Beauty, ice cream and a purchase or a few

I'm now back from a wonderful couple of weeks in Croatia, feeling refreshed and raring to go (anyone know of a way to bottle this feeling for the forthcoming months?). Before I share some of the things we got up to I wanted to say thank you to Katy, Hazel and Kirsty for their guest posts which were very popular. 

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Have you been to Croatia? If not, I recommend it. I was struck so often by the beauty of the country, both the natural and the built. 

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We moved about quite a bit, basing ourselves in Dubrovnik, Split and then Zadar. We visited several islands, my favourite being Mljet which is full of small coves on the coast line that it is like having your own private island for a few hours.  The Plitvice National Park is well worth a visit. The main attraction is 16 lakes, linked by a series of waterfalls. You can walk around and through them - I actually couldn't believe the colour of the water.  

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I was amazed by the variety of ice cream flavours on offer (I may have tried a few!) and the sheer number of steps that you have to climb to get to some places.  

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Perhaps it was the heat out there but I did something I never thought I would do. I bought a hat! Now, this may not sound a lot but I honestly cannot remember the last time I freely wore a hat, let alone bought one. What do you think?

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Of course, I couldn't resist taking some snaps of the handmade crafts that I came across. The first is traditional crochet and lace from the region being sold in a small market. You could watch the ladies at work while they weren't selling. The second is hand painted silk scarves, a bargain at about £15 a time. We also watched a lady create gorgeous little bottles and earrings by blowing glass but sadly didn't get any photos.

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I secretly wanted to find a fabric store to look in and almost lost hope until we stumbled across two in Zadar. They were full of Italian fabrics, mainly beautiful wools and a good range of silks. There was no way I would be walking out of them without purchasing a few items. I picked up four wools, all reasonably thick. I'll probably make a series of winter skirts from these. 

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Next up is a beautiful thick purple cotton that is screaming out to become a dress. The red with white stars is a lightweight silk. The last one is a light blue with white spots, the blue is hard to photo correctly and I have no idea what fibre it is - I can feel my first burn test coming up! 

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What about you? Have you found some good fabrics while on holiday? 

Birmingham Meet up

Well, I had a busy weekend that was spent north of Oxford in Birmingham and then Sheffield. You'll only want to know about the Birmingham part I'm sure, as I went on my first ever blogger meet up. If you have been thinking about joining one, go - it was so much fun!

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We all gathered at Birmingham New Street Station and were presented with a rosette, hand crafted of course! It was such a nice start to the day. 

First stop was Barry's Fabric Superstore. It was a little overwhelming at first as there are fabrics everywhere you look. I didn't get any photos but if you pop across to Marie's post you can see what I mean. I was reasonably restrained here, buying fabric for a lining replacement, a new ironing board cover (above) and a top. 

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Lunch at Cafe Soya was delicious and much needed. As we left Barry's for the short walk to the restaurant the heavens opened and we got completely soaked. It rained so hard that I thought it was hailing at one point! I enjoyed chatting away over lunch about all things sewing and slowly drying out. Before I knew it, the swap was upon us. Wow, there was a lot to choose from! I took a couple of pieces of fabric and a couple of patterns and swapped them for two smaller pieces of fabric. 

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Time for more shopping! We had an hour in the rag market and I wasn't so restrained. I found suiting fabric for £2.50-£3 per metre and snaffled them up in a variety of colours. The green will become shorts and the others could be trousers, skirts or jackets. I love having the freedom to choose! 

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I also picked up this beautiful eyelet which I'll pair up with a deep purple silk habotai to make a dress, possibly a ceylon. What do you think?

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Nearly all of my new buys have been washed and I'll have to add them to my newly organised stash - which has grown rather a lot more than I anticipated! I also have new blogs to explore and will be adding them to my reader shortly. Thanks again to KatMarie and Claire for organising such a fantastic day. I'll definitely be signing up for other meets.