Feeds:
Posts
Comments

I’m moving!

Only my blog, don’t get excited :-)

I’ve decided to tranfer everything over to Blogger.  I’ve been thinking about it for quite a while and a few weeks ago I actually exported my WordPress posts into Blogger but then continued to use WordPress.  Probably because I was familiar with the use of it.  However, Blogger allows for more social interaction than WordPress seems to do.  It’s far easier on Blogger to keep track of the other blogs I like to follow, there is the option of seeing them all listed in my dashboard in the order that they were last updated, so I can see if a visit is in order.  Also Blogger allows the Goodreads widget which WordPress doesn’t support.  From what I can see, I can still get the same site stats here, how many views etc as on WordPress.  I just feel that for what I want from my blog, Blogger is a better option for me at this time.

You can now find me on http://doodlywhatsits.blogspot.com

Bram Stoker’s Whitby

As you know I’m currently listening to Dracula courtesy of Craftlit, so when the opportunity to visit Whitby came up last weekend, I was only too happy to take it.  I love Whitby anyway, it’s a pretty place with excellent fish and chips and some good pubs but the chance to walk the Dracula Trail and take the route that Mina and Lucy would have walked each day was just too tempting for a geek like me.  This blog post is mainly for the benefit of my Craftlit friends on Ravelry who do not live in England so won’t have the pleasure of visiting Whitby and seeing these sights for themselves.  I hope you all enjoy the Mina and Lucy experience!

We arrived on the Sunday lunchtime and it was very misty so my first photos were not very exciting I’m afraid.  Lots of white stuff with some shadowy blobs in the distance!   A walk around, a look in the gift shops and couple of pints of Theakston’s Old Peculier in the Duke of York pub and then it was back to the hotel for dinner.  We were staying in The Royal Hotel which is at the top of West Cliff by the Whalebone Arch.  The original Whalebone arch was erected in 1853 so I’m rather surprised it doesn’t get a mention in the book as the girls lodgings were very close to it.  This replacement was donated by Alaska in 2003 with a previous one donated by Norway in 1963 (what the hell do they keep doing to them?!)

Whitby fog

Whalebone Arch

As we set out in the dark, for an evening visiting the local hostelries, I couldn’t help but think of Mina, on that fateful night when discovering Lucy missing from their room, running through the deserted streets, over the bridge and up the 199 steps to the churchyard to rescue her friend.  Craftlit people, you will totally understand but for those of you who don’t, yes I do know it’s not real but  if you can’t use your imagination, there is little point in listening to a story and I really found myself imagining myself as Mina, running frantically all the way round from the West Cliff to get to Lucy up there on the East Cliff.  We had a most enjoyable evening in a few local pubs and then slept well with no nightmares or sleepwalking!

And so to Monday which was a little brighter.  After breakfast, we set out to find the Bram Stoker Memorial seat to start our walk.  We couldn’t find it and I’ve since discovered that we were looking in completely the wrong place!  However, from photos I’ve seen online, we didn’t miss much.  It is just a very ordinary bench but with a plaque saying that the view from there was what inspired Stoker to include Whitby in his book.  I did spot East Crescent which was originally called The Crescent and is where Mina and Lucy were lodging during their time in Whitby.  I couldn’t quite fit it all in, there were I think nine houses in total.

The Crescent

The first view we have is the one Mina had when searching for the sleepwalking Lucy.  Across from the West Cliff over to the churchyard and Abbey.   This is also the top of the steps that the girls would have walked down each day to go over to the East side.

From West Cliff to East Cliff

From West Cliff to East Cliff

Of course there wouldn’t have been a Patrick (who doesn’t normally look like a chipmunk, he’s pulling a strange face!) or a litter bin and benches in Mina’s day!

Down the steps and along past the Fishmarket to the Swing Bridge.

Then down Church Street toward the 199 steps up to the churchyard.  Before tackling the steps though, we went onto Tate Hill Pier and Tate Sands which unsurprisingly is the little beach area next to the pier!  This is where the Russian schooner Demeter, with Dracula on board, crashes into the pier in a storm having been driven through the entrance to the harbour.

Whitby Harbour Entrance

Stoker based this storyline on a real-life incident involving the Russian schooner Demetius which had floundered off the coast of Whitby in 1885.  In the Dracula story, all the crew are missing and the captain is dead having tied himself to the wheel, when the ship crashes a huge black dog leaps from the bow and bounds up the steps to the churchyard.  Dracula had arrived in England!

Tate Hill Pier and sands

The pier is the concrete structure at the bottom of the picture, just sticking out from beyond the second rooftop from the left and Tate sands lies to the right of it as you look at this picture.

Having looked around to make sure there were no large black dogs around, we took to the 199 steps.  That’s quite a long way up that our Mina ran you know! Here is the view from the very top of the steps.

Top of the steps

Once at the top of the steps and when I could breathe again, we headed off to the churchyard.  There are several seats all around and for good reason, the views are stunning and I can really see why this spot was a particular favourite for our heroine and her friend.

View from the churchyard seats

Enjoying the view (and the breather!)

We didn’t go into the church and unfortunately the Abbey site was closed because it is out of season so we couldn’t get up close and personal with the ruins which was a disappointment.  I took a few pictures of both though.

St Mary's Church, Whitby

St Mary's Church, Whitby

Whitby Abbey

And of course, I was wearing my Wilhelmina Shawl and so had to have some modelled photos taken in the favourite spot of the heroine who inspired the pattern.  Please excuse the second photo…I appear to be in mid-blink!

The Wilhelmina shawl

The Wilhelmina Shawl

After all that walking about I thought Patrick deserved a drink so we went back down to the Duke of York, situated at the bottom of the steps, for a well earned Old Peculier.  The site of the Duke of York has had an alehouse on it since the Doomsday book, I think it’s probably because the monks  needed a pint or two to help them up those steps!

We had a lovely weekend and Patrick was wonderfully patient with my current Dracula obsession, never once complaining about all the walking around and random photos.

For those of you who are not Craftlit people, I really cannot recommend this reading enough.  Heather has found some wonderful readers and each character has their own voice.  If you are not a crafty person and don’t want to listen to the knitting chat, Heather now has another site called Just the Books which, as it says is just the books with no craft talk beforehand.  Go on, listen to it, I dare you!

Bring me sunshine

image

Went for a walk along Hessle foreshore yesterday. The weather was beautiful. Here is a picture of the magnificent Humber Bridge in the brilliant sunshine.

I currently have a fair few projects on the needles and am still wanting to cast on more!  There are just so many things I want to knit and as usual, not enough time to fit everything in.  I’m still working on the baby knits, I’ve now completed one jacket, two hats, the backs of two more jackets and a pair of mitts.  As everything in the pattern is written for knitting flat and seaming, I have converted the hat to be knit in the round and that has worked well.  However I thought I was being really clever and converting the mitts to be done bottom up, magic loop and two at a time!  Woah, learning curve overload!  I’ve found it to be really fiddly and awkward and they’ve taken me much longer than a tiny pair of baby mitts should have taken.  I think I’ll just follow the pattern for the other two pairs.

In between the baby knitting, I’ve been working on the Wilhelmina Shawl KAL that I mentioned last time.  I am really enjoying knitting this, it’s a very easy lace pattern to follow and it’s looking good.  I also decided to swatch and cast on for the Maude Louise cardigan by Knitting Kninja.

Maude Louise - back

This one has been started before actually and abandoned, over two years ago I swatched for this, couldn’t get the tension right and lost patience.  Someone else on Phoenix knitting forum  has knitted it recently and made an excellent job of it which gave me a kick start again.  I’ve finished the back but I’m spreading myself so thinly with knitting at the moment that I haven’t yet had time to cast on for the fronts. It’s a really pretty cardigan and looks nice in the sky blue Patons Jet that I am using.

The last of the WIPs (not counting the hibernating ones of course ;-)) is yet another Horatio.

Horatio brim and yarn

My 91 year old mum told me last week “I’ll let you knit one of those hats for Andy, I’ll buy the wool”.  Gee thanks mum, you’re so kind to me!  I don’t mind at all of course, it’s a lovely hat and mum’s friend Andy is very kind, visiting her when she was in hospital and taking her out in her wheelchair.  I just found it very funny to be told that I was to be allowed to knit a hat for someone :-), older people have such a way with words sometimes.  I bought some yarn from Kingcraig Fabrics on Ebay.  It was such good value at £3.00 for a 100g (200m) ball of Merino/Cashmere Aran weight.  I’m very pleased with how it is knitting up.

Coming up soon, in 5 days to be precise, is the annual Woolly Wormhead Mystery KAL.  I really enjoyed last years and despite being rather busy on the knitting front, I can’t resist joining in this year too.  I shall be knitting pattern A, in the very lovely King Cole Baby Alpaca in a brown shade.  I swatched the other night and am all set to go.  Another KAL I really, really want to be a part of is another one from WWMDfK.  The Van Tassel Mittens KAL in the Ravelry group for the book is now underway but as I’m still working on the previous KAL from that book, I think I really should finish something off before starting anything else.  These are so pretty though and I’m wanting to practice colourwork, and I have yarn that I could use so I’d be using up stash, and did I mention that they are so pretty and…and…and…I just know that I won’t be able to resist and will have them OTN before too long ;-)

I have given up on the idea of knitting the Spock hats for Patrick and his friends for Christmas,

Live long and keep warm hat

I worked out the time it would take and Patrick agreed that it’s a waste of good knitting time for something that will be worn once for a novelty and then probably stuffed in a cupboard and forgotten about.

How fantastic is this hat?

You can find the pattern on her blog here.  It’s also a download from Ravelry here.

So wish I could spare the knitting time for this!

Last weekend, Patrick and I went to Hipperholme in Halifax.  Why would anyone do that you ask?  Well it was specifically to visit The Cock O’ The North pub which is the tap of the Halifax Steam Brewing Company.  We had had the place recommended to us by a couple of guys in our local pub The Wellington Inn (which doesn’t appear to have it’s own website any longer).

So, The Cock o’ the North then.  At first glance from the outside, we wouldn’t have ventured in here.  It is built of portakabins and doesn’t look like the greatest place to spend a Friday night.  I am so, so glad we had the recommendation though (thanks to Blakey and Paul) because inside, it was like a temple for real ale fans.  The long polished granite bar (which the bar staff kept scrupulously clean all night) has a beautiful backdrop of two huge fish tanks.  I only had my phone to take pictures  but please follow the link above and have a look at their own picture gallery to see what I mean (although the fish tanks did have fish in them when we were there).  Plenty of table and chair seating around the room and nice comfy wooden bar seats so we could contemplate our next beer choice and watch the fish at the same time.  Ten real ale pumps spanned the bar, all boasting brews by Halifax Steam Brewing.  We decided to work our way along, both of us sampling a different drink each time so to give us maximum tasting treats!  We did get to the end and start on our way back down again actually ;-).  My particular favourite was The Dark Side, an absolutely scrumptious dark beer tasting of chocolate and coffee.  The Cock O’ the North beer was also very lovely with caramel notes.  The two that seem to be their regulars, are Aussie Kiss, a very pale and hoppy brew and at something like 3.8% a real session beer and Uncle Jon a dark but mild flavoured beer which at 4.3% is also very drinkable!  The other beers I believe rotate as and when.  I do tend to prefer dark beers but having said that, the paler, blonder ones on offer were also very nice.  There wasn’t one beer on offer that I would say that I wouldn’t drink again.  Quite an achievement with ten different ones! 

The manager/owner (didn’t quite work out which) was a lovely guy who spent a bit of time chatting to us and when he found out where we were from and our local, was delighted to be able to tell us that he knew of the Wellington guys from their previous visits and was full of praise for our fair city of Hull as well.  All in all The Cock O’ the North is a highly recommended visit for all you real ale fans out there, heck there is even a camp site out the back if you are mad enough!

We had a good weekend all round really.  We had arrived on the Friday afternoon to stay in the Premier Inn at Halifax.  What a lovely location it was in, right on the canal side and the rooms had their own outside front door, kind of like American motels that you see on TV sometimes, but nicer.  The only drawback was that although it was only 3 or 4 miles away from Hipperholme, the taxis both ways cost just shy of a tenner!  So a bit of false economy with the cheap place to stay really but as it was so nice, we’ll forget that little annoyance.  This picture was taken just outside our front door.  

Canalside Premier Inn

Canalside Premier Inn

On the Saturday, after a hearty breakfast/lunch at the Wetherspoons I had spotted in Halifax town centre the previous night on our way to Hipperholme in the taxi, we decided we would drive home the scenic route rather than the rather dull M62.  I wanted to go to Haworth for a wander up the High Street, I haven’t been for some years and Patrick had never been before.  The weather was so beautiful, one of those gorgeous Autumn days that are sunny and calm, yet really quite chilly.  This is my favourite time of year and weather, as I may have mentioned before, I’m not a sun worshipper in the least.  We enjoyed a meander up and down the High Street, walked through the church yard and I popped into the church hall to have a look at the local craft fair, I was a little sad that I had eaten such a large breakfast because there were some seriously delicious looking homemade cakes.  I was temped to buy a piece for later but it would have ended up all squashed before I got home knowing me.  We then stopped for a cuppa in one of the many tearooms along this delightful, cobbled (and very steep) street and I couldn’t help noticing that there was a poster in the window for their Knit and Knatter group, how very fab to have a knitting group in such a lovely location.  I decided I want to live in Haworth, just so I can go to the Knit and Knatter.
Haworth High Street

Haworth High Street

 I’m sorry my photo of the High Street is so rubbish! I’m sure you can find a much prettier and brighter one on the web if you are so inclined.  Note to self; remember to take the camera with you when you go away!
 
After a pleasant couple of hours in Haworth, we set off for home, deciding to take the A59 route over the top and through York.  It is a much longer drive but Patrick agreed, better than the boring old motorway.
 
We stopped for a break in Knaresborough to stretch our legs, visited the beer shop there for a little supply of Belgian bottled beers and had a walk around the castle.  I’m ashamed to admit that I didn’t even know there was a castle at Knaresborough but sure enough, there is and with stunning views to boot. 
View from Knaresborough Castle

View from Knaresborough Castle

I am quite pleased with this phone photo.  The stunning viaduct over the River Nidd as photographed with my little HTC phone from the walls of Knaresborough Castle.  We had a little wander around Knaresborough town centre and I now decided that I want to live in Knaresborough as it is so pretty :-).  It was turning a bit nippy by now and we were flagging a bit after our day of sightseeing so we started off for home, having thoroughly enjoyed our West/North Yorkshire weekend break.

Keep on Running

Back in May, I started on the Couch to 5K  running programme, I didn’t blog about it at the time, not sure why but I didn’t.  Well to cut a long story short, I fell by the wayside following a couple of setbacks and haven’t run really since July.  I was really enjoying it but I fell ill with dizzy spells, then a bad cold so had a break.  When I went back to it, I struggled so much more than I had first time around and was suffering from shin splints so I threw in the towel.  It has always been my intention to start again though, I am incredibly unfit, leading such a sedentary life as I do.  So, last weekend, I went off to the running shop and got fitted for a pair of proper running shoes (instead of the trainers I had been running in, which were probably what caused the shin splints!).  The shoes cost more than I wanted to pay really but I feel that if I’m going to stick with this, then I need the proper equipment to help me. 

So bear with me and indulge me because I need to have some accountability to make me complete this programme and blogging it will give me that. 

Last time I was doing the C25K, I had got up to week 7 but I knew I couldn’t jump back in there, when I tried to go back in at week 5 some time ago, I struggled badly with the 10 minute runs.  So I decided to go back to week 3, which is equal intervals of running and walking, alternating between 90 seconds and 3 minutes.  It might not sound a lot but I challenge any of you who are not already doing some form of physical activity to run for 3 minutes and see then how long you find it to be!!  I did a couple of repetitions of the week 3 runs and last night moved up to week 4.  This is the first week that you actually run more than you walk, it’s two repetitions of run 3 mins, walk 90 secs, run 5 mins, walk 2.5 mins.  It was hard work but not too much for me, I felt I still had something left in the tank after the final 5 minute run so I’m optimistic that after 2 more of these runs, I’ll be ready to move onto week 5.

My immediate aim is to get up to the 30 minutes of continuous running and then track my distance.  I want to do Parkrun in the new year and I want to be able to run it all and not walk any of it.  Next year I will enter the Race for Life and again, I want to run it all otherwise there is no point, how can I ask people to sponsor me if I am not challenging myself? 

So, here I am starting on a journey.  Some people have started this way and gone on to run Marathons!  I somehow don’t see me in that category though, I’ll be very happy to reach my 5k from the couch!

Hats and a shawl.

I mentioned last week that I was test knitting a hat design for Knitting Kninja, well I finished it and my son immediately claimed it, declaring it to be the most comfy hat he’s ever worn.  Here it is

Horatio hat

I love how it turned out and he is right, it is such a comfy cosy hat.  I had sort of promised it to Patrick but Mason got in there first so I’ve had to knit another one for Patrick.  I’m not complaining because it is a nice hat to knit and very quick too.  I knit the second one in the same yarn but in a lovely shade of brown, kind of reddish brown almost and Patrick is very happy with it.

I also finished one of the baby hats I’m knitting for my work colleague.  I converted the hat pattern to knit in the round on magic loop because it was written to be knitted flat and seamed.  The seam would have been up the back of the hat and I really didn’t want to think of a tiny baby having to lie on a seam, it might be uncomfortable and they can’t tell you what’s hurting, only cry.

Now, I have cast on for another shawl, I probably shouldn’t because I have lots of things I need to get done but hey, it’s my hobby and I’ll do with it what I want!  I decided to go for it because a group I am part of on Ravelry is having a KAL (knit-along for the uninitiated).  The group is called What Would Madame Defarge Knit, named for the book that it is centered around.  WWMDfK is a great knitting book, first thought up by podcaster Heather Ordover of Craftlit.  It features over 20 knitting and crochet patterned inspired by classic characters in literature.  The shawl we are knitting at the moment is called Wilhelmina’s Shawl and is named for the heroine of the book Dracula.  We are currently listening to Dracula over on Craftlit so this is fun to do. I’m using some Aruacania Ranco Multy in an orange/purple colourway and it’s looking good so far.  I’m only going to knit on this for the hour a week I listen to the podcast though because I do have other things I want to get on with.

If you fancy listening along to Dracula, I really recommend it!  It is such a cool and creepy book, none of your Twilight rubbish here.  Just click DRACULA.

UPDATE:  previous link didn’t actually link to the Dracula post on the Craftlit blog, I’ve fixed it now! (note to self; check  links before publishing posts ;-))

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.