Wednesday, August 17

To the Festival of Quilts, by bus and train

Day 3 at F of Q

I don't like rushing breakfast so I'd asked for it at 7.30 so that I would have plenty of time before I got the 9.01 bus to Redditch station.  I scoffed - orange juice, blueberries and strawberries with yogurt, two poached eggs and two rashers of bacon, 3 half pieces of toast and marmalade and 3 cups of tea. With side dishes of Olympics on the TV and light conversation with Frank, the other guest, who was a coach driver. That day he was taking his party of scouts to the West Midlands Safari Park and a theme park. Didn't sound very scouty to me, unless they were going to practise survival techniques whilst actually roaming around amongst the lions etc.. 

At the bus stop I got chatting to another fine example of Mature Redditch Lady. We discussed the pub behind us that was being converted, rather tastefully I thought, into flats. From Redditch I got the train to the Festival of Quilts at the NEC and arrived about 11. First stop - coffee, and bar of chocolate as a treat. Coffee only average. Chocolate very nice.

My sister, Kate Dowty, who I was meeting later had warned me that the first day was always the busiest, and oh boy it certainly was busy. I whizzed round lots of quilts trying to avoid getting in the way of people taking photos of them, and nearly getting run down by mobility scooters. (Now here's a very politically incorrect thing to say, and obviously some people have very genuine reasons for using these things, but do SOME people use these things purely because they are, er, overweight and can't walk far for that reason? Hmmmmmmm, I wonder......) I don't dawdle over quilts that don't instantly attract me, I just speed past to the ones that do.

I also made a beeline to Gillian Travis, whose work I only recently discovered and like very much. She also cycles! What is it with cycling and sewing? I just keep meeting people who do both!

I have to say here that the Festival is HUGE, and you really need two days to take it all in (like the two ladies I chatted to over coffee who were staying the night in a nearby hotel). I know I missed a lot, but thankfully I did see lots to inspire me. One of my favourite quilters is Kim Porter of Worn and Washed Fabrics and I stayed at her stall and looked and chatted for quite some time. [In fact, I looked at her website this morning and there I am doing just that! The one peering over the end of her glasses...]

I also loved the work of  Ingrid Press. Something about the colours and fabrics and simplicity of them all. Some of her quilts were hanging up specifically for people to handle, which as you will know if you go to quilty things you are not allowed to do! I actually got told off for touching a quilted garment because I had completely forgotten you weren't supposed to. Immediately a nearby person-in-white-gloves accosted me and asked me not to touch, but she did so very nicely. I was the first person she'd had to tell off! Anyway I had a good handle of Ingrid's lovely quilts.

And then, while browsing the stalls, who should I spot but Florence of! I recognised her from her photo on the blog, and we had a lovely chat about sewing and children's books. Florence was as nice in real life as she appears in her blog.

My sister treated me to lunch of chicken and vegetables and orange juice, just what the recovering cyclist needed. How she survives 4 days of the F of Q, what with teaching and all I don't know! I'd had it by fact I was so tired I couldn't think straight and had to ask various people -

"How do I get out of this place?????" I just couldn't remember, or work out the map in the guide......what was that I said in an earlier post about being a good map reader?

So, back on the train. Now this is what gets me - I reckon that 80% of people at the stations were holding their smartphones out in front of them. You know how it is - a bag slung over the shoulder and the other arm stuck out in front with the phone in the hand. I am the sort of person who has an ancient Nokia and only uses it infrequently, and I wanted to grab all their phones and chuck them across to the other platform. And all these city dwellers look so unhealthy and miserable. I got on the train, which was packed, and asked one Young Person -

"Is anyone sitting here?"

as you do when someone is taking up a seat with their bag and not moving it even when they can CLEARLY see that the train is packed and someone needs that seat.................(there's even an official notice up at the station about not leaving your baggage on the seat!)

Oh what an effort it was for her to even begin to move that huge bag.........she looked as if she was thinking something very nasty about me...........  In the end I spotted another seat and with a "Oh never mind" to Young Person I sat there instead. Her very large friend, sat opposite her, was quite definitely taking up more than one seat and the poor lady sat next to her was being edged off hers.

Back at Redditch bus station, I asked Redditch Lady on her Mobile if there was a loo nearby I could use. She just about managed to distract herself from said phone long enough to tell me that I might be able to use the ones in Macdonald's upstairs. I ran upstairs (didn't have many minutes before the last bus went) and dashed into Prezzo's instead, apologising and asking if I could use their loo. I made it back to the bus just in time.

On the bus I asked the driver if he could tell me where to get off, informing me that I was staying in a B and B near some shops at Astwood Bank. He looked at me, in between biting his nails, as if I was mad. I don't think he actually spoke. He just shook his head. I said -

"You're not local then?"

Shake of head and more biting of nails.

Honestly, aren't bus drivers supposed to be knowledgeable and helpful? To give them their due, a lot are, but not this one. By the end of the journey I certainly felt like telling him where to get off.

I purposely sat next to what I thought might be another kindly and knowledgeable example of Perhaps Slightly Less Mature Redditch Lady, but she proved to be not quite so kindly and knowledgeable, and was also staring at her phone, so when I put to her the same question that I had put to the driver she just said -

"Sorry, I'm not going that far".


Anyway in the end I just kept looking at the numbers on the buildings and I got off with just a short walk to go to my B and B. I did not thank the driver.....

Back at Corner Cottage, which incidentally is conveniently close to the start of the West Midlands Cycle Route, I spoke to Husband on phone. He had tried to get me booked into a B and B for Friday night, so that I could stick to my plan of cycling home in two days, using the West Midlands Cycle Route to and through Stratford-on-Avon and then travelling south on that route to Shipston-on-Stour, then home via Burford. (Here I should add that I will try and sort out adding route maps to any future posts on cycle rides, but meanwhile you can request to follow me on Strava if you so wish!) However, despite trying for two hours, everywhere was booked, so he had worked out a new route for me to cycle home in one day, about 65 miles, which was further than I've ever done in one day, but he said that if I felt I had to give up I could ring him and he would come and pick me up. So that's what we agreed I would do. I was looking forward to it.

I knew I wouldn't be making that call of shame unless I was really desperate!!! 

And so to bed, at the very grown up time of 9 pm.

Tomorrow - did I make it???? Don't miss the next episode!

[Have finally managed to upload my pics, so in the next post you can see my campsite, and loaded bike. Must get my camera sorted out before next trip....]

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