My vacationing suitcase finally found its way home. Oh, the stories it could tell. The entire back pocket is slit open----but just happened to be the only pocket that had nothing jammed and stuffed in it. phew.
I had packed and repacked and repacked so many times, I honestly couldn't remember what was in it besides dirty laundry and yarn, with the yarn, obviously, being the most important! The yarn is the main trip souvenir....the gift that keeps on giving---and giving---sometimes for years by the time I get around to using it!
Spots shawl was in the window of Loop, and I think I knew from first glance that it would be my yarny souvenir. There were so many beautiful colors of Tvinni tweed to choose from, but I chose to use the same colors as the storefront sample. More memories.
Loop is arranged by yarn weight. While I sneaked a peek upstairs where the dk and heavier yarn lived, I pretty quickly scrambled back downstairs to wallow in the lace and fingering weight. We weren't there long, but long enough to have a petting party with most of the yarn. As soon as I felt the Juno lace (alpaca, silk, and cashmere blend), I knew some had to come home. Booknits 'Out of Darkness' shawl was knit from it---hanging in a window, looking so ethereally beautiful, I'm thinking one of these skeins may become one someday.
:: the Hereford screen, detail from a tapestry, museum wing of fakes/reproductions, staircase, the Ardabil carpet, detail of the Dale Chihuly sculpture in the foyer of
the Victoria and Albert Museum. (There was a sign that said 'puddling' in the pond was permitted. We sort of puddled all over London all week long!)
How about this one?
:: staircase, Courtauld silver, Manet's Bar at the Folie Bergere, view out the window of the......
No photography allowed inside....
The National Gallery.
Westminster Abbey. See the helicopter in the last photo? We were there late Friday afternoon---just the time the queen leaves town for the weekend. I'm sure she's in that helicopter. That's my story.....and I'm sticking to it.
And finally, just some random photos.... why I love this city so much!
(Peter and Alice, with Judi Dench and Ben Wishaw--Q in Skyfall!!-- sad story, impeccably staged)
(costume changes during this one were amazing---mostly done on stage. Missed some of the British humour---need to brush up on my British history!!! No words to describe Helen Mirren)
and last, but certainly not least.....
(a fundraiser for the el salvador project, a charitable volunteer project sponsored by students from the Imperial College London to aid and assist earthquake victims in El Salvador---it was raining, and in the 30s!!!)
We secured VIP tickets for the Country Living spring home show and spent the better part of a day booth oogling---with a tiny bit of it buying.
yes, that is a lavender llama.
There were temptations everywhere we turned. And just when we thought we had seen everything, we found another wing full. The main frustration, of course, was in knowing that whatever we bought---had to be packed and hauled home. Thus eliminating the lavender llama. (gosh, he was cute!) The small French racheting pruners were no problem; a couple cute tea towels---pack flat; a small ceramic pitcher by Charlotte Macey...it came in a box; a sweater/poncho (yeah, I know---I was at a home show, AND I'm a knitter----I don't buy sweaters, but I did, and I love it and I could just wear it home) and then----I bought a rabbit. He's big. So much for any more room in the carryon.
The VIP lounge was lovely; a place to plop purchases, stash our coats, a quiet spot to have some lunch and a complimentary glass of champagne----and a gift bag. We didn't pick up the bag until we were ready to leave.....a beautiful Laura Ashley flowered tote (which is already holding yarn)---overflowed with goodies: a magazine, two or three lotions (full size), a Shruti accessory bag, Laura Ashley freezer pop molds, and a watering can. It's small, but it's still a WATERING CAN! Lumpy packing. Here it is---only Wednesday, and I'm obsessing about hauling the loot home.
As long as we're talking about shopping.....one day we ventured to Oxford Street and John Lewis.
This is a department store, friends!!! Rowan, Debbie Bliss, Noro....heaven. On our way to 'haberdashery', we meandered through the bedding/bathroom section of the store---and mixed in with towels, fixtures, and linens were coordinating fabrics, sold by the yard. This makes so much sense! Why don't our US stores do this????? The cottons/quilting fabric was next to the yarn---with the sewing machines. I just have such a hard time getting my head around the fact that this is a department store. Love it. Everything about it. (and love the gardening gloves that I got there....they packed flat.)
No trip to London would be complete without a stop in
cute, clever window displays...
I know I gained a couple pounds just walking through the food courts....(literally--we brought 'home' breakfast goodies a couple times....and then there were the macaroons from Maison de Paris AND Laduree--we had to do a taste test. Tie.)
And naturally, being the dedicated tourists that we were.....
(note: opera singer on balcony)
we rode the Egyptian escaltor---several times.
One of my very favorite shopping stops.....
where we bought a little bouquet of tulips and hyacinths for the flat.
By the time we left Saturday morning, they were looking a bit sad.....but then, we were, too.
For a short while I doubted whether this trip was going to happen. My credit card was compromised two days before departure....but, a new one got overnighted. Rather than downloading boarding passes at the airport, we downloaded them the day before and discovered that my flight was changed. My friend would have gotten to London about 3 hours ahead of me....but, since we were meeting in Dallas, if I got there----and no friend ( she would already be in the air and out of phone contact)---would I really have hopped on the plane without her? The stars lined up....off we went.
We stayed in a little walk-down flat in South Kensington (ours was below the scaffolding), two blocks from the tube. (Not the best picture of the flat, but I wanted to prove that we actually had the sun shining on us for a couple hours!) The row was built in 1845 and the little garden in the square
was designed 3 years later.
There was a tiny little garden connected to our flat...
This is the view from the bedroom window, which was also to serve as the fire escape (although there is no egress from the garden!!)...something about a ladder in the closet, and cranking the windows out, and putting a towel over the sill and climbing out....fortunately we didn't have to put this into practice, and there were no fire drills.
With Oyster card in hand, we found our way all over the city---underground---with hardly a mishap (I got smooshed in the door only once)--a great accomplishment for two of the most directionally impaired women I know. Besides an efficient means of travel....the tube provided people-watching entertainment. What people do on their travels....snack, drink, work, smooch, visit, catch up on the news, sleep, listen to music, embark on vacations, and---of course, read. (not a single knitter, though)
She had just opened the book....and I missed the shot. She's reading Pickwick Papers. Perfect.
Antiquing was a high priority, but unfortunately we found that Saturday was prime time for antique shops/markets and we weren't there on a Saturday. This didn't keep us from looking.....
a couple of shops were open,
loved the look in this clothing shop---one whole wall, and
the front window all lined with vintage machines. Our favorite:
but look what we did find! fun!!!
Camden Passage was supposed to be loaded with antique vendors and malls....we went on Tuesday. Na-da.
But.......look at the very far end.....!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
While waiting for the shop to open...we queued up with a woman from Canada, one from Boston, and a local newbie knitter who was there to buy a cable needle.
This girl was fearless....now I usually carry around a little knitting, but she whipped out an AFGHAN from her messanger bag (tree of life pattern!). We were killing time, so I taught her how to cable without a cable needle.
Loop was the kind of shop I could easily have spent two or three days in--just hanging out. I did buy yarn for the shawl in the window (grey and lavender), and I would show it to you, but it's apparently still on vacation.....my suitcase didn't make it home yet.
The boys (PapaGeek and Freddy) are bach-ing it for a week. GIRLFRIEND trip!!!
The knitting was packed over a week ago. ( Didn't want to be tempted to work on it. ) But I've had a real struggle with what to take to read. There are piles around here to pick from. It shouldn't be this hard. Audiobook? Kindle book? Real book?
The finale of the One Book, One Campus, One Community read was tonight at our community college.
I downloaded Half-Broke Horses when it was first announced as the community read this year, and started it but got distracted along the way and put it aside...probably because it was in an e-book format. I simply LIKE holding a book. A real book. With pages. And a bookmark.
Jeannette Walls spoke tonight--about her books, her life, her family, her 'stories'. What an inspiring person and stellar storyteller. Her emphasis was on the stories--hers and ours; to look for stories and the lessons and opportunities they afford us. I can't wait to read this---even in its e-book format.