Monday, 22 September 2008

Train Trip to Carlisle

The trip was a special treat. Starting from Hereford and all the way to Carlisle and back in the same comfortable carriage, with great catering all the way, it was as I imagine a cruise would be. We had superb weather and great views all along the way. A vintage diesel drew the carriages for some of the journey and for the bit 'up north' we had steam. We had views across the valleys and could see the shadow of the train and the viaducts. Crowds of the lookers on, and there were hundreds, stood along the track with their cameras and tripods, so train spotters and twitchers, watched us go past over the Settle to Carlisle viaducts.

I managed to get some knitting in too! I busied myself with the second of the legwarmers, but just as I had finished and was knitting the cord, I found that I had forgotten to knit in the holes right by the least I shall have time when hiding upstairs and trying to get away from the building mess!

Each side of our trip we stayed in a delightful B & B in Hereford, and enjoyed exploring the town both Friday evening and Sunday morning. Friday afternoon we spent in the Cathedral and went to look at the Mappa Mundi and the chained library. Having started the routine of lighting candles in Venice, I was just drawn to doing the same in Hereford. Had a wonderful sit down in the garden of the Cathedral enjoying their mixed herbaceous garden and cake and tea....very English!

Just to finish off our holiday nicely we dropped in on the Gala Day at the Kidderminster end of the Severn Valley Railway. Its a preserved railway and there we saw at least four engines in steam and many well restored vintage carriages, and were able to have free access to the platforms to look at them. We just had a sandwich and tea in the tearooms then continued our journey home.

With just a few days to go till the big spurt forward with the refurbishment, the days leading up to our trip have been filled with the task of emptying the living and dining rooms of everything! The only room left without too much stuff is now the kitchen and the bathroom.

How we can cram so much in, not so much cram as plan.....The train trip was booked early in the year, then the trip to Venice and then the builder. Now I have to think about such things as carpets and calculate the earliest day the fitters can to do their work without bruising the new paintwork, and book that. Allowing for the fact that the paint will be done before the papering, can I manage to get the carpet fitters in the day after the builder has gone, and thereby needing to move the furniture back only once after the carpets are down?

Keeping that perfect picture in my mind I shall be able to deal to all that may come my way over the next three or four weeks!!!! David will not have any TV for that we shall get the hall done too.

Still enjoying Venice

Venice has left a lasting impression. Having post holiday blues, I thought a nice book would help me through. Remembering that the Library sometimes shelves books set in specific areas along with tourist guides, I was delighted to find one set in Venice. Across the street the market had some lovely ripe figs and I grabbed five and cycled gleefully home. I was transported back! The only difference is that it is cooler and I can snuggle up under the duvet to read my book.

Other activities in Venice

Venice is beautiful: at every twist and turn colour, texture and artistry flood the senses. The lapping of water, the calls of people and the bells add to this. With both the walking, the museums and the heat, there is the need for rest too. The Venetians do not cater with many benches and seats for the weary of foot. The Churches however came to our aid. We sat and contemplated and rested our bones in them, cooling down in the shady cavenous spaces. I even took to lighting a candle in each, and remembering friends and family and asking for blessing for them.
The mosaic on a step within one church just caught my eye, and the attendant kindly let me take a picture. I love patterns and maybe I'll be able to use this one as an inspiration for a knitted project or other craft such as patchwork or quilting which I am starting to explore.

Back at our lovely flat, with views across the water, we watched boats of rowers. From 4 to 8 to a boat, mostly standing, we watched teams putting their backs into rowing, some were all ladies, other mixed, some men only. They seemed to be most numerous around 5 to 7 p.m. The flat was well endowed with books and a few DVDs. One evening we watched the complete Bleak House end to end, and went to bed the latest we have done for years. Much white wine, tip bits and olives were consumed.

I picked up a book of short stories set in Venice which helped people the place for me. In addition I had my knitting and worked on the second of a pair. I now have a new pair of socks, with memories of Venice and knitting by the side of a motorway whilst waiting for the recovery people to repair a flat tyre.

A week in Venice

Its ages now since we first set off for our week in Venice at the very end of August.

Dawn next door was on standby to water the pots and baskets, and I had connected the spray end to the hose, as that was easier than using the water butt and can for her. Little did I know that it would rain and rain and rain! No watering needed in the Kenilworth.

Venice was just beautiful, and she was so different from her February guise we last saw her in, there may have been masques and costumes and cold then, but this time there were loads of tourists in spots like St Marks Square and the Rialto, with cafes spilling outside, and high tourist prices but the euro was also higher this time round. This time we were able to saunter around in light clothing, sun hats and dark glasses and enjoy trips to the Lido and Burano. Sadly for me the lace museum was shut for refurbishment, but I managed to enjoy some pieces in the Museum of the 17th Century:Palazzo Rezzonico, where there were wonderful costumes and furnished rooms.

We had time to wander around coming across tranquil spots. Enjoying the cool shadow between the buildings. This time round we had our passes for the whole week giving us access to all the vaporettas, museums and churches we had time to visit. We had several 'cruises' along the Grand Canal, sometimes getting off to dive into labarynthes of passages searching for the best ice creams. We enjoyed a picnic lunch perched on stone steps of a church and listened to some lovely guitar music. After I set the tone by applauding after a piece, more people seemed to gather and join in the applause which hightened the atmosphere and seemed to egg the artist to perform virtuoso pieces. There was no bowl for coins, but a basket of cds and many were bought, including one by me, as a souvenir of our stay.

It was HOT, even at night, and there were no smells except the type one would expect around the lovely fish markets mid morning, but by mid afternoon, all was clean and shipshape. At lunch time even the pigeons were looking for shade to rest in.

Sunday, 7 September 2008

War of the Roses at Kenilworth Castle

The event of Kenilworth Castle was one of the excuses to get Matthew and Veronica over, another one was to meet up with Jenny.

After a lovely lunch in the garden, we took ourselves over to the Castle and treated Matthew and Veronica to an early Christmas Present with 15 months membership of English Heritage. Veronica travels with her work, and is already planning her visits to coincide with driving breaks.

There was much to entertain and interest: fletchers, shoe makers, tents all bedecked with finery, children in period costume who were playing old fashioned games, ladies embroidering, and basket making, and getting the evening meal ready on braziers. For the ladies there was also the added attraction of watching hunky men dress and undress for battle, right down to medieval underwear, all pretty clean mind you! The clothes were wonderful, wool and linen with embroidery, leather belts, and for the upper crust silk and velvet gowns etc.

We watched a small battle, and the noise was tremendous. They let off small explosions from very early and primitive looking canons, which made me jump each time. The men must have felt very tired afterwards, and there were also women on the battle ground too! The archers probably had the easier job, well easier than wielding a long sword whilst wearing heavy armour.

Just for the far flung family here are some pictures of some of my Clan

Leg warmers used in August

Jenny was out in the garden with her new leg warmers. With the temperatures still on the cool side, meditation in the garden was just the excuse to try them out. Going back to 30 C in Spain was always going to be a jolt to the system, but with three weeks respite and good sleeping Jenny is now back dealing with her projects in Spain with renewed energy.