Monday, April 25, 2011

Where to knit in Queens College

I found Cambridge a wonderful place to visit. It was filled with delightful and interesting sights, good restaurants and ancient treasures. While most people tour it in a day, I spent three days and wasn't a bit bored, even though I walked everywhere I went, first there was a small grove of trees near our residence hall,

filled with naturalised plantings.

Next was the River Cam, filled with students and tourists punting.

These are fun to watch, whether it is just to admire the scene, or to laugh at the many self-hired punts that are being poled in circles by the inexperienced. On the other side of the river is the President's residence, with its impressive Tudor beams. Adjoining it, behind that low fence with the black gate, sits a garden that is, like many of the areas in the colleges, locked.

Oooh, just like in The Secret Garden. We were really curious, but in the end, we saw it isn't terribly secret. The garden overlooks the river, shielded only by a wrought iron fence. You can see into it from the other side. It didn't look much different from the rest of the college, which was immaculate, beautiful and peaceful.

I sat on that bench and knitted for a while. I didn't stay long. There was too much else to see in Cambridge. I shopped and walked, ate wonderful food, then walked more. I found two yarn shops. They were a little different than the ones here in the U.S.

More on that, and what I bought, next.

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Thursday, April 21, 2011

Knitting my way through London

Oh, yes, I have returned from my trip to England with a full camera. I took my new Canon G12 with me, left all the settings on auto and snapped my picture-taking-loving heart out. Out of the hundreds of photos, I've selected a few to capture the high points of the trip.

It was a fine trip. Of course, I took in all the sights of London. Big Ben, Parliament, and a bit of the Thames are all present in the photo to the left. There was the London Eye across the bridge--take my word for it at this point.

The photos I took are nothing special, just mementos of my trip. Although I love them all, I'll limit the ones I post here to those that illustrate my story.

The weather was occasionally sunny, not at all rainy, mostly cool and comfortable. I was fortunate in that.

The spring flowers were blooming beautifully, dressing up London for our visit.

These tulips were in perfect form, gracing a small park in Sussex Gardens not far from our hotel. The small parks and mews were a surprise. Around every turn was a lovely, often intriguing view.

Ah, intriguing--the Rowan Spring collection, well displayed at a Harry Lewis department store. Each of these sweaters is so cute. If I just had the form and firmness of the mannequins, I'd knit them all.

I couldn't help putting a copy of Knit Your Own Royal Wedding into the display. We were too early for the wedding, but evidence of the coming excitement was here and there. I was amused by a story on the local news about neighborhoods planning to host block parties on the big day.

Wedding or no, London was all I expected. I saw the changing of the Guard at Buckingham Palace,

visited St. Paul's Cathedral and the National Gallery (where I fell in love with this knitting-related painting), bought yarn, ate wonderful food and wore my feet flat out running through tube stations, streets and parks.

What I didn't expect:

"Right-o. Cheers!" means thank you, at least when you've let someone go ahead of you. (Which, by the way, Londoners don't often do.)

"Are you all right?" means "Can I help you?" when it is coming from a shop clerk. (That was a bit embarrassing, since I kept reassuring them as to my health until I caught on.)

Complaining about unexpected butter on sandwiches just gets you an indignant response, such as: "Did you ask for no butter?"

Ah well, quirky idioms aside, the single best surprise was that I could stand here:

This is the Mathematical Bridge. It crosses the River Cam, connecting the engineering building in Queens College, Cambridge with the rest of the college. Queens College, like the other colleges in Cambridge, is not open to all. There's some parts you can tour for a fee, some you can just enter, but most of the access is limited to students and faculty. Since it was spring break, the residence halls were vacant. We were allowed to rent a room in a hall in Queens College in conjunction with the conference that brought us there. Since we were staying there, we entered and left the college at will, just waving to the porter as we passed. I'm not sure that it was intended that I use this privilege to wander around the college, but I did.

It was quiet and largely empty with all the students and most of the faculty and staff gone on break. It is a beautiful place, filled with buildings older than any I've ever seen. Absolutely amazing.

When I get a little more caught up, I'll put together a post on Cambridge. I was so impressed that I'd encourage everyone who visits England to put it on their "must see" list.

Until then, I hope everyone enjoys a nice Easter holiday.

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