Tuesday, November 27, 2012


A long weekend away: the little town of Southwold lies about two hours away, on the Suffolk coast.  We had rented a little cottage, which was fortunate as the weather was rainy and stormy.   This photo shows the classic beach huts and the lowering sky; the wind was really bracing along the front, whipping up the sand.

Sunset on the Friday over the pier, rebuilt in 1987 in whimsical style.  The sea looks calm enough here, the low autumnal light mellowing everything in sight.

Gun Hill, so named because of the line-up of early 18th Century cannon.  The story has it that the Germans classified Southwold as a fortified town on account of these ancient weapons, leading to heavy bombardment during World War 2.

Saturday was forecast for rain later, so we drove down and across the river to Walberswick.  The church was deroofed during the reformation, but the tower still stands.  Setting out across the reed-beds, my husband, who knows his birds, immediately spotted a marsh harrier.

Sunday was brilliantly sunny, but with relentless high winds.  We headed to the flagship RSPB reserve at Minsmere.  Here, bird-watching takes on quasi religious dimensions.  Visitors wear special clothing and many are equipped with huge camera lenses and telescopes. 

We were amazed to see these waxwings serenely ignoring three people in camouflage jackets scanning them from close quarters.


Visitors to Minsmere treat the wildlife with total respect, with the result that deer do not remain alert and make their escape, but continue browsing.  Likewise this little squirrel, enjoying the berries at its leisure.

We very much enjoyed all the thought and care that had gone into the reserve, especially the bird-feeders right outside the tea-room windows, so that watching did not have to be interruped by lunch.
I'm not a bird-watcher yet, but maybe I could become one.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Knitting Lace

Sunday found me sitting in the basement classroom of Loop, a knitting shop in Islington.  I knitted contentedly on the sample square while listening to Franklin Habit.  Next me was Jean Miles, whose daily blog-posts are a constant source of lively ideas and amusing reflection. 

The fact that this class lasted three hours,  delivered without a break, but at the end the students were not ready for it to end, is some testament to Franklin's ability to engage and inform. 

We learnt a huge amount about the distinct traditions of lace knitting - and also about Franklin's grandmother and her values.  We passed around some exquisite examples of lace knit by Franklin himself.

Here he models an example of vintage lace edging on a nightcap for a man,  worn with a lace stole channeling Jackie Kennedy, over beautifully tailored tweed.

In the group one participant identified herself as a beginner, while at the other end of the spectrum was Jean, whose Shetland lace knitting is legendary.  Franklin was undaunted.  His particular skill lay in steering back to his lesson plan, while allowing comments and questions.

We emerged into the bustle of Camden Passage and enjoyed lunch at "The Elk in the Woods", where the wallpaper certainly lived up to expectations.  How strange to sit across a lunch table from Jean, enjoying the warmth of her lovely smile.  Bloggers share so many details of their lives with the world, and yet we had never met before.

All too soon Jean hurried back for the next class, while I was free to browse the shop.  I could have bought many things, but chose these three balls of fine yarn, because the colours are so subtle.  Quite what they will turn into, I do not yet know.


Thursday, November 01, 2012

Goldengrove unleaving

Taking advantage of our new freedom, we caught the train north to Cumbria, just to see the leaves turning.  And we were not disappointed, though it has to be said that it was not warm.

We went to the Whinlatter forest park and from there walked up to the summit actually called Whinlatter.

Another day we walked up and round the Wythop valley, a place of remote farms and woodlands.  Imagine if this was your wash-house and you had to boil your sheets in this "Copper". 

Then we walked through Lanthwaite woods on a gloriously calm and clear day, round the foot of Crummock Water and to lunch at the Kirkstile Inn.

The staggering colours in these trees, lit up by the brightness of the sunshine.  We felt blessed.