Monday, October 08, 2018

Geiger 3

Progress report on Geiger:  I've finished the back and begun work on one of the fronts.  This is taking a while, largely because if you blink while knitting a section you find yourself having to rip back before you can start again.  Sometimes you don't grasp how a technique works until you have got to the end of the process and then the rows at the start of the process look off.  This is not a forgiving pattern.

You can see certain elements of the pattern quite clearly here.  Notice how the pattern shifts by inserting extra stitches in the centre and decreasing them at the side.  This apparently creates a tailored look to the back.  

I was rather surprised that the back ended in a straight cast-off without any shoulder or neck shaping.  We'll have to see how this works out.  I'm probably more than half way through now, although the front band involves a good deal of finicky work.

When I say that I've had to rip back some sections, this is as nothing to the usual form in my knitting group.  A keen knitter arrived last week with a whole top and most of the front of another and spent the session unravelling both.  She did not like the colour of one and had realised that she would run out of wool on the other.  It would be true to say of some of these knitters that they always have some knitting on the needles but never finish anything.  Some of them knit the same yarn several times which at least saves money, I suppose.  Each to their own.

Friday, October 05, 2018

Who knew?

We were staying at East Runton, a mile from Cromer, where there are huge caravan sites.  On an early walk we noticed where a landslip had toppled some caravan bases down the cliffs.  We were glad that we were in a cottage, because those vans at the top can't be too secure.

All the time that we were out and about on the beaches of North Norfolk I was scanning for amber.  I'd heard it said that you can just pick up pieces of Baltic amber from the beach.  Now, the frustrating thing was that many of the pebbles were in fact quartz, but stained a kind of rusty orange, a bit like an amber colour.  So I was constantly picking bits up and then dropping them again.

On our last day, we were just poddling along the beach at East Runton.  Here the beach had patches of flint, some of it knobbly and misshapen.

I spotted a short pinkish object, like a piece of sea-glass - about an inch long.  Then another similar, but with a hole through it.

Soon I had a number of pieces, one with a pointed end.

And then a longer piece, like a finger, but hollow.

I showed them to my husband, thinking that they were some sort of glass, abraded to opacity by the sea.  Some sort of electrical fitment perhaps?

"I think it might be a fossil," my husband said.  I was sceptical.  However, it turns out that he was right.

It was a belemnite - the calcified skeleton of a prehistoric squid-like creature.  And when I say prehistoric we are talking six hundred million years ago.

East Runton is apparently one of the best beaches for fossil-hunting because it has high chalk cliffs which are eroding on to the beach.  Now we had noticed the layers of flints in the face of the cliffs, but we had not thought of them as fossils.  That belemnite must have been buried in the chalk all those years.

Wednesday, October 03, 2018

Sheringham Park and Blakeney Point.

The weather continuing fine we were able to enjoy a range of outdoor activities.  Near the seaside town of Sheringham lies the National Trust property, Sheringham Park.  However, here the house is tenanted and not open to the public.  Instead it is the wooded parkland laid out by Humphrey Repton, on of the great landscape designers, that is the draw.

We walked out across the park and climbed up to a wooded rise topped by a Gazebo.  We had no idea what to expect, but it certainly was not what we found.  The trees at the top of the rise are mature oak trees.  The gazebo is a structure of oak and metal, with flights of stairs up to a viewing platform above the tree canopy, a most peculiar experience.

We were just surveying the view when we heard the unmistakable hooting of the steam train.  A moment later and it hove into view, crossing the landscape in front of us.  We could not have timed it better if we had planned it. 

The following day we set out in some trepidation for Blakeney Point.  This is a nature reserve at the end of a long - very long - shingle spit.  With the tide in we would have to walk on the shingle bank,
every footstep taking double the effort.

As luck would have it, the tide was out, exposing the firm sand of the beach, a quite different proposition.  

It was still a lengthy and unvarying trek, but the sun was out and the wind was in our favour for the return journey. In the dunes at the far end is a disused lifeboat station, now a visitor centre and field studies base.

At some distance, basking seals

So then we walked the four miles back along the beach for tea in Blakeney itself.

Tuesday, October 02, 2018


Not ten miles from Blickling is Fellbrigg, now also owned by the National Trust, and of a similar date.  This is the one for those who love stories of  eccentric ancestors.

One of the Wymondhams went on the Grand Tour around Europe for four years and returned with so many works of art that he needed to add a wing to the house to fit them all in.

Another returned engaged to an older lady in Switzerland, a long engagement followed by an expensive settlement for breach of promise when he found love with someone more locally.

The art installation here explores the idea of a cabinet of curiosities.  The curator of the piece was allowed access to items store in the attics which were then assembled in various ways.  This was certainly an improvement on the torrents of books, as far as we were concerned.  But, in fact, you did not need to hunt through the attics to find oddities.

My husband assured me that this is not what it seems!  Apparently oil from sperm whales was used to make candles.

And what about this?

Imagine trying to lift this when full of boiling water.  The whole kitchen was a delight for the eye.

In contrast, the dining room looks quite cold.

We took a stroll around the parkland: mature trees, a lake and its own church.

This is another church with fine ancient memorial brasses in the floor, covered with drugget and carpet pieces to protect them.

Perhaps the most eccentric of the Wymondhams had developed the habit while at Eton of dressing up as a train guard and going down to the station to join in the running of the railway, causing havoc.  He would have been happy at the Sheringham to Holt Steam railway. Later, he was caught by a lady of dubious virtue who robbed him blind, causing the house to be sold.

Fellbrigg is certainly worth a visit, if you are in the area.

Monday, October 01, 2018

Sheringham to Holt

So, to Holt on the North Norfolk heritage railway, pulled by steam engine.  Nostalgia is a huge selling point here.

They have regular events where people turn up dressed for the 1940s and take the trip in vintage carriages.

 The railway has a collection of rolling stock, not all of it for passengers.  Most of the staff are retired folks who have dreamed of wearing the cap and waving the red flag since childhood.

It has to be said that once you are in the train it does not feel all that much different to a regular train, but the engines certainly look impressive.

Holt itself is a lovely little town crammed with independent shops, antique shops and eateries.  Disposable income floats like a haze in the atmosphere here, as we found in Cirencester last year.

All across the town are outposts of the famous Greshams public school, which probably adds to the sense of tradition and exclusiveness.

We had a very relaxed day out.

Sunday, September 30, 2018


We explored Cromer, once the fashionable capital of Poppyland .  It's a place of faded grandeur.

...but also doing rather well for itself now, perhaps because it is easier to reach from London than many other seaside places.

The church is unmissable, its tower prominent from afar.

Its a wonderful light, airy building.  Of course, we had to go up the tower.  Half-way up is a sign saying "Only 88 steps to go".

Extensive views in all directions.

We paid for the climb the next day, though.

Then it was on to the Lifeboat Museum commemorating Henry Blogg who rescued literally hundreds of people as Coxswain of the Cromer boat up to and including World War Two, by which time he was in his seventies..

One of our favourite programmes just now is "Saving Lives at Sea", perhaps because it is the perfect antidote if you believe the world is going to hell in a handbasket.  The daily selflessness and heroism of those lifeboat crews all around the country restores your faith in humanity.

Saturday, September 29, 2018


North Norfolk abounds in large estates surrounding historic houses: Blickling is a particularly fine example.  So fine, we went there twice.

  On our first visit we looked round the house and saw their current exhibition: The Word Defiant. This is an installation mounted by a theatre company looking at books from a number of angles.  Thus a copy of "Winnie the Pooh" shelved between other books, making the point that it remains a banned book in China. 

In an upstairs bathroom a bath and hand-basin were filled to overflowing with books.  In a cellar, books embedded in black ash to represent libraries burnt in conflicts.  

Most controversially, in the historic library a torrent of books flowing down from the shelves and pooled on the floor.  

This was certainly an exhibition which divided opinion.  Some found it thought-provoking, but for many it seemed that the sight of so many books thrown about and mauled was distressing, even books destined for pulping.

On our second visit we hired bicycles from the store and cycled round the estate through woodland and across parkland.

Then we looked into the church.  This is a house once occupied by the Boleyn family, although I don't think that Anne Boleyn was born here.  The church has a fine collection of brasses


How about this couple with their numerous brood? That's eleven sons and five daughters.

And, of course, we finished with yet another National Trust tea.