Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Easter in Cambridge

I'm a little bit lost for words, as I don't want to sound like a gushing guide book or something equally grim. But basically, we couldn't have had a better weekend. Everything was perfect, especially the phenomenal weather. If I though that we had had summer previously, now I am sure that we have - we must have got easily into the mid to high seventies, almost too hot on Saturday.

Consequentally, many of the things that we were going to do didn't happen, especially the taking of many photographs through lots of colleges. although this was mainly because someone - mentioning no names, of course - had not got his alumni card (didn't know one was necessary now). But it was mostly too hot to wander too far, and certainly too hot to shop.

There were beautiful flowers and trees everywhere - even on the drive down, the hedgerows were foaming with apple and hawthorn blossom, and then there were both sorts of chestnut at the height of their beauty, and wallflowers and lilac everywhere. Sumptuous.

This is the wisteria at Sidney Sussex.

And this, although without blossom or perfume, a most elegant cedar.

We spent quite a lot of Saturday ambling along the Backs, or sitting in the shade admiring the view.

The view to King's - but not that of Queens' next door. Just don't get me started on what they have done there. I refuse to call it "created". The erecting of ugly constructions of concrete, corrugated "tin" and glass is a crime, and someone should be prosecuted! (The DSM thinks I go a little too far......)

Saturday evening, we in fact went to King's chapel for a concert - Pergolesi and Bach - which was magical, especially the final Bach cantata, the name of which escapes me for the moment.

We did a lot of socialising with our friends over the weekend, culminating in the actual birthday and retirement party on Monday, which was a delightfully happy occasion. The children all behaved extremely well, as did most of the adults......

Another of the highlights was seeing this.

It has been there for a few years, but somehow we had never noticed it before - or rather, I think that we had never actually walked past this corner. It is.........fabulous. Beautiful, and - as intended to be - slightly terrifying. One of the most spectacular pieces of public art that I have ever seen.

A close up, with the grasshopper in all its glory. You can in both shots just about see the blue lights that show the seconds, minutes and hours and the relentless passing of all of these.


Here is the Wikipedia link, rather than me trying to explain it all and getting it wrong. Go see it if you can.

As you can imagine, little textile stuff got done, other than quite a bit of knitting on the cormo shawl. Now I am back, spindling in earnest will begin - has begun. Some pretty fluff to navajo ply to make the Alston weekend challenge tea cosy - as well as serving as a sample!

For now, feet back down to earth and onward and upward.....

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Summer returns.........

It is not quite as hot, but the weather has steadily been improving all week and today is once again glorious.

As we have had workshop days for the two days previously, it is nice to be able to loaf about and bask, although I have been driven indoors for a while because I got just too hot. Where we sit is well sheltered from any breeze and is a right little sun trap - mid-afternoon finds the sun directly on our seats, with nowhere to move them. Still, at least I can get a blog post done!

The workshop days were nice. One the regular A~H class, a small but choice group. We changed the day because so many people said they wouldn't be coming because of the Royal Wedding (I'm not saying a word......) but we didn't muster many this Friday either. Still, a good day.

Yesterday was a workshop on "new" fibres at Bradford, our own guild. I always tend to rather dread such occasions - not quite sure why - but this time, it was great. A huge group - the DSM who was acting as my lovely assistant and handing out the fibres counted eighteen participating with several more listening in. Despite a certain lack of total organisation on my part, it went, I think, well. Certainly people seemed to have a very good time, which is always nice to achieve.

One of the members had brought along a match pair of intriguing objects, and I will be very interested to hear if anyone has any clue as to what they might be. She had bought them as "spindles" from eBay, knowing quite well that they were not, but thinking they were interesting and attractive enough to buy anyway. I quite agree.

I realised when I uploaded them that I had not added anything to give scale - they are around 4" tall. The pointed peg fits in to the ball on the top of the whatever-it-is, and you can see the mark on it at the depth to which it fits. The ring just above the base is one of those carved of a piece with the rest of the object. From the way the underside of the base appeared, we all thought machine turned, but equally, several years old. It crossed my mind that they might have been some sort of apprentice piece, maybe?

Then - I have dyed the angora/silk shawlette.

For quickness, ease and simplicity, I just used Gaywool "Olive", but I am very pleased with the colour. As you can no doubt tell, the uneven mixing and therefore dyeing of the two fibres is very apparent, but I feel not in a way that screams "appalling dye job!!" So, I shall summon up my courage to do the larger shawl. I think I would like a kind of tawny/burnt orange shade, but not too in your face or garish. I have a horrible feeling that I shall have to sample.

Plus, I am on the umpteenth restart of the laceweight spindle spun cormo. It is an idiot proof pattern. Except for me. But I think I may have it cracked now - I just have to keep counting my stitches!

Off to Cambridge for Easter on Thursday. May or may not reappear before then.........

Sunday, April 10, 2011


Experience is teaching us that a spell of fine weather early in the year is Summer! And if we don't grab it, that's it. So, we are. The lounger cushions are out, and we are basking.

Only on Friday, I decided that we should use the freedom of the newly retired, and have an outing. So we trundled off to Harlow Carr, and I am so glad that we did. The weather was perfect - temp around 70F, wall to wall blue sky and a breeze just right to cool us off when the unaccustomed sun and warmth felt a little much.

But before the gardens, lunch at Bettys (yes, an added attraction!)

Sir indulged in a ginormous rhubarb* and ginger sundae, which, obviously, he enjoyed.

Then we started wandering. I had thought that we might have missed the best of the daffodils, but, not.

And there was untold richness to come. I'm going to put some of my favourite photos here, but there are a lot more - we took, I think, fifty nine, and I think around twenty eight have gone up on to Flickr. So click on any image to get to my account as see the rest if you have the stamina!

The DSM's favourite flowers - snakeshead fritillary.

These are small, sort of crocus size, and I'm not sure what there are. Other than gorgeous. Some sort of anemone?

*And if it is Yorkshire, there must be rhubarb! Hopefully, the sundae had its origins here in the kitchen garden.

One of the things that the DSM really loves to do is to invent, I mean explore, new routes home. There was this little white road shown on the map, our car is AWD, it was a glorious afternoon, and we had no deadline.............

Well, we found a fabulous spot to return to for a picnic. And, yes, there was a road. It continued. There was a ford, and a bridge......

The ford was very rocky, and looked deepish.

The bridge was very narrow.

So we hung around for a while, enjoying, and then turned back.

Rare sighting of Carol in her own blog!

And there were beautiful flowers here, too.

I think this all made for what might justifiably be called a perfect day.

Yesterday we spent a lot of time loafing around in the garden, and I finished the angora and silk shawlette (shows you how much time....) Photos later. Today, Bear Knitters, and then more loafing. They are threatening us with a sandstorm from the Sahara and then a return to more "normal" conditions, which probably means.......

The End of Summer.

Tuesday, April 05, 2011

A mixture

I've been trying to get to writing a blog post for days. And obviously, failing.....

But, here we are, better late than never.

I was requested, last Thursday at Coven, to describe the kick-ass soup I had just made. I didn't photograph it, sorry - words will have to do.

I had carrots, probably around a kilo in weight; three medium onions; a couple of ribs of celery; a tin of chopped tomatoes; a tin of butterbeans; vegetable stock; and a chunk of fresh ginger root. I roughly chopped all but three of the carrots, two of the onions, and the celery and ginger and threw them in a large pan together with stock and the tomatoes to cook until soft. The remaining carrots and onion I diced, and cooked in a separate pan.

When the big panful was well done, I whizzed it all in the Magimix, and then with the little hand held gizmo to get it really smooth. Then added the diced bits and the butterbeans, and adjusted liquid and seasoning - a bit of black pepper. That was it, pretty much, and it was very yummy.

Also very useful - the simmering pan was just the job for steaming a skein of singles that I wanted nicely finished!

The day or two vanished with chores, and the Mothers Day Picnic. I've said before that as the mater no longer goes out, on high days and holidays we gather up whatever family members we can and a selection of foods from wherever - in this case, M&S - and take it over to liven up her diet a bit. She did very well with the food, still enjoys that, and seeing us all, particularly Alice, which is nice. But there are now definite signs of deterioration, both physical and mental, which is sad of course. Conversation is very limited and on a continuous replay loop, which we do try to be very patient with, but it can be hard when it gets stuck on a somewhat unreasonable instruction to one of us, which can and does happen! But it did go well, and I am glad that we do it.

Now, you may or may not remember this:

Which has now become this:

I had to frog it back to less than halfway, as although I thought that I had weighed and calculated how much yarn there was - I obviously hadn't! Anyway, done now, and I rather like it. Given that I wear black a lot, it will be a nice little note of colour.

I have immediately cast on another one similar in the remaining angora and silk, which should be a quick knit and then into an experimental dyepot, before attempting the large stole. AS I knit - and I have learnt the very simple edge pattern now so I can ruminate - I am pondering what dye/colour to use. No decision so far.........