Sunday, 28 February 2010

Chinese New Year Parade - Yanqing County, Beijing

Yanqing is a town one and a half hours drive north of Beijing, beyond the Great Wall at Badaling.
It holds the most amazingly colourful and spectacular parade every year 
on the last day of the Chinese new year holiday.
This is the 3rd year I have made the long drive to be amazed by stilt walkers, lion dancers, dragon dancers and many ladies with fans.

There are several groups of stilt walkers who dance on the streets for 4 hours non stop and never seem to trip. Each village has it's own personality and costume design.
Various folk tales are reenacted such as this one with donkeys, another one with a matchmaker!

Every team has its own band of musicians belting out the beat with drums, pipes and clashing cymbals.
The faces are just wonderful and much of the 90,000 strong population turns out to watch it.
The ironic thing is that as I walk by with my blond hair I get many stares from people who are seeing a real live laowei ( foreigner) for the first time. But it is all smiles and waves!
We didn't meet another foreign face.

Happy Lantern Festival to everyone.

Wednesday, 24 February 2010

The Tiny House Blog

I just Stumbled Upon (literally) this blog site which has the cutest little houses you ever did see.

I have an interest in tiny houses because my sister Jenni has requested 
that we make sure that when we come back to the Uk and buy a house 
we have enough space to allow her a 'shed' in the bottom of the garden!
This has given Ian, my husband, endless hours of fun 
searching for amusing houses to show Jenni.
Little did he know that there is a blog dedicated to help him find the ultimate!
Which do you think she'd like from these on offer?

1. A little Eco-house
Read more about it here 
Maybe Bilbo and Frodo lived here.

2. A House-to-Go
So if she tires of us she can simply drive away!
3. An Old-time-House
Made from the fuselage of a World War 2 glider
(Almost the right era!)
4. A Shepherd's Hut
5. Eco Dome

Post you thoughts in the comments and I will have a special giveaway for the funniest one.

If you want to read more , this book looks perfect:
Tiny house photos from The Tiny House Blog

Monday, 22 February 2010

High Tide at Dunwich

On our last full day in England we took a walk along a favourite part of the Suffolk coast at Dunwich.

The tide cannot be turned on the lost town of Dunwich.
Most of which is now under the sea, 
having been washed away by coastal erosion.
1500 years ago it was the largest port in the east of England - 
but the sea has left it a small village today.
Legend says that the church bells can still be heard from beneath the waves at certain tides!
A few fishing boats still work the waters.....

I love to collect stones ....... 

enjoy fish and chips at the Ship Inn
spend time with my sister Jenni
and watch the waves roll in.
Worth a visit when you are in the east of England.
I'll be back in the summer - if I have the chance. 

Tuesday, 16 February 2010

Crow Country

Oh to be in England......

Feb 14th - watching part of the 30,000 rooks gathering at dusk before roosting en masse in woodlands near River Yare in Norfolk. A clamour of rooks! 

Crow Goes Hunting by Ted Hughes

Decided to try words. 

He imagined some words for the job, a lovely pack-
Clear-eyed, resounding, well-trained, 
With strong teeth. 
You could not find a better bred lot. 

He pointed out the hare and away went the words 
Crow was Crow without fail, but what is a hare? 

It converted itself to a concrete bunker. 
The words circled protesting, resounding. 

Crow turned the words into bombs-they blasted the bunker. 
The bits of bunker flew up-a flock of starlings. 

Crow turned the words into shotguns, they shot down the starlings. 
The falling starlings turned to a cloudburst. 

Crow turned the words into a reservoir, collecting the water. 
The water turned into an earthquake, swallowing the reservoir. 

The earthquake turned into a hare and leaped for the hill
Having eaten Crow's words. 

Crow gazed after the bounding hare
Speechless with admiration. 

Thursday, 11 February 2010

Pincushions and packing

I should be packing suitcases ready to leave for the Uk tomorrow for a trip home - but I seem to be feeling the need to sew.
Since I discovered two lovely blogs I have been itching to try their tutorials.
Pink Penguin shows a little fabric basket and Mairuru had me intrigued with her string quilt.
So yesterday afternoon I got out some scraps and this is what I made in a couple of hours....

I have changed things a little - you know me never do it the way I'm told!
I just loved sewing these mini string quilts - now I have pincushion mania. Having made one for me and made one for my big sis, so now I need to find homes for the next 3.
If you would like one of my perky pincushions just email me in the comments below and the first 3 to respond will have a pincushion winging it's way to them. All I ask in return is that you email me a photo of the cushion and how you use it.
They are made with scraps from Japan, China and Denmark - so they'll sit happily anywhere in the world!
Oh well back to the packing.......

Sunday, 7 February 2010

Organising and getting things finished

Hmmm... seems like everything I start up on my post does not get finished - did you not notice an absence of wolf moon textile hanging? Where is the house quilt that was supposed to be finished in a week? 
Well today I am trying to tie these ends up. What has made the difference? My new super duper work room reorganised and refurnished and full of inspiration again.
I don't know how I dare admit to this state of chaos!

Yesterday Ian assembled the new desks and storage (yes, it is handy having a husband who likes shopping in IKEA!) and I spent the day trying to organise all my fabrics and stuff. How do I come to have so many notebooks? They must be breeding in the many boxes they have been stored in.
Hope you enjoy taking a look and if you are ever short of fabric you know where to come! (I have lots more in the basement too.)
I just love the new look.

So here is what I managed for my full moon piece - I feel it is a work in progress. Couldn't manage to make a wolf - imagine him just off the canvas!

Unfortunately I broke my sewing machine needle on a tough bit and now my machine makes an awful sound when I sew! Think the wolf had something to say about being missed off! 
I cleaned, oiled and reassembled the bobbin bit 4 times - to no avail. So that is a bit of a challenge since there are no Bernina mechanics here in Beijing. I don't know if I dare take it to a repair man here. Maybe Mr IKEA can take a look as he is on a roll at the moment.

As for the house quilt - it is delayed as I have to finish a quilt for a school project - we are making quilts for some mentally challenged young people who are just about to move out of their orphanage (they have to leave at age 18 in China) and will be together in a sheltered home, in part paid for by our school, International School of Beijing. I am making a quilt for one of the girls - but now I face quilting it with my machine making a clunk at every stitch sewn! No - I am not going to hand quilt it!! Maybe the elves will mend it in the night... or better still - quilt it!
Hope you have an inspiring/ organising weekend too.

Wednesday, 3 February 2010

Ginza by night

Yesterday, we had just two hours on Ginza 
and were able to see a stationery selection par excellence. 
Our first stop was Ito-Ya, who call themselves a "Stationery Wonderland".
Googled image
It is easy to find - just look for the big red paper clip hanging outside. 
9 floors of cards, pens, paper  and more.  
Tokyu Hands was our second stop filled with more delights. 
If you are ever in Tokyo - then put these two on your list. 
Who can resist pig and dog shaped paper clips?

Dinner was a big surprise - 
Gonpachi in Roppongi looks unassuming from the outside
but inside is just full of amazing aromas
shouts from the waiters and a feeling of deja vu! 
Turns out old Quentin Tarantino dined here 
and then had designers replicate the interior for 'Kill Bill 1' 
- you know where Uma jumps through the air & lots of blood spurting.
No blood for us, 
just amazing fried shrimp dumplings, 
tuna so fresh and tasty (unlike anything I've eaten before), 
cod fried in black miso ....  delicious flavours and great atmosphere. 
With staff calling across the room, it reminded me of a Beijing noodle house. 
This was Edo style - in Tokyo it's a little more sophisticated!! 
Considering the quality, prices were not expensive.
Now back in Beijing with fabrics and stationery goodies - just the weather is a bit nippy!

Tuesday, 2 February 2010

Tokyo time

Just in Tokyo for a few days. 
Time to see my first blossom of the year and a little fabric shopping!
Monday I met up with Helena for a special day wandering the old temples and shrines 
of Kamakura and enjoying the blossom on early flowering cherry trees. 
Spring can't be too far away, can it?
Beautiful scene at Meigetsuin Temple.

Sake for the soul!
The most expensive strawberries ever! 
This box was 10,000yen ($110 or £70). 
Yes you did read that right!

 Kato and Simba - the two cutest cats in Tokyo 
You can see them again with Helena's gorgeous purses here

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