Get a cup of tea…..
There are many things I’ve never done in my life so far – I have never travelled beyond the equator; been to the continents of Africa, Australia, Eurasia; nor even across the Atlantic Ocean. This summer I managed to accomplish one of those nevers: at the ripe old age of middle I managed to cross the Atlantic and for the very first time in my life set foot on USA soil, albeit for a few hours stop over in Atlanta airport on my way to Leon, Mexico.
I haven’t been beyond UK borders for years. For 10 years or so as a family we took many holidays all over mainland Europe but generally speaking that’s just like being at home except for a different language and warmer weather; travelling to Mexico is culturally unique. I feel a trifle guilty showing you my suitcase because I did not sew everything I packed.
There are occasions in our lives when you have to make decisions and sometimes buying holiday-one-off clothes makes a lot more sense. My suitcase compromised a mix of RTW and sewn. I cannot foresee some of my Mexican wardrobe ever being worn in the very near future – I mean temperatures of 26 degrees and above are relatively unknown in my part of the world – and so I truly wasn’t prepared to spend money, time and effort on sewing things when I could buy them in the summer sales. This one of the reasons that I never signed up for 100% 12 months of sewing my own wardrobe. You never know what life will throw at you, offer you or knock you sideways.
In May this year I was diagnosed with yet another malignant melanoma – good grief, it’s my third! If not identified and cut out, this is a 80% death sentence. Wear the sunscreen people!! A temporary, damaging sun tan is not worth it. Take it from a bottle if it’s that important to you. My gratitude to our British National Health Service cannot be expressed enough. Obviously……
So when I received an invitation from ReAnn to visit Mexico my first thoughts concerned my life, health, skin, potential sunburn and subsequently the consequences. I have typical Irish, Northern European skin – pale, freckly and my delicious blood is a gourmet meal for every flying insect
Decisions to travel were – Yes, then No it’s too risky – life’s short and all that sun is dangerous: then YES! Life is really and truly too short so take all and every opportunity whenever they present themselves.
Thankfully when the husband was asked if he wanted to come too he gave the right answer – No!
So off I went solo.
Choose a base/primary colour and add co-ordinating colours to ring the changes.
My base colour was royal blue, it is surprising how many colours coordinate with this principal colour and the co-ordinating ones were neutrals of white and natural linen. I had a little bit of space left in the case so in went one black and a couple of patterned items. Mostly my clothes were solid colours but I did add these few patterns for variation.
I bought two items while I was there – an expensive designer linen step-in skirt (a perfect opportunity for another blog post) and some khaki shorts from the tenguies (market) simply because I didn’t own a pair of shorts.
Merchant and Mills Bantam vest in lime green rib
I packed two pair of shoes – flip flops for pool and early mornings, one pair of blue flat sandals and I wore the leather lace-up shoes for travelling because I don’t like moving through heavily populated areas such as airports and underground stations with my toes exposed in case of back-stomping and trampling.
You will excuse me, I’m sure, that I do not model the entire suitcase. Everything that I packed was worn and most pieces at least twice, although I had the advantage of having a washing machine. Some items of clothing are very old and have been blogged before and it was ultimately very beneficial and gratifying that I had already spent the time making them, just waiting for their day in the sun. The olds include:
See the lotion on my pale Irish legs? (Emm delicious). This photo was taken last year after the Donegal midges attacked. The DK dress was worn at dinner one night and turned out to be a ‘signature’ look – see below….. I had a posh meal out at the Insitutio while a world renowned classical guitarist played and who happened to know I was from Ireland and played a little ditty with Latin influences. God bless him.
This self-drafted, beaded neckline dress was worn for dancing the night away to what else but ‘the blues’. I went dancing with Jan to a Blues night uniquely sung in Spanish with the most adorable lead guitarist. I even got asked to dance.
Sateen patterned cotton trousers, so old now that I cannot rightly remember when these were made. The new additions were a hybrid Alabama Chanin/ CfPD Bias top in white cotton jersey.
The white cotton CfPD Spiral Top with a little waist tie detail and needs an ironing…..
My version of Monsoon blue and white striped cotton trousers.
A homemade copy of Oska summer linen dress, made in a fine checked natural linen and the base pattern was StyleArc’s Toni.
Another modification of the Toni was the black muslin over-dress.
I bought a few plain white T-shirts, a swimsuit, a cover-up. I didn’t pack enough loose tops even though I’d made them, such was the temperature. Lesson learned.
At least now I have stuff that will travel the world with me wherever I go in the future- I have a wardrobe for all seasons and all temperatures.
So anyway, poor ReAnn felt a little under the weather one day and I set off to visit Canada de la Virgen (ancient pyramids) all on my own.
On the bus to the archaeological site this couple asked me if I had had dinner at a place the night before and that they remembered me because of my lovely blue dress (the DK). They then ‘looked after’ me for the rest of the day.
See – sewing has many unknown and undocumented advantages!
Then one other day as I was sitting by a fountain and waiting for ReAnne who was having her hair cut some American ladies walked by and commented that I should have a photograph taken. I gave them my phone and this is it. We met them again later that day.
On another day ReAnn and I had a fabulous day tour around Guanajuato.
I wore my black muslin over-dress with white cotton shift and white linen trousers and she wore a plain black dress too, both of us in total contrast to the colourful houses – we must have looked like two devotees of some religious sect together. Apparently Guanajuato was the backdrop for some Disney animation film recently but my days of watching such genre has become temporarily dormant.
One evening we went to a really bad fashion show which I would not have missed for all the tea in China or all the Tequila in Mexico – it was so bad it was good!
On Tuesday morning I shopped at the local market and had the best meal of the entire visit – a whole fried fish, crispy on the outside and creamy white on the inside. We were the only gringos at the long table. Perfect.
I had tequila. Salt and limes included.
I helped ReAnn fit and finish her Vogue 1442 dress.
I advised and assisted Kathy with fitting and understanding the instructions for her very complicated Vogue 1424
For which she very kindly gifted me the best present ever – a cactus pincushion.
And within an hour of unpacking, my cactus had fruit, just like the real thing.
I regularly sent home pictures of Car of The Day from San Miguel.
There was art, churches, markets, eating, walking, talking, cooking class (thanks to ReAnn for the following photos), characters, sunshine, scenery, mountains,
When I had 30 mosquito bites, I stopped counting!
I didn’t have altitude sickness (6000ft), I didn’t suffer jet-lag, I didn’t get sunburn, so a few irritating insect bites were a small price to pay.
Believe me, I saturated myself with insect repellent, Avon’s Skin So Soft – you name it, I lathered it on and the wee sh*tes still found the areas that I hadn’t covered – between toes, fingertips, thumb.
Other wildlife included Silence of the Lambs sized butterflies (moths) in the bedroom.
Amazing hummingbirds….honestly, can you ever imagine an Attenborough thingy visiting your garden???
I had an absolutely brilliant time in Mexico – a unique lifetime experience for which I wholly and truly have to thank ReAnn and will probably never have ample opportunity to repay ….and of course, sewing which was our initial reason for contact.
I have henceforth decided on a new acronym: AFS = away from sewing machine! What was the first thing I did on my return home??? You guessed it.
Suitcase still packed and I hit the sewing room………there was no time to suffer jet-lag.
Take life’s opportunities NOW.
Do not wait until next year, next week, next month, tomorrow……..and if ever anyone says to you that sewing is a solitary, isolated activity – here’s absolute proof that it is not and if anyone ever offers you anything – take it!