A wintry visit to Dartmoor

For my Christmas present, Mark arranged for us to take a long weekend trip down to Dartmoor, to stay in a manor house hotel near the moors and luxuriate in good food, lovely surroundings, and quiet winter walks.  The trip was absolutely wonderful and coincided with snow, which made everything a bit more magical.  We woke up on Friday to a dusting of snow, which was more pronounced on the top of the moors.  A snowy walk around a reservoir worked up our appetites for afternoon tea and cake.  The following day we went to visit Tintagel, the mythical birthplace of King Arthur.  As it was winter, the shops selling tacky plastic swords were mercifully shut, and some wild and windy weather made the castle ruins very atmospheric.  In fact, I don’t think they often get weather other than ‘wild and windy’, given the castle’s position right on the edge of the west coast, jutting out into the sea.

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Adventures in Paris

More summer memories… in late August I went to Paris for work and the meeting times were so arranged that I actually had a few hours spare to explore the city a little bit.  This never normally happens on work trips, so I made the most of it!  I have not been to Paris for years and so asked my very good friend Emily, who lived there for a time, where I should go to occupy a couple of hours in the sunshine.  She suggested the Rodin museum and gardens, which was a wonderful idea.

It was difficult to photograph the sculptures while avoiding everyone else who was doing the same, and in any event I would never do them justice, so I humbly photographed my ice cream instead.  (This was more to record my wonder at the fact that, on a work day, I was in Paris eating lavender ice cream, than any aspirations to photographic excellence.)

I also came across one of the bridges with locks attached to it- a new custom sparked by a recent Italian novel, I understand.  They were quite unexpected and picturesque, glinting in the sun.


I walked to le ‘Relais de l’Entrecote’ for dinner (another Emily recommendation) which, apart from the company, was as good as I remembered it being when I went there with her a few years ago.

After dinner I walked back along the Seine to my hotel enjoying the late-evening warmth (not a common occurrence in England) with a stop to take the obligatory photo of the Tour Eiffel.  A good day at work.



Adventures in the Loire Valley

We spent a lovely week in the Loire Valley at the beginning of July.  It was sunny and warm, the countryside was beautiful, and the food was scrumptious!  We stayed in a lovely gite which meant we could cook our own food (or rather, eat bread and cheese and pate and red wine for dinner).

Here it is:  Annie’s House near Saumur, run by a lovely English lady and her equally lovely French husband.





All the gardens seemed to be just soaking up the sun and bursting with the most gorgeous colours.

We visited a few chateaux, including Chenonceau which I saw in a book of chateaux of the Loire Valley once and have always been transfixed by.  It was magical to see it in person.



There was a glimpse inside of how the floor must have looked before it was worn away over the years…



and some really incredible copper pots!



We also visited Amboise, where Leonardo da Vinci lived and was buried.  It was covered in scaffolding so not the most picturesque in places, but this gargoyle was quite charming.




And of course, we stopped for refreshments a fair few times.


Our final day we spent in Honfleur, which is a lovely seaside town on the coast.  I cannot imagine the kind of weather they must get sometimes, as the houses are commonly tiled with slate all down the sides.  Not a good sign!


It is a very beautiful place though, and these days is quite bijoux and expensive.  We had some very expensive drinks on the waterfront and watched the world go by, but they were worth it.  Vive la France!

A weekend in the big city

I went up to London last weekend to visit some dear friends and felt like a proper bumpkin getting off the train at Paddington and onto the tube.  In my first year in London, I studied law on the south bank and used to take the District Line every morning and walk across the Hungerford Bridge/Golden Jubilee Bridge to my lectures.  The view is breathtaking, and was a thrilling reminder that I was somewhere new, having lots of adventures in big, exciting London.

A few years (and adventures) on, I’m not in London anymore and while I miss it, I am happy in my new city of Bristol.  With a spare half an hour on a sunny Saturday afternoon, I couldn’t resist a return to my old stomping grounds.

I was a proper tourist, walking slowly and wide-eyed, enjoying the sunshine.  The landmarks in the photo above are not as clear as they could be, but I bet you can still guess what they are!

Knitting appreciation

My sister Lizzie is a champion knitter (as is my mummy also.. see her posts here and here about her beautiful lacy knitting, some of which I was lucky enough to be the recipient of!)  Lizzie is also very patient with my demands and commissions for various knitted items, the latest two being mug cosies and a hot water bottle cover.  These are still in the design and manufacturing stages (I hope, unless she’s decided not to make them after all!) but I am already the proud possessor of a fantastic tea cosy.

She doesn’t have a blog, preferring to spend her time actually knitting (very sensible, I think), so I thought I would show off her superior knitting skills here.  Below is a photo of the tea cosy in its proper milieu, on the breakfast table with my egg, which was ably prepared for me by Mr. Meg who suggested I point out what an ‘eggspert’ he has become with things like poached eggs.  And he’s right- I wasn’t quick enough to photograph his poached eggs before they were in his belly, but they did look astoundingly tasty.

So, returning to knitting, Lizzie and I were very excited to spot some ‘guerrilla knitting’ in Munich.  I had seen some before in the UK, but am very impressed that it’s such an international phenomenon.  The cleverest one I’ve come across so far was in Bristol, where until recently there were painted gorillas scattered around the city as a public art project and then auctioned off to raise money for the Bristol Zoo.  I spotted one of these sculptures wearing a knitted bikini, which would be what can only be described as ‘gorilla guerrilla knitting’.  Brilliant.  Sadly I had no camera with me, but I was better prepared this time.

Isn’t it wonderful?  A bit of whimsy and random beauty on the street, for all to enjoy.  And an excellent use of yarns which might not have such obvious everyday application, at least not in my wardrobe.

I think this one is a bit of guerrilla knitting and also guerrilla painting of some kind.  As a not-terribly-great knitter who could perhaps contribute to this trend in some other medium, I was interested to see this approach.

So, keep your eyes peeled for random bits of knitting adorning objects in your city…

Munich: objects behind glass

Wandering around Munich on a sunny Sunday morning was very enjoyable, except for one thing: all the shops were shut!  I am trying these days not to be such a shop-a-holic but there were some things in the shop windows which I would have dearly loved to investigate more closely… particularly:

Schnapps!  This shop was filled, floor-to-ceiling and wall-to-wall, with different varieties of schnapps, and little (or big) bottles you could take some home in.  It was very disappointing not to be able to sample their wares.

We also passed by what looked like a paint pigment shop, which I have never seen before.  Not general art supplies, just pigments, but in all colours and sizes of container.

Probably a good thing I was unable to be lured in by the pretty rainbow colours and buy some random pigments which I would have no practical use for whatsoever.  And finally, not behind shop-window glass, but deli-counter glass, some glorious slabs of salmon in a very fancy food shop.

We didn’t sample these either, although we could have, but instead chose not to spoil our dinners with late-afternoon snacks, which was probably wise considering the heft of traditional Bavarian fare!