Archive for the Australia Category

And Back Again…

Posted in Australia, Drawing and Painting, Embroidery, Family and Friends, out and about with tags , , , on October 16, 2016 by suetortoise

Well, I’ve been home for a whole week and I’m wishing I was still in Australia.

It was a good holiday, although the weather could have been kinder to us. It was great to meet up with KRin again at the Hopetoun Tea Rooms in Melbourne, and go with her to L’Uccello, The Kimono House and Maria’s Beads and Trims. When Kevon and I returned from a few days in Hobart, I got to meet Megan for the first time, in her brand new flat. I enjoyed seeing the originals of embroideries on her Emsley Rose blog and met Tommy the cat. Thanks for the Anzac biscuits, Megan, they were smashing!


KRin and I choosing cakes at the Tea Rooms

Also on the needlework theme, I went to the excellent Annemieke Mein exhibition at Brighton Town Hall, and an equally wonderful quilt exhibition at the National Gallery of Victoria. Add in a fair bit of sightseeing, visits to friends, great meals, fresh air and exercise and you can guess that I have come home very happy.

I’ll write a little more about the holiday once I’ve got my photos edited and my thoughts in order. This may take a while as I’m busy getting pictures ready for the annual art show at Novacon next month. I’m currently inspired by 19th century printers’ ornaments. Here’s a sample of what I’m doing:



Things happening, slowly.

Posted in Australia, books, Embroidery, everyday life, out and about with tags , , , on September 5, 2016 by suetortoise

curfew open

Well the last few weeks have been busy. I’ve held off from updating the blog, hoping that I could tell you that my sister and I have finally sold my parents’ house. (It’s been on the market for a year now.) We have accepted an offer and we’ve spent hours form-filling and answering questions and so forth. However, we’ve not yet exchanged contracts with couple who want to buy it. It is almost certainly a done deal, but until the papers are signed, I don’t like to tempt fate and say it’s sold.

I am just hoping the contract is ready for signing before I go off to Australia – and it’s not very long now! The flight tickets arrived yesterday. I’m really looking forward to meeting up with KRin and Megan at Hopetoun Tea Rooms in Melbourne on the morning of the 21st. I’m sure we’ll find a lot to talk about. They are going to introduce me to a needlework shop called L’uccello, too. I should be just-about over the jet lag by then.

The next day, Kevon and I are off to Hobart for a week. One of the people we’ll be meeting there is his elderly cousin, and my friend, Diana. Kevon suggested that I could embroider something based on the poem “Curfew must not ring tonight” by Rosa Hartwick Thorpe as a gift for Diana. I didn’t know the poem and wasn’t sure what I could do with it, but a little searching on the web found it. Even better, Abe Books lead me to a bookseller with a copy of a tiny book containing just the one poem and illustrations. The book dates from about 1890. The cover is a little time-worn, so I made an embroidered jacket for it.

curfew and hand

The book is only 12cm high. I’ve stitched Bessie, the heroine of the verse, climbing up into the belfry to stop the curfew bell from ringing. The drawing is loosely based on one of the sepia illustrations in the book, and is stitched in stranded cotton on white Egyptian-cotton sheeting. Most of the stitching is irregular stem stitch and straight stitches. I was pretty-much making it up as I went along, working over an ink drawing. After I’d finished the stitching, I backed the piece with pelmet Vilene and a second layer of sheeting, to make a sturdy cover. Not my usual style of work, but an interesting challenge. I hope that Diana will be pleased.

curfew close-up

I was also hoping I’d have the Hardanger bookmark finished to show you – I’ve done all the stitching, there’s just the hemming to do. Mitred corners are things I never feel confident about doing, so I need to be cool and calm and have plenty of time available when I start that stage. Right now I am anything but calm and trying to do fifteen things at once, so the hem-laying must wait.

This will be the last blog post before my holiday. I’ll tell you all about it when I get back.

Melbourne in September: Part One

Posted in Australia, Family and Friends, out and about, science fiction on October 24, 2010 by suetortoise

Arrival and Worldcon

Melbourne city lights
My journey to Australia started well, in glorious sunshine. Apart from getting stung on the thumb by a wasp (while climbing into the Rail Replacement Bus at Wolverhampton), it was a painless journey to Heathrow. I’d expected delays as it was August Bank Holiday Monday and the end of the Reading Festival. Reading station was crammed with muddy youngsters, surrounded by baggage and tents, the floor coated with a pale brown carpet of dried mud. But traffic was moving steadily and the airbus got me to the airport ahead of schedule. I spent a long time sitting outside in the sunshine, peoplewatching.

The flight out was crowded and rather turbulent. There was a stench from the rear toilets, someone near me was being sick. By the time breakfast was served, before we landed at Singapore, I was feeling decidedly queasy as well as shattered from the lack of proper sleep. The second leg of the journey was calmer and seemed to pass quite quickly. (Too quickly – I missed the end of the film I was watching: a dramatic life of Confucius, with English subtitles. I don’t like wearing headphones, so end up watching a lot of foreign films on planes.) I was near the back of the plane, so had a long wait to disembark, but I got through customs and baggage claim swiftly and there was Kevon waiting for me. It was so amazingly good to see him. We drove to his flat through the early-morning halflight. A much needed shower, some breakfast, a few hours rest and then a good walk to Acland Street for a late lunch followed by food-shopping at Coles.
Ship reflections, MCEC
The next day I felt a lot better, and ready for Aussiecon 4, the World Science Fiction Convention. We had to change trams at St Kilda Beach to get to the Melbourne Conference and Exhibition Centre, so we started a habit of breaking the outward journey with breakfast at Macdonalds, right by the tram stop. (While watching the mynah birds on the grass and the lorikeets in the palm trees.) The part of the MCEC used for the convention is a dramatic modern building with interesting angles and mirrored walls. It’s next to the river, and beside it is an old sailing ship, the Polly Woodside. I spent a fair while helping with the Art Show set-up that day, but at last it was done and I could hang my pictures and look at the rest of the convention.

Polly Woodside, mastsThe next few days passed in a blur of programme items and mooching around. One of the highlights was listening to artist Shaun Tan talking about his work and influences. His delicate pencil drawings and picture-books are enchanting. I had barely heard of him before Aussiecon 4, so they came as a delightful surprise. Kevon went to a lot of talks and panels on climate change and geo-engineering, I enjoyed meeting some old friends, including some I had never met in person before. But the MCEC doesn’t function terribly well as a friendly space for sitting and chatting, and there were lots of talks and discussions that I didn’t want to miss, so I failed to speak to some people I had hoped to meet up with. Staying out at Kevon’s flat meant we were not there in the evening, when most of the relaxing and nattering happened in the adjacent hotel.

But overall it was good. And I was very satisfied with my take from the Art Show, which went a good way towards paying the day-to-day expenses of the holiday. The last morning of the convention ended with a near-disaster as Kevon managed to fall on one of the escalators. (It was the teddybear’s fault.) Kevon came home two badly grazed knees and a pair of heavily bloodstained trousers. So that afternoon I was up to my elbows in gore, in the sink, scrubbing the stains out with salt (with complete success), while Kevon had very sore knees for the next few days.
Bear on a Melbourne Tram
In the next installment, I’ll tell you what we did after the convention. There will be pictures of dingo puppies.

Back to reality

Posted in Australia, Family and Friends, out and about, science fiction on September 22, 2010 by suetortoise

We're back from Melbourne

If you’ve been wondering about the lack of recent updates to Tortoise Loft – The Blog, it’s because I’ve been to Australia. Visiting my friend Kevon in Melbourne. We both attended the 68th World Science Fiction Convention, Aussiecon 4; we went to exhibitions, museums and galleries and interesting places; we rode trams and ate tasty food and met up with friends; we spent a couple of nights at Port Fairy on the Great Ocean Road; we saw wild seas, wildlife and even the occasional bit of sunshine. It was a good trip. Very good.

But now I am back in Shrewsbury, and the very first thing that I learn is that my part-time job has vanished for the time being, ‘purely due to the drop-off in work’. Not the best of homecomings. I also had urgent phone messages left by the housing association, worried about a possible leak in my water pipes – although an emergency visit from the plumber on Monday morning failed to find any sign of leakage. (It’s probably a problem in another of the flats.) My good friends Dez and Ali had looked after the place well in my absence, and had kindly left me milk and cheese in the fridge, bread and fancy biscuits – a very welcome sight. But I was feeling alone, missing Kevon very much, having to deal with the unpacking, the clothes-washing and all the other sad reminders that a good holiday is over. All this and jetlag too! 

But I am in too good a mood to feel down for long. I still have some more photos to process and upload, and then I’ll be writing about my visit to Australia, and showing you some of the sights. There will be wild koalas. Watch this space!