Returning to Devon

Part two of our South West Coast Path Walk started with a drive up the Exe Valley to Exmoor and this time we drove over the top and looked at the views, over to the Quantocks, the Minehead headland where we started last time and the flat plain of Porlock where we ended our previous walk across the saltmarsh.

We camped right in the centre of Porlock at a nice little sight with sea views and went for a little explore that evening and tried out the local park.

The support crew gave us a lift to Porlock Weir in the morning and it looked quite different with the tide in, but we were soon on our way.

Our approach scared some lambs from the path, back under the fence to their mothers and we saw the first of many foxgloves on our way to the Toll House, where vehicles can pay for the privilege of getting to Lynmouth without having to negotiate the infamous Porlock Hill. We however, took the right hand option and the path to Culborne Church and beyond.

Whilst the path was steep in places, on the whole this stretch of the path felt flatter than last time and was mainly through woodland, with the occasional glimpse at the sea.

The path passes so close to Culborne Church that it would be rude not to poke your head inside. Especially when you know it’s going to be your last look at civilisation for a while.

We took the more coastal route and it was reasonably flat, with the odd little steep detour round a landslide. The coombes on this stretch were less dramatic, and therefore easier to navigate, we could generally hear the little streams and waterfalls before we could see them. There were still the occasional glimpses of the coast and at one The Boy even spotted a rainbow down below us.

We crossed the county line back into Devon from Somerset just before the little shrine at Sisters Fountain (where a stream emerges from the hillside), and found the boars head gateposts the guidebook mentions with ease. Soon after we hoped to have lunch with a view of the sea as the map showed we would be out of the woods, however, the rhodedendrums that have spread along this part of the coast continued to hamper our view, rendering several old benches built into the wall less tempting than they presumably were when built.

We eventually got our view and a lunch spot, and the boy celebrated by sending his Dad a text from my phone (what a great spot for a technology lesson, he’s still getting used to predictive text as he doesn’t have his own phone yet) and then it started raining! Never mind, we were soon back in amongst the trees and yet more rhodedendrums.

The rain had cleared when we finally emerged from the trees just before Foreland Point, and we decided to take a slight detour round the headland to see the lighthouse. The views there were spectacular, but the path from the lighthouse round the far side of the headland was little more than a goat track on a steep hillside and had a couple of warning signs to boot. It felt far too risky to me, so we retraced our steps back and went over the top of the headland instead.

Finally we could see Lynmouth and it was only two miles away, nearly there and all downhill, this is the easy bit I thought.

But it was pretty windy on that headland and we were basically walking along a narrow path along a steep cliff with nothing to break our fall if we slipped. I was pretty terrified most of the way down until we reached the wooded lower slopes.

The support crew were patiently waiting for us we came out onto the beach, having already scoped out the toilets and a likely looking fish and chip shop, and we all had tea there before heading back to the van, which was parked near a slightly depressing sign informing us that we had come 20 miles from Minehead and still had 609 to go to Poole. We didn’t even actually complete the suggested days walk, which was due to end up the hill in Lynton.

It was a slightly frazzled trip to the next campsite, in trying to avoid some of the steepest hills but still find a cashpoint in the middle of nowhere, we somehow ended up going round in circles for a while, and backseat navigators with Asperger’s are not the most calming people to have around in such situations, but we got there in the end and the kids even got to toast marshmallows. The real treat though, was the breakfast fritatta that LSH made the next morning in his new Dutch Oven, which was The Best Camping Breakfast Ever.

We love trains

Behold, the Trains Pride T shirt…


..the subtler, ironic and more colourful version of the Stonewall “Some people are trans get over it” t shirt.

Confused?  Take 2 minutes to read this article explaining it all, cos I’m not really qualified to explain, don’t worry, I’ll wait…

… all aboard now?


Anyway, this one off was brought to you via the Thread Theory Strathcona T shirt Pattern, some lovely, quality knit fabric the staff at my Local Fabric Shop have finally persuaded their buyer it’s worth getting, and a lot of hard work from yours truly.

There isn’t a pocket with that t shirt design, so I self drafted one, and used a freezer paper stencil to apply the iconic British Rail logo.  (If you’re wondering why that freezer paper has writing all over it, I tried out a company that prints sewing patterns onto A0 and sends them through the post (because my local print shop is prohibitively expensive).  With my order they sent a piece of freezer paper with it advertising a new “Thermo (Iron on) Adhesive Pattern” service, which I cannibalised to make this stencil.)

I’m pretty pleased with how this came out (apart from the one glaring error that no-one who doesn’t sew will ever spot) and I’m glad I took the time to trace 2 pattern pieces for the sleeves too so that the stripes run across. (Yup, this t shirt had 10 pattern pieces, 3 each for the front and back, 2 for the sleeves, plus the neckband and the pocket. I drew the seam lines at the 1/3 points on the front and back pattern pieces and added seam allowances when I traced them. I measured how far below the armpit the seamline between the pale and dark green was and used that to figure out where to draw the matching seamline on my sleeve piece).

Now to post it off to my friend along with this bonus double sided circular scarf.

Messing about on the river

My son loves prints as much as he loves colours and it’s so hard to find boyish ones, or rather, not girly ones, so I tend to snatch them up when I stumble across them.

A while ago I bought this boat print, which is very lovely, but the long sleeved ADV T I made it into hasn’t got worn so much, on reflection the design is probably a bit young for him, or maybe just not his thing.


With the remnants of the long sleeve T I started making a short sleeved negative version shortly after this was finished. (I used turquoise ribbing for the neckband, the closest match I had, I didn’t want lots of bits of boats there!)


I had to piece the back as I didn’t have enough red left and I foolishly decided to applique a boat on it whilst I was at it to match the print. It looked naff. My son loved it and wanted me to make it the front, which a) I didn’t want to do and b) would’ve been very complicated. So it languished in a pile for far too long, until I unearthed it in April when I joined in with the Sew Alongs and Sewing Contests UFO Purge.


After a brief try at sprucing up the applique, in the end I just manged to re-piece the back out of red remnants so it was plain red. Phew. After that it was a quick finish.

I wasn’t sure how much it’d be worn though, however, there was a lot of the boat fabric left and still a little red, so I made up some matching Domi shorts to make a summer pj set.  I even retraced them in the next size up.


Night Night!

Another shorts hack

Anyone spot the deliberate error?  My short posts went 1, 2, 4  and that was not because I’m into doubling, but rather because I missed a pair out.  When we went looking for shorts inspiration last summer, whilst the Girls favourite were the scalloped hem ones, I rather liked these ones with a gathered hem and tulip pockets from Ottobre 03/2017.

They also didn’t go up to her size, so I hacked these too.

I used some red linen left over from trousers I made myself and I reckon I did a pretty good job, right?

I had the benefit of having the Ottobre pattern piece to hand and I used this when hacking the shorts. I started with the City Gym Shorts pattern again, which is the white paper on top, the pattern I ended up with is the brown underneath. This first pic is trying to show you that the crotch seams are the same on both patterns. Also there is a little extra wedge on the inseam at the front (left hand pic). I was following the lines of the Ottobre pattern.

Then I kind of swung the pattern out a bit so that the waistband line of the city gym shorts matched the angle of the waistband on the Ottobre ones and used the width of the City Gym Shorts waistband and traced down the side seam from there. This creates extra fullness which is then gathered in by sewing a casing and threading a drawstring through I was just kind of making it up as I went along. Also, like on the scalloped shorts I straightened the edge and lengthened them slightly. The extra length is to allow for the casing.


As on the scalloped shorts, the order of construction needs changing around, sewing up the side seams first so that you have a nice flat surface to attach the pocket too. For the pocket I just used the template from the actual pattern. You cut two for each pocket, sew them right sides together leaving a gap, then turn them. The top zig zag portion is topstitched before they’re sewn on.  The elasticated waistband is just done like the City Gym shorts

City Gym Shorts part 4

So, after failing to make my daughter some scalloped edged shorts last year, this year I finally got around to it.  I traced the next size up of the City Gym pattern, cos whilst last years pairs still fit her, she does still keep growing and had pointed out to me herself that they wouldn’t fit forever. Whilst I was at it I added 2″ to the pattern length at the lengthen line (on both front and back pieces, obviously) and straightened the edges to lose the signature curve at the bottom. I also added pockets as before.


Construction wise, I started with those front hip pockets, except this time around I sewed the opening right sides together before grading my seam allowance, understitching and topstitching, as I wasn’t using bias binding.


Then I sewed the fronts to the backs along the side seam. I chose to use a 1/4″ seam allowance, like the pattern suggests for the crotch seam, and figures that way I didn’t have to add any extra seam allowance (when constructed as per instructions, that side seam is made by overlapping the bias bound front and back edges).  It was even narrower than my usual 1cm default. I finished by zig zagging with my overlocker foot on my sewing machine and topstitching the seam allowance down.

Next up I drafted a facing piece the width of the bottom of the short leg and about two inches deep and cut two of these out. Then I folded over the pattern piece paper doll style (after folding over the seam allowance) and cut out an arch.

That gave me a scallop template to trace onto my facing. I hemmed the other side of my facing before pining it to my shorts and stitching along the scalloped line. Then I trimmed, turned the facing and hand tacked everything in place so I could give it a good press.


Finally I unpicked my tacking and topsitched the edge of the scallops. Then  I added a second line of scalloped stitching, mainly to hold the top of the facing in place as I wasn’t liking the other options I could think of to do that (either a straight line of machine stitching going across, or hand finishing on the inside). I’m rather pleased with how they turned out.


After that the shorts finished up pretty quickly, sewing the crotch seams, inside leg and adding a waistband.


I’m pretty pleased with the result, which definitely has some growing room, and I don’t think you’d guess what pattern I’d used, they look so different from the original.  She is more reticent with her feedback, but as she’s wearing them the day after they’re finished I’m taking that as a win. She even was persuaded (just) to read standing up for a minute so that I could photograph them.


City Gym Shorts – parts 1 and 2

Last summer, The Girl and I went through her wardrobe to see what gaps there were and we noticed a shortage of shorts (so to speak).   So, we sat and went through my Ottobre magazines and she picked out these scalloped edge shorts from 01/2017.

Except when I measured up they didn’t go up to her size. So whilst I pondered over how to hack them, I made up some City Gym Shorts from the free pattern from Purl Soho. She only just fit into the largest measurements for the largest child pattern, so I used the smallest adult one instead. As they were a trial pair I  was determined to use something from stash and I just squeezed them out most of a fat quarter of fabric that I had only used a couple of strips from (for a communal quilting project, I was the turquoise row). I had to piece one of the back pieces at the top to make it work but in the end that is mainly hidden in the waistband seam allowance. I trimmed them in satin bias binding (which looked ace at the time but has pilled with wear).


The result?  She loves these shorts, declaring them her Peacock Shorts of Power (apparently when wearing them she can control all the peacocks in the world, not a superpower that had ever occurred to me).  She wore them All The Time and moaned when they were in the wash. Not bad considering that I was worried she wouldn’t wear them at all as the background of the fabric is black. Anyway, I said we could go back to the shop and buy some more of that fabric and I’d make her a second pair, maybe with a different colour trim. But of course, they didn’t have any more of that fabric left in the shop, so after a long time, she finally chose some navy blue fabric with bears, foxes, dear, birds, squirrels and rabbits on instead. She was particularly taken with the gold highlights I think.

Second time around I hacked them to have pockets, I was rather kicking myself for not doing this the first time to be honest. I just freehanded a pocket pattern piece that fit the fronts (making sure there was seam allowance included on that long curved L shape) and used that to cut my pocket piece.  Then I folded the corner of that piece over to make my pocket facing pattern piece and folded the front pattern piece over the corresponding amount to make the the pocket opening before cutting out.  I had a mere sliver of fabric left after cutting out and one of my pockets is pieced and one of the facings is cut crossgrain, it was so satisfying to make this work with negligable waste.

Once everything was cut out I attached the pocket pieces to the front along the opening wrong sides together then finished with bias binding (satin again, this was too soon after the first pair to realise it wouldn’t wear well). Then I sewed my pocket piece to the facing, finished the seam allowance, then tacked the pockets to the front piece at the top and side within the seam allowance. Then I proceeded as normal with construction, and voila.

Pair number two were nearly as successful as the first ones, but aren’t quite as popular despite the fact that you can control Even More animals in them AND they have pockets. Sometimes you just strike it lucky first time!







Starting a New Kind of Project

I have had an idea for a new kind of project brewing for a while and last week I made a snap decision to make a start. The Boy decided to get involved, I roped in LSH to help and The Girl and The Dog got dragged along for the ride.


So What Is This Project?  Walking the South West Coast Path, which goes from Minehead in Somerset, along the North Devon and Cornwall Coasts, back along the South Cornwall and South Devon coasts, then along the Dorset coast to South Haven Point, a whopping 630 miles in total. There are suggested ways of breaking this into 30, 46 and 82 day walks, but we’re starting off working from the standard 52 day list, although we won’t be tackling it in 8 weeks solid, I think a weeks worth of walks a year for 8 consecutive years will be challenging enough for us.

I’ve been musing on doing this for while, from when The Boy and I walked a couple of sections previously, and when someone gave me Walking Away as a present, and my brothers tales of walking the John Muir Way near his home in Scotland, but in the end, it was the fact that we had a bank holiday weekend coming up with nothing planned that spurred me into action.

After sorting and packing the camper van, we had brunch on Sunday and then drove from up the Exe Valley, through Tiverton and on through Exmoor to Minehead. When the iconic headland came into view LSH told The Boy “You’ll be walking up that tomorrow” and I thought “Eek, what have I done”.

We’d booked in a nice little campsite that allowed vans and kids and dogs and after settling in and making daisy chains we walked into Minehead to explore. I didn’t think much of the town itself, all Poundland style shops and not much else, but the kids had fun on the beach while I took The Dog (who was Not Allowed on the beach, it being high season now) past the harbour to explore the grassland at the start of the coast path. Eventually the rest of the family caught us up and then we all walked back to the campsite following a stream through some parks most of the way, ate and got an early night (well, for adults at least, later than usual for the Kids but there is no point trying to get them to sleep before dark on a campsite).

In the morning we had a cooked breakfast and packed up the van in record time and then drove down to have the obligatory photo taken by the statue that marks the beginning/end of the walk. Then LSH drove the van 2 minutes to the carpark whilst the rest of us walked. I’d been reading the everyone the initial chapters of Walking Away at the campsite so The Girl made us a sign to match the one Simon Armitage got. And then we all walked across the meadow and into the trees. But as the path turned steep, The Girl refused to go any further (despite their being a perfectly nice circular walk around the headland that starts on the SWCP) and it was time to say goodbyes.

The walk up the headland was steep, but the lovely woodland provided welcome shade from the heatwave we were having. Going was slow as I stopped to take photo’s and The Boy stopped to look at boats through his binoculars and kept wanting to look at the map. We were walking just as the ferns were getting ready to unfurl and I thought they looked like alien lifeforms.

We also found a “cave of bees” (several bumble bee’s going in and out of the holes in the rock, moving too fast for me to photograph), and puzzled over the many short branches coming diagonally of the track leading straight to the steep cliff.

Once up the top onto Exmoor, we chose the “rugged” alternative that hugs the coast and gave us spectacular views down the cliff to the see where we could see the sea mist / clouds below us (there was a bit of a debate on that one) and a shoal of fish moving around and breaking the surface. There were several coombes (steep sided valleys) to cross and a long straightish stretch where it was hard to tell how far along we were and The Boy starting worrying aloud that we had fallen onto an Infinite Path and would have to chose between eventually starving to death or plummiting to our doom off the cliffs when despair overtook us. There were lots of pretty flowers for me to take photo’s of, including some blue bells, which I associate more with woodlands than clifftops.

We did make it to the other side of Exmoor though and then down a really steep slope that I found very unpleasant to negotiate and a short detour to Hurlstone Point, where we finished our lunch and The Boy expolored the ruin, clambered on the rocks and saw a lizard a bit like this. Then after rejoining the path there was a short stretch through the lovely shade of the woods and along the river to Bossington (stopping to try out the tyre swing obviously) where there was a carpark with a  toilet, bliss!

We bought some apple juice from a farmhouse guarded by a large owl sculputre, then walked through the slightly eerie saltmarsh which was previously farmland but there is a managed retreat happening after a big breach of the natural shingle ridge that protected the farmland from the sea. The dead trees reminded me of the famous Salvadore Dali painting of Swans reflecting Elephants.

Thanks to the wonders of modern technology the Support Team came to meet us and walked the last bit of the saltmarsh and across the shingles to Porlock Wier with us, where we celebrated with icecreams. Then a very tired family set off for home, with a short stop for sustenance on the way.

So, 8.9 miles done, I guess that leaves 621.1 to go.