Sunday, October 30, 2011

Cambridge, and some knitting

It probably seems like we've been zooming around the country a bit. We haven't really, it's more that it's taking me a while to update the blog so it looks like we're travelling around in a short space of time!
Last weekend we went to Cambridge to visit some friends of the OH's. It's somewhere I've visited many many times before, but we went to two places I hadn't been to before.

The first was the Sedgewick Museum of Earth Sciences. We dropped in here on the way to somewhere else, but had enough time to have a look at some very groovy dinosaurs, including an Ichthysaur found in Lyme Regis, as I read about in that novel earlier in the year! There was also a display about Mary Anning, as featured in the same novel.
This is a model of the skeleton of an Iguanodon.

The icythyosaur on display.

A display case about Mary Anning.

 And a giant deer, which became extinct about 10000 years ago and is presumably a friend of the one we saw at Warwick Museum in June?

After that we ventured on to wander round the University Botanic Gardens. We bumped into Caught Knitting en route to the Botanic Gardens, who looked very surprised to see me wandering around in Cambridge!

I think I liked the glasshouses best, especially the bananas!

 I started up a craft group at work this week, which seems to have gone well - 17 people interested, which meant we didn't fit in the room I'd planned to hold it in! I've also done some knitting that I can actually blog about. I started off a pair of slipper socks for my nephew's birthday in December. I'm using the blue variegated King Cole superwash DK 100% wool I got in York, on 3mm needles, so had to do a tension swatch.

 I'm pleased with the way the fabric worked out - nice and thick and squooshy, which should be good for slipper socks. So I cast on a pair of garter rib socks for him last night. The pattern is from Sensational Knitted Socks, which I've used before and enjoyed as it goes quite quickly and is extremely easy to remember.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

York (part 2)

So, it's a month since we were on holiday in York, so this is just a round up of what we got up to.

We left these two in charge of the house.

We stayed at a cosy little flat, about 15 minutes walk from York Minster. It doesn't have such a dramatic setting as some cathedrals, but is still pretty cool! This shot was taken from the city walls, which we walked all the way round.

Inside was very impressive too.

Although some bits gave me vertigo.

We did a day trip up to Newcastle on the train to see my BIL, who had very thoughtfully researched some wool shops to visit. This is Wooly Minded in the centre of Newcastle, which had a nice range of affordable yarn.
And did some wandering around Newcastle, admiring the views.

Before heading out on the Metro to Segedunum, where Hadrian's Wall starts and there are remains of a Roman fort. Amusingly the Metro signs at Wallsend station are in Latin!

After exploring the fort and indulging in a scone or two, we travelled on to Whitley Bay, where there was another wool shop (Ring a Rosie), which was about to shut as it was 5pm, and some lovely views over the bay.

We spent another day exploring Castle Howard, which had big display about the filming of Brideshead Revisited, and extensive grounds to get lost in.

Back in York, we enjoyed the York Castle Museum, including the Victorian Street, which we had virtually to ourselves.

And next door, Clifford's Tower, which had a LOT of steps to climb.

One day we headed over to the coast to see some friends. This is Flamborough Head, where I did my GCSE geography coursework many many years ago. There were lots of stairs here too. I fell off the bottom one and landed very gracefully on my bottom on the sand, which the OH thought was hilarious.

And there were TWO wool shops in the centre of York, in streets very close together. I visited both Poppy's and Ramshambles (see below) and liked both of them. They have different stock so it's worth a trip to both.

And these are my purchases (I also visited Gillie's fabric shop,, a short walk from the two yarn shops). Mostly for Christmas presents so I can't reveal more at the moment!

Phew, think I'm all caught up with blogging now, which is good as I'm back at work tomorrow.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Garden at the beginning of September... and October

The triffids have taken over!

Actually, this is part of the Frieze art fair, which I inadvertently wandered into in Regents Park last week. This is the biggest rose I've ever seen. There was also a thing that looked like an empty loo roll tube, but made of concrete and big enough to walk through.

As I missed September, here's the garden then...

And in October...

 Hmm, they don't look much different, do they? Autumn hasn't really got started yet here and we haven't had a frost yet, although it won't be much longer.

I read an article in the Independent about taking a photo of the garden in greyscale, as it makes you concentrate on textures and shapes rather than the colours.I like seeing the shapes of the bigger leaves on the hydrangea in the picture below, and the spiky leaves of the Phalaris Feesey (middle left). It works better if you zoom in on the picture!

I've been trying out some techniques for the first time.

These are some strawberry plants propagated from the runners from our one original plant, given to us by a friend last year. Unfortunately the barmy weather (that horrendously hot weekend at the beginning of October) made one of them flower and it now has fruit forming, which will be in for a nasty shock soon.

 These are a couple of sedums I Chelsea-chopped back in June. The darker pink one I didn't chop, the lighter pink I did. As you can see, the chopped one has grown a bit shorter so it hasn't flopped around all over the place. And it isn't flowering too far behind the other. This is something I'll definitely try again next year.

 These are the last of the raspberries and tomatoes.
We had a surprise package from my great aunts with some bulbs in. These are different varieties which I haven't grown before, from Fentongollan Farm in Cornwall. Ive planted them in the back garden.

And a close up of the Rudbeckia to finish.

Not long now until garden at the beginning of November!

Thursday, October 20, 2011


Coincidentally I've taken the week off work, and it just happened to have my birthday in it! The OH has had a week off too, and we have been catching up on stuff at home, having a new wall built and things like that.

My birthday itself was cool, we went out for a meal the night before, as I had knitting group the evening of my birthday (you know, priorities).

We had a trip to the garden centre to buy spiky plants to plant along a boundary wall. This is me with the spikiest holly I have ever seen, it's called "Ilex Ferox" for good reason. Although it's English name is the rather cute "Silver Hedgehog Holly". It's to go with the (female) holly we've already got as this one is male.

And birthday presents! The OH bought me the slow cooking recipe book as I've had it out of the library for about 3 months now. And I asked for the other recipe book, the Dairy book of home cookery (as delivered by the milkman), as I used to use the previous edition of it, which belonged to my Mum, all the time.

My great aunts sent me the Archers Addicts map of Ambridge, which used to belong to my Gran, so it's come full circle now. I'm finding it very useful for the back story for some of the characters as I've been listening for about six years.

And a skein of Manos Wool Clasica and some homemade bath teabags from my brother and SIL (although I suspect she made them as I can't imagine my brother doing that!).

And, of course, lots of cards from friends around the world - thank you!

I've spent some time this week sorting out photos and catching up with blog reading. So there might be some more posts from me fairly soon.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Books read in the last couple of months

(or how I attempted to keep Surrey libraries going single-handedly).

This was meant to be a post about books read in August. But now it's October and I'm getting more reading time on the commute to work so my list of books read is getting huge...

This is more list than review!

So, this is what I read in August. The book titles link through to LibraryThing, just cos I think it's fab.

Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel
I quite enjoyed this one,  I thought the portrayal of Henry VIII's court and factions excellent, but it does go on for a looonnnnngggg time. And it weighs a ton, so it only got commuted with once. So far, the one and only book that has made me think about having a Kindle.

A vintage affair by Isabel Wolff
A fun read. Has those annoying things about chick lit. (why does the heroine always have two men interested in her, that never happens in real life?! Why does one of the men always have twinkly eyes?!). Fun descriptions of vintage clothing.Good for commuting reading.

Murder is binding by Lorna Barratt
Bookmarked for death by Lorna Barratt
Murder mysteries set in a murder mystery bookshop (yes, really). Again, a fun read but not great works of literature.

Read in September:
The girl with the dragon tattoo by Stieg Larsson
The girl who played with fire by Stieg Larsson
The girl who kicked the hornets' nest by Stieg Larsson
Didn't intend to read them in a row in the space of just over a fortnight, but that's what happened. These are very compelling! I found myself wishing for a longer commute just so I could keep reading! Very highly recommended. They are in translation, but it's been done very well so you can't tell, apart from occasional bits where there's some detail to explain how something or other happens in Sweden. I enjoyed the insights into another society, and although there is a lot about the problems of Sweden's social welfare system, I still thought it sounded better than here... If only Larsson had lived longer, as i would have loved to have read more books by him.

People of the book by Geraldine Brooks
Really enjoyed this one. It's about the Sarajevo Haggadah, the story of a six hundred year old book and makes the world of rare books look far more glamorous than it actually is. Well, I've certainly never jet-setted round the world tracking down provenance leads anyway.

Read in October:
The prince of mist by Carlos Ruiz Zafon
This is meant to be scary, but it isn't nearly as chilling as others I've read. It's written for children and is in translation (which shows in places) and the scary bits are a bit too much obviously intended to be scary. The action moves too fast which makes it a little less believable too.

Treasures of Durham University Library ed. by Richard Gameson
Oooh nice books!

The Royal Horticultural Society: Bulbs
Good pictures and idiot's guide to bulb planting (very useful for me).

How to garden: perennial plants by Alan Titchmarsh
Another idiot's guide to gardening. I found it really useful as it focusses on a few plants rather than the overwhelming numbers you get in other gardening books (the sort that assume you know what you're doing). Probably not for someone who knows what they're doing...

Sunday, October 09, 2011

York (part 1)

I had intended to write a lengthy post about my second trip up north in September, when we went to York (and Newcastle) but haven't had time. Three weekends away or out meant I had a lot of gardening to catch up with last weekend, and I just haven't had time to sort all the photos out. But, we have another week's holiday coming up the week after next, when we're having a week at home, so I'll have time to sort out my pictures, and the knitting I've been doing, and garden at the beginning of October (and September, as I never got round to doing that one either!).

But I wanted to post a picture of these before any more time passes. The friend we saw whilst on holiday had knitted them for last year's Iron Knitter competition, but they ended up as the right size to fit me. Cool or what?! I get a very groovy pair of socks, the most intricate I've ever owned...

It isn't cold enough to wear them yet, but I will do as soon as the temperature drops some more.