Saturday, November 29, 2008

Tourist Time!

I went to the Design Museum, which I found really disappointing. It's nestled in a cool neighborhood, just east of Tower Bridge, but the museum itself just didn't do it for me. I'd checked out their website beforehand (link above), but missed this section:
As it is currently configured the Design Museum concentrates on temporary exhibitions that cover the range of its interests, from graphic design and furniture to fashion, industrial design and architecture. Its permanent collection is based in the museum's store, and includes over 1000 pieces of contemporary and 20th century design, as well as a handling collection and a number of archives.

Ahh. There's the rub. All the neat things that were on their website that I was hoping to see: in the basement, bitches. I therefore paid £8.50 and trudged a BLOODY long way across London to see three exhibits: Design Cities, Alan Aldridge, and Patricia Urquiola's porcelain. Lovely and interesting all, but not quite enough. It was also in a bizarrely plain building - I've just checked the website and apparently the building is "elegantly modernist". Hmm.

My recommendation: skip it and spend the time in the Tate Modern or the V&A, any day.

It was, however, glorious weather for a picture of the Tower of London. I loved that my camera was blinking "underexposure" warnings at me...silly camera, I meant to do that!

Next museum: The Cabinet War Rooms. It was highly recommended by my London Walks tour guide, and I found it really interesting. Everything is restored (or was left) exactly as it was at the end of the war in 1945, and it has a real sense that everyone living and working there had planned for and accepted the fact that London might be obliterated above them. My entry ticket came with an audio guide that was really good - the segments were just long enough to give me a good picture, but not so long that I lost interest.

I found the Churchill museum interesting but extremely overwhelming - there was audio, video, blinking lights, artifacts, and general overstimulation in every direction. I was having trouble reading any of the blurbs with all the a/v going on, and didn't seem to be able to stand in one place long enough to listen to an entire interview/audio thing. I don't think I came out with a whole lot more Churchill knowledge than when I went in. It might be an idea to give it another shot.

I also managed to fit in a quick ramble through the British Museum - the Horus was his usual charming self and the Rosetta Stone was THRONGED with tourists pressing their noses against the glass. They had an exhibit on British Sculpture that I was having trouble following - there seemed to be random pieces scattered throughout the museum. I did manage to catch this model of the Angel Of The North, though. The real one is HUGE, and even in small scale it was quite impressive. I was glad that they put it in the smaller entrance hall rather than in the rotunda - it would have been lost in the bigger room, but here it gave the same sense that the big Angel gives you, blasting up the A1.

I also managed to fit in 2 walking tours: one of Kensington (very interesting AND we got to hear the 10 bells ringing called changes in St Mary Abbot's church), and a rather damp edition of Subterranean London. It was a mark of how fascinating the tour was that despite POURING rain and no umbrella (and the resulting wet feet), I stuck it out. Did YOU know that the extension of the tube lines under Westminster tube station is one of the great engineering marvels of all time? Thought not.

Thursday, November 27, 2008


I missed my blogiversary was the 21st. I've been yammering away here for 3 years. Insanity!

Happy Thanksgiving to all of you turkey-eating peeps out there - we had leek and potato soup for dinner, but we will be having our fill of turkey (and pumpkin pie from scratch!) on Sunday. Woohoo!

The last time I was in London, I found the world's most incongruous playground. It's nestled in between the Tower of London and Tower Bridge, and I imagine it's either for the children in the picnic area up on the bank of the Thames or it's for the children of the Beefeaters who live in the Tower. I spent a solid 5 minutes chuckling over it.  (Who is that crazy woman, standing on the side of the road, laughing to herself?)

I was driving home from rehearsal last night, listening to the repeat of Midweek, and caught her interview with Jasper Rees. Apparently he's a journalist who played horn as a child and then gave it up. He came across his horn 22 years later and decided that what he really wanted to do was play it again. So he did. And then wrote a book about it. And then the book was picked up by Radio 4 and serialized. And then he adapted it into a play. Which is now playing in the West End. Apparently even being a mediocre horn player is a road to success - there's hope for me yet!  I've reserved a copy from the library - I'm interested to read it.

I've just finished the second of the Three Cities of Bells books. This one is called "Towers in the Mist", and is a fictional account of Philip Sydney and Walter Raleigh and their time at Oxford. Sydney and Raleigh are somewhat peripheral characters, but everyone else was really well-drawn and engaging.

Sunday, November 16, 2008


Last night's concert went really well. We had a bigger-than-expected audience, and the choir was in quite good voice. As expected, soloists and orchestra were both outstanding.

I had to take this picture this afternoon from F & T's living room window - the raindrops were so pretty clinging to the clothesline. I wish I'd had the SLR (and had been less lazy and had gone outside!), but you get the idea.

I've been thoroughly enjoying Elizabeth Goudge's Three Cities of Bells. The final book (The Dean's Watch), was recommended by C, and the library only had all three books together. What a chore - I shall have to read them all. I've just finished the first one (City of Bells), and it had a great story, lots of chuckle-worthy lines, and is the perfect book to curl up with on the couch. I took it one step better and curled up with some goat cheese, red wine, and the books, on the couch. ::sigh::

I was reading by the light of our new lamp (lamps?) from Ikea - John and I were totally disappointed with the lighting section at Ikea until we spotted these on our way out. LOVE them. And they're tall enough to light up the room but low enough to read by. It's called the Barometer, in case you want to be cool like us.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Tonight in Bury: Faure Requiem

Right, you lot. There are still some seats left for tonight's performance of the Faure Requiem by the Bury Bach Choir. The concert's at 7:30 in the Cathedral, and tickets will be available on the door.

The choir is good (and bigger than it has been in a few years), the orchestra will be fab, and the soloists are always extremely good. Our conductor, Philip Reed, works at English National Opera, and seems to be able to convince ENO soloists that what they REALLY want to do on a cold weekend in November is troop up to Bury St Edmunds and sing in a concert. Fine with me!

We'll also be performing Handel's Messiah (which, believe it or not, I've never sung before) on the 20th of December in St Mary's Church. It will definitely sell out, so get your tickets now! The details of the concert are here.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Baby Sweater II

One of my college roommates had a baby back in September. When I found out they were pregnant (while I was still knitting sweater no. 1), I bought more wool.  It feels like it's taken me ages to finish, and looking back, I started it in June, so it actually HAS taken ages. I did the button band differently this time (I knitted it separately and then sewed the live stitches straight to the edge of the sweater), since I stink at picking up stitches from anything other than exactly where stitches were cast off.

I'm fully aware that Lucy Aurelia will wear it once, throw up on it, and grow out of it. But she'll look SO CUTE for the 30 seconds before she throws up.

At the rate my friends are breeding, I'm going to have to knit faster. Or start knitting smaller things. I have a friend who's pregnant with twins (ack!) and the thought of two sweaters for them plus another friend who's due around the same time sent me to the wool store in a panic.

I found a GREAT pattern sheet with three hat/mitten/bootee sets, each of which can be made with one 100g skein. I've gone for non-gender-committal pale green and blankie yellow, and will make two sets in plenty of time. I may even put a green stripe in the yellow ones and a yellow stripe in the green. All together now: awwww.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Three Cups Of Tea

I finished reading Three Cups of Tea on Thursday night, and really enjoyed it. Written by David Oliver Relin (a journalist), it tells the story of Greg Mortenson, an American climber from Montana who gets lost after failing to summit K2. He wanders into a village high in the Pakistan mountains, and ends up promising to build them a school.

 The beginning of the book read very much like Jon Krakauer's Into Thin Air, but once the mountaineering drama was over, Relin's journalistic style and the compelling story made it impossible to put down.

I hadn't heard all that much about the book before reading it, other than the fact that it was 'brilliant', and I have to admit I was fairly worried that it was going to be another angst-ridden, torture-filled woe-is-us extravaganza. But it wasn't at all.

Yes, Mortenson is the driving force behind the schools, but it's extremely clear that none of what he's done would have happened without the dedication of many incredible locals.

Definitely recommend it!

Wednesday, November 5, 2008


Ok, I meant to post this yesterday and then ran out of time - Wednesdays can get a little hectic.  So, a day late and a dollar short:

I'm relieved that the rest of America has finally come to their senses, and looking forward to the end of Trickle-Down Economics, a pointless war, and abuse of power.

Oh, and my absentee ballot, which I registered for back in September?  Arrived on Tuesday, stating that it had to be postmarked by...wait for it...Monday.  Nice one, Westchester County.  Good thing I planned for your Epic Fail and sent in a provisional write-in absentee ballot three weeks ago.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Bizarre attachment to a logo

I needed to buy honey yesterday at Waitrose, and I fell absolutely head-over-heels for this logo. Not only did I buy it and bring it home with me, but I felt compelled to take a picture of it at breakfast this morning. The honey is quite tasty, to boot.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

We ran out of candy

Last year, we had about 20 trick-or-treaters and lots of leftover candy. This year, we had lots of trick-or-treaters and NO leftover candy. I felt like an evil witch - we ran out at around 6:30. John had bought 2 bags of 25 bars, and we had so many kids that they just wired through it.

Next year, we will be prepared for the onslaught.

[Oh, and HI! to all of the visitors from Ruby!] Regulars, check out York Daily Photo.

This was the first year that we let James carve his own pumpkin. He was VERY closely supervised - he's much cuter with all of his fingers attached. He opted not to go with teeth or anything too fancy. Wise decision, my boy. He was scheduled to go trick-or-treating with a friend in Ipswich, dressed in "all black clothes, ripped if mummy will let me". Remember being 11?

I was feeling supremely girly when I carved my pumpkin. I think it was the result of spending the weekend with the BOYS. It's hard to tell from the pictures, but James' pumpkin was quite large and mine was really tiny. I made him carry his all the way to the car. ::muahaha::