Arena Travel Blog

  • Cross Stitching in Colonial Williamsburg with Jane Greenoff

    williamsburg-1024x317 "During our visit we were taken behind the scenes for a private view of the antique samplers with resident experts. We were particularly fortunate as whilst we were in Williamsburg, the De Witt Museum were exhibiting Threads of Feeling – Documents and textiles from the Foundling Hospital, London. We had the expert curator, Christina Westenberger who talked about the exhibit but also guided us through their sampler collection. It was a marvellous experience – I wasn’t sure if I was prepared to stitch for a while – those young children worked such exquisite embroidery! However, one of the exhibits was an exquisite pocket sampler and I just had to design one for myself. In the end, I did a four-pocket sampler and a set of little accessories some of which you can see in the pictures below.” pocket
  • Knitting in Umbria with Debbie Abrahams

    umbria What better way to spend a week than relaxing in Italy with a knitted project, surrounded by beautiful scenery. On the knitting retreat  to Umbria I travelled with fourteen enthusiastic knitters to Lake Trasimeno where we enjoyed seven days of relaxation in the sun with our knitting needles and yarn. Our Hotel Lido was nestled on the side of the lake and had stunning views which we were able to enjoy from our rooms, the restaurant and the pool. And we were spoilt with the weather too, with clear blue skies and hot sunny weather every day. The small town of Lake Trasimeno is very charming with some wonderful cafes and restaurants and a Gelateria which our tour rep voted the best place to buy ice-cream in Umbria. So you can guess where most of the ladies disappeared to at some point every day! There were also several shops close to the hotel filled with locally made ceramics, decorated with colourful patterns of fruit, vegetables, birds and traditional motifs. There were just a couple of optional trips planned which were a trip by ferry across to the island of Isola Maggiore and a visit to Perugia including a visit to see a local weaver in her studio. And although we all loved our little spot by the lake, most of the group opted to go on the trips, eager to explore more of the area. Some of the ladies who felt more adventurous planned their own short excursions and walks during the week, returning to the group with tales of where they had been and what they had seen. The knitting project kept everyone busy and we had dedicated workshop times planned into the week where the ladies could meet up together to knit. The project was a cushion-cover and it included intarsia, beading, stripe patterns and some lace too, coloured in a palette inspired by the Umbrian landscape. The ladies seemed to enjoy working on it and they all did very well, some of them learning a technique for the first time and others brushing up on their existing skills. It was a lovely relaxing week and a great mix of travel and knitting in the most wonderful setting. And with the best Umbrian ice-cream on offer every day (and only a short walk from our hotel!), we could not have had a better and more enjoyable week away together in the sun.
  • A new UK Elvis festival launches

    Elvis International UK Festival & Contest Lakeside Country Club, Camberley, Surrey, UK Friday 31st Oct - Sunday 2nd Nov 2014 Book Tickets >> Sixty years after Elvis first walked into Sun Studios to record his first single ‘That’s Alright’, Elvis fans and tribute artists from around the world are being invited to the South’s biggest celebration of ‘The King of Rock n Roll’ at a three day event at the Lakeside in Camberley, Surrey this Autumn. The Elvis International UK Festival & Contest, which takes place from October 31st to November 2nd, will include the International Elvis contest, after show parties, Elvis big-screen discos and all things Elvis with the ultimate prize giving the winner the chance to take part in the Images of the King world finals in Memphis in 2015. The contest will also include a ‘Gospel Showcase’ and a unique “The Voice” style vocal competition with the contestant performing out of sight of the judging panel ensuring that the ETA is judged on vocal ability alone. This exciting new festival also includes showcases from world class ETA’s Mario Kombou and Gordon Elvis PLUS an exclusive performance from BILL CHERRY from the USA- all of whom have won world titles in Memphis, Tennessee in previous years. Bill Cherry, from Illinois USA, who has never before performed in the UK, has won a whole host of awards. As well as winning the Ultimate Elvis Competition in Memphis in 2009, he also won the Ultimate Tribute Artist Preliminaries in Tupelo, Mississippi the same year– making him the first ever ETA to win the title at both the birthplace and the hometown of Elvis Presley in the same consecutive year. Mario Kombou has notched up over 6,000 UK and international performances to date including the lead role in the hit London West End musical production of Jailhouse Rock (in the role of Elvis Presley's character Vince Everett) which had a successful run at the Piccadilly Theatre. Mario also won the Images of the King competition in 2005 in Memphis, Tennessee and currently tours with his own successful concert production “The Elvis Years”. Images of the King Champion 2012, Gordon Elvis, will also be performing at the Festival. Gordon has a huge international following and is well known as one of the leading ETA’s in the world. Gordon also won the European Championships at the Hilton in Birmingham in 2013. There will also be a whole host of other special guests at this event from countries all over the world and the judging panel will be led by Todd Slaughter from the Official Elvis Presley Fan Club of Great Britain. Lakeside Country Club is one of the UK’s premier international cabaret and entertainment venues providing first class facilities, easy access and a unique atmosphere that takes you back in time – enhancing the overall Elvis experience. Contestants: Please call 01473 660 800 for an entry form. Special accommodation rates are available at Lakeside International Hotel. Running order and acts are subject to change. Book Tickets >>
  • News from the Austrian Bridge Room

    austria Hosts Report by Barry & Maggie Watts The four star Postwirt hotel was the venue for this year’s bridge holiday in Soll in the stunning Wilder Kaiser area of Austria. History relates that the magnificent backdrop of mountains were named by Charles the Great who exclaimed, “Long after I will have ceased to be, you will still be an emperor.” The mountain scenery is worth the praise and because the whole area is a ski resort in winter, there are cable cars to many high spots from which the magnificent scenery can be enjoyed by walkers and non-walkers alike; usually from a delightful café at the top. The town of Soll is a beautiful Austrian town. It is compact with most facilities, including many restaurants and bars within walking distance. The towns folk are welcoming and warm-hearted and seem to be living a constant festival. Almost every day the bridge sessions are accompanied by the sound of the Town brass band or choir or by zither players. It is a very happy place to go to for a holiday and there is so much to do that it was difficult to fit in the bridge. austria2 The Postwirt is a family owned, traditional Austrian ski hotel. The staff were most welcoming and worked hard throughout our stay to provide everything needed to make our holiday enjoyable and memorable. We arrived in a heatwave with temperatures in the high 30s; extraordinary for Austria at any time of year. It took most of the first week to cool down so not only were the initial bridge sessions hotly contested as usual but also they were just hot! The weather was great, the bridge most enjoyable and the holiday a great success. We are already looking forward to next year. Directors Report by Bob Baker What does it mean when the opponents bid unopposed to a game and we double? Well, it could be that you simply don’t believe them, or it could be that you know that suits (especially trumps) are breaking badly for them. But when the bidding goes 1NT    pass    3NT   double then the double has a special meaning: it says “Partner, I have a solid suit worth at least five tricks if you lead it”. Of course, partner has no trouble working out what that suit would be – usually. However, the following hand occurred one evening in Austria: bridge With neither side vulnerable, West dealt and opened 1NT (12-14) and, after a pass from North, was raised, reasonably enough, to 3NT Now South has a classic hand for a double - a solid suit that, as long as his partner leads it, will surely guarantee the defeat of the contract. So South doubled, and when that was followed by three passes 3NT doubled became the contract. The bidding: West   North   East   South 1NT    pass    3NT  double all pass Now, of course, the spotlight fell on North. Now North knew exactly what his partner’s double meant, but looking at his hand he could not tell which of three suits (spades, diamonds or clubs) his partner had. As you can see, if he chose to lead a minor suit declarer would have no trouble in making his game, with five diamond tricks and four club tricks. Indeed, at several tables, after 1NT was raised to 3NT (and South failed to double) the contract was made on a club or diamond lead. Rather than guess which suit to lead, North found a clever solution to his problem. He led his A and waited for dummy to appear. After this it was clear that the only solid suit that could be held by South was spades, so at trick two North switched to a spade and his happy partner took the next six tricks. The 3NT game was three down – well doubled and well defended.
  • Knitting in Umbria with Debbie Abrahams

    P1030208A Read all about Debbie's knitting retreat to Umbria via her daily blog! Don't forget to check back each day for her new updates!

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