A great day out


Yesterday I went into London to spend a day doing some of my favourite things. I found myself taking lots of photos and decided to share them with you.

Now, before I begin I have to say that I’ve done Stoptober and someone has just offered me a surprise cider and some dry roasted peanuts, as he’s about to drink a beer and munch said nuts while he watches the second half of Wales against Scotland rugby match. I’ve taken the tiniest of sips and already my head is spinning, so forgive me if this disintegrates into utter nonsense by the end! **

My sourdough loaf had not long been out of the oven before I set off and so I didn’t try some until this morning. Breakfast of Queens. It makes such good toast. (Every blog post must mention sourdough.)

I met my brother for a light lunch in our favourite Itsu on Baker Street and topics of conversation included: casseroles, eating fish, physio and the benefits of setting an alarm so you remember to do them (that was me, doing my bossy slightly-older sis thing excellently) meeting up with old friends, buying a car, plans for the weekend and Blenheim’s hidden bridge rooms (See here.)

It was such a sunny and crisp autumn day yesterday that I decided to walk along to Marble Arch, duck into Hyde Park and walk to The V&A. There seems to be a trend for roadworks at the moment; everywhere I went I came across them.

The contractors were really busy: starting to set up for Winter Wonderland. It’s basically a fairground, with massively overpriced food and drink like bratwurst, burgers, chips, candy floss and mulled wine. I’ve quite enjoyed the festive atmosphere when we’ve visited, but at points it’s so crowded that I’m hyperaware of tucking my bag and purse under my arm, with my hand on the zip. Going bagless with your ‘phone stuffed into one side of your bra and your purse into the other might be a solution?

While I walked my WhatsApp pinged with an ‘I’ve cut the bread’ pic. The No-knead Stretch and Fold technique is one I adopted in the summer. I’m sticking with it: it’s so easy and you can make a loaf one-handed. Perfect for me at the moment.

Walking past Harrods after coming out of the park

I love the V&A so much, I’m so grateful to have my membership, plus a guest pass, renewed every Christmas. It’s one of my special places in London.

I wanted to see this exhibition before it ends on Sunday (tomorrow.) I feel regretful that I didn’t visit before so I could recommend it to you sooner, as I know some of you read about my visits and then go. I went mostly because a friend had been and was describing it last weekend when I saw her in Birmingham.

Rather than go on and on about it I’ll leave it to my photos of the signs to give you an idea. The V&A is excellent at provoking thought, entertaining and amusing. This ticked every one of those particular boxes. I think the section that made me reflect most was the digital footprint many of us will leave, what we might want to happen to our bodies (think cryogenics or saving a complete digital imprint of our DNA) and the impact technology has had on community and where we live.

I’ve got to know so many people now through sharing hobbies on social media, taking part in online groups and, of course, blogging, which often results in meeting up in real life. I believe technology can and does enable greater connection, if you’re willing to take a chance and meet up in person. There are some I’ve chatted to for years and might never see, but there’s definitely value and concrete positives in the sharing of opinions, giving advice and encouragement.

It was rather disquieting to reflect upon how much has already become the norm; many of us use technology everyday to show us how far we’ve walked, how we slept, what we’ve eaten and record where we went. We post instant photos online, send messages throughout the day, set alarms which we jump to respond to (or not, in the case of my exercise alerts!), have devices like Alexa listening in on our conversations, are beginning to get devices which can be controlled by Smart ‘phones to record a programme, alter the heating temperature, boil a kettle or toast bread….


There was a 10 question multi-choice quiz to take about how you see technology impacting upon the future and what this might look like in 20 years. My result was I am an All-round Optimist. This was the same as the greatest number of participants outside and within the exhibition. Hurray! I like being one of the crowd, especially when it’s a positive result.

A poor photo but did you know? I certainly didn’t.

Oh! My eyes teared up at this one.

I thought of Teresa Kasner making and wearing her pussy hat and writing her protest posts at the time.

Walking back at 4pm I noticed how low the sun had already become. Just look at that golden light highlighting Harrods and the buildings further along the road. Beautiful!

Harrods windows are blacked out, which must mean their Christmas window displays are in progress.

A swan with attitude and their posse on the Serpentine in Hyde Park, with the golden sun setting behind autumnal trees. What a lovely photo to end what was a great day out.

** How did I do?

Snow!

This is what I woke up to on Sunday morning when I looked out of the window. SNOWFACE! Apparently I always get an excited, wide-eyed, slightly deranged look when it snows. I took a few selfies when we went for a walk and oh I really do have a snowface! Maybe that will be the expression I wear for a week month when I win the lottery jackpot. If you look to the right of the shed you can see that the snow was still steadily coming down. It carried on snowing all through the day. There was about 6″ when I took these photographs, it seemed to be falling at about 1″ an hour.The birds were out in full force using our feeders, lots of blue tits ate the nuts. They really looked beautiful with their yellow and blue against the white snowy branches. At one point I saw four pinging about playing together. Sadly they were too fast moving to capture on camera.Someone danced about so much with the snow shovel, while I took photos, that he dropped the shed padlock into the snow. I didn’t laugh at all of course. Ha ha!When I’m out and about in cold weather I have to work hard not to stare at people’s knitwear. I always fail spectacularly. There was nothing particular to report about the humans, but the dogs merit a mention. The sheer number of dogs wearing fair-isle patterned coats seem to indicate a strong trend. No, they weren’t woolly, but I liked this very stylish dog-wear.

There were so many families were out and about with sledges.  They were mostly plastic but I did see some of those classic Victorian type sleds, you know; the wooden ones with metal runners. The kind that can really take off and make you wonder if you’ll stop before you hit that huge tree looming in the distance.

Facebook was full of jubilation on Sunday afternoon as some learnt that their workplace or school would not be open the following day, but there were quite a “bahs!” from others up in the north. This included my various Yorkshire friends who had been promised a huge ‘dump’ of snow, but didn’t have anything much at all. We get snow so infrequently here that everything grinds to a halt (my best January one year was when we ended up having five snow-days during the month. I know we staff were high with excitement, but I’m not sure the parents felt the same….)  The roads are not always gritted due to funding cuts and so turn into skating rinks, bus companies undertake safety surveys and usually err on the side of caution about running any services, trains can’t seem to cope with snow. Cars get stuck on motorways for hours; as people don’t know how to drive in ‘extreme’ conditions, so there are jack-knifed lorries and multiple shunts. I know this is laughable if you’re in Canada, for instance, but that’s England for you.After an hour long walk in 1 degree temps I was pleased to get home and make a coffee. I used up the last of my limited edition Nespresso capsules. The type? Snowball! Coconut and vanilla.

I must do some more knitting as I’ve got to my last 10g of wool, so will be finishing my Mum’s Hitchhiker, just in time for Christmas. It always seems to be the same; I finish one thing after the other in a short space of time. Then the page will be clear for new projects, apart from the nagging matter of that half finished s—. I can’t bring myself to complete that word.

What’s the weather like where you are? Do you also have a snowface?!

Weekend days

20130701-100431.jpgThe hunter-gather came home with a smaller haul than usual, but another good catch from a morning fishing session. Caught with a may-fly which is late for this time of year apparently.

20130701-100439.jpgSunny morning x stitch, starting a kit I bought last year from Liberty of London.

20130701-100451.jpgI fancied a spot of baking and had the ingredients to make an Olive, Onion and Basil scone. It was just baking when the fisherman arrived home with uncannily good timing.

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20130701-100520.jpgInstead of the usual (rather dreary) DJ one of my favourite comics stood-in, while the other was at Glastonbury, on Saturday afternoon. When we saw Rhod at a comedy gig last year I laughed so much I cried. I crocheted with cotton while I chuckled along to the radio.

20130701-100530.jpgAnother walk along the canal, but in a different direction this time, to look for some geocaches. We chatted to a local character who has noticed many people wandering up the nearby lane off the canal to peer into the underground, looking for caches. The we helped a woman with a swing bridge as her husband passed under on their hired narrow boat. In return for answering my quick-fire narrow boat related questions we heard all about her son’s recent graduation and future career plans. Funnily they were from the area of Yorkshire where we should have been for the weekend.

20130701-100537.jpgQuite stunning tree fungus. I imagine there’s a troupe of fairies who live around this ivy clad tree.

20130701-100546.jpgYou may coat the ground with concrete and with gravel, but we shall not be deterred from flowering.

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20130701-100602.jpgAll those heads ready to sprinkle their seed for more poppies next year. I must remember to walk here again.

20130701-100618.jpgIt’s unclear, but through a gap in the hedge next to the canal I spotted a white sofa and glass coffee table. It looks like an outside shoot for an interiors magazine.

20130701-100629.jpgThe lambs and sheep were going bananas in the field opposite. What a din!

20130701-100637.jpgAh, there are a shepherd and his lad shearing them.

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20130701-100703.jpg“Rachel, if you carry on stroking her too much she’ll follow us all the way home.” It’s so hard though, she’s a very young cat with friendly curious eyes, and a funny way of leaping in front of you for more love.

20130701-101350.jpgBack home to finish the last few rows of string bag II. It’s now ready for steam blocking.

Gentle fun, ended with some glasses of Pimms and a meal at a local pub with a friend. Happy days, after the disappointment of cancelled plans.

Even the cows think it’s hot

After my trip to the Grand Union canal in London yesterday, and recent waterside walks, I felt very inspired to visit the library to pick up some canal history books. Ramblin Rose by Sheila Stewart is going to be a treat. If you can get hold of a copy of Lifting the Latch then I recommend it as a fascinating read. If you’re interested I’ll pass on interesting snippets about canal life and history as I go.

I’ve always been drawn to photography of people, particularly from past times, and I think I’ve got some great bounty in these four books.

Although my family owned a boat and kept it moored in a marina ready to take on the canal while I was growing up, I’d never been on a traditional painted wooden narrow boat. Of course I was excited to see the gorgeous baby again, chat to her Mum and catch up with my other friend, but I admit to feeling a huge fizzle of boat related excitement all day! I came away as if after an interview with questions I knew I wanted answered and details I felt sketchy about, but hadn’t got round to asking. Maybe I’ll remember next time. I blame the rinky dink baby who stole the show with cuddles.

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Today it’s been summer! We’ve had mid-twenties here and I notice everyone’s dug out sunglasses, sandals and lighter clothes. We’ve got to make the most of the sun when it makes an appearance, in what has so far been a pretty dreary season. Tonight there’ll be a run on charcoal steaks, salad and beer at the supermarkets! I once thought it would be a nice surprise to have a BBQ after work; but when I got home found identical supplies as somebody else had had the same cunning idea. That was a funny moment.

When I went past the meadow after getting my mini canal book haul (plus some fiction) I had to stop and take photos of the cows having a paddle in the pond. The sight of all of them congregated like this made me giggle.

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They were all closest to me to begin with but the longer I stood nearby I noticed they gradually moved over to the next bit of water. One stared me right in the eye and let out a bellow, I told it to calm down and it carried on staring, seemed to wink at me and then ambled off to join the others.050

The grey sky must have been a heat haze because by the time I’d stood for a few minutes photographing and chiding noisy cows I was very warm indeed.

048I hope you’ve enjoyed seeing these English pastoral scenes. It’s a lovely country, and you know what they say: There’s no place like home.

Tonight I will begin my next new make, it’s something I’ve been thinking of trying for, oh, ages and ages. After the success of Monday’s posh cotton bib I’m feeling very inspired to try new patterns and makes.
Thank you for all your lovely *likes* and comments on the bib. It suits the baby very well. She looked SO cute wearing it. Actually I’ve told the baby’s mum that I plan to fill her boat with crochet. She said “That would be lovely, we love your craft.” Will she be saying that this time next year I wonder?!

Outdoors

A lovely walk with a friend and her smiley baby, past the meadow and along the canal
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The whole meadow is yellow with buttercups, people who have moved away apparently come back to take photos every year

010One of my favourite parts of walking along stretches of canals is peeking into others’ spaces as you stroll past narrow-boats and the ends of gardens

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This end of garden canal view studio looked perfect; paintings on the walls, jars of paint brushes and an easel set up in the light and airy room. I turned a shade of green wanting to possess this space

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For me a table with a gin and tonic and a good book next to the lawn chair would make it a perfect spot015

Commute to work by boat?

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018The last thing (or perhaps the very thing?!?) you need after a 5 mile walk is to come across The Candyboat! Naughty but very, very nice. Sweet jars filled to the brim with goodies on a narrow-boat which travels the country’s canal system.

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Geocaching is nerdy but great fun! I always fancied trying to be a spy and this fulfills the secret mission and trying not to look furtive elements while you’re scrabbling about looking for the cache. Admittedly it didn’t work well in London the other week; a tour bus ticket seller sidled up to me and said “It’s here, I’ve stood here for years and see you people all the time. You’re right next to it.” Ooops! So maybe I’m just too rubbish to be recruited by MI5 then?

It was the  Leukaemia & Lymphoma Research Triathlon weekend at Blenheim Palace and my role was enthusiastic supporter of some competitors, and baker for an afternoon tea celebration – great fun in other words

IMG_2461Spotted. This photo sort of fulfills the remit of a ‘mostly crochet’ craft blog (ish)IMG_2490

The transition area

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Mmmm there were many nice views like thisIMG_2494

IMG_2502We all had a lunchtime picnic overlooking the start of the swim section. You can really work up an appetite watching, and of course the cheering really takes it out of you.

Home to sit in the garden with cups of tea and many goodies including my morning baking – cheese scones and a coffee & walnut cake

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Kaffe Fassett: A Life in Colour

Natasja of crochetime and I met yesterday at The Fashion and Textile Museum in South London to ogle Kaffe’s designs and use of colour. I used to be a huge fan of his tapestry (aka needlepoint) and have owned a copy of Glorious Needlepoint for a long time. Mum reminded me, over Sunday lunch, that she has several of Kaffe’s knitting books and heard him talk in the early 1990s.

It was great to see my favourite tapestry designs in 3D, especially the vegetable cushions. Radish anyone? Or perhaps you’d prefer a beetroot?

I know that many of you are not near London, or even in the UK (if you are then the exhibition is on till 29th June) and so here is a good selection of what I loved. If you like tapestry you’ll probably be swooning along with me.

Click on any image to view a larger version.

“Colour themes that run throughout his textile work include the historical hues from early-medieval and Renaissance decorative arts, traditional pairings of blue and white, and the rich inspiration of China, India and international travel. In 1992 Fassett visited India as part of a charity delegation to explore what handicraft might be produced there to sell in Britain to raise money. The experience was profound and sparked a shift in his use of colour.

‘India proved to me that colour is a vital ingredient in life.'”