What can follow that?

Hello All

Double dose tonight. It is impossible to follow the wonderfulness that was visiting Prenzlau and my father’s village. So apologies to Lubeck – where I now sit – as I arrived yesterday in a huff. I was hungry (long train journey), tired (long train journey) and really wished I was still in Prenzlau (long train journey away). But some food and a good sleep put me right and today I was determined to use public transport and get a bus into the old town.

Glad to say mission accomplished. I even helped out a young German couple with the bus timetable. Together we all found ourselves in the medieval heart of Lubeck. I think it is … you know …. a World Heritage Site…. and deservedly so it is a hub of architectural eye-candy. Get those peepers ready, here goes:

Even getting in is superbly marked by several humongous ‘gates’ this is the Burgtor.

I really wish I had brought my digital pencil. Please excuse my finger-scrawl but you get the gist. However I was distracted by (Hark! Choirs of angels):

A celebration of the humble spud. Stuff of dreams.

Of course someone let it go to his head! Enough of this frivolity there are important buildings to admire.

This jolly duo to listen to.

And a lion named Heinrich.

Well that is what this numpty thought. Turns out Heinrich the Lion was a twelfth Century Prince who founded both Munich and Lubeck, married the daughter of our very own Henry II and Eleanor of Aquitaine and ruled a whole chunk of Germany. In a spare moment he also laid the foundation stone of Lubeck Cathedral in 1173.

Oh look there is Heinrich again,

A truly beautiful city but a fleeting visit. However I do not leave empty handed, Lubeck orange is ready to join in the creation of the Thingy.

.

More about the Prenzlau wool later ….

Time to say Auf Wiedersehen Lubeck thank you for putting up with huffy me.

Until next we meet,

Moke xxx

Winding Up

Hello All

Feeling a little touristed out I promised myself a woolly time today. Afterall I needed my Berlin ball of wool for the scarf-shawl-thingy didn’t I? The thingy is growing and the Leipzig mixed twist is rather splendid:

(Good grief hope Mr T isn’t ordering room service….) but I think it is ready for a calming influence. Where to go? A shufty on the Internet produced several candidates but from the pictures and website Wollen Berlin called to me. I was right to follow my instincts as near Ostkreuz S-Bahn at Gartnerstrasse 32, 10245 Berlin I found a haven of wooliness set in a lovely part of the city.

The assistant (who on checking the shop website was Caro) could not have been more helpful. She guided me to some German wool by ‘Hey Mama Wolf’. Looking at the Leipzig mixed twist we were both drawn to the same colour, not the most striking hue but spot on to stop the thingy being overwhelmed by a craziness of mixed yarns … the less is more.

Now while Hey Mama Wolf may call this Meadowsweet I have it in my mind as Berlin Senf (ignore my misspelling on the label, I couldn’t spell check while drinking tea at Hackescher Markt) as it reminds me of the colour of delicious German mustard.

Berlin Senf is created from German Merino sheep – not as soft as the Australian Merino but wonderful in it’s own Germanic way – and hand dyed. Like the Amsterdam yellow it is a bit finer than double knit so I asked if the 100g skein could be wound into two 50g balls so I could double up the strands. This was no problem and Caro was soon putting the yarn on the winder ready to make two neat balls of wool. While she set up I got busy snapping photos of the drool-worthy shelves of yarns. Note all the knitted and crocheted examples for customers to see how the worked wools look.

Skeins can be like life sometimes they get in a bit of a tangle and are then trickier to unravel. While I had been taking photos my skein had begun to misbehave.

Strange though this may be I like sorting out knots and tangles so I happily offered to hand wind my wool. What a pleasure to sit untangling the yarn and talk wool and sheep. Don’t you love woolly folk? It doesn’t take much to keep us happy. I managed to become happier still, not only did I finish my winding for the Thingy but I also got ….

Icelandic wool…I can barely contain myself ….. warm mittens…..ooooh yes…..you know you want some ….

With a halo that was now beyond wonky it was time for a church. Negotiating the S-Bahn (overground) I made may way to the biggest church available, Berlin Dom (Cathedral).

It’s interior was stunning

However I was distracted from my usual interest in the organ by the contents of the crypt. Berliner Dom crypt contains a macabre collection of sarcophagi containing the earthly remains of the Prussian royal family some dating back to the 1660s. I found it all a bit peculiar. Even though morbid curiosity overtook me – turns out my halo completely slipped – I couldn’t help but wonder if these aristocrats realised they were to become exhibits. It didn’t strike me as resting in peace. Bizarre.

Outside with a little sigh of relief I was on the island of museums. You can rest assured Berlin’s sizo-meter did not fail.

In my turn I made a sizeable decision. I would not visit them as I knew I would find it frustrating to rush around for a few hours and not completely enjoy the pleasure of taking time to view the artefacts. Oh well … I will just have to come back and spend a week in the Altes Museum alone!

Time to hop on a bus (love that German bus stops have digital updates of the arrival times of the buses and they are FREQUENT!!!!) and wend my way along my favourite route back to the hotel. Blimey they are breeding like ….

He was certainly not there last night.

Tomorrow I am off to Prenzlau. So for a while I must bid you adieu as I am having a little time out to meet family …. and I am likely to be without Wifi.

Auf Wiedersehen Berlin city of a big heart and mind blowing architecture.

Until next we meet

Moke xxx

Val-deri, Val-dera … my knapsack on my back

Hello All

Interrailing has begun. I started my train travels today on the International train ICE123 from Amsterdam to Trier via Cologne (Koln).

I stumbled a bit at the first hurdle as couldn’t find my reserved seat! However I was sitting on the right train, in the right carriage in what I thought was an unreserved seat so I was congratulating myself on being correct on two out of three until there was a tap on my shoulder and a gentleman pointed out that I was in his seat! Colour me beetroot red.

Apparently ‘freigeben’ doesn’t mean the seat is free rather it means that you should give up your seat if asked…. oh the shame….. To be fair the numbering of the seats was very odd. I had reserved seat number 12 but when I walked up the carriage I realised that there were not enough seats to go down to number 12 however once evicted from my seat (did I mention the shame?!) closer inspection revealed that the numbers jumped from the 20’s to 12 with nothing in between and nothing after. I obviously get my number dyslexia from my father’s side!

Still it was rather funny and pushed me stumbling through my basic German to the amusement of the other passengers (‘What did that woman say? “The cats eat the beetles?!”‘). Baptism of fire? Yes. But it was the best way to get going with a new language. Now anyone that cares to listen is getting blasts of Moke-German. Poor souls. My sympathy goes out particularly to the taxi driver who had my full range of conversation about the weather and the lack of rain.

Back in my comfort zone I have finished the Newcastle wool and while on the train to Trier I got started with the Amsterdam yellow. Doubled up to match the weight of the Newcastle yarn it is vibrant and crocheting beautiful. It’s like sunshine on a blue-sky day.

The journey from Koln to Trier was beautiful. It does I suppose fall in the Rhineland renowned for its wonderfulness. As it got further from Koln the little regional train – no reservation nightmares here (can’t get past the shame) as no reservations! – wound its way along rivers and through pretty towns and villages. Woodlands clothed the hills that rose on either side. The colours of Autumn embellished and amber-blazed the trees. Oh it was soooo restful. Infact soooo restful I struggled to keep my peepers open as I gazed at the passing countryside.

Soporific isn’t it? Appears I was not alone.

Now I am in Trier and excited about visiting the many Roman and Medieval sites/sights tomorrow. Will also need to look out for a good wool shop. Any ideas about shops in Trier or what colour to get next?

Before I sign off. I love this idea … wonder what I will get in my goody bag?

Until next we meet,

Moke xxx

All at sea

Hello All

What I will turn my hand to for the sake of my blog post is nobody’s business! I sat drafting this post in the Observation Deck (front) of the DFDS Ferry taking me from Newcastle to Amsterdam staring out at the great expanse of the North Sea (looking deep and cold) as I was told that this was the only place that I may get a wifi connection … time will tell I thought.

Force 7 winds were expected and it did get a wee bit bumpy especially in the early hours. Still as you crafters know there is nothing like a craft project to keep you busy and your mind off things like the stack of sick bags behind the cabin door ready for use. As I described on Saturday I am trying to make a crochet ripple scarf-shawl-thingy and am already working with ball of wool number one purchased in Newcastle.

I always find the hardest row to get right in ripple patterns is row 1. And if that goes array the subsequent pattern row will be out of kilter. Pulling back is ultimately the kindest thing to do both for the crochet and your frazzled nerves.

This first row so confidently crocheted as I sat over lunch in the wonderful Great North Museum (GO THERE!!!!) had to be pulled back twice as in transcribing the pattern to my note book I completely missed out not one but two crucial sections of the pattern…. what a dope!

But once you crack it! Whoopee-do the rows start flying.

Sadly time did tell and my little iPad and me could not muster a Wifi connection from Neptune while we bobbed about the sea … this post had to await dry land.

Now safely ashore in Amsterdam I am able to access Wifi and even add to the above post as since landing in this fair harbour (No 1 Daughter’s favourite city … so far) I have managed to find a wonderful wool shop a fabulous dine-ery and another museum!

First my crafty friends to the wool shop. Having fruitlessly tried to find my hostel for the night (the directions were not good!) I did find right opposite the Nieumarkt Metro the first Amsterdam wool shop on my list: Stephen and Penelope.

The shop’s assistant was so helpful. Definitely going above and beyond. She helped me find the right wool for my project (I wanted something from Amsterdam), she wound the skein into a ball for me, directed me correctly to the hostel and also recommended a restaurant nearby. I could ask no more. She was brilliant.

I was desperate to get yarn produced locally (sorry Newcastle but you were a little disappointing in that department). I was captivated by the range of colours in the Undercover Otter range.

These are all dyed in Amsterdam and although a thinner ply than the double knit I started with I couldn’t resist the bright yellow on the top row. I can always double it if I want it to more closely match the thickness of the double knit I started with. I was a little ashamed of the tatty plastic back I was carrying my crochet around in but problem solved as I added a small cotton project bag to my purchases.

Undercover Otter normally sells only on line but Stephen and Penelope stock a large selection too they are definitely worth a look.

Before I get back to the scarf-shawl-thingy here’s a few other things I did on my day in Amsterdam:

1. Find my StayOkay hostel. It is in a lovely location and very central.

2. Start walking to No1 Daughter’s favourite Coffee and Coconut but find a lovely cafe of my own en route, Le Pain Quotidien.

With seating inside and out this cafe exuded a chic yet boho ambience. More importantly its extensive menu with tasty veggie options and cakes was drool worthy. What more could I ask? A pudding! I finished with an Apple-Cinnamon Tart. Delicious.

And yes that’s me drinking my Earl Grey out of a bowl….

3. Find a museum. I found the Amsterdam Museum. Using the site of an old orphanage the Amsterdam Museum gave a great overview of the history of this vibrant multi-cultural city. The assistants were very helpful and although they offered me the audio guide I demurred as I like to look at the exhibits without an information overload. As you can see it is quite a grand building with a history of it’s own. The plaques in the first picture are like adverts to anyone selling their services.

But to state the obvious tomorrow is another day and I need to be in fine fettle for the start of my interrailing. Tuesday so it must be it be Amsterdam to Trier. I will keep you posted on progress but for now I am ready for my bed.

Until next we meet

Moke xxx

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

Bags are packed

Hello All

All packed and ready to go

I have been on one of my regular jaunts to Yorkshire to see No 1 Daughter and little granddaughter Peanut.

I have configured what for me is the perfect route. Now this is not for those that want to get anywhere fast. In fact it is definitely one for the proponents of slow living and those that enjoy the journey more than the destination. All aboard.

As with most of my journeys this one starts with a bus. On this occasion the 555 traveling towards Lancaster easily caught from the end of the road. Apologies if you get travel sickness but here is a snippet of what I can see atop the double decker as it bumps its way between Milnethorpe and Holme crossing the River Bela. GCW grab your paper bag.

I show you this particular section of my trip because in a way this is where all my journeys start. See those low buildings just before we cross the river? They are on the site of a World War Two prisoner of war camp. This is were my father spent his first weeks in Britain.

And while we are traveling memory lane, anyone a fan of ‘Brief Encounter’? Here is it’s iconic location and the next stage in my travels, Carnforth Station.

Which comes complete – thanks to the magic of movies – with its own heritage centre.

It certainly feels like going back to a time when travel was a more leisurely affair. While there are high speed trains that pass through the station they do so at such speed that they almost whip your eyebrows off. Our transport is a two carriage rickety sort of affair which hopefully will get me to Leeds in time to meet No 1 for lunch.

Fast(ish) forward a couple of hours. Hey not so presto and here we are in Leeds basking in the city sunshine and enjoying an al fresco lunch at Bill’s.

Complete with complimentary Pimms.

Well while I am out of my normal comfort zone I might as well go all the way. Thanks to a gift from a friend – GCW got your head out of that bucket yet? – No 1 and I were off to enjoy a hand and arm massage at the freshly fragranced Jo Malone emporium of scented delights. All kinds of ungents were laid before us.

What to choose? Hanging on just about to my old hippy credentials I went for something earthy ‘Oud and Bergamot ‘. Oud ? I hear you ask. Or at least I hope you do because I did. Oud – I was reliably informed by the helpful assistant – is a resin that forms in trees. On further research (wonderful thing this interweb) I discovered that this type of resin is particular to the tropical agar tree. Well you learn something new ….

Funny how you often meet woolly people isn’t it? Turned out the young lady expertly lathering our arms with all kinds of wonderfulness

is about to become a fashion student in London and she creates artwork using yarn. Hopefully she is reading this and will be soon letting us know all about her Etsy shop. Good luck with your studies and your modern twist on wool craft. Can’t wait to see it.

Gloriously perfumed we made a quick dash to Leeds station and boarded the 5 o’clock commuter train to No1’s village. No 1 frequently averted her eyes/exclaimed/pretended she wasn’t with me as I swung my new backbag over my shoulders with such gusto that I should really travel with a Government Health Warning. But we couldn’t be late.

This little bundle of impish joy was waiting to see us.

Doesn’t she just wear the look that says “Get me. I have just graduated from the Baby Room. I am officially a toddler. Watch out world”?

It’s great being a Grandma (Omi) and even better when despite a few weeks apart your granddaughter immediately recognises you with cries of “Ommmmmeeeeee “, hugs, kisses and an introduction to all the toys in nursery.

Back home No 1 gets little one safely strapped into her carrier and we are off for an early evening walk to the river with their two hounds G (the Chihuahua) and B (a rescued Pooley cross). Now that’s what I call getting a wiggle on.

Oh the wonders of modern technology. Anyone else remember the delights of the Box Brownie?

Turns out this was quite a doggy weekend. No 1 was off first thing to help set up the village dog show while Peanut and I enjoyed a gentle start to the day watching the Jungle Book … amazing how you remember all the songs. If I say so myself I do a mean impression of Balloo the bear … I was never destined to be cool nor glamorous… you guessed? however did you do that?

After a lie down to recover from an over energetic rendition of “I want to be like you” we took the newest of No1’s doggy additions with us to spend the afternoon at the Dog Show. So many marvellous dogs so many waggy tails and what dog show would be complete without terrier racing?! The idea is that the terriers race to the end of the course and through the hole in the centre of the hay bales. Some of them had other ideas and the chaos at the end. Hilarious.

B was an absolute star. Despite a rough start in life he was as good as gold enjoying meeting new friends and even having a go at sausage bobbing. Well done to the new pup on the block.

Too soon the time came to return home. Armed with a new book to read – very promising – thanks to No1’s partner RP I was again packed and ready to leave.

One quick look at the roundel I made for Peanut’s door as bright and jolly as ever.

Then back home for work and next weekend’s crafting to build up a range of samples…more on that then.

And that was where I was going to end today’s post but life is full of little surprises. I had just said my goodbyes to No 1 Daughter and Peanut and walked to my platform at Skipton. I was thinking that there were a lot of folk awaiting the Morecombe train when this reminder of another era chugged into the station.

And revealed itself to be the world famous.

Who’d have thunk?!

Now unless anything else happens ….

Until next we meet,

Moke xxx

Folks

Hi All

What a super busy sociable Saturday and all to do with folks at nearby Staveley village.

After the difficult times following Storm Desmond in 2015 it is great to see how this small rural community has bounced back. Always a hub for walkers and cyclists – Wheelbase a Mecca for our bicycling friends is the most enormous cycle shop and if you are wondering does rentals too – Staveley's Mill Yard is also a home to the wonderfulness that is More? Bakery, Hawkshead Brewery and the well known Wilf's Cafe along with other small artisan producers and services.

But that is not all. Does this village have more to give? Yes it does! Staveley hosts fun festivals and productions throughout the year and BEST OF ALL you don't need a car to get there! You can travel by train, bus (the amazing 555 route) or walk.

This weekend it was Staveley Folk Festival and a few of us gathered to listen to the bands and enjoy hearty grub. We were there to see JC and the Moonshine Band. A friend's husband (the tall chap with the guitar) plays with them. They are brilliant musicians and foot-stompingly good. It was great to meet up with friends to enjoy their music and sing, stamp and clap along. One of those rare happy glow moments.

Now let's see if my upgrade is money well spent ….

It was quite tricky ensuring I didn't inappropriately capture anyone's image. That's my excuse for the clumsy editing… Enjoy a brief snippet of the band in full flow.

Outside the sun had come out to play – truthfully us Cumbrians were not sure what that yellow shiney orb in the sky was – and the Morris dancers were in fine fettle. A spritely jingley happy end to a fabulous afternoon.

Thanks to KS and AB for asking me. It was a thoroughly fab time. Back again next year?

As to craft making think my mojo is slowly but surely reasserting itself. Those booties were finished,

And gifted to the beautiful baby they were made for. He's gorgeous and mum and dad are quite rightly glowing with pride. And look!

I am on a roll. Whoopppeeee. There will be no stopping me now.

What are you up to? Any craft projects underway? Visiting any festivals?
It would be lovely to hear.

Until next we meet,
Moke xxx