Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Sweltering in foreign parts

Not content with getting too hot here in the UK recently, last Friday I flew to Turin.
Ian had been in Savona on business, and suggested that I meet him for the weekend.

I used the airport bus and public transport to make my way to Lingotto. This lone cooling tower was part of an environment park towards the north of the city.

There are still many reminders of the recent Winter Olympics. But now Turin is advertising itself as the World Book capital (together with Rome) for 2006-7, hence the red poles apparently growing out of the Olympic symbol's head.

The trip was slow due to congestion, and with a temperature of about 30 C and high humidity many locals were looking uncomfortable and fanning themselves.

I checked in at the wrong part of the hotel, and the receptionist insisted on sending for a car to take me round the building to the other entrance. It was only about 200 m away. So I arrived in style in an Alfa Romeo, and made my way through this tunnel to our room.

Ian arrived at about 20.00, and we went looking for some supper. We found a place with a 10€ menu, but it had no tables left. We then opted for a newly opened pizza place over the road. Unfortunately, I can't show their red burnished plaster walls that looked like satin.

Saturday morning found us looking for local markets. This is my favourite way to explore a city. Outside the Piazza della Repubblica market we saw gypsy skirts:

and watermelons:

Inside, we saw memorable aubergines:

herbs: and walnuts:

In another market hall we saw fish:

We headed off to the Superga basilica enjoying the views from the rack railway. At trh tpo we luched at the terminus cafe, and watched as a terrific thunderstorm made its way over the city centre. The thunderstorm went on for over an hour, making walking in sandals a bit perrilous.

Our next destination was the ice cream festival in the Piazzo Carlo Alberto. This ran on Friday and Saturday from 14.00 - 24.00. Here about ten tents housed displays of interest to ice cream makers. There was a separate tent for buying the 1€ ticket that allowed you to sample two of the ice creams. All of this was made more difficult as it was still pouring with rain and the cobbled square was very wet in places. The ice cream was well worth it, and we could sample the wares of about a dozen different gelaterias.

Back home and dried out, we walked around the Lingotto neighborhood looking for food. We ended up at the Ristorante Mina . Mina welcomed us, and our waiter, Mario, took excellent care of us. He served our meals with just a sample of each other's dish on the plate. Thus we were spared waving our plates around to try all the food. The desserts were halved between the two plates.

Sunday afternoon saw us taking the train out to the nearby town of Chieri in order to trace some of the Piedmont textile industry. Like central Brittany which we visited at the end of May, the Turin area was formerly known for silk, linen, hemp , and latterly cotton. My researches on the European Textile Network website had shown that there is a textile museum there. What I didn't know were the restrictive opening hours. Groups of more than 10 persons can write to apply for a visit.

Realising that we had missed out, we peered into the only windows available and saw a couple of looms and a spinning wheel. The building was a former convent that had been used as a spinning mill from 1809 until the 1960's. Now the long convent buildings house the museum and the inevitable martial arts studio. (Former textile mills here in Long Eaton and Darley Abbey have been used in the same way.)

As we looked around the duomo, we were approached by a man. He turned out to be an unofficial tourist guide. After a brief chat with the priest, he asked our nationality and gave us the textile museum leaflet. (The town tourist office had been open on the Saturday, and wouldn't be open again for a week.) He then took us round behind the main altar and showed us the carved choir stalls and vestigial wall paintings. We just about understood his Italian.

We continued walking in the town, and were pleased to see that one ice cream parlour was well used by the locals. Another 1€ each gave us some relief from the heat.

Before flying home on Monday we made it to a yarn shop.

We had passed it on a tram trip on the Sunday. As Ian's 3€ 24 hour public transport ticket was about to expire my visit was for about 5 minutes.

In that time I found some 75 % linen/25 % mixed fibres knitting yarn at a bargain price.

Turin really is a great city for a short break, but perhaps better when it is not so hot!

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Big confession

My first "One Skein" parcel arrived on Tuesday.

Yesterday I was in a hurry to go to Bradford to see a friend's work on display at Bradford College, and took the skein with me.
On the train I couldn't resist winding it into a ball, so that I could really feel it.

The upshot is that I haven't photographed it yet.
So firstly here is a verbal description.

It came from House of Hemp and is suitably fine for my liking.
What's more it is purple and other rich colours.

I'll just have to hold you in "suspenders" for a few days until I have the time to take its photograph.

Monday, June 19, 2006

They know me so well ...

Isn't that along the lines of a Rice/Lloyd Webber ditty from years ago?
I really don't want to dredge it up in my mind, as I'll not get rid of the tune for days if I do.

Here is one of my birthday presents from last week. Mary S and Michelle from the Long Eaton Art Room visited the Patchings festival and found me this brooch from Lily Mosaics.
Just my style, and there are lots and lots of colours I can wear with it.

But before I got that the Royal Mail man arrived with my Secret Pal 8 parcel.
The customs declaration listed "yarn, chocolate", hence the "chocolate yarn mmm!!" comment as it was handed over to me.

Now for the contents: Firstly there was a good sized cardboard box. Inside it I pulled out sheet after sheet of crumpled copier paper, numbering about ten in total. I haven't yet thought of a good use for that.

Inside the box was this fantastic load of goodies: Tea, including honeybush, which I hadn't tried before; 70% and 85 % cocoa content chocolate; some elegant notelets, and a set of magnetic page markers with images of monkeys and bananas.

Last but not least, the most amazingly red yarn (shading through to black), nice and fine (2 ply superwash merino), just right for me. This is a new label to me: "Perchance to Knit".

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

"Chocolate yarn ... mmm!!"

That was the comment from the Royal Mail man as he dropped off my fantastic parcel about 30 minutes ago.

He got the emphasis right too!!

I just received my first installment of SP8 kindness.
A box came from the US with teas, chocolate and the most amazingly red yarn.

Not that I know what honeybush tea is yet.
Thanks for introducing me to something new.
Think I'll try that before heading off to the Art Room.
(I always have some rooibos tea around)

Here the weather has become much more seasonal.
It is dull with a hint of possible rain in the air.
The outside thermometer reads 12-13 C (54 F) at 11.55.
It went down to 8 C at night.

I'll post pictures soon.
Now what can I make with the rumpled copier paper that filled out the box?
How about a bit of newsprint next time?

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Too hot to celebrate

Yesterday was the hottest I've ever known the 12th June to be in England.
According to our external thermometer it got up to 31 C in the shade.
Now that might be biased, but it was hot!!

Later in the day it rained and the temperature dropped down to 9 C sometime in the night.

Why do I keep track of the weather on 12th June?
Simple answer: it is my birthday.

I can remember one birthday that was much colder, which I spent on the island of Fano, just west of Esbjerg in Denmark.
Then the five summers I lived in St.Catherines, Ontario were surely pretty warm.
Round about 1990 I was in Vancouver, and that was pretty steamy, but I think not as hot as yesterday.

Today the weather has broken, and it has rained quite a bit, and after a morning temp of 23 C it dropped down to a more seasonal 14 C.

Thursday, June 08, 2006

Prioritising - turning the compost heap or blogging?

I couldn't blog last week as we were away, so this has been my dilemma this week. (Then when I went to use Blogger it was down.)

The compost heaps needed attention. One was full, the second pretty well rotted, and the third empty. But before I can start to fill one, I have to turn the full one.

The temperature has been rising, and my eyes have been running. However, it is going to get hotter.

So on Tuesday afternoon instead of attempting to post here, I went down the garden and got to work. What a virtuous feeling I had once it was all done. Does that count for the whole week's portions of 30 minutes vigorous exercise?

The top picture shows the apple blossom, tulips and forget-me-nots a month ago. Here is a general view this week.

The forget-me-nots are fading and need to be composted, hence the urgent need for work on turning the compost. The geranium phaeum is still going strong, only getting taller.

Tucked away in the centre are the oriental poppies. They have huge impact when you look out from the house, but barely show up in a picture.

I don't know what this is. My mother gave it to me when looking for some Iris graminea that I had given her years ago. This is what grew instead.

Love-in-a-mist crops up all over the place, frequently trying to make us think that we have had success with carrots. We have stony soil, and not much success with carrot germination in the first place.

And here we have some of the local wildlife sitting alongside the pond out of the sun. Usually they can be seen tastefully displayed on the lily pads, but it must have been too hot for them (25 C in the shade).

Like me they aren't getting much knitting done!