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!


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


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!


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.


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


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.


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.


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.


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!


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

  1. So glad you could make time to meet up, and had such fun together! Thank you for sharing and doing such an excellent write-up, too. Would be interested to read what you thought about fabrics there vs. here… and did you venture into any shops in Wales? Such beautiful country! Must be wonderful to have relatives in different countries, but difficult not to visit more often. Thanks again!

    Liked by 1 person

    • I had hoped to do it this time, but there were just too few days! So lovely, we’re looking for a cottage near the coast for next time, and we’ll stay a little longer! And if I get in shape, maybe I’ll hike the Beacons like my hubby did (only I’ll take the “baby” trail).


  2. Aw, love your post of our day, I’ve not stopped smiling from start to finish. Seems weird that your back over the pond thousands of miles away. Wishing you happy sewing with your new fabric. Mine are washed but as yet not cut out as I’ve been playing quite a lot if golf and hitting the gym. Hopefully I’ll get cracking later in the week 😀

    Liked by 1 person

    • Isn’t Abergavenny a lovely place? How wonderful you can visit there frequently. (I think Mom and I went to a restaurant in a converted barn (?) there back in 2003). My cousin’s house looks right out onto the Beacons, I never tire of that view. Hubby and cousin’s hubby climbed to the top of Pen Y Fan!


    • Oh yes, Brecon is so lovely (and a great Indian restaurant). Birmingham!?! Yes, please and thank you, I’d love to traipse around the markets, I’ve seen so many great pictures! It won’t be right away of course, but we are planning to go back and spend more time (and venture further afield).

      Liked by 1 person

  3. It looks as if you, Ali and Cyber Mum had a great time – if a bit rushed.
    I see you luncheoned in style with egg and chips and a cuppa – just the ticket on a shopping trip.
    I did smile when I read that you were impressed with the British rail system as everybody else – in the south of England anyway – has been moaning about it due to staff shortages, industrial action etc., leading to delays and cancellations all summer. There has even been talk of nationalising the railway again but I can’t see that happening. However, when it works it’s great and it sounds as though you experienced it at its best.

    Liked by 1 person

    • We had a great time (and it was rushed, but all was accomplished)! I was glad Cyber Mum was there, too; she is delightful.
      We are lucky, 2 for 2 with positive British rail experiences! Not so great over here, for the same reasons you’ve listed, plus old tracks and rocky rides! Not so clean, either. And no nice man coming through with free snacks! 😉 (Sheesh, that makes it sound pretty dire, doesn’t it?)


  4. I’m playing catch up so sorry I’m so late. I would have loved to join this ‘meet up’, and not too far from where I live but as you know I was your side of the pond! Maybe next time I can catch you in either Birmingham or London. Good to know you had such a great time.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Pingback: Four Very Dangerous Words | Let the Sewing Begin

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