Sunday, December 10, 2017


"So as we took the curve of the road the little village vanished, and there in the dip of the Downs, past the spires of Patcham and of Preston, lay the broad blue sea and the grey houses of Brighton, with the strange Eastern domes and minarets of the Prince's Pavilion shooting out from the centre of it." - Arthur Conan Doyle

Brighton has been one of those places I've read about in fiction for years, so it's  a bit odd that it took us so long to visit.  But we went down for the day to take in the sights.   The beach, of course.  

It was  a bit early in the season for there to be many tourists about- which didn't bother us, since we're more about the walking around without people to obstruct the view.  We strolled out onto the pier, which was also mostly deserted.  They had a truly astonishing variety of sugary and fried snacks on offer, had they been open, so perhaps it's just as well for us that they weren't.  

Then, naturally we struck inland to find the  Royal Pavilion.  It was a seaside retreat for George, Prince of Wales, who later became George IV of England.   He built it in stages, at fabulous expense and to the considerable consternation of Parliament, who got stuck paying the bills when he repeatedly ran out of money.    As a feat of architecture, it is astonishing.  
It's an English fantasy of a far eastern palace, and the inside is as fantastic as the outside. 
Photography wasn't permitted in the interior, unfortunately, but there are images of the interior available online.  See some of them here.   There was a lavish use of silver gilt on the interior, which is unfortunately subject to tarnishing, and almost impossible to clean.  One of the guides told me that some of the restoration is being done with platinum, because as expensive as it is, the maintenance cost if they restored it with silver would be prohibitive.   (I did see an older series of posts on the  Royal Pavilion, with a lot of detailed interior photography- so possibly the ban on photography is recent.  If you'd like to see more of the Pavilion, I quite recommend these.  Part One, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5.

Still shaking our heads in stunned awe and disbelief at the Pavilion, we took a turn around the town in the sun.  We saw something fishy:

And the rows of Necco-wafer-pastel houses that seem to be obligatory in British seaside resorts. 

And then we took the train back to London and did some more strolling in Kensington Park before heading off to dinner.  If you missed it in the first post - may is a lovely time to visit.  Spring flowers were everywhere. 

And here's a slideshow, with additional photos

Out and About: London to Kent

Continuing the belated saga of our vacation in May:
Over the next couple of days, we continued to ramble about the city of London.   We walked, enjoying the scenery.   If you're looking, there are sights of interest everywhere- details of buildings, pocket parks tucked into squares and spaces, and churches large and small.  Here's St. Mary Abbot's.

We walked to the Design Musuem, which had a fascinating exhibit of futuristic architectural drawings from the Soviet Union.    They combined modernist design with the ideals of socialism- a fascinating insight into what the Soviet system aspired to be, rather than the way it turned out.    The design muscum itself was an interesting building.   While I'm not particularly a fan of modernist design, the extensive use of warm wood made this building much more appealing.

Our next museum stop was at the London Science Museum- a perennial favorite- this time we went to see their exhibition on the history of robots, in particular why the robots were built as they were and what the builders' aims were.  (The linked page includes a short video about the exhibition with some of the robots shown.)  The exhibit started with various kinds of automatons, and progressed up to more modern robots.   The one pictured below was one of my favorites.   It was a mechanical figure of a student, designed to write out a series of literary passages, but its origin was something of a mystery.  But when the mechanism was cleaned and repaired for the exhibition, they set it to writing out it's 'lesson'  - and at the end it included a note of the workshop where it had been built.  In a sense, the creation signed the creator's name to his work.

We also went up to see the Winton Gallery, which was new since our last visit.   It has a selection of objects designed to show the important role that mathematics has had in our history and society.  (The linked page has a short video from the gallery.)  The sculpture behind the plane is a representation of the airflows that surround the plane in flight.

We had also planned several day trips outside the city.  One morning, we boarded a train for Bearsted station and caught the shuttle to Leeds Castle.   They give you a fairly lengthy walk through their pleasant grounds to build up suspense.  Not that we had any complaints- it was lovely.

There were many local residents about.
The current incarnation of the castle is more of a manor than a serious military fortification, but it was suitably impressive.  There had been a castle on the site since the 1100s, but it was heavily remodeled in 1823, which accounts for the present appearance.
We walked around the outside, taking it in.  
We toured the inside.
The last owner of the castle was the daughter of an American heiress who bought the castle in 1926, and redecorated much of the interior.
We quite liked the library, in particular.
After seeing the castle, we explored the gardens:
We saw fascinating falconry demo, which included a hawk who prefers to chase its prey on the ground, and a magnificent owl.
We found our way to the center of the maze (of course there was a maze!).  And we exited through the grotto, which was designed to produce a pleasurable shiver in the under-three-foot set.
We saw more gardens.
And took a circuitous route back to the shuttle stop...except there was a little too much admiring of scenery (can you blame us?) and so we missed the last shuttle and got a bonus hike back to the train station for the trip back to London.

Click this link to see the slideshow.

Saturday, September 30, 2017

London in May

It's odd.  The temperature drops, and suddenly I want yarn in my hands and I'm all about blogging.  I guess the summer must be over!  So I'm going to start by taking us back to when I fell off the radar in May, and talk about London.

As you may have guessed by now, my husband and I really enjoy London- it's a wonderful city to walk around in, full of museums and restaurants.  We've rather embraced the Samuel Johnston quote, "When a man is tired of London, he is tired of life."   Seeing as this was a busy travel year, we decided that rather than rushing hither and yon, trying to cover new ground, that we would rather just stay in London, with perhaps occasional day trips.

Our first destination was the Borough Market, filled with good things to eat.  We weren't the only ones headed that way.

He appeared to be looking for friends, so we continued on to the market.  Our biggest problem there is there are so many choices!  I eventually settled on a roasted pork sandwich, and a bowl of fresh local fruit- it was strawberry season.

We did a lot of walking.  London in May is a fabulous time to see the gardens.   Here's St. James Park.

We were amused to see homesteaders setting up camp on the lake.

We hung out for a bit outside the Kensington Tube station (near our hotel) to hear some excellent Spanish guitar.

We took a train one day up to Peterborough for a day to visit with friends.  Their cats made us feel like quite one of the family.

We went to the Museum of Londons Docklands, to see an excellent exhibit on the archeological finds made during the construction of the new Crossrail Tube line.  As a feat of civil engineering alone it was amazing- 26 miles of new tunnel under London- construction started in 2009, and it will finish next year- on time and on budget.   But they not only built it- they had archeologists working with them at every step to preserve as much as possible of the artifacts they dug up in the process.  The deepest tunnels went well past any human habitation, but brought up 55 million year old fossilized amber and bones.  Every layer of the region's history was intersected by the excavations- from prehistoric, to Bronze age to Victorian and modern.
We also took a walking tour of the Canary Wharf area.  After fits and starts over the last 30 years, it's become very trendy and upscale.   I especially liked the new Crossrail station, which has an indoor garden featuring many of the plants brought from across the British Empire.

From there we walked down the Thames Path.  Most of the week was nice, but this was a particularly lovely day.
We happened on the site of the launching of the Great Eastern, which was the ship that laid the first Atlantic telegraph cable.   I'd read about it The Great Iron Ship by James Dugan many years ago.  (My dad is an amateur historian with a special interest in the Atlantic Cable.)   I hadn't realized the site still existed though, until we found it.

From there, we took the pedestrian tunnel to Greenwich, and had dinner, wandered about town and then headed back to the city center.    And here I'll break- this covers the first few days of the trip.  I've broken this into sections rather than trying to give a day by day, meal by meal account!

The slideshow:

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Fall KAL Entry

So, it's nearly a month after I've returned from my travels, and I'm still playing catch up.  However,  I am not so behindmost that I could pass up a fall-themed KAL.    Whether I'm going to finish while it's still fall remains to be seen.   However I figured I could a least put up a pic of my entry.
Uncharacteristically for me, it's a shawl.  I don't actually know what the yarn is- it's laceweight, I have a lot of it, and I plan to use it all (unless it turns out that it makes a shawl eighteen feet long in which case I will cast off at 60 inches or so).   And I think it's autumny- a lovely reddish brown, like oak leaves.

I'm thinking it will be just the thing to keep me from shivering like a leaf in the ice cold conference room at work. (Unless it's a day when the ice cold conference room is overheated and my coworkers and I swelter in it instead.  It likes to keep us off balance.  Kind of like fall.)

Sunday, July 9, 2017

This Always Happens to Me

Along about the beginning of summer, I add pool and yard and entertaining and visiting relatives to my agenda, and the blog kind of falls off the map.  And then I get the email from my mom, asking if I'm still alive, and if so, have I given up on the blog?  And well, no.  Because I need to babble about crafts somewhere, so my husband and non-knitting friends don't start giving me The Look.  (You know what I mean, right?)

Anyway- while blogging may have fallen off the map for a while, crafting has only slowed down slightly, on account of it being able to travel.   Yesterday I was at the New Bedford Folk Music Festival, and between that and my husband generously doing all the driving, I got some things finished.   The navy socks:
Yes,  they still don't photograph as dark as they are.

Naturally, I had to start a new pair of socks, in the Cascade Heritage Paint I picked up at Webs a few weeks ago.  Very patriotic, I thought.

I finally wove in all the (zillions of interminable) ends on the green and white baby blanket.
It was so intimidating, I couldn't even think about how many there were.  I just assumed I'd be doing it forever, worked through a bunch, went back to the sock for while, did a bunch more ends.  And eventually I didn't see any more!

Since I brought most of my WIPs with me, I didn't actually get to work on everything, but
I did cast on another mitten, the second one of the pair.

Those will go to join the mittens I made last month, which have already been donated.

There was also a random cotton baby blanket that happened and has already been given away.  It's more of the coned yarn I was given a few years ago, and there's approximately enough of it to knit a cozy for the state of Rhode Island, so you'll be seeing more of it in the future.

As for the rest of the household, they've also been busy.  Here's Cookie, when he was impatiently waiting for guests to arrive for our three-day Fourth of July BBQ.  (Cookie loves company.)

Biscuit has been supervising the construction of a new control panel for my husband's train layout.

And Jake has been busy dodging photographers and stalking my dinner plate.  (He has an inexplicable passion for tomato sauce.  I keep telling him that he's a carnivore, but it never discourages him.)

Anyway, I haven't forgotten the England photos, but I'm still working on the captioning, so those will be up in a future post.   Hope you're having a wonderfully crafty summer- and a good time, whatever you're up to.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

So There

The wireless router on my home network has now been replaced.  So I can go from trying to resurrect the dead router to my regularly scheduled coughing, cursing this dang cold, knitting and (I hope) finishing editing the latest batch of England vacation photos to show you.   A teaser:

Cavalry Day festivities in London

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Big Needles, Thick Yarn...

..makes for a zippity project.

Knit, ends woven in, gifted in three days.  And now I'm on to the next!

Sunday, April 30, 2017

The Year of the Round Tuit

So, I tend more toward goalsetting than resolutions for the new year, which may be why it took so long to realize what this year is.   Yes.   I have a round tuit.

And apparently this is the year I am finally putting it to use.  Witness-

  • I have been meaning to get to western national parks for around 20 years.  Check.
  • Have been meaning to do more weekend trips.  So far this year, I have been to NYC and Toronto.  Check.  
  • I have been meaning to get to FilkOntario (a music event) for about 20 years.  Check- that was this past weekend.  
  • I have been meaning to make socks with that navy yarn.   Check.
This is closer to the true color of the yarn, but it's still darker than it seems in photos. 
  • A second pair is on the needles as a traveling project. 

  • I've been meaning to turn those four inherited strips into an afghan.  I knit five more and used up another random ball of yarn for the border.  Check.  (Still need to weave ends in, but it's almost there.)
          I will note here that I wound up grafting the strips.  I tried a three needle bind off first.
          But it just didn't look right.  See the seam abover the two rows of garter?
          Grafting gave it a much smoother finish.  Plus?  After all that grafting, I've gotten faster. 
  • I wanted to use up random odds and ends of yarn.  Now one of the problems with this, is that one small ball of novelty yarn can be hard to find a use for.  But my mom gave me several more skeins a couple of weeks ago.  And with that, we have a project.  In this case, a cowl. 
  • I have cast on a....well, I'm not sure.  Could be a baby blanket, could be a bathmat. But it's using some of a vast cone of cotton I've had lying around. 
  • A few weeks ago, I darned an entire basket of socks that had been awaiting attention.  And as if that wasn't enough, I had a pair of cotton socks that I had made short, thinking they would be summer socks.  But the yarn was too heavy for summer wear and yet the socks were not tall enough to keep my ankles warm in cooler weather.  But I had yarn left, so I unpicked the bind-off and lengthened them, rendering them wearable. 
  • I have been meaning to finish ironing and sorting my quilting stash.  Almost complete- the last of it has been ironed and is waiting to be sorted.  After which, I am going to start laying out a new quilt- the first one in approximately forever.  (Actually, I finished the last quilt for a charity auction in 2006, but have done nothing since.)

And then in the FO department, there have been a few random things I've done.  A couple of pairs of adult mittens.

And another pair of kid mittens. Which has reduced the brown skein down to less than one mitten's worth of yarn.  

I'm feeling pretty good about the year so far.  I've made an actual dent in the deep stash, and progress is continuing.    We have two more trips planned for this year- one of which will be another 'we've been meaning to do this forever' trip.   And I've got ambitions.  This might well be the year we finally get out to Tanglewood, for example.    I'll keep you posted!