We have arrived in Scotland at the caravan. It was a long journey as we went up the A1M to Scotch Corner and cut across on the A66 to Penrith rather than take our usual route up the M6. The reason for this was I needed to meet with daughter No2 to show her some sketches and discuss ideas and fabrics for the Christening dress for Sweetie because when we go back home there will be less than two weeks to cut a pattern and make up the garment in time for the big day. For new readers, Sweetie, granddaughter No2 is growing so fast she has already outgrown the family heirloom Christening gown – so I volunteered to make a new one.
We met just outside Knaresborough in the St James retail park – it was convenient and had a Costa so we could get a drink and break our journey.
Of course as soon as I had said I would make a Christening gown the party preparations got in the way but I am not too worried about the shortage of time as I can sew quite fast – I used to have a wedding dress business making bridal and bridesmaids dresses. Once I had the pattern made I would cut out a bridesmaid dress or two in the morning and have them completed by tea time, net petticoats and all – no pins or tacking either, and I would be going slower than normal to take extra care over the finish. Of course a brides dress would take me a little longer because of the boning and net petticoats.
I learned to sew quickly when I took a summer job in a local dress manufacturers workroom in Cheltenham during my Fashion and Textile course. We were expected to make around 100 dresses or skirts a day on high-speed sewing and overlocking machines – we could not pin or tack any pieces together and even zips were put in without being pinned in place. All the cutting out of the pieces was exact and so you held them in place with your fingers as you stitched them together making sure that any side seams did not end up with one piece longer than the other when you got to the bottom. Sleeves could be tricky as you did not run a gathering stitch around the head like a dressmaker or tailor would to ease it in – though I did do this for my bridal wear to get a nice even gather. It was working on a fast paced production line that helped me to combine traditional couture methods with the faster trade methods and in the trade you either got good at it or you were out.
Tonight I will finish the unpacking, make up the bed and then relax and read. It is too dark to see the garden – that will be tomorrow’s surprise and I hope it will be a nice one, though I am sure the weeds will have grown knee-high in our absence.
On the way down the peninsula by the coast road to our cottage I saw one or two seals on the beach and then a deer bounding through the woodland. Then I spotted ‘bunny no mates’ (the white bunny that the brown ones won’t play with) in the farmer’s field to the side of our cottage. As we had not seen him all winter we thought he must have been a gonner!
Even though I did not grow up in this region I always feel a little bit like I have come home when we reach the border at Gretna and turn the corner. Not quite like DH does as he was born and lived in Stranraer so for him it really is coming home, whereas I grew up around Sheffield and spent many a weekend in the Derbyshire country side, which I love just as much, but there is something about being close to the sea that always gives me such a sense of peace.
When I was about twelve years old I came up to Stranraer on holiday with my mum, dad and little sister in our touring caravan. We loved this part of Scotland and stayed on sites all around the area and often went into Stranraer, the main town here, to buy groceries and go to the bank (no cash machines back then!). It is odd to think that I would have no doubt walked past the places where my future husband and his relatives lived – and unknowingly at that time they were to become a big part of my life eight years later. I even wonder if we may have passed each other in the street!