Victoria Falls

Hello everyone

Hope this finds you well?  We had a wonderful trip to the Victoria Falls to celebrate my husband’s 60th birthday, and thought I would share some of the highlights with you.  I have been to the Falls several times but it never fails to amaze me – this time was no exception as there was an astounding amount of water coming over the Falls, the most  in 10 years.  We got very wet, but it was spectacular!falls11



We stayed at Illala Lodge which is the most wonderful hotel overlooking the Falls and the game sometimes wander up onto the front gardens – if you ever get to go there this is the place to stay.  Although the the town of Victoria Falls is vibrant with tourist activity and Illala is right on it’s doorstep, it is a little haven away from all the hustle and bustle of life in Africa.  We were waited on hand and foot and the breakfast buffet and dinner was awesome – best thing about it did not have to cook!

Illala Lodge

We treated ourselves to high tea at the Grand Victoria Falls Hotel – so full of history one feels as though time has stood still.  My Mum & Dad had not visited the Falls in 20 years and loved seeing it again, it bought back many memories especially for my Dad who had stayed at the Victoria Falls Hotel as a child with my Grandparents and was able to impart stories reminiscent of those early days.



The highlight of my trip was that I got to run a little workshop with some of the locals.  Some weeks ago I was contacted by Gail van Jaarsveldt, the owner of Elephant Walk shopping centre at Victoria Falls.

Elephant Walk Shopping Centre
Made from recycled bottle tops

She told me the story of an Embroidery group in a rural location a few hours from the Falls, who for many years had been stitching items like tea clothes, table runners and handbags for sale to supplement their incomes.  This co-operative had been run by a lady who had taught them to do embroidery, but passed on a few years back and Gail had discovered three of the members trying to keep the co-op alive – sitting in their homes stitching on little pieces of scrap fabric, with old needles and whatever thread they could lay their hands on.

Embroidered elephants on a table runner, done in chain stitch
Demonstrating how to mount fabric in the hoop

She wanted to revive the group and was asking for my help.  She had bought my book Whitework With Colour and felt they could use some of the designs as inspiration for stitching embroidery designs with an African flavour, which she would then market from her shopping centre in the Falls.

chuckling at my attempt to draw an elephant 

I send donations of thread, needles and hoops and she managed to obtain some suitable cotton fabric for them to begin work.  I was invited to see their work and assist them in getting started on their embroidery, when I visited the Falls.  There were two ladies who did the stitching and an artist who created the designs for them.  I was amazed to find that he drew each design freehand with a pencil,  straight on to the fabric as did not know that you could draw one design and transfer it repeatedly using a light source such as a window!  I discussed with him ways to design an outline for embroidery and some useful ideas for finished items for sale.

how to make a hoop cover – big scissors all that was available

The ladies had only a basic knowledge of stitches so I was able to demonstrate, long & short stitch, satin stitch, dot and split stitch and show them how they could incorporate them into their designs.  We also covered all the basics like how to mount your fabric in a hoop (they had never used hoops) and how to keep it clean whilst stitching.   They had been using old sewing needles that were the wrong size, bent and a little rusty so you can imagine their delight at being given a proper, new needle to work with!  They were absolutely engrossed, and so appreciative of every little bit of help.  It was a truly humbling experience for me, I loved it, and would liked to have spent more time with them but sadly we had to leave the next day to come back to Cape Town.


It made me realize how fortunate we are to have access to basic embroidery tools and such beautiful materials at our disposal.  It was a sharp reminder of how I had first started embroidery in my home country, Zimbabwe many years ago.  I had used sewing cotton in various colours as we could not buy embroidery threads, and how thrilled I was when I purchased my first DMC stranded cotton on a visit to South Africa.  I could only afford some shades of pink and green, but I had shades, not just one shade of green, one shade of pink but 3 shades of each!   We have come a long way since then but its good to remember your roots occasionally and be grateful for the progress along the way.

Till next time wherever you are in the world, keep smiling and happy stitching.



54 thoughts on “Victoria Falls”

  1. I grew up in Zimbabwe and had many holidays at the Falls. I was last there in 1984 on my honeymoon and we stayed at the Vic Falls Hotel. This made me very homesick … I now live in New Zealand.

  2. Just catching up with my blog reading abd saw this. Wonderfully touching story and, although our funds are low just now and I can’t send anything to help the group there, at least there may be thw satisfaction of having inspired someone so far away with admiration and gratitude. ♡♡

  3. Was lovely to hear about your visit. We spent our honeymoon there. Thank you. Have a good weekend.

  4. Awesome story, thanks for sharing! How do we take things for granted! I can just imagine thier happiness at holding such beautiful colorful supplies.

  5. What a wonderful addition to your trip. Bless you for being there for them. I know they will always remember… The falls look amazing, along with that lodge. So happy you had a GREAT trip.

  6. Dear Trish,
    Your experiences warmed my heart as expressed in your recent post. I too would love to help the embroidery group in their endeavors to continue embroidering. I visited Zimbabwe in the early 2000s when I was living and teaching in Egypt for a couple of years. Took a trip to South Africa, to Victoria Falls and Zimbabwe. I live in the Phoenix, Arizona area. Please allow me to help. I am somewhere in the middle experience-wise in embroidery so by no means good enough to teach but I would be happy to donate supplies. I love those who work hard, learn a skill and then use it to help themselves. What initiative! Loved the elephants! Let me know what I can do to help.

    Lucille Williams

    1. Thank you so much Lucille. It is wonderful to hear of your experiences in Egypt and Africa and you are very kind to offer to help, it is very much appreciated. I totally agree with you that it is so heart warming when people have the initiative to want to help themselves and it tends to make me want to help them in return😊 Thank you for the kind offer of donating supplies, but due to the cost of shipping to South Africa and the customs duties that would have to be paid on this, it may not be the most practical solution. I have an idea and will post about it later today on my blog. Trish

  7. Hi Trish, Loved your trip to Victoria Falls, yes and liked the way you showed the lovely ladies how to embroider and what talent the man must have to. If he can draw like that, he must be a gem to the group too. If you can put packs together for them I know I would buy them and donate it to the group, can you also let us know how they are going from time to time. Your friend in Australia Susan Batt.

    1. Thanks Susan. Thanks so much for your kind offer to purchase packs, and the proceeds to go to the group, it is a great idea! I am considering the most practical way to approach this and will do a blog post later today. Of course I will ask Gail to keep us updated and post their progress from time to time. Trish

  8. Trish, I was so touched by your story. Is there a way I could donate needles to this embroidery group?…. hugs

    1. Thank you so much for your kind and generous offer Karen, you always do so much for others😊 Unfortunately, our postal system here in South Africa is very unreliable so sending donations will probably not be the most practical solution, but I have an idea which I will post about on the blog later today. Trish

  9. Loved this email. How touching and humbling for everyone. Happy that you could relax and also share all of your talents. How wonderful for everyone and God Bless you all. Hugs

  10. It was a dream come true for the old folks and we are so grateful for a thoughtful daughter. Our first steps back in Zimbabwe. Beautiful but for a short spell Trish you were in your element as usual teaching and giving. Very proud and many thanks .

  11. Ah, the falls. I’ve seen them more times than I can count and they remain the most awe inspiring of all the natural wonders that I have seen. Nowhere comes close for sheer power (of the water). And the Vic Falls Hotel, with it’s yesteryear colonial feel that combines with the warmth of the Zimbabwean people. I’m a bit jealous.

    1. Hi Evelyn thank you so much for your kind and generous offer. Unfortunately, our postal system here in South Africa is very unreliable so sending donations will probably not be the most practical solution, but I have an idea which I will post about on the blog later today. Trish

  12. Lovely letter Trish, thoroughly enjoyed reading it,

    Best wishes for the 60th!

    With love


  13. Thank you for sharing your photos and your story with us. God bless❤️

    Sent from my iPad


  14. Trish ~ sitting here in Northern Arizona with my morning tea! Thoroughly enjoyed reading about your travels and the nice reminder to not forget our roots. Happy birthday to your hubby, mine will turn 60 in December! 💕. I look forward to your next post.

  15. Wonderful — thank you for sharing the heart warming experience of a family get – together and also heart warming to see you share your skills and equipment in such a way. God bless you.

  16. What a fabulous trip you had. Takes me back to when we were there all together as kids.

    1. Hi Linda so good to hear from you. Of course we talked a lot about our trip as kids and feeding the monkeys – special times. Lots of love.

  17. Trish, I would love to send some embroidery supplies to the ladies…maybe thru you?
    Is this a possibility? Thanks, Jo

    1. Thank you so much for the kind and generous offer Jo that is really sweet of you. Unfortunately, our postal system here in South Africa is very unreliable so sending donations will probably not be the most practical solution, but I have an idea which I will post about on the blog later today. Trish

  18. Trish, thank you for sharing the making of memories.
    It’s very understandable just just how happy you have made the ladies!!

  19. Hello,
    I have really enjoyed reading all about your trip to Victoria Falls, it sounded fabulous. I have not had the pleasure to visit Africa as I can only travel as far as europe. The day you taught sounds really good to be able to pass on your knowledge and help others, keep up the good work.

    1. Thanks Carole, Europe is stunning and so much to offer but I hope you get the opportunity to visit Africa one day. It is one of a kind😊

  20. What a wonderful trip for you and your family! Thoroughly enjoyed your blog about your time at Victoria Falls and your generosity towards the local people.

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