Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Lincoln

Somewhere in England in the East Midlands is the country of Lincolnshire, and nestled in amongst the farmlands is it's capitol city, Lincoln. It is quite possibly the cutest English town that I have ever seen.

View of the fields from the train.
Lincoln, while far off the beaten track, is well worth a visit. There has been a colony, town or city located there since 100BC. Because it has be around so long there are relics from every age: From the early axes and log boats found in Brayford pool and housed at the local museum...
Brayford pool
To the lasting remnants of a thriving 12th century Jewish community.


Jew's house is now a restaurant

To the gothic architecture of one of England's most notable Cathedrals.

The cathedral in the golden dusk

To the many tutor houses in the town centre.

The tudor visitor centre

To today where the only 18 year old Lincoln University is combing the old with the new and growing rapidly into a top class university.


University blend of old and new

Lincoln's University library
My husband and I found ourselves in Lincoln last Thursday after a harrowing journey involving an international taxi strike, delayed planes, and a complex train schedule. As usual while with my DH in England the weather was shockingly perfect. We spent what was left of the evening having a meal in a pub and simply walking around the town centre admiring the view. I was pleased to note that there is the same rose-gold slant to the evening light here as there is in France and Spain. While we were eating our dinner, on the back patio of the pub, five of the Red Arrows from the local RAF base did a fly over trailing red white and blue. I didn't have time to grab the camera so no photos, but I do know that they were probably practicing for flying over the Lincoln Festival on Saturday evening.

The next day dawned clear and warm I went off exploring on my own as DH had an appointment at the University. As this was the second time that my DH had been here I headed off to do some of the more touristy things on my own. It was a great feeling to wander about and know that if I was lost or need help I could just ask in my native tongue. 

Memorial in front of a small church
I went to the castle first. Lincoln Castle is up the aptly named Steep Hill road. The entrance fee was remarkably cheap, but the man whom sold me my tickets explained that I could only really go into the gardens and a small section of the wall. The castle is mostly closed for massive renovations and when it re-opens in April 2015 I hope that I get to see it. The plans for the renovations look super cool.

Castle tower from the outside 
The was the castle's last line of defense
Just across the square is the this gem of architecture. I walked completely around it before popping my head inside. Supposedly there are Roman mosaic ruins and a medieval library inside, unfortunately I did not have the time to see them. The Cathedral usually displays an original copy of the Manga Carta but it is on tour now and will come back for it's anniversary next year.


Even the outside had flying buttresses

Main call of the cathedral from the door
 One thing I really like about Lincoln is that they seem to really want to integrate historic structures into everyday modern life. Below is a medieval gate still in use for traffic, and there is also the only Roman gate still used for traffic in the world inside Lincoln as well.


To one side of the Cathedral is the ruins of the bishop's palace. Which was destroyed in an earthquake hundreds of years ago and never rebuilt. It is well worth the price of admission and to get the audio guide. Also I have seen online that they might do Shakespeare in the park here! That would be so fun.




So that is it, a short a sweet visit to Lincoln. I hope someday I might be lucky enough to call a place like this home. 



Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Yarn shops Bern

Just a quick overview of the yarn shops in Bern. All photos are taken from the respective shop's website because I again forgot to take pictures. I have linked to all the websites and they have many more beautiful photos to share.


This shop has limited hours but is well worth the trip. The yarn shop is in the basement of the building and in a doorway right next to the bank entrance you will find your typical European buzzer with their name above it. Just press it and then will buzz open the door for you. They sell only their own hand dyed yarn and they try to source as many of the fibers from Switzerland as they can. There is Swiss mountain silk in most of the bases.

The owner was fantastically friendly even replying to an email (in English) in advance when I was unsure of the directions to get to her shop. The shop was right next to my hotel but maybe 20 minutes walking from the historic town center. You could take the number 12 bus all the way there too, or it is just a walk up the hill from the train station. I think that it is well worth the visit.



Sadly there is no real website for this store and no pictures. You can go to Goggle street view and just make out the first part of the sign behind one of the medieval statue fountains on the main street. The shop was small but packed neatly with German, French, and Swiss yarn. The shop assistant spoke very good English and was very helpful. Since this shop is in the center of the city there is no reason to miss it.


Near the train station there are two different stores that have not made it onto Knit Map yet. I learn about them from the Fresh Stitches blog and I include a link to each of the post below. (Go look, she remembered to take pictures!)

Another blog post about Loeb's yarn from Fresh Stitches


Every European country I have visited has a yarn section in their huge multi-story department stores. There might be more than one, but the one I found was Loeb. Like many department stores it has multiple buildings. The one with the yarn on the 5th floor was just across the street from the end of the glass roofed bus hub.

The selection was amazing. I have seen many yarn shops with less selection. The sock yarn selection alone is worth the trouble of visiting. These German speaking countries know their yarn!

There was also other craft supplies here too, they even had seed beads (a thing that is very hard to find in Spain for some reason).

Here again, speaking English was not a problem.


















Now this store had the biggest selection yet! If you visit here you might want to either know what you are looking for or that you have at least an hour to browse. You have to take an escalator from the main street to get down to the entrance. That "first floor" is what holds aisles and aisles of yarn, buttons, sewing supplies, (be still my hard) roving and felting supplies. Look for the stairs towards the back because if you, like me, are from a craft store deprived city the lower floor has everything your crafty heart could possibly desire. They had more craft supplies than most American big-box stores do.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Bern

 There was a time when we hoped that we would live in Bern. A time that seems so very long ago (but is only about 4 years). Now between new anti-immigrant and sentimentalities and some recent politics with the EU we will probably never get the chance. So when the opportunity came up to visit, we both jumped at the chance.

Bern is the small capitol of Switzerland, and with the very heart of the city being a UNSCO World Heritage site, a very nice place to visit. (If you go in May be sure to take an umbrella and a change of shoes.) Bern means Bear in German and the symbol was all over the city.



It was easy to tell when we had walked into the older part of Bern. 




This clock tower (in in the next photo from the other side) was built in the 13th century and still runs without electricity.


On this street (looking away from the last view of the clock tower) Einstein lived during the time he came up with the theory of relativity.


The street is dotted with fountains with statues.


The UNESCO part of town is located inside a loop of river. When you are on the other side of the river the views are breathtaking. (Sorry about the lighting on some of the photos. It kept storming and then was sunny so the light changed all of the time.)




There are brown bears kept just across from the "loop". When we were there, there were three bears, the parents, and this juvenile.


There was also sheep on the steep slope facing the river. I could hear them before I could see them, they were all wearing bells. As the Spanish would say "it was very Heidi".







Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Roses

Sorry for the radio silence. I took a trip to the capitol of Switzerland and I brought back a cold. I am in the mist of selecting from the hundreds of wonderful photos that we have of Bern and while I am doing that, I will share with you a little from the many pictures I took of the Rosaleda in El Parque del Buen Retiro here in Madrid. I took them as virtual flowers for a good friends birthday and mother's day, but there is n reason that I can not share them with you. If you are in or plan to visit Madrid soon go to the rose garden soon!













Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Alcalá de Herares

Alcalá de Herares is one of the lesser known (for tourists outside of Spain) day trips that you can take from Madrid. I had never been, which is a shame, because really it was very close. It is just NorthEast of the city. We got there in about an hour, and you can also get there in about an hour from the center of Madrid using the Cercanías (regional trains).

We went this weekend with some friends to see the town and also to go to the Museo Archqueológico Regional (English information link here). They have an special exhibit "La Cuna de la Humanidad" (the footprint of humanity) which has only before been seen in Africa.

Special exhibit 

I feel like I should make the disclaimer that the museum's regular collection is only in Spanish. Since this is only a regional museum it is only about the history in what is now the providence or "Ayuntammiento" of Madrid. However the exhibits are thoughtful out together and even starts with a rather impressive Imax-eske video dating back 460,000,000 years ago to present. I had no idea that a once the "safari" animals called Spain home too!

A relic of Roman occupation, Achilles defeating the Amazonian Queen  


As for the Special exhibit it was very cool to see a copy of "Lucy" and alsoof footprints of our early ancestors. It also went into great detail on the Leaky family and their contribution to our understanding of evolution.

"Lucy"

I always look for  textile paraphernalia in museums. These are "fusayolas" which mean spindle whorls in Spanish. I have more pictures of more whorls from this museum, but that might get it's own post. If they are like other spindles I have seen here in Spain, they probably had a carved shaft, about 25-30cm long, with a spiral leading to a point at one end to encourage the fiber to rotate off the point. However there was no information here.


The absolute best thing about this museum (or my favorite, anyway) was the tiny gift shop. Now, I have been to many museums and they are usually filled with t-shirts, postcards and books, not that those things are bad, but this museum had replicas and kits! Look I got a spindle whorl replica and a cave painting kit (complete with dye stuff, background stone and your own stick brush with hair at one end). I love this kind of thing. These alone made my whole day.



Across the street from the museum is the Archbishop's palace, which was very photogenic. 


Catalina de Aragón



We also saw the house were Cervantes was born Spanish linkEnglish link. That house had two spinning wheels and an old fashioned bobbin winder! Unfortunately taking photos was not allowed inside.

Image taken from the museum's website.

The beautiful Cervantes plaza already has huge roses blooming, and was surrounded by beautiful views in all directions.








I am fascinated by the herons and their huge nests/obsession for church towers.


Even the side streets are cute here.



The old mosque, still very picturesque.