I was delighted when Deb Luttrell, owner of Stitchin Heaven asked me if I would like to teach on this cruise. Planning takes place a couple of years before the cruise and she asked me for a quilt design with a Canadian theme. Instantly, I thought migrating geese and mountains set in rows, using my Sew a Row book, in the red and white Canadian colours. The fabrics were chosen from a range that reflected the theme and incorporated into my design.
The quilt, which I had named ‘Alluring Canada’ (I thought that I was going to be travelling on ‘Allure of the Seas”!!!) was made by one of Deb’s staff and quilted with a maple leaf design. I loved it! And now have one of Deb’s beautifully cut kits ready to make my own quilt. I have always been impressed with these kits that are offered on all the Stitch Heaven cruises. Students can then immediately start to stitch as all the cutting has been done, expertly.
We were on the Royal Caribbean ship, ‘Anthem of the Seas” and our sewing room was on the 13th deck with an incredible view. Here, the Bernina machines are set up as we leave New York.
Classes are taught only, when we are at sea, although students had the opportunity to sew whenever they felt like it. Most preferred to take advantage of the places we stopped at either by booking tours or just wandering around with friends. And yes! Friends are like fabric, you can never have enough of them! Note the red T shirts given to each student.
Our first stop was Bar Harbour in Maine. Just beautiful! My new American friends asked me to join them as we visited a quilt and yarn shop, ate lobster rolls and had a free trip into Acadia National Park.
Next, we stopped in Boston, a city I had visited several times, so I booked a tour to Salem to see the witches!
Portland, Maine was our third port of call. I love eating lobster and here I had my third lobster roll. After wandering around the town with more cool American quilters it was time to try out the wind tunnel on the ship. This gave me a free sky diving experience, but NO I am not planning to jump out of a plane! I preferred going up in the North Star, which floated me high above the ship to give me a bird’s eye view as we left Portland.
The next day we arrived in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada. It was appropriate that we were piped ashore by a kilted man as we had arrived in ‘New Scotland’.
I was keen to see as much as possible and had pre-booked a 7 hour tour of the highlights of Halifax. The coach was full, with 60 Americans and me, but the guide came from Saxmundham, just a few miles away from my home town in Suffolk. His knowledge, fondness for history and British cynicism was much appreciated by us all as he took us through the Titanic cemetery, a maple syrup centre, Peggy’s Cove and Halifax City.
Our final destination St. John, New Brunswick in the Bay of Fundy was a place I remember from geography lessons at school, as it has the highest tidal range in the world. Here, I saw the reversing rapids, twice! Once as the tide flowed in and a few hours as it flowed back out over a 30 foot difference. We ate a chowder lunch in St Martins, a pretty scenic place known for its sea caves and two covered bridges. Again, a great guide, this time dressed up in 19th century costume.
In the evenings, I really loved the ship’s shows. The highlight was seeing’ School of Rock, straight from the West End. The female lead, Scaramouch, was broad Essex, and hearing Bohemian Rhapsody was just thrilling. So much so that I sneaked in 15 minutes before the final show, just to hear it again.
My final tour was around Manhattan, before catching a flight back to London. Visiting Ground Zero bought back memories of my first trip to New York in 1979 when I went to the top of The Twin Towers. The memorial is very moving.
A big thank you to Deb for inviting me to teach on her wonderfully organised cruises (at least 12 each year), and to the quilters (all American with a couple of Canadians) that I taught, many of whom had been with me before. I love their friendliness, willingness to learn and the way they are so complimentary. It is not often I am asked to explain ‘Bubble and Squeak’ and what does going for a ‘constitutional’ actually mean?
Please can I join you again?