Tea Party Time

On Saturday, 17 October I attended a tea party hosted by the ever-exciteable Jess of Ginger Twist fame and the talented Claire Devine at Pekoe Tea in Stockbridge. The party was to launch the tea hat collection patterns created by Claire which were knit using Jess’s yarn.

The event was a sell-out, and those who paid extra for a pattern and yarn joined together with the virtual world in casting on a tea collection hat. Having enough on my plate at the moment, I chose not to join the knit along. There was still plenty to entertain though. I brought along my current knitting project and settled down to knit with friends. The evening included tea cocktails (as I was driving I was unable to partake in this), a selection of tea and macarons.  We were also given a whistle stop tour in tea education and had the chance to try on the collection of hats. It was a rather an interesting evening in great company.
image

image

image

image

image

image

image

image

image

Advertisements

Festival Madness

Yes … the festival activities of August!

Life has been rather busy, especially work and the last thing I really feel like doing after a day’s work is sitting and writing, even if for pleasure.

Back to August. This year neither Rod nor I had much appetite for festival activities. Don’t get me wrong, I love that the world comes to Edinburgh, but some years I’m just not in the mood for it. This year Rod and I made it to one show together – a show by John Lloyd (man behind QI, Blackadder, etc). John Lloyd is a big favourite of Rod’s and we went to see his show last year which we enjoyed very much so decided that we would see his new show this year. It was as good as we hoped, no, better. Following the show Rod had a chance to meet his idol again as he signed books in the foyer. Rod added a QI book to his collection as well as asking John to sign his copy of the complete Blackadder scripts which he already owned.

I went to one other show in the Fringe, Stitch in Time: a knitting cabaret by Melanie Gall. Her show was a collection of knitting songs from World War 1 and 2, interspersed with tales about the songs. Melanie filled the small venue with her amazing voice. She sang many a song about girls called Kitten busy knitting mittens. I guess there aren’t too many girls names that rhyme with knitting related activities or outputs. One of my favourite songs was about a girl imagining the man who would wear her knitted offerings. There was a combined sadness and romance to the song. The show also provided a bit of education. I had know idea that Lord Kitchener was the man behind the kitchener stitch.
image
image

I ended up having a bit of a fibre filled weekend following the cabaret show as I went to the Pringle exhibition at the Museum of Scotland. There was some very glamorous looking knits with intricate beadwork to greet the visitor on entering the exhibition.
image
image
image
There were examples of more traditional pieces, more along the lines of what I expected to see.
image
But also modern designs too.
image
image
I particularly favoured the textured Knits.
image
image
Below is a particular favourite.
image
I didn’t realise that Pringle produced underwear. I rather loved this fine little vest.
image
The Pringle exhibition was in quite a small room, but it was packed with an interesting history of the company. Pringle produced a lot more variety than I realised.

I decided to stay in the Museum and seek out other fibre related exhibits. I rarely spend time in the Museum of Scotland, preferring the older Royal Museum next door.

I discovered quite a reasonable selection of pieces on display ranging from spinning to weaving and knitting.
image
image
image
image
image
image
image
image
image
I really ought to spend a bit more time in this side of the museum, but sadly I find the layout quite off putting so never venture too far in.

I had heard from a friend about an interesting exhibition at the Dovecot so strolled along there next. First I discovered another fibre related exhibition at the Dovecot that I had not expected relating to Bernat Klein. There was a mix of yarn, textiles and painting in all manner of bright colours. Not necessarily to my taste, but interesting all the same.
image
image
image
image
image
image
image
image
I then got to the exhibition I was really there to see, Aggregations by Kwang Young Chun. His artworks were individual tiny little boxes wrapped in paper and tied with string then glued together into a larger piece of artwork. The time that has gone into each piece is clear to see. I was a bit click happy at this exhibition , but the artwork really caught my eye.
image
image
image
image
image
image
image
image
image
image
image
image
image
image
image
image
image
image
image
image
image
image
image
image
image
image
image
image
image
image
image
image
image
image
image
image
image
image
image
image
image
image
image
image

My fibre filled month was rounded off by an evening spent at a work colleague’s house. She was hosting Janet Renouf-Miller on her Knit 1 Bike 1 cycle tour around Scotland. In exchange for food or a bed Janet was providing workshops as she cycled her way around the country. As a group we didn’t really need a workshop so instead Janet did an advice clinic and presented her journey so far. Her story was interesting and her crocheted creations rather impressive given she was not following any patterns.
image
image
image
We had a lovely evening and I could have chatted with Janet for much longer but darkness was setting in and Janet needed to cycle on to her bed for the night.

August was not your traditional festival-filled month, but who said it had to be 😀

Paying our Respects

Last year we went on a camping trip to Ypres and The Somme to visit WW1 graves, memorials and battle sites. It was so good we decided to return to The Somme this year, and add a little day trip to Ypres, particularly to watch the Last Post ceremony at the Menin Gate. Last year we saw the Last Post three times. Twice whilst we camped in Ypres and a return trip from France to see it one more time.

When we decided to return to France for a camping trip, we thought it would be pretty great if we were able to take part in the Last Post ceremony and lay a wreath at the Menin Gate. We got to thinking that perhaps laying a wreath for the rugby club (Sale Sharks) we follow would be a good way to give something back too so Rod got started on making enquiries.

We were referred to Sale FC Rugby Club where Sales Sharks roots are based and the club got to work in digging into their archives and pulling out what they could in relation to players who were with the club during WW1.

Our next step was to arrange for a wreath to be made. Rod made contact with the Lady Haigh Poppy Factory in Edinburgh. When it was ready we popped in to collect it as the factory is not too far from us.

image

Wreath paid for, we asked if there was any opportunity for a tour. We were in luck and one of the staff downed tools to give us a bit of history to the charity and then walk us through the process of making poppies. We were introduced to the staff at each station, all injured ex-servicemen. We saw the processes for the different poppy products they make and were even tasked with forming a stick on poppy with the different components ourselves. I wonder where my little poppy contribution will end up. We were each given a little poppy to take away at the end of the tour. 

image

I am very grateful for the men to have allowed us this behind the scenes tour and we’ve been invited back … as long as we bring biscuits.

A few weeks later we booked a trip down to Sale so that we could meet the team we had been liaising with at the club. We took the wreath with us to take some pictures so that we could form a picture story of the wreath’s journey.

image

image

image

The club gave us a club tie and shield at the end of our meeting and these joined us on the trip to France and Belgium.

We the nipped by the AJ Bell Stadium to show the Sharks connection too.

image

Finally, the day arrived for us to leave Edinburgh and make our way to France. The car was packed and the journey from Edinburgh to The Somme saw me with the wreath on my knees for the whole journey.

image

We arrived in France on the Thursday and the last post ceremony, at the Menin Gate in Ypres, was taking place on the Friday. Thursday was reserved for pitching the tent, shopping and we didn’t venture too far, rather taking the chance to relax after such a long journey.

On Friday we travelled towards Ypres, stopping at a few memorials, battle sites and graveyards along the way. The Last Post ceremony was fast approaching so we headed into the town of Ypres and parked up.

We had a stroll around the Menin Gate then found the best place for our friends Gwen and Campbell to watch the ceremony.

image

We introduced ourselves to the men who oversee the ceremony. We had arrived early to ensure Gwen and Campbell found a good place to watch everything so this meant we had a bit of a wait.

People started filling the gate. There was the expectant chatter filling the arches and I was starting to feel a bit nervous. The Master of Ceremonies came over to speak to the six of us (three pairs) to explain how the ceremony would run and what we needed to do. He also said that he needed to find somebody to read the exhortation. Rod volunteered. While we waited the Master of Ceremonies told us a rather shocking fact. The ceremony had taken place a little over 30,000 times … not even enough for each name that is listed on the Menin Gate. Really puts the scale of deaths into perspective.

Finally it was time for the ceremony to begin. I was so focussed on what I needed to do the whole thing was a mash of bugles, a few words spoken, singing from a school choir and the silence of a crowd. Thankfully I’d seen the ceremony three times before so didn’t mind not absorbing it all fully.

I did listen to Rod read out the Exhortation. I had to pay attention to that! This was a once in a lifetime opportunity for him. He did very well, he was loud and clear and I am so proud of him.

We were second to walk through the gate and hang our wreath on the display stand. I felt as though my body was heavy and yet I felt as if I floated across the walkway and up the steps. We struggled with hanging the wreath but figured it out in what felt like an agonising eternity. We stepped back, we bowed our heads then turned and walked back. We were done.

As much as I don’t really remember the whole ceremony, it will also stay with me for a lifetime and I feel very privileged to have been able to participate in this act of remembrance.

image

image

image

image

Whilst in France and Belgium we were armed with a list of former Sale FC Rugby Club players who had been killed during WW1. We did a bit of research and sought out as many of the players as we could.

We tracked down eight of the men out of the 18 who had played for Sale FC Rugby and made the ultimate sacrifice:

*  Charles Edward BEAUSIRE (Ypres Menin Gate Memorial)
*  Henry BELL (Dernancourt Communal Cemetery Extension, Somme)
*  Robert BLACKSTOCK (Bouzincourt Ridge Cemetery, Picardie)
*  Stephen BROADMEADOW (Thiepval Memorial, Somme)
*  Sam KENWORTHY (Guillemont Road Cemetery, Guillemont)
*  Edward KINGSLEY (LYNCH) (Ypres Menin Gate Memorial)
*  Robert John SMITH (Aveluy Communal Cemetery Extension, Aveluy)
*  Eric James WOODHEAD (Dantzig Alley British Cemetery, Mametz)

image

image

The whole trip came to a conclusion on Saturday, 5 September. Unfortunately I was not able to take part in the final element, I was busy welcoming new international students. Rod went down to Sale FC Rugby Club for the opening game of the season. He was armed with prints of all of the photos I had taken on the trip in relation to the players we were able to find and the ceremony at the Menin Gate, all of the photos on a memory stick and a collage of photos framed.

image

Rod was treated as guest of honour with full hospitality. He formally presented the club with the pictures and was invited to read the exhortation. As a thanks in return Rod was presented with a signed Barbarians top.

What started out as a little idea grew to be rather a big deal for the club and they were very grateful (and perhaps a touch bemused at our daftness).

Camping Trip Number One of 2015

Finally, the weather is warming up a little. With the weekend approaching, and no plans we decided to take our first camping trip of the year. A favoured camping destination has become Northumberland. It’s not too far away from Edinburgh so an ideal weekend trip, and there’s plenty to see and do in the area.

Our usual choice in campsite was full, and Northumberland campsites were largely full or rather expensive,  but eventually Rod found us a pitch. We had to go for a standard pitch as the electric hook-ups were all booked, but as we were only going to be away for two nights we didn’t mind.

Thursday night we packed the Mini up and Friday afternoon Rod met me at work and we headed down the A1. We arrived the site and pitched our small tent by around 7.30. Our small tent takes no time to set up so we nipped to the supermarket in Alnwick then onto Seahouses (or Seahorses as we prefer to call it) for dinner at a wonderful Indian restaurant.

After dinner we went down to the harbour to look at the boat trips, a possibility for Saturday and we were greeted with this beautiful light behind Bamburgh Castle.

image

We were ready to head back to the tent but took a little detour into Beadnell. What a beautiful beach.

image

As we wound our way along the country lanes we caught a beautiful sunset. The sun had turned the field to gold.

image

Saturday morning we headed further south to Souter Lighthouse. Since we got National Trust membership this has been on my list of places to visit. We arrived a little before it opened so we had a quick walk. Just next to the lighthouse there was a kite festival/demonstration taking place. We returned to the lighthouse for breakfast then made our way in to explore the building.

We’ve visited a couple of lighthouses, but I think Souter has become my favourite. We were able to walk around at our own pace rather than take a guided tour, and then at the top of the lighthouse there was a guide to give a little talk. All very interesting.

image

image

image

Of course, the knitter in me couldn’t miss spotting the handknit socks in the fireplace of the light keeper’s cottage.

image

We returned to Seahouses in the afternoon and managed to book onto a trip to Longstone Island. We boarded our boat and we were surrounded by guillemots and puffins on route to the island. It was amazing watching the birds flapping furiously across the sky, diving into the water or calmly floating on the surface of the sea.

At Longstone Island we were free to explore for a short period of time. We watched a couple of seals sunning themselves, then progressed onto Longstone Lighthouse.

image

image

image

At the lighthouse we noticed a few seals in the water. One in particular put on a bit of a show for the crowd, I’m sure he loved the attention.

We returned to the boat ready for the trip back to Seahouses and on the trip we saw many more puffins. I’m sad I wasn’t able to capture a picture of any puffins, they were just too quick!

Saturday evening we walked to a pub not too far from the campsite, the Cottage Inn. What a great find. The food was delicious, the drinks a good price and there was a good beer garden.

Sunday morning we packed up and made our way to another National Trust property, Cragside. We explored each room, and as usual, the kitchen area was a bit of a favourite. I can’t explain why kitchens are a favourite. I can’t cook. I don’t cook. My fascination with windows also continues.

image

We took the scenic drive around the grounds then started our journey north.

Whilst on route we spotted a sign for the honey farm. We’ve passed this place a few times but it’s always been closed. This time we were in luck. We visited the little museum, saw a hive at word and may have bought some honey mustard and honey ice cream 😋

We nipped in to see Dan the coffee man at his roasterie then progressed to a great little bar in Berwick called The Curfew. It’s down a little alley, the sort of alley you’d walk straight past. We had a lovely evening but soon home was calling … why does work get in the way of life?!

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. 

image

image

image

image

image

image

image

image

image

image

image

image

image

image

image

image

image

image

image

image

image

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.

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.

image

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

image

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.

image

image

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.

image

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.

image

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

image

image

image

One of my favourite galleries is the glass gallery.

image

image

image

image

image

image

image

image

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

image

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

Sunday we enjoyed exploring a favourite area, Greenwich.

image

image

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.

image

image

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).

image

image

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

image

image

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.

image

image

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.

image

image

image

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.

image

image

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.

image

image

image

image

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 😮