Wonderful Woolfest 2018

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It’s the end of June (almost), the Solstice (almost) so it must be…

From the outset the day did not disappoint. The weather was perfect.

I set off at just after 7am in brilliant sunshine (field’s still there no houses…yet!) and the views from the 555 Stagecoach bus were a delight of green hills, glimpses of water and charming farmhouses.

Even the wait at Keswick for the X5 Gold (it was rather special!) Stagecoach bus to Cockermouth was a pleasure.

All this sun must have gone to my head.

A short free link bus from Cockermouth to the auction mart and I had reached the site of my annual crafty pilgrimage. Woolfest.

With its avenue of bunting

Gaily adorning the Wool Clip stalls only a little bit of searching was needed for me to find ….

My needle felted sheep’s head! I love trying to spot this little fella I made him over 5 years ago when the Woolfest cry went up for bunting. Once I find him I know I am home.

This year I came with a new mission in mind. My 2018 project was to find plant-based fibres that could be used for felting. I was successful too.

Uppingham Yarns also had cones of plant based yarns like ramie (nettle) on sale.

DT Craft and Design offered several plant fibres together with a good quantity of dye kits. The stall holder was very informative and had plenty of samples to show the colour ranges and which dyes to combine to achieve best results.

All the stall holders were exceptionally helpful and I was pleased to find Adelaide Walker had a good selection of fibres as she is based close to No 1 Daughter so won’t be hard to visit.

Yes I know there is a distinct lack of colour. But lucky for me DT Craft and Design offered a solution to this…

I foresee a steep learning curve coming up. Yikes. I will keep you posted.

To be honest. My finds were tinged with a little sadness. All those beautiful sheep and their dedicated shepherds. I swear my Cumbrian heart broke a little as I walked past the rare breed sheep so lovingly cared for and I had to will myself not to buy any of their gorgeous yarns and fleeces. As to our local Herdwicks a tear came to my eye.

Lucky for me that this year’s Carolyn Rawlinson Memorial Stall showcased Izzy Middleton (aka Wildflower Weaver) who follows the ‘Slow Cloth Philosophy’ and as part of the Green Cloth Collective works with vegan fibres, recycled yarn from other garments and up cycled textiles that would otherwise go to landfill. Izzy does use both plant and animal fibres but her wools come from slaughter free herds such as those made up of rescued animals. A very inspiring and interesting woman.

Happily for me Izzy is based at one of my favourite places, Farfield Mill in Sedbergh. They too had a stand,

And a woven hanging that made me smile.

All too soon Woolfest was over for another year. But there is always 2019 to look forward to!

Until next we meet,

Moke xxx

P.S. Next day I travelled to Penrith for a catch-up and making session with the Crafty Ladies. It seems at the moment that British railways are in meltdown (not one of the trains I saw yesterday were running on time) and the Lakes line has been abandoned by Northern Rail. But apparently there is an upside: the trains chartered to cover the route are so old that they attract hordes of spotters. Glad there is a silver lining for someone!

Well I couldn’t miss out now could I?! Mx

Bremen here we come … again

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Sunday 22 April 2018

Another day of train travel. Five trains to get us from gorgeous Copenhagen to lovely Bremen… and get us there they did. Only one observation: German train stations are REALLY busy on Sunday. When I inter-railed last autumn I avoided travelling on Sundays ‘cos I thought everything would be quiet and closed…how wrong can you be?!

But with connections easily made and trains on time – we even managed to make time as our train from Fredericia to Flensburg was in early so we caught an earlier connection to Neumunster – we were in Bremen while the sun still shone and there was time for an evening stroll.

I loved that we walked to an area new to me, outside the old town in Ostertor. It was buzzing with cafes and bars and cool (how hip am I? … not at all?! Mon Deiu!) graffiti.

Close to the hotel we had a fabulous supper of tapas style sides and salad.

No 1 Daughter like me thoroughly enjoyed it. By the by those little pepper things (Pimientos de padro) were a real treat.

After a long day it was then time for bed.

Night night Bremen.

Until next we meet,

Moke xxx

Will we make it?

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Tuesday 17 April 2018 – travel to Copenhagen

Today was either going to be a train travellers dream or a lost in Europe nightmare. We were planning to travel from Amsterdam through Germany to Denmark and the Nordic haven of Copenhagen in one day….yes one day….

I love timetables (sad isn’t it?) but even for me tying together connections and timings (allowing enough time for me to wobble from one platform to another), reserving seats on several trains and finding contingencies should it all go ‘orribly wrong was something of a feat. Oh, alright I thoroughly enjoyed this planning exercise but it is one thing drawing up schedules (it was a work of list-art at an advanced level for which you will have to take my word as I can’t find a way to insert it here…) to having a heavy rucksack on your back knowing you will spend the next twelve hours train hopping across a large chunk of Europe….

We set off via No 2 tram enthusiastically.

Would this last?

Unbelievably (or possibly not as the trains were great on the continent) it did last … almost. Amsterdam to Osnabruck … easy-peasy …. tick. Seventeen minutes to change at Osnabruck for Hamburg … tick. Good grief only 9 minutes at Hamburg to board next train to Fredericia (Denmark) … tick.

Here’s one tip I discovered on the Hamburg to Fredericia train: learn the German for ‘this train is back to front’. Not knowing this useful phrase meant we got on at the wrong end of our train and felt like we were walking to Denmark as we spent the next 25 minutes wobbling our way to our seats. I am afraid I got a hopeless case of the giggles and was almost hysterical with laughter having become attached to a young man’s seat by the corner of my coat and could only be released by his having to unthread said coat from his chair. Perhaps you had to be there but I am chortling ever so slightly now as I re-live the embarrassment.

Luckily I did have (just) enough German to explain to the man who thought we were in his seats – good grief we earned those seats! – that he was in the wrong Wagon (carriage). Phew, it was a relief to have a rest. At the next stop we only had 8 minutes to change train….gulp…..

Oh dear no tick at Fredericia. After a long stop at the border between Germany and Denmark – the only place that our passports were checked – our train was running late. Despite a polite run (the Danes are very polite and there was no pushing, shoving, expletives nor shouty-ness … thank goodness) we missed the Copenhagen connection.

Everyone calmly awaited the next train (only about twenty minutes) and fellow passengers made sure that No 1 Daughter and I knew what was happening. Infact this little mishap was a wonderful introduction to Danish (and German) courtesy. We even made a friend. Hi JR if you are reading this!

We arrived only a little later than planned in Copenhagen but after four trains and over 12 hours traveling we were glad to find the hotel – only a few minutes from the station – and take off our backpacks.

(Taken in sunlight next day).

Copenhagen we made it!

Until next we meet

Moke xxx

Trains and Ferry Boat

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The adventure begins. And as it often does it began with catching a train. But oh-ohh! What does that departures board say? Delayed!!!!

Missing connections, missing ferries …. it all flashed through my mind but thankfully only the connection was missed. No 1 Daughter and I soon found ourselves on a PACKED train to Newcastle – passengers almost popped from the train when the doors sighed (with relief) open at Newcastle.

Once returned to our normal shape and size after the crush and refreshments taken we found our transfer bus to the DFDS passenger terminal for the overnight ferry to Amsterdam.

Yahoo! Soon we were relaxing …

(Not a usual photo from me I know … I prefer a cup of tea … honest)

… and exploring the ship. Brace yourself here is a very very rare photo of yours truly (you’ll see why) and beautiful No 1 Daughter (she gave her permission).

While we are talking No 1 Daughter an apology to those of you who follow her on Instagram. As chief family photographer many of the photos in the posts that follow are hers so you may see some re-appear on her Instagram ‘stories’.

It was a demographically strange crossing as most of the passengers were men, had there been a football match? Don’t know but apart from several fellows who obviously don’t get out much cringingly ogling No 1 they were a well behaved bunch. In fact when we were the only two women in the cinema I felt the male audience were on very best behaviour. Bet they were dying to hoot and holler as comic book heroes rampaged across the screen. As to No 1 and I…?!

The sea was calm and apart from someone knocking on our cabin door at 1am, “Dawn?…Dawn?…are you there Dawn?” It was an uneventful crossing and back packs on we disembarked ready for a day in Amsterdam.

Wonder if he ever found Dawn?

Until next we meet,

Moke xxx

Wonderful news and a snippet

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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

Down at the Doctor’s

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Don’t worry I am not poorly but undertaking another excursion as part of my Women of Cumbria quest. This time me and buddy J were off by X6 bus and then train from Barrow In Furness along the west coast of Cumbria to the port of Whitehaven.

One of the bonuses of this quest is travelling to lesser known areas of this wonderful county and by using public transport taking in fabulous scenery and history to boot. Arriving at Whitehaven I can do no better than quote from Hyde and Pevsner’s description of this safe harbour:

“Noble breakwaters of interlocking pinkish stones, worn by the fretful seas…”

If you have exceptionally good eyesight you may be able to make out the very hazy outline of the Scottish coast on the horizon opposite the harbour entrance. No? It is there….honest.

There is definitely something fishy about Whitehaven and we had fun spotting the marine connections along the Millennium Promenade:

Until we got to our destination, the Beacon Museum.

This fabulous museum was quite rightly described by one member of the very friendly and helpful staff as ‘like a Tardis’. It is huge. We only had time to look around two floors!

Starting with the viewing gallery we gained an overview of the town and coast. We spotted important landmarks and buildings, and even saw Scotland (it is there I tell you).

We moved on to an exhibition by a Japanese photographer of the towns in Japan left empty after the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster of 11 March 2011. The artist overlaid his photographs with drawings of monsters lurking transparent against the uninhabited buildings. Images of a lingering fearfulness made more pertinent by the proximity of the nuclear plant at Sellafield only a few miles away – we passed it on the train…

Perhaps it really is time to visit the doctor. Edith Brown: Medicine Woman here we come.

Well with waiting times going up you have to grab the opportunity when you can…!

Born in 1864 Doctor Brown started her career in different times. Luckily Edith, the daughter of a Whitehaven banker, was determined. She was one of the first women to study at Cambridge. Cambridge only began to admit women in 1869 and did not allow them to sit exams until 1881, even then when Edith passed her exams she was not given a degree because Cambridge (I thought they were clever folk there?!) did not award degrees to women until 1948 (1948!!!! Hope someone’s report card read ‘Could do better’).

As I said Doctor Brown was determined and after studying at Edinburgh, Brussels and London she qualified to practice. Driven by a childhood ambition Dr Brown travelled as a missionary to India to open a hospital for women. Realising that she could not do this alone she set about training new Indian female doctors.

I am personally uncomfortable with other countries, communities and faiths being patronised by early 20th century missionaries however there is no denying Edith had a huge effect on healthcare and brought opportunities for other women to train as doctors. She was one tough cookie. Especially when this was the sort of medicine cabinet she had to work with:

I spared you the amputation kit.

Time for some fun. J and I moved on to the ‘Changing Times’ gallery to explore thousands of years of the region’s past. I was able to indulge my love of all things Roman and Viking and even reconstructed a replica of the Norse Gosforth Cross. A lot easier than I have made it sound. But it was on board the ‘Maria Lowther’ a replica 3D ship from 1838 that we got really silly,

Struggling to steer the ship on the very effectively swaying deck and running about as giddy aunts pretending to be ship’s crew we had a hilarious time. You are never too old…

Leaving the museum there was one place we felt we needed to visit before boarding our train back to Barrow. Edith Brown’s house. Walking around Whitehaven in search of her home at 10a Coates Lane we got a feel of Whitehaven’s grid street layout. Much remains of the original Georgian housing and I understand it has a flavour of 18th century east coast America. Very quaint.

Lo and behold we found Edith’s house amongst the Georgian buildings:

Today’s mission complete.

With it’s wonderful history – including being the site of an American attempt at ‘invasion’ led by John Paul Jones in 1778 during the War of Independence – this one time major port is a gem tucked away on a sleepy section of England’s north west coast. A great day out.

Retracing our steps along the Millennium Promenade we took in the whale-tail benches with their histories and tragedies from Whitehaven’s industrial past.

And a collection of knot sculptures one of which is close to my heart, the Granny Knot.

Ironically the Granny Knot, also known as the lubber’s or booby knot, apparently has only one practical purpose…as a surgeon’s knot! Hope Edith knew how to tie one.

Until next we meet,

Moke xxx

Going out with a bang

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How are you? Well I hope. I am now home again in snuggly little Kendal all safe and sound. Back to being a country mouse.

But yowzerrs did I save the best to last! Cologne was fabulous and being able to enjoy it with my cousin R’i and her family made it extra super.

One of the downsides of travelling solo is evening meals so it has been lovely when visiting both Prenzlau and Cologne to have cousins who have gone out with me and taken me to places for dinner. Vielen Danke!

On Friday night in Cologne R’i and W’g took me to a beautiful riverside restaurant for an al fresco supper. Just the sort of place I love where you can people watch and chat. Afterwards full with a hearty German meal – needless to say I have loved the food here – and a glass of Kolsch we tootled off for a floodlit walk of Cologne. Amazingly beautiful.

But then … I was diverted into another world….a Jazz Cafe! Flippin’ Heck it was hilarious and brilliant and I don’t think I stopped laughing all the time we were in there.

Into the tiniest space was crammed a good proportion of Cologne (or so it seemed), wedged on balconies, squidging around the bar, packed up to the minuscule stage. Atmosphere in heaps and then to crown it all was a live band playing traditional Orleans jazz and blues. All this and another glass of Kolsch. What more could a girl (erm mature lady) want? Absolutely nothing.

Photos cannot fully convey the sweaty loud joyfulness of it all. These are the best I could do.

That’s what I call a Friday night. A good time definitely had by all.

Jump change!

Saturday saw me polishing up my halo and re-asserting my blue-stocking credentials. Cologne Cathedral (Kölner Dom) and Romisch-Germanisches Museum here I come.

Cologne Cathedral has such significance to residents and visitors alike. As the trains coming into Cologne station pass right beneath its towering spires travellers crowd the windows to get that first glimpse of her and when they do they know they are home. It is difficult to find suitable adjectives but Cologne Cathedral surpasses anything I have seen. It is also certainly a triumph of Long Now thinking as it was begun in the mid 1200s, worked on until the late 1400s and then completed to the original design in the 1800s.

And amidst the grandeur are the small details created with love and pride.

It was magnificent and I needed to have frequent little sit-downs just to absorb as much of it as possible. And before you ask I did not go up the 533 steps into one of the spires! I did that in my twenties so no need to do it again…that’s my excuse I am sticking to it.

From Gothic to Roman in a couple of steps (if you have extremely long legs) as the Roman Museum is right next door to the Cathedral. The museum is built on the site of a Roman villa and was designed around it’s famous centre-piece the Dionysus Mosaic. In addition to the mosaic it has fabulous displays of Roman glassware:

And these superbly exhibited ‘Guardians of the Tombs’

I was in my Roman seventh heaven.

A happy but sad to go family afternoon and evening completed my fabulous stay in Cologne. Time for bed and the final train journey from Cologne to Amsterdam to catch the ferry home.

After bobbing about on the choppy waters of the North Sea I arrived safely in Blighty. I have had the most marvellous few weeks in Germany. It has fulfilled and exceeded expectations.

I hope you have enjoyed travelling along with me.

Until next we meet,

Moke xxx