Oh what fun it was to ride … on the train into Chester to meet Ali.

I realize that’s a pretty sorry rhyme, but it was an absolutely marvelous time!

Here’s the back story: I live in New York and have cousins in Brecon, Wales. Many of my online sewing buddies (or rather, sewing inspirations since my sewing is going so slowly) live in the UK and one of them, the famous and fabulous, Ali of THIMBERLINA, was able to meet me for a day out fabric shopping! We found a spot half way between our locations which just so happened to be home to a particularly fine fabric shop, Abakhan, where we whiled away a good amount of time.

We started our morning early at our respective train stations, mine was in Abergavenny, and oh, such amazing scenery along the way! Horses, cows, and fields full of sheep. My traveling shots were blurry, so here is a shot of one of the many stations where we stopped, so many nicely landscaped and decorated. I was very impressed with the British rail system!

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After our separate journeys of about two and a half-hours, we all arrived at the Chester Station.

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Photo by and copyright Tagishsimon – Own work

Barely out of the station, Ali’s mum (yes, Cyber-mum was with us!) began the photo-taking. She spotted the perfect backdrop, this red double-decker bus!

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Since I obviously knew nothing about Chester, and Ali’s sense of direction is spot-on, she led the way to our first stop, the cafe at Marks and Spencer, where we enjoyed a large giant cup of coffee. As we settled at our table, Ali surprised me with a little gift – three patterns from Love Sewing magazine! Two pretty dresses (and a blouse) and trousers with t-shirt. All of which will be made up soon – I promise.

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I was very nearly run over while snapping this too-distant photo of the clock in downtown Chester!

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In short order, we arrived at our destination, Abakhan! Located prominently on the corner, it was easy to spot, and we charged right in and began our fabric adventure.

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Immediately upon entering, the bombardment began. Bin upon bin of remnants –  big ones, small ones, ones as big as your ‘ead….oh whoops I got a little carried away for a moment. I was drawn immediately to a lovely heathered pink jersey that would be perfect for my new t-shirt pattern! Despite the fact that the remnant was enormous, I toted it around the store while searching for soft(ish) printed materials for my new dress patterns. And are you surprised? Ali and I liked several of the same pieces! She brought me the perfect silky print, but after hemming and hawing, I abandoned it with my horrific memories of “shifty” fabrics and their uncooperative manner. At this point, Ali pounced and purchased it for herself. Can’t wait to see it come to life! When Ali mentioned that remnants could be cut, I searched for a piece for a second t-shirt and found a nice gray one straight away. My next major find was a delightful, pinky-peachy knit with bold heart outlines – so cute, and perfect for some new pajamas. This will apparently be my introduction to …  Sewing With Knits. Yikes! I’d also been requested to find some material to make work-out bandanas for my hubby, so I also added a couple of fat quarters to my pile.

Sadly, I managed to take ZERO pictures of the shop while all of this was going on, as I too busy searching, touching, unrolling, re-rolling, deciding, and undeciding to do so until finally taking my haul to the counter. Here are the lovely ladies of Abakhan joined by the lovely Ali as they cut down my pink jersey knit.

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A quick run to the second floor revealed equally abundant racks of trims, notions and yarns. We hastily ran back down and proceeded to our next stop, a quick bite and cuppa before getting on my train home. We found a little cafe, and ordered what I was assured was a staple in England – egg and chips with a pot of tea. I had considered ordering coffee, but was convinced by Ali and mum (rightly so) that tea was the proper accompaniment. It was delicious!

Final hugs at the station, and I was off.

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On the return trip, I relived the joy of meeting two wonderful people, having delightful conversation full of laughs, learning so much more about a blogger I already admired (she’s funnier and even kinder than you think), meeting her lovely mum, and accepting a challenge to sew with knits. And to think, just three days earlier, I was still puttering around in New York wondering what to wear. Such an amazing world we live in!

I hope we’ll manage another visit one day (on either side of the pond) and thanks so much to Ali and delightful mum, for showing this American such a lovely time! Must be off to the sewing machine now, t-shirts and jams await!

 

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