Some of you may have read some of my stories in the past, there were stand alone episodes about breaking an Olfa cutting mat, how to tackle a Moda Scrap Bag, a charity quilt that got taken to Kosovo on an Aid Convoy & the harrowing story of Grenfell and how a group of quilters made 1111 quilts for the survivors, families of the bereaved and first responders.
Then I started a light hearted & tongue in cheek series about things you can’t put on quilts, take photographs of, and then put the resulting pictures on most major Facebook Quilting Groups as they are somewhat frowned upon. This covered predominantly babies & children, cats and dogs. Well I managed to cover all of those easily, and managed to imaginatively cover pretty most of the animal kingdom in my 6 part series entitled “Controversial Moi”.
You can find all my previous blogs HERE
I thought I could get away without writing any more blogs or stories, but the “powers that be” at the UKQU website wanted more of my strange stories or ramblings. I have a butterfly brain which infuriates other people & of course myself, because I jump in a totally irrational barmy manner from one topic to another, in no particular order, and usually frustratingly in mid conversation!
I thought of the name “Marvellous Meandering Musings”, which meant I would not have write stories to be in any particular order, which suited my bonkers thinking and usual haphazard conversation style. I could just write about anything, whenever I felt like it, in no particular order ….. Phew that’s sorted! Then I had a brain burb (other rude names could of course be substituted). I have an old bright blue Citroen Picasso Air Dream. Like me she is long in the tooth, a funny shape, but usually reliable. She was my late mother’s car which used to poodle around North Wales with my nearly blind frail father as a non commenting passenger because he could not see where they were going!. She was new in 2006 and in 2015 had still only done 18,000 miles. My 93 yr old mother was still driving it until a couple of weeks before she sadly died of Sepsis. I then had to bring my then 90 yr old father down to live near us so I could care for him. It was perfect for his needs because we could get his stroller called “Neddy” on the back seat, & his wheelchair in the boot & it had a low sill to enable my father to get into the car. We had lots of jolly jaunts and outings together until my father sadly passed away too in 2017 at the age of 92.
The Citroen had been christened the “Dadmobile”, but all my cars have had girl or boy names in the past. After Daddy died & after much deliberating she was re-christened “Mildred”, with the “MIL” bit meaning Mother In Law.
So now we have the new name for my ramblings…“Mildred’s Marvellous Meandering Musings” Meet Mildred! I hope we are going to have some interesting & wonderful journeys together!
Comfort zones are strange & sadly elusive things at times & I certainly had not been anywhere vaguely near one since May 2015 after the sudden death of my mother. The incredible stress of bringing an elderly blind father from North Wales down to Oxfordshire to care for him 24/7 was taking its obvious toll with no time to even grieve for the loss of my mother. My partner thought I needed some respite & a brief holiday. I managed to get some full time carers for my father to assure his safety and comfort for while I would be away. We were thinking about going to go to Mexico but their reports about the resort beaches being covered in seaweed made us think again. He found a tiny remote island in the Caribbean which you could not even fly to on commercial jets from the UK or USA. It is called Nevis, I had never even heard of it, and although it has a small airport for light aircraft, you have to take a boat from the neighbouring island of St Kitts to get there. It was where the late Princess of Wales took her children to after her divorce to avoid the press and even she had to take the boat too. Prince Harry also visited a couple of years ago & his boat took him to the jetty that we use at Oualie Bay, he was there to see a turtle conversation project & promote other Commonwealth projects. Nevis is remote, understated, unspoilt, quiet and very private so it seemed ideal, SO ideal that t we actually got married in secret on the beach of a small eco resort called Oualie Beach. It has just a few rooms, where you step out a gingerbread cottage straight onto the beach with the sea just yards away. https://www.oualiebeach.com/ We phoned my late father to tell him the wedding news … his response was classic Daddy… “https://www.oualiebeach.com/Well done Wheelie!” ….“Wheelie?” … I queried ….. Response “Well you did marry a Barrow!” .
We have now visited several times and have built up close friendships with other residents on this tiny island including this hotel’s owners, all the staff there, an awesome local taxi driver called TC who comes from Leeds but been married for years to a Nevisian, a catamaran captain called Lennox whose tiny children I kidnapped the day before the wedding as my pageboy and flower girl, local musicians, local tourism & health promotion government staff, local photographers & artists, the owner of the local Botanic Gardens & even the judge who married us. It has become my Comfort Zone, my completely safe and peaceful place, & it was the first place my husband took me to just after my father died in 2017 because I could not face being at home without my beloved Daddy. We have also met lovely visitors from the USA several times who were there to do pro bono work as eye surgeons at the local hospital, a couple from Scotland who were actually there at our wedding who we met again on their return visit, another couple who live there part of the year, the rest of their time being spent in London. I have never had so many hugs anywhere for just being a hotel guest or visitor to the island when we return, & it is all completely genuine at the Oualie Beach Resort. We arrived here again late last night and the Executive Chef Gary had stayed on to greet us on his night off, because we are now considered “Family”… He was best man and witness at our wedding, and one of the owners’ wife Karen was my Matron of Honour and witness. Saw her lovely husband John Yearwood this morning. Sitting here now finishing the blog on the verandah looking at those same 2 palm trees feels surreal but comforting.
So what has this got to do with quilting or textiles? On our first visit there I met an amazing woman called Deborah Tyrell who is the Gallery Director of the Charlestown Gallery & Creative Director of Island Living Artisan Studio. Deborah is originally from San Fernando, Trinidad and Tobago, but has spent a lot of her life in Toronto where she studied at the Toronto School of Art until she settled in Nevis. She also now teaches Art to school pupils in Nevis while carrying on her amazing work on developing cultural creative industries & creating work opportunities by encouraging and mentoring entrepreneurship on the island, while managing to fit in doing a series of local radio interviews with aspiring artists including photographers.
On our second visit there I also met her mother who still lives in Toronto & who is a feisty lovely joy of a lady who has just celebrated her 84th Birthday. I hope to see her again for the third time on our current visit because I understand both our visits coincide. What drew me to Deborah though was her amazing textile art. She paints with fabric using her sewing machine to upcycle pre loved fabric in her studio as if it was paint to make fabric art-scapes and bags. The fabrics they have on hand is the palette which they layer, pin then stitch. Some items are in a series, others are made just once, but each piece is an original. Art and craft in a unique interpretation but sustainable because living on an island she seeks to reduce waste as they use fabric left from a project or re-purposing the cloth from an item of clothing. As a quilter I am very geometric in my approach and rarely step outside my comfort zone. This was all about to change! On a visit back in Dec 2018. I asked if I could spend some time in her studio to nudge me outside of my comfort zones where rules didn’t exist!
I was blown away by what I saw of Deborah Tyrell’s work and we became firm friends despite the physical distance between us we stayed in regular contact either in person or via FB and the Internet. She liked my patchwork & always commented on anything new I had made, & I did the same in person when visiting the island or online because I adored her work. A lot of her art is based on Nevis landscapes, the sea, the volcano, and her lovely Nevisian ladies with hats. Her use of repurposed fabrics in her unique bags is also sensational and her designs sell worldwide. So “Play Day” day at Deborah’s studio in Fig Tree in Nevis was arranged.My husband took me there and driving directions are somewhat unusual….. but it HAD to be her house given the colours it has been painted!
I knew I had entered heaven when I saw all the boxes of fabric, unpicked zips, rescued buttons, boxes of thread, industrial sewing machines, cutting tables on breeze locks, the works in progress would blow your mind away! I wimped out on the the industrial machine, so she set me up with one of her Janome machines, and told me chuck the rule book out of the window! Such an amazing day with a truly wonderful friend!
Teensy seascape done but so liberating to go outside your own “Textile Comfort Zone” with trusted inspirational friends…. By the way, Deborah is a bit good at this so a complete joy to spend some quality fabric time with her!
What Deborah does… in awe!