Newcastle – A New Perspective

Over the weekend I took part in my first Meetups activity and partook of a street photography walking tour of Newcastle City. We only covered about 2 blocks in about 1 – 1.5 hours and I must admit it, it was something of an eye-opener. I took time to really take notice what was around me; to look up as well as what was in front of me and to really see (I got so immersed in my photographing that I was nearly run over).

We started our outing in Market Street, by the new Post Office and walked east up the mall to Bolton Street and then back along Scott Street to complete the loop.

Newcastle has some amazing architecture (I’ve always known that),

The once glorious old sandstone post office building:

oldpostoffice the art deco buildings:

cityarcade artdecobuildingdetail

gloriouscolumns but there is also some great graffiti art:

morganst_graffiti honeycafewall

There is so much development going on in Newcastle at the moment – it’s a great opportunity to get out, explore the city and to document some of those changes, and to see things you perhaps have never noticed before.

Like the sandstone figures adorning the old Longworth Institute building in Scott Street:

I feel like this some days!

I feel like this some days!

I actually really enjoyed my afternoon out – I meet a couple of new people who share an interest in photography and I saw my city from a different perspective.

Here are a few of my favourite images that I thought I would share with you.

Who doesn't love an orange door!

Who doesn’t love an orange door!

 

 

A Stairway to Heaven?

A Stairway to Heaven?

 

Reflected buildings!

Reflected buildings!

 

I really do love the city in which I live, and I feel privileged to live right amongst it where it’s not too far to walk to anywhere really.

It’s been quite a while since I have posted anything on my blog (there have been a few reasons for that, which I may include in future blogs, but for now, it’s good to be back writing again). I hope you enjoy it and come visit again!

Steaming into life…

A visit to Steamfest, Maitland 2016

It’s been quite a while since I last did a blog post (3 months, in fact). I could name any number of reasons why I haven’t posted; in moving back from the US, I found my life had returned to being something like ordinary, mundane, boring even. I felt like there was nothing interesting happening, no adventure in my life and thought I had nothing worth writing about. However, when it comes down to it – I just couldn’t bring myself to do it – the fact was I was feeling a bit low and found I was struggling a little with settling back into life in my own hometown – not being able to move back into our own home didn’t help matters either. I found myself starting to move into depression despite efforts to look for all the positives in my life – I still had a job, and I wasn’t living out of my car, for instance. Anyway, moving past that I am trying to get back to the life I want to live. This weekend we did something interesting and went to take a look at “Steamfest” – I thought I might share some of the experience with you.

Steamfest signage at Maitland train station

Steamfest is a festival celebrating steam, of course. But the highlight of the festival is the return to the railway tracks of the old steam locomotives, which brings thousands of visitors to Maitland railway station and surrounds. The event brings by steam engines from the Canberra Railway MuseumPowerhouse Museum and Trainworks Railway Museum and rail motors from the Rail Motor Society.

Steamfest began in 1986 after the last coal operated steam hauled freight service in Australia on the South Maitland Railway Line closed in 1983. This year marked the event’s 30th anniversary. Steamfest is held over 2 days in April every year at Maitland in the Hunter Valley region of NSW. There are plenty of activities to keep everyone in the family entertained, but especially those who appreciate the age of steam on the railway tracks.

Steam Engine 6029 - “The Garratt”

Steam Engine 6029 – “The Garratt”

During the festival, over both days, it is possible to take a trip in one of the old steam trains. From Maitland train station you can take a trip to Branxton, Barrington, Singleton, Broadmeadow and do the Port Waratah Coal Run. Next year I would really like to do one of these trips – maybe the Port Waratah Coal run!

There are some great steam displays, featuring antique machinery, market stalls and of course, the wonderful steam engines as well as some of the old Rail Motors, including the old “red ratlers”.

RedRatler

A “Red Ratler”

You can also take a helicopter joy flight over the area. On the Sunday there was also a Show’n’Shine featuring classic cars, hot rods and motorbikes as well as live music and rock and roll dancing.

The highlight of the festival every year is the Great Train Race between one of the steam trains and a Tiger Moth; this year however, there were four steam engines involved – racing each other, as well as four Tiger Moths in the skies above.

2 of the 4 Tiger Moths taking part in the Great Race at Steamfest 2016

2 of the 4 Tiger Moths taking part in the Great Train Race 

This had never been done before on such a scale. It is possible to buy tickets and take part in the race on the trains; however, if you miss out on a ticket you can view the trains from any number of vantage points (overhead bridges, train stations and pedestrian overpasses) along the route. I didn’t get a ticket (maybe next year), so I watched them go by at a nearby train station; what a great thrill it was to be able to witness a part of it.

3 of the 4 steam engines approaching the station

Only 3 of the 4 steam engines visible as they approach the station

I can recommend a visit to Steamfest, and the best thing – it’s free. You only have to pay for tickets for a train ride if you want one, or a nominal $2 charge for entry to the Rally Ground where all things steam were on display, including:

a genuine steam roller-

SteamRoller

a steam wagon-

Steam Wagon

“Sooty”, the steam tractor-

Sooty

and miniature steam trains that the whole family can take a ride on-

So, if you ever find yourself in the Hunter Valley region of NSW in April, why not go along!

A visit to Hunter Valley Gardens!

Yesterday (Saturday), I decided it was time to take a break from the stresses and frustrations imposed upon us for the past couple of months.

HVG_sign I was keen to revisit Hunter Valley Gardens, particularly since they had a Mega Creatures exhibition of large animatronic bugs and dinosaurs, which is scheduled to close in 3 days time. I loved the “Gigantabugs” exhibit at Fort Worth Zoo (read about that in my newsletter for Fort Worth), which we visited in July of 2014, so I was interested to see how they would compare.

There were some interesting displays, particularly the dinosaurs, and we heard several squeals of delight from some of the kiddies about.

HVG_T-rex I do think that the display we saw at Fort Worth Zoo, was probably a bit of cut above what we saw at Hunter Valley Gardens (HVG), but overall the Mega Creatures display was still entertaining.

HVG_fly

The day we visited Hunter Valley Gardens (HVG), was a day following a terrible overnight storm, so the gardens were no where near their best, and a few of the feature gardens (I note the “Rose Garden” in particular) looked a bit drab (probably due to all the rain and bad weather we have experienced recently). However, there is plenty to see and there are often special events hosted by the gardens. Entry cost is $28 per adult and $17 per child (family tickets are available). Allow 2-3 hours to walk around and explore and admire what the gardens have to offer. There is also a café on site if you really need a bite to eat or a rest and a coffee, but if you are looking for more of a good meal – head to one of the innumerable restaurants around the vineyards – there are many fabulous places to eat (but if you are visiting as a family with children, then the cafe in the gardens is fine). If it’s just adults visiting, my advice would be to visit the gardens before or after lunch. Although, HVG is no Dallas Arboretum, it can hold it’s own in the garden tourist-attraction stakes in Australia.

HVG_Hibiscus

HVG is situated at Pokolbin, in the heart of wine country in the Hunter Valley of NSW. The gardens are relatively quite young, being completed in 2003 after 4 years worth of construction on land that was originally horse paddocks and vineyards. The gardens cover an area of 60 acres and are made up of 6,000 trees, 600,000 shrubs and 1,000,000 ground covering plants with around 100km (62mi) of underground irrigation piping. 8 km (5mi) of walking paths will take you through 11 different garden areas. One of the most popular areas (especially for children), is the Storybook Garden, it is delightful – with childhood stories and nursery rhymes depicted throughout the garden.

HVG_Dish&Spoon

 

Spring, would probably be the best time to visit, summer can be very hot and humid in the gardens. However, every year from early November to late January, the gardens host the Christmas Lights Spectacular, which by all accounts is indeed very spectacular, with “millions” of lights, some wonderful displays and plenty of activities to keep the kids entertained. I aim to go this year!

Finally, I couldn’t travel up to the vineyards and not visit at lest one winery; so I chose to visit one I hadn’t been to in a long time. Wombat Crossing Vineyard, is the smallest vineyard (and one of the newest) in the region, but produces wine only from its vineyard. The wines are of a high quality (and not cheap) and I would definitely recommend a visit and some tastings – there wasn’t one that I tasted that I didn’t like. I really wanted to become a member and buy an entire case, but Andrew had to reign me in, so I settled for just 3 bottles – maybe next time! 🙂

wombatCrossingVineyard

 

Cirque du Soleil – a circus experience like no other!

Have you been to see Cirque du Soleil yet? If not, do yourself a favour and go!

CdS_tixI was a Cirque du Soleil virgin; I had heard a lot of hype about this performing troupe, and although I really knew very little about their shows (except that they were supposed to be spectacular), I had always wanted to see one. I really wanted to go when we visited Las Vegas the year before last, but my husband wasn’t too keen, so when I heard they were performing in Newcastle I resolved to go. I found a willing accomplice (and fellow Cirque du Soleil virgin) in my sister-in-law. So, I booked tickets and we went yesterday – Sunday.

After a rear-end accident on the way to the event, we eventually made it and sat down about 30 seconds after the start of the show. It was absolutely fabulous!

Now, I have to admit, I was a little concerned at the beginning – there are few words spoken and the singing that occurred was in French, I think, so I didn’t understand anything. I also felt a bit lost at the start because I couldn’t really follow the story line. I only knew what I had heard, that the show was essentially the world created as result of a young girls imagination.

The concerned feelings didn’t last too long, and I was quickly absorbed by the performances; there were amazing feats of strength, balance, coordination and endurance. There is plenty to look at, sometimes I didn’t know where to look on stage, there are often other skits happening in the background; even the transition between acts was well performed. Quite a few acts take place in the air with the performers suspended from the roof over the main stage on various types of apparatus that actually move across the stage.

Here is a brief (and incomplete) list of some of the acts on show:

  • an artist who performed in a large German Wheel, doing tricks, spinning and balancing throughout,
  • aerial acrobatics on ropes and red silk fabric
  • aerial hoops, suspended from the ceiling
  • a performance of Diabolo (Chinese yo-yo) where the artist manipulates a wooden spool balancing on a string that links two wooden sticks (handles)
  • a routine involving multiple skipping ropes operating simultaneously with about 20 performers interacting to produce an amazing skipping sequence (quite different to anything you would have done in the playground as a child, I can assure you)

Before I knew it an hour had passed and it was time for intermission. The second half of the show was just as good and passed just as quickly, but I think my favourite act was the “statue” couple – a man and woman who perform an absolutely amazing act of balance and strength as the two never lose contact, but create seemingly impossible feats of balance, strength and flexibility (I was in awe – I think everyone else may have been too).

The whole show was supplemented with some great music (which I found hard to pigeon hole – sounding at times middle Eastern, and at others like Irish folk music), but was perfect for the show and all performed by the live band on stage.

Taken at the end of the show - I was too engrossed to take pictures during the performances!

Taken at the end of the show – I was too engrossed to take pictures during the performances!

This was a great spectacle and definitely worth the ticket price. We had great seats, close enough to see the performers muscles rippling with strain and effort, but if I were to give one piece of advice it would be to sit on the right side of the stage (as you are looking at it) as there were one or two performances where you would probably get a slightly better view (and don’t get the premium seats on the floor in front of the stage – you can’t see the performers feet – which I, for one, like to see).

I would also recommend a little research first – so I have provided a very quick run down about “Quidam by Cirque du Soleil” and a link to a preview video if you would like to get a taste of it.

A few quick facts:

  • Quidam was the ninth stage show produced by Cirque du Soleil and premiered in in April 1996 as a big-top show in Montreal; it was converted into an arena format beginning in 2010.
  • Quidam refers to the feature character, a man without a head who carries an umbrella and a bowler hat
  • The word Quidam in Latin refers to “a person unknown”
  • The show is the result of the imagination of a girl named Zoe who is ignored by her parents.
  • There are also several other characters that make regular appearances throughout the show

If you want to book tickets to see the show in Australia, go to Ticketek, but you will have to hurry; the Newcastle season ends on January 24th and then the show heads across the Tasman to Auckland and Christchurch in New Zealand. Prices vary from around $76 to $160 each for adults.

Summertime in Newcastle

Welcome to my first blog for 2016! I wish everyone a happy and prosperous new year and I hope that it brings all that you desire.

We have been back in Newcastle now for 6 weeks, so I thought I would post a little more about my home town. I have spent quite a bit of time in by the harbour and around by the beaches, mainly because I enjoy it so much – my heart lifts, my soul is revived and it makes me happy. But I also visit because I have been wanting to practice some photography. I have been doing the 52 week photo challenge, hosted by American artist, Ricky Tims and I have thoroughly enjoyed it – I have learnt so much along the way. He is running a similar course this year – if you are interested click here.

Anyway, I thought I would share some sights from around Newcastle:

Newcastle is home to the world’s largest coal exporting port, so you can sit and watch the ships come and go:

ShipEnteringHarbour_0781

Take a walk along”Honeysuckle“, harbourside (and maybe stop at any of the many restaurants along the way)

NewcaslteHarbour_towardNobbys

Go see the new ANZAC memorial walk where you can watch the hang-gliders above:

Hangglider_0644

or the people below:

BeachViewFromAbove_0669

A walk along the beach is always good: whether it is to watch the sun come up on New Year’s Eve:

Sunrise_0739

or watch the local bird life:

Seagulls_Sunrise_0765

and

CowrieHole_Pelicans_0641

or observe other photographers trying to capture the sunrise:

PhotographersAtSunrise_0707

You could also take a dip at the Ocean Baths:

Sunrise-Swimmers_0752

You might try your hand at surfing:

ContemplatingSurfer_0770

or try some rock fishing (wearing a life vest, of course – safety first)

CowrieHole_Fishing_0717pano

Away from the coast, you might also run into one of the locals (who came visiting one morning):

Kanga_0619

I hope you have enjoyed this visual display of Newcastle and I that I have maybe tempted you to come and visit.

Wandering can be a great distraction!

This is a quick wrap up of our quick visit to the Mid North Coast and Northern Rivers area of NSW for a few days late last week.

While I am waiting to go back to work (administrative issues have prevented me from returning as soon as I would have liked) we thought we might take a few days away from the dramas of an international relocation, not having our own home to live in and camping with the in-laws, and waiting for our delayed and much travelled goods shipment (it went via Dubai from the USA on it’s way to Sydney) and get away from it all for a while.

We wandered up the coast of NSW, exploring some towns we haven’t been to before, as well as investigating possible job opportunities (Andrew still needs to find a job).

On our first day we drove up the coast along the much improved, but always under construction, Pacific Highway (now known as the M1 or A1, depending on where you are). After about 5 ½ hours driving, we landed in the NSW country town of Grafton; a place I had never visited before. It’s worth a look.

GraftonClocktower

Grafton Clocktower and one of the many pubs in the background

JacarandasEstablished in 1851, Grafton sits alongside the Clarence River and is home to jacaranda tree-lined streets (the jacarandas were originally planted in the 1870s by a local seed merchant). In spring the town puts on a spectacular display when the trees erupt in masses of mauve blossoms. During the last weekend in October and the first weekend in November Grafton hosts its famous Jacaranda Festival (Australia’s longest running floral festival); I’d love to check this out some time (we were too late in the season this visit, as the jacarandas, although still in bloom, were well past their best).

From Grafton we drove north through Broadwater, sweet town that it is – it’s home to a large sugar mill and is the center of the region’s sugar industry (lots of sugar cane growing in the Northern Rivers area) and then on to Ballina.

I’ve heard a lot about Ballina – it’s a coastal town and well known for its relaxed lifestyle, beaches, seafood, fishing and other water sports. Ballina is also home to the Big Prawn:

BigPrawn

Australia has a fascination with BIG things – besides the prawn, we have the Big Merino (Goulbourn, NSW), Big Pineapple (Nambour, Qld), Big Guitar (Tamworth, NSW), Big Galah (Kimba, SA), Big Lobster (Kingston, SA) and the Big Banana, which we drove past at Coffs Harbour (always a family favourite), just to name but a few!

BigBanana

Our last stop was Port Macquarie – this is a place I definitely want to return to for a stay of at least a few days, maybe a week! Established in 1821, Port Macquarie, like Newcastle, was founded as a penal settlement, replacing Newcastle as the destination for convicts who had committed secondary crimes in New South Wales.

Port Macquarie is an idyllic spot, sitting on the NSW mid north coast at the mouth of the Hastings River. It is home to some wonderful beaches and also to the Billabong Koala Park (I didn’t get to visit, but maybe next time), and the Koala Preservation Society’s Koala Hospital. There are also about 75 koala sculptures around the town – all uniquely decorated – fun!: PortMacKoala

StrawberriesGrowingJust outside of Port Macquarie is Ricardoes Tomatoes and Strawberry farm. This is definitely worth the visit (and a great family activity if you have kids in tow). There is a little café where you can grab some lunch and also pick up some of Ricardoes own produce: rich red tangy Tomato Relish (I got some of that), delectable rich tomato Pasta Sauce and unique Strawberry Conserve, and other local products including preserved olives and olive oils, and locally-grown macadamia nuts, honey and eggs.

Besides all of this, you get to pick your own fresh strawberries – yum!:

Strawberry – it was great fun!

CateStrawberries

 

 

Long haul air travel.

So, we are now safely in Australia – in Canberra actually, to pick up my car that my parents were babysitting whilst I was away.

However, I was awake at 4am this morning – getting over a long haul flight can be a bit of a drag. I don’t sleep well on airplanes, and I barely slept on our transpacific flight. I was so tired I had a 3-hour nap yesterday afternoon; this possibly partially explains the wake time of 4am!

Flying from DFW (Dallas/Fort Worth, USA) to Sydney, Australia is a looong flight; it is actually the longest non stop flight in the world. It’s roughly 17-hours depending on weather etc., so you have plenty of time on your hands; you can watch a movie or 2 or 3, read a book, do some handicraft, contemplate your life, write your memoirs or just sleep, if you are one of those lucky people who can sleep on a plane. I’ve tried to sleep, but all I do is uncomfortably toss and turn, and never do much more than lightly snooze.

plane_clouds

The clouds out the window

We were lucky enough to fly premium economy (a step up from cattle class, but not quite business class) on the big A380 Airbus with QANTAS. I can recommend it if you can afford it; that extra bit of room is good (although not enough to stretch out sufficiently to sleep properly) and I also found the service to be great.

 

plane_inside

premium economy cabin

Flying is always interesting; particularly international flights. Generally it’s exciting. Have you ever wondered why so many other people are taking the same flight? What’s their story? It’s great people watching (& listening) – well, interesting at least if you can ignore the screaming infant, the loud children, the snoring neighbor, etc.

plane_viewSometimes when flying a window seat is not such a great advantage, particularly if you have to crawl over someone to go and use the bathroom; but sometimes the view can be just wonderful. Our flight departed DFW at 8:10pm and we were scheduled to land in Sydney at 6:05am, so for most of the flight it is total darkness outside, so not much to see.  However, I got to see the night lights of Dallas was we took off, which was a nice goodbye and I did see a little bit of Sydney as we landed – there was quite a bit of cloud at the time and we came in from the south, so we didn’t get that fabulous view of the Barbour, the bridge or the opera house. Disappointed sigh! But during the night I opened the shade on the window and looked out – and what did I see? The glorious view of the southern stars with the Southern Cross sparkling beautifully at me. Wonderment sigh!

Anyway, we are back in the land of Oz and now all I have to do is try to settle back in, readjust and overcome that odd feeling of being a stranger in your own homeland!

Goodbye Texas

It’s time to say goodbye to Texas! And, yes, there will be (& has been) tears. 😥 sads

 

Almost 2 years ago now, my husband was made an offer to work in the USA for 12 months. What an opportunity – we could live in Texas, experience a new culture, do something different for a while and maybe have the odd adventure or two! We have now lived in Texas for 19 months and it has prematurely and abruptly come to an end.

Although this is a very sad turn of events – I think I recognised myself passing through most of the acknowledged stages of grief with anger and depression featuring strongly – I have now moved into acceptance and am trying to move past my sadness and bitterness and appreciate all the wonderful experiences I have had whilst here in the US; things I would not have done otherwise.

It wasn’t easy at the start, but I managed to make a life here and I have meet some amazing people; some will be friends for life!

Living in the North Texas town of Sherman, we have tried to experience as much of Texas (and Texoma) as we could, and also explore further afield when we could. There have been so many wonderful experiences. I was going to list our experiences here – but I now realise that we have done so much, it’s way too much to mention it all.

We have had opportunity to visit quite a few of the local sights and have enjoyed the uniquely Texan experiences of shooting rifles and pistols both at a gun range and on a ranch.

Cate_shooting

Other places we have visited in Texas are Fort Worth (where we saw the longhorn drive),

Cattle drive at Fort Worth Stock Yards

Cattle drive at Fort Worth Stock Yards

Texarkana, San Antonio – the Alamo and it’s wonderful riverwalk,

Riverwalk-view_from-bridgeWichita Falls, and the Texas hill country town of Fredericksburg. I also managed to get to visit Houston.

With Dallas being so close we managed to see most of the major touristy sites. We visited Dealey Plaza and the Book Repository, took a look at Old Red museum, checked out the DMA, enjoyed a visit to the Dallas Aquarium, took in the view from the top of Reunion Tower and enjoyed several visits to the Arboretum (one of my favourite places).

 

arboretum

There is so much to do in Dallas – make sure you visit some time!

We also enjoyed the very unique experience of visiting the Texas State Fair.

BigTex

In addition we also caught a couple of Baseball games at Arlington.

Cate_baseball

Besides Texas though, I have had the privilege of visiting another 13 states! Oklahoma, Arkansas, Tennessee, Mississippi, Louisiana, Washington, California, Nevada, Utah, Arizona, New Mexico, Iowa and New York.

Some highlights:

View from the Space Needle, Seattle, Washington

View from the Space Needle, Seattle, Washington

The Grand Canyon, Arizona

The Grand Canyon, Arizona

Monument Valley, Utah

Monument Valley, Utah

Statue of Liberty, NY

Statue of Liberty, NY

Beale Street, Memphis, Tennesee

Beale Street, Memphis, Tennesee

Rio Grande Gorge Bridge

Rio Grande Gorge Bridge – New Mexico

I had no desire to visit the USA before coming here ,but I have a new appreciation of America and it’s people. Texas in particular will always have a place in my heart.  💕💕

I hope I can come back one day!

 

And the clouds rolled in!

This post has been a little while in coming; the last week and a half has not been easy. It has been a roller coaster of emotions for us. Shock, sadness and anger have been warring with each other – it’s exhausting. So, to try and overcome some of those emotions we thought we would take a road trip – our last one here in the US; it’s time for us to go home, but the decision was one that was imposed upon us with Andrew being made redundant. It’s a bitter pill to swallow when you are invited to work in another country and then have the rug pulled out from under you and you are sent packing!

Anyway, back to that road trip. It’s fall here in the US and there are many areas where the leaves changing color are quite a spectacle. One of those places is an area known as the Talimena Scenic Drive (a 50 mile stretch of road from east Oklahoma to west Arkansas). So, we set off to have a look before all the color disappeared.

It didn’t turn out quite as expected however. We encountered quite a bit of cloud, fog and rain. We were advised to drive along the valley road first – so glad we did, at least we saw a little color. Driving became very challenging once we got further up the mountains! These are some photos taken from the car:

Talimena_CarDrive

Talimena_CarView

Talimena_QW_stateParkWe stayed a night at the Queen Wilhemina Lodge (the castle in the clouds), a recently renovated lodge; very popular & I managed to snag the last available room (people had cancelled due to the weather!) – this was the view from our room when we arrived:Talimena_QWL_view

There was a nice fire to sit by, but no reviving drinks to be had – there was no alcohol at the lodge – its situated in a dry county and they are required to wait 12 months before applying for a liquor license – damn!  The weather continued to move in; it got worse and we experienced a severe storm, with lots of rain and a power outage. The next morning it was still very cloudy, but still beautiful, mystical, even!

Talimna_beautyInFog

It eventually cleared enough for us to start our drive back along the mountain ridge. We saw some pretty sights;

Talimena_AutumnColour Talimena_AutumnLeaves_0955

Talimena_AutumnLeaves_0952 Talimena_AutumnColour_0976

it wasn’t quite what I had hoped for, but all in all, it was still another great experience!

A Visit to Houston – part 2

Well, I had less than 48 hours in Houston (we had to high-tail it out of Houston early to beat the storm approaching as a result of hurricane Patricia), so not really enough time to explore the city; but what I did see was interesting. There are lots of tall glass buildings offering some wonderful reflections. I thought the following photo was very cool:

Building Reflections!

Downtown Houston has a wonderful system of underground pedestrian tunnels; not only does it keep you out of the way of the traffic, but keeps you out of the heat and humidity. And, boy, is Houston humid! I wouldn’t like to be here in the height of summer.

A map of Houston's underground pedestrian tunnels

A map of Houston’s underground pedestrian tunnels

However, back to the main reason for my visit; Quilt Market. This event is huge! It occupies the entire conference center in Houston. Quilt Market lasts for 3 days and is essentially a trade event where retailers within the quilting industry source products from wholesalers; but there are also training and education sessions. My friend Becky Goldsmith from Piece O’Cake was there to present at one of these “Schoolhouse” sessions (I played the role of assistant/model for the presentation) and to do a book signing:

QM_Becky_signing QM_Becky

This is a photo of Becky and I at the C&T Publishers booth:

QM_B&C

Below is one of Becky’s designs which a talented quilter (sorry I can’t recall who, so I can’t credit the owner) had entered into the Special Exhibit quilts display:

This quilt is one of Becky's designs - Piece O'Cake on display at the INternational Quilt Market and Festival

This quilt is one of Becky’s Piece O’Cake designs on display at the International Quilt Market and Festival

QM_quiltstalls Quilt Market occupied the entire ground floor of the George R Brown Convention Center. There were 29 aisles with more than 530 exhibitors. It was the largest event of it’s type that I have ever been to. In fact the International Quilt Market & International Quilt Festival (which runs for 5 days after the Quilt Market) are Houston’s biggest event! Thousands of keen quilters descend into Houston for a taste of quilter’s heaven!

QM_aisles

I saw some amazing quilts, crafts, fabrics, notions and embellishments, and embroidery, quilting and sewing machines – there are some truly talented and creative people out there.

I partake in, and enjoy many craft forms, but I have never tried quilting before; I think I may just have been converted after attending this convention and feel I may need to give it a try! Whatever I attempt, you know it will have a celtic theme though!

Anna's Amazing Applique quilts on display at Quilt Market

Anna’s Awesome Applique quilts on display at Quilt Market

There was so much to see – I just can’t share it all – but jump onto Instagram and search #QuiltMarket or Google images from Quilt Market 2015 and you will find plenty to admire and inspire – it’s a feast for anyone who loves fabrics, crafting and especially quilts! I particularly liked this clever design from a very talented (& modest) young designer – Maureen Cracknell from Art Gallery Fabrics:

QM_deerpillow

Attending Quilt Market 2015 was quite an experience (I thank Becky for the opportunity to attend) I had no idea quilting was so HUGE. I also met some amazing, friendly people and some outstanding leaders and big names within the industry. It was quite a privilege really and it has opened my eyes to the fabulous world of quilting! I wish I could have stayed for a look at the quilt festival; but it’s probably just as well I didn’t as I would have been tempted to spend way too much money. Truly a quilter’s nirvana!QM_QuiltwLove