We make a summer bucket list each year. Not everything is ticked off before we find ourselves clambering around for sports bags and school shoes which I swore I had stowed in a sensible place this time. Some items on the list are old favourites. Flying kites and crazy golf are always there. Without fail.
This year, I think we have found another favourite. Messing around on the river.
In all fairness, we did hire a rowing boat last year, up in the Lake District, so maybe the tradition started last year.
This year, we hired a boat to go along the Kennet and Avon canal.
A very relaxing way to explore the canal. We took a picnic and headed along the canal from Limpey Stoke over to Bradford-upon-Avon. There are canal boats moored along the way.
The children didn’t grow bored of looking at each one and enjoying the names of the boats. They were intrigued at the idea that some people lived full time on the boats. Even spotted cats curled up in the sun on the boats. Some boats had the most amazing container gardens, providing them with fresh food.
Each of the children had a go at steering the boat. Eldest became quite proficient at it. This is not a speed boat. We were advised to stick to walking speed which suited me. It was perfect for wildlife spotting.
There were several herons along the banks. They obviously had the measure of the crazy humans in boats and realised that they were pretty safe, as they chose not to fly away, but to watch us. We spotted a lady shoo one out of her canal side garden, and it was most reluctant to leave. On our return trip, I noticed it was in another part of the same garden. A determined bird, who knew an easy meal, I think.
We also caught a glimpse of a kingfisher. There were a few little holes in the muddy banks, but no sign of their residents.
There were plenty of ducks that flocked as soon as they saw boats, in the hope of being fed.
Our route took us over an aquaduct which goes over the river Avon. It is quite a sight. Not easy to appreciate when you are on a boat, as the walls block the view. We have walked over it before.
We passed plenty of other people, enjoying the canal. There were canoes, paddle boards and narrow boats, of course. Lots of people obviously holidaying in narrow boats. Must be lovely to wake up in the morning, when it is quiet, and see the wildlife.
It was a fabulous afternoon. We really loved messing around on the river. We are hoping to get some canoes sometime soon. So maybe this family tradition will carry on.
*I really should add that it wasn’t until we were half way to Bradford, that we realised that the children didn’t have life jackets on. Oops! The canal is quite shallow and the children are all confident swimmers. Next time, I’ll make sure they are properly attired from the start. Despite the title of this blog post, they were very sensible and there was no messing around.
Seeing as it’s the summer, I offered to make the Boy a shirt. It’s the one time of the year that I can sew something for him, that isn’t going to spend most of its time hidden under layers of warm clothes. I love sewing for him. He always choses such fun prints for his fabric and has just as much fun wearing them.
I’m a big believer that boy’s clothes don’t have to the boring. When his older sisters were little, I used to feel sorry for the boys’ clothes sections in shops. They always seemed to be full of muddy, green coloured clothes, as if they already anticipated the colour the garments would turn after a day outside on the back of an adventurous boy. What did they think washing machines were for? Also, why the girls weren’t supposed to join in, I really don’t know. Judging by the colours in their clothes sections, their world was brighter and cleaner.
Then the Boy arrived in our lives and I found myself searching out brighter colours. He wore a lot of red and brighter blues. He has his share of darker clothes, but he has a sense of fun, so why shouldn’t his clothes reflect it? Least when I sew, I can add that in.
Back to this summer’s shirt.
He suggested a long sleeve shirt this time round.
Gulp. That means a pattern with both a collar and two cuffs. At the same time. OK. Time to get the big scissors out.
He chose a dog print. We have big dogs so of course he adores small dogs. His ultimate favourite are dachshunds. It’s the paws and the way they walk. Everything, really.
We couldn’t find a dacksy print in cotton, but we did find one with Boston Terriers, Beagles, Basset Hounds and Pugs on it. Close enough.
I love that blue.
Turns out the cuffs weren’t as hard as I thought. The instructions walked me through it without a problem. Only two niggly points. I thought the cuff would be bigger. More like a grown-up shirt covering more of the wrist. Next time, I’ll cut them out twice as big. The other problem is that somehow the sleeves are a bit too short. I thought I’d measured. I think this is my error and not to do with the pattern.
He loves the sleeve length. I can see how it stops them draping in paint and food, which is a good thing, but I am really tempted to cut out bigger cuffs and swap them for the smaller attached version. It wouldn’t take too long and it would mean he could wear this shirt next year.
I added buttons to the cuffs that look like cufflinks and he is as pleased as punch that they look like his father’s, without being as fiddly.
The collar wasn’t too different from the usual shirt pattern I make for him. I still paused. Misunderstood. Understood. Added notes to the pattern for next time and moved on. Am I the only one that adds notes? I do it in recipe books too. Amazing how I manage to forget in between and then am glad of my scribblings.
As always I like a matching front. It would have looked weird to have dogs cut in half in the centre of the shirt. I really think it is worth taking time at the cutting out stage to get this right. I took the advice of the fabric shop on how much extra to order, to allow for the repeat of the pattern, so it would match. I wasn’t keen to repeat the same mistake as last time.
I did manage to sew all the buttons on in the wrong place, as I did it late at night. Out came the unpicker and they were sewn on again. When will I learn!
The buttons are simple, half inch shirt buttons. I have my Grandmother’s collection of buttons. Bringing up four sons, she was a resourceful lady. I have a tube of these buttons which show signs of being cut off other garments. Presumably once the shirts were worn out, they were turned into dusters or rags, while the buttons were saved for another shirt. Nothing was wasted.
So the shirt is made and being worn. The Boy could not be happier. I took the children into Bath for a bit of back to school shopping and a hair cut for the Boy. It’s the height of tourist season, although that is pretty much all year round for Bath.
I don’t usually take my camera on shopping trips, but this time it was too good an opportunity to take some photos of the Boy in his new shirt. Bath is a fabulous setting.
I thought I’d fit right in with my camera, while we did our shopping. Its true. You cannot walk anywhere without dodging a good number of people holding a phone or camera. One person even walked straight into me as she filmed her whole trip around Bath. She will have captured the moment when she startled an English woman. Weighed down with shopping bags and a camera.
My daughter was less than pleased when I stood in the middle of the shopping area and snapped the flying bikes. Why not? There was a bunch of tourists doing it. Why not a local too? I could hardly resist flying bikes now could I?
Anyway, the sewing details….
Notes and alterations to the pattern
I made view A in size M. I added a bit of length to the shirt as the Boy is tall, but slender. He is age 9.
I liked the folded pleats where the sleeve meets the cuff. It adds interest and also a bit of room in the sleeve. There is also a little loop and button at the top of the front, which closes the top of the shirt. Presumably useful when wearing a tie, although I don’t think the Boy will use it.
I would add length to the sleeves next time.
The repeat is big. To match the pattern, I was adviced to add an extra 30cm. This turned out to be plenty.
I used french seams, instead of the suggested ones, as I think they give a better finish.
Would I make it again? Yes.
Disclosure: Minerva Crafts supplied me with the fabric and pattern, in return for a review. All opinions and words are my own, and honest.