Saturday, 27 April 2013

Work in... very slow... progress!

I started this granny square project at the end of February.  The idea was to produce a piece of crochet that made me feel 'spring-like' - hence all the greens, yellows and browns.  Normally I do heaps of crochet during our shared commute round the M42.  Unfortunately the Easter holidays and lots of days when I've had to drive myself because Mark has been away, have really slowed down the final stages.  Nevertheless, it's starting to look like a proper throw....
Here's Tom inspecting the details...
"I like this corner Mum... can I play with those threads..."

Once Tom got bored and moved on, I took another photo.  Basically I've tried to make a floral pattern in each of the 36 squares.  I then popped a double crochet border (in yellow or orange) on each one and stitched it together with a raised single crochet seam.  I've now started a granny stripe border.  I'm working one side at a time and rotating the work every six rows or so.  This has created a nice detail at the corners.

My plan is to use it as a throw over one of our garden chairs - during that long hot summer we're going to have (Ha ha!!!!).  Alternatively I can always huddle up under it if we have the usual chilly summer!
I've found the granny stripe border seriously addictive and already have plans for another garden throw where the stripe are more of a feature.  The problem is that I also have 'unfinished business' with a lot of blue wool and a 'wave stripe' blanket...
Hmmm.  So much crochet and so little time.  Maybe 'Mr Ofsted' and 'Mr Btec Verifier' are just going to have to wait for their paperwork!!!

Monday, 22 April 2013

Angels With Rainbow Wings

On the last day of my Swiss trip my friend took me to Lausanne.
This is the tower of the fabulous gothic cathedral, dominating the skyline of the old town.
The inside is characterised by clean lines and this pale grey stone...
Until - suddenly - you walk through the door to the south porch
and find these wonderful carvings from the Middle Ages. 
The entire roof space and all the columns feature key biblical themes and stories. 

700 years ago these statues would have been a riot of colour.
Now - if you look carefully - you can spot little hints of how the whole space
might have looked.  I was completely taken with the idea that angels could have
rainbow wings....

Here's my friend and her girls studying the ceiling..

When we came back into the cathedral there was an impressive view of the organ loft...
My friend's husband is one of those epically clever people who seem to be talented in many
different fields.  As well as being a great Scientist and Engineer, he can also play the organ
brilliantly.  He has played this organ in a concert.  I wish I'd been there to hear him!

I'm 'home alone' again for a few days this week - as Mark is working in Paris again.
In a couple of weeks time he even has to go to Prague to inspect some parts of a new conveyor system.  I'm doing the 'tolerant and supportive wife' - but I hope that his European travel slows down soon because it makes him really tired and I can't help worrying...
I hope that you are all having a good week and enjoying the improving weather!

Wednesday, 17 April 2013

Byron Was Here......

My trip to Geneva was a lovely combination of endless gossiping and a little bit of tourism.
Last Wednesday afternoon we drove round the lake to the lovely Chateau Chillon.
It's been a tourist destination for a couple of hundred years - even Lord Byron called in and scratched his name on one of the columns in the dungeon..
The castle is built on a bit of bedrock.  The almost 'cathedral-like' lower rooms
are wrapped around bare rock, while the light reflects off the lake water.
It's very beautiful...

In many of the rooms you can see the remains medieval wall painting.
This is a corner of the chapel.  Again the quality of light makes everything crystal clear.

This is the view from the top of the keep, looking south towards France.
In one of my previous visits my friends drove me all the way round the Lake.
It's interesting to see the differences between the French and Swiss towns.
I adore France but it's definitely a bit less 'tidy'...

Here's the view in the other direction - looking towards Montreux
and my friend's part of the Lake.

We've got a terrible storm blowing here as I write this post.
Mark and I went for a brief walk after dinner, but it's definitely blowing harder
since we got back in.  Some of the smaller branches have been
broken off my Magnolia.  I hope it doesn't do too much other damage...

Monday, 15 April 2013

What a Day!

Much as I love my job, I never seem to sleep that well the night before term starts.  I'm not exactly stressing about things but frequently I find that I just CAN'T sleep.  Last night was no exception - the more I talked to myself calmly about the fact that I had to get out of bed at 5.45; had to drive myself round the Motorway; had a meeting before school, and a full teaching day and two meetings after school, AND that my Mum was coming for tea.... - the more sleep eluded me!

I was, shall we say, not exactly at my sparkling best.....

Having said that, after two and half weeks holiday, the kids weren't that great either...

Today I really needed something to happen that would make me feel good about my job... and it did!

At the beginning of the third teaching period the charming young man on the right walked walked into my classroom!   He's a former pupil, now signed with a major record company in the US and touring all around the world.  His band (which play very hard British Metalcore) are really making a name for themselves.  He gets in touch every six months or so to keep me up to date with their progress.  The presence of a real 'Rock Star' in the classroom was just the thing to get my 13 year olds motivated.  To be honest, seeing the next stage of his success was just the thing to get me a bit more motivated again too!

I thought about putting a Youtube video in this post - but Metalcore is a VERY acquired taste.  If you're interested the band is called 'Oceans Ate Alaska' and my pupil is the drummer.  This style of music is completely built around incredibly complex drumming patterns and my pupil writes most of the songs. 

He'd actually come into school to give me a copy of their latest album.. how sweet is that!!!! I got him to sign it.  If they really make the big time then it could supplement my pension!!!!!!!

My line manager is also a very proud Dad today - one of his daughters is playing an acoustic stage at Glastonbury.  What a nice way to start the term.

Monday, 8 April 2013

Between Cities..

I'm snatching a couple of minutes for a post
before Dad comes to take me to the airport for my trip to Geneva. 
Here are a few pics from our trip to Edinburgh..
Here's our hotel - Mark is pointing to our room!
I really didn't expect such a nice room with a great outlook
over the restored dock area in Leith.
Here's another photo from outside the hotel.
I was really surprised by the apparently 'flemish' influence on the architecture..

We walked for miles (and really enjoyed the sunshine). 
This is the walk up to the 'Old Town', with the Castle in the background.

...and a typical 'city street' scene... 

Dad's here!
Hope that you all have a good week.

Tuesday, 2 April 2013

On a chilly 1st April....

Yesterday we decided to have a day out with M-in-L and Mum and Dad.  Given that none of them can move especially quickly and it was exceptionally cold, we thought that a National Trust property would probably 'fit the bill'.
We decided that Canon's Ashby would be interesting.  A few new rooms have been opened to the public recently and it's in an area of the country that we don't know very well.  Even on a wintery bank holiday the front of the house is photogenic....
The soft colour of the local stone is more evident in the courtyard..

This fantastic fireplace from the early 1600s is on the first floor of the house.  The weight of the marble and stone means that it is completely out of alignment.  Mark and 'the Mums'  are inspecting it closely!

This is the extremely atmospheric long gallery....

At the end of the gallery there's a servant's staircase which you climb down to visit the servant's rooms.  These are the rooms that have just been opened to visitors.  Until recently they formed part of the 'private accomodation' for the family.  It was difficult to photo this patchwork quilt on the cook's bed...

Here's a 'servant's eye' view of the tower and courtyard from the basement kitchen...

And here's the priory church from the grounds of the house..

I thought that the exterior of the church was more interesting than the interior.  It's just a small remaining fragment of a huge Augustian Priory, established in the 12th Century, and now used as the parish church. 
The house is going to feature on next week's Country File - so you can guess what I'll be doing next Sunday evening!!!