ahead here. The first thing you need to do is to wash you pieces, so hot water with just a dash of soap is in order.....................

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Reflections on a show.........

Well, I've been home since Sunday and have had even more time to reflect on Houston. It's interesting how a show can do this to you. By the end of the ACCQF  I am so exhausted, I can't think straight.

I live 30 minutes away from Ailsa Craig, so I clock up around 1,000 k on my car that week, running backwards and forwards every day, taking teachers to the show, running errands if they need things, collecting lunches, bringing everything back, blah, blah,blah, the list goes on. I'm not looking for sympathy, it's just something that I do for the love of the festival.

We have up to 60 volunteers a day at the show, a huge number for a small town and shows the commitment of everyone involved, and makes the Festival the success it is. I was struck by this thought when we were in Houston. Cathy and I had left our bags to be picked up later, they were getting heavy, and when we did, we were  chatting to a lovely young man who had taken our tickets. I say young, he was probably early 30's, and as I'm only 23 (not), it seems young. He told us how he really loved the quilt festival and looked forward to it every year, he helped to hang the quilts as well as doing the bag thing, he just loved talking to us and looking at the quilts. On one of our many trips around the quilts, I was struck by several young men who were working as Quilt Angels and helping people to see the quilts, who, when they were on their own for a little, stopped, and REALLY looked at a quilt that had caught their eye. Not just a cursory glance, but really going in for the detail and soaking in the workmanship, I was very impressed by this.

Cathy and I came across a group of children in the SAQA exhibit, who were filling out a questionnaire on the quilts, why did they like it? what drew their attention? why? etc., again, I was enthralled by the fact that the children had valid reasons and comments to make. We asked them questions, and again, a Quilt Angel, male, came up to them and asked questions and drew their attention to a detail they may not have seen. The kids were about 11 or 12.

Every year we invite schools to come and see our Festival, and every year we are disappointed that none turn up. Some children are brought by their mothers and I think, enjoy it, but would it really hurt for a school to arrange a quick trip, or car pooling to bring them to see something they may never get the opportunity to see again? We are thinking that we will prepare a similar questionnaire this year at Festival, last year we did cards which had views of the quilts in close up and as a whole and sent the kids off to find them, and then they came back to us to claim their Smarties, but we have no idea how many actually did look at them all.

That's my soapbox finished for tonight, but I just wanted to draw everyone's attention to the fact that it's not just women looking at and making quilts, there's a whole untapped market out there.................

Monday, November 4, 2013

The intrepid explorers continue.......

Having had some sleep, I awoke the next morning with a very stiff and sore leg.
One of my many grazes on my lower leg

The weather was just awful! The rain was torrential, so our host very kindly drove us to the Convention centre which saved us getting very wet.

We had meetings planned today, (no, I'm still not saying), and had decided that we would try and spend the day looking at the quilts, with a break for some shopping too. The vendor mall is so huge it takes time. We kept bumping into people we knew which was great fun! The Israeli's had an exhibit of the "Many Faces of Jerusalem", which was wonderful. We saw work hanging by quilters who were in Ailsa Craig in May, and were just awestruck by the fact that their work changes constantly. It is not easy to pin down a style by any of them.

Yemima, myself and Cathy

Yemima's quilt in the Many Faces of Jerusalem

Eti's quilt which came from a class which she took at the SDQA in Hands around the World

Ita's quilt in Hands around the World

I am going to Israel next year, so I am looking forward to seeing so many of my friends there. I think I will be there for a month, I was also making new friends so I think I am going to be busy!!

Cathy and I took another one hour workshop, but were a little disappointed by the teaching and attitude of the teacher, although we liked the kits we were given, but little help. We then met up with another new friend for discussions and are happy with the outcome of that. We left when the show closed and then had a quiet evening in, and slept like tops!

Friday saw us going in for yet another meeting, and then going into the show and doing more quilts and Cathy wen off to see a demonstration. I spent time looking at more quilts, and then a little retail therapy, but no fabric - needles and a coat(!). Again, we had a long day but enjoyed looking at the quilts and met up with Tamar which was lovely, and then all three of us went to look at quilts. While we were looking at one section, I heard this frightfully British accent coming from the Meet the Teacher's area, this was a series of  very short lectures showing quick techniques and work etc., The accent belonged to the wonderful Jennie Rayment. I grabbed Cathy's arm and dragged her across the floor and into a chair. Jennie had us in stitches with her wonderful humour and at the end of it, we nabbed her and had a quick chat. I had met Jennie in the UK in August, and she will be teaching at the ACCQF in May next year, so I wanted her to meet Cathy just to put another face to the festival. The three of us ended up giggling hysterically at the back of the hall!

Jennie holding the audience in thrall with her lecture

We told her about my "accident", and she told us how she had walked two miles to get some copying done the day before, and ended up walking back through torrential rain, and how she had draped dollar bills around her room in an effort to dry them out.

Again, we had a quiet evening in, and my bruises were really coming out at this point. Saturday was going to be our last day at the show, and I was taking a class with Jennie. Cathy was doing machine quilting with Ferret.

Quilt Festival is so busy, I miss out on all the workshops, and I think this year will be busier still, so, if you want to volunteer to help in any capacity, we would love to have you. Anyway, I was doing Jennies, Tucked and Embellished circles. OH MY GOODNESS!!!!! She is hysterical!!! We laughed a lot and she is an EXCELLENT teacher. Jennie took us through the first steps and then we stopped while she explained the next steps, none of us were left out, and she made sure we all had her attention and help.

Jennie Rayment's Tucked and Embellished circles (and squares)

If you are looking at these and thinking they must be difficult, think again!! The Mistress of nipping and tucking talks you through it and it really is very easy! If I can do it anyone can.

It was a long but very satisfying day, and then Cathy and I met at the end of class, and went back downstairs to finish looking at the quilts. I know we thought we had done it all, but this morning I saw a report on a Houston tv station, and was seeing quilts that we didn't even see!! 

We spent the evening packing as we had to be up by 4.30 to get back to the Intercontinental airport for a 7am flight. We were up bright and early and our cab arrived in plenty of time and we were checked in and ready to board. We were much further back in the plane this time, and had very little leg room, but oh well. However, one of the flight attendants started telling jokes and had us in stitches so it made up for a lot.

Now its back to the grind and getting workshops onto the web in readiness for everyone to sign up for them, if you are coming or contemplating it, you will not be disappointed!

Houston, we have a problem..........

Well, the activity of last week at the International Quilt Festival is now behind me, and I am home again.

I have decided that I love Houston. I went with Cathy, and our reason for going was to make contact with potential countries to show their work at the Ailsa Craig Community Quilt Festival in future years, I am glad to say that we were successful in this endeavour, and are set for the next four years. No, I will not tell you which countries, wild horses will not drag that information out of me.

This was my second visit to Houston and Cathy's first. I knew it was going to go well when we got the Metro Detroit airport, and couldn't find the car park to leave the car. We followed the signs which suddenly stopped and were never seen again. We stopped at a Days Inn and asked there, but the receptionist had no clue where they were. As we were driving out of the parking lot, there was a valet parking van pulling in, so we did a quick trip around the lot and pulled up to him and asked the question. He started to tell us and then just said, "follow me".  So we did. He took us to the valet parking lot. It actually turned out to be a lot cheaper than using the main parking lots, $5.99 a day as opposed to $10, so we lucked out. They were very nice people, and we had a laugh and a joke while getting the car checked in, and, when they heard my English accent, I was given a discount, so we were going to pay $5.98 a day!! A good start to our trip.

We were flying Spirit airlines. I think we will just leave that there, I think they are akin to Ryanair, or have taken lessons from them.

We arrived late in Houston. I don't know how many of you have been to the city, but it is HUGE. I had no idea until we were talking to someone in the queue one morning, that the city is about 100 miles across in any direction. We had decided that we would rent an apartment rather than stay in a hotel in order to keep the costs down, and had found the perfect one for us through Air BnB in Montrose, which was just a short bus ride from the Convention centre, but we had to take a taxi from the airport to get to it, took about 30 minutes.

The apartment was attached to our host's home and was lovely, just perfect for two people for the amount of time we were there. The swimming pool was just outside our door, and we were welcome to use that. The fridge was stocked, most importantly, with wine, butter, milk, yogurt, juices and water, and they had bagels and chips to start us off. Lovely and fresh and clean.

The next morning we were up bright and early as we were taking workshops at the show, and then staying on for the Preview evening. I was really looking forward to that!! Cathy was taking Cindy Walter's fabric painting class, and I was taking Paula Nadelstern's Tower One class. I did ask myself after I booked it Why? It is so unlike anything else I would ever do, but I thought it would be a challenge and it doesn't hurt to do some precise piecing once in a while.

Paula Nadelstern's Tower One quilt

As we were leaving the apartment, our host appeared and offered to drive us to the bus stop as it was raining quite heavily, and we could see lightning and hear thunder, it also showed us where to go every day.

The workshop was very interesting as we had to do drafting and cutting out of templates, and then we chose some of her beautiful fabrics which was part of our kit, with which to do our blocks. We had an hour for lunch and met up with out Dutch friend Laura. The weather was still wet, but at this point it had stopped raining, and we walked a shortish distance to a bar and had the most delicious hamburgers. As we left, the rain was teeming down, and we only had one umbrella between the three of us. Laura decided that as I had a raincoat, I didn't need the umbrella, whereas she and Cathy had no coats so huddled together under it. (They both have short hair, so fairly drip dry, whereas I am the princess of the group with my medium length bob and hate getting my hair wet unless I happen to be washing it!). We made it back and continued with our classes.

A view of the vendors

I was pleased with what I achieved. For a non piecer I thought it looked good, although I did make an error on my last border and needed to re draw my template and will have to recut and restitch them. But its a learning process which is why your there.

We finished our classes and made or way down to the show floor where we spent the next four or five hours looking at the vendors. I have to say, I was very restrained and I bought thread only. As I was paying for it, a class was announced at Make It University which is right in the middle of the show floor. For $10, you can take a one hour class with a teacher learning a new technique. We hot footed it and had a blast! It was creating text on fabric by using scrapbooking sticky letters and then painting, and then peeling the letters off to leave the image. Very effective. After that, we carried on looking at the vendors. After four days at the Festival, I still don't think we saw them all, but it was terrific fun.

We left the show and then crossed the road to get our bus back to Montrose. It seemed a lot quicker than it had in the morning, and the buses are hardly full. Trouble was, it was pitch dark and we had no clue where we had to get off! Cathy thought we should get off at the next stop as the name of the street we got on at flashed up on the screen, So off we get, only to find that we are nowhere near where we should have been! A quick call to our host, and it was, " stay there, I'll come and get you".

So there we were, standing on the street corner by the traffic lights of Brazos and Elgin in the rain and dark waiting for a ride home. Cathy came up with all sorts of ridiculous scenarios which led to us having fits of the giggles when we suddenly heard a car horn, and turned to see an arm waving through a sun roof on the opposite corner to the one we were on. We ran across the road, Cathy ahead and me following, she clambers in the back, I reach for the front passenger door which had been opened, stepped off the kerb and..................that's when my left leg suddenly disappeared into thin air and I was looking at the bottom of the car sill. Cathy clambers back out hauls me out of the hole and we discover that the drain cover, had been broken leaving a large hole into which I had fallen. My right leg was bent at another angle and I had plonked my bags on the road and by doing so wrenched my shoulder.

We climb into the car, and are laughing so hard I had tears running down my face. Our host was horrified, and once we got back, took us into his apartment and then found me sterile pads and anti bacterial lotion to bathe my wounds. I had scraped the side of my leg and the the front side and back of my thigh, the bruises are beautiful! I was in a lot of pain, but we just kept laughing so that was a good thing, they were worrying that they needed to take me to Emergency but I said I was fine. We went back, or rather I hobbled, to our apartment where Cathy fed me wine, Advil and chocolate, which I thought was a good thing. Sleep was difficult as I couldn't find anywhere to put my leg without causing pain, but did manage to get some eventually...................

To be continued......