Go to the festival of quilts my Falkland islander friend suggested, and obediently I did. It’s a strange feeling being in a queue with many Boden clad women all vying for a space just a little ahead of me. It seems there is something that happens to women of a certain age, they turn into honey monsters when there is a queue or if you just happen to stand in a place they want to photograph, or basically if you breathe anywhere near them. I understand, Ive had those days when I was starting to learn to assert myself, starting to feel the fear of saying what I think and Don’t let anyone stand in your way moments. Now through the other side I feel quite confident that my boundaries are intact so I no longer feel the need to assert. This bunch might challenge my resolve though. What is it about a few squares of fabric sewn together that turns us into shrews. I’ve got to do my shopping now before I find bolts ripped out of my hands or worse I am tackled to the ground for a bolt end. I love the quilts and its worth navigating everything just to see some amazing work. Look at the stuff below.
A few bits of fabric sewn together creates works of art.
That’s apparently a famous quote on quilting. I think it sums up my own views quite well. I love to cook but I’m not very good. I cant really follow recipes because my brain doesn’t seem to work in the way recipes are written. I’m a piss poor pastry or desert chef and that means my guests endure whatever M&S has to offer that day. After years of feeling inadequate about my lack of culinary skill I now feel liberated. No more worrying about whether or not I should be making my own bread. No more tearing out recipes from magazines promising to one day give them a go and no more anxiety about dinner parties. Cooking is just not what I do.
Quilting or patchwork is my new hobby and I love it with a passion.
I’ve been back in London now for nearly 3 weeks. The time is flying and I’m having fun meeting people, spending time with family and having access to the many things not available to me in my new home. I’m also loving the work I am doing and the people I work with. I realise that work is a very important part of me.
So, the food I’m most enjoying here includes seafood and chicken. Last night’s dinner was a medley of fresh vegetables with some slow cooked chicken. I haven’t found any fresh chicken in the Falklands and I don’t bother with the frozen stuff. When in the FI, Monday to Thursday, we now eat mostly vegetarian food in an attempt to minimise the amount of red meat we might otherwise consume. Whilst here, with easy (and cheap) internet, I’ve been picking up recipes for when I return. Tonight I will have chicken and crayfish, rocket and mango salad and tomorrow its fresh prawns. At the weekend I enjoyed some fresh scallops followed by Halibut with a pea and samphire puree. I love cooking with my nephew because he’s a risk taker. I questioned how fresh peas and samphire pureed might be and he suggested I go for it – ‘whats the worst that can happen?’ he asked. Truly Delicious!
I love my office space and my kitchen table is great to work out a design. We’ve always known our house would be too big once our parents no longer needed the space, but we’ve grown into the extra rooms. I have 2 offices and John has 1. In my second office I’ve given a corner to make a creative space. Its where my quilt and cookery books live.
new quilt top
I love the walk along the river to Hammersmith or the other way to Barnes Bridge. Seeing the river here is a little like looking out from my bedroom to the sea in Stanley. We don’t have a full view but between houses and over trees we finally get to see the glimmer of water.
Its harder to get used to the planes waking me every morning. In conversation with friends yesterday we discussed the point at which you become immune to the noise. Well, after 13 years they still wake me every morning.
It feels to me as if London is a little edgy at the moment, understandably so. I see acts of kindness on the tube or on trains but I also see angry people from time to time. Possibly they’re scared and need to feel in control or maybe they’ve had a bad day. On the roads, people run through red lights frequently that demonstrates a sense of entitlement. That sense of entitlement is abundant and people blame others for situations – I try not do do this but I don’t always succeed. Today I commit to to taking more responsibility!
Back to Blighty and the first thing I notice is the speed. The wonderful taxi driver who picks me up at the airport, chirpy and with a big smile, jumps into her seat and whisks me off down some narrow roads at a phenomenal speed. She’s within the limit but coming from the Falklands, where the maximum is 40mph, she’s like a daredevil.
Going into town the train is sedate by comparison and the fact that I can choose my hours means that I travel when I get a seat. Trains don’t exist in the Falkland Islands, or if they do I’ve yet to see one. I realise that I take trains for granted.
A queue in Pret a Manger is normal but twice as long as anything I’ve experienced for the past few months. The choice for lunch is confusing and I want to taste a little of everything. Fresh crayfish and rocket is a real treat and something I would have taken for granted before FI.
The tube is intimidating and I feel claustrophobic. People are mostly pleasant; occasionally someone is rude and I notice that rudeness more than before.
A quick shop and I’ve bought more ‘stuff’ in 30 minutes than would be possible in a week of trawling the shops of the Falkland Islands. The colours, textures, smells and array of options leaves me breathless. I’m just as appalled as enthused by the options. What will happen to this ‘stuff’ if not sold? I realise I’ve lived quite well without having to make choices like these. I select the things I want and enjoy the act of purchase.
Finally, I have one stop I need to make and it attacks my senses. The most amazing florist who specialises in miniature arrangements. Just a few small flowers but they mean so much.
Since arriving back in the UK and when asked about my trips, I’ve said to people that I will be going home shortly, meaning back to the Falklands. When we started this adventure I never thought we would both begin to regard Kent Road as our home but thats where I find myself today. I miss my yellow home with its amazing views. I miss my friends and I miss the lack of traffic jams!
So, where’s home now? When I arrived back to London I met three of my neighbours who all chatted and we shared some interesting moments. With one I had a tear, the other two an absurd conversation, but the thing that will always stand out for me is the laughter and warmth I experienced. It was like them putting their arms around me and embracing me back into the Crescent. An amazing feeling that I’m privileged to experience.
In the Falklands many of the people I know are incomers; there to do a particular task or to complete a contract term. Some like me, are trailing spouses and have plenty of time to do new and interesting things. We’ve tended to gravitate to each other as we form clubs and groups. I love the ‘Stitch and Bitch’ group which meets every week. Its a lot less about bitching and more about friendship and community. I’ve met some amazing women. We meet ostensibly to do some crafting but mostly its to drink coffee, chat, share and support each other.
Another group is the quilters. I have been granted temporary membership mainly because I won’t be in the islands for too long and because I joined when most people are out of the country enjoying the sun. Its unknown if I will be allowed to stay on into October and November but I don’t mind as I’ve now met these fabulous women who otherwise I wouldn’t have met. This group includes a number of people who are living more permanently on the islands. In this group we meet to do quilting and to help each other with projects. They are truly awesome sewers and I’ve been inspired and learnt loads.
I was never really a group person always favouring one to one conversations rather than a party or larger meeting. Whilst most people laugh at this, I am shy, yes really shy and find groups intimidating. But, these groups help me to step out into a new way of interacting and I love it. I love the stories, friendship, support and kindness of people who were initially strangers to me.
I feel very privileged and know these groups will continue long after I’ve left the islands. So is home something we carry inside us? Is it somewhere we have our things surrounding us? A place we can keep untidy if we feel like it? Somewhere we find aesthetically pleasing? Somewhere we can be creative? Is it just anyplace me and John can be together? Or, is home a place I can be myself?
Its one thing to gather magazines and recycle them into more paper, its quite another to just hold onto them and resell them to a desperate customer base. I am sure its more sustainable to do the second of these things.
A while ago the local museum had a book sale which included lots of magazines. I got hold of 6 copies of Coast magazine from around 2006. A Home and Garden from 2004 and a Good Housekeeping with a very young Meryl Streep on the cover. I thought they would all prove useful for my collaging.
At the local charity shop I happened upon a 1994 edition of My Weekly which featured someone I met briefly in London. Its in amazing condition and it was just lovely to see a smiley face I know peaking out of the pile.
I buy too many magazines at home. Perhaps now I will revisit some of the older ones and read the bits I scanned the first time. Finding joy in even the most aged of articles.
On my first day in the Falklands I decided to unpack boxes, tidy the house and move things so it felt more like our home than a rented house. As I was on my own and the weather was pretty awful I decided to turn on the TV and run it in the background. It was a bit like having some friends in the corner of the room keeping me company. So, imagine my joy when I happened upon a channel serving programmes from my childhood; without shame I can admit that I unpacked to F Troop. One of my dad’s favourites and its just about as silly as it is engaging.
Since then I haven’t needed the TV for company because I have an office and a craft room and lots of work and creating to do. However, in the evening when surfing channels with the remote, I can’t help but notice that there are some amazing offerings. I wonder if you remember any of these? UFO, A Team, Hogans Heroes, Get Smart, Airwolf, Gomer Pyle, Get Some In. Its raining again today so maybe I’ll take a look.