Things I Like

  • Game of Thrones

Monday, June 29, 2009

Mind The Gap!

O.K. I thought of another weird U.K.ism. When you use the underground (or tube as they call it there), sometimes there is a space between the car and the platform. That space is called the 'gap' and there used to be signs everywhere saying 'Mind the Gap'. They had T-shirts for tourists too. I wish I had bought one at the time. There are much fewer 'Mind the Gap' signs now. I wonder if they fixed the gaps now? Curious. . .

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

More interesting things about England . . .

Stop lights in the U.S. are green to 'go' but and a yellow to warn you it's going to go to red. In England the stop signs warn you when you are to go. So they are red, then yellow, then green. Is that not a little weird? Why do you need to be warned that the light is going to turn green.

If you drive into London, you get an automatic $14 pound traffic ticket. If you don't pay it within 24 or 48 hours, it doubles or triples. So a $14 pound ticket (which would be about $20 U.S.) could conceivably wind up being $40 or $80 if not paid efficiently.

They have these cool chip embedded credit cards in Europe now. When you pay for a purchase, the credit card goes into a special chip reading slot on the card reader where the owner of the card then puts in a pin number. No signature is required. This is so much safer than our system with signature required. No one can fake your signature and there would be much less credit card fraud. Why hasn't the U.S. adopted this very sensible system?

I know I thought of a couple more things but can't think of them right now. I'll get back with you later . . .

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Ryland Sheep Breed - England

For two weeks before I went to England, I tried with various emails to get in touch with a spinning guild near my daughter's house in England. I had no luck at all. It seemed that every time I got near, it turned into a dead end. Three days before I left America, I got an email back from a spinner who lived 8 miles away from Hyde Heath. Hallelujah! Her name is Beverley Thompson. And what a contact she was. She is an avid spinner and she took me to a guild meeting in Amersham, England. Very cool. The guild meeting had a speaker that day who had written a wonderful book called Creative Spinning by Alison Daykin (which I bought). The book talks about the creative spinning process and how you get where you want to go with your spinning. We have talked about this in our fiber guild meetings and this was a photo tutorial on how to access the creative spinning side of your brain.

Beverley also arranged for the two of us to have lunch at a guild member's house who is a fiber artist who was participating in their local open studios. She made a lovely lunch for us and gave us a tour of her studio. I was so impressed. What a nice lady. How many of us would go to that much trouble for someone they had never met from another country?

Beverley also put me in touch with a local farmer who raised Ryland and Black Welsh Mountain sheep. He was quite willing to allow me to buy a fleece from him although he had to go to some amount of trouble to do so. He had his fleeces all wrapped up to sell and had to break into the bundle to pull out the wool. What a nice man: Alec Moir. He gave us a tour of his farm and introduced us to the two sheep he had on premises. He had about 100 more head of sheep located on a remote piece of property nearby. So, I took the sheep back to my daughter's house and over the next few days, began to wash it. It was lots of fun. I gave most of the fleece to the spinning guild over there. The Ryland fleece is a bit coarse and I don't think I will have a use for it but it was a lot of fun cleaning it and giving it to the guild. He did give me some of the Black Welsh Mountain fleece as well but it was very short and seemed quite soft. I think it may have
already been felted as it felt quite solid. I should have tried to take some of it out and spin with it before cleaning it to see if it was felted. But when I washed and dried it, I could see that it was hopelessly felted. I, unfortunately, had to just toss it. Such a shame. I would loved to have brought back a sample of it.

Beverley also sent to my daughter's house a largish package of samples of spun wool on several cones from Jamieson & Smith and lots of bits of different kinds of top to play with. She also arranged for a store called Colourmart to send me samples of their yarns.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Back from England

I have so much to share about England but not enough energy to share it all right now. The last full day in England, my daughter and I had tickets to see Wicked in London. When we got up on Wednesday morning, my daughter asked me if I knew there was a transit strike that started that morning. There hadn't been a transit strike in a long time but it had to be on a day when we needed to get to London. The underground (tube) is the least expensive way to get into London. If you drive your car into London, there is a $15 penalty which quadruples if you don't pay it within 48 hours, so driving into London really isn't an option. But there are so many public transit options that we were bound and determined to get into London. Here's how we did it: we took a cab to the local train station and took a regular train into London. We then found that not all lines of the underground were striking so we found one that got us within a mile or so we where we want to go, then we took another cab. Not too bad. When we left to go back home, the lines we needed to get home were open so we took 3 trains but got within 5 miles of home and then took another cab to get to the house. whew.

Wicked was fabulous! I loved it. One little hitch was we got tickets in row E but there were two row E's. One row E in the nosebleed section in the balcony and a row in in orchestra. Our's was in the nosebleed E. So we went to the box office and asked if we could upgrade our tickets. Long story short, they allowed us to buy cheap tickets in row H orchestra sheets for cheap. cool! We were in the 8th row center! The best theater tickets I've ever had.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

What I love about England . . .

I'm on holiday in England right now and it occured to me to write about the things that I find facinating here that I don't find at home in California:

1. Aga. An aga is this great big heavy kitchen stove. The right side of it stays hot all the time. Not the outside part of the doors or the top of the stove but the two grills on top and 3 ovens. Anytime you want to cook something, you really don't need anything but the aga. But for those periods that are too warm seasonally, the aga gets turned off and the family uses the left side which is a traditional stove top and two independently controlled ovens. The aga tends to keep the entire lower floor warm because it constantly emits heat. Each one of the aga ovens on the right side has a specific heat range from not very hot, to med hot, to very hot. Hotest on the top right. The two round grills on the top right are heat sources to be used like burners. The left one is super hot and the right one is medium hot.

2. Tube Station Escalators. These steep escalators are amazing to ride on. They are like a very steep, moving tunnel. The signs on the right side say to stand on the right if not moving. That leaves the left side for people in a hurry who want to pass.

3. Narrow door ways. I've seen this phenomenen in many places around Europe. The first place I saw it was in Amsterdam. Someone told us in Amsterdam that hundreds of years ago, when the buildings were built, the government taxed according to how large the doorways were. So people built houses with extremely small doors. I saw one of these doors in London and took a photo of it. This door looks to be about 18" wide (maybe 24" but not more). Keep in mind that this is not common.

4. Medievel castles. It's amazing to walk into a building that is over 1000 years old. Many are even older.

5. Beautiful gardens. The English take exceptional pride in their gardens. And they have absolutely lovely gardens. But let's be fair here. It rains ALOT and it's incredibly green here, everywhere you look. I could even be a good gardener here. I live in a semi-desert area which is in a drought right now. I have to go out and hand water every day in the summer to keep the plants alive.

6. Georgeous train stations. Look at this lovely glassed in train station.

7. Old churches and grave yards. I'm just facinated by them. I love walking around looking at the ancient headstones from the 17 & 1800s.

8. Old headstones are amazing to me. This one was interesting because it appears that many people in the family were buried in the same grave.

9. My daughter's house. It's in Buckinhamshire in a town called Hyde Heath. It's called DeFontenay.

10. Victoria & Albert Museum. This museum focuses on textiles but there are so many other amazing things here. They have a cast room where copies of famous sculptures reside. Michaelangelo's 'David' in it's exact replica, including size, is there. The most famous Persian rug in the world is residing in the museum right now (in the Islamic gallery) in a ginormous glass case. It's only lit for 10 minutes on the hour and half hour to retain the brightness of it's colors. Rafael's cartoon's have their own very large room. Cartoon's by definition were drawings or paintings of a rug or tapestries to be woven from. So these are huge paintings that were painted onto strips of cloth or paper that were glued together. You could get lost in the marble sculpture area. The V&A has a room full of samples of textiles. Unfortunately, the room is dimly lit to retain the colors of the fabrics and it's a bit hard to see the colors very well. But there must be absolutely thousands of pull out drawers.