Saturday, 20 July 2013

Festival flowers

In August, my eighteen year old dd will be attending her first ever big music festival and camping for three nights with her girlfriends.

Although the weather is wonderful in the UK right now, you might possibly have heard, we do get quite a lot of rain here. As the English go on and on about the weather - it's a favourite topic of ours :-) Festivals are generally held in fields, so a pair of wellies is essential UK festival wear, in case it gets muddy. Worn with shorts, these can make the backs of your legs sore, so I crafted a pair of welly toppers for my dd, in the hope that soft yarniness will make her wellies more comfy if worn with bare legs.

I made them in bright colours to go with her lilac wellies, which were bought from Hunters a few years ago at vast expense (but they are wearing very well, on the plus side). I used the yarn I bought in Whitby for the base cream and purple flowers, and yarn from stash for the red hearts, and the variegated purple stripes, so this was a partial stashdown project.

I found the pattern in one of my Knit Now magazines, but this pattern is now available to purchase on Ravelry (note: Rav log-in may be needed to view link). 

I love the folk-art impression of the FO, and my dd seems to really like them. I was rather gratified to hear her showing them to her friends with some pride. And they were generally admired, so this is definitely a Win. 

Tuesday, 9 July 2013

Hogsmeade Station

Anyone who reads this blog will be only too aware of my obsession with Harry Potter. I loved the books, and the movies, and I play an online knitting game themed around it (what?! you knew I was a geek already, surely?)

I share the interest (in Harry Potter, not the knitting!!) with both my kids, so they are always up for visiting Potterverse locations. Whilst we were in the North York Moors, we took ds to a very special location. Dd has been there twice before, once as a tiny baby before there were any Harry Potter books even, but this was ds's first visit.

Recognise it? Ds did! It was that foot bridge that gave it away.

This is the Hogsmeade station featured in the very first Harry Potter film. Later on, they moved it to some studio, but in the first film, most of the Hogwarts Express scenes were filmed on the North York Moors steam railway. Hogsmeade station was at Goathland, which is where these photos were taken.

Here's when the train pulled in to the station.

And here is the steam train that chuffs away along the line. I think they used a different one for the Hogwarts Express, but I can't be sure. I really need to get my VHS tapes out and watch the first HP film again.

Keep an eye out for a future blog post in which we go to the Warner Studio Tour. Note to self: must organise this!

Monday, 8 July 2013

A day at the seaside

Just back from a lovely weekend away. It was just three of us, as dd was away on holiday with three girlfriends. This is a big milestone for us, but obviously she is over 18 now and some letting go has to happen, no matter how difficult it is.

Anyway, the rest of us drove up to Yorkshire. My parents were away on holiday, so we got to stay in their empty house and have a little holiday of our own. 

Ds's school was closed on Friday for teacher training, so we had an extra day. We went to Whitby on Friday, and as it was term time, it was exceedingly quiet, as you can see in this view of the West Cliff: 

We could do on-street parking at the top of the cliff and we didn't even have to pay. Quite extraordinary!

We walked past Bram Stoker's house, where he wrote the novel Dracula and guess what? it is to let. So if you fancy staying somewhere nice to write a masterpiece, give the agent a call!

The weather was fantastic. Here's ds and dh enjoying the sun on the pier:

In Whitby, the pier isn't the pleasure kind with amusements and fairground rides and candy floss. There are a few amusement arcades, a handful of rides and several sweet shops, along the road by the harbour, but Whitby is a serious fishing port and so the pier is given over to serious fishing. You can buy some of the marine harvest in local shops:

And indeed I did eat some of it, but in a restaurant for lunch:

Mmm yummy.

There is something else for sale in Whitby, at this fabulous shop:

They had some lovely handknits for sale, but I didn't buy any. I did buy three balls of dk, but it was cheap-ish yarn with a specific purpose in mind, so it will fit with my stashdown.

We spent the afternoon hanging out on the beach, until we finally had to pack up owing to the tide coming in. 

What a lovely day!

Sunday, 7 July 2013

Wild Shepherdess

I've labelled this post Crafts in Media although it is tangential, really. The BBC has made a documentary series about shepherding in distant places (distant to the UK, that is.) And since no-one outside the UK can access i-player, it seems, briefly, it's as follows: Episode one - sheep herders in the Wakhan corridor, Afghanistan. Episode two - llama and alpaca herders in the Andes, Peru. Episode three - sheep production in Australia.

I started with the Peruvian episode, since I came across it on iplayer. That one really had a crafts element, as the village herders had a sideline in spinning yarn and weaving beautiful fabric, with inca-type designs. It was fascinating, but if you're thinking of watching with your kids, I recommend pre-viewing, as there was a lot of information and footage of, er, breeding. I found the entire programme not only really interesting, but also positively focused on the future for alpaca production in Peru.

When I watched the episode from Afghanistan, I had quite a different reaction though. No TV presentation could alter the almost unendurable hardness of the life of these people, or hide the fact that what we were looking at, basically, was terrible poverty. It made uncomfortable viewing. The animals - a mix of sheep, goats and yak - were mainly herded for collection of milk and milk products, occasional meat (maybe monthly).  The shepherds' diet comprised mainly tea and flatbread, with the occasional stew with sheep's milk, flour and a bit of fat. They also used the animals' fibre for insulation (the yurts had felt panels on the sides), and made rope from yak hair for fastening loads on their animals for transport. There was no crafting shown, or any information on where the brightly coloured clothes worn by the women came from.

The Australian episode showed a much more comfortable way of life, with motor vehicles, electric power, pumped water. Here, the shepherding had a focus on meat production. They didn't even say what happened to the fleeces.

I found the presentation of ethical issues interesting. There was much discussion on live meat transport (in the Australian episode), scientific approaches to fertility and reproduction (Australia and Peru) but almost nothing on addressing poverty, which I felt was by far the worst concern thrown up by the series. And in saying that, I'm not trying to downplay the importance of animal welfare at all. Just remarking that there are two sets of issues here.

Tuesday, 2 July 2013

Tea with the White Rabbit

Now my dd has finished her exams, she has more time for relaxation. Also, she now finds it fun to accompany me to one of my favourite vintage-style teashops, such as the lovely White Rabbit Teahouse.

Note the salt and pepper pots are little rabbits, in the photo of our vintage teapot below:

There was full afternoon tea or cream tea on offer, but we went for the budget scone-with-jam version on this occasion, as we'd just blown rather a lot of money in Top Shop buying holiday kit for dd. The scones get top marks, BTW, and are served warm.

Next time, I will have the blueberry cake. Or the Earl Grey cake. Or maybe the amaretto and raspberry cake. Oh my gosh.

Apologies for the photo quality in this post. These ones were taken on my BlackBerry.