March-ing into April

March has been a lot about babies – I’ve been knitting for family ones, plus adding stock to my Etsy shop. I got rather carried away by this little jacket – I think I have made eleven of them recently, and not much else. The pattern is adapted from a traditional old favourite that now seems to be known as the ‘five hour baby sweater’- lots of free versions out there, so do check it out! It is constructed in one piece from the neck down, SO HARDLY ANY SEAMS! Just thought I’d shout that bit out….

Otherwise it is music and buildings that stand out this month – especially music IN interesting buildings. This is St Paul’s church in Brighton  – a really pretty Victorian church I had never set foot in till we chanced upon a performance of early music there – result!

 

We also saw “Cosí” at the Opera House. Still a grand building with a splendid interior, and some of the changes are very welcome – but what have they done to the long bar? Shuffled it away to ram in more seating… Hmm.

Music sublime though!

Next was The Magic Flute at the Coliseum in St. Martin’s Lane. An exuberant Edwardian theatre – much bigger than I remembered it. Not a great photo, I’m afraid.

The ENO’s production was spectacular, especially the Queen of the Night – more than enough to distract you from the crazy story which I always ignore.

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Another London raid – walking along the Thames between Tate Modern and Covent Garden. Scowling skies and high winds – good job the Millenium bridge no longer wobbles.

Should I own up to seeing at least some of the paintings in the Tate as potential sock dyeing colours? It’s not an easy habit to break….

In the end I went for these two very different colour sets – off to poke the dye pots right now!

Back with a bump

Weather-wise, that is. From regular mid 30s to not even 15 degrees. So hard to accept that summer is over! The days we spent in Vieux Lyon were probably peak heat – over 38C. The rather sinister looking bars above were actually our window in an amazing 15th century hotel building – very lucky to stumble across this one.

You may have guessed that the big draw for me was the Textile Museum. For about 500 years Lyon was a world centre for silk production. I have been wanting to visit this museum for almost that long…. and it did not disappoint!

Back now to work, family and a much neglected Etsy shop. Internet for a couple of hours a week is not great for running an online business!

The bird that never flew

The tree that never grew

The bell that never rang

The fish that never swam….

The four miracles of Saint Mungo, represented on Glasgow city’s coat of arms and commemorated in stained glass in the Cathedral.

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The outside of the cathedral did not look too promising – but what a feast inside. A magnificent medieval building, on the site of Saint Mungo’s shrine. His tomb is in the crypt, which is mid 13th century and just as atmospheric as the one in Canterbury – a really special place.

As you may have guessed, I seem to be having trouble leaving Scotland behind. That trip was over a month ago now – but it still surfaces in my thoughts every day. In a very good way.

 

Meandering back

With a chance to avoid the motorways this time. The route bleue (N7) and the wine territories have a much greater appeal. It does take a lot longer – but we wandered through dozens of timeless hamlets and past some extraordinary buildings tucked away in la France Profonde. (And yes, the sat. nav. can’t always cope and I did get us just a little bit lost…)
An overnight stay in Chateaudun (a town with medieval buildings that we are always keen to revisit, although we sometimes feel we should explore more adventurously) and an early morning visit to the chateau – perfect, we were the only people in the whole place, apart from a young woman energetically hoovering the ancient stone floor of the Sainte Chapelle – what a job!

I think this is the most northerly of the Loire castles (so the first you get to driving down from Paris) and it seems to be less well known to tourists. Definitely worth a trip though. There is an interesting connection to Joan of Arc. The buildings are from the 12th to the 16th century – and too close up for me to get in a single shot!

There are tapestries and furniture:

Architectural details, linenfold and  – always my favourite – FIREPLACES!

But, as usual, what really caught my eye was the play of light, angles and exciting intersections:

This one gave me a shock – no idea I had taken it, but it is my ghostly shadow sneaking its way in!

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The Answers to Two Questions

Question one:
Version 2
The rather magnificent piece of furniture (see other picture below) is a cope chest – obviously, you don’t want to get your copes in a twist! I was told that it is certainly medieval, probably as early as the 13th century and, apparently, one of only seven surviving. I have seen a similar chest in Wells and another in York Minster but I think this Salisbury one is my favourite. Anyone know where the other four are lurking?
Question two:

IMG_1951Yes, the colour that I need to include in every dyeing session is BLUE – all shades from aquas to violet purples and real indigo – someone will buy it!

Not Brighton this time

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But over 150 miles west, along the rather amazing Jurassic coast, just over the border into East Devon. We spent a week there last month, in a pretty little fishing village called Beer. Apparently the name is not derived from the drink but is an Old English word which has something to do with forests.

I realise that I much prefer to visit these places out of season. Then you get a real sense of community, as well as, in this case, a lingering nostalgia for the days of smuggling, stone quarrying and lace making (the locals claim that Honiton was merely the marketplace for their own labour – all the famous lace was actually made in their village of course….!)

By sneaky detours we scored two cathedrals en route:

IMG_2625Exeter, with its fabulous fan vaulting

IMG_2627 (1)and Salisbury, just before the recent dramas

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Any idea what this is ? I had to ask. Obvious once you know though….

IMG_2662I’d better answer a few questions next time! But it might have to wait – I’m off on my travels again tomorrow. Rural France, probably very dodgy internet, so may be some while…. Have a good Easter.