Hello darlings!

Well, I feel like I’ve been a bit absent this week. The big day was on Friday, so I’ve had a weekend full of non-knitting activities, including pub teas, drinking, pub teas, a bit more drinking, a walk to the farm shop with two empty rucksacks, a walk back down with two full rucksacks, and a trip to Manchester shopping yesterday where we only visited 4 shops in total in a 5 hour trip (guess which ones? Primark, New Look, Schuh and Debenhams. And a food court). Was FAB. I’ve had lovely gifts, lovely cards, and work decorated the lending counter and my desk with posters, balloons and banners and a little Bagpuss. Unfortunately the posters mainly comprised of photos of me that DB had sneaked them without me knowing, and they were largely pics of me with alcohol… Luckily, everyone was very nice and told me I don’t look 30, which made me feel much better 😀 If you are all very good, I’ll take pics of the posters for your amusment.
That means the cardi will not be finished by Thursday, naturally 😉 Nor will anything else. BUT, Shona’s sister has had a little baby boy and the bunny and socks have gone to him to keep him warm and happy 😀 And the Great Tit chicks in our garden nestbox have fledged today too! What a wonderful way to get no knitting done 🙂 I’d best make the most of my afternoon… 😉 Photos of the chicks are on Flickr here if you want to get all warm and fuzzy inside 😀


I’ve inevitably been tagged for the 8 things meme by Roo 🙂
1) I like background noise when I’m at home, but peace and quiet when I’m at work, regardless of what I’m doing (studying, doing complicated calculations, sat on my hands etc etc).
2) The Queen is visiting where I work today, and I will never see her, because I will be locked in the building for about 5 hours.
3) I have a special room for all my books. Sadly it has been taken over by other stuff too, so I can’t get to all of them. 90% of the books I own are still unread, but one day, one day… 🙂
4) I am very messy, both at work and home. And my books aren’t in any order in the above room either. I doubt it would make much difference if I could get to them 😉
5) My brother is a published author and wrote about a librarian who goes mad.
6) I buy most of my stuff from Amazon, but still insist in leafing through fiction books in shops before buying.
7) I’m writing this at 6.45am because I get up at 6 in order to shower, read bloglines, and relax before I set off to work and have breakfast there. I hate rushing, and while 6 is vvv early considered how long it takes to get to work, I’d rather do that every time than get up later and run round like an idiot.
8) I enjoy watching the BBC weather on Breakfast Time because the weather ladies have such nice clothes and I wonder where they get them from.
These aren’t very good I’m afraid 🙂 My brain hasn’t been up to full capacity this week for various reasons, one of which is that my genes are kicking in and my age is introducing them to developing stupidity that runs on the female side of my family… 😉

A bit blah.

(But very happy Mars have reversed their decision on changing to animal rennet in their chocolate!).
I don’t have anything finished this week, which seems to make a change! Not one sock. BUT, I do have a few more new purchases and some WiPs to show you, for the sake of posting some pictures and stuff.
I’ve been doing a lot of baby knitting recently because several people I know are pregnant, and so naturally the friendly neighbourhood knitter gets pulled in to make lots of very cute small things 😀 I’ve already sent off a few socks to their recipients to be, and have a nearly finished bunny on my hands.
From a Debbie Bliss pattern in one of the baby cashmerino books, and it is very cute. Quite a quick knit when I put my mind to it, but its the stuffing and sewing that takes quite a bit of time up – most of it had to be sewn as I stuffed which can be a pain when the stuffing is a bit fibrous. As you can see, it isn’t that far from being finished, she just needs a face really 🙂 I might make another one for someone else too.
Second WiP worth mentioning is one I’d really really really like to finish before the end of the month. Probably won’t though. I have a green cardi on the needles – yup I decided the Knit Picks Andean Silk should go on the Ram’s Horn Cardigan from Knitting Nature, contrary to popular opinion and advice to go for the SKB pattern on Stitch Diva. As much as I love it, I won’t wear the SKB, so I went with something more practical. The back is almost done after maybe 2-3 weeks not very regular knitting, so if I put my mind to it and ignore the Queen on Thursday (she’s visiting where I work but the fuss it is causing for the sake of a couple of hours! The security arrangements are currently unknown, but the rumours flying are a bit mad and I best not reveal them in case they aren’t rumours and I break some rules), I might get a lot done before the end of the month and the current PS2.0 phase. Here is a pic which isn’t very interesting as it is all st st.
The next phase of PS2.0 is red, black and metallics, and I don’t have much in the stash of any of them, so I might just squeeze out one sock or so, and use the time to catch up with my older PS2.0 projects and clear some room in the project basket (which is very much overflowing right now).
Stash! I bought some stuff for a friend, and decided to add to my own stash to make postage worthwhile. It would be rude not to really 😀
Here we have Posh Yarn Emily (a lambswool, cashmere and angora blend, which has lots of softness, but is still quite a firm sock yarn) in Elephant, which I thought was less varigated than this, but nevermind! There are also two hanks of yarn from the Knittery (and it arrived pretty quickly too) – the merino/cashmere sock yarn in Passion Fruit and Orchid. The orchid is for my Sockapaloooza pal 😀 I’ve already started swatching it up and trying to work out a pretty stitch pattern, so if it is pretty and looks nice, I might see if Ruth wants it for the Facebook group (particularly as I’ve been bad and not done the swatches for the pattern ideas I had yet). We all know about how nice Posh Yarn can be. The Knittery yarn is a new one on me, after reading about it on Black Dog Knits for forever. I chose the merino/cashmere as, with it having a bit of nylon in it, and my pal wanting something quite sturdy, I figured this could do the job quite well. And it is very very nice. The cashmere counteracts the way nylon can sometimes make yarn feel rigid or slightly scratchy, and makes it a complete babe to knit with. And the yarn and postage is such good value for the other side of the world! It was just less than 20 quid including 4.75 for postage, and both hanks were with me in just less than a week. When you look at how much buying yarn in the UK is, that’s very very good. Shame I’ve guilted myself with the carbon footprint I got for it, but I suspect the plane would 1) have flown with the yarn, and 2) two hanks of yarn didn’t make the fuel consumption any more than normal. Still have some green remorse though as they aren’t really very good excuses 🙁 Having said all that, I would buy locally if I could from locally sheared and spun sheepy yarns but sadly their are none, so my yarn footprint is still not fab no matter where I buy from. I know one local yarn producer (remember the alpaca breeder?) and will hopefully be meeting with her soon so I will see what weight yarn she is producing too…
Anyway, a busy week ahead, what with the baby things, cardi knitting, the Queen, and the dreaded new decade of doom on Friday… Don’t expect me to post till I’ve sobered up ;D


Forgot this parcel, but trust me it wasn’t on purpose, it was just nearly 10pm after a pub tea 😉
This is the parcel from Amber Moggie, from her stash sale. Two hanks of STR lightweight. The left is Mustang Sally, and the right is Cobblestone County 🙂
Mmmmmmmmmmmm. No plans yet, but there will be. There will be.
Oh, and I forgot to put my email address in the post yesterday for that yarn swap – just stick my name in front of hotmail.com and the net will do the rest 😀 I never realised how crappy that knitted up bit looked, and would like to remind you that 1) I only knit 2 inches of sock and 2) that is actually the smaller of the two cakes… I’m so not good at selling stuff ;D

Lots to see and do :)

Well, my parcels turned up, thankfully! Only after my kind but forgetful friend dropped off the post office card 😀 Thanks to that, I have TONS to show you, plus some knitting 😀
First up, is pride of place really. My final parcel from my sockret pal, Brooke arrived. It contained the following:
The latest edition of Vogue Knitting (with a cardi I really really want to make :D), a gorgeous pretend cabley sock pattern from Schaeffer, and some Sour Raspberry Altoids (yum yum!).
Two GORGEOUS yarns – Cherry Tree Hill Super Glitz (a dk sock yarn) in Gypsy Rose, and some amazing handspun from Kristie Haynes on Etsy, a totally unique yarn called Raisin Cane made from wool and mohair, but with chunks of velvety bits and glittery bits 😀 I haven’t been able to take a good picture of it on its own as the weather has been poor here but trust me, it is HOT. I have no idea how to knit it up to do it justice!
Finally, the best for last. SOCKS! They fit perfectly Brooke – see?!
I love them – they are CTH in Dusk. What makes them particularly special is that they were knit while her son was ill. She had a lot of waiting to do, and these were her sanity knit. That makes them mean so much more. They are my sanity socks. I wear them when I get home from work and change, and they give me comfort. I was also wearing them this evening when I saw what I thought was DB logging into MSN upstairs, decided to surprise him with an online kiss, and it turns out it was someone else who had his old email address, with the same name. Much comfort is needed after that…
Good thing I finished these too then:
Not a great photo, or a clean carpet, but these are the finished Monkey socks for Basia! Knit in Piece of Beauty sock yarn custom dyed for me, and so quick and easy a knit, I can guarantee I’ll be making more. Lovely yarn, lovely colour, lovely pattern 🙂
Finally, does anyone want to do a sock yarn swap or buy this yarn from me?
It is Curious Yarns sock yarn in Heathertop, a colourway I liked a lot when I bought it with it’s greens, purples, soft browns and a light dusky orange-brown for the colours of the moors, and indeed liked it till I wound it up, but now it just won’t speak to me anymore. I have TONS of yarn, and so can’t justify keeping something that I don’t really want to knit anymore. I took it with me to Spain to make a pattern from Favorite Socks, but it still wouldn’t grab me, so I’m offering it out. There is a full hank here, wound into two cakes (unevenly I’m afraid – one is slightly larger than the other. I could say something inappropriate here but won’t ;D). One cake has been knit a little and can be rewound properly if required, but I just wrapped it round as I was frogging it for the photo – I only got about 2″ into the first sock, but when you know, you know. I have an open mind – just post a comment or email me if you fancy it with your swap option. I have some nice oddments that would work well for baby socks if you have a hank larger than 100g that you want rid of. Just say 🙂


Ok, am a bit more settled now, and can write about our time away 🙂
We arrived on Saturday evening to a drizzly day, but warm, with palm trees swaying in the breeze at the airport 🙂 and caught the airport bus to 2 mins walk from our hotel, off Rambla de la Catalunya. The original hotel booking had fallen through, and it was bank holiday weekend for the Spaniards, so the only place we could get centrally was a 4* hotel, and we expected a LOT for our extra money. We certainly got it 😀 Hotel Calderon (wait for it, the names get better :D) was fantastic, and we had a wide balcony outside with a view of the Rambla DL Catalunya (a wide road with a central reservation full of cafe seating and big leafy trees), and a gorgeous little room complete with 70% choccy and hotel sponsored Smints 😀 No tea or coffee making facilities though 🙁 For our first evening we just wandered around a little, and went to a tapas place nearby (the lush Cata 1.81 – not cheap, but very very good), and accidentally found Casa Batllo on our way there. I love it when that happens – you don’t plan to see something yet, but you just happen upon it and the impact is so much greater! It was a bit dusky and busy, but it is such a stunning building, with so much to see on the outside alone – if you visit the city, I can’t recommend it enough. After a lazy evening with the tapas being brought out a plate at a time (which is definitely not the way it is served here, so it surprised me), and a gorgeous dessert of ‘crispy bombs’ (a filo pastry bomb with yoghurt and honey in which you pop in your mouth in one go and it just pops as you bite on it. Mmmm), and a long glass of wine, we wandered back to the hotel.
Next morning, and it is absolutely pissing it down. Warm and humid, but you just know you are going to get soaked! We weren’t sure where to start so we went to find breakfast and went the easy route with a nearby Starbucks. While we were working out what to do, DB spotted a guy outside with a tv camera, and a team of sports guys walking past with a few kids running up for autographs. They turned out to be a Spanish football team who were due to play Barcelona that night (thanks for the research Sarah! Can you remember their name? It was something like Ludavante UD). Rather funkily, they were staying at our hotel 😀 We may not have got breakfast, but clearly we were officially in the upper classes… Although apparently they lost as they were at the bottom of the same league, so not that upper class 😉 We figured that once the rain died down a bit we’d go and have a proper look around near where we were staying, so we strolled towards Placa de Catalunya and down past the gothic cathedral, which was covered in scaffolding. A trip down to the port to see the sculptures on the sea front, and an afternoon exhausting ourselves climbing Montjuic (yup, we climbed like the idiots we are instead of taking the funicular) and wandering around the castle on top enjoying the views, and an evening of eating and drinking again and we were happy 😀
Monday we decided to have a Gaudi day as the weather was stunning and scorching, so we went back to Casa Batllo and Casa Amatllo next door (the chocolate house, designed by another modernista architect and stunning stained glasswork inside) and saw Casa Mila, and for a walk round the Sagrada Familia. The queues to get in were massive and full of Spaniards, so we figured we could go back and look after the weekend when it would be quieter, and head up to Parc Guell in the afternoon. Not to be I’m afraid. On the bus on the way up to the park, it was heaving, and this guy who was wandering around the bus and arousing my suspicions leaned on my hand on the post with his rucksack, pushed past me and an elderly man who was trying to get off the bus and shouted at him as he walked off, and my bag was suddenly open 🙁 I’d been so careful too! My handbag is an over the shoulder/cross the body one, with the zip opening from the inside of the body rather than the outside, and I’d been holding it to my front so when he pushed past me, he must have pulled it round and opened it in one move 🙁 Feeling pretty miserable we caught the bus back so I could phone from the hotel and cancel my bank card. Who should we see on the way back but the same guy I’d been worried about! I pointed him out to DB as the guy was getting off the bus, and DB said he saw him passing something to a dumpy round woman and walking in the opposite direction. Sure enough 30 secs later a Spanish woman is banging on the bus in distress, and her purse has gone. We went and phoned Visa International and cancelled my card, pretty sure that they were just taking it for the cash but going on the safe side (and luckily didn’t have that much cash in it – we were only taking enough for each day and leaving the rest in the safe in our room), and went to report it to the police. The first police station we went to on recommendation from the hotel as it dealt with public transport issues, and they said that we would have to wait 3 hours. Then they said that the bus service isn’t something they deal with and we would have to go to one of two other stations. The nearest was off La Rambla, so we headed for that one, only to be told that we should be speaking to the police at the first station. The policeman phoned up the Placa station with a weary look on his face and after speaking to them, pulled a face at the translator with him, and then explained that as we had been incorrectly referred they would take our report, but they may not have the same photos of known criminals who would work the bus line. Luckily we didn’t have to wait very long, but our poor policewoman had to call in another translater and rush out mid-report to deal with some dodgy geezers out in the hall. When she brought up the database, our description of someone athletic in their mid 40s-50s brought up a pile of 90 year old wrinkled geezers 😀 At least we were laughing at that point. We had no luck finding the thief, and we had wasted a gorgeous afternoon traipsing between places, so we went back to the hotel and felt a bit miserable, then went for a thai meal which was gorgeous, but had the worst service at the restaurant from a cocky skinny little guy (so if you ever visit Thai Studio in Barcelona, be prepared).
Tuesday was our last day together before DB had to start work, so we went back up Montjuic via Paral-lel in the drizzle to see the Miro museum and MNAC. MNAC is a gorgeous old building surrounded by botanical gardens, but with these stark silver escalators leading up the steps to it! Very good service for those with mobility problems on that side of the hill, but very very surreal. There are some pics on the Flickr site which are worth a looksie. Sadly when we got to the top, it was closed for Labour Day. Miro was open, but as everyone else had come for both museums and found the first closed, and didn’t fancy walking around in the rain, the queue was MASSIVE. And I mean massive. We were nearly at the funicular again before the queue ended. We had to change hotels that day too, as the conference gave a huge discount to speakers and was another 4* place, so we headed back to do the move (within walking distance again, opposite the gothic cathedral) to Hotel Colon. Please note that it is supposed to be pronounced a bit like Cologne… 😀 Another gorgeous hotel, but rather old fashioned and floral. Once we had settled, we needed to get ready for a conference related meal at 4 Gats, the place where the modernistas used to hang out. If you get the chance, go there! It isn’t cheap but it is a grand theatrical experience eating there. The food is fantastic, the music from the pianist and violinist is lovely, and the waiters perform comedy while serving you 😀 There is this tiny little balcony where couples eat above the main floor, and there are lots of accidents on the rickety old wooden stairs leading up there, with many a mopping up as the waiters rush around. If you choose a fish dish, you sometimes get to see the whole cooked fish filleted on the central stand by the waiters. The maitre’d was a guy who deserved a tv show of his own – he did fish too, and danced to the music and cracked jokes as he took orders and served people, and implied at the beginning of the meal that we had no table for our party of 20 or so (so don’t be surprised ;D). It was a wonderful night, and the perfect antidote to the last day and a half of mishaps.
Wednesday, we went for a walk near the zoo and the harbour, then DB had to go to the conference opening, so I went out to the Sagrada Familia and went inside seeing as there was no queue whatsoever 😀 I can’t recommend this place enough. It has about 30 years of building left, but what is there is incredible. I went up the towers on the far side of the building (rather than the crucifixion facade side), not without a little fear, but it was a lovely sunny day again, so I figured it wouldn’t be bad up there. We went up in a lift 6 at a time (hence long queues for about 90 mins at the front facade! If there are queues there, try the rear one as it only took about 20-25 mins for me to get up to the lift. The lift climbs at the rear towers for 55m, then you climb up a few stairs to reach just over 60m up the towers. That is only halfway up them. There was a breeze, and no fencing – just a stone wall, admittedly thick, but I was scared of dropping the camera over it if a gust of wind came up! The view is incredible, but not for the feint hearted. I’m not bad with heights looking down, but if I look up, I get nauseous, even if I’m just on a step ladder a couple of steps up, so I had problems taking pictures of the towers above me, and could only look through the camera, not at the actual towers for very long. The towers are stunning, with so much detail and colour and the cranes where the builders work from are so high above the top of them, it makes you feel very ill indeed! The crane operators have to climb a ladder up the centre of the crane scaffold (you can see it on the photo) – I know it is their job and they are used to it, but blimey I wouldn’t want to do it myself… There are photos of that too if you can stomach it! Climbing down I thought would be easy, but the design of the stair way is like a snail shell below you, and there are only little railings on the outside, so again I thought I’d lose the camera! It really is worth it though if you are feeling brave! And please don’t be fooled by what appears to be a locked grill at the bottom of the stairs 😀 I thought for a moment I had to climb the 273 stairs again to go a different route (you cross between different towers as you descend), but the latch was just stiff and heavily sprung 😀 After that, I went back to Casa Batllo to go inside. Gorgeous. I loved it there. The audio guide is really really cheesy and kisses the backside of Gaudi a lot, but you can easily see something new everytime you visit, and the guide points out things I would have missed on my own so it is worth taking with you (and it is included in the price, unlike the Sagrada Familia one, also worth getting). In the evening DB had arranged a meal at, frankly, the best Italian place outside of Italy I’ve ever been to – Montello. Cheap and cheerful, so don’t expect anything pretty, but it makes the best pizza 😀 Don’t get starters – you won’t need any, and the main course will arrive before you finish them…
Thursday was my only full day to myself, so I went back to the Miro and MNAC. MNAC is amazing, and worth every penny of the entrance fee. Keep your ticket in your pocket tho – you need to show it regularly as you go into each branch. I saw Goya and Picasso and Dali, and a pile of wonderful gothic religious art, and some stunning photography. Some kind of do was going on in the main hall, so some parts of the building were closed (does anyone know what might have been held there? It was the 3rd of May, and there were tv cameras and lighting there for a huge meal with a podium, and huge letters C and H stood around). Miro was a bit mad, naturally, but was also full of school children on visits, so it made it a bit harder to enjoy peacefully. It was mainly really good though 🙂 When I got back, it was about 2.30 so I figured I’d have some lunch, a nap and then visit the Dali exhibit nearby. Next thing I know, I’m still dozy and DB is knocking on the door 🙂 We had another conference meal to attend at the Brasserie Flo (another lovely place), and then to bed.
Friday, our last full day, so I went to the Dali exhibit (lots of Dali prints and art and sculptures, but nowhere near as good as visiting the foundation would have been I think), then wandered around the markets at Santa Maria. Then we took some friends to Montello again and went back to the hotel for the strongest brandy ever 😀 Saturday morning was spent around the market again, and at Xocolateria La Xicra for the world’s best hot chocolate. I’m not kidding you. We had to eat it with a spoon it was so thick, it was impossible to drink it. And dark. There is a pic on Flickr of the empty mug after ‘drinking’ it. You could tip it up and nothing would drip out 🙂 We bought some cheese, chocolate and tea from the market, and then headed for the hotel to check out. First bad thing about going home – the suitcase had been damaged by the bellboy with the stand being broken off, and as it is a hard case, it left holes to the inner lining and shell. The bus to the airport was fab again. The airport was fine, if a little eerie and quiet where our gate was, but we got some good duty free (lipbalm in the prettiest little old fashioned tins, a litre of Peach Absolute, and 75cl of Limoncello to replace our sad final consumption a few weeks ago of the Italian stuff) and I had the most expensive take away sushi ever. We arrived at Leeds Bradford early, picked up the luggage and went to catch the bus to the train station. BUT, it had left 5 mins before we got to the stop, and there was only one an hour. I asked a taxi driver how much it would cost – £16!!! No ta. I bought a cup of tea, and we got ready for a looooong wait. While we were sat there, two asian men walking from the airport were stopped by two policemen, who proceeded to go through a full frisking and check their bags and shoes over the course of about 15 mins. They were sent off free (please note that the asian population in Leeds and Bradford is very high, so it is hardly unusual to see a couple of lads with darker skin there). On the bus the driver pulled into a bus stop to answer his mobile phone. 1hr 45 mins after landing we reach the train station with 3 mins to run to the stopping train, or we could wait 40mins for the fast one and get something to eat. We went the latter route, and sat with chips on the walkway over the lines, only to be stared at by the world’s biggest man with an idiot smirk on his face, and listen to idiot drunkards and deal with trying to get past ignorant locals on a night out with our bags and cases. We get on the train, only the selfish gits push the people getting off out the way as they get on, and try to push me out the way as I climb on with a heavy case and bag on my back. But, we get back home safe and sound, taking as long to get from the airport at Leeds to our door as we did to get from the hotel to Leeds. Plus two parcels I was expecting when I got home hadn’t arrived, with no sign of them in the garden or any cards for collection at the post office. I think our postie may be on his holiday too… Not the best arrival home, but I am glad to be back in our bed, with our couch, and the garden in full bloom, with the Great Tits still nesting 🙂
Photos are here so go look, comment, and don’t feel too jealous after all the fun and games we had 😉 If you’ve made it this far through the post, well done! In spite of everything, I’d go back tomorrow!


Yup, I’m back from Barcelona, after a week of very very mixed experiences. Highlights include visiting the Sagrada Familia, Casa Batllo and Mountjuic. Low points include the Spanish Labour Day meaning everything we went to being closed or with 6 mile long queues (slight exaggeration), the weather being a bit mixed up (but luckily always warm), and my purse being stolen on a bus (a very long story, but we knew exactly who had stolen it, and saw his team do it again on the bus back to the hotel to report it…).
It is good to be home, but I shall miss the city, and waiting at Leeds train station and seeing all the scummers on their night out, plus it taking longer to get from Leeds Bradford airport to our home than it did to get from the hotel in Barcelona to Leeds Bradford kind of put a downer on being back in the UK… Compare and contrast – airport shuttle buses every 30mins, with several buses run at once to accomodate the travellers in Spain, to one bus an hour scheduled shortly after our flight arrival, giving us no time to collect baggage before we caught it, and with no room on it to place luggage.
Anyway, just to let you all know that I am alive, and back home, and bought postcards but never sent them thanks to the purse theft incident 🙁 I’ll post all about it and link to the photos (DB has been very good keeping up to date with them :D) once we are settled in, have the washing on, and I’ve read my 1000000000001 emails… 😀