Monday, October 28, 2019

An epic saga

Once upon a time, in 1965, my father came to England and rented a house for his family to live in, on a farm in the Cotswolds. It was, apparently, a cold and draughty house.

He went to the town to find the coal man, but the coal man was out at the moment, so he sat on this wall:

Along came the coal man, my dad ordered the coal, and the coal man invited him in to his nice, warm house for tea, a drink, a chat... and the rest is history. Even though we only lived there for a year, quite some time ago, many Christmas cards were exchanged and visits were made across the ocean until everyone became a bit old.

Last week, I found myself in Chipping Campden, home of the coal man, and I wondered if his wife was still with us -- I knew the other three had passed on. So I e-mailed my sister from the High Street,

and asked the woman at the Lygon Arms, a known watering hole from all those years ago,

and learned that Patta was alive and sprightly and 92, and lived down the road and around the corner.

We walked by her house, thinking to scope it out for the morning, and not bother her at 5 pm... but there she was in the front window, just getting ready to do her washing up. So we said hello, she made us tea, served us homemade shortbread, showed us her garden and arranged to give us a tour of the town the next morning! 

I felt sort of stupid for not thinking this through and contacting her in advance, but there you go.

And now, a brief digression.

My mother had this necklace, and now I have it.

It shows Robert Dover, founder of the Olympick Games

After the games, in Whitsun week, is the Scuttlebrook Wake, and a May queen is crowned. 

Okay, back to the present...

We met Patta the next morning and saw the town. At her house, when she had brought out tea and biscuits, she had a walker with a tray, but out and about she just used a cane and strutted along at great speed. 

She would ask me if I could deal with steep stairs! Honestly, 92 didn't look so bad! 

Our first stop, with the steep stairs, was the silver guild. The workshop is in an old mill building and was started around 1902, and I believe the same old workbenches are being used. 

I showed them my Robert Dover pendant, which they recognized immediately. The silversmith asked if my mom had been a May queen, since only May queens got silver pendants! They also made brass ones of the same design, but only one silver one a year! So, I have no idea... Did my Dad find this in a secondhand shop? Is it a knockoff by a renegade silversmith? Was it bought in 1965 or 66, or on a later visit, like 1972? 

We went for a coffee, and off to the craft museum, where we saw this poster. 

In the afternoon we had a muddy walk over Dover's Hill and round about, 

and the next day we went to Bath. More on that later...

Sunday, October 20, 2019

Those two galleries

Well, it has taken me a while to get to this. And events do just keep coming; I have millions more pictures to show you. But, back to my London trip...

The Tate Britain is full of, you guessed it, British art. Turner, among others. William Blake, Constable.

A very Kaffe Fassett cabbage, painted in the 17th century. Also in this picture was a buxom country lass, showing off her produce.

This guy! I think this was a painting about renouncing the material life and looking towards the church, but the lace on this fellow's legs was marvellous!

These are the Cholmondeley Ladies. They look the same, but they have their individual faces, laces and babies.

It was somewhat overwhelming. Of course we went to the gift shop, and did not buy this quite expensive tea towel.

Then it was on to the Science Centre, where we saw lots of things, but apparently didn't take many pictures. Here are some standard weights from different locations.

We wandered about South Kensington until we came to a very popular pub, where we had a bit of sausage and mash for supper. This was on the counter! In October!

Next week we take off for a bit of a holiday, with Stephen giving a talk at a  university along the way. I should have some lovely fall foliage for you, too! Oh, and knitting! I really must get caught up!

Monday, October 14, 2019

So many pictures

We've done a few fun things here in the past week, but let's look at two days in particular.

Last Thursday I went to London to see the Knitting and Stitching Show at Alexandra Palace, or as we in the know call it, Ally Pally.

Pic taken from the bus as we left

I met up with a friend I know through the Hot Docs festival. She is a quilter and I am a knitter, but there was more than enough for each of us. There were several displays of finished work. Quilts, huge felted pieces, sewing class output, art installations.

And of course tons of stuff to buy, including things I can't use, like this fibre for spinning. I didn't take many pictures of the things I was interested in buying, because I was too busy fondling and sniffing.

I ended up with a small amount of wool, all tiny skeins of brown sock yarn, which I think will become a scarf. It's often hard to find excellent browns, so just lookit this!

I'm very happy about this, but have a few things to finish first, before I tackle it. Also, I have no ball-winder or swift here and will have to wind it by hand! I do have good yarn-holding chairs, though, so no real hardship.

After a few hours of this, we were wiped out, but it was not yet time to head for home, so we went to the heart of London, the Anthropologie store on the King's Road, to see an exhibit of Kaffe Fassett's work. The amazing thing about this is that one could purchase most of these things!

One could, if one had a lot of money.

I think the little hats were about £200.

So great. I wish I had seen such a show of his from maybe 30 or 35 years ago, when he used 18 reddish yarns to make a red square. But I guess when one is 80, simplifying is allowed.

Plan A at this point had been for me to hop a train back to Cambridge. Stephen and I had planned to see some sights on Saturday, so it would be back on the train again. But, a friend of mine here had an Airbnb that she had booked, couldn't use, and couldn't get a refund for! So I took that, stayed over Thursday night, and Stephen came down on Friday instead of Saturday. I'm loving the child-free, sorta-retired sabbatical lifestyle.

This was the ho-hum view from the room:

Way over to the left is Regent's Park, so I walked over there in the morning with my Waitrose bun and takeaway coffee, in the rain.

Lovely fall foliage.

I recognized this immediately from the show W1A. It's the BBC building, now complete with Extinction Rebellion protestors and some police. This was maybe 9 am, very quiet. 

I continued down Regent Street, past some pretty snazzy clothing stores and some pretty fancy-pants offices. They are getting their Christmas lights this week! 

Meanwhile, Stephen was on his way on the train from Cambridge. We met up in Trafalgar Square... with a crowd of more Extinction Rebellion folk, who had set up camp there. Really, I should read the news more... 

We continued on our touristy way. You may not recognize this landmark -- Big Ben, covered in very high tech scaffolding. 

No protestors at present at the Parliament Buildings, but I'm sure they were just taking a wee break. 

We walked across a bridge. I'm knitting with a lot of grey right now and think I must knit with a lot more. Look at all these lines!

And now I must leave you. We have made it to the first of our two galleries, and I could easily show you dozens more pictures, but perhaps we'll leave that for another day. 

The staircase down from the front hall of the Tate Britain. 

Sunday, October 06, 2019

Angelsey Abbey

Yesterday was Saturday, and Saturday is knit-in-the-pub day in Cambridge. However, the weather forecast was for a nice day on Saturday and rain all day Sunday, so I bailed on knitting and Stephen and I got on our bikes and went to Anglesey Abbey. I'd heard there were dahlias there and we wanted to catch them before they were finished.

Google maps told us it was a 30-minute ride. They didn't tell us that the bike path was closed at one point and we would have to take our bikes over the train tracks on an overpass (luckily there was a little groove for bike tires and we didn't have to actually carry them up and down stairs) and then through a field.

I must say they do sky very well here

We rode down a tiny road with two-way traffic and down a big road with much more traffic, and it all took rather more than 30 minutes! But we got there and immediately went to get lunch!

There is a house...

carving on the bottom of an outer door

...and a flour mill...

...and there are gardens. Oh, my, are there gardens. Roses, dahlias and a few random extras.

When we had finally ogled all the flowers and were ready to head home, we went back to the visitor centre, where I followed this woman into the gift shop to snap a picture of her sweater. Very intriguing stitch pattern!

The ride back was much better. I don't know if we missed something obvious on the outbound journey, but we found much nicer paths on the way back and didn't have to go on the little road.

We were totally worn out, ate our leftovers and went to sleep. The end.