July 2011

Not a travel post!  Whee!  There’s still a fair amount going on, though rather different stuffs.  First, as many of you know, there’s a spinners’ event called the Tour de Fleece in which much yarn is made during the Tour de France.  (Some people watch the TV coverage of the bicycling, but lots of us don’t.)  I got a fair bit of spinning done this year.  Less than I’d hoped, I’ll admit, but I’m happy with my pile of fresh yarns.


These are Shetland, Wensleydale, Polwarth, Merino/silk/camel, and Merino/Corriedale, with a couple of partly-spun batts (not my carding) in the back.  I also finished spinning a couple of other yarns that didn’t make it into this photo.  (The ones on the left side here have been washed; the ones on the right have not.)

One of the things that’s been distracting me from spinning and job-hunting has been raspberry-picking.  It’s taking even longer these days, as it’s the peak of the first crop of red raspberries (there’re fewer black raspberries, so they’re faster to pick).  This is what I picked on Thursday:

Good thing I grabbed the larger bowl.

Yes, there are some not-raspberries in there.  That bowl holds about two quarts, though, and it was totally full yesterday and overflowingly full today.  Which is why there’s also a (second) tray of raspberries in the freezer, plus two batches of raspberry jam on the counter.

The garden is full of lovely inedible things, too:



That’s a black-eyed Susan and a buttonbush in bloom.

I spent the last few days of my vacation staying with Sarah and wandering near Cambridge.  Sarah is a fantastic tour guide, happily sharing some of her vast knowledge of the area, its history, and its flora and fauna.  Our first stop (after an excellent lunch) was Hayley Wood.  Beautiful, and fascinating to see the different stages of coppiced trees.
The coppices weren’t the most photogenic things, though:IMG_7624


Such an interesting-looking tree!


And then, with a discussion of Roman versus Enclosure period roads, we headed to an extinct medieval village called Clopton.


I saw these kinds of patterns in lots of English fields.  They’re called tram lines, and they’re where the tractors go through for crop maintenance stuff.  This field is just downhill from Clopton.


Clopton itself was where this hillside is, with the manor under that clump of trees.  The photos don’t really show it, but in person, we (Sarah, Alison, and I) could get a sense of how the village might have been laid out and a bit of how life might’ve worked.

On Saturday, Alison couldn’t join us, but Sarah, Andy, and I went walking in what used to be the Fens, along the Ouse wash.  It was amazing to think of the canal on one side of the bank we were walking along having been used to drain the entire surrounding area.


But kinda more amazing to see a seal!

a seal!

(Yeah, I know, the photo doesn’t look like much.)

But after that walk, and an amazing lunch, we went to Ely Cathedral, on one of the fen islands.  (Um, what used to look more like an island and now just looks like a hill.)  Very different style of cathedral from the ones I’d visited the previous week!  Both because it was a few hundred years older and because it was in England rather than Italy–I quite liked the Celtic influences in the ornamentation.

Ely cathedral

And here I shall end my travel-blogging with a photo from Sarah’s garden:


Maybe I’ll actually post some fibery content (other than Malham sheep and llamas) next week!)

When I got off the train in London, I did a bit of shopping in the train station and then crossed the street to the other train station, to catch another set of trains to Skipton, in Yorkshire. (For what it’s worth: I had a few sets of options planned out, from checking the routing function on britrail.com, but there are enough trains along those various routes that there were extra trains, and I got in about an hour earlier than I’d anticipated, by making quick connections. Also, especially after the veeeeery basic facilities on the Trenitalia trains, the train from London to Leeds had an astonishingly nice loo.)

When I got to Skipton, I was met by the proprietors of the B&B where I was headed, since the buses don’t run that late and I hadn’t wanted to rent a car. Bob and Sheila, who run Tudor House, were extremely helpful the whole time I was there, and I would wholeheartedly recommend Tudor House if you want to go hiking/walking near Malham. (If I go back, I think I’d try to arrange a rental car in Skipton, but there was plenty of walking to do for the three full days I had.)

Tudor House
(This photo is from my third day there, when there was better light, but Tudor House is in a lovely setting.)

So. The first full day I spent in Yorkshire, Sheila gave me a lift to Malham. From thence, I walked up to the Malham Cove trail. Malham Cove is quite an impressive extinct waterfall and one of the major Things To See Near Malham.

Malham Cove

Malham Cove


There are some nice flowers halfway up the stairs by the Cove.


I love the black-kneed frolicking lambs.

From the top of the stairs by Malham Cove, I walked up to Malham Tarn, but it was raining as well as windy by the time I got there, so these next photos are from most of the way back to town.

the top of Malham Cove

This is the top of Malham Cove, with Malham in the background.


More cute sheep.

Bob and Sheila had recommended a pub in Kirkby Malham as a dinner stop, both because of its excellent fish & chips and because it’s a straightforward walk back to Tudor House.  On the way there from Malham, I passed a farm with llamas instead of sheep:


Yay, llamas!


Aaand, when I got to Kirkby Malham (a little too early for the pub to be serving dinner), I took pictures of the lovely gardens until my camera batteries wore out again.  So I gave up and sought refreshment: Thatcher’s Gold cider and some of the best fish & chips I’ve ever had.  The mushy peas were pretty tasty, too, though they’re better with some of the tartar sauce and malt vinegar mixed in.

The next day, I caught the bus up to Malham and walked over to Janet’s Foss.  On the way, I passed these lambs playing King of the Hill:


Along the trail, within the area marked off as the Janet’s Foss scenic area, there’s this log:

coin tree by Janet's Foss

People have been hammering coins into it for years and years, kind of like a solid fountain or wishing well.

wild garlic

The other side of the path was full of wild garlic in bloom, enough for the area to smell of onion.

Janet's Foss

The waterfall itself (Janet’s Foss, ‘foss’ being a word for waterfall) is quite pretty, but the area was too full of school-group for me to stay long.  Instead, I headed up toward Gordale Scar.

Gordale Scar

There’s a trail marked on the maps that goes up through the gorge, but I was Not Interested.  It’s an impressive place (note the reddish dot just below and to the right of the main waterfall: that’s a person in a red jacket), and windy enough to be substantially colder than elsewhere nearby, but I wanted easier hiking.  So I walked back out (just in time to avoid another school group!) and headed around the side of the hill.



One example of the kinds of signs I was following.

it was very windy

It was very, very windy.  I had my hair in two braids, but the wind blew enough out of the braids to create that extra shadow over my head.  Where you can see that it was blown sideways.

Then, since I hadn’t been able to take decent pictures at Malham Tarn the day before (because of the rain), I decided to hike back up that way, my only other real plan being to stay far, far away from the stairs by Malham Cove.

Malham Tarn

Malham Tarn is absolutely lovely.  That’s the lake (tarn) in the background, with the stream that drains it in the middle of the photo.


My plan to avoid the Cove steps may not have been the best idea.  My main goal was to try to spare my knees, which had been initially displeased by all those steps at Il Duomo, but the road wasn’t really much kinder.  On the other hand, I got some different lovely views, including this one:


And then my camera batteries died again, and I bought yet more batteries (better ones, this time) when I got back to Malham.  I was a little early for the bus to Gargrave, so I ate an apple and spun for a bit, enjoying the sunny bench by the stream.

Gargrave is a cute little town (genuinely a town rather than a village).


Alas, the pub where I ate dinner that night had nothing more appealing to drink than Strongbow (which, yes, is quite nice, but I’d been hoping for something I can’t find here), and their fish & chips weren’t as good as the previous night’s.  And they left out the mushy peas, perhaps because I was obviously a foreign tourist.  (Even the other pub had made sure to ask if I really wanted them, and this place was a lot busier.)  But it was still good food, and the busy room allowed for more interesting eavesdropping.

For my last day in Yorkshire, I decided I deserved a relaxed morning.  When I had yet to leave the B&B by 11 or so, I decided to stick around to see the steam engine that was supposed to be coming past at 12:30–I’m not especially enthusiastic about the history of trains, but considering that the B&B used to be the local train station, it seemed appropriate.

steam engine

We all hung around on the patio for a while, waiting for the train to appear.  I made good use of the time–photographing the flowers and spinning more silk–and Bob informed me that the local village, Bell Busk, had once been home to a silk-spinning industry.  After a while, the train did show up, and it was fun to watch and hear (albeit with my hands over my ears once I took a couple of pictures).  Then I headed off to Haw Crag, an interesting local geological feature that could also be part of a route to Gargrave.

this sheep watched me walk past

This sheep watched me walk past.

Haw Crag

This is Haw Crag, with the disused quarry and a lot of sheep.

Haw Crag

Ridgeline sheep.

sleepy lambs, watchful ewe

Very sleepy lambs–must be tired out from too much frolicking.  (Don’t worry, the one that kinda looks dead got up and ran around a minute later.)


A quintessential Malham-adjacent view.  That was a lovely, lovely day.


After getting to Gargrave, eating lunch, and running a couple of errands, I went for a walk along the canal.  It was pretty, and an easy, smooth walk.  I knew I’d have to get up early the next morning, though, so I bought food for dinner and headed back to the inn to eat in my room.


horses, pheasants, and rabbit

Lots of wildlife!  Okay, okay, the horses aren’t wild.  But the pheasants and rabbit are.  (And, yeah, I know, I’ve lived in places where rabbits are not unusual sights, but I hadn’t seen pheasants before that week.  Not counting stuffed ones in exhibits, anyway.)


I ended up eating my pies on the trail, but I saved the beer until I returned to my room.  That was a tasty, tasty beer, with a fun name.  (And, having had to provide one photo ID and one non-photo ID in order to buy beer this afternoon, I miss the simplicity of buying alcohol in Europe.  Of course, I’m also not exactly upset that I look like I’m under 35, seeing that I’m still not quite 30.)

And, then, the next morning, I got up extra-super-early to take what turned out to be three trains to get to Cambridge.


This was the view from my room, at sunrise.  I do not usually see sunrise except at midwinter, but it’s not bad on occasion.

Next post: Cambridge-adjacent stuff.  There’ll be many fewer pictures of that, as I had People to talk to and point things out to, so I simply took many fewer photos.

So! After I went to the Duomo, I thought I’d wander away from the super-touristy areas, toward a couple of gardens.

On the way, I walked through the Piazza della Libertà:

Piazza della Libertà

And crossed the Torrente Mugnone, which has some lovely little pedestrian bridges:
Torrente Mugnone

I wandered through a gardeny thing that was basically a public park, then sat for a while on a bench by the canal and spun:


Then, I looked around the Florence botanical garden, which was nice, but a leeetle expensive for what it was.




I especially loved these roses, for the way they’ve got pink and cream buds but they look white when they’re open.


Then, on Sunday, I escaped most of the rain and went to the Palazzo Pitti.  Alas, again, no photos allowed inside, and it’s fairly full of impressive stuff.  (A word of warning, though: the definition of “modern art” they use for the Palatine gallery?  Means 1800s.  I’ll grant that it’s more modern than a lot of the works there, but it’s still not what I think of as modern.)  I would, however, highly recommend the costume gallery.

It looked like the rain had stopped, so I went out into the Boboli Gardens, at which point it resumed raining.  I didn’t stay long, but I did get a couple of photos.  Definitely not my style of garden, but imagining fancy parties in it was kinda fun.


And that was my last touristy excursion in Italy, not counting a very nice dinner (including a chocolate cake with flaming sugar), before I got on a train to go back to England via Paris.  (Man, that was a nice train ride!  And I got to see the Alps!)  Next up: Yorkshire.