The Sew & Eat Historical Retreat 2020

The Historical Sew & Eat Retreat

It’s a weird feeling being in New Zealand in 2020.

We had a small outbreak of Covid19. We had 6 weeks of lockdown back in April/May. We’ve had a couple of tiny community outbreaks since then that have quickly been contained. Our borders are effectively closed. We wear masks on public transport, and scan in with the tracer ap at stores and restaurants.

But other than that, life is normal.

We can go out to eat. And to the movies. School resumed after lockdown. We just celebrated Graduation 2020 at Toi Whakaari, with the whole school, and singing, and family.

And I talk to my parents in Hawai’i, and my friends on the mainland US, in Britain, and Australia, and continental Europe, and I feel guilty.

It feels wrong to be living life as usual, to be happy, and content, when so many people aren’t. When life is so disrupted for so much of the world. When so many people are dying.

And yet I know this is irrational. I cannot help how things are overseas by not going on walks and seeing friends here. If things were awful here I’d be grateful and glad for friends and family in places that were good. I’d want to know they were safe, and to see pictures of them having fun.

I hope that’s true for you to: that it’s good to see someplace where life is normal. And I hope and pray that life is normal again overseas before too many more people die.

One of the normal things we got to do was the Historical Sew & Eat Retreat 2020.

It’s our third HSER, and we splashed out on a mansion this year – or at least a very large, rather strange house.

We held it over Halloween weekend, with an 18th century theme, and a spooky Halloween dinner.

We had a marvellous time, despite less than marvellous weather, a perplexing lack of wine glasses (I may be a teetotaller but I still like drinking my water out of fancy glasses!), and a scheduling mix-up on my part that meant I missed a day.

Here’s a sampling of photos – there will be more in themed posts, when I tell you all about some of the outfits, and the food, and more fun things!

The Historical Sew & Eat Retreat
The Historical Sew & Eat Retreat
The Historical Sew & Eat Retreat
The Historical Sew & Eat Retreat
The Historical Sew & Eat Retreat
The Historical Sew & Eat Retreat
The Historical Sew & Eat Retreat
The Historical Sew & Eat Retreat
The Historical Sew & Eat Retreat
The Historical Sew & Eat Retreat
The Historical Sew & Eat Retreat
The Historical Sew & Eat Retreat
The Historical Sew & Eat Retreat
The Historical Sew & Eat Retreat
The Historical Sew & Eat Retreat


  1. nofixedstars says

    loveliness abounds! can’t wait to see and hear more about it.

    personally, i think it is nice to be able to look to new zealand as a shining beacon of hope, as an example of what can and should happen when something challenges a society, as a reminder of what a government can be when headed by compassionate people and made accountable to the majority of decent people who elect them.

    we envy you. and we point to you as a rejoinder to accusations that it “can’t be done, it’s unrealistic.”

    i raise my glass to ‘normal’.

    • Nofixedstars, you and I share the same mindset. Wonderful Dreamstress and NZ friends: All of you New Zealanders worked hard and made both individual and social sacrifices from the Prime Minister on down, and you did it all together. That is remarkable and you should definitely celebrate the accomplishment!

      The fact that you feel guilty at all is to show yourself that you care about others and live in aloha. That demonstrates lovely kindness. Another thing that I think about is that I am sure that you have had a student who felt guilty about an A-grade, when another student got a C-grade. What did you tell that student? Probably something like, “You worked hard, and you should acknowledge and celebrate it!”

      The US Thanksgiving myth is controversial (as it should be), but I do find inspiration from the positive aspects of it: Sharing food, sharing joy, sharing gratitude, and helping others.

      In that spirit, and if Dreamstress allows, I think if you click on my name, it will take you to a swell article of things you can do in North American to support First Nation issues and First Nation narratives. I’ve printed the young reader list to give to my kid’s school librarian from which to pick out a holiday present from our family.

  2. Elyse says

    Please sing!!

    I would hate to think the rest of the world is holding their breath, waiting.

  3. LadyoftheWilderness says

    I love seeing all your pictures! Everyone looks like they were blown away with all the fun hahah

  4. Anna-Karin Wikström says

    How lovely you all look! I must admit I’m a bit jelous, we in Sweden have not been able to have any gatherings at all year, historical or not. Keep on having fun and be happy, show us in other parts of the world that there is hope in the darkness!

  5. It’s nice to see people enjoying themselves! Your write-ups are so fun to read. My city is under lockdown again (though we can still go for walks), and it’s doubly hopeful to see people happy and in the sun. I don’t mind winter weather much, but I find the darkness difficult–it’s nice to know that it’s spring and summer elsewhere!

  6. PepperReed says

    What a lovely day! Please, *DO NOT* waste 1 second of feeling guilty, when there are so very many selfish people who don’t give a wink about anyone else’s suffering, because of their own negligence. As someone who’s been actively hibernating for 9 months (and seen our originally low numbers skyrocket when our Governor was overruled by our state’s Supreme Court), I’m so very glad to see such a good example on how to handle this awful pandemic as a beacon of sanity for the rest of us.

    TL:DR. *PLEASE FROLIC!* We’re heading into the Dark Season here in the northern hemisphere, so seeing joy wherever it may be, is a great reminder that This Too Shall Pass. Hopefully, we’ll all be here when it does.

  7. Suzanne says

    Beautiful pictures, and I too am very happy y’all are healthy and able to have a good time!

  8. Miyoko Twist says

    Well said, “nofixedstars”.

    Looking forward to more pictures of your event.

  9. Erika says

    I certainly don’t begrudge you your happiness! I can get ‘doom and gloom’ in a million other places on the internet, and I come to your corner of the web for two things: knowledge about historical fashion and the inspiration you provide for creating and sewing. I look forward to more pictures from your retreat.

    • Elise says

      Me too! I come here for the art, the wit, the integrity, the knowledge, and the sharing of joy!

  10. It looks like a lovely weekend, at a beautiful place. I’m still very happy to have met some of you last year, and glad that life has returned to somewhat-normal for you. I’m looking forward to seeing more pictures, I love how much fun everyone is always having in your images.

  11. We’ve had Austerlitz events relegated to the online space this year. I do miss meeting people, but on the other hand it was really nice to be able to be part of it without freezing out in the open – my winter Regency wardrobe is still inadequate so I would have had to come as a civilian. 😉 (And I’m very grateful to all the people who, under carefully monitored conditions, did freeze out in the open to make it possible, even without an audience.)

    So – have fun for all of us! I agree there is enough doom and gloom already and that it’s actually really nice to see other things!

  12. What beautiful clothes and huge smiles! It’s really lovely to see you all happy and having fun. I particularly love the picture of the yellow stripe silk-wearing lady, the flag blurred in the background and rain (?) on the hill in the background.
    And the simplicity but ultra stylishness of your own outfit.

    I’m looking forward to more posts!

    The Northern Territory did similar to NZ. Closed our borders early, shut down hard and early and we never actually have ever had any community transmission. So apart from the 3-4 weeks we were in fairly hard lockdown, life has gone on as normal, apart from us all trying to remember to stand back away from each other, and having to sign into many buinesses, and not being able to squeeze into a crowded cafe, it’s gone on fairly normally.
    Well, our tourist industry has fallen on its knees. But the arts is going strong, much better than you would have dreamed back in March.

    TLDR: I TOTALLY understand that feeling of guilt that we’re all fine and going on fairly normally, while so many people fall ill and are dying.

    It’s been nice to read the other comments saying ‘Nooo go enjoy yourselves and share that happiness here with us.’

    I dare say they’d be saying it to us Territorians too 🙂

  13. Mrs Gillian Stapleton says

    I don’t begrudge your happiness at all, just feel a little wistful. I wish I could be there with you. We are having a rough time of it in the UK, winter is here and the whole situation is miserable, but I come to your blog for light, and flowers, and laughter, and to escape. And like others, I too keep sewing and hope for better times.

    • Sending you lots of love ❤️ We’re all hoping for better times, and I’ll keep posting lots of pictures of flowers and light.

Comments are closed.