11 April 2016

Break for the Sun

So the Scottish winter, much like the Scottish summer can be cold and wet and sometimes a little break in the sunshine is all that you need. This year I had the perfect excuse for a break for the sun...a wedding!

My friend's Athina and Sam (now resident in Melbourne) were getting married on the beautiful island of Aegina in the Saronic Gulf. So not only did I get to see the sun, swim in the sea and eat some amazing food, I also got to attend a beautiful wedding of 2 great people, make new friends and new memories.

Aegina is only 17 miles from Athens so a quick journey on he hydrofoil or ferry... and you are away from the bustle of the city and to the small but perfectly formed port of Aegina...lined with waterfront restaurants, overlooked by the remains of a Greek Temple and with beautiful views of the Peloponnese Peninsula. 

A few of us were staying a lovely little hotel just on the edge of the town called Hotel Rastoni. Only 14 rooms, 10 with balconies with a sea view and a great garden....the perfect place to escape.

This is the view from our balcony over the garden where we ate breakfast every morning. 

Our lunch spot on the first day....right on the water. 

My toes in the water.....the rest of me also went in...I think the locals thought we were mad, but the water was warmer in March than at any time in Scotland!

 Even the derelict buildings looked beautiful.

Fishing boats and fishing nets along the harbour. 

Fish in the local market.

One afternoon between the hen night and the wedding four of us hired bikes and cycled from Aegina Town along the coast to the little village of Perdika (about 20km round trip) where we ate lunch overlooking the sea.....just glorious.

The view from lunch....

The weather was a glorious 22 to 23 degrees and sunny for most of the 4 days we were there.....and the flowers and trees were in full bloom.

Lemon trees all over the island.

The island is famous for its pistachios - these are the pistachio trees...as we were there the first signs of buds were appearing on the trees. 

The wedding was on the Friday, with the ceremony in the Mayor's office and the reception at a nearby hotel. It was a daytime wedding, the ceremony at 1230pm and the reception at 2pm. By 830pm the reception and dancing were winding down and we were winding up for a night in one of the local bars, where the dancing and drinking continued until about 2am.

The wedding was perfect, small with only about 65 guests from Greece, Australia, Scotland and Norway - the bride and groom looked fantastic and everyone seemed to enjoy themselves - there was Greek dancing, good food and lots of smiles. It was a delight to be able to share such a special day with Sam and Athina and even though they live all the way in Melbourne these days I really hope it is not too long until we catch up again.

The morning after the wedding my room-mate Martha and I headed to Athens (a number of us were flying home that evening) for the afternoon. 

We took aim for the Acropolis....which can be seem from across the city....finding our way there was more of a challenge. However, in our meanderings we came across some beautiful little streets right below the Acropolis which could easily lead you to believe you were on a Greek island rather than in the middle of the city. 

I didn't visit the Acropolis as I have been before and baulked at the 20 Euro entrance charge. 

Syntagma Square, at the heart of Athens.

It was undeniably hard to return to rainy and cold Scotland after such a lovely sojourn in the sun....

09 April 2016

Winter Wanderings - Porto

I have had a busy start to the year.... I have been on three trips and to two weddings and it is only April. Next trip is booked and there's at least 2 more weddings this year.

In February I went to Porto with work. I was on a study visit organised by an EU programme called Culture for Cities and Regions. We had hosted a visit in Dundee in November, with 20 people from all over Europe and this time it was our turn to go on a trip and to learn about what Porto is doing to support its creative industries sector. 

Cais da Ribeira - the waterfront in the city centre....surrounded by the medieval district of Ribeira, which became a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1996. It is a mixture of waterfront warehouses and small alleys with houses on either side, sometimes so narrow that you could imagine leaning out the window and shaking hands with the person on the other side. 

An beautiful tiled facade of a church.

The Douro River and Ponte Luis I - it is a double-decked arched iron bridge - with pedestrians and cars using the lower level and pedestrians and trams using the upper level. I will admit that I tried to walk across the upper level but didn't make it very far before I had to turn back - too scary!!

Sunrise over the Douro - the arched bridge you can see in the distance is Ponte Maria Pia which was designed by Gustave Eiffel

The Douro by night

The old covered market - the Mercado Bolhao...it is not nearly as busy as it must have been in the past, the upper levels just have a few vegetable stalls (but what amazing vegetables). There are plans to regenerate the market which would be remarkable. 

Beautiful old shop front

Most of the photos were taken between the hours of 730 and 830 in the morning as that was really the only free time we had in the 3 days....lots of meetings and lots of eating! It is certainly a city I would like to spend more time in....and of course go and visit the port warehouses....

We also visited Guimaraes to the north of Porto, which had been European Capital of Culture in 2012....a small city with lots of interesting history (having been the centre of the leather industry in the country.)

These are some of the old tanning pits from the leather industry and the barrels for spinning the tanned leather.

08 December 2015

Winter Crafting

I have managed to keep myself out of mischief with some crafting....

A chunky knit scarf with massive pale lime pompoms....for a friend's daughter. 

Christmas decorations made from felted jumpers and my first use of a glue gun to stick on teeny pompoms...

I made a number of 100% wool felt needle cases...for sale in my friend's shop....here's a couple of them...

Bunny rabbit decorations made from pre-felt. 

And a couple of Christmas wreaths...

The pompom one made with vintage green/blue mohair I found at my parents and the Snowman one from MochiMochi Land's pattern for tiny snowmen...

27 September 2015

London 2015 - Shaun in the City

I am just back from a few days in London visiting and seeing friends. We were lucky enough to see the flock of Shaun the Sheep (from Wallace and Gromit) when we were there. Designed by artists and painted the Shauns have spent the summer in Bristol and London as part of the Shaun in the City trail. They are to be auctioned on the 8th of October with the funds going to Bristol Children's Hospital and Wallace & Gromit's Children's Charity. 

The flock came to London and were on display in Covent Garden for the weekend....whilst we didn't see them all we did see many...and most cute they were.

I loved the woolly one the best....wonder why!