Friday, September 25, 2009

Pink basket & matching shoes

Isn't it amazing what us crafters "must have"? For some time now I have had in mind a basket for scraps when I cut fabrics, but haven't got around buying any - until a couple of days ago. A basket was not in my mind when we entered the supermarket. Actually it was DH who asked me; "don't you need a basket for threads, ribbons, fabrics etc?" I agreed to that; "yes, I need a basket"... ...And here it is; a pink basket - for scraps!
We had a quick chat with MIL before we went to the supermarket. Some weeks ago she bought a pair of black shoes for DH, which is made of soft rubber and they are very comfortable - even space enough inside! :) MIL always buys "Deepavali" gifts for us. Instead of letting her buy something I wouldn't like, I told her my wish is a pair of such shoes - but in pink. Little did I know she bought the shoes the same day as I asked her - and they are pink too - matching the basket! LOL! :))

Monday, September 21, 2009

Creative weekend

I've been creative this weekend! After some weeks without doing much, I got around to do this mini-quilt from Art to Heart. I love Nancy Halvorsen's works! It says "the only thing better than a friend - is a friend with chocolate"! It's so true - so true - isn't it?! After I completed it I noticed the "l" in chocolate came a bit too close to the "o", so it looks like the word is "chocdate" - LOL! I started working on the mini-quilt Saturday morning, but couldn't find the fabric for the head, hands and legs, so I gave up and went out sanding the railing on the porch.
We got it made approx one year ago. After it was done I put two layers of oil based varnish on it to protect it from the rain and scorching sun. I don't know if it is the combination of the weather as well as not so good quality on the varnish, but now it is time for maintenance. This time I'm going to paint it - brown - so it resembles wood. I sanded down almost half of the railing, and yesterday I spent approx 5 hours doing the undercoat. That is why this part - as you can see - is white now. My MIL - who lives next door - gave me a bowl with freshly, roasted peanuts, and said; "you're working too much!" :) The peanuts were still warm - delicious! It was so sweet of her! Yes, I confess I was tired after spending that many hours doing the undercoat, but I'm also glad I managed to do that much. It has to be done before the rainy season sets in - in a couple of months. Fortunate hubby made dinner and did the dishes so I didn't have to think about that too! :))
This is how part of our garden looked like this morning. Wild iris in bloom. 4-5 years ago we brought a couple of small plants from the forest, and now it covers almost the entire flower bed. They are so beautiful, and the greatest is that they keep the weed away! :) The flowers last for approx 10 hours only. This is the 5th time they are blooming in only a few weeks.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Visitor from Germany continues...

We started off very early in the morning, and our first stop today was "L'Aventure du Sucre"; Beau Plan sugar factory. Sadly the sugar mill had to shut down in 1999 - after 202 years running. But the history doesn't stop there; the mill is turned into an amazing museum. It not only tells the history of sugar, but also covers the history of the island; slavery, the rum trade and so much more. Most of the machinery is still in place and former workers are on hand to answer questions. There are different varieties of sugar to taste and to buy. I bought a little box molasses (very dark sugar), I love that kind of raw, burnt taste. :)

We visited the St Francois church in Pamplemousses, which was built in 1756 and is the oldest church on the island. The cemetery contains the tomb of Abbe Buonavita, who was Napoleon's almoner on St Helena. He settled in Mauritius after Napoleon's death in 1821.
Bernardin de Saint-Pierre wrote the famous novel "Paul et Virginie" in 1788. The novel was inspired by a tragedy that took place some years earlier, when the ship "St Geran" was wrecked during a bad storm near the
tiny island of Ambre, at the east coast. There's a monument of Paul and Virginie next to the church.

After visiting the sugarcane museum and the church, we needed something to eat and ended up at Wiener Waltz Cafe for some treats. I couldn't resist a slice of homemade Sachertorte (rich chocolate cake) and coffee. What a slice; it was HUGE - and DELICIOUS! :) Grit had a huge bowl with ice cream and hubby had a huge slice of cheese cake - and we had coffees too.

Maheswarnath Temple in Triolet. It is the largest Hindu temple on the island, built in 1857. Personally I think this is the most beautiful temple here as well...

"Sir Seewoosagur Ramgoolam Botanical Garden" in Pamplemousses. After an eventful day we're going funny and giggling; trying to figure out how big the baobab tree is.... :)
This was the last sightseeing we did before Grit had to return to Germany. We enjoyed your stay so very, very much Grit - even if we needed a couple of days to "recover" after all the sightseeing we did! LOL! :)) Hope to see you again soon!
To my readers; do you find it strange I haven't had time at all for crafting these two weeks?! :)) Now it is time for some Christmas gifts etc. :)

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Visitor from Germany continues...

There are not many left of the beautiful colonial houses, but "La Villebague" (left) and "Eureka House" are among the best kept and restored houses. "La Villebague" - built in 1759 - is the oldest house on the island. The side turrets were added in 1934, completely changing the aspect of what was previously a manor house typical of 18th century France. It is usually only houses with one storey that feature turrets, but this house is an exception to the rule. The plantation started producing sugar in 1743, one of the first one to do so.
"Eureka House" was built in 1830. It has 14 rooms and 109 doors and windows! (I'm glad I don't have to clean windows there!) It is one of the largest house of the island and is the only one complete with period furniture. From 1856 to 1896 it belonged to the Le Clezio family. It became museum in 1986.

The day we went to Pamplemousses, we got a lift with hubby's sister who works in the area. We reached her work place a bit early, and while waiting she kindly showed us "Moulin a Poudre", which was an iron factory in the 18th century. A powder mill was in operation until 1810 when the British turned it into a prison. It is said over 800 slaves worked in the manufacturing of gunpowder. It is also said the tower (right) was used for hanging prisoners. The place looks a bit creepy, doesn't it?

Grit wanted a stop in Grand Baie, which is the only area blatantly devoted to mass tourism. Once it was a tiny fishing village on an idyllic horseshoe bay, but now it is said to resemble a mini St-Tropez, with expensive boutiques, restaurants etc. We strolled around for some minutes, Grit bought a few souvenirs etc. The photo to the left shows a local woman and her husband making dhal puri - for us. Delicious fast food! :)

Traveling along the west coast to the northern tip of the island, we are not far from Cap Malheureux. The island is Coin de Mire (Gunner's Coin) - one of the islands closest to the northern tip (right). It was named so because it resembles the quoin or wedge used to steady the aim of a cannon. The island is a nature reserve and home to a number of rare species, such as the red-tailed tropic bird and Bojer's skink.

Ever since before I settled here I have wanted to see the lighthouse at Pointe aux Caves - near Albion. I love the rugged coastline, mostly because of the wilderness and because I'm not a person who like roasting myself at beaches. :)) The height of the tower is 97 meters. It was built in 1910 and is still operational.

A few more photos to be continued...

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Visitor from Germany

There's not only patchwork/quilting, cross-stitching etc that are my passions... For those of you who don't know, I've been into pen palling since 1976. Through the years it has become a lifestyle rather than passion. Some penfriends have "climbed the ladder" from penfriends to dear friends. Grit is one of them... We started corresponding in 2005 and this year she finally decided to visit me/us. I'm always a bit excited before meeting a penfriend in person. I have heard "horror stories" where penfriends don't turn out to be the same nice person as through the letters. "Touch wood" - through the years I have met some of my penfriends, and never had any bad experiences! I felt Grit & I "hit it off" already that early Sunday morning at the airport. It was no time for crafting these two weeks - let's see what we did instead.

"Ganesh Charturthi" is celebrated the fourth day of the lunar month of August/September by Hindus of Marathi faith as the birthday of Ganesh, the God of wisdom and remover of all obstacles. The first celebration in Mauritius took place in the 7 Cascade Valley, next to Henrietta village, in 1896. The festival has turned out to be a huge National festival, with hundreds of people attending. We had never seen it "live", so it was an opportunity for us to go to Flic en Flac that day. There weren't many people at the beach when we reached there, but it slowly filled up. In the early afternoon hordes of people - some carrying a "statue" of Ganesh - filled the road and ended up at the beach. The road from Quatre Bornes to Flic en Flac was blocked by processions; complete chaos! It took us 3 hours to reach home - usually not more than 15 minutes! :)

The photos above are from the capital Port Louis. It shows the modern "sky scrapers" as well as an old building in "China Town". It was officially named Port Louis in 1722 by M. Denyon, the commander of the first party of French settlers, but it was first in 1935 Francois Mahe de La Bourdonnais decided build the capital. It was named after King Louis XV.

I love the vibrant market in Port Louis! It is a "must" to visit! The stalls sell everything from fruit & vegetables, fish, meat to clothes and all kinds of souvenirs. Usually I don't go into the souvenir stalls; too many "leeches" there, I hate to be pushed shopping! I love to have a glass of "alouda", which is a mix of milk, sugar, water, tookmaria (seeds), agar-agar, vanilla ice cream and ice cubes. Very refreshing on a hot day. I also love to eat "dhal puri", which is lentil flour pancake with beans and curry sauce. Local, delicious junk food! :)

Mahebourg is another "must" to visit. It is the main town in the south, a laid back community with its approx 20 000 inhabitants. To the left is the Mouchoir Rouge island, which has a small, private bungalow on it - with a red roof. It's just so lovely! But I wonder how it is to live out there during a severe cyclone?!

I've always wanted to go to Le Souffleur, which is a blow hole formed in the rocks of the southern coast, through which the sea used to spout spectacularly at high tide. Erosion has deprived it of the power it had 150 years ago when a writer said; "it roared furiously to a height of fully sixty feet"! It still roars a little when the tide is high. I love the wilderness here; furious waves smashing into the lava rocks, filao trees, old stone fences - built by whom?, grassy fields - hardly no tourists here - just so pristine!
To be continued...