Arena Travel Blog

  • Spotlight on Karin Hellaby



    This week we have been having a natter with leading quilt expert Karin Hellaby. Karin’s teaching has taken her all over Europe and beyond. She is a regular teacher at the Houston International Quilt Show and has taught in New Zealand, Dubai and most of North America! Karin has recently returned from teaching on our quilting retreat on the beautiful island of Madeira. Later this year she will also be leading two Stitchtopia quilting trips South Africa and the Faroe Islands.

    Here Karin gives us the low-down on how her love for quilting blossomed at a church hall, how her passion helped support her sons through university and how she is lost without her much loved Bernina machine!

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  • News from the Bridge Room in Lanzarote

    Host's report by Fran Keene, Liz Farrar and Judy Petran:

    The weather was cooler than last year (it rained twice) and it was quite amazing to watch the landscape turn green and produce flowers so quickly after the rain. However, guests were able to have breakfast in the sun outside most days – unlike the UK!

    On one evening, we all sat down together in the Italian restaurant, the Dolce Vita, for a delightful meal with wine, enjoyed by all – the bridge was extremely relaxed that evening!

    Once again we must mention that the bridge room is one of the best and most comfortable we have enjoyed and the bridge was well attended, afternoons as well as the evenings. The hotel activities were wide ranging and well supported by the group. Particular mention must be made of one of our most senior members winning the table tennis tournament against all comers, young and old. Awesome!

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  • Q&A with Louise Kelly

    Louise, welcome to the Stitchtopia family! We are very excited to have you on board and to have you leading our Stitch and Quilt holiday to County Donegal in September. What are you most looking forward to about this trip and what can our stitchers expect on this trip?

    Thank you, I am so happy to be part of Stitchtopia and really excited to welcome everyone to beautiful Donegal and Northern Ireland. I really love where I am from, so apart from all the stitchy escapades that we will get up to I am most excited for everyone to see and experience what this wonderful part of the world has to offer. You will meet many a friendly face here, lots of hospitality and plenty of good old ‘Craic’.
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  • News from the Bridge Room in the Algarve

    Host's report by Rob Richardson:

    The Holiday Inn, Algarve is a small friendly hotel about 45 min transfer from Faro Airport. The entire holiday, apart from one day, was blessed with warm sunny weather of the kind that we get in the UK in late spring (this comment does not apply in the case of our 2 guests from the Hebrides). There was such a full programme of bridge and hotel activities that we only managed to fit in one excursion, but it was to the end of the World. I should explain that this is Cape St.Vincent, the South West tip of mainland Europe which was considered to be the end of the World by the locals in the middle ages.

    The main bridge session each day attracted between 12 and 14 tables, and it was was nice to see many different winners. This may be in part due to the complimentary wine with the evening meal and the very swift and enthusiastic wine waiter. The hotel particularly excelled itself on the two gala evenings, Christmas Day and New Year’s Eve.

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  • Spotlight on Janice Gunner

    Our leading quilting expert Janice Gunner speaks to us about her love for Japanese and African fabrics, how she feels lost without her much loved sewing bag and how she funded her first home made quilt through pocket money as a child!

    Janice, you are an award-winning quilter, author and teacher. Tell us how you discovered quilting and how you first became passionate about it.

    I began quilting in 1974, not long after I got married. I had made most of my own clothes for many years and couldn’t bear to throw away the left-over fabric, although my first ‘quilt’ was made from fabric samples I had bought from a local market stall as a child with my pocket money! I joined 8” squares together to make a big enough piece to cover the bed. No pattern, just instinct!
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