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sakon76: (Sakon)
Back in Eastleigh, with my inlaws. Had a FANTASTIC time with [livejournal.com profile] toothycat in Cambridge, as always. Got hailed on in two places (Flag Fen and the Cambridge Botanical Garden) but only drizzled on at the Craeftiga crafts fair at Sutton Hoo, where Wonderful Husband and I purchased some honeycomb (for my father-in-law), some honey (for us), and a handmade vase and wooden bowl (for my mother-in-law's birthday present). The weather, as always, conspired to remind me of why the British have historically loved wool. Also, given that this was at least partially a reenactment craft fair, I'm feeling the medieval costuming vibe again. Probably in linen not wool, given I live in SoCal....

This afternoon we went into Winchester in search of the used bookshops, where I lucked out on a couple cookbooks, some Victorian costuming books (including Norah Waugh's Corsets and Crinolines for seven and a half pounds!) and Mansfield Park in the old red hardback Everyman's Library edition. And a jar of ginger preserved in honey, which Wonderful Husband says I am entirely welcome to.

I am thinking costuming thoughts for when we gt back. We're returning halfway through RenFaire season, so I won't have time to sew anything up for that this year (I should get off my duff and do it in the OFF-season!), but both SDCC and Costume College will be coming up in July. I've had a brainworm about making the Squiddle, with his blue eyes and dark blond hair, a TOS Captain Kirk outfit. And making a science blue matching set for Wonderful Husband. And a red minidress for me to complete the set. Which I could wear at both SDCC and CoCo. And if I have time, I have several lengths of fabric I've earmarked for Regency dresses, but I would need to make new stays for that, so we'll see. I know the CoCo packet will be waiting for me at home. Eager to see what classes will be offered this year. Since I made the executive decision not to teach this year (among other reasons, I burnt out after teaching, and screwing up, four classes last year), I'll be freer than usual to decide what I want to learn.
sakon76: (Sakon)
Currently in Cambridge. Currently actually in Squiddle's room upstairs in [livejournal.com profile] toothycat's house while Wednesday Anime goes on downstairs. Squiddle wanted to watch stuff on the tablet and this was the (current) compromise that worked best.

During the drive up, an advert came on the radio (can't remember for what), and I asked Wonderful Husband "Is that Brian Blessed?" He listened for a second, confirmed that it was, then teased me that I only knew that because of Squiddle watching Peppa Pig. Which is entirely true. ^_^

Earlier today we went to the Cambridge Science Center, and then to Flag Fen, a pre-Roman archaeological site. Where we got hailed on, briefly! But some very interesting stuff there.
sakon76: (Sakon)
In England, in Southampton, where my inlaws are adoring spending time with their only grandchild. :)

The flight over was miserable for various reasons, but at least only (ha, "only"!) nine and three-quarters hours long. It took us a couple of days to get over the jetlag and lack of sleeping on the flight, but I think we're adjusted now.

I have a couple of projects I should be working on. Writing more novel, my blocks for this month's Block Lotto... but thus far I've just been powering through my latest embroidery project. Embroidery is fairly mindless. I brought four cards of floss with me and have already polished off two. ^_^;; Tomorrow I shall sew, as the quilt blocks have a deadline, and then when I have those done, I shall see about reviewing and writing.
sakon76: (Sakon)
We came to Britain with three luggages and are leaving with four. But that's okay; my inlaws frequently do the same thing on their trips to America, so we trade luggages back and forth across the Atlantic. Also okay because we're flying Premium Economy this time, so we're within our luggage allowance.

Less okay is getting up at 5:30am tomorrow because Virgin Airlines cancelled our nice, leisurely afternoon departure flight, and slotted us onto their morning departure one. Sigh. Que sera sera.

I'm feeling a bit smug because I got the first three luggages to all weigh exactly the same (48.6 pounds) almost by accident. No idea on the last luggage yet, because it will need to include things like our pyjamas and bathrobes.

We've had a lovely time over here on our long holiday, spending time with family and friends. Going back to our daily lives is going to be a change, and we're going to miss everyone we visit and hang out with over here. There are only two things I'd change about this vacation. One is to somehow magically make Squiddle happier about sleeping in a playpen when needs must. And the other is to have experienced a little bit of snow. We had freezing temperatures, and we had precipitation. We just never had them at the same time. Alas. Perhaps next time....

Or, who knows? Maybe it'll snow in Los Angeles again. ^_^
sakon76: (Sakon)
Signs pointing the way, in all blunt honesty and with no trace of irony, toward Corpsewood Park.

I love these gruesome images.
sakon76: (Sakon)
Read Ysabel. Now have read both the books I brought with me, and finished 3/4 of the craft projects. I may ask to go back to the local craft shop, if it's not inconvenient, just to get something to do with my hands. Because I can only write in silence, and while I love my inlaws dearly, the television is always on. At the moment I've retreated upstairs to the guest bedroom to try to clear my head and see if I can find my words.

Yesterday's trip to London was mostly a success. I can report that Chipotle here is very nearly as good as the one at home, with just a hair's difference of quality. We did Hamley's, Liberty, Harrod's, failed at the V&A because I'd forgot to check opening hours, went to Trafalgar Square and saw the 65-foot Norwegian spruce Christmas tree, and took a look at the London Eye.

Squiddle, unfortunately, threw up in the sandwich shop in Harrod's, and again on the train going home. Other than those two minutes, however, he was in good spirits. He didn't have a fever last night, and has had no recurrences today, so we think it was just a tummy bug. And fortunately there were two changes of clothing in his diaper bag.

After hauling a stroller up and down stairs and escalators through London, however, we have concluded that handicapped access is a distant dream in the face of the Underground. Between three of us adults we were able to handle the one infant and pushchair. A wheelchair would simply not be possible.
sakon76: (Sakon)
My sleep pattern seems to be drifting closer to normal, which can be nothing but good. I've hit a roadblock on one of the stories I was working on and so shifted to the handwork projects I brought with me. I packed three, all "finish ups" from this year's Costume College. My Regency reticule is now done, so the next time I need a 19th century purse, I'm set. I also finally finished beading the two sample bags for the beaded fringe evening bags class I taught. There is a qualitative difference produced by running the beading pattern horizontally versus vertically, so now I can show that. And while I've been working with my hands, my brain has produced the solution to my writing block, so tomorrow I'm planning to switch back to that.

Wednesday we're going to London for the day, so I'm making a short list of places we want to go. Harrod's, Hamley's, Liberty of London, a quick pop in at the V&A just to see if they have a gift shop outside of the pay entrance, because there are a couple of books I want, and because I am a dork like this, tracking down a Chipotle in London for lunch, to see if their fare is of any greater or lesser quality than the branches back in the USA. (It happens. Ask my husband about the difference between UK and US Burger Kings, KFCs, McDonalds, and Pizza Huts.) Maybe also going to the London Eye? We shall see.
sakon76: (Sakon)
I'm really hoping this won't be one of those trips where I never adjust to the time difference. Because after getting up to nurse Squiddle at 1:30, I laid in bed for three hours, trying to get to sleep, before finally giving up and coming downstairs for tea, toast, and internet.

The weather here has been cool and damp, though we haven't actually got rained on yet. The BBC weather reports are including 50-foot seas in the Outer Hebrides, though, which pokes my bunny brain into thinking "Hey, I can use that..." though I have no idea how or where. The Hebrides, of course, being where Berk is fictitiously located.

I have been able to poke at some writing over the last couple days, though setting myself anything like a number of words to do a day is useless. The editing program on Laptop-chan is SciTe, which has no word count function that I can find. Also, the Squiddle is not fond of me reading or typing or, in fact, holding much in my hands that is not him. Still, I'll have at least one piece to post on Christmas this year, and have managed to read my way through American Gods, which was more to my taste than I'd feared. The blurbs which mentioned horror elements had me worried, but apparently for naught. So now I'm two books behind on my 2014 book reports.

Time to finish my tea and see if I can find any of that elusive sleep before dawn.
sakon76: (Sakon)
After a flight that seemed shorter than usual, we arrived safely at Heathrow. Squiddle was mostly very good during the flight, except for one crying fit when he was overtired, trying desperately to sleep, and just couldn't. But he got there eventually. Wonderful Husband and I got very little sleep on the flight, and didn't get to watch more than half an hour of a film. So yesterday was a very long day. But hopefully it helped reset our inner clocks.

Safe in Southampton, at my inlaws', and trying to convince myself to start working on writing stuffs.
sakon76: (Sakon)
Have been running around like mad whittling down the list of stuff-to-be-done-before-we-go-to-England. Thus the radio silence. Most of it is now done, which is good, given that I have about 36 hours left before we leave. Included in the stuff I've knocked off the list is shipping another batch of milk to the milk bank. 302 ounces!

Anyhow, midnight. Bedtime. I'll probably be more chatty once I'm on a different continent. Later~!
sakon76: (Sakon)
It has been a very long day. And tomorrow starts very early. But for now, I will finish my soup, go to the bedroom, and collapse onto the bed. Various quasi-amusing anecdotes about the day to come later. 'Night, y'all.
sakon76: (Sakon)
Now in Cambridge, for the next couple days. Wales had the effrontery to be completely sunny and gorgeous the day we left. The peak of Snowdon, the day after we visited it, was completely clear. Of course. :)

The drive was broken up by stops for lunch, petrol, at the Glassblobbery, where we got to watch a glass dragon being made, and at Shugborough, which is a working historical estate that really would require a week, not an hour, to explore properly. Just a little bit after leaving the Glassblobbery, we passed a bison farm! So, to my tally, Wales contains uncountable cattle, even more innumerable sheep, half a dozen llamas, five goats, two pigs, and a herd of bison.

Then, coming down the A14 about 30 miles out of Cambridge, we watched a rainbow (the second one of the day) grow. And it hit the point where it was doubled. Gorgeous! Of course, as soon as I thought to fumble my camera out of my bag in the backseat, we had passed through the rainstorm and it vanished. :/ But the world is a richer place for such things existing.
sakon76: (Sakon)
Yesterday we got off to a late start, and went to buy tickets to take the train up Snowdon mountain; given the times that were available, we ended up purchasing tickets for today, then went off elsewhere. Elsewhere included the Trifew Woollen Mill, which was an interesting contrast to the Whitchurch Silk Mill Wonderful Husband and I visited earlier this trip. We then went to Conwy, where I can now say I've had the genuine British seaside experience: eating ice cream (lemon curd flavor!) on the beach, in the cold. :) We then walked Conwy's medieval town walls, then came back to Beddgelert and had the most delicious stir-fry, followed by games of Ticket to Ride and Carcassonne..

Today, we went to Snowdon and rode the train to the top. Which was all fun and neat and fantastic views, until we hit the cloudline. Then we eventually started noticing the snowdrifts outside the train car. Then we reached the top, and before the doors even opened, we noticed the ice on the gridwire mesh below the handrail, and how from the ice you could tell the direction of the prevailing wind....

We went through the cafe and climbed up the slushy steps to the top. The grass was coated in ice. The visibility was probably less than thirty feet. The wind was blowing so hard that I angled myself against the rocks on the ground. We weren't up there long, just a few minutes (the train only stops for 30 minutes at the summit), then, as we climbed down again toward the cafe and the promise of hot chocolate, we got attacked by stinging wind-driven hail. After we'd ducked it multiple times before on this trip, it finally caught up with us. I do have to say, any inclinations I might have had toward becoming an Alpine climber have now been thoroughly quashed. Everest is not in my future. :)

Upon reaching the bottom of the mountain, we sought sustenance and a honey/mead shop [livejournal.com profile] toothycat knew about, then decamped to Anglesey in search of standing stones and burial chambers. We found four discrete ones, which were each neat in their own way. Though uniformly in locations that made us break out in variations of "cows to the left of me / sheep to the right / here I am, stuck in the middle with you." The last burial chamber was in a very obscure demi-offroad location by an abandoned farm, which made me want to adopt it and fix it. :(

And then after the mild and temperate weather in Anglesey, on our way back to Beddgelert, we got hailed on again. :)
sakon76: (Sakon)
Thus far this trip, Wonderful Husband and I have ducked hail three times. First when we were driving out of the carpark in Stratford-upon-Avon, yesterday when we had gotten back on the Ffestiniog Railway to return to Porthmadog, and this morning just now, when it started hailing outside the vacation home we're renting in Beddgelert. Given that it was in the 80s shortly before we left California.... :)

Though it did clear up yesterday afternoon and we had a lovely sunlit walk around Beddgelert. It's incredibly beautiful here, and Wonderful Husband, a very urbanite person, was heard to remark that he could live somewhere like this.

Part of the fun of going around Wales is, of course, figuring out how to pronounce (if not actually understand) all the signs in Welsh. Double ds, as in "Beddgelert," are actually a "th" sound: "Bethgelert." Double fs, as in "Ffestiniog," sounds as an f, so "Festiniog." Single fs, however, as in "Caernarfon," are actually vs: "Care-nar-von." Doubled ls, like doubled ds, are a "th" sound, but harsher, like in Cthulu - "Llewelyn" becomes "Cthewelyn." The th in "Porthmadog," however, is pronounced as a straight t: Portmadog. And, amusing because it should have been obvious to me, on the signs that say "siop / shop"? Both are pronounced exactly the same.
sakon76: (Sakon)
Today, we went to Caernarfon Castle, which was in a reasonable state of repair/conservation, and quite fascinating to me for the insight it gave into early medieval life. For instance, it was cold and wet the entire time, so I now actually understand why outer garments were all made of wool. In SoCal, one of the problems with reenactment garb is "how not to overheat." Here, it'd be quite the opposite!

Also interesting to me is how, in Wales, everything closes at 4pm on Sundays. ^.^;; So after castle-ing, we took the scenic route back. Britain in general gives me a better sense for why the human eye is developed to distinguish more shades of green than of any other color. Wales is no exception to this. It was very wet and hilly, very aesthetic. There are sheep everywhere, dotting the steep hillsides (and shallower valleys) like creamy fuzzy rocks. They don't all stay on their side of the fence, either, though I do note that I've not seen any roadkill ones yet. Roads are bordered by slate dry-construction stone walls. And everywhere, everywhere, there are a million tiny little waterfalls and rivulets. This is amazing to me. This is not a country where the words "water rationing" mean anything.

Tomorrow, as the rain forecast is heavier than today or Tuesday, we are planning to take the Ffestiniog Railway and see what we discover....

Unrelatedly, during my vacation, I have been working on a cross-stitch embroidery kit I inherited from my paternal grandmother, who passed away when I was a teenager. Consequently, I have been thinking of her quite a bit. My parents, when I called them earlier, reminded me that tomorrow is the twentieth anniversary of her death. Almost as though my thinking of her summoned the reminder. I hope to finish the project by the time I get back home, and post a picture of it then.
sakon76: (Sakon)
Have arrived safely in Beddgelert, Wales. Drive was rather harrowing at some points (some involving narrow, twisty roads with sharp cliffs, others involving insane downpours; fortunately, not both at the same time).

Stratford-upon-Avon was, alas, somewhat disappointing. I think it's the most commercialized place I've been to in the UK; please bear in mind that this is being said by someone who has spent the last 25+ years of her life living within ten miles of Disneyland....
sakon76: (Sakon)
We went to Salisbury Cathedral today. Good god, that's an impressive structure. There really isn't anything on that scale in California, either in grandiosity or age. (A tiny bit of me always looks at half the architecture here in the UK and thinks "One good quake, and that'd come tumbling down." I am such a Californian.) It's always a bit odd walking around cathedrals over here, because I'm never sure if I'm being disrespectful in walking over where people are interred beneath the floor. I mean, if you go to a graveyard, you just don't walk over the graves....

Anyway, very big building. Very beautiful. Very impressive. Has a very nifty working medieval clock, which Wonderful Husband was quite taken with, and, oh, by the way, the freaking Magna Carta.

That sound you just heard? That was the echoes of my brain being broken. I have seen one of the four surviving copies of the Magna Carta with my own eyes. I have been less than two inches away from it.

GAH.

Nothing quite like this in America. Not even on the East Coast.

Tomorrow, Wonderful Husband and I head to North Wales, there to meet up with [livejournal.com profile] toothycat. We're stopping in Stratford-upon-Avon to break up the drive. Just since, y'know, it's on our route anyway....

Totally broken.
sakon76: (Sakon)
So, I do not drive while in England. Wonderful Husband thinks I am unjustly paranoid about driving on what is to me the wrong side of the road. I cheerfully agree with him that I am unjustly paranoid about it, and just continue to refuse to do it. The ingrained habit of nearly twenty years of driving on the right is hard to break, and given that I frequently still forget which side of the vehicle is the driver's side over here, I see no need to risk my life and the life of my passengers.

This does, however, give me a fair amount of time to be looking out the car window, observing the scenery. Which is fine by me, and still fascinating, after all these years and visits! For some reason, this trip I've been noticing the local roadkill a bit. Maybe because it's the first time I've been here in the warm season, and thus animals are more likely to be out and about?

For comparison purposes, please realize that I live in the middle of suburbia. I normally see dead opossums, cats, dogs, and pigeons. (British pigeons, BTW, are huge. Easily twice the size of the ones at home. I can see for the first time why people started putting them in pies.) Here in England, however, I see deer at the side of the road. Fawns, rabbits, badgers. And, perhaps most fascinating to me, ring-necked pheasants. There's a tiny voice in the back of my head that says "Wait - can we stop? I just want the feathers." Fortunately I am very adept at ignoring this voice. But oh, as Monty Python put it, they do have beautiful plumage....
sakon76: (Sakon)
Wonderful Husband has just spent 15 minutes on his parents' piano reconstructing from memory the Tetris theme. Given that he doesn't even play piano, he has declared this a feat of geekdom. I am inclined to agree. ^_^

Have been keeping relatively busy. On Sunday, WH and his family and I went to the Whitchurch Silk Mill, which I think everyone found interesting. Between the three of us, WH & Sister-in-Law & I wove maybe an inch of silk taffeta on one of their practice looms. Very fun, and the intricacies of the machinery were sufficiently fascinating for the more technologically-minded (IE, the men) among us.

Monday was a bank holiday, so we went to the (new) Costco near my inlaws' home. I was surprised - it was just as big as the one at home! Though the contents were a mix of American stuff and British. Or, at least, the one at home doesn't have family-sized cottage pies, ready to bake, nor lamb steaks, venison and cranberry sausages, nor bathmat-sized squashy packages of Tetley's and PG Tips teabags. (Had either of those latter been decaf, WH's favored type of tea, at least one would have found its way into our luggage.) We also went window-shopping around West Quay.

Yesterday, Wonderful Husband and I went off to Bath. It was good timing because yesterday was warm and sunny and today is cooler and rainy. We went to the Roman Baths, of course, which turned out to be a surprisingly huge museum complex! And, yes, we both drank of the water. Though the bath itself was being drained and cleaned that day, the red-brown crud getting scrubbed off by two men in hip waders wielding push brooms, clumps of it drifting toward the drain....

We also went to the Assembly Rooms, which, hominahominahomina, are gorgeous, and of course (me being me), the Fashion Museum under them, where I took lots of photos. We then walked over to The Circus and the Royal Crescent, then stopped by the Jane Austen Center on our way back to the park and ride. I've mostly been in the flatter places of England, so it was a bit surprising to me that Bath is very hilly! Not quite as bad as San Francisco, but not too far off either. It made riding on the second story of the park and ride bus kind of scary and kind of fun.

That's all so far from England! More reports to come as warranted.
sakon76: (Sakon)
Uneventful flight, huzzah! Premium Economy class is indeed very nice; I suspect First Class would break my brain. As in, we got to our seats and immediately got offered champagne, orange juice, a newspaper... not used to things like that.

Watched Rise of the Guardians (I know you're all shocked) on the flight and then fell asleep for about half the trip. Read a chapter of my current book, and did nothing further. Serves me right for loading my carryon with too many things to do.

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