Saturday, 11 December 2021

Of Ancient Oaks, Storms and Van Gogh

Friday saw me heading into London to meet L and enjoy a belated Mother's Day present. For those not in the UK, Mother's Day was actually on March 14th this year, so I had been waiting a while for my treat. Knowing how much I love Van Gogh, L had purchased 2 tickets to the 'Immersive Van Gogh Experience' near Spitalfields Market. She had agreed to be my +1 and it was such a wonderful day; definitely well worth the wait.

The journey there wasn't without incident. I haven't been on a train since the pandemic began and my usual Doomsday mindset was very much in evidence. I had barely slept the night before as I lay there mulling over all the things that could possibly go wrong. I blame the Government and media for so effectively promoting a climate of fear that even the simple things in life are now stress-laden and seemingly insurmountable. I sat masked and anxious at the back of the train carriage thinking that at least no-one would be able to cough over me from behind. I got out my knitting and gradually began to calm down.......... then a phone rang. A man's voice informed the carriage that he had just learnt that 2 electricians he had been in close contact with had tested positive for Covid and he had to take a test as soon as he arrived at work. The rest of the passengers, me included, sat up like meerkats before, one by one, we each quietly got up and moved away! 

I hate regarding other people as nothing more than vectors for this horrible virus. I am triple jabbed and relatively fit and healthy, so ordinarily I wouldn't be as concerned about catching anything. We are, however, planning to go away for a few days soon (unless the rules change yet again!) and I'm crossing everything that the required PCR test will come back negative; hence my worried state of mind.

L met me at Paddington and we took a tube to Liverpool St. before finding a cafe, where we had time for a quick coffee and catch up before our allotted time-slot. 

The Experience itself was fantastic and I would definitely recommend going if you have the chance. It was divided into 3 sections. The first was a room with reproductions of Van Gogh's work, boards telling you about his life and a mock-up of his room at Arles. The second, and by far the most fun, was a room where you sat on a swivel chair and donned a virtual reality headset, before being plunged through wheat-fields, forests and starry, starry skies. Being scared of heights I found myself clutching onto my seat. There may have been the odd squeal of terror but I wouldn't have missed it for the world. Finally, we sat on deckchairs inside a huge darkened room whilst the story of his life and artworks were projected swirling onto the walls around us, accompanied by Vivaldi's Four Seasons. What can I say, it was fab! 

There was also a  'colouring room', where we let our inner child run wild with crayons before blu-tacking our masterpieces to the wall. In the gift shop we bought keyrings of the artworks we had attempted to reproduce as souvenirs of a glorious day. 

Here then are a few snaps of my Mother's Day treat:

Lunch was a delicious Thai meal at Rosa's. I had never been before but it knocked our local Thai restaurant into a cocked hat. We shared a starter platter and green and Massaman curries; all were fragrant with herbs and what we didn't manage to finish we brought away in a doggy bag for L's supper. :O)

We finished the day with a walk around Spittalfields Market and a visit to the city farm. The poultry was in flockdown owing to Avian flu, but the donkeys, sheep and goats were good value.
The train ride home was uneventful and R met me at the station, tired and very happy.

Other happies this month:

Another trip into London to see L and celebrate her birthday. We took her and J out for an Eritrean meal, enjoyed a walk and played 'Dinosaur Bingo' back at the flat! 

Back home, Storm Arwen hit and we had high winds, huge hailstones and then a bit of snow:
We lit the stove and I hunkered down with Barbara's advent calendar to keep me company. I'm adding a square each day to my cosy memories blanket:

I took this photo on the 2nd, so there are far more new squares now:
We did a return trip to Savernake forest to hunt down more ancient trees:

There was a walk to Bagnor with a very chilly picnic of quesadillas on the hill, before coming back via Donnington Castle:
Last, but not least, our neighbours bought us a present for cat sitting whilst they were visiting their son in Chicago. There was a stained glass tealight holder from a Christmas market, a wooden Christmas decoration and a bowl of hyacinths which are currently making our dining room smell lovely.

Well, that's my camera empty for another month. This will probably be my last post for 2021, so can I take the opportunity to wish you all the merriest, fun-filled Christmas with your loved ones and best wishes for a brighter New Year.

Toodle pip for now. x

Tuesday, 23 November 2021

Bits and Bobs

 Goodness, it's been rather a long time since my last post! I usually average about one per month but this time it is nearer two months. Owing, if I'm honest, to a combination of life and apathy. A few things have happened: L and J came to stay for a few days, which was wonderful; I met my friend, S, at Dyrham Park for a catch up; R and I have been out and about in Bridget, and a bit of autumnal knitting may have occurred along the way too! It doesn't sound much when I write it all down but the time has definitely gone somewhere!

Here then are the photos from my camera clearing session:

I attended a workshop at a local farm to learn how to make Emily Foden's 'Persephone Mittens'. Even though the pattern was a little tricky to understand in places, I could probably have worked it out on my own but the workshop was more of a social gathering with a yummy lunch included. I need to get them finished; they have been on the back burner whilst I worked on my Hallowe'en socks.

 The mug in the photo is the one that I bought in the Leach Pottery in St. Ives. I love it!

Talking of Hallowe'en socks, here they are. They are made with Stranded Dyeworks 'Fright Night' yarn which had been languishing in my stash for a while.

I also made L a pair of birthday socks with the yarn left over from my spiral wrist warmers. I had to add a mini-skein for the toes and cuffs. It is just the one mini-skein but the colour changed as I knitted making for an interesting end result. I don't think L will mind though.

We attended our local vegan market which is always nice. It seemed quite popular - either there are more vegans in the area than I realised or people were just interested.

R and I shared a Sri Lankan curry box sat by the canal - the jackfruit curry was particularly nice:
We also came away with a slice of coffee walnut cake and some free marshmallows. :O)

A trip to the Savernake Forest. I'm ashamed to say that, though this is very local to us, it is the first time we have ever visited it. What a missed opportunity as it was beautiful, full of ancient trees, and we shall definitely be going back.

Dyrham Park near Bath. This place is always good for a day out too. Sadly, the herd of 70 deer that I remember from our last visit had all been recently culled owing to an outbreak of Bovine TB. It was very sad as there have been deer there for over 300 years and the grounds seemed rather lacking without them.

Still, it was a lovely day - the weather was kind to us and the vegan pasty and soup at the cafe were delicious.

R and I enjoying a picnic on our Overton walk:

A walk along the Ridgeway with a rather ominous looking sky:

L and J's pumpkin carving for Hallowe'en. We had a spooky supper and watched 'The Exorcist' - I do love a good horror movie, provided there's not too much blood, spurt and gore! It was also Hamish's 10th birthday, which I think is quite old for a rabbit. He is definitely starting to look his age though, with cataracts and eye drops for his glaucoma. :O(
We had a walk and picnic en famille in Chawton. L and J wanted to see the 2000 year old yew tree and, at the end, we rested on a bench overlooking Jane Austen's house with coffee and cakes from the village deli.

Random autumnal shot of the garden. Most of the leaves are off the trees now:

Last, but definitely not least, Barbara from Coastal Ripples and I did a yarny advent calendar swap again this year. I have decanted the parcels into a basket, got my cosy memory blanket at the ready, and can't wait for December 1st!
Well, that's all for now. As I said initially, it doesn't seem as if that much has happened round here recently. I really don't know where the time has gone. How about you? Anything momentous happening at your end?

Toodle pip for now. xx