Tuesday, 24 January 2012

A trip to Venice?

The recent unrest in Syria has lead me to revive an old WIP. The connection here may seem obscure, so I'll explain.  Many years ago, when we were living in Oman in the Middle East, we spent a holiday driving from there back to the UK. It was quite an adventure at the time, took a fair bit of forward planning, but turned out to be a memorable and exciting experience. Had we been doing the journey today, we would, no doubt, have kept a blog of our journey, but this was back in 1994, when digital cameras and blogs and such were some years off. But we did keep a written diary of our trip and took lots of photos, which we later put into an old-fashioned photo-album, to record our memories of the trip.

Some weeks ago, we heard news reports that there had been disturbances in the city of Homs in western Syria. And so when we heard the name Homs, it rang a bell with us, although we couldn't quite remember visiting the city (the diary reveals that we didn't stop there, but had some difficulty navigating our way through). We did recall the town of Hama, which is close by, and there have sadly been disturbances there as well. Hama was a quiet and friendly town, and is famous for it's water wheels, or Norias as they are called.

We remembered how they made a creaking and groaning sound which could be heard all over the town. We spent a very pleasant evening by the Orontes River listening to and watching the Norias, eating chicken and chips (according to the diary!) Yes, that's us back in 1994!

Our trip lasted about seven weeks in total, during which time we drove through Jordan, Syria, Turkey, northern Greece, Italy, Austia, Germany, Holland, Belgium, France and finally home to UK. (Mr PL also drove through UAE and Saudi Arabia, although I was not permitted to accompany him as we were not married at the time, so I flew to Jordan to meet him.)

So what does all this have to do with reviving an old stitching project? Well, one of the places we visited was Venice. August is not the best time of year to visit this city, and we spent a very hot and sticky night in a tent in a campsite just outside the city. Mr PL was so overcome with the heat and humidity that I had to fan him with a t-shirt - an occasion which we've often recalled since!

Actually I really didn't deserve to visit Venice at that time - according to this inscription ...

"1992. Happy Birthday, Janet. When you finish your first project, I'll take you to Venice!"

... in this book ...

... which was a birthday present in 1992 and of which the dust jacket is now a little faded!

However, on re-reading the diary and looking at the pictures of our trip, Venice included, I was reminded of this tapestry that I eventually started back in 1999, (I think it was) and decided to have another go at it. 

It is a picture of a shuttered window, with a colourful window-box of geraniums - hence the title of the picture - "Geraniums".

The chart published in the book is quite small, is hand drawn and quite hard to read. 

When I first started the project, I found it quite awkward to read the chart, partly because it wasn't very clear, and partly because it was rather unwieldy to handle the book all the time. (These were the days before scanners and printers were commonly available for home use.) I took the chart to a commercial printer and asked them to copy and enlarge it for me. This made things a whole lot easier and was well worth the bother and expense, although I think I was surprised at the time how little they charged. The result was excellent, and the paper quality must have been good because it is still as clear today as when it was first printed 13 years ago.

I've worked about one quarter of the piece so far, and felt I was making reasonable progress with it just recently. (I think I'll need to speed up a bit, because at the present rate it's going to take another 39 years to complete!) It's not the sort of project that gets finished quickly, but rather to keep on doing a little then coming back to. But at least I have an incentive to finish it - that promised trip to Venice - which I hope we can make before it sinks into the sea!

1 comment:

  1. Such an interesting post. What an adventure to drive through all those countries! The tapestry is beautiful. I do hope you get to Venice again whether you complete the tapestry or not!!!


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