Arena Travel Blog

  • 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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  • Philippa Naylor Q&A

    Philippa Naylor is an award winning quilter and textile artist. She combines her technical expertise and designer training to produce intricately pieced, applique or whole-cloth quilts which are heavily machine quilted often utilising trapunto. This week we speak to Philippa about her first love of garment making, how she can’t live without her Bernina machine, and how she ended up selling hand made Christmas decorations in Saudi Arabi!

    Hi Philippa, we are very excited about you leading your first ever quilting trip to Italy. Tell us how you discovered quilting and how you first became passionate about it.

    I'm not sure there is an easy answer to this. I have always loved textiles of all kinds, and have sewn from a young age. After finishing A' levels I trained at Manchester Polytechnic, for 4 years, to become a clothing designer. I worked in industry as a lingerie designer and then moved to Saudi Arabia in 1989 with my husband (who was an English language teacher) and set up a wedding and evening dress business. I was in Saudi selling Christmas decorations (that I had made) at a bazaar. The lady on the next stall was advertising her quilting classes and 'encouraged' me to sign up for one (she did this for several hours). In the end I gave in and agreed to go on one of her courses. And of course I loved the whole process. That was in 1996.
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  • Crafty New Year Resolutions

    With the New Year approaching here at Stitchtopia HQ we have decided to make a resolution that is easy to keep; to be more ‘crafty’!

    Our experts have had the same idea and between them plan to learn new techniques, knit more and use their stash of supplies on making fun projects. Read on to see what other crafty New Year resolutions our experts are promising to keep!

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  • Mandy Shaw Q&A

    This week we have been speaking to the fantastic UK textile designer and quilting tutor, Mandy Shaw on how she fell head over heels in love with quilting, her plans for Christmas and she spills the beans on her crafting plans for 2017.

    Mandy, you are a well know personality in the world of crafting and are the owner of an internet based company Dandelion Designs. Tell us how you discovered quilting and how you first became passionate about it.

    I have always made things since a little girl. My dolls and teddy bears were very important to me and I would make their clothes and bedding. I made my first patchwork quilt in the early eighties, while my friends were out dancing I was sewing! And then as soon as I started my family I adorned my home and children with homemade crafts of all varieties.
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