Mildred is my bright blue Citroen C3 Picasso, who used to be driven by my late 93 yr old mother. Mildred is a bit like me ….getting on a bit in age, strange shape, usually reliable and has attitude with a capital kick ass “A” …. Mildred is more than somewhat tetchy at the moment … She has gone nowhere since her driver got “Shielded”. Mildred is beyond Grumpy as she hasn’t moved now for 8 months, no jolly jaunts or adventures that I could blog or write about as “Mildred’s Marvelous Meandering Musings”. I am fed up her glaring at me through the front window saying….. “Where are all these promised Marvelous Mildred blogs then?” … so OK Mildred just for you I will try a bit harder.



My previous blogs can be found HERE

I had bought an old pair of curtains in a charity shop for £3.50 to line another large beach bag I was making for a holiday that had been booked in Fujairah in the summer of 2018. 

“Where?” …. Yup that was pretty well my reaction as well? I thought it must be somewhere in Portugal, how wrong I was! 

It is in the United Arab Emirates about a hour and a half across the desert from Dubai, and we are talking proper hot dry dusty desert. It is one of the 7 emirates and on the Gulf of Oman. This does not however really reduce the temperature on the coast that much, and we were of course going at the hottest time of the year where daily temperatures are around 110 to 120 degrees Fahrenheit, with the night time low being between 88 and 90 degrees Fahrenheit. There is zero precipitation either at that time of year either.

I was waiting for a date for scheduled major surgery and my husband wanted us to go away while we still could, and he had seen an excellent review of a new Intercontinental 5 star Luxury Hotel that had just opened at very attractive prices. Once I knew where it was, I pointed out what the temperatures would be. He reminded me that I had coped with the heat in Dubai for my 50th Birthday many years ago, and I knew at least there would be air conditioning inside. To be fair the flight on an Emirates double decker Airbus was brilliant. I really loved the afternoon cream tea with hot scones and clotted cream in  particular.

The hotel and the service was more than outstanding. The food was incredible and the pool and comfy 4 poster double sun beds were amazing,  but OMG was it hot! There isn’t anything near the hotel apart from a petrol station and it was a tad hot to go anywhere anyway. I did use the hotel grounds for a photo shoot of my co-ordinating beach bags though, it would have been rude not to!

Interestingly more people have heard of Fujairah in more recent times because it is directly opposite the port of Jask in Iran, across the Strait of Hormuz, and there were several attacks on merchant shipping and oil tankers in 2019 culminating in extreme tension in the Middle East.

I was using a quilting fabric by Robert Kauffman called “The Red Sea” for the outside of my beach bag. I was about to embroider and quilt it at the time using my fancy machine stitches, so I was looking for a lining in the local charity shops. I carry colours quite well in my head to match, even if I don’t have the original with me at the time. I just thought the hues were similar and although obviously a completely different design it seemed to be an OK match colour wise.

In the picture above you can see the embroidery stitches from my machine in King Tut variegated thread. The picture below shows the finished bag with the curtain fabric lining.

I had sewing play date with a friend in spring 2018 in her beautiful garden, she is an amazing textile artist, freestyle machine embroidery, screen printing, mixed media techniques, rope bowls, crazy quilts etc ….. but she also makes fabulous reversible fabric bags too, from old jeans, sample books from curtain companies, basically anything she can recycle. My friend said I needed a thicker cotton than the normal quilting cotton that I normally use, to do this bag for our lesson. I chopped up 1/2 of the curtain that I had bought from the charity shop leaving plenty for the original bag I was making for my holiday.

The one my friend was teaching me is called the Mondo Bag and several sources on the internet are available to either see videos or read tutorials. I got a lesson in how to make this particular bag. It looks simple but it takes a bit of concentration getting your head around the construction. I don’t think I would have managed it the first time though without her patient mentoring.

I am now looking at how I could do the 4 outside panels in patchwork ….. I taught her some more basic patchwork techniques that I use … So win win ….

So where does Geraldine the 8 foot giraffe come into this story?

My late mother … bless her … she really collected some bonkers stuff ….well she did and my Daddy just said “Yes Dear” … Nowhere to put Geraldine in our house apart from the garden … along with the wooden Cheetah’s, Leopards & goodness knows what else! Despite many lashing of varnish Geraldine the Giraffe is looking a bit flakey now ….  

My Mummy used to paint most of what she collected in gloss paint … this one thankfully escaped! The usual paint was Dulux Gloss …..usually red or navy blue …. On uninspiring days it was white gloss paint and on a special day it was even yellow! She cut legs off Chippendale Cabinets so they would fit in the shed for Daddy’s tools. She even gloss painted early antique Portmerion vases, to be perfectly honest she pretty well glossed everything.  But now we celebrate the somewhat unusual things she didn’t gloss in our garden! They are in good company because we hang old unused chandeliers off tree branches. Why?  Well just because we can! 


Oh yes and that is not actually a summer dress, it is a surgical gown made out of Dr Who licensed fabric with side ties and popper shoulders for drips and drains etc. A whole new meaning for a wrap dress. It was made by a friend of mine for my then pending major thoracic surgery. Sadly the Dr Who fabric I had purchased could not be used for any charity quilting venture because of its licence restrictions which prevented not just commercial but charity usage as well, which is a shame. That is not the reason for the picture though, it is to show crystal chandeliers hanging off trees, a wooden cheetah being over run with ivy and two large triffids made from recycled copper immersion tanks. Yep…. I am Bonkers! When the Surgeons and Anaesthetists saw what I was wearing for my operation they all wanted photo’s…. they cracked up when they saw it bless them.

The pictures below show the raffle prize for a zero packaging shop locally that was opening as a pop up in a local community centre. It had bright tropical fruits on the outside and bananas inside with zipped pockets for cash and keys. I hung it from Geraldine to give a close up on the handle. This had batting inside the handle and fun embroidery stitches from my Pfaff Performance 5 to decorate and strengthen the handle using variegated thread. 


This is Geraldine in her element, prancing and posing with my holiday Mondo Bag. I used the same technique on the handles, fancy inbuilt stitches from my machine to quilt and decorate the padded handle.


I live in a small market town in Oxfordshire called Faringdon. The reason for calling the giraffe “Geraldine” is after Gerald, a titled eccentric who had lived in Faringdon House, who had a pet giraffe. Famous for building the last Folly in the UK, he was rather strange, dying his doves pink with vegetable dye, a tradition which still happens In the town today. He was Gerald Hugh Tyrwhitt-Wilson, 14th Baron Berners. He died in 1950 and was also known as Gerald Tyrwhitt. He was a British composer, novelist, painter and aesthete. He is usually referred to as Lord Berners. 


He had a pet giraffe and was more than happy to have a horse to afternoon tea. 


In 1935 he built the Folly tower as a birthday present for his young companion , Robert Heber-Percy.  



His visitors book must have made interesting reading with friends ranging from Aldous Huxley, HG Wells, Salvador Dali, Gertrude Stein, Edith Sitwell, Nancy Mitford, Stravinsky, Diaghilev, Diana Mosley, Cecil Beaton, Evelyn Waugh, Duff Coopers, John & Penelope Betjeman, to Elsa Schiaparelli. Berner’s themed parties were apparently legendary.

During one of his visits and for a bet Salvador Dali walked down to the town in a full divers suit, an event which has been commemorated with a recent addition to a stone bench in the town.