Sunday, May 29, 2016

Crocodile Rock Dress

So the title of this post is pretty lame, but whatever, it seemed like the best thing to name a dress covered in crocodiles (or alligators) what's the difference anyways? Some folks may remember this fabric, I received it way back in December in a blogger swap.
 I feel like lately my sewing skills have greatly improved, it's like I've kind of done enough sewing for certain things to click. I'm not saying I'm perfect, or even particularly skilled compared to a lot of my friends (especially when I have friends like Ria who are just crazy talented). Also I'm totally nailing invisible zippers lately, they are finally invisible!
As well as feeling a lot more confident about my sewing lately I'm also really into making franken patterns or mash ups or whatever you may like to call it! This pattern is actually two different patterns together.

The bodice of the dress is from a pattern from By Hand London called the Anna Dress, I have made this dress once before and you can see that version here. My previous version was the maxi length version with a v neck, and I really want to make another maxi version (maybe next summer or for my next holiday somewhere warm) and I do want to make another Anna with this length of skirt using the original paneled skirt.

The skirt is from the Colette Peony dress, I've made this dress a few times before, but I think my first version is still my favourite!

It's a little hard to see in this photo, but the necklace has a flamingo with blue glitter inside, I think I was going for a kind of Florida look? Although in Florida it is alligators right?
As well as feeling like I've improved a lot in terms of sewing, I've actually been sewing a lot more! I have two more new dresses to sew and I've even been using up the "good"  fabric! WHO AM I!?

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Autumn Walks - Butterfly Creek

I figured it was time for a post about something I'd done more recently, rather than my travels in The Philippines!
A few weekends ago Rich and I decided to take a walk to Butterfly Creek, we've lived in Wellington for over ten years and Butterfly Creek was one of those places we always MEANT to visit but never quite got around to going.

We decided it was time to make it happen, the walk is over in Eastbourne and from where we live in the central city you can take either a ferry or bus. We decided to take the ferry one way, because any time you have a chance to take a ferry you really should!
The ferry lands at Days Bay, where one brave soul was swimming! It's a bit of a walk from Days Bay to Eastbourne and then to the entrance of the Butterfly Creek walkway.

Eastbourne is a cute little village and it has a bit of a sea/nautical theme happening. Also we couldn't quite work out what was happening with this store in with the skeleton in the window - junk shop? book store? It was all a little unclear!

We also walked past a school that still had flowers out for the ANZAC day commemorations, including lots of knitted (or maybe crochet?) flowers attached to the school gates.

Finally we made it to Butterfly Creek walkway - I have to say the sign is a lot more exciting than the signed outside most walkways I've been too, my favourite part is that it tells you what birds you can see on your walk.

The walk itself is pretty magical, and it has some amazing views!

After quite a lot of walking we did arrive at Butterfly Creek itself - its a pretty amazing place! A bit like something out of a fairy tale.

This walk feels like so long ago now, our weather has truly changed from autumnal to winter! I guess 1 June is officially winter so its to be expected, next time we head out for a walk I'm going to have to wrap up a lot warmer.

Friday, May 20, 2016

Manila Part Three: More Intramuros

We had a brief look around Intramuros on the day we arrived in Manila, but that wasn't really enough time to look around. On our second day we spent more time exploring, most of that time was spend looking around the amazing San Agustin Church and Museum.
This photo was taken in from of the beautiful carved doors of the San Agustin Church, which you can tell is a pretty exceptional building.
The first time we visited the church there was a wedding happening, so the church was very busy. This time around the church doors were closed and everything was much quieter so it seemed like a good time to visit. There is an entry to both the church and museum on the right hand side of these big doors.
As  soon as you walk through the doors you are hit with all manner of incredible art - so much to see, its almost like your brain can't take it all in.

We chose to check out the church before the museum and really this church is incredible, so ornate.

After visiting the church, we spent a lot of the afternoon visiting the various air conditioned galleries in the museum.
The halls of the church and museum complex were impressive and lined with all kinds of incredible art works.

The first hall we stopped at included a number of icons/statutes from the church, this beautiful carving was bought over from Spain for the church.

This gallery also included an explanation of how these icon/statutes were created, the heads and arms were originally made from ivory. I really hope this isn't the case anymore.
The next gallery we visited wasn't really a gallery at all - it was a cemetery of sorts. When I worked out what little door was for I assumed that the people (or ashes) in each compartment must have been there for a very long time, while this was true in some cases, some of the "doors" (I'm not really sure what else to call them)  included the ashes of people that had died in the late 2000's.

The area where the ashes were held also included some absolutely beautiful stained glass  windows.
There was a lot to take in while walking around the galleries so we decided to take a break and walk around the garden that is part of the church/museum. It is a small garden, but really pretty and obviously very well cared for. I loved the orbs hanging in the trees, I noticed those in a few places in Manila,  I really need to do more research to find out the significance.

We then spent a lot of time wandering through the galleries upstairs, so much amazing art and so many stories as well. It's quite an incredible place.

Finally here's a few photos of the garden's below from the top story of the church/museum, its really a lovely view.
Our final stop on our return to Intramuros was just as interesting as the San Agustin Church and Museum, but its history was perhaps a little darker.
Our second stop of the day was Fort Santiago, as you might have already guessed, Fort Santiago was first established by the Spanish when they colonised The Philippines.
The fort wasn't only used by the Spanish however, its been used by various colonisers over time, after the Spanish came the British (for a short period of time) then the Americans and it was also held by the Japanese during world war II.

I'm not a religious person at all, but there are some places I've traveled which give me something I eloquently like to describe as the "bad feels" - I got the bad feels at Hoa Lo Prison (the Hanoi Hilton) in Vietnam and Seodaemun Prison in Korea and something about Fort Santiago gave me the same bad feels. It's the feeling you get when you know some terrible things have happened somewhere and there's some bad energy or something in the area.
That said, I have never regretted visiting anywhere that has given me "bad feels" - in fact once I leave it usually makes me feel pretty thankful for my place in the world.

When you first enter Fort Santiago, you're greeted by some bleak sites, like the prison cell above. However there is also a beautiful garden area with lots of seats and although there are lots of tourists (both Filipinos and Foreigners) its a lot calmer than the streets of Intramuros outside the walls of the Fort.

Also in this area there are a lot of buildings that are now little more than remains or ruins.
There were of course plenty of reminders around that you were standing in what was once a fort.
We walked through  the gardens, across the river to the impressive gate at the fort.

Like a lot of Intramuros the gate was destroyed in the battle of Manila during the second world war, but it now looks pretty incredible. When you walk through the gate you are met with many other relics to explore.

One of the significant things about Fort Santiago is that Jose Rizal who was a Filipino Nationalist who was executed by the Spanish near the end of their colonial rule of The Philippines for rebellion. He wasn't in fact involved in the planning of a rebellion or fighting, but his writings inspired revolution in The Philippines.
I read online that Rizal was so loved by Filipinos that when he was going to be executed by firing squad the Spanish weren't sure Filipino soldiers would actually execute him, they had some Spanish soldiers also attend the execution as back up in case the Filipinos couldn't or wouldn't execute Rizal.

There was a mock up of Rizal in the cell where he was held and you could follow his steps to the place where he was executed.
I really do want to learn more about Rizal as he is such a fascinating person, this is really why I love to travel so much, there are so many amazing humans in history and I know so little as I only know history from my own perspective. It gives us a chance to really learn and understand more about the world.
If you follow in Rizal's steps you end up in a large concrete area which is where I  assume the execution took place. It's a pretty calm area now with a view of the Pasig River and Manila.
There was also a Rizal Museum at the top of the stairs, unfortunately we arrived too late in the day and it had already closed. However, there was still a lot of other things to explore in this area.

We walked along a pathway until we arrived at another large concrete area, at this stage it was getting close to closing time so we had to rush a bit.

We made our way out of the gate and saw a bunch of horse and carriages waiting for some other tourists, these are everywhere in Intramuros. The look a bit like Cinderella's carriage in this photo, but I always feel so bad for the horses - having to share the road with cars, scooters, motorbikes just can't be nice for them.

Behind the horse and carriage you can see the Filipino flag being taken down for the day (definitely time to make our way back to the hotel!)
Well this has turned into a pretty huge post, but there's probably even more I could say! I think you should all go to Intramuros, its tough a times, but its full of amazing people and sites and so much history.
I just thought I'd finish off with a lovely photo of some flowers I took in the gardens on our way out of Fort Santiago, so lovely.