I may have been delightfully prepared for High Tea last week, but when it comes to sewing up some new clothes … well, there’s no time like just before we need to leave for whipping up something new to wear!
Recently, my local fabric store had their French General fabrics cut and rolled up with a bow into 1 metre lengths for $10 – a bargain if ever there was. And as Noah and I have been watching the sweet television series “When Calls the Heart”, I was dreaming of Elizabeth styled skirts and decided four 1 metre pieces would provide plenty of opportunity for early 20th century details. But as the weeks passed, the skirt plans kind of faded – and I do have sooooo many skirts – and were replaced with quirky ideas for a pair of pantaloon styled trousers. Just simple ones with an elasticised waist and loose elasticised cuffs. I figured I only needed to cut the inner leg according to a simple pants pattern and then if I made the other side the width of the fabric I would wind up with fabulously full pantaloons worthy of any genie in a bottle. The only detail I really needed to think about was getting the fabric placement right so I would wind up with alternating fabrics for each leg piece. I realise this wee detail probably sounds very simple to you but honestly, if there are two ways of doing something – the right and the wrong – I can be guaranteed I will get it wrong the first time. I have an uncanny knack for it!
So, last Wednesday, we’d planned a bicycling picnic to the beautiful Tuross Heads with my Mum and Aunty Anne. The picnic was taken care of – Noah packed the hamper with left over treats from our High Tea and we would buy the best fish and chips on the Far South Coast there. Truly they are! If you’re ever driving along the Princes Highway and see the turnoff for Tuross Heads, follow the road in, turn at the shops sign and there, in the little nest of shops set back from the beach are the yummiest flathead tails, potato scallops, and chips you’ll find. Then of course, you will be able to pop over to the beautiful beachfront and sit in one of several tree lined parks, looking out at the crisp, sparkling ocean gently rolling in whilst munching on your deep fried delights. Glorious stuff!
But back to the pantaloons. So that morning, after coffees and cross stitch on the terrace, I shoved the table cloth aside, carefully laid out my fabric and pattern and set to stitching. I also added about 3 inches to the crotch – I simply am not built for these low crotch pants that barely skim the hips – ugh! Like Katherine Hepburn in her heyday, I’m very fond of a nice high waist. Thankfully, I managed to sort out the alternating fabric and it was quicker to stitch the pantaloons up then it was to prepare and cut the fabric. Because I was in a wee bit of a rush and had limited fabric, I deliberately cut the waistband lengthways instead of across. Ahhh … you’d never think I’d sewed for 3o years would you. It made for an awkward setting – just pulled weirdly. Mayhaps I will replace it one day when I cannot think of anything else to do. Or more likely, that will never happen and now that the elastic is in and the pants are on, you cannot tell that anything is amiss so I will just leave them as they are! But next time …
By the time Mum and Aunty Anne arrived here at Wombat Hill to set off for our adventures, and Noah had packed the hamper, and Julian had packed the trailer full of bicycles, I was dressed and ready in … bicycling pantaloons of course! I adore them! As did Mum and Aunty Anne. Julian just shakes his head and smiles. Mum especially liked the alternating fabric – took her back to the mid 1980s when we all had shorts just like this in all manner of funny, cute fabrics – it was all the rage at the time – with a Lacrosse Polo shirt – preferably pale pink – and a pair of navy leather deck shoes – and just like me, she would whip them up first thing in the morning at the kitchen table, whilst we stood waiting beside her chair, reminding her of just what time we needed to be at the bus stop.
As for the picnic – well it was utterly perfect. Our favourite spot – perched right on the edge of the thickly grassed cliff top, overlooking the river mouth, down to Narooma, and in the distance, Montague Island. With the towering Norfolk Pine sentinels around us. Our lovely old picnic quilt, stitched all those years ago on Mum’s verandah in Brisbane, spread out next to the picnic quilt I stitched for Mum when she first retired to Merimbula – and Aunty Anne now wants one too. With tin cups of ginger beer, hot salty, lemony fish and chips, and plenty of chocolate caramel slice, vanilla slice, and jam drops to finish off. The Famous Five would have loved it.
Then, with too full bellies, we took turns pedalling along Tuross Head’s marvellous bike path that runs along the beach edge, past sandy stretches, and pebbly coves where the waves rush right up, always with the Norfolk Pines by our side, then down, down, down, onto the shadowy almost hidden path that disappears behind the beachside houses and pops out on a perfectly clacketty wooden bridge and through the wetlands. We love it. All of our bicycles are old bikes – all pre 1980 – that Julian finds on roadside throw outs, at dumpshops, and occasionally on ebay – that he spends hours restoring – he cleans and paints the frames, replaces handgrips and seats, carefully balances wheels (not sure what it is he does but it takes hours and involved hanging the wheels on the clothesline), and takes apart and meticulously cleans and restores the gears and brakes. He’s a gem. I love the ones he restores with the old fashioned walk throughs and handle bars – I feel like a character in a Miss Marple book tootling through the village!
Neither Mum or Aunty Anne had ridden a bike in decades – but as they say … However, I did insist on Julian accompanying each little bicycling party just in case … It was a wonderful afternoon. Mum’s mad keen to go again and Aunty Anne is going home to buy her own bicycle.
And we Boots will be back as soon as we can – oh we do feel so blessed to live in such a beautiful corner of the world – especially now that I have bicycling pantaloons ;-)