Hidden Doors Edinburgh

Hidden Doors was my latest adventure. The event is a collection of art and gigs in a hidden part of Edinburgh – somewhere you wouldn’t ordinarily be able to access.

The location of this Hidden Doors looked to perhaps be old council offices and depot. I attended with a couple of knitting friends and I was instantly impressed as we entered the courtyard. It was absolutely buzzing. We entered the buildings surrounding the courtyard, working our way along corridors, peaking in every open door to see what was hidden inside.

I don’t pretend to understand art. I am a very visual person and I like what I like. That’s as far as it goes really. I need to know the story behind a piece of art to “get it”. Even if I don’t “get it” I may still enjoy looking and feel inspired to take a photo. 

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I wish I were artistic. I have ideas swirling around in my head but just have no idea how to get them out there. I feel torn over which idea to work with as there are so many ideas. I fear that anything I produced would actually be crap. I have no idea what I’d do with any finished art (don’t live in a big enough place to  keep anything). So many struggles so I end up creating nothing but thoughts and take photos of art that I particularly like.

Thank goodness for knitting. I may not create my own patterns, but every project I follow at least makes me feel creative.

Time for Tea

Rod has been searching for food and drinks suppliers for work and has uncovered a little gem of a tea shop in Edinburgh called Anteaques.

It’s a little shop selling antiques and teas and there’s a few tables where you can sit in and enjoy a tea or two and a scone.

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Haha … see what they did with the name?!!

Anteaques is run by a charming French man named Cedric who is very knowledgeable and passionate about antiques and tea.

There are a huge number of teas to choose from and it’s really quite atmospheric sipping tea amongst so many beautiful curiosities.

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People of Edinburgh and visitors to Edinburgh alike, if you like tea then Anteaques has to top your list of places to visit.

London Baby!

Every year I try to get down to London. I’m a city girl at heart, and although Edinburgh is a city, it is too small for my liking. I need to go to London to get a proper city fix.

A couple of weeks ago we left early Friday to maximise our time in London. In fact we almost didn’t make it at all. Despite giving enough time to get through security, Edinburgh Airport have changed things around and it is now carnage. We had to run for the gate but thankful managed to catch our flight.

We made use of our Virgin Money Lounge in central London to store our luggage, have a quick drink and sew a button back on my cardigan then headed straight out into all that London has to offer.

We had pre-exchanged Tesco vouchers for entry into a couple of visitor attractions and our first port of call was St Paul’s Cathedral.

I’d wanted to visit here for quite a while but always felt a bit strange having to pay to get into a church. I now see that St Paul’s is actually worth paying entry for. There was heaps to see and you are left to your own devices to wander around and take it all in. I was particularly blown away by seeing the tomb for Nelson in the crypt. We climbed from the bottom of the cathedral to the top and enjoyed the fabulous views of the city.

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And the views back down to the floor (which made me feel a bit ill)

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Back on the ground floor we caught a couple of songs being sung by a choir.

Our next visit on the list was Temple Church.  Rod has long been intrigued by this place and wanted to visit. On our last trip to London the church was closed, but we got lucky this time. It is an interesting little place.

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Neither of us are religious, but I enjoy visiting places of religion. I find them fascinating. However, two churches in one day was quite enough and we went off for some general wanderings in London. I love just wandering … existing in a place.

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Saturday saw Rod heading off to Milton Keynes for Rugby World Cup training (he is one of the volunteers) so I headed to Islington to do a spot of yarn shopping.

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Rod rarely has interest in going to art galleries and museums so I took this opportunity to visit my favourite museum, the V&A.

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One of my favourite galleries is the glass gallery.

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My favourite thing in the V&A is not an exhibit as such, but a few words that make me feel very rich.

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How lucky we are as a nation to have access to so many amazing treasures.

Sunday we enjoyed exploring a favourite area, Greenwich.

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We made sure to buy a few Ethiopian samosas from the market then went off to explore a new area, Brixton.

Monday was our final day. We used more Tesco vouchers to escape from the rain and visit the Churchill War Rooms. Lots of very interesting things to see.

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We returned to daylight and the rain had stopped so we had some final wanderings.

We briefly went into the British Museum where I discovered there was an Aboriginal exhibition on. How I wish I’d known that. I’m not sure I’ll make it to London before the temporary exhibition closes, but I caught a mini exhibition displaying Larrakitj  (funeral poles).

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My big city fix met, it was time to head to the airport. Next stop home.

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Farewell Cueto

A couple of weekends ago saw Rod and I make another trip across the border to the land of my birth. We were heading back to the Manchester area to watch the final home game of the season for the rugby union team we follow, Sale Sharks.

Isn’t it funny that Rod and I should both happen to follow the same team. Me, because I happened to see an England game on TV and saw Jason Robinson’s first cap and was fascinated watching him play. Jason is the reason I started watching rugby and so naturally I started following the club he played for. Rod, because it was his local team at one time when he lived in Wilmslow. 

We crossed the border Friday evening and stayed at one of the Premier Inns at the Trafford Centre.

Game day on Saturday and we had our usual quick wander around the Trafford Centre before heading for the free bus to the AJ Bell stadium. Traffic can be a bit of a nightmare heading to the AJ Bell so we headed to the ground a bit earlier than we normally do. Turns out the motorway was free flowing for a change so we were much earlier than expected. Still it gave us time to soak up some of the atmosphere, grab a drink and watch the teams arrive.

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The final home game of the season was against Newcastle Falcons and it was an extra special game as it was the final home game for a number of players with the club, most notably Mark Cueto, who has served Sale for the entirety of his professional career. Cueto has been with the Sharks for 14 years and currently holds the record as the top try scorer in the premiership. What an amazing career.

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The game was great, although a little too close for comfort towards the end. At least Cueto earned a final home try (thanks to Tom Arscott) and a standing ovation when he left the pitch at the end of the game.

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I’m sad to see the back of Cueto, he’s been a treat to watch and loyal to the club. What a star and what a fitting end for his last home game.

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Shame Cueto didn’t have such a grand end in the final game in the season against Exeter Chiefs. Cueto received a yellow card in the 71st minute 😮

Stanley Mill

My friend Natalie is part of an art exhibition at Stanley Mill this weekend along with some of her classmates. Wanting to support Natalie, we grabbed a couple of ASVA passes from Rod’s work and headed up the road to Stanley, north of Perth.

Our ASVA passes got us free entry to Stanley Mill, an old cotton mill. I find mills very interesting, perhaps down to my love of yarn and textiles. This Mill had fallen into disrepair, but Historic Scotland have done a great job in bringing the building back to life.

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We met a lady who used to work in the mill as a young girl and she really made the visit for me. She showed us some photos and told a few stories. It was a real insight into life in the mill. Fascinating.

The art exhibition that Natalie was part of was dotted throughout the mill. There were a few pieces that caught my eye.

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Natalie’s art was a performance installation and unfortunately on a break when we visited but we did get to see Natalie and hand over a sugary treat to see her through the day.

Looking forward to seeing Natalie’s next exhibition … her degree show.

Edinburgh Yarn Festival

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Blimey! What a weekend!! The second Edinburgh Yarn Festival is over and what an absolute blast. It was a non-stop, fun-filled weekend and I can’t wait until the next EYF already … although I still need time to catch my breath a little.

My involvement started on Friday morning as a volunteer helping to get everything set up – taking boxes to the venue, filling EYF bags with leaflets, helping exhibitors with set up. This was all cut a little short for me as I had to collect Rod from hospital, but the glimpses of what I saw had me really excited for the weekend.
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Saturday morning was an early start – I was collected by taxi and whisked off to collect the teachers from their hotel. What a lovely bunch of teachers and they seemed to be appreciative of somebody to make sure they got to the venue okay. We had a quick breakfast at the venue and a bit of a natter. It was really nice to be able to get to know the teachers a little.

My next volunteer duty was to help out at one of the external teaching venues, the Risk Factory. it was only a couple of minutes walk from the Corn Exchange and very easy to find (especially having been there once before on work business). My fellow volunteers were already at the venue to check students into their classes so I ran around the classrooms checking everything was in order, checking when the teachers were ready for students to come in and then help direct students to the appropriate rooms. I was certainly kept fit as I ran up and down the stairs. There was excitement in the air as the students scurried off to their classes. I scurried off to my first class too.
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I had decided to sign up to one of the Teapot Trust classes – the fair isle brooch class. It was a bargain price and I thought it would be great to give me a few hints and techniques given that I have set myself the goal of completing something in fair isle this year. The class was full and we all sat around the large table with yarn and pattern and set to work. The yarn I had didn’t quite work out for the project, but I think I got the hang of fair isle in this simple pattern. Fingers crossed my first proper fair isle project does work.

Back to the Risk Factory to see everybody out of their classes, tidy up the classrooms and get ready for the next round of classes. I was very impressed with the Risk Factory as a venue, and it was nice to be able to get some fresh air as I moved between the Corn Exchange and the Risk Factory. Everybody settled into their classes it was now time to hit the marketplace. I had already looked at the list of exhibitors in advance, but I was really quite happy just running around and looking at all the stalls, so much so I couldn’t really tell you many of the exhibitors who were there. I bought a few bits and pieces – not too much really as I’d planned for Sunday to be my shopping day, Saturday I was more involved and focussed on volunteering.

A couple of us volunteers then headed for the bar next door to watch the England v Scotland rugby match. Pleased to say that my side won the game … much to the disgust of many in the bar!!!

In the evening we had the Ca-BAA-ret to look forward to … an evening of entertainment from Felicity Ford AKA Knitsonik, telling us about how her Stranded Colourwork Sourcebook came to be. Her presentation was delightful and funny and interesting all at the same time. I was particularly interested in Felicity’s breakdown on the true cost to knit a box of Shreddies!
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The evening was rounded off with a pub quiz. We scratched our heads and puzzled over many of the questions and rounds, but I am pleased to say that our team won. It was a rather tricky quiz, and earning about half the total marks available we really were surprised to win, but boy were we chuffed to bits, especially when we were each handed a little project bag with two skeins of Yarn Pony.

Sunday started in the same way as Saturday – collecting teachers, ensuring they were fed and coffeed and sent to their classrooms. Here I thought my volunteering was over, but there was one little task left – handing out tote bags to the first 100 through the doors. Those were some very happy people heading quickly towards me – so nice to make somebody smile over such a little thing and I’m sure it set their day off to a good start.

Now my volunteering really was over. I met up with my friend Hester and a little later we were joined by Jackie and we hit the marketplace together. We worked our way along each aisle, stopping at the stalls that caught our eye. Having already done a quick run around on Saturday I already had a rough idea what I was after. The marketplace was just a wonderful sight – so much to see, a real feast for the eyes … and fingers as we fondled the yarn! I was mighty impressed with the marketplace. Don’t get me wrong, the first Edinburgh Yarn Festival had a wonderful marketplace, but the festival was so popular that there was such a crush to see any stall. The new venue has allowed for much more space, and although very busy, the set up was much improved.
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Another great improvement was the availability of space to sit and eat/drink and knit. There was a large room filled with tables and chairs and I could see I was not the only person glad of a chance to stop and look over the new purchases and have space to knit and chat with friends. There was also the podcast lounge with comfy sofas so I dropped by for a short time before needing to head to my class.
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When classes for the Yarn Festival were announced I had decided I’d not take a class, but then the more I thought about it, the more I really wanted to take one to get the full festival experience. One of my other goals for this year is to darn a pair of socks belonging to Rod. They hold sentimental value so I really want to give them a new life. There was one space left in Master Darner Tom’s class on the Sunday afternoon so I booked it – that single space was a sign, right?

Tom’s class was interesting as he explained different types of darning and when to use them. I love that he does not hide his darning as he wants to show that something has been used and served time. I was also impressed that he would happily darn anything – even an item of cheap clothing that many would just throw away once it had served its purpose. What an interesting idea that even though somebody could not give as much loving time as they liked to finish off an item of clothing properly, Tom would still lovingly darn that item of clothing.
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My final haul from EYF 2015:

  • 3 x Ullcentrum 2 ply in Petrol
  • Joes Toes suede soles
  • A large pair of socks for rod and a woven brooch to go with my Vasa from Laura’s Loom
  • Pattern for Pyukkleen
  • Ribbons and buttons from Textile Garden
  • A gorgeous ring made from an old knitting needle from Yellow Bear Wares – reminds me of my nana’s knitting needles
  • Stitch markers from Spin Pretty as a thank you gift for Rod’s cousin
  • A gift for a very good Aussie friend … but I couldn’t possibly say what for fear of prying eyes!!
  • 2 x YarnPony Posh Pony in Saline (quiz prize)
  • 1 x YarnPony Mustang in Concrete (volunteer gift)

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Festival over and I can truly say that this was an amazing weekend. I was honoured to be able to volunteer and help the yarn festival be so successful, but that volunteer work was only a very small part – Jo and Mica deserve a lot of praise for making this the wonderful event that it was.

Roll on Edinburgh Yarn Festival 2016!

Forever Heading South

Not even a week had passed and Rod and I were heading south again. This time we had his parents in tow with us and we were making our way to Gloucestershire. Rod has cousins who live down that way, Anne and Robert. Rod and I have visited his cousins a few times and we both love it there. We walk through the door at Anne and Robert’s and instantly feel relaxed.

Rod and I took advantage of our National Trust membership again over our long weekend, this time visiting Newark Park, a Tudor hunting lodge. The building was initially rejected by NT as they didn’t realise how important a property it is, but it is good to see this place being preserved. The weather was not on our side the day we visited here, but we had a quick wander around the grounds and even managed to grab a couple of geocaches before the house opened up.

We visited a National Trust village – Bibury. We’d been recommended to visit by Anne and Robert, and although this place is National Trust, it’s actually free for all to wander around. The village was really lovely, in particular the little row of old cottages, formerly weavers’ cottages. There was a sweet little church in Bibury, a beautiful, babbling stream, and we even grabbed a quick cache to add to the growing total of finds.

Rod and I took a visit into Gloucester one afternoon. We’ve been before, but it was a lovely day and it seemed a shame not to get out for some fresh air. We specifically wanted to walk around the dock area, and additionally there was a little market running – we couldn’t resist buying a couple of freshly made Welsh cakes … delicious 🙂 We also made a return to the cathedral, which is stunning.
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Rod and I have only been to visit Anne and Robert a few times together, but I’d never really explored the village they live in so this time we made an effort to walk around Bisley. It’s a gorgeous Cotswold village, including a rather fabulous old pub called the Bear Inn. This place is rather a favourite of Rod’s, and I must admit it really does have a charm. I was also particularly interested in a tale recounted by Anne about the Bisley Boy … hmmmm …. interesting! Out for a walk with Anne, we took her to find her very first cache (one Rod and I had previously found) and then went on to find another together.

Aside from our amblings around the Cotswolds, we of course spent time with family, relaxing, eating (including a curry from scratch made by Rod on Anne and Robert’s Aga), and I even had a little knitting circle with Anne and her friend Adrienne.

It’s such a drag returning to reality!