The Great Escape and an Ode to Tea

Hello All

Bags are again packed and I am off on a small adventure:

I am going Interrailing to visit (find!) my father’s home village in Germany, Klein Sperrenwalde. Thank you to my friends who waved me off both physically and virtually.

But this is me and I like to begin with baby steps. Clever little bods them babies. So I have started with a couple of days in Newcastle. Dodging a swarm of beer swilling blokes who appeared confused navigating the ticket barriers I walked through the big and beautiful concourse to see Newcastle Upon Tyne for the first time. And I was a woman on a mission.

My goal was to find a wool shop in which to purchase the first ball of wool for my European trip. I was looking for Woolly Minded and bingo found it really easily. I am used to cosy little wool shops with quaint and often quirky signage Woolly Minded is a large shop with a very modern frontage impossible to miss.

Despite the helpful assistants I sadly couldn’t find anything really local but instead I settled for King Cole DK. They are based in Skipton and that’s the North!

In case you are wondering my plan is to crochet a shawl or scarf using a ball of wool from each town or city I stay in. This seemed like a good idea when I was cooking it up in my head as it means I will not have to carry all the wool for the project but only a ball each time I stop, hopefully having already worked the previous yarn into an ever growing shawl-scarf-thingy. As the weather is turning chilly I also hope that I will have something warm and snuggly to use when I return. Let the crocheting commence!

On walking a wee bit further into the centre of Newcastle and reaching The Monument a tall …. erm … monument to Earl Grey – local politician and possibly the father to my favourite tipple Earl Grey tea – I took a brave ‘pill’. That being a metaphorical pill you understand no pharmaceuticals nor mind-altering substances were taken. Suffice to say I embraced the Newcastle Metro system.

My hotel the Best Western New Kent in Jesmond was only a few stops down the line and I was thankful to reach its welcoming reception staff.

While someone quickly made himself comfortable. Cheeky! I was just glad to put down my rucksack. Backpacks seemed lighter when I was 18….

But after a good night’s sleep- refreshed and fuelled by a veggie English Breakfast – I was ready this morning to visit Arbeia Roman Fort in South Shields. A short hop – well 16 stops but by now I am such an old hand I am not even counting – on the wonderful Newcastle Metro service.

It was easy to see when I was getting near to Arbeia.

When I arrived I really hit it lucky as today is the last day of the season at the Fort and I managed to earwig a fascinating impromptu tour which included a description of the famous Regina tombstone (its the one on the right as you look at the photograph):

It was commissioned in the 2nd century by the late lamented Regina’s husband. Fascinatingly Regina was from a southern British tribe the Catuvellauni and had been sold as a slave to Palmyrian (Syrian) trader Barates who freed her and then married her. What I love is that she is clutching her distaff and spindle rather like any of us would hold our knitting of an evening at home in a comfy chair while poignantly at her feet is her stash of wool ready for projects she never got to finish.

Sniffle! Pulling myself together I took a turn about the site and was thrilled to have the reconstructed gatehouse all to myself;

From the top I got a good view of the majority of the archaeological remains together with the reconstructed barracks and Commanding Officer’s house:

Let’s look through the keyhole (no doors let alone keyholes but bear with me). Who lives in a house/barrack like this?

A Centurian! Rather bijou.

Being the last day of the season there were also re-enactors from the Cohors Quinto Gallorum – an auxiliary unit garrisoned to the fort in the 3rd Century – showing visitors ceremonies, food and the equipment of infantry soldiers. These are brave men. I mean it. Some of those children turned quite vicious when hurling spears at them!

A short walk around the herb garden,

And I was ready for a stroll back towards the Metro.

One of the nice things about tootling and having no particular timetable is that you come upon unexpected pleasures. Today mine was the Victorian Pantry at South Shields Museum and Art Gallery on Ocean Road.

I had a lovely light lunch (I managed to resist a High Tea…goodness knows how!) served by waitresses complete with white pinnies.

The poem by an unknown author on the front of the menu sums up life for me:

When the world is all at odds,

And the mind is all at sea,

Then cease the useless tedium,

And brew a cup of tea.

There is magic in its taste,

The laden moments vanish

Somewhere into space.

And the world becomes a lovely thing!

There’s beauty as you see.

All because you briefly stopped

To have a cup of tea.

About time I was brewing up!

Until next we meet,

Moke xxx

P.S. Those of you playing spot the Meerkat (Terence to his friends), it will get harder!

P.P.S. Apologies to anyone who caught a quick glimpse of an earlier post announcing the start of my travels. It was a draft which I prematurely published! Sorry for any confusion caused. Mx

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Reasons to be cheerful

Hello All

Things that have made me smile since I ‘retired’:

1. No need to put on the alarm for ridiculous o’clock!

2. When I can’t break the habit of waking up an hour before the old alarm time – at even-worse-than-ridiculous o’clock – rolling over and going back to sleep (not quite mastered this one as early days, but working on it Zzzzzzzzzz);

3. Crochet at odd moments throughout the day;

There has been a lot written and said about mindfulness and yarn craft lately and this 8 row repeat pattern from my old favourite “Crochet Unravelled” by Claire Bojczuk definitely helps me zone out. The long rows and small hook size (2.75cm) enhance the comfort of working to and fro to create the cobweb design.

4. Have a haircut ‘cos I can have it mid-week;

5. Travel to Skipton on a Thursday and have lunch out with No 1 Daughter;

Thoroughly enjoyed a veggie bean burger at the Two Sisters in Skipton. This super cosy and quirky restaurant also opens in the evening with board games and all varieties of gin. Although I am not a drinker – apart from tea! – I would love to go back at night as the atmosphere will be amazing I am sure.

6. See No 1 Son and have a joyful catch up with his world and plans for the future;

7. Visit Yarndale in Skipton with good woolly friend AFl, No 1 Daughter and (yelps of excitement) Peanut who was going to her first Yarndale;

We all had a super (and slightly … erm … expensive) time. It’s only once a year we’ve got to make the most of it haven’t we?! No 1 loved this yarn-bombed van and all the finger puppets. Perfect for little Peanut.

8. Help No1 Daughter at Sheffield 10k

It was lovely to volunteer to help No 1 Daughter and BTRS with an event on Sunday and not be worried about getting home ready for work on Monday. The weather was beautiful and we met some fantastic people who were truly inspiring. Well done to them all.

Thanks to No 1 Daughter for all the photos in this post. Bet you were thinking I had suddenly improved!

Until next we meet,

Moke xxx

Retiring sort

Hello All

What a week. A week of lasts. Last Monday, last Tuesday … But in case it got overwhelming my colleagues kept it cheery. Love their card … not sure which is me!

It was a wonderful way to leave and I was royally spoiled with gifts, a fabulous meal at Rogan and Co in Cartmel and beautiful bouquets of flowers.

Aren’t the colours amazing?

Everyone was so generous and thoughtful. KS patchwork cushion in my favourite colours is gorgeous. I was bowled over.

I have had an amazing few days and been made to feel very special. Something I hope we all get to experience from time to time. But now I am ‘retired’ (until penury threatens) the card says it all:

Thank you Banksy for putting it so succinctly.

However I might manage a wee bit of time for this little one.

Peanut came up with her mum for my ‘retirement’ and made sure we had a fabulous night out at Kendal’s famous Torchlight procession before my personal festivities began. She was thrilled by all the floats and walking bands – this year decorated on the theme of Fairy Tales. She waved frantically at everyone that passed and had the sort of fantastic time only a 21 month old can have. That is some kind of fantastic!

Post ‘retirement’? Let the adventures begin.

Until next we meet,

Moke xxx

Running Repairs

Hello All

I do find that life throws up a constant need for running repairs…. scraped knees, pulled hems, sour milk … You know the little bits and bobs that keep you on your toes and get the old grey matter problem solving. But brain surgery?!

Some time ago I made Peanut a rather (shhh don’t let him hear this next bit) grotesque crochet giraffe. He is called Gerald. Although not the most beautiful of creations he is one of Peanut’s first toys (poor child) and sadly he fell foul of No 1’s new dog’s urge to chew … seems everyone is a critic!

From this angle he doesn’t look too bad:

But turn him over and the damage (bad dog!) becomes more apparent:

That loose thread is a clue – look away if you are at all squeamish – to the real damage … brace yourselves:

Ouch! Don’t worry he can’t feel a thing. Of course I now no longer have this wool (it’s probably taken up home in the ever growing scrap blanket) matching is never going to happen so what to do? Any ideas?

No 1 has come up with the idea of a hat. I think she may just have something. Hopefully Gerald will soon be donning a jaunty beanie/a deer stalker/bobble hat/balaclava … decisions decisions! Let me know if you have any preferences.

This is a big week for me. Miniature hat making may have to wait. I am on the move work-wise again. This blog was born out of my last job change. It’ll Be Reet was initially a way of recording of my last weeks with the young people’s library service. Happily I came to love writing to you all so much that I (more or less) kept going.

My present work does not lend itself to broadcast (there are no cut out bats for a start) but my respect for those I work with does. You are an intelligent diligent bunch and it has been a privilege to work with you. There are many who I have been thankful to over the last 4 years but special mention must go to my closest colleagues: PS, EH, VH, MB, RC, GCW (alias Mrs Pod!), LG and EB. What have I forgotten someone?! ….. LH …… your initials in lights at last. Thank you all so much.

It’s going to be an emotional week … someone please remember the tissues!

Until next we meet,

Moke xxx

Knitting up the Past

Hello All

It’s been a whirlwind weekend. Plenty of laughter with friends and family and wonderful food. PF that was a meal to die for. Thank you.

Meanwhile back at Casa Moke I have another sample ready. Trouble is I got the pattern for these fingerless mittens from a magazine some years ago and have lost the original instructions so each time I make a new pair I improvise. Well at least I can say every pair is unique! Luckily they started out alright.

And I managed a pair that look mighty similar.

Did I sew up the space between the thumb and main section the same?

Think so. More or less ….

It seems I may have been crocheting in the right colour range. Military khaki tones could prove useful to future projects. I have been right royally spoiled of late with a special birthday and now as I prepare to move to pastures new at work. MB off on hols and not back until I have left gave me the most thoughtful gift and one that meant I struggled working – but I managed to keep going … I did …. honest – as I so wanted to have time to look through its pages. That pleasure had to wait but it was worth it.

Packed with photos, information and even patterns this is truly a celebration of yarn crafts in adversity and heartwarmingly has a chapter on craftivism. It is a revelation to both the ardent knitter and crocheter as well as the armchair crafter.

Thank you MB for such a welcome addition to my wool craft library and archive.

I would love to hear your recommendations for books on the history of knitting and other yarn crafts.

Until next we meet,

Moke xxx