Amsterdam

Hello All

I will come clean I am not a huge fan of the city of Amsterdam. But this time in the company of No 1 Daughter – an Amsterdam lover – and staying in a hotel near Vondelpark and away from the centre I warmed to the place and we spent a pleasant day there.

After a night on the ocean waves and traveling straight to our hotel to dump our backpacks our first port of call was Coffee and Coconut

A quirky cafe (Amsterdam does these really well) inside a converted cinema which serves fresh coconut juice, refreshing iced teas and a range of goodies to eat.

From Coffee and Coconut it was a short walk through picturesque streets, along a huge market and via lots of indies (some with familiar names!)

To reach the giant Amsterdam sign so popular with postcard printers,

(There’s always one …. actually there were hundreds!)

Until we reached the Museum Quarter. We skirted the Rijks Museum (huge so it will have to await another trip)

To the object of our visit Moco, a small museum housing a humongous exhibition of Banksy works.

It might seem a bit odd to view an exhibition of works by a Bristol graffiti artist in Amsterdam but it was an amazing collection spreading over three floors and we both thoroughly enjoyed it. I particularly like the wall devoted to a group of ‘Riot’ Police skipping through a meadow…

This is where modern information technology came into its own. We found out about the Moco Museum and it’s exhibition because No1 Daughter could see where friends had visited and this came recommended. In addition we love the Banksy piece used on the advertising as it looks very like Peanut!

Footsore but happy we wandered back to the hotel for a good night’s sleep before the next day’s mega-(several)-train journey to Copenhagen….

Until next we meet

Moke xxx

Wandering

Hello All

I have done my research

And then some more

Indulged in a little guilty pleasure

Say nothing.

With all that under my belt

and my bags packed I am off with No 1 Daughter on another Inter Rail adventure.

Copenhagen here we come!

As to what this dynamic duo did next be assured I will keep you posted.

Until next we meet

Moke xxx

Wonderful news and a snippet

Hello All

Super family news… No1 Son proposed to his girlfriend and …… (drum roll please) …. she said “YES”! How fab is that? Amidst the snow and blizzards sent by the Beast from the East a happy story. They make a magic couple and I am thrilled for them. Soon to be No1 Daughter In Law – I know you read this blog – thank you for making my son a very happy young man. Congratulations to you both.

Smiling away as I now am time for just a little snippet of craftiness. After a snow-stopped-travel prolonged stay in Yorkshire I am home and have had chance to finish off a little project begun before I set off.

Despite the Arctic temperatures and Siberian snows (am I over exaggerating this winteriness? Surely not) I couldn’t help but think of summer sun (perhaps it was Lanzarote… now a distant memory….sigh….) and with a pattern and some jolly fabric I was ready to get sewing…

As always I found the bodice a wee bit fiddly. I have the hands of a sizeable Yeti when working diminutive toddler projects. But I got there eventually although the air was a shade of blue and that wasn’t the cold!

But with a few more pennies in the swear box the bodice and straps were all done before I donned snow boots (It was very snowy..and cold…don’t know if I mentioned that?) for the trek to the bus stop. Apparently buses can reach those places that trains can’t (ie Yorkshire). Gold star to the bus companies for running and the local authorities for getting the roads cleared. Bloomin’ good work.

However all that tricky stitching before I left made for a very productive day on my return. All I had to do was sew up the skirt seams attach aforementioned skirt to the bodice then yahoo! One summer dress for Peanut.

Now all we need is some sunshine for her to wear it……

Until next we meet,

Moke xxx

Hunkered

Hello All

Brrr. The cold and snow and frrreeeeezing wind has kept my walking to a minimum i.e. off bus in shop in cafe back on bus. I have instead hunkered down at home and been busy crafting.

Project one: cable hat. Using the second ball of the lovely wool gifted me by No 1 ‘daughter-in-law’ – the softest and cosiest yarn to work – I again used the Anna Hat free pattern at Margo Knits which is a small enough to sustain my enthusiasm and challenging enough to keep me on my toes …. or DPNs ….

Project two: patchwork cushion. At Christmas I promised that I would make No 1 Daughter some ‘Boho’ style cushions having failed to find any I liked and could afford. The fulfilment of my promise had to await the purchase of a new sewing machine. Now the proud owner of Jolly Janome and having practised on a patchwork pillow of my own it was time to get cracking.

The colours were ready and I had great fun deciding the layout. It was even more fun for Jolly and me to sew the strips. I even enjoyed all the pressing…am I weird?

The final result was pleasingly luxurious. Front and back.

Most importantly No1 Daughter loved it but here’s the rub …. she wants more! Looks like Jolly and I will be kept busy.

Project three: dress for me. For some time I have wanted to make myself something new to wear. I had spotted a couple of those lovely Merchant and Mills patterns that looked right up my street. Meeting up with No 1 to deliver the cushion I took the opportunity to nip into Cool Crafting in Skipton (they also have a shop in Kirby Lonsdale) and pick up a pattern … or two.

All I needed was fabric. While lying awake, head busy with crafting projects, I pictured the dress in stripes. So with No1 and granddaughter Peanut we went next day to Ilkley and the lovely ‘Eme Cloth & Yarn‘ emporium run by the friendly and really helpful Emma Garry. I loved this fabric and couldn’t resist getting enough for my frock and an outfit for Peanut. I shall just have to check with Peanut (she’s advanced for two) so that we don’t wear them at the same time!

Emma drew my attention to a rather special feature of this cloth. The selvedge.

Isn’t it beautiful? On Emma’s advice I carefully snipped it from the post-pattern-cutting cloth and plan to use it as edging in future makings. Waste not want not.

Cutting done – the Merchant and Mills pattern paper is super quality – Jolly and I were ready to roll. The instructions were pretty good although I found the diagram showing the insertion of the front bib a little confusing. None of the reviews mentions this so probably just me. Common sense, a bit of experimenting and some tacking (got to love a bit of tacking I say) soon overcame my muddle. And voila I have a new cotton dress-tunic.

Apologies for this photo but I couldn’t find a good spot to ‘pose’ the finished dress. I am loathed to model it myself but despite it’s slight nurse-like appearance – I didn’t notice this echo of Call The Midwife while working on it – please take it from me that it looks great and not at all like I have arrived to administer an enema.

And see what has been delivered while I have been tapping out this post. A new adventure beckons…

Hope you are having happy adventures and crafting time of your own.

Until next we meet,

Moke xxx

Heimat

Hello All

Back in the room after a fabulous few days getting acquainted with a family I had never before met. I would like to whole-heartedly thank all my German cousins (1st and 2nd!) for their help in making my stay in my father’s homeland truly special. BIG thanks to cousin K-D who made it possible to find key places in my father’s life which I would never have found alone, for making me feel at home and also for the mercy dash to pick up my connecting train when the first was delayed. Phew! And none of this would have happened without the Cologne and Bavarian cousins doing a lot of emailing and phoning. Well done C and R. You are all stars.

I still need to digest my emotions but to give you a flavour of what I found here are some highlights.

The building in Prenzlau where my father was born was once a Dominican Monastery and is now a museum. I found this very satisfying as not only do I love museums (you may have noticed) but it also means that should No1 Son and No1 Daughter ever follow in my footsteps it will still be here. What a lovely museum, we spent a little while pootling around (think I may have brought the English concept of a pootle with me) looking at the history of Prenzlau. Especially pleasing was the model of Prenzlau in 1935, this would have been just how my father would have known it.

Prenzlau is in a beautiful location on the shores of the Uckersee. Coming from the English Lake District this felt like familiar territory.

After a lunch in the Autumn sunshine enjoying this wonderful view we travelled the few miles to the village where my father learnt his trade as a blacksmith and his family lived.

Sadly the forge is derelict now, like so many old buildings in what was the DDR left empty to fall in to disrepair.

But there are beautiful houses and lovely homes in the village and K-D had arranged for me to meet some family from my Oma’s side who still live in Klein Sperrenwalde along with their children, grandchildren and great grandchildren. Sharing coffee and cake with them was very special (oh to have proper cheesecake…delicious). Despite having no common language – Russian was the second language taught in schools until re-unification – we had a good laugh.

An early evening stroll round the village was magical. The stories about the buildings and people being thankfully translated by RW K-Ds son who had joined us. A gem!

What a thoroughly lovely bunch. I have a lot of tales and photos to share with my children when I get to my Heimat.

I will take away with me two powerful things: the kindness and thoughtfulness of my father’s family; and the staggering beauty of this landscape. I couldn’t capture the breadth of the horizons. This is a poor attempt.

It is a huge land where trees abound, herds if deer graze the fringes of that woodland and flocks of cranes fly from the fields as trains pass. It’s people and it’s countryside are amazing. Leaving was difficult.

Now before I come over all emotional I will leave you with this crazy character from the cloisters at the monastery to make you smile.

Until next we meet,

Moke xxx

Evening stroll

Hello All

I have made it to Berlin and I feel that my journey to my father’s home has really begun.

I remember him telling me how when he was a little boy he went with his sister to visit their Tante Matilda in Berlin. Matilda it seems lived in the same apartment block as Marlene Dietrich (this was back in the 1920s). Marlene felt sorry for my father having to listen to his big sister and Aunt chatter and she took him to Berlin Zoo as a treat. What a lovely anecdote and the woman best known for seeing what the boys in the back room will have was certainly kind and thoughtful.

So would you believe the veggie restaurant that I am scouting out is in Marlene-Dietrich Platz a few minutes walk from where I am staying? I had to go there, it would have been rude not to. And this time I found the restaurant I was looking for.

Ok from my photo the Weilands Wellfood cafe does not look all that inviting … blame my picture taking because the food was delicious and hearty.

This was sweet potato and tofu stew and as you can see they don’t stint on portion size. It was just what I needed as somehow – and I don’t know how I had let this happen – I had missed lunch. I know it’s a shocker.

Among my memories of what my parents told me is that in the early 1950s my father and mother came to Berlin to meet some of his family. This was pre-Wall Berlin. On my way here I was thinking my mother was only in her early twenties at that time and did not speak a word of German. Except for the consolation that she couldn’t terrify unsuspecting taxi drivers with her Moke-German (Moke wasn’t even a twinkle in anyone’s eye at that time) it must have been quite intimidating for a lass from Westmorland to arrive in this huge city unable to communicate with anyone except through her new husband. Lovely man that he was I cannot lie my father was an awful translator. My poor mother must have done a lot of smiling and nodding hoping that both were appropriate responses.

I have a smidgen of German .. Duolingo says I am 30% fluent I will have you know… but Berlin’s quite intimidating to me. It has a three story railway station for goodness sake. Anyhow back to my evening stroll.

I was doing my usual walking around like a country hick going ‘Wow’, ‘Goodness’ ‘Oooh’ and snapping random large buildings,

When I noticed a lot of people had cameras and were checking out the lights. Yesterday I got a text from my friend AJ (thanks me dear) telling me about Berlin’s ‘Festival of Lights’. All over the city buildings, monuments and landmarks have been illuminated. I got only a small taste of it tonight. Firstly outside the Weilands Wellfood Cafe.

And then again as I turned up towards Potsdamer Platz

It looks like it is quite a show and hopefully I will see more of it as it lasts the duration of my stay. It certainly gave a jovial atmosphere to the streets with people walking between illuminations to take photographs.

Tomorrow back on the tourist trail. A bus tour maybe or museums or a river cruise … let’s wait and see.

Until next we meet,

Moke xxx

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