Playful Pinwheels Quilt – Love Patchwork and Quilting Magazine Issue 36

Julie Rutter-1

Playful Pinwheels Quilt

I’m really pleased to be able to share my Playful Pinwheels Quilt which features in Love Patchwork and Quilting Magazine Issue 36 – out today!  I’d had a quilt along the lines of the eventual design in mind for quite some time but it took a bit of jiggling around to get the final layout.  All the fabrics on the quilt top are from Art Gallery Fabrics, mostly from Happy Home by Caroline Hulse.  I very quickly settled on this fabric line for the quilt, I love the very summery colours in Happy Home which give a bright and happy feel but aren’t too loud or overwhelming. Art Gallery Fabrics uses a particularly high thread count and fine weave in their fabric and the result is a very soft and smooth cotton.  It is beautiful to work with (I can’t wait to get this quilt home again!).

The finished Playful Pinwheels Quilt is 87 1/2 inches square…..I love the 1/2 inch measure in such a big quilt (it fits a king size bed) but if pieced accurately it really should end up that size!  Its pretty straightforward although I was fairly careful about print and pattern placement especially for 5 focus blocks and so piecing with them in mind required a bit of concentration.  Otherwise there’s a lot of sewing together off-white strips involved!

Do let me know if you ever make one, I’d really love to know!

Swakopmund to Brandberg

wlotzkasbaken north of swakopmund wlotzkasbaken fishing holiday village wlotskasbaken namibian coastal fishing village zeila shipwreck south of henties bay islay and zeila shipwreckHere’s the next instalment from our travels in Namibia last summer.  On leaving Swakopmund we set off north and inland for Brandberg.  We were really surprised to find the small settlement of Wlotzkasbaken further up the coast.  It appeared out of nowhere and was the strangest looking place.  We couldn’t help but pull into it to drive around – we saw no signs of life although there are, apparently, a handful of people who do live there permanently.  The 106 plots (or ‘erven’ to use the Southern African term) are primarily holiday houses and their owners come for the sea fishing. The properties are all self-built and there is no electricity or water so each household has to be self-sufficient (each property had at least one water tower to hold the water that comes in by lorry) and privacy is maintained by distance rather than walls and fences, bondaries being marked by stones.  It was a fascinating 5 minute detour on the otherwise deserted stretch of coast!

We made another quick stop to look at the Zelia, a shipwreck from 2008.  It looked very ghostly and haunting on an overcast day with the breakers, as always, rolling in.

brandberg white lady lodge chaletscamelthorn trees brandbergbrandberg scenemoon and first start brandberg sunset

Driving inland we started passing through small rural villages and clusters of houses with people living a very traditional way of life.  There were a few roadside stalls selling necklaces and decorations made with seedpods, small pieces of wood and so on.  We spent a night at Brandberg White Lady Lodge, close to the bottom of Brandberg Mountain which rises around 2600m from the flat Namib gravel plains.  The biggest mountain in Namibia, it is a mass of a hill rising out of the plain and was visible for miles around.  The White Lady Lodge is community run and was a great place to stay – staff were transported back their homesteads by donkey cart in the evening!  Brandberg means Fire Mountain and the sunset and views we had that afternoon and evening certainly lived up to the name.

brandbery cave painting figures brandberg white lady cave painting brandberg bushmen paintings

A short distance from the lodge is the White Lady rock painting, the most famous of more than 45000 rock paintings in the area (spread across around 1000 sites).  The walk up to the site takes around an hour (a rough, hot and sticky walk) and was a beautiful way to explore a little of the mountain.  Dassies were much in evidence and we saw leaopard tracks on the way back down.  The White Lady is a protected heritage site and you can’t access it without being accompanied by a local trained guide – this seemed a great way to protect the fragile paintings as well as provide employment for local people.  The White Lady painting itself (middle picture above), of a white figure holding a bow and arrow, is now agreed to be a man, probably a shaman (medicine man), and is thought to be bushman art from at least 2000 years ago.

brandberg white lady chalet brandberg mountain wood fired water heater brandberg camelthorn trees meerkat cuddles

We were woken very early the next morning by Red-billed Frankolin calling outside the window…..and by the noise of the wood-fired water heater being lit behind the cabin (middle photo above) –  we had hot running water courtesy of a wee wood stove!  We didn’t see the desert elephant who frequently pass through the site but we thoroughly enjoyed meeting the pair of meerkats who live in the main lodge building (it is quite common for orphaned or lost meerkat to be taken in as they are very good at keeping property free of scorpions and snakes).  We had seen them when we arrived the day before, when they were busy scurrying around, but in the morning they wanted to sit in the sun which was pouring through a window and were very happy to snuggle up………making the sweetest noises all the while.  Angus is our greatest animal lover and he ended up with one fast asleep on his knee – a very happy boy.  When we left they were both making their way out of the lodge looking very purposeful and, we think, heading off for a morning’s hunting.

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Windhoek to Swakopmund

roadside cattle c28 windhoek to swkopmund

Well, I haven’t made a good job of finishing the story of our Southern African trip from last summer have I?  Despite it now being almost a year since we set off I really do want to finish up – the whole trip was very special and Namibia was such an incredible country to visit that I really feel I should share the trip online (I would be so happy to think I might light a wee spark in someone who in due course was able to visit too).  But if you’re here to read about crafting and Scotland then please do switch off!

Last time I told about our huge drive from Capetown to Windhoek.  After a lovely reunion with my parents in Windhoek, which felt very big and civilised after the empty country* we had spent several days driving through (although in reality it is a tiny wee capital city) we set off the following morning for Swkopmund.  Mum and dad had picked up a hire car at the airport which meant we were able to ease-up on the very careful packing we’d needed to fit everything into their Landrover until then.  From then, John and I plus 2 of the children travelled in the hire car and mum and dad took whichever 2 children looked like they’d be most amenable on any given day!

There was an initial hiccup as it took quite a search and several petrol stations to track down one which had diesel for the Landrover.  John and I got as far as wondering if we’d have to shuttle fuel back from Swakopmund, although we couldn’t be sure at that stage if there would be any there either.  Eventually they tracked some down and we had no further problems thereafter so it seemed to be a temporary hiccup, we were however careful to keep tanks as full as possible and refuel when we could, petrol stations were few and far between at times.

We chose to drive the c28 to Swakopmund.  It is the shortest route – certainly not the fastest, but definitely scenic.  The 300km route is mostly gravel and passes through high altitude rolling cattle farming country before dropping very steeply down the Bosua Pass to the plains of the northen Namib Desert, the Namib-Naukluft National Park (1700m right down to almost sea level).  I’ve read that it is one of the least travelled roads in the world (but I think there must be quieter roads out there) and that fewer than 10 cars use it per day, which I imagine is correct………I think we saw 2 other cars in the several hours it took us to make the journey.  The farms along this road were very well scattered, each being several kilometres apart and generally the homestead was several kilometres from the road – I couldn’t help wondering about the lives of the farmers and the people who worked for them, they must have to be very self-sufficient.

cattle and windmill c28 windhoek to swakopmund c28 sceneryc28 windhoek to swakopmund We didn’t tend to travel in convoy but on all the longer journeys found that there were natural stopping points and whoever was in front would wait.  This time we stopped once we hit the plains and had entered the National Park.  We immediately saw our first large animals including beautiful Gemsbok, a kind of Oryx.  They were quite a long way off but it was good to feel that we had reached some wild land.  The Namib-Naukluft is the largest nature reserve in Africa and the fourth largest in the world.  This day we just skimmed through to get to Swakopmund.

namib-naukfluft national park - picnic time picnic time namib-naukluft national park namib-naukluft national parkSwakopmund is a large coastal town founded in the 1890s as a port for the German Colony (the nearby deep-water port, Walvis Bay, was in British control).  It’s a very strange place, sandwiched between the Namib Desert and the vast Atlantic Ocean and entirely dependent on fresh water channelled from inland.  The German colonial architecture is lovely and the whole place has a laid-back holiday feel.  We enjoyed it as a base for some exploring and over the next couple of days mixed and matched some tours between us all.

pelican walvis bay pelican colours me and finn - wrapped up heavyside dolphin walvis bay cape fur seals walvis bay cormorants walvis bayThe boys, dad and I took a boat trip from Walvis Bay – which we found to be an even more strange town.  It felt very industrial and is centred around the deep-water port, still important today as the only real port between Luderitz (southern Namibia) and Luanda (Angola) – as you’ll see from the photo of Finn and me, it wasn’t all that warm out on the water!  The trip was a lot of fun and key sightings included pelicans, bottlenose dolphins (the same species that we see here on the Black Isle), heaviside’s dolphins, cape fur seals and cormorants.  All are shown above apart from the heaviside’s dolphins who I hadn’t heard of before the trip.  They’re a very small dolphin and somehow seemed much ‘prettier’ than the bottlenose.  They have a very small range only being found off the west coast of Namibia and South Africa.  The bottlenose dolphins were very playful, riding the bow-wave of the boat and flipping jellyfish with their tails – this happened more than once so I’m sure it was for fun rather than accidental!  The pelicans were fascinating, strangely unattractive and attractive at the same time.  I hadn’t realised quite how pretty their colours are.

sand dunes sandwich bay sand and dune walvis bay to sandwich bay namibian dunes sanwich bay

Mum, dad and Angus took a trip south of Walvis Bay towards Sandwich Harbour.  This requires a 4WD to travel south between the shore and massive dunes. They loved this trip but were a little disappointed not to get quite to Sandwich Harbour which is famous for it’s birdlife.

township street scene namibia swakopmund township street swakopmund township housing swakopmund township food stall girls on township tourswakop township

Meanwhile John and the girls enjoyed a tour of Mondesa Township, outside Swakopmund.  They visited a food stall, orphanage and local house all of which was an eye opener for Islay – as was trying Mopane (Omagungu) worms which are a local delicacy!  More people live in the township than in Swakopmund itself and, while there is a dark past, on the whole it was a thriving community.

I think that’s probably enough for now.  The whole trip seems a lifetime away today – the wind is howling and rain has been coming down in sheets at times.  We are so lucky to have such wonderful memories.  Do you have any particular trips which stand out to you?

*The fact that we managed not to realise that we’d come through a time change when crossing into Namibia perhaps indicates quite how removed from technology and the ‘normal’ world we had been………we discovered when we joined mum and dad, after some confused conversations about what time we should eat that night, that we had spent the last 3 days working 1 hour ahead of actual Namibian time.  That probably explained some slight surprise when we turned up for breakfast shortly before, what we now know was, 7am in Keetmans ……we’re early risers, but so are southern Africans in general, so we were puzzled that breakfast didn’t seem to be in full swing when we’d waited specially not to be too early!

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