As I hinted to in my last post - beach wear has been required. We had ourselves a little week in an all-inclusive resort in Cape Verde on the island of Boa Vista:
A lot of people have asked for my opinion on the island as a holiday destination since hearing i was going, so I thought i'd take some time to write, both as a bit of diary of the holiday and also for anyone thinking of going there.
As you can see from the above screenshot of the map - there's not a lot there! Boa Vista is a small island around 620km² ..... That's basically 618km² of nothing and a couple of hotels. When we arrived the airport kinda gave away the idea that the island is still very much in it's pre-tourist era. Reminiscent of spanish airports in the early 1970's, it was a hut and a short runway, which you walked across (on the pedestrian marked crossings of course!) to get to the aforementioned "hut". In through a door, straight on the back of the queue for passport control, and behind that the two baggage carousels. This isn't a complaint by any stretch, it was efficient and clean and there (at the moment) is no need for anything more. It was beautifully simplistic after Gatwick's cattle market. (I truly felt there like the ball bearing in a game of bagatelle - put in one end and manoeuvred across acres of corridor til i fell out the other side on a plane!). Anyway as we landed i could hear many people in the plane who could see the sister hotel to ours out of the window and who had clearly been before "there she is/won't be long/beach still looks perfect" (it does seem that a good proportion of visitors were repeating the experience - i heard many over the weekend say that they'd been before) That hotel was seemingly very close to the airport (it wouldn't have mattered noise wise, there are only 10 odd flights a day at the moment). Ours was a little further, around half an hour - as you can see by the map above - we had a road....... most of the way ;) The hotel stands out like a village, in fact it felt as big as the capital city that we went to later in the week. Obviously it's not .... well not quite. As we approached it appeared like an oasis.
That is a tiny corner of it! Keen to explore we checked in and dumped our bags and headed out to get our bearings. Our room was at one far end of the complex, at the furthest end from us was an infinity pool, and stairway to the beach, the exercise area (didn't visit that again!) a bar, and the spa area. Coming back toward the middle was a massive pool area surrounded by sun loungers and umbrellas, a big buffet snack restaurant (which doubled as the African themed restaurant in the evenings) A pool bar and another stairway to the beach where as well as loungers etc there were also volley ball nets and football nets, and the water sports centre. Also in this middle area - but behind was the main square where there was a stage for evening entertainment, the big main restaurant, bars, themed restaurants, a couple of shops and a doctors! (handy but luckily unecessary!). Back at our own end there was an area for adults only (which we didn't have access to but apparently included another pool and another stairway to the beach) I understood from listening around that the hotel has been extended and it was massive! Someone said around 2000 rooms, but the information says 800 (to be honest 2000 seems more likely given the size but who knows!) Our first evening buffet was interesting. Never having been on an all-inclusive holiday before, we weren't used to the melee that surrounds mealtimes. To get to the food felt at times like trying to cross the M25, but we soon got the measure of it and i'm sure by the end of the week looked like pro's (or maybe still looked like rabbits in headlights but just felt a bit more comfortable). The food choice was amazing and I amazed myself at the combinations i managed to create. Why is it that given a large buffet to choose from you find yourself incapable of putting together a normal meal, but instead grab whatever you fancy - vegetable lasagne and pork chops anyone? Nice!! For this reason (mostly) by the end of the week i was bored to tears with the food on offer. It was still great food and a very large variety, but every night had been that same variety. And as I hadn't managed to gain the ability to choose a theme at any stage during the week, I'd eaten the best bits (most nights) and still didn't fancy the rest. We did eat in the other restaurants - there was no restriction on how many nights you used the others, just that you had to book. But we soon realised that really they were also just offering the same food for the most part, but in a more sedate setting (which was welcome!) At 9pm there was an hours entertainment, which generally was of a very acceptable and watchable standard. There was only one night where i chose to withdraw, and that was more about my likes than the performance. I don't much care for the original Justin Bieber or Katy Perry, so someone else doing their songs isn't likely to float my boat! However the Abba night, the Rock Gods night, and the various dance nights were all very watchable and good fun. So what followed were essentially 7 days of moving from pool to beach (beach mostly), listening to iTunes, and reading. We did two excursions - whale watching, which was rubbish - not because there weren't any whales but because it was bloody freezing, rough as heck, windy, cloudy, windy and did I mention COLD! (and I was sick as a dog despite taking pills, which peeved me more than a little) Most of the people on the trip felt it should have been cancelled given the weather, or at least we should have been offered the chance to rebook. No one had clothing appropriate for the conditions. And we didn't see any whales! Not that that is a problem - on a sunny or calm-ish day the boat trip would still have been a pleasure. But this really wasn't. The second was a trip to the capital city, up beyond the airport.
(Where we saw the only colour other than green that we had seen all week!) The guide was local, and hugely informative. His English was excellent and the trip was well thought out and flowed from one part of the town to another. There were two stops for local food tastes, and an opportunity to buy souvenirs from a fixed price vendor if you didn't fancy running the gauntlet with the market (i say market, it was 4 stalls! but they tried bless them) A look at the local fish market, and the area where the island inhabitants get their drinking water. The laundry, the harbour,
the school (the only high school on the island, and not accessible really to anyone living outside the capital city) and a church. And it was this trip that got the old grey matter working...... An island with 15000 odd inhabitants. That grows no produce, has no livestock save a few cows and quite a lot of free-roaming goats, has one city and two shanty towns (around half the population live in the capital, the rest are split between the two villages). Where the village dwellers still have to walk 2.5km to fetch their drinking water which they carry back in 25litre containers on their heads, or if they can afford to get them taken back in the wagon. Where there is no public transport at all, and if you want to go to high school from either of the villages, it's around 10 Euros a day in transport costs, which is unattainable to most. A stunningly beautiful empty island:
Where you know that tourism gives the population a chance of employment and earning something, but you also know in your heart that they are probably being taken the mickey out of. Without employment they have no chance of sending their children to school, or getting any more built. With tourism may come a public transport system of some sort that could get children to school and food and water to the villages. That will more than likely bring the possibility of electricity to the villages. But already the cost is that 90% of the coast line is sold and in 15-20 years I would say this island and the others in Cape Verde will be unrecognisable. Already there is a huge landfill site off the main road that you can just about see where the garbage from our wasteful tourist existence goes. That the workers in the hotel are mostly resident in the shanty towns, and despite these massive hotels having been there a few years now, there has not been a big improvement in those living situations. That the food and everything for the hotels is imported for those hotels, and therefore is not helping the nutritional standards for the villages in any way. But that the island could not in any way support these hotels even with massive investment. The land is desolate and barren. Even the goats had trouble scratching a living! (You could almost see them gathering around waiting for a green shoot to appear) - although it made for great merriment when they got in the hotel grounds....... instant decimation!) It was a real dichotomy of feelings. The hotel was amazing. The staff were attentive, clean and courteous. The hotel and rooms were beautifully clean (there was a smell of untreated water in the toilets, which was a bit hard to take if you'd drunk too much! but at least they flushed!! :D and the bigger toilets in the public areas didn't seem to suffer the same fate so we tried to use those as much as possible) It was large and spacious and apart from getting the food at the evening buffet, it was calm and unrushed. The drinks were acceptable - wine was a bit rough, but the spirits were fine, and the food was well cooked and tasty, if a little repetitive. There was no lack of anything at all. You really could'nt have wished for more. We were unlucky with the weather in that it was cloudy all week. So even at 28Deg C with the island breeze and a cloud covering, it felt cold. I spent a fair amount of time with a hoodie on! But we got a tan despite that and at least we could walk up and down the beaches to amuse ourselves for a couple of hours without risk of sunstroke! We watched a few men fishing (and in truth the week would have been better for both of us if someone had taken a fishing rod!!!) and spent hours looking out to sea... because both of us can do that for a good few hours seemingly! (I should add that there was a red flag every day for swimming and apparently that is the case almost all the time)
Would we go again? I think so if we wanted this kind of holiday. But I'd take more things to do. Definitely a fishing rod for his nibs (preferably a fairly cheap one we could leave there for a local to use when we left). A pack of cards! I'd probably ditch the company excursions and try to find a local taxi to use to go to a couple of different beaches or the other side of the island (I believe there is a single beach bar round there!!!!) I'd take more cardigans! (in the hope that I wouldn't need them!) And my binoculars! Because on the last day, we did see our whales... from the hotel beach. 3 or 4 humpbacks about halfway to the horizon (so probably a mile and half or so) and easily seen with the naked eye. But Bino's would have been better. (although the amount of sand that got blown around i'd have to think carefully about that i suppose!) Generally though we like a slightly more active holiday, or at least the choice to be more active/get out more/see more. I've been to Gambia and the Azores and both of those holidays had more to offer in terms of things to see. But for sitting on an amazing beach - even if I was freezing some of the time. Well for just that, this would be hard to beat.
So, just a few photos to update you on how the chair is going. I've piped the front scrolls and covered the bottom. I'm making the cushion just now but that may take a while!!
In other "making" type news. Himself has been playing with his new welder. We are playing with old horseshoes and things to put cookware on fires on. Pot stands and griddle stands: (We got the idea on our cooking on fire weekend last year - do you remember that?)
We had a lot of fun playing with patterns (to say nothing of the welder - who knew that was such fun?) And you know - I do love a bit of fire, and i love cooking outside whenever I can. Not much of one for standard BBQ's these are ideal.
Finally: There has been a little sewing - it's not perfect, but i'm still very much a beginner. Top is Myla, and trousers are Simplicity 1663
Beachwear!!! I'll tell you about that next time ;)
Sorry it's more pictures than words today but i'm short on time. I may edit and describe the upholstery a bit better at a later date (if i can remember what i did!) for my own information, but don't bank on it!
So..... my upholstery course had a little hiatus, due to circumstances beyond my control! But as my chair is only half finished, and knowing that this course is something mummy would wholeheartedly approve of, i booked another term!
At the end of the last upholstery post I believe I had re-foamed the arms as i wanted them with a little more padding than they had. I could feel the wood of the arms if i leant on them, and as i knit in chairs, i decided to take the opportunity to add a little "give".
Then cutting out a rectangle to fit over the arm from down inside the seat up and over and down around and under the outside. It doesn't make sense writing it like that really, but this first photo shows the outside under the arm - that's hard work stapling in there!
This second photo shows the inside - the fabric is tucked down alongside the seat and stapled under the seat wherever i could.
The next job was pleating the front. not as easy job - and i needed to remember that i would need to match the second side so the pleats had to be even and a sensible number! - I tried to do it with temporary tacks but they wouldn't hold the pleats so in the end i stapled each pleat as i went
And then tried to match the second side. its not perfect, but then if i'd wanted a perfect job i'd have paid someone to do it! I want this to be my accomplishment - and it seems even more important just now.
So this is the end of week 7.
In my last week of last term, i made some piping and put it round the back and down the wings. I cut my velvet on the bias (didn't need to be a full 45deg but a definite slant!) then wrap it round piping cord and sew it down nice and tight to the cord using a piping foot. It's then attached to the chair with staples as symmetrically as possible (I laughed a little at that!)
And I stapled a bit of poly wadding on to pad out the wings a little and give a little plumpness under the fabric!
So, today i went back, and had pretty much completely forgotten how to do anything! I had already cut the two wing pieces out so checking my nap comes down the chair, i used a cardboard tape at the top and staples to secure the wing fabric under the piping as tightly as possible. Stopping just before the curved end.
With a little poly wadding to give something to pull down over!
Then pulling that down tight and making a few anchor points a the bottom and back with temp tacks
i started to fold the last side inside the piping and pin it in:
Lots of slits on the inside hem to allow the fabric to curve, and lots of pulling it down and out! (there's a lot of that in upholstery!)
And finally sewing it in, using ladder stitch (which I call mattress stitch) and a curved needle (still pricked myself plenty!)
No photo at the end of the day - cos I'm a ditz! but basically the two sides are very nearly complete. Just need to staple them down at the back and bottom.
In other news, my little lady, Spot went to sleep for the last time at the end of October last year. It was just the week before Mum passed away - maybe she was going to help Mum over the bridge - she always did look after her. There's not much more to say. My best friend, my girl and I miss her. There are two new kids on the block though! - More about them another time.