French Liquor License Cross Stitch Pattern

This French liquor license cross stitch pattern is now available in my Etsy shop!french liquor license cross stitch pattern

 

french liquor license cross stitch pattern original signThis fun pattern is based on an enameled metal sign I saw outside the Hotel Le Tropicana in Douville, France. I thought it was a really charming sign and I immediately knew that I would stitch one for myself someday.

The number IV (4) indicates that the establishment can sell all types of beers, wines, and spirits. License types I, II, and III exist as well.

 

 

 

We stayed at this hotel as the 2014 Tour de France individual time trial (ITT) stage passed very close by. In a previous blog post, I shared a little about why the ITT is our favorite stage to watch and some highlights and videos of the Tour.

gypsy ways update 6 french sign translation failI’m going to repeat myself a bit from that same previous post: “One of my favorite finds of the summer was very near our hotel. There is a nice little campground with a lake, [and] this is one of the signs around the lake:

 

 

The English part of the sign really means to say ‘Swimming in the lake is prohibited,’ so one can only assume this is just a spectacular web-based translation fail.” Although this sign is a cute favorite, I don’t plan on creating a cross stitch pattern based on it.

I’ve always been curious about the date on the plaque – 24 September 1941. This was after France fell to the Germans in World War II. There are few other images of this plaque on the web, but the ones I have seen have the same date. So was this liquor license law something that was in legislative process before the German invasion, or was this law something that the Germans insisted upon during their occupation? I’d enjoy to hear any insights into the matter.

This French liquor license cross stitch pattern is a perfect project for your favorite Francophiles (fans of French culture), oenophiles (fans of wine), and beer connoisseurs. It would look great in a kitchen, dining room, home bar, media room – wherever good libations are enjoyed!

Gypsy Ways Update 10 – QM2 and Cross Country

Gypsy ways update 10 begins with us boarding the elegant Queen Mary 2 at Southampton after a wonderful time in England and Western Europe.Queen Mary 2 Ocean Liner II

[Queen Mary 2 Ocean Liner by Gerald via Flickr]

The QM2 is a truly magnificent ship. And everyone is quick to remind you that this is an “ocean going liner” and certainly not a “cruise ship.”

I’ll repeat a bit from an earlier update – “The main reason we take the QM2 is because they offer kennel service, and if we’re doing some extensive traveling, we like to bring our dog. Transportation by water is not my favorite as I get terribly seasick (even on a lake), but as a way to get across the Atlantic with the dog and all of our luggage (as much as you can fit in your cabin is allowed), it’s a great way to go.

“The dogs are restricted to a small area on the ship (deck 12, starboard aft), and they have to learn to do their ‘business’ on the teak decking, which can be challenging for our four-legged friends. There is a full time kennel master who takes outstanding care of the dogs and keeps the kennels very clean and comfy, and we’re allowed to spend time with the dogs for various stretches totaling 7 to 8 hours a day. All the dog people get to know each other and the other dogs as we spend most of our days together in the kennels.”

In that previous update, I promised to share a few more photos, so here they are…gypsy ways update 10 - qm2 kennels on deck

The door to the kennels is open and you can see that the gate at the fore end of the kennel deck is closed to keep the pooches inside. The kennel masters bring out chairs and provide blankets to help keep everyone warm. In fact, my dog Scully is the lump under the blanket closest to the camera.gypsy ways update 10 - qm2 kennels inside

If it gets too cold outside, this is the area inside where we can sit. Scully is the black and tan one at the right. Her best dog friend this trip was Watson, the french bulldog on the chair to her left. Next to Watson was his person, Claire.gypsy ways update 10 - qm2 kennels dog life jacket

Here you can see Scully with her life jacket on (and looking a little not-too-sure about it). Behind her, scratching the Spaniel, is the kennel master. They have life jackets in all different sizes for the pets.

Like I said in the previous update, most of our day revolved around the open kennel hours. There were events scheduled every hour of every day all over the ship, but we spent as much time as we could with our dog. After the kennels closed for the night, we went to dinner, saw what was happening in the ballroom, and checked out the jazz in the Chart Room.Queen Mary 2, Greenock

[Queen Mary 2 Chart Room by Rob Lightbody via Flickr]

After eight fun, elegant nights, we docked in Brooklyn and started our US journey. For that road trip, I actually recommend that you read the first update of this trip, in which we traveled from west to east. This time, however, start at the bottom of the page and work your way back up, as that is almost exactly how we returned to the west coast.

We did visit lots of friends and family along the way, including stops in Boston, Chicago, Iowa, Omaha, and Colorado before arriving back home. One highlight was something I had never seen before – the Frank Lloyd Wright home and studio in Oak Park, Illinois, just outside of Chicago. I only had time for a quick walking tour of Forest Avenue, but I will go back to take a more thorough look. gypsy ways update 10 - frank lloyd wright frank w thomas house forest avenue oak park illinoisThat beautiful note wraps up this series of posts on our travels in 2014. It was an amazing trip and I’m so grateful that we have the opportunity to undertake something this extensive. However, I will say that it is always nice to come back home.

If you’re curious about other parts of the trip, Update 1 covered our trip across the United States west to east, Update 2 was our Transatlantic crossing west to east, Update 3 talked about the UK and Greece, Update 4 was in Switzerland and Italy’s Cinque Terre, Update 5 was about Italy, Update 6 covered the French Riviera, the Tour de France, Basque country and the Rioja area of Spain, Update 7 talked about Asturias, Spain, Update 8 was the Mediterranean Costa Blanca and driving north through France, and Update 9 covered some great sights in England.

If you have any questions about any part of the trip, please feel free to ask. We have some definite favorites that we are happy to share!

Gypsy Ways Update 9 – London and the UK

Gypsy ways update 9 begins with us just arrived back in the UK from our adventures in continental Europe. At this point we joined my Mom who had never been to the UK before. She arrived a few days before we did, and in that time she visited the Sandringham Estate, which is the Queen’s home in Norfolk.Sandringham House 23-05-2011

[Sandringham House by Karen Roe via Flickr]

While she enjoyed the Estate and the grounds (and their delicious apple juice), the setting is informal, and she was also wanting to see a little Imperial opulence. So we took her to Windsor Castle!

Parts of Windsor Castle truly are spectacular. Despite the volume of visitors it receives, the grounds and gardens are immaculate,gypsy ways update 9 - garden at windsor castle

and the State Apartments are stately, indeed.The Crimson Drawing Room - State Apartments at Windsor Castle England

[The Crimson Drawing Room by mbell1975 via Flickr]

In November 1992, a fire destroyed or damaged more than 100 rooms at the Castle (the Crimson Drawing Room shown in the photo above was completely gutted). There are fascinating tales of chains of people, staff and volunteers, passing furniture, works of art, and manuscripts to safety, and the restoration work is a tribute to the craftspeople who executed it so beautifully.

Mom and I spent two full days in London. We started with museums, namely the massive and impressive Victoria and Albert Museum with it’s emphasis on art and design. The V&A is so big that I asked her to pick out one part of the museum that she wanted to see in particular, and she chose the Jameel Gallery of Islamic art. In that gallery is the beautiful Ardabil carpet that no other than famous designer William Morris recommended that the museum purchase.The Ardabil Carpet on display in the Jameel Gallery, V&A

We also went to the unique and unusual Sir John Soane’s museum. He was an architect who collected objects of art and architecture from around the world. His home is full of these pieces, and “in 1833 Soane negotiated an Act of Parliament to settle and preserve the house and collection for the benefit of ‘amateurs and students’ in architecture, painting and sculpture.” It was a fascinating place. antiquities gallery at Sir John Soane's museum

[Antiquities Gallery at Sir John Soane’s Museum by Arwen O’Reilly via Flickr] 

Of course, we visited the area around the Palace of Westminster (Houses of Parliament) and Westminster Abbey.Houses of Parliament & Westminster Bridge.

[Houses of Parliament and Westminster Bridge by Apostolis Giontzis via Flickr]

We toured Shakespeare’s Globe Theater, the modern construction of the original Globe Theater from Shakespeare’s time. The new theater is about 750 feet from the original building that was torn down around 1644. Here you can see that much of the roof is open to the sky, and the floor of the theater has no seats – it’s standing room only!gypsy ways update 9 - shakespeare's globe theater

We went to Greenwich, home of the Old Royal Naval College with it’s twin domes designed by Sir Christopher Wren. The Cutty Sark resides there, and the Royal Observatory that houses the Greenwich Meridian at 0 degrees longitude is less than a mile away. However the real stars are the Chapel and the Painted Hall.

The Chapel interior was originally quite plain, but after a fire in 1779, it was redecorated in the Greek revival style you see here:
Inside the Old Royal Navy Chapel

[Inside the Old Royal Navy Chapel by Nicholas Schooley via Flickr]

The Painted Hall is a real treat. It was originally intended as a dining hall for naval veterans, and it took the artist James Thornhill 19 years to paint the interior. At completion in 1727, the space was deemed far too grand for it’s original purpose, so it sat mainly unused for most of the next 70 years. Today it is open to the public and used as a space to hire for formal dinners and occasions.
The Painted Hall, Greenwich, London, England

[The Painted Hall, Greenwich by Joe Daniel Price via Flickr]

The last location we visited in London was the beautiful and sobering “Blood Swept Land and Sea of Red” at the Tower of London. One ceramic poppy was handmade for every British fatality in World War I and all 888,246 poppies were installed in the moat around the Tower gradually between July 17 and November 11, 2014. All of the poppies were sold and the proceeds were split between six service charities.gypsy ways update 9 - poppies at the tower of london

After our time in London, my Mom had to go back to the States, but my husband and I did a little more traveling in the UK before we boarded the Queen Mary 2. We visited a family member who lives in the lovely town of Bovey Tracey in Devon. From there, we drove into Dartmoor and had a pub lunch in the beautiful, tiny, and ancient village of Widecombe in the Moor.
Widecombe-in-the-Moor, Dartmoor

[Widecombe-in-the-Moor by Baz Richardson via Flickr]

We also visited a friend who lives in Meads Village, Eastbourne near the chalky cliffs of Beachy Head. Another pub lunch was had in the nearby town of East Dean, famous for being the retirement spot of Sherlock Holmes. In the photo below, the house he “lived in” is at left in the fore of the photo, and the Tiger Inn pub is easy to see with it’s bright umbrellas.
Tiger Inn, East Dean

[Tiger Inn, East Dean by Dave_S. via Flickr]

The next post will be the final chapter of these travels, covering our time on the Queen Mary 2 and our trip back across the US on our way home. Stay tuned!

(Here’s a link to the previous Update 8, and to the next [and final] Update 10)

Gypsy Ways Update 5 – Italy

Gypsy Ways Update 5 starts with us near the Cinque Terre (Five Lands), and has us moving on to Tuscany!
Terre Toscane

[Terre Toscane by Filippo Marchi via Flickr]

The Tuscan landscape is beautiful. We stayed in an agriturismo about a half hour drive East from Siena. It’s a perfect location, off the beaten path, but central enough to make easy day trips to a number of historic and scenic locations.

Close by, there are popular places like Montepulciano, Pienza, Montalcino, San Giminano, and Monteriggioni. Monteriggioni is one of my favorites. It’s a medieval village and it’s towers and walls remain intact.
Volando sopra Monteriggioni

[Flying over Monteriggioni by Angela Massagni via Flickr]

As you can see in the photo, the town hasn’t grown past it’s walls and it retains the charm of a small, unspoiled, hilltop village.

Pienza is also a favorite of mine as it’s small and not too heavily touristy. The view of Pienza as you drive to it from the West is stunning.
Pienza in Tuscany Italy

[Pienza, Tuscany by Steve via Flickr]

A little further away are the beautiful and historic towns of Volterra and Assisi. As for bigger cities, there are always Florence and Pisa, but Siena is definitely my favorite. Siena has the enormous and beautiful Piazza del Campo, unique with it’s shell shape and home to the Palio horse race. gypsy ways update 5 - siena palio jockeys before the race

Siena also has it’s Duomo, which is one of the most beautiful cathedrals in the world. You can look at the photos of it’s facade, the ornate floors, the alternating black and white marble columns… but photos can only capture some of it’s beauty.

One highlight is the amazing Piccolimini library which holds precious illuminated musical manuscripts in a richly decorated room. Libreria Piccolomini

[Libreria Piccolomini by Steffen Ramsaier via Flickr]

gypsy ways update 5 - gorganza, tuscanyThere are also some lesser-known spots that are just lovely and not very touristy. Places like Gorganza – an entire hilltop village that is now a quiet self-catering hotel. It has a great restaurant, perfect for lunch after exploring the town.

 

 

 

 

 

gypsy ways update 5 - rome sign in buonconventoBuonconvento is another virtually unspoiled town on the road to Rome.

 

 

 

 

gypsy ways update 5 - serre di rapolano town hallSerre di Rapolano is near travertine marble quarries (thus the gleaming town hall you see here) and the natural hot springs at Rapolano Terme.

 

 

 

gypsy ways update 5 - norcia, umbria, italyLucignano is also worth a look around, and if you go south out of Tuscany and into Umbria, the towns of Norcia and Amelia are well worth the visit. Norcia (pronounced nor-cha) is famous for its meats and sausages and for pasta with truffles – yum!

 

 

In the next update, we’ll go into France and Spain. Stay tuned!

(Here’s a link to the previous Update 4 and the next Update 6.)

Gypsy Ways Update 4 – Switzerland and Italy

Gypsy Ways Update 4 starts with us leaving the UK and heading quickly through France on our way to Italy (fans of France, don’t worry, as we will return to France later). However, we did take a quick stop to visit Montreux, Switzerland.gypsy ways update 4 - montreux, switzerlandThe photo above is from a gorgeous path that follows the lakeshore. It really is a lovely town. It is home to the prestigious Montreux Jazz Festival, held annually since 1967.

Montreux has had many famous residents, but the one who brought us to this beautiful town was Freddie Mercury, lead singer of Queen. Queen isn’t necessarily to everyone’s taste, but Freddie had amazing charisma on stage. There is a statue of him overlooking Lake Geneva, and people to this day leave tributes to him there. gypsy ways update 4 - freddie mercury statue in montreux switzerland

If you want to see him in action (and see one of the best live performances by any band EVER), watch the video below, where he has the entire audience at the old Wembley Stadium in the palm of his hand.

Freddy was amazing!

From there we drove over and through the Alps on the spectacular Col du Saint Bernard into Italy.

Col du Grand Saint-Bernard, Italie

[The Col du Grand Saint-Bernard by ClearFrost via Flickr] 

The first place we stayed in Italy is a very small town near the Cinque Terre (Five Lands). The towns of the Cinque Terre are beautiful, but extraordinarily difficult to reach by car, so we stay in Mattarana, a mountain town off the beaten track.gypsy ways update 4 - mattarana italy

Mattarana has one hotel that also happens to be a great social hub for the locals. It opens at 6:00 AM, closes at 11:00 PM, and is always full of people eating, talking, drinking coffee, playing cards, and arguing. It’s a great place to watch the world go by.

The drives to either La Spezia and/or Levanto are relatively easy, and both have stations for the train that runs through the towns of the Cinque Terre.
Sunset over Manarola, Italy

 [Sunset over Manarola by Joel Bedford via Flickr]

Although the five towns of Monterosso al Mare, Vernazza, Corniglia, Manarola, and Riomaggiore are spectacular, some of the other nearby towns are fun to visit as well. Unlike the Cinque Terre towns which have narrow harbors rather than beaches, Bonassola has a sandy beach that is better suited to swimming and sunbathing – and best of all, it’s GREEN sand – how cool is that!gypsy ways update 4 - green sand beach in bonassola italy

Stay tuned for the next update with more Italian adventures!

(Here’s a link to the previous Update 3. And here’s the link to the next episode, Update 5)

Gypsy Ways Update 3 – United Kingdom and Greece

Gypsy Ways Update 3 starts after the elegance of the Queen Mary 2 and finds us on the dock in Southampton, in the cold wind and rain waiting for our car to arrive. The south of England, on a sunny day, is one of the prettiest places in the world. However, in the cold wet wind, it can chill you to the bone. Next time, I have to remember that when disembarking, less elegance and more warm layers are a more practical approach!Blowin' up...

[Blowin’ Up at Southampton Docks by Del Robertson via Flickr]

The next few days in the UK were a whirlwind of organization and catching up with friends and family. A real highlight of this time was a trip to Wembley Stadium in London to watch the Queen’s Park Rangers (QPR) vs. Derby County football match. QPR happens to be my husband’s favorite team as he grew up just a few miles from their home grounds in Shepherd’s Bush, London.

This particular game was incredibly important to both teams as it determined who would be promoted to the English Premier League division and the roughly £120 million(!) in additional team revenue that the promotion represents.

The trains we took to Wembley Central station were loaded with QPR fans, young and old. Some were in costumes, some carried bullhorns, but all were singing the songs of praise for the beloved team. gypsy ways update 3 - new QPR friends on the train to clapham junction

[Fellow QPR fans who befriended us on the train to Clapham Junction]

[The train platform at Wembley Central tube station]

The match was incredibly close, but in the 89th minute QPR scored. It was incredible… unbelievable… indescribable! Below is a quick video of the highlights of the match. Keep in mind that although blue and white are QPR’s home colors, they were playing in their “away” colors of red and black.

After that, it will be hard to ever match the elation of that moment again (at least when it comes to a sporting event!)

We went to Greece next! We left our pooch for a few days with family in the UK, flew to Athens, and then drove from there to the island of Lefkada.

I had not been in Greece in nearly 20 years, and it had been an even longer time for my husband, so we were both curious to go back. What a lovely place it was! We didn’t have any plans other than relaxation to break up our UK whirlwind tour, and relax we did.gypsy ways update 3 - greece view from the hotel beach

[Sunset view from the hotel beach]

gypsy ways update 3 - greece view from the marina wine bar

[View of the harbor from a from a lovely little wine and champagne bar]

The hotel was simple but spotlessly clean, and Greek locals ate at the attached taverna, so you know it was good food. It was early enough in the season that the town wasn’t overrun with tourists, and there were plenty of locals out enjoying themselves in the evenings and nights.

We found a great restaurant (photo below) that didn’t have a menu. We would just say if we wanted meat, fish, seafood, or a vegetarian menu, and the chef would cook whatever he had fresh and best that day. It was incredible.gypsy ways update 3 - nidri greece our favorite restaurant

One of the most appealing things we found in Greece was the genuine friendliness of the Greek people. If you’ve never been to Greece before, I can only recommend it to future travelers.

We returned to the UK, had a happy reunion with our dog, and then got ready for the next part of the trip…

(Here’s a link to the previous Update 2. And here’s the link to the next episode, Update 4)

Gypsy Ways Update 2 – Transatlantic Crossing

Gypsy Ways Update 2 starts in Brooklyn, New York, where we arrived after our coast-to-coast drive (more trip info here). From the Brookyn Cruise Terminal, we boarded the Queen Mary 2 ocean liner for our Transatlantic crossing to Southampton, UK!Queen Mary 2

 [The Queen Mary 2 by Deepak A.B via Flickr]

The QM2 is a truly magnificent ship. And everyone is quick to remind you that this is an “ocean going liner” and certainly not a “cruise ship.”

The main reason we take the QM2 is because they offer kennel service, and if we’re doing some extensive traveling, we like to bring our dog. Transportation by water is not my favorite as I get terribly seasick (even on a lake), but as a way to get across the Atlantic with the dog and all of our luggage (as much as you can fit in your cabin is allowed), it’s a great way to go.

The dogs are restricted to a small area on the ship (deck 12, starboard aft), and they have to learn to do their “business” on the teak decking, which can be challenging for our four-legged friends. There is a full time kennel master who takes outstanding care of the dogs and keeps the kennels very clean and comfy, and we’re allowed to spend time with the dogs for various stretches totaling 7 to 8 hours a day. All the dog people get to know each other and the other dogs as we spend most of our days together in the kennels. On this crossing there were 12 dogs and everyone got along so well we had a little champagne party in the kennels on the last day before our arrival in Southampton!IMG_2943

[The kennel deck run by Bill G. Johnson via Flickr]

Unfortunately, I didn’t take many photos as I had a double whammy of a nasty cold and the side effects of the anti-seasickness drug scopolamine going on. The scopolamine patches work perfectly – I don’t get remotely seasick – but the side effects of blurred vision, drowsiness, and dry mouth were considerable in combination with the cold. I promise to share some of my own photos from our way back…

Once we have our last visits with the dogs in the evenings, then we get changed for dinner, and it’s fun to dress elegantly for a few nights! There are three formal nights, with men in tuxedo or formal suit, ladies in formal or cocktail dress, and four semi-formal nights with men in jackets and women in cocktail dress or what Cunard terms “stylish separates.” The first formal night was for the “Black and White Ball” and the last formal night was for the “Royal Ascot Ball” where many of the ladies had hats and fascinators.IMG_1033_Y

[Royal Ascot Ball Hat Review by Wolfgang Hammer via Flickr] 

After seven nights of outstanding food, wine, and service, we wake up already docked in Southampton. We eat breakfast, and then at 8:30 A.M., the kennel crew get a priority escort off the ship (it’s quite a parade really, as the dogs are great celebrities on board) and then we begin the European part of our adventure…

(Here’s a link to the previous Update 1. And here’s the link to the next episode, Update 3)

Road Sign Cross Stitch Patterns

The latest in my series of road sign cross stitch patterns and kits are now available in my Etsy shop! This pattern and kit is based on a “No Truck Passing” sign found all over Europe.

No Truck Passing Cross Stitch

A nice feature of the photo above is that my husband actually stitched this example – his first real project! Well done, darlin’…

This is just the latest of a long series of these European road signs. I’ve been concentrating more on the US Highway signs lately, but there are some very fun patterns from Europe:

No Horns!No Horns (pattern and kit) can be seen outside some small towns in Italy. I think it would make a great gift for new moms who are looking for something a little different than the typical “Quiet! Baby sleeping” sign.

 

 

Km 0The KM 0 sign (pattern and kit), based on the sign outside a Galician bar) would make an ideal present for people starting a new phase – new grads, newlyweds, first time homeowners…

 

 

Ruta del VinoThe Ruta del Vino sign (pattern and kit) comes from the Rioja region of Spain and is perfect for your favorite oenophiles (wine lovers)!

 

 

 

Speed CameraPhotographers and your leadfoot friends would enjoy this U.K. Speed Camera sign (pattern and kit),

 

 

 

Cycle lanesand the Cycle Lanes pattern (pattern and kit) is for all your favorite bicyclists!

 

 

 

 

Cambio de SentidoOne of my personal faves is this “Cambio de Sentido” sign (pattern and kit). While it signifies “at the next exit, you can turn around to go in the opposite direction,” it looks a lot like someone flipping the bird.

 

 

Railroad CrossingTrain enthusiasts would like this railroad crossing sign from the U.K. (pattern and kit),

 

 

 

 

High Windand this High Wind Warning sign (pattern and kit) is another personal favorite. I think it’s perfect as a gift for Chicagoans, lawyers, or possibly a mother-in-law. Also, can you see this hanging in a bathroom? You bet!

 

 

All of the road sign cross stitch patterns and kits (US Highways included) are sized to fit inside standard frames, and are detailed enough to look good while not taking forever to stitch. They would be a bright and fun way to decorate an office, media room, or kid’s bedroom. The patterns can also be used to make needlepoint projects or even quilts… Check ’em out!

European Road Sign Cross Stitch Patterns

I’ve started on what I hope will be a long series of very fun European road sign cross stitch patterns!road sign cross stitch patterns - no horns, milemarker 0, wine route, speed camera, loose chippings

My husband and I have been fortunate to be able to live in and spend time traveling throughout Europe over the past 5 years. Along our travels, mostly though Spain, the U.K., Italy, and France, I’ve managed to gather photos of some unique and unusual signs (at least to us on the left side of the pond). One of my goals of 2013 is to turn many of those signs into patterns and kits. As of Tuesday February 26th, I’ll have five patterns in my Etsy shop, and more coming all the time.

I’m hoping there will be patterns that appeal to everyone – from kids to grandparents, drivers, hikers, wine lovers, newlyweds, new moms, and aficionados of the fun and unusual.

One of my personal favorites is the “No Horns” sign you see at the left in the photo. This is a road sign I’ve seen outside of some small villages in Italy. I’ve always been charmed by the antique style of the bicycle horn in the sign and it makes me smile every time I see one. The signs are somewhat rare these days, so I wanted to stitch one for myself. I think this would be a very fun “be quiet” sign for new moms with sleeping babies.