Finding work for idle hands: making, baking and more.

Enjoying Autumn September 26, 2011

Filed under: Nature and wildlife,This and that — lauravw @ 9:29 am

Going back to school is a wonderful excuse for new stationery. I’ve started taking evening classes in Adobe Illustrator at a local college, and have a new folder to file my notes in, and the justification to use some new notebooks I bought in Brussels earlier this year.

I’ve also been on a photography course, and have another one booked in for next month. I bought a new camera back in the spring, and am starting to understand a bit more about what it’s capable of. Mostly, it’s about making sure I spend some time every week using it – trying to avoid using the auto settings, and instead learning what all those little buttons and dials do.

Having said that, this picture of a heron is one I took on Saturday morning at Wollaton Park, using one of the auto modes. He seemed like he was about to fly off, and I didn’t trust myself to capture the moment using settings I’d tweaked myself. Oh well. I’ll get better at it – and hopefully faster.

The autumn weather this week has been very welcome. The leaves here are turning, and quite regularly we’ve seen flocks of geese flying over the garden, making plenty of noise to alert us to their presence as they pass by so that we won’t miss them.

We’ve not seen the hedgehog much of late, but I’m convinced he’s still a regular visitor. How do I know? Let’s just say he leaves a little calling card on the patio. I guess it won’t be long now until he goes into hibernation, and I’ll miss seeing him.


New York, New York September 11, 2011

Filed under: This and that — lauravw @ 10:01 am

This morning I’ve been thinking about New York, and Washington, and Pennsylvania. And everywhere else. I’ve been reading people’s stories about that day online, and listening to interviews on the radio, and ten years on it still brings tears to my eyes.

On September 7, 2001, musician Ryan Adams recorded a video for his song New York, New York. It was filmed right in front of the towers, and it’s a wonderful song, with a video made poignant by what happened the following week.

Back in 2001, I was at work on the day it happened. I worked at the sort of place that had a TV in the reception area showing CNN all day long, and so we very quickly became aware of what was happening. I’ve always followed the news closely, but that week I did very little else. We were booked on a flight from London to Seattle on September 16th, and it really seemed like we wouldn’t be travelling. But that day turned out to be the first or second day that transatlantic flights resumed, and off we went. It was an odd journey, and it was strange to arrive in America at that time. I’d read online that people were taking flowers and creating a memorial at Seattle’s international fountains, so that was where we went first. On that trip, we also went to a baseball game, and as the crowd sang the national anthem before the game started, it was incredibly moving. Again, more tears.


A big house in the country September 6, 2011

Filed under: This and that — lauravw @ 7:05 pm

Friday night found me at this lovely country house, on the edge of Sherwood Forest. A friend had got married earlier in the day, and this was the venue for the reception.

We arrived shortly before dusk, and when it got a bit darker, I stood outside and watched bats fly around the gardens. As we set off for home around midnight, we all stopped to smell the lavender that you can see here.


Walking in London September 5, 2011

Filed under: Places to go — lauravw @ 9:50 am

A couple of weeks ago I was lying in bed reading Midcentury Magazine, a new magazine I’d subscribed to after reading this post about it on the H is for Home blog. The article I was looking at was about the Southbank Centre’s season of events to celebrate the anniversary of the Festival of Britain. At some point I started to feel a little bit cross with myself – the event had been on all summer, and I’d had ample opportunity to go and take a look. There were just two weeks left in which to see it, and given that train tickets from here to London cost a fortune if you don’t book them months in advance, it seemed I’d missed my chance.

But the next morning I had a look for train tickets, found a day when it wasn’t too expensive, and made my booking. This made me feel much better – I really wanted to be the sort of person who actually visited the event, rather than the one who sat in bed reading about it all.

When last Thursday rolled around, it turned out I’d been very fortunate with the weather – it was a warm and sunny day, and London looked at its best. I started out with lunch at Wahaca, and then walked from Covent Garden to Trafalgar Square, and down Whitehall to the Houses of Parliament, before crossing over the Thames and back up towards the Southbank Centre. That walk was my favourite part of the day – the city looked so beautiful, and the architecture in that part of town is not to be taken for granted. There are so many special buildings and views, mixed in amongst the usual London landmarks of black taxis, red buses and phone boxes. I really appreciated having the time to just wander around with my camera, with no deadlines and no rushing.

The exhibition that had prompted my visit was OK, but I was expecting more of it. There were some good things to look at – the 1960s sitting room, the beach huts, and the rooftop gardens (it was great to see bees and butterflies amongst the flowers in what’s usually a concrete jungle). It didn’t take up as much of my day as I thought it would, and so I needed to come up with a plan to keep me busy until just after 8pm, which was when I was getting the train home.

I couldn’t face the crowds on Oxford Street, but liked the idea of doing some shopping, so I caught a bus from outside the Southbank Centre, all the way across town and up to Marylebone High Street. I got the best seat on the bus (evidence here!), and it reminded me of when Megan and Scott visited us last year, and Megan wanted to sit on the top deck of the bus, since that’s something American buses don’t tend to have. On that particular day it was cold and rainy, so we could barely see out, but on this occasion I was very lucky and saw plenty of sights en route.

I’d never been to Marylebone before, but it’s a nice place to visit and I was happy to have ended up there. My favourite shop was Skandium, but must of their stock was heavy and breakable, and so not ideal things to buy on a day out. Just across the road was Divertimenti, a big kitchen shop with two floors of things to browse. It was here that I caved in and bought something fragile, bulky and very breakable, which I then had to carry round with me for the rest of the day. It was worth it though: when the last Nigella Lawson series was on TV, I’d spotted some pretty storage jars in her kitchen, and had spent some time online trying to find them, without success. But Divertimenti had something that was either the same thing, or at least very much like it. And they weren’t even that expensive. I bought a tall jar for storing spaghetti, and then I carefully carried it with me as I walked all the way back to Selfridges. On the way there I passed legendary ribbon shop V V Rouleaux, which was an unexpected bonus.

In Selfridges I bought make-up, things from Muji, and a very fancy-looking pistachio and fresh strawberry confection. I ate that on the train home, while all around me people were having to buy snacks from the onboard shop. It was satisfying to know that my train snack was far superior to everyone else’s!