Geeky Gift Swap – wrapping it up

I know I’ve mentioned the Geeky Gift Swap before, talking about deciding what to make. Today Jenny shared her reaction, and I’m so pleased that she liked everything. I haven’t shared what my gifts were, though, mainly because I only got them today! They got lost in the post, and I’m so grateful my swap partner Amanda contacted me to resend them.

The theme for the swap was superheroes, but I didn’t make it easy for my swap partner. My favorite superhero is actually Luna Moth, a character in The Amazing Adventures of Cavalier & Klay. She’s an archivist by day & kicks butt by night; what could be better? Let’s be honest, though, that’s a bit esoteric! I also mentioned Thor in my list. And unfortunately my lists of likes and dislikes weren’t in the email when I reread it. I’m not sure what happened, but it couldn’t have been fun for her.

Anyway, she did really well, and I’m thrilled with her choices! There was a Thor PEZ dispenser, a hammer of Thor keychain (awesome, because I love Thor’s hammer), some comic strip fabric, and this gorgeous purple and green yarn – chosen, I assume, because those are the colors of Luna Moth’s costume!

Thanks again to Jenny at the Geeky Knitter for organizing this!


A day of Shakespeare

I know we’re all thinking about the bank holiday now, but as I’ve finally got a bit of time off, I’m hoping to catch up on some blogging. I’ve had a few lovely days out in the past couple of months & have also been planning some projects that I’d like to share.

I’ll start with the most recent. R & I had our 3 year wedding anniversary this week, so last weekend we decided to go away. Stratford-upon-Avon is somewhere we’ve always said we’ll go, and it’s only a 50 minute drive. That said, it’s a little over 2 hours by train, which is why we haven’t been yet! I’m not really keen to spend 4 hours on a train in one day, so we knew it’d have to be a weekend trip. Obviously I used this as an opportunity to make sure we also went to the theatre.

P1080714We started the trip off right with tea. R had been told about a tearoom that had giant scones, so of course we headed there. It’s Hobsons, if you happen to make it to Stratford. R had the giant scone (which was less a giant scone than a normal size scone filled with about 7 inches of whipped cream and strawberry jam) while I had a cream tea. The rest of their cakes looked amazing as well, and it was quite reasonably priced.

P1080625P1080619We then went around a few of the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust properties – the Birthplace, New Place, and Hall’s Croft. They were all lovely, though I definitely took the most pictures in New Place. The gardens at all of them were excellent, too. I’m sure I took more pictures of the gardens than anything else. This seems appropriate, as I used the Gardener’s World 2-for-1


I loved this planting combination in the Birthplace garden.


Hall’s Croft was owned by Shakespeare’s daughter and his son-in-law, who was a physician. At the moment they’re installing a new medicinal garden. I think it’ll be beautiful when it’s finished.


New Place is a bit different, as the building no longer exists. There is a partial building with an exhibition, and the rest of the site is a garden-cum-art exhibit. The weather was a bit iffy while we were there, but we did get to enjoy a bit of it. I was really impressed with the exhibition as well; it’s hard to make a house that was destroyed in the 19th century come to life, but they did a really good job. Plus, there were dress-up opportunities which are always a winner.


We also stopped off at Holy Trinity, where Shakespeare’s grave is. We didn’t actually go see the grave, but the church itself was really beautiful. I was particularly impressed with the wood beams that formed the roof.

And then we walked along the river, went back to the hotel and changed for the play. Antony & Cleopatra was on, and it was an excellent production. I don’t think it’s become one of my favorite Shakespeare plays, but I would definitely love to go see another play there. Really, it was just a reminder that I should go to the theatre more often.

Have you been to Stratford before? What Shakespeare-related places would you like to see?


Wonderwool Wales

Wonderwool is a massive wool and fibre festival held at the Royal Welsh Showgrounds in Builth Wells (Powys). My friend has been going with her mum & her mum’s friends for a few years now. They rent a caravan and spend the day ogling yarn. It’s always an annual highlight for her. This year my friend very kindly invited me, too. It really was amazing!


This was the view across from our cabin. It was so beautiful. I went for an early morning stroll as I had trouble sleeping. Perhaps it was the excitement. 🙂


There was a lovely little stream with lots of ducks and a single, sleepy swan.


And a rope bridge, leading across to a fancy hotel. I didn’t dare go into the grounds, but I couldn’t resist walking across the bridge. I do love a swingy bridge!


The Showgrounds are massive, with 3 gigantic exhibitions halls. In spite of all the people, though, it didn’t feel claustrophic. It was quite an impressive feat.


I thought this wool & embroidered village was incredible. It represents the village from Under Milk Wood by Dylan Thomas. It was put together by a large number of artists, but I can’t even imagine how long it would have taken.


There were also some very sweet sheep and lambs around. I did think it was terrible that they were inside, though, particularly at an agricultural showground where there must have been plenty of other options for places to have them.


This little felt owl (and the pumpkin you can see in the background) were made by one of the women we went with. It is so adorable, and I think when she makes more I will try to buy one! The festival was particularly full of wooltops this year, so ideal for needlefelters and spinners.


I, on the other hand, wasn’t so lucky this year. There were so many stalls with beautiful yarn, dyed and undyed. I had a brilliant time ogling & stroking. However, I went with a plan in mind. I was looking for a very specific shade of green in a 4 ply yarn for a sweater I’ve been wanting to make. I was convinced I was going to find it – 3 halls full of yarn! But unfortunately I think the yarn I want might not exist. 😦 I think I’ll have to have it custom dyed.

Instead I bought 5 hanks of undyed yarn for £20. Bargain! I know what I’m doing with 3 of the skeins, but have 2 more to find small projects for. Ideas gratefully received!


I also bought this 4 ply green yarn. £10 for 8 balls – also a bargain. I’ve got some nice vintage sweater patterns I’ll probably use it for. My friend bought the same yarn and only used 3 balls for an entire cardigan, so I’m hopeful I’ll get a couple of nice pieces out of it.


All in all, in spite of failing to get what I went for, it was a fantastic weekend! I hope I get to go again, and I would certainly encourage you to go.

5 happy things – the one with a bike basket

Well, this week has flown by! I had every intention of writing a post about Wonderwool, but that hasn’t happened just yet as I unexpectedly ended up working a couple of late shifts at work. I will get around to it soon, though.

In the meantime, here’s a recap of a few of the little happy things that are going on in my life at the moment.


  • Finally attaching my new bike basket

I know this isn’t the most beautiful of bike baskets, but I’m nothing if not practical, and this one looked easier to manage than a pretty wicker basket. It was a birthday present (that I asked for!) from R, and I’m really happy with it so far. I usually do our weekly shop using a shopping trolley as the nearest store is really too far to carry a decent amount of groceries back from comfortably. Last week I was finally able to do it on the bike, though! It was very exciting, and I’m looking forward to continuing to do so.

  • My reserved book arriving at the library

I reserved Lincoln in the Bardo as soon as I heard about it, but I was still fourth in the queue, so have had to wait ages for it. I can’t wait to get started!


  • Time outside with PippaP1080592P1080585
  • A provisional driving licence (almost)

It looks like I’m on track to get my provisional driving licence. I had to send in my passport and it’s now been returned with a letter say the licence should arrive in a couple of weeks. Driving is really not my thing, and we’ve no plans to buy a car yet, but for a whole host of reasons (both personal and professional) it makes sense for me to be able to drive here if necessary. I’m apprehensive about lessons, but excited to find out how it feels to be behind the wheel in the UK.


  • Elderflower

I spotted the first elderflower blossom of the year this week! Somehow that makes it feel more like summer is coming.


This post is linked up with Suzy’s Five Things That Made Me Happy This Week and also partially inspired by Miss Pond’s Five Happy Things, if you’d like to go read other people’s happy stuff.

Down at the plot: April

April’s always a busy month for gardeners. I had so much to do this month, but unfortunately I’ve fallen behind and only managed to plant 4 rows of potatoes. I haven’t even cleared an entire bed yet! It’s definitely coming along, though. There’s only this much left to go.

Whew! I’m exhausted just thinking about how much I’ve done this month. I’m not sure it’s been that much, but it certainly feels like it.

I have a couple more rows of potatoes to get in as soon as possible, and planting peas is also on the immediate horizon. The trouble is that it’s been so dry digging is an absolute nightmare/nearly impossible! I suspect we will have at least one late potato harvest as a result. It’s lucky potatoes are so resilient.

Beans and cauliflower have also been sowed in a mini greenhouse I bought to keep in our backyard. Unfortunately the wind blew it over the other week, and the flats got demolished. 😦 I did manage to scrape up a few, but I will definitely need to replant some of the beans at the very least. Also, the labels fell out and I was growing two kinds of beans. I’m going to have a surprise at harvest finding out which were purple and which were yellow! Not what I planned at all, but actually I think it may be kind of fun.


5 Happy things – the one with a mention of Wonder Woman socks


The caravan site I stayed in for the wool festival.

Hello! I’m very sorry for my unintentional hiatus. I’m not really sure what I’ve been up to, but somehow I’ve been very busy recently; as a result, I’m pretty tired in the evenings & haven’t been able to formulate my thoughts into any sensible form. Hopefully this post will get me back into the swing of things.

  • A month with lots of time off

Ironically, I have had loads of time off in April. First there was my birthday, and the concert we went to to celebrate; then Easter, then a wool festival…you get the idea. My only full week of work was the last week in April, then we had a bank holiday! I am loving it. I’d love to say I’ve gotten lots done, but the truth is I’ve been sitting around not doing much. I did have a few day trips, though, which I’ll try to write about sooner rather than later.

  • A visit from a friend from home

A former co-worker from my college library is travelling the world at the moment, and last weekend I was lucky enough to have her come see me. It was lovely to see a bit of home. It was also nice to introduce her to a few of my favorite places in England, and maybe one or two things she might have missed on her own.

  • My sister’s successful knee surgery

My sister’s had knee problems since she was a teenager, and continues to have them in spite of having had surgery on both knees. She’s just had an experimental surgery (don’t ask for details; I get queasy thinking about it so haven’t asked for them!) which seems to be a success so far in spite of quite a lot of pain for her. Overall she’s doing well, and that makes me very happy!

  • Getting started on our bedroom curtains (finally)

I bought the fabric for our bedroom curtains last year, but have been too scared to cut it. It was expensive, and also vintage. If I messed up, that was it! I’ve now cut the fabric. Everything seems okay so far…more on this soon.

  • The Big Geeky Craft Swap

One of my favorite things is finding presents for other people. Another is superheroes. How could I possibly resist The Geeky Knitter’s superhero-themed gift swap? I had so much fun thinking about what I could make my recipient, who happened to be Jenny (whose blog I’ve been reading for quite a while). After much pondering, I settled on a pair of Wonder Woman themed socks – I originally planned to make gauntlets, but as those vary in color depending on the version of Wonder Woman, I thought making a sock version of her boots would be ideal. While they didn’t turn out absolutely perfectly, I was pretty happy with them. Sadly, though, I forgot to take a picture of them! Hopefully I can persuade Jenny to share some on my behalf.

I’m linking up with Suzy, who’s also written about what made her happy this week. How about you? I hope there are nice things happening in your life, too.

An afternoon at Westonbirt Arboretum

I’m sorry for being so quiet. I haven’t been up to much and as a result haven’t had much to write about. However, last week was absolutely lovely. It was my birthday, so I took the day off and also took a couple of days off to go to a gig in Bristol (British Sea Power, for the 4th time!). Funnily enough, a bookmark I bought there was a nice link to my weekend plans – a trip to Westonbirt Arboretum with friends. We couldn’t have picked a better day to go. It was stunning, and I would definitely recommend a visit if you’re in the area. Personally, I think arboretums are nice year round, but I was pleased we got to see some blossom as it’s one of my favorite things.

My favorite merch from the British Sea Power gig.

The elevated walkway. It was so lovely!

The crow’s nest was quite cool. I like heights, but even I got a bit freaked out as it wobbled slightly!

Magnolia tree.

Japanese cherry.

Japanese maples.

European larch.

A cute little seat in the middle of the arboretum.

Such lovely blossom!

Have you ever been to an arboretum? I hadn’t, but left wishing I lived close enough to merit a membership!