Saturday, September 1, 2018

Summer Vacation2018 Finale

Our friends and family have wondered why we rave about our walking trips, particularly in countries where we speak the language.  When we were working, Mr. Lucky and I enjoyed a yearly vacation to reconnect and we planned these trips on our own...back in the day when I would write on blue airmail paper to make a b&B reservation. (No, youngsters, we didn't have to take a masted schooner across the ocean to get there.)  Now we are both retired so we are "connecting" all day long and need a different holiday style. We love meeting other active travelers from all sorts of backgrounds while enjoying panoramic vistas and interesting history.  And hiking on the South Downs and in the Scottish Highlands provided all of that and more. 

Mr. Lucky and I discovered HF Holidays HF Holidays UK three years ago and only wish it had been sooner. This year we selected a warm up week at Abingworth for guided walks along the South Downs before heading to the Highlands at Glen Coe  As in London, the weather was spectacular.  And the South Downs area is full of gentle rolling hills as well as the chalk cliffs that make up the Seven Sisters coastal hike.  

There were approximately 24 guests and we had three leaders who described the daily walk options each evening before dinner via a power point-like animation. 

Level 1 averaged six to seven miles per day and perhaps 400 feet of elevation.  Level 2 eight to ten miles, perhaps 1200 feet up and Level 3 8 to 12 miles, perhaps up to 1600 feet of elevation.  Mr. Lucky and I could do any of the levels of walking on this itinerary so we made our choices on some days depending on who we wanted as our leader or as walking companions.  Some random pictures from our five walks:

Food is very good and very plentiful and despite eating everything and anything I wanted I lost a pound by the time I got home.  Breakfast at the country house included fresh and canned fruit, juice, cereals and anything you wanted for a cooked breakfast. 
Whoops, already ate my salad so just sausage pie, cheese and crackers  and the orange left to share with you.
Then pick up the lunch you had ordered the night before, (sandwiches to order or in my case salad with protein such a smoked salmon) add packaged snacks of trail mix, crisps, candy bars, fill your water bottle and take the bus to your respective start points.  You select dinner from the menu on the night before and here are two typical choices:

The leaders are actually HF members themselves who have ordinance maps and notes of natural and historic interest along the way.  That is one difference from more commercially oriented, for-profit walking trips that we have taken who use more full time professional guides.  Some HF leaders are more geared to sharing those historic and nature notes and others are more the rugged outdoor walking types.  So Mr. Lucky and I know that we'll have to do our own local research sometimes or just enjoy the walk and don't worry about understanding that Iron Age fort on the hill, just admire its location and marvel at its longevity.
The one misty morning was when he took the hike to Chanctonbury Ring
We were the only Americans and one of the questions we get was why we would come over to England when we have marvelous trails and hikes all through the US.  That is so very true, we have gorgeous national and state parks, some far away from us in Maryland and some very near by.  But because we are a younger, larger country, many, many, many miles of those trails are through forests.  Now I'm a tree hugger and we probably picked our house because of the old growth trees in the neighborhood.  But walking in England, a country that has lost those trees over centuries of habitation, means that I get many of what I call my "Sound of Music" moments....or if you just happen to be young person reading all the way through this, I feel like singing the Imagine Dragons' song.  Yes, "I'm on top of the world..."

The week long trips have a free day and Mr. Lucky and I drove into the nearby town of Chichester.  We walked the walls of the city, had a fabulous cathedral tour Chichester Cathedral from a deacon who covered everything from its wonderful Norman roots and unique bell tower to the Roman ruins underneath it and the more modern Marc Chagall stained glass window.  

Chagall window which of course reminded me of a quilt
Then we headed over to the even more amazing Roman ruins at Fishbourne Palace Fishbourne Roman Palace  The mosaics were only discovered in 1960 and they turned out to be part of the largest residential Roman building in England.  It was even more interesting than I ever anticipated and I know my high school Latin teacher, Miss Dvorak, would be so proud of me for getting there.  The original palace was so enormous that even today whenever a nearby home does any home or garden improvements they are first asked if the archeology experts can look around for more info.  

The evenings on an HF Holiday include optional activities after dinner.  There was quiz night, a night of skittles, which Mr. Lucky won, to the surprise of all of us 

a talk from a local naturalist and even a fun night of British fete games out in the lovely gardens.  

I did promise sewing so you'll laugh to see that I had Amazon UK deliver this book to Abingworth Hall right before our arrival.  Just some light reading on a hiking trip.

I have hardly looked at it yet but it seems like a scrumptiously detailed look at high end embellishing details.  Perfect to cozy up with and try this winter.  And it became a fun topic of interest with several of the women on the hikes when we discussed sewing in our lives.  We can find our kindred spirits anywhere.

After this wonderful week we took a flight to Glasgow where we slept hard (so hard that we slept through the enormous fire two blocks from our hotel that burned the Glasgow Arts center that was under reconstruction.)  Our day in Glasgow was our first heavy rain day and it poured on us...and the wedding party here.

 We took the on-off bus tour of the city but didn't get off and saw the sights through rain streaked windows.  Nice but what else to do in the rain?  Eat and shop!  We headed to Glasgow's central district where we spotted this All Saints clothing store window display with old sewing machines along two window fronts and piled inside too.
I'm not the only one impressed by this sight.  There are plenty of Pinterest and Google images pictures of these also.  Sadly, those of us who know sewing machines know that there's really not much that has changed mechanically but a few bells and whistles over the years which made these "obsolete."  
I didn't want to shop at the store but I did want to visit the beautiful House of Fraser store on Buchanan street for some snoop shopping
Clever stripes idea to imitate
 and an actual purchase
It was on sale, I want to copy the seams and drape and a wearable souvenir
Then it was time to visit The Willow Tea Rooms, Willow Tea Rooms first designed by the famous architect Charles Rennie MacIntosh.  We indulged ourselves in the upstairs Chinese Blue Room

That afternoon we got the shuttle for the two hour drive to the HF Holiday house at Glen Coe and our introduction to the Highlands.  The weather wasn't as warm and sunny as it had been in the previous month but our three long walks never had anything more than heavy mist and were challenging and as spectacular as you would imagine.  My favorite was the walk on the Isle of Lismore because it was so remote and historic with a Bronze age "broch" and then Celtic and Scandinavian settlements. 

Once again, cheers to HF Holidays, our leaders, and our new travel companions for these three days.  

This was as active a trip as we have ever taken and it worked our better than we could have anticipated

We flew back to London and had one long day before our flight yes, more fabric to pack from a quick excursion back to Misan on Goldhawk Road:
Something sheer for summer
Something understated for my next stitch and flip "French jacket"
Something cheery for cold winter days ahead
Some Liberty cotton for a shirt for Mr. Lucky
No, no, I don't want to go home
Last stop, Heathrow for a mid-afternoon flight.  We got nervous when we couldn't check our bags at the self-service kiosk.  "See an attendant" is not the message you want to see at the airport.  But yikes, we were upgraded to first class!!!  What the heck.  I kept saying, "Are you sure it's us?" to the counter person.  But yes, whatever algorithm in British Air's system selected us for those vacant seats, we're grateful.
Thanks, British Air
And thanks to anyone still reading this far.  I really needed to write this post to put some of our memories "on paper."  And now I need to put some of that fabric on the cutting table within the next year to keep these memories even more vivid.


  1. What a great holiday ending with fabric shopping and a first-class flight home. The angels were sitting on your shoulders. I'd like to know more about the flip and stitch French jacket.

    1. Thanks, Barbara. I like that angles image and it certainly is true for us. The "french jacket" technique that I use is a little easier than the Susan Khalje or Claire Schaeffer one. It's based on a Patternreview class. here are some posts that explain it better.

  2. I’ve really enjoyed reading about your holiday adventures. Beautiful photos, it looks and sounds like you had a fabulous trip and what a perfect way to end it!

    1. How kind, Allison. We aren't the most adventurous travelers and don't need to see every museum and old building in an area but we do love the outdoors and the people we meet along the way. Of course, a fantasy vacation would be the world's largest sewing retreat with all the virtual friends I have made over the years.

  3. Your trip sounded so interesting and fun!

    1. Thanks for reading and commenting, Eileen. I know these posts don't appeal to many people but ti's nice to know you found it interesting.

  4. Mr. & Mrs. Lucky indeed! I’m green with envy, as I’m Scotch-Irish and have long desired to visit, but life has had other plans. Thank you for sharing such beautiful photos! Awesome fabric purchases, too!

    1. I have the same heritage on my mother's side of the family. Yes, life does sideswipe the best of us and we are so aware that this good fortune can change at a moment's notice. Thanks so much for reading.

  5. Love when Sewists write about their travels and fabric purchases. I am mostly of Scottish heritage so this was especially wonderful. Thank you for blogging. Jean

    1. You are thoughtful to write, Jean, and I appreciate it. Now I just hope I turn some purchases into real projects.

  6. Looks like a spectacular holiday. I laughed when seeing you all bundled up for a summer hike. We’ve had a scorcher of a summer in North America this year.

    1. It has been a scorcher, hasn't it and that's not even including the many tragic fires. Yes, it's not easy for me to wrap my mind around my packing list that includes hat and gloves when it's in the high 80's each day before we depart.

  7. I thoroughly enjoyed reading your vacation posts. What a wonderful trip! I am looking forward to see what you sew from the gorgeous souvenirs you brought back.

    1. Thanks, Audrey. As you and many other sewing friends know I am better at accumulating than producing. But I'm eager to work on these to keep memories strong.


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