Quilting an Elephant – Rosemary Allix
With wonder and humour Rosemary Allix observes the highs, and a few lows, of a journey as big as an elephant.
“World travel brings new knowledge of the planet and oneself. Most surprising discovery was that the phases of the moon behave differently in other parts of the world, most profound the sensation of stepping aboard a rickety boat on a crocodile river and realising ‘I can do this!’”
From the ice cold port of Amsterdam in freezing January to the burning dry heat of Egypt’s Valley of the Kings, this travelogue provides a very personal insight into over 30 ports of call around the world on a journey of more than 33,000 miles.
Sailing on the cruise ship Magellan, Rosemary headed west across the Atlantic to the Caribbean, then through the Panama Canal into the Pacific Ocean.
Perhaps her favourite location was the tiny island of Nuku Hiva in French Polynesia, a pimple of lush green roughly half way between America and Australia, reached during a long haul across thousands of miles of empty sea. But there were the caves lit by a million fireflies in New Zealand, the cable car above the rain forest in Australia, the night market of Hong Kong, the temple picnickers of India… the list goes on and on.
Life on board also had its interesting moments like kissing an enormous dead fish on crossing the equator and watching the wide sky full of stars on a tropical night.
And then there was the quilt.
It started as an interesting introduction to a new craft and grew into an obsession, hours of stitching and miles of thread went into the creation of 25 hand sewn squares, each depicting one of the places visited.
The book includes photos, a few poems inspired by travel and snippets from the quilting instructions along with blog posts that capture a taste of the world.
C&H Fabrics in Brighton – the shop where Rosemary bought her materials to make the quilt before she set sail – were delighted to see the finished quilt on her return. So delighted they immediately agreed to host the launch of Quilting An Elephant on 5th September (11am -3pm with official launch at 12 midday). Rosemary will be reading from the book and signing copies, and quilting teacher Jan Allston will be giving a talk about quilting.
Riding the tide of enthusiasm Rosemary and C&H have been discussing the possibility of creating a Brighton Quilt. The project would gather together a group of volunteers who either know about quilting or are keen to learn, and together they would create a quilt that represented the city and which could then be auctioned in aid of a local charity. Find out more about this idea at the book launch event.
Scroll down for details of Rosemary’s previous books
Rosemary has been writing all her life and won her first prize for poetry at the age of eight. She grew up in Guildford and on leaving school joined the Surrey Advertiser as a junior reporter. When she moved to Horsham she spent a number of years writing and editing for the West Sussex County Times and later became editor of the British Wheel of Yoga’s magazine.
From a background in journalism and editing Rosemary moved into fiction writing and went on to study at the University of Sussex achieving a Masters Degree in Creative Writing. Her first three novels, My Sister’s Song, The Long Crusade and The Buddha of Sherwood Forest explore themes that cross time. “I love stories that work at different levels,” Rosemary says. “Books you can enjoy as highly readable adventures but also carry a powerful message. The Buddha of Sherwood Forest is the best example of this, a tale about the exploits of the outlaws of Sherwood Forest but more subtly exploring the five roots of suffering according to Buddhist teaching.” All Our Precious Things is set completely in today, a mother and daughter relationship about what goes wrong when you suddenly have everything you ever wanted. Her latest publication Quilting An Elephant is a collection of blog posts compiled on a four month world cruise (while learning the craft of quilting).
Rosemary lives in Brighton and is a presenter on Coastway Hospital Radio with her programme The Book Corner. She volunteers encouraging vulnerable women to explore writing and herself is involved with a weekly writing group. In 1995 Rosemary met Lama Gangchen, a Tibetan Lama who has a centre in Italy which she visits regularly to continue her studies of Mahayana Buddhism.
Find out about Rosemary Allix, her writing and poetry, her Buddhist studies and more at her website Rosemary’s Web Of Words
Praise for Rosemary’s Writing
“Written by a skilled wordsmith who has obviously researched her material well… An easy but thought-provoking read.” – Pat
“A beautiful story that transports the reader.” – Benedette Knopik
“Moving and beautifully written story… The perfect word to describe this book is “organic”. The soothing and healing qualities of this highly spiritual woman somehow magically penetrate the writing.” – Christine Day
“Descriptions are lyrical and evocative, the characters believable and the tale of courage in the face of adversity uplifting.” – Amazon Customer
“I enjoyed reading this book. It was touching and sentimental. So many things were real to live. I would recommend.” – Theresa
A lyrical story about women. Set in a long ago abbey, the challenges, loves and decisions facing the characters are equally relevant today. The abbess believes she is valued for the good work she does but finds a chasm of deception opening up, destroying her secure world. With the love and support of her sisters in the abbey she must find a way to rebuild all their lives. The story flows through different voices, like beautiful music, the music of the soul.
Time is not linear, it sits layer upon layer and turns in circles, strong characters emerge again and again at every twist of the spiral. The legend of the outlaws of Sherwood Forest features iconic figures, Little John, Maid Marion, Friar Tuck, who are very like the men of ancient myths and the women of history. Did the likes of Ulysses and Boadicea, Hercules and Joan of Arc fight for justice in England in the days of King John? Was there a figure seated under the Greenwood Tree who watched the heroes struggle with the Five Roots of Suffering according to Buddhist teaching. The story of Robin Hood’s company is well known, but this book tells it all very differently. Beneath the adventures lie important lessons and great truths, but don’t expect to find the answers with Robin Hood. He never existed as a real person, and here he represents illusion, the stumbling block to realisation of the ultimate truth. Or perhaps the whole story is just a dream, the result of a traumatic road accident suffered by a young writer and experienced during his long stay in hospital.
Have we all been here before, met each other in past lives, built relationships that defy time? Perhaps an unremembered past life together is the reason two people with nothing in common, who don’t even like each other, are irresistibly drawn together. Maybe they will never find the answer in the modern world, but somewhere in the distant past, in the days of the Crusades, two characters formed an unbreakable bond watched over by a dark stranger. The time slip of this novel tells two very different stories, one set in the modern world, one long ago, but the parallels are there to be discovered, considered and accepted or rejected.
How should life be lived? Is it all about being kind and caring for others, or is it essential to have money, respectability and security to make it through successfully? What are the most precious things in life, and are they the same for everyone? Jen abandoned her hippy lifestyle to marry safe, reliable Tom so her daughter would have security. It all seemed to be working OK until Tom dies, then stability disintegrates and middle aged Jen finds herself confronted with some very uncomfortable truths. Her daughter Mags appreciated growing up with Tom as a step father, conventional life suits her much better than the chaotic world into which she was born. Mother and daughter disagree on most things, it’s hard to adjust to their new life, especially when they discover they have no money and they are poor; especially when they discover all the junk in the attic is worth a fortune and they are rich. How can anyone assess the true value of anything, and what are truly precious things?