Saturday, April 23

Early morning on the Thames footpath

On a glorious morning on a long bank-holiday weekend, 6.30am does not seem like a silly time for a bike ride.

The tide was just on the turn, the river high and still. Myself and Mrs Fox eyed each other cautiously as we met just a few feet apart, while skirting the hoardings outside the Greenwich Foot Tunnel - she trotted down to the river to slake her thirst while I rode on.

Valerian flowers are just coming out along the edges of the river where development has yet to reach. I try to savour these trips and hoard up the sights, sounds and smells to keep me going through the long working days.

Further round the peninsula a couple of yachts skimmed silently by, sneaking out of the city to grab the best of the sunshine. Canary Wharf's blocks shimmered slightly in the haze.

Thankfully the peninsula still has its gritty industrial edge; I loved the texture and colour of the hull of this ship from which gravel was being unloaded as I passed by.

Further round, near to the yacht club, I spotted a pair of Oyster Catchers probing the mud with their long pink bills - not a bird I've spotted so far upstream before.

And down by the Thames Barrier I passed a group of very drunk and noisy young Polish men, who looked like they'd been hanging out there drinking the whole night, going by the boxes of cheap booze that surrounded them.

All fascinating, food for the soul.

Sunday, April 17

Broadstairs on a sunny day

I love Broadstairs in Kent even when it's not sunny, but today was a winning combination.

We left the marathon runners and their supporters behind for once, and after negotiating the peculiarities of Stratford station and Stratford International station (you have to take a courtesy bus through the Olympic park to the weirdly deserted International station) got the high speed train down to the Kent coast. Just for your information, the high speed bit only applies until you get to Ashford International - from then to Broadstairs it's back to the usual rural Kent speeds.

I was tempted to swim, but hadn't brought my cossie and it was still a bit cold - quite a bit of paddling was done in its place, however.

Morelli's old-style ice cream parlour provides the requisite sweet stuff, and we later found some good fish n chips for our late lunch.

If you've never visited the east Kent trio of Margate, Broadstairs and Ramsgate, I can recommend all three. They each have their charms, and are all markedly different in character - all can be reached by the high speed rail link from St Pancras via Stratford and Ebbsfleet in just over an hour, and the new Turner Contemporary gallery has now opened in Margate, so even more reason to visit.

Finished objects

I am still making things, I just keep forgetting/running out of time to take pictures, or to blog about them!

The sock is the Falling Leaves pattern from Knitty; been meaning to make this pattern for ages but I assumed that, because it has 72 stitches on the round (and I normally use only 60) it would be too big for my feet and I would have to mess around with gauge. In fact, even with all the lacework going on, I can only just get this sock on! Either I've knitted to an uncharacteristically tight gauge, or my feet have ballooned - but I think I would have noticed the latter.

I picked up the lovely bright green yarn on special offer from Natalie at the Yarn Yard, who seems to like green almost as much as I do! I see she has another great colourway 'sprout' on there at the moment!
With the colour and the pattern, this sock makes me think of the fresh young leaves that should be peeking out just about now in beech woods all across the country. Must get out and see a few!

Meanwhile here's a bit of crochet bunting - star pattern courtesy of the Royal Sisters (you need to block the stars out with pins to get real pointy points) and joined to a long crochet chain on the second row of single crochet. The stars are made out of sock yarn leftovers, the crochet chain out of DK cotton.

I hoping this will bring some quirky glamour to a friend's Highland hoosie.

Tuesday, April 5

Hidden delights of south Wales

After a couple of weeks of indecision as to whether I could spare the time away from my freelance project, I finally cracked and headed off to Bridgend for a night with my friend Gareth. I'm so glad I did!

He's staying in a lovely cottage just a mile or so from the 'Glamorgan Heritage Coast' to work on a personal photography project and I piggybacked his hols for a night away and the chance to catch up.

Early Sunday morning, even with my crashing hangover Paddington Station's art deco offices looked glorious - it's amazing what you see when you glance up from the grimy pavements.

A few hours later we were enjoying lunch in the Ogmore Tea Rooms before heading off for a 7 mile walk in glorious sunshine, across the hills to St Brides Major and down to Dunraven Beach.

I'd never heard of the beauty of this particular stretch of coastline until today, but as you can see, it didn't disappoint.

The cottage was a lovely place to hang out, surrounded by chickens, horses and sheep with their cute offspring. Meet your future socks!

That's the cottage on the left; the photo is taken from the grounds of the ruined castle, and you can just see the Stepping Stones of Doom on the right hand side, they are covered with water when the tide comes in. I call them the Stepping Stones of Doom because I am not good with stepping stones. To be fair, any stepping stones are the stepping stones of doom.

There are 52 of them and I got stuck at about number 26. My legs didn't want to go anywhere. Luckily Gaz was behind me goading me on and a family with a small child was waiting to cross from the other side, so I had to continue. Eugh, what's wrong with a bridge I say, even a nice wobbly one?!

Yesterday was colder and a bit gloomy so we toured a couple of the valleys to do some research for G's project. It's a strange place - dramatic hills with winding roads and glorious views, brought down to earth by rows and rows of tiny stone-clad houses, intense deprivation and a strangely oppressive air. The past few years of exploring south Wales have lent me a new appreciation of its charms, hidden as they may be.

The last picture is taken from the viewpoint at the head of the Rhondda Valley: a steep and hairpin ascent from Ogmore Vale, over Craig Ogwr and then down the other side towards Treorchy.


Saturday, April 2

Modest destash on Ravelry

I'm having a modest destash of yarns - not getting rid of as much as I probably should but I have a few really nice yarns that deserve to be used rather than lingering around in my drawers, so to speak. There's also a few basic items on offer.

All the yarns for sale are detailed in my Ravelry stash which is here. You will need to have a Rav account for this link to work, I think.

I'll be putting an announcement on the Ravelry noticeboards some time next week, but in the meantime, please feel free to peruse and PM me on Ravelry if you are interested in anything. There's a 10% discount for advance sales :-).