Friday, June 29, 2007

Bits and Bobs

Bits and bobs is a term used for a bit of this and a bit of that. These few pictures are just left over bits taken over a week's time. Above is the 'Smart' car. We see quite a few of these and they are just so cute, great for scootin' around town getting two sacks of groceries.

This scene was taken in a nearby village. Note the vehicles parked in the roadway. This is the norm throughout all the villages. One can park right in the road so when a vehicle approaches, you must just stop until they pass. What a great idea! It really slows traffic down. Can you imagine Tina parking in front of her house in Barnesville?!!

While out biking I saw this darling little girl on her bike. We had a chat about the benefits of riding, we compared bikes (mine metal, hers wood) then we were off to our own neighborhoods, saving gas as we went.

Saw these Easter colored wellies in a shop window. The little sign refers to a massive 'Woodstock-esque' concert that took place last weekend, Glastonbury Festival. I've been following the hubbub of this amazing artsy green festival featuring contemporary music, dance, comedy, theatre, circus and caberat. There were over 700 acts playing on 80 stages this year. It takes place about 3 hours from London on a field over 900 acres. It usually rains buckets and this year was no exception. I had an inkling to go but with over 180,000 wet, cold, noisy, drunk, wasted, people there already, I opted to stay in my dry home and watch it on the 'telly'.

London Calling

One evening last week, Houston and I took the train to London so Houston could run in a relay race with some friends. Good fun and Houston did fine. I brought my knitting and sat on a ledge across from the Parliament and Big Ben and watched the runners.

It was just past 8:00 p.m. when the runners finished so we took off to see some sights. We passed the front of the Parliament building on our way to find some yummy ethnic food.

But first stopped in here for a beer and a glass of wine.

Dali's sculptures along the South Bank in London.

The London Eye is an observation wheel, a slow moving wheel that allows visitors to walk into a capsule, and see the sights of the city from 445 feet. 3.5 million people rode the Eye last year.

I think it resembles a very large bicycle wheel.

Not sure if these are old bridge pillars or new ones, but we liked the sculpture look of them, almost like a Cristo exhibit.

Stopped by the Tate Modern 15 minutes before closing time so had to really scurry through. Whipped through the shop and bought a rainbow colored bracelet because I hardly have any jewelry.

This encampment was across from the Parliament. The 'Face of the Enemy' looked like 'Mr. Bill' from SNL decades ago.

We were looking for Thai food, but after passing a dozen Indian places, we finally ended up at a Moroccan restaurant. With the melodic music drawing us in, we were led down some candle lit steps, into a low lit series of small rooms, with hookahs on tables and sweet scented smoke filling the air. The tables were low, as were the chairs. Poor Houston, hurting from the run, folded himself into a tiny space, grimacing as his legs had to bend in ways they didn't want to. I just sat there, being hypnotized by the music, drumming on the table to the beat. As we were about to order, the music went up many decibels and we just pointed to what we wanted. (good thing because we couldn't pronounce the dishes anyway)
The music was extremely loud so as to announce the belly dancer. Houston's attitude improved dramatically!

Monday, June 25, 2007

Broad Way

Saturday Houston and I hopped on the train with our bikes and traveled to Wroxham in Norfolk, 1 1/2 hours away. We biked around the 'Broads', a series of rivers and shallow lakes, all connected so one can rent a boat and travel for days, not having to portage or go through canal locks.

History: "By the 12th century, much of east Norfolk had been cleared of its woodland for fuel and building materials. Between the 12th and 14th centuries peat digging (or turf cutting) was a major industry. Peat was (and still is on a smaller scale) for heating one's home. Historical records show that the pits gradually began to fill with water, making the turves of peat more difficult to extract. Peat diggings were abandoned by the 14th century. They flooded, and this partly man-made landscape became a wetland, rich in wildlife.

Marshmen living in the wetter lowland river valleys of the Broads developed a way of life which exploited the natural riches of the landscape. They tended cattle on the marshes, cut reed, sedge, marsh hay and litter, maintained dykes and drainage mills, and reaped a healthy harvest of fish and wildfowl to sell at local markets, as well as supplying their own needs.

The waterways were essential for communications and commerce. In the 16th century Norwich was the second largest city in England after London, its wealth founded on wool, weaving, fisheries, agriculture and general trade."

We stopped for a pub lunch right on the river and lazily sat watching the boats float by. One young man, riding on the top of his boat as it drifted by the pub, with his four buddies below, politely said to the driver, "Bill, I'd like to bring it to your attention, that you just passed a pub!"

I would love to live in a thatched cottage but I think they're probably dark and have low ceilings. This is a new build though and probably has larger rooms and more light. It's made with cement blocks then skimmed with plaster. The roof is reed, thatched and oh so nice. With proper English gardens and shrubberies, I'm sure this will be the perfect blend of old charm and modern construction.

Another one for Mo, our local postmaster back in Barnesville, Maryland. The post offices in these small villages are a blend of groceries, post cards, hardware, ice cream and stamps.

We biked along this small 'single track' trail that went alongside the small Bure Railroad. We noticed that the RR track was very small. When the train came toot tootin' along, we saw why. It is a teeny version of a real train. Way cute. The people were full sized though!

Decorated Arms

The entire time I've been in England, I have not seen one other person knitting in public (KIP). Two Saturdays ago it was KIP too! The Cambridge knitting group had a scheduled day to go to Bury St. Edmond's to knit in the Abbey ruins. I couldn't make it, but thought of them knitting away in the ancient ruins, hopefully impressing passersby enough to stop and watch and hopefully inspire some new knitters. I cannot sit on a train or in a car without knitting something. I knitted these wrist warmers on the train ride to and from Norwich last weekend. I embellished them later at home with my 'Loopy' mohair yarn. I crocheted a picot edge on the upper part and just a single crochet edge on the finger edge and also around the thumb. The pattern is from, the voodoo wrist warmers (winter 02). I LOVE these wonderous, wooly, wrist warmers! They really do keep my hands (and wrists) warm. I used my very own hand dyed 'Waltz' yarn, a 50/50 blend of alpaca and wool. It is SO luxurious and soft. The colorway is my new 'Plum Pudding'. This yarn and colorway are not on my website yet. When I get back home, my website is going to have a major makeover, with plenty of updates and additions.

It doesn't look like much of a wrist warmer laid flat.

And, I finished the green bead wire bracelet. I thought I'd try something a bit different, with two 'V' bent wires, coming together in the back. That's the last time I'm trying this! It took forever and by the end I wasn't that entertained. It took a lot of beads too. My husband said it looks like glitzy hardware. I do like it wearing it though. 'More is More Better!'

Botanical Journey

Last week I meandered through the Cambridge University Botanical Gardens. Opened in 1846 it displays over 8,000 plant species. Above is the winter garden, many plants being evergreen or giving color in the winter months. I only wish I would have visited this garden during the snow back in February.

There were many water gardens, with abundant water lilies and grasses.

The gardens were meticulously edged. No mulch is needed as the summers don't get scorching hot.

I was fortunate to come upon this delightful scene of school girls skipping through this grass maze. The giggles and laughter were music to my ears.

This is a bears' breech, acanthus mollis. It grows up to 5' tall.

I haven't seen this type of sage before, Turkish Sage. It's pale yellow color reminds me of an early morning sun. Most yellow flowers are a deep, rich yellow, but this one is very subdued.

This very tall, showy plant is the common hemlock. It grows along all the roadsides and is quite irritating when touched. It's purported to be the poison used in the execution of Socrates.

There was a nice display of the fen plants. "The Fens are a large area near Cambridge that were once a wetlands. In the 18th century farming was limited to the higher areas surrounding the fens. The rest of the Fenland was dedicated to pastoral farming, grazing cattle and sheep. The medieval and early modern Fens stood in contrast to the rest of southern England, which was primarily an arable agricultural region. Today the Fens have been radically transformed and arable farming has almost entirely replaced pastoral, and today the economy of Fens is heavily invested in the production of crops such as grains, veggies, and rapeseed. There are still very wet areas around the Fens where grasses and other marsh type plants grow."

We saw this young Moor hen on the lily pads. Too cute!

I always like to peek behind the scenes.

The greenhouse and cold frames were of course, empty.

This is the resident cat who gets quite a bit of attention from the visitors. One gardener told me she has a bit of a mean streak and has scratched him.

I'm amazed by the grass here. They do have the perfect environment for grass growing. The blades are nearly flat to the ground, no more than 1/8" tall. I saw the mower and it has 2 big rollers in the front that flattens it out as it cuts it. Our poor lawns would scorch and dye in our heat if it was this short. It sure is a pleasure to walk on though, like walking on soft cork.

And then I saw this EVIL plant, stinging nettles. Ick! It was in the wild garden. They are surely taking their chances even growing this plant as it so invasive. I think I would've just put a picture of this plant out.

This wheat exhibit was in the Genetics Garden. It showed how wheat has changed over the century. It started out tall and spindly. Due to hard rains and wind, it fell over a lot. So they developed a shorter, 'stalkier' variety with large seed heads that yielded more grain.