**after a 30 minute break/distraction, back to blogging**
First off, a picture from our waiting in line for Harry Potter at Piccadilly Circus the night of the 20th. Back row, left to right: Stephanie, Cortni and Meagan. Front row: Carrie and me.
Now, to Edinburgh! Recognize this? It is the Scott Memorial on Prince St. in Edinburgh. Prince St. has some lovely shopping (where I found a pair of heels for £5!).
Our housing was near Holyrood Park which is where Arthur's Seat is located. One morning, a couple of us walked up it. The views of the city were amazing!
The socks had a great time hanging out in some really nice parks.
I went to a couple of knitting shops but didn't *gasp* find anything that I really liked. HK Handknit is a cute little store but I guess I wasn't in a shopping mood because nothing really grabbed me.
Oh, yeah, in Edinburgh we did class stuff :) We went to the National Library and National Archive of Scotland and the Writers' Museum which focuses on Scottish writers. We had a very interesting speaker at the National Library who gave us a little background information on the library itself then told us more about the John Murray exhibit which was recently set-up. If you ever have the chance, this is a great exhibit to visit. It takes the traditional museum display and turns it on its ear. I loved it. There are no signs to read in the displays, just items and manuscripts. Instead, there are touchscreens in front of the displays which allow you to choose about which item in the display you want more information. I found myself looking at the items a lot more than I normally do in museums. I'll include a sketch I did of one of the displays once I get home and have access to a scanner.
The National Archive was interesting because we got to see documents like the first written reference (or at the least the first one held in the archives there) to whiskey and a letter from Mary, Queen of Scots, to her mother. So much history!
I have to say that I love Edinburgh and Scotland. This is my second visit there and I would definitely go back again. The people are friendly and you can find so many nooks and crannies to the city.
After the Writers' Museum on Wednesday morning, we were free to leave for the mini-break. Because I didn't have any firm plans, I decided to stay in our housing in Edinburgh another night because it was already paid for and I could get a full breakfast in the morning at the cafeteria. Full English breakfasts can keep you going for hours! So on Thursday morning, I left for my mini break.
Do you remember that I said I would go to the Lakes then on to Lancaster? Well, I did do that in a way. I got to Windermere and it was pouring with rain. Call me a fair-weather traveller but I really didn't want to get completely drenched. So I hopped back on the train and kept going south to Lancaster. It was fun being back where I studied before. It felt like home. I instantly knew where I was going and kept seeing familiar places. It was funny seeing the things that had changed and what had stayed the same. I had a wonderful evening though the B&B where I stayed was above the railroad tracks so that got a little old. I got a takeaway dinner and ate it up at the castle.
The next morning, I headed off to York. Again, a second visit there for me and I liked it just as much the second time around. I stayed in the York Backpackers Hostel right near the train station and was lucky enough to get one of the last female beds left. After dropping my extremely heavy bags off, I went off to explore the town. Here is the York Minster,
a picture of a fun pub sign (baaaaaa),
and a picture of the Shambles. OK, I grant you, it isn't the best picture ever. You see in the background how the tops of the buildings seem to lean toward each other? Well, they actually do. The upper floors are actually wider than the lower floors. Just imagine, these are what all cities used to look like. In many places, people in buildings across the street from each other could pass things from window to window by just putting their hands out.
In the Shambles, I just happened to come across a yarn shop. I swear, I hadn't looked up any yarn shops in York. It must have been the yarn fumes calling me.
This yarn came home with me. I love the greens! Now I just have to find a pattern for it. . . .
I love wandering through York. It is such a fun city and the old part is so walkable. I also walked all around the old medieval walls which are about 1.9 miles. Now, this probably would have been a good idea if I hadn't walked so much in Edinburgh and if I hadn't had my brilliant plan of walking so far in Lancaster. At this point, my left leg muscles were staging a revolt and causing me to lurch around like something out of a horror film. It was definitely a relief to head back to the hostel and spend a quiet evening writing postcards (finally). I would have liked to go on a brewery tour but I really don't think my leg would have held out :(
OK, now I am up to Saturday. I woke up, packed up and headed out towards Cambridge and Newmarket for some horse racing. Well, things did not go as planned. I got into Cambridge later than I had expected. I kept going up to different hostels and B&Bs and no one had any openings. It was very frustrating and I was hauling around my heavy backpack, purse and tote bag full of yarn. I ended up heading to Newmarket without figuring out any housing in Cambridge. When I got off the train in Newmarket, I headed in the wrong direction for 15 minutes then had to walk back and head in the right direction. Got to the tourist place at 4.02 and they closed at 4. The Horseracing Museum closed then, too. I couldn't find a room anywhere. Needless to say, I wasn't having a good day. But then these wonderful people came to my rescue.
David and Susan are wonderful, wonderful people and I don't think they realized how supremely grateful I was to stay with them. They are friends of my second cousin (once removed?) and I was going to stay with them on Sunday night but they let me come a day early to stay on Saturday night, too. So my Saturday wasn't a complete wash-out/mire of despair.
On Sunday, we went to their friends' farm to see the friends' young colt. He is going to be a very nice horse. Good confirmation and lots of spunk.
That afternoon, we went to a show jumping event that the daughter of the friends was competing in. I really liked talking with her and her mom. It was so nice to be able to talk horses with someone and to watch all of the competetors. The one class had 60 entries! Jemma (I know I am spelling this wrong) rode 3 of her horses in the show.
It was a lovely day with sunny weather and a really nice venue. Greta, you should have seen some of the cross country jumps! I took pictures of some of the tire jumps so we could build one of our own.
I left David and Susan's the next day to return to London. Their neighbour was going into town and was able to drop me off at the train station and 5 minutes later I got on the train to London. Once I got back to the Underground, it was such a relief. It was like I was home and, again, felt like I knew where I was going. Everyone else felt the same way when we compared mini-break stories.
There has been some knitting (some, ha!) between my last knitting post and this one. I finished up the Panda Cotton socks that were having such fun in Edinburgh. Do you see the little bit of yarn at the top of the sock? Yeah, that is all that was left of the ball. Talk about cutting it close! Funny enough, the other ball had plenty but I really didn't want to have to join yarn for the last 5 stitches of the bind off. They are comfy and squishy and I am very happy that I frogged the first attempt to reknit them on larger needles.
I finally finished the one pair of Kool-aid socks. You have to remember that I was knitting these on 2.0 mm needles. That is really small and I really don't like to do ribbing. Why I chose to do a ribbed sock on such small needles is a mystery even to me. I'm not sure that I like the pooling but I am very happy to have them done so I will overlook it.
OTN: A pair of Austermann Step socks. Once again, I have to say that I love the way the socks fly off the needles with this yarn. I cast on for the toes on Sunday morning and turned the heels today. That is without knitting all day Sunday and only a little on Monday. Love it! Here is a picture of the socks at the Prime Meridian. I think they had a good time (ha!).
I will have to write more about the places I have gone this week a little later. I've somehow been in the computer lab for over 2 hours and only accomplished this post and reading my email even though I had a whole "to-do" list. Where does the time go?