Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Day 1: Making Our Way

June 21, 2014

We arrived in London to find out trademark sunny English weather waiting for us.  I'd implemented the plan I tried last year- getting up early the week before to try and get closer to English time- and then slept well on the plane.  It was a beautiful day for walking, and we set out to roam the city, admiring the parks and enjoying the architecture.  One of the things we like best about London is the myriad of pocket parks scattered about the city.
Bedford Square Garden
We stopped for lunch at the Kerb Street Food Market, around the corner from King's Cross.  We'd tried to get to it before, but didn't have the right days.  The food was excellent- I had a Vietnamese noodle dish (and an iced coffee- I didn't sleep that well on the plane!) and JT had a duck sandwich.  Well worth a stop if you're in the area.  It's held in Granary Square, where the low fountains were an irresistible draw for the toddler set.  I couldn't blame them- it was warm enough I considered wading myself.

Thus refreshed, we moved on to the Festival of Stuff, held at the Institute of Making.  An eclectic assortment of demonstrations were featured, ranging from turning on a spring driven lathe, blacksmithing, paper airplane design to three dimensional printing and novel materials like textiles woven from carbon nano-fibers. Interesting and very cool.

From there, we headed over to see the British Museum's Viking exhibit.  This was in its last weekend, so we had prudently bought tickets online in advance.  It was fabulous!  The Vikings had an amazing trade network spanning four continents.  The exhibition showed a vast collection of artifacts and the remnants of a quite enormous Viking longboat.    No photos from the exhibition (so check out the link) but the Museum itself is as striking as ever.
The Great Court, British Museum
After the exhibit we wandered some more, finding this rather extraordinary piece of public art.  At least we assume that it's art.  Possibly the aliens dropped by and left it.
 It's not obvious from the photo, but the white cones are fabric, and water drips down from the upper structure, landing in a pool at the base, and the cones sway gently in the breeze.

Not that there was a connection, but shortly after this we hopped a train to Peterborough, and met up there with friends who fed us a lovely dinner and kept us up late talking.  It was a splendid ending for a delightful first day of our vacation.

Saturday, July 12, 2014

It's That Time of Year

Yes, that time when we cast aside the bonds of employment and take off for one of our marathon travel-and-sightseeing experiences.  This year, we went back to the UK to see sights in the north of England and Scotland.  A fantastic trip, I'll be putting up trip reports as soon as we finish captioning photos.

While we weren't nearly as aggressive about it, we did try to do some preparatory walking to get ready for the trip.  The weekend before we left we spent a lovely afternoon walking on Plum Island.

I also in a fit of ambition cut out a pair of cropped pants that I wanted to take on the trip.  Unfortunately that that was as far as I got with the project.   Despite receiving extremely enthusiastic assistance.

Fortunately Cookie and Jake are a lot more laid back about sewing.  If by laid back, you understand that they find it a complete snoozefest.

Of course the most important bit of packing was the yarn.  The cranberry Nutkin socks did not go.  Even if I hadn't just had to rip out the heel of the second sock and reknit it due to having entirely failed to align the heel with the pattern in a way that matched the first sock- I really didn't want to bring a project that was three-quarters done.  In all our previous trips, I had never before finished a pair of socks.  So I resisted the urge to bring way too much yarn and packed a single skein of sock yarn.

Of course, this would be the trip where I actually did finish a pair of socks.

However this meant I had the perfect excuse to get souvenir yarn.  I found a couple of skeins of lovely yarn at a charming yarn shop in Glasgow, Queen of Purls.  I was extremely tempted by some gorgeous Scottish yarn, but I would have wanted to make a sweater and with all the sweaters queued up (and the lack of space in my backpack), I restricted myself to sock yarn, so I could cast on another small project.

And while I'm posting FO pictures, here is the little pair of mittens I made before I left, because I desperately needed to finish something.

Next up- the intrepid travelers set out for Peterborough via London.

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Sisyphean

While sisyphean is a good description for my rolling to-do list in general, yard work is the part that feels endless to me.  The darned weeds just keep on growing and all I need is a couple of weekends booked with social events, a little rain, and the whole thing careens wildly out of control.    The worst offenders are the vines.  They pop up everywhere.  And some of the folks in my area just chuck them down the gully behind our houses where they take root again and send insidious tendrils back into my yard.  I swear, they're out to get me.

So, after surveying the situation earlier in the week (house about to be submerged in tidal wave of evil green tentacles),  I selected one section of the yard to focus on last weekend.  Here's the before.
And after hours of ripping up vines, dripping sweat, raking the debris from last winter, and then mowing what was left...it could still use some more vine suppression around the edges, but it's a lot better.

That drives back the vines closest to the house.  I've got two more areas of the yard to tackle.  And then my sawzall and I have to go after the weeds that have gotten too big to just rip out.

In the front, by happy contrast, things are humming right along.   Irises and blue flags are glorious. I put them in 12 years ago, and they have thrived under my policy of benign neglect.

The rhododendrons are blooming contentedly.

The side flower garden was in-between for a couple of  weeks- the violets and lilies of the valley gone by, nothing else really blooming.  But the first Siberian iris opened its petals on Sunday, swiftly followed by more, and the lupines are blooming.


And I had been feeling silly about trying nasturtiums again (after nothing sprouted when I planted them last year).   But this year, they have responded beautifully, and I've got seedlings throughout the bed... with any luck they'll be ready to bloom by the time the Siberian irises and lupines have gone by.   I'd feel quite smug about having flowers staged to bloom throughout the summer if it wasn't that it was a complete accident- all I was doing was trying to find something that will survive in this darned space!

Inside is a bit of a wreck what with all the focus on the outdoors, but at least Biscuit is keeping an eye on the laundry for me.  Behind the socks is his favorite place to hide.  No one sees you behind the socks!
On the knitting front, same old.  I'm on to the second Nutkin sock, I've knit more stockinette vest.  And I've cast on more mittens, because - really?  Two weeks plus and no FOs?  It's embarrassing!