Friday, December 12, 2014

Photo tourism

So where was I off to today?

Was I catching the Hogwarts' Express?

In fact, I was meeting an old friend at Peterborough, which is about midway between our homes.  I'd never been before, and I must say that I was impressed. 

Those of you who imagine these trips as a sequence of visual delights might bear in mind that on the journey out my train was cancelled.  No problem, as Peterborough featured on a number of routes. 

But on the way back the same thing: train cancelled and the alternative a stopping train, doubling the length of the journey, delivering me to London for the rush hour.  Then we were held at an intermediate station while the police rounded up someone who had decided to trespass on the line and run around to avoid arrest.  It took four hours to get home.

But in Peterborough the cathedral is an absolute gem.  The West Front is early 13th century; the only Gothic part of the building.

Elsewhere,  rank upon rank of Norman arches with delicate columns decorate the exterior.

The cathedral has housed the tomb of Katharine of Aragon, since her death at Kimbolton in 1536.

Everywhere, history is layered into the fabric of the building.

The centre of the city is a giant modern mall, but we had a choice of eateries: Carluccio's is housed in a former almshouse bearing this plaque. 

 Instead we chose Pizza Express, with this Arts and Crafts facade.

On the needles, or rather just off them, was a pair of fingerless mittens bearing  cabled owls, gifted in a secret Santa without being photographed.  Meanwhile. I am ploughing on with Signild, a cardigan by Elsebeth Lavold, in September's edition of "The Knitter".


Monday, December 01, 2014

Late Rembrandt

Last Friday to Trafalgar Square, to meet up with my younger sister and take in the Rembrandt exhibition.  Arriving early, my husband and I popped into the Portrait Gallery to look at Tudor portraits, and specifically the picture of Thomas Cromwell referred to by Hilary Mantel in "Wolf Hall."    After several failed attempts to get started on this novel, which I now think is a masterpiece, I made it past the confusing opening and enjoyed its wonderfully rich texture.  In the second volume, Mantel is much clearer as to exactly who is speaking at any particular point and this simple technique helps a lot. 

Standing in front of what is in fact a copy of the Holbein portrait, I related the story Mantel tells of how Cromwell felt it made him look like a murderer and said so to his son - who paused, then asked him "Did you not know?"  I recounted the story, then turned -  to find a total stranger standing at my shoulder, just where I had thought my husband to be!  So now I have turned into the sort of confused old person who rambles on to bystanders in galleries.

Trafalgar Square is completely transformed by the pedestrianisation of the section outside the National Gallery. There was a holiday atmosphere, buskers, bagpipers, mime artists and all.

Within, the Rembrandt exhibition was the usual victim of its own success.  Entering on a timed ticket we found the crowd already twenty deep.  Those telling self-portraits and the bigger pieces full of movement and energy were still impressive even with the overcrowding, but the tiny etchings were difficult to appreciate in this setting.  It appears that the gallery allow half an hour for each visit, and this is nowhere near enough. 

On the knitting front, I am making slow progress on the Pierowall pullover, largely because it is too complex to knit on while doing something else, such as watching tv.  This, on the other hand, has been ideal.  It is a seed stitch cowl, using two balls of Noro Silk Garden.  I used the first ball as it came, but used the second from the middle out.  This reversed the colour sequence.  Not all balls of Noro are identical, but these two were.