Thursday, July 31, 2014

Day 2: Peterborough Heritage

June 22, 2014

The next day was bright and sunshiny.  Our friends took us to see Longthorpe Tower.  It sits in the middle of a flock of cottages with tidy gardens like a 14th century swan among geese.

It's notable for having one of the most complete and best-preserved sets of domestic wall paintings still in existence.
The subjects are combination of secular and religious motifs, and the tower itself has survived with relatively few changes over the years.

From there we went back to our friends' place and left the car, and walked over to the local pub for a splendid Sunday dinner at the Fitzwilliam Arms, also known as 'the Green Man' after a distinctive piece of topiary in front of the building. (Alas we did not get a good photo, but the bush to the left of the door looks like a close cousin to the Michelin man.)

Fortunately we got a ride back, as we were rather weighted down by lunch.

In the afternoon we went into the city center to see the Peterborough Heritage Festival.  Peterborough has a lot of heritage.  Historical re-enactors included Vikings, Romans, Normans, Cromwell's forces, Napoleanic troops and WWI soldiers.  The WWI guys brought a replica tank:

The Romans were attempting to recruit Peterborough's youth (I don't think the young lady was buying the spiel, frankly).

The authorities of Peterborough apparently located some kinder, gentler Vikings...we felt sure that historical Vikings would have been far less susceptible to direction:

The Normans deployed their shield wall:

There were falconers demonstrating their art:
Unfortunately the hawks wrought some havoc with the local pigeon population, and subsequently were too full to be interested in the meat offered by their handlers after being scared into the trees by Napoleonic muskets. A couple of falconers spent the rest of the day trying to lure the birds down.  They were still at it late in the afternoon when we left.

The archery club was doing a brisk business in letting visitors try their hand with a bow.  JT couldn't resist dusting off his high school archery skills:
JT takes aim. He's in the navy shirt in the middle.

There were even less understandable local pursuits as well. (I have no idea.  Feel free to speculate.)

A good time was had by all:

Since much of the festival was being held on the grounds of the cathedral, we were able to see that as well:

We finished up eating pancakes and then hanging out while the men played guitars and the women played Words With Friends (having been enticed into adding the app to my Nook during the visit).  And in my case, knitting as well.  A lovely end for the day, and one I hope to repeat as soon as we can lure our friends into a return visit to the US.

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.