An elegant sufficiency

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Dangerous discovery

Mark has discovered The Container Store! I can hear Mary and Jordi laughing because of course, they knew all along that my dear, neat-freak husband would be in raptures over a display of cable tidies....

Never has the slogan on their carrier bag been so appropriate.

En route to the T, we passed this confusing sports club sign. Perhaps therein lies the clue as to why the US have never made it very far in the cricket field?

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Cold but clear

The thermometer (and the photographs) give only half the picture - the biting wind appears in neither. But, wrapped up warm in coats, scarves and gloves and armed with hot chocolate to go, a walk around Boston Common was a great way to start the day.

Yes, there was shopping. Mary and Jordi will be relieved to know that Chicos performed well and that the ribbons were tied in the correct manner (Any Chicos purchase has to have ribbons tied, after all - something that the hopeless Burlington VT branch neglected) Not only that, but I was given a free T shirt...oh dear, perhaps acknowledgement of how much I spent there...)
One thing we enjoy in Boston is the small, independent store, like Commonwealth Books. Mark headed there whilst I looked around Windsor Button, bringing out a copy of Cat Bordhi's new sock book with me - a challenge if ever there was one!
But of course, there's more to life than shopping (or so I'm told) and last night we headed for a different Symphony Hall to hear the most magnificent performance of the Bartered Bride and Ma Vlast by the BSO.
I only dozed off once.

Finally, to prove that memories pop up in the most surprising places, here's a statue of Koskiusco. Who he and why is he here? Well, with a knowledge of history like mine (i.e. totally hopeless) I have no idea. But I do know there's a mountain named for him in Australia thanks to a student teacher who honed his teaching skills on my 3rd form class years ago. I don't remember much about him or the facts he taught us, but I remember how eager we were to learn about Mount Koskiusko from him because he had a pronounced lisp - and being cruel thirteen-year-olds, we savoured every moment of his embarrassment.

(of course, all those years of ignorance about such a hero can be put to rest in just thirty seconds now I have Google at my fingertips. Read about the chap in Boston Public Garden here and the mountain here)

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Saturday, November 24, 2007

In Boston

We're in Boston for the weekend, seizing upon the only commitment-free weekend to take advantage of a flight sale. Not only was the flight a little early into Logan airport, but the fact that we treat ourselves to an upgrade meant that we were first off through a totally empty immigration hall, first in the taxi line and, less than an hour after landing, we were in our hotel room feeling ready to roll!

It's cold here, but the fresh air felt good after a day travelling and we enjoyed a quick walk along Boylston St before our favourite dinner at Legal Seafoods. We kept going as late as we could by heading for Barnes and Noble after dinner, browsing magazines and staving off the jet lag. I was surprised at the number of "special editions" of familiar magazines and grabbed an armful to browse through. The preponderance of the same-old stuff in many of them meant that I didn't buy - far too many "mixed media" variations on the old pointy hat photos, the faux-naif and the product-driven project.

But of course, I couldn't come away totally empty handed, could I? I was delighted to find a copy of the Quilting Arts Holiday edition, containing friend Helen's Towers of Snowflakes. I also bought the Interweave Knits Holiday Gift issue, for the one pattern which turned out not to be in there at all! Duh!

Up early this morning, Saturday, and opened the curtains to a clear, bright blue sky. It's going to be chilly out there but the kind of weather which makes it great to be outdoors. After breakfast and a brisk walk, we plan to hit a few shops, including Windsor Button and Paper Source...

More later.
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Thursday, November 15, 2007

What a day!

I had an exciting day yesterday - I was sent these tickets for the first carbon-neutral Eurostar train a couple of weeks ago and was thrilled (and the envy of Mark) to think I'd be able to experience the new St Pancras Station at first hand.

It was a beautiful morning - clear and sunny, and the restored station was looking magnificent. The front of the station is still work in progress, so we were directed to the side entrance which led to a view of the most wonderfully uplifting architecture imaginable.

The blue sky complemented the stunning ironwork, beautifully restored and looking perfect for this splendid occasion.

Everyone walked with eyes up, gazing at the spectacular framework, painted "Barlow Blue" - a delightful heritage blue following the original colour scheme.

The person often credited with the salvation of this great building was gazing skyward too - I think Sir John Betjeman would have approved of the finished result and like to think he'd feel this was a fitting tribute.

Of course, the media were there in number, recording the events as they unfolded. I'd already watched several interviews on TV before leaving my hotel room - it was strange to walk across the road, enter the station and become part of the scene.

Above all was a feeling that something was about to happen though for the time being, there was simply a lot of milling around, of waiting and of eager anticipation. Our dilemma was, do we hang around until the fun begins, or do we go and check in now? How late dare we leave it?

In stark contrast to the characterful Betjeman figure, the general opinion was that Hallmark had had a hand in this huge bronze - far larger than any of us had imagined and sad to say, I heard not a single word in favour.

It was great to have a chance to take a close look at the details - the standard of finish and the attention to the finer points is most impressive, the more so since these are hardly the eye-catching features but the more mundane parts of the building which could so easily have been overlooked or economised.

A last look around this level before going downstairs to the check in hall, though, to marvel at the fine clock, the great arch and the fantastic ironwork.

Of course, the photographers were there in the departure hall too, going to some extreme lengths to take original and unusual shots of people checking in. Hardly the most flattering angle for anyone, I'd say, heaven knows what it turned out like!

Train side, we snooked out to grab a snatch of the London Philharmonic and the assembled crowds waiting at the end of the platform, before being ushered on board and plied with champagne...

A few glasses later, nous sommes arrives. Clutching our souvenir hessian bags (with complimentary Green and Blacks chocolate bars and Innocent drinks to keep us going) we made our light-headed way to the front of the station!

It was almost as if the Gare du Nord was trying hard to look its best in the sunshine, too.

Eurostar had arranged a fleet of coaches to transport us all to the Seine, from where a bateau-mouche offered a river tour for those who did not want to faire le shopping

because, of course, there were the perturbations dans les transports today.

All too soon, it was time to return, however, and having had a superb day we checked in again for the homeward journey to St Pancras.

But we'll not forget Waterloo - it's simply great to be British!

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Friday, November 09, 2007


As we walked to the Abbey in Tewkesbury for the launch of our book on Wednesday evening, we remarked what a glorious time of the year Autumn can be.

Here in the Cotswolds, Autumn has taken time to get going this year and even now, well into November, the weather is fine and sunny and the colours are still vibrant.

So perhaps I was simply being maudlin as I wandered around the garden and lingered over the remains of what had been. I told myself to be positive, to be thankful and not to worry.

The roses continue to flourish and the lavender is still going strong, its fresh scent a soothing reminder of warm summer evenings.

The rose bush by the wall had just one bloom remaining, full of perfume. I cut it and brought it inside to enjoy, thinking of my Mum as I did it.

Then I planted paperwhites and hyacinths, to remind me to be optimistic about the future and to look forward not back.

Keep calm and carry on. All will be well.


Saturday, November 03, 2007

Up and down and all over the place

I've had a rare day at home today, having copped out of the Textile Treasures in Cardiff as a result of my Mum's continuing problems, though I hope to be there tomorrow to offer a little burst of energy to help with the packing up.

The news from Hull is mixed - details on our family blog here and I'm getting to know the M42 pretty well, as you'd expect. But we are trying to carry on as normal as far as possible in spite of frequent trips north.

One rather yummy thing has come my way in the last couple of days, though. I've been invited to travel on the inaugural carbon-neutral Eurostar to Paris for the day on November 14th, as a result of signing up for the carbon challenge and participating in some other green initiatives recently. Mark is green too - but with envy - because I'll get to see the newly refurbished St Pancras Station which looks pretty spectacular. I'll also get to spend an evening in Edward's company which is always fun - hopefully he's booked us somewhere interesting for dinner.

So, we're keeping chins up here, trying to stay calm and keep going but worried about Mummy, of course. Let's hope we can get her on some kind of even keel soon.

Oh, and I've now joined in the fun of Ravelry and am fast discovering the joys of LibraryThing . Do I need more distractions? As if!