A taste of Bayern

I was meaning to post more pictures about the Hampstead area of London, but after reading Yarnbrarian’s post on their trip planning, here it is, a post on a recent trip to Munich, Bayern, Southern Germany, for some inspiration.

A few highlights, starting with the Old Town Hall, the New Town Hall, then the Cathedral and finally a typical party in traditional folk style!

The Old Town Hall (Altes Rathaus) is located in the East side of Marienplatz, in the very centre of the city and easily reachable by public transport. Being first documented in the 14th century, it had been the domicile of the municipality until 1874.

In 1874 the municipality moved to the New Town Hall (Neues Rathaus), located in the northern part of Marienplatz. The building is very large and hosts a gallery accessible from the inner courtyard. There is free entrance and the beauty of the Neo-Gothic architecture is worth dedicating some hours to wander around in its corridors, enjoying its magic atmosphere and flights of stairs. It has extensive stained glasses with various subjects, including noblemen, city views, a set of American themes (the Statue of Liberty, many American presidents and distinguished people) and manly love. The Glockenspiel performs daily at 11am, 12pm and 5pm.

The New Town Hall:

The Old Town Hall:

The Cathedral of Our Dear Lady (Frauenkirche) was consecrated in 1494 and features two towers, which are accessible to the public, climbing up the stairs, and offer a unique view of Munich and the nearby Alps (sadly they were shut when we arrived). It hosts interesting attractions: among others, the Cenotaph of Emperor Louis IV and the Devil’s Footstep (Teufelstritt), around which different legends have been built.

And more pictures, some are random shots, most were taken at the 40th birthday party of a dear friend, hosted in a traditional mountain hut in the city centre (!)…

Enjoy!

A history of London in pictures: the Hampstead Heath

Hampstead Heath, also locally known as The Heath, is an ancient natural park situated in North London, not very far from the Camden Town area. While Camden has a rather alternative flavour, the area of Hampstead Village is on the posh side. On one side of the heath, there is Hampstead Village, which has a long history and beautiful old houses. On the other side, there is Highgate Village, with its beautiful historic cemeteries (Karl Marx lies there).

The Heath has a gracious mix of various landscapes and landmarks: it includes beautiful woods, grassy hilly areas with breathtaking views on London, ponds, swimming ponds, bird areas, Kenwood House, a lido and some playgrounds.

Here it follows a gallery of views and places in the Heath and its surroundings (the photos are taken with my iPhone, so the quality is not the highest really!)

The area is really extensive and there is another set of photos taken in the surroundings of the Heath, including the Pergola, Whitestone, the Observatory and Hampstead Village… but that will have to be another post!

long time no speak

There are times in life, when a certain state is reached and the need for change occurs: the state we may be finding ourselves at that point in, it is one that differs from the state of affairs we wish. In the course of the past year, I have recognised myself as being in a necessity of change – it was needed for my well-being. I am undertaking a path for change, which is not sure where it will lead me to. Change is usually not easily attainable – if it is at all, it may involve a lengthy process, which may drain one’s energies.

Reserves of energy are limited, and I find myself having to not attend to things, activities or situations that I would have otherwise done. At times, it happens that there is a need to withdraw from “noisy” contexts, maybe go “offline”, disconnect. So this is part of the reasons why I have not being posting for a while. On the other hand, I have taken up activities that, for some reasons, I had left behind in the past: reading, meeting up with friends, going for a walk.

As a kid and a young adult, I would read very often, but in the last years, I could seldom get myself to complete a book. Maybe out of curiosity or a need for distraction, I’ve recently been reading quite a lot. I’ll briefly introduce some of the books, so bear with me if you’re still interested…

In a way, these were related to history (some treated about real history, others about an imaginary one), in particular that of areas now part of the United Kingdom.

One of the first I read was Vinland by George Mackay Brown. Some time has passed since, so I don’t recall everything about it. Though, it was an interesting reading, although at times I remember feeling somewhat unsatisfied with it (it felt a bit too religion-prone). It is the story of Ranald, an imaginary Orkney-born character, and follows his story and adventures, from his youth trip across the ocean to Vinland, to later times at the court of Norway, the fighting at the side of the Earl of Orkney in Ireland, and life back to the family farm in Orkney until his final days. It reads very much like a saga. A much better description and thorough commentaries can be found on this GoodRead page.

Image Vinland by George Mackay Brown

More recently, I read The Story of England – a Village and its People Through the Whole of English History by Michael Wood. The book accompanied a major BBC TV series, focusing on the village of Kibworth in Leicestershire and its community throughout the centuries, from Roman Britain to the modern days. I thoroughly enjoyed it and appreciated Michael Wood skills in telling stories from the past in a fascinating manner. While there will accidentally (unavoidable) be mention of kings, the focus is more on the overall life and perspective of the people. I would wholeheartedly recommend it!

Image The Story of England by Michael Wood

While I was at the local community library, my attention was captured by a strange book. I hardly had any knowledge or familiarity with the subject – ghosts in an English rectory (I even didn’t know what a rectory exactly was!), but curiosity got hold of me. I borrowed out the two books on the subject: The Enigma of Borley Rectory by Ivan Banks and The Borley Rectory Companion: the Complete Guide to the Most Haunted House in England by Paul Adams, Peter Underwood and Eddie Brazil. The first book is a comprehensive, even if biased, presentation of the topic: very briefly, the Borley Rectory was built on the ground previously occupied by older buildings and was seemingly haunted by various apparitions and characters (a 17th century nun, an old fashioned horse coach, a headless man, a little girl, among others). It offers a thorough investigation on the historical matter that could have originated the facts presented. I would say that I’m not inclined in believing in supernatural, but after reading it I thought whether there was some truth in the stories, chiefly because of the many witnesses across different times (collective hysteria, or for our current knowledge inexplicable facts?). I found the reading compelling but also scary at times… especially during the night sessions before bedtime! The other book, offers a more coarse overview, followed by a dictionary-like treatment of the corpus, but has extra and more recent information, due to the later date of publication. Overall, I would recommend both of them to those who have an interest or curiosity about the subject.

IMG_2491 Borley Rectory

Currently, I am reading The First Europe – A Study of the Establishment of Medieval Christendom, A.D. 400-800 by C. Delisle Burns (1947): the work is concerned with the establishment of the early Christian Europe and investigates in particular the coming in being of moral authority and new social relations. Although some of the material may be somewhat dated, the subject is still source of interest and fairly well presented.

The First Europe by C Delisle Burns The First Europe by C Delisle Burns

The post has well overran an ideal length.. so that’s it for today! You all take good care ♥

A bit of everything: yarn, history, swatches

Today’s post is about many different things, though still business-as-usual we could say: yarn, history books, swatches.

The first news is that I received some beautiful yarn, that will join the enormous stock that I have by now. Yes, I’m considering sorting and destashing some of it at some point. Anyway, the yarn I received includes some wool (no label but it feels like good quality) in shades of browns, greys, beige and gold yellow, probably a 4 ply, in a cone of over 600 grams. Together with it, some British Wensleydale wool in cream and brown: a little ball is handspun – incredibly soft and with a natural shine; the rest is in 50g regular balls. I’m in love, with all of them. By coincidence, Kate Davies’ last design, Catkin, features a beautiful yarn, Titus, made with a blend of British wools (50% grey Wensleydale, 20% Blue-Faced Leicester, 30% UK alpaca), which thing made me smile, as I ordered the yarn before even reading about it. I must have a ‘good nose’ for good yarns, lol.

handspun British Wensleydale handspun British Wensleydale (not my work!)

wool in shades of browns, greys, beige and gold yellow wool in shades of browns, greys, beige and gold yellow

British Wensleydale British Wensleydale

Other recent deliveries contained some Jamieson and Smith Shetland yarn, some Shetland wool on cone that I mentioned in another post, and some circular 2mm needles in 20, 30 and 40 cm. Now I’d only need an app to keep track of my items, before my memory forgets what’s in my beloved stash.

Jamieson and Smith Jamieson and SmithJamieson and SmithJamieson and Smith

In today’s stroll I stopped at an Oxfam bookshop and availed myself of some history-related books: In Search of England – Journeys into the English Past by my favourite Michael Wood (if you have access to BBC iPlayer seek out for his history documentaries); The Wars of the Roses – a Royal History of England edited by Antonia Fraser (an introduction to the topic can be found  on the Wars of the Roses wikipedia page); Ancient Britain by James Dyer, about the prehistoric life of Britain from the first human occupation 450,000 years ago, until the Roman conquest in AD 43; Diamonds – a Jubilee Celebration by Caroline de Guitaut (I’m no royal fan but the book is interesting in that it presents the story behind the royal jewels). Maybe I ought to start a clear out in my book section, as well…

In Search of England- Journeys into the English Past   The Wars of the Roses   Ancient Britain by James Dyer Diamonds - a Jubilee Celebration

Lastly, I have done some progress on my swatch playground. The first one of this series is completed but ends are still to be sawn in and washing to be done. Here is a preview of the beginning, other pictures will follow once I have done more swatches. It looks nice but requires a loooong time – knitting a fine 2x2ply with a 2mm single-point needles, so it takes forever and especially colourwork knitting on the wrong side… I know, I could have used circular needles but I also wanted to learn colourwork in flat knitting (plus I was lazy at the idea of trying steeking). I was tired and kept having issues with silly colour pattern mistakes (had to unravel about 1/3 of it) and stitches cheekily sticking out their heads here and there without any reason (the stitch count seemed to be still fine?). Anyway, the first test is more or less done. I’m now trying another on an even finer yarn… wish me luck!

Swatch no. 1, 2x2ply on 2 mm flat knitting, Shetland yarn             Swatch no. 1, 2x2ply on 2 mm flat knitting, Shetland yarn

View from the kitchen window                 View from the kitchen window

The hidden perils of a library trip

Libraries are wonderful places where it is easy to get lost – similarly it is the case with bookshops – at least in my experience. Though, this is not the danger that it is meant in the title: the borough libraries have a great policy of selling withdrawn copies, which means that each time I attend the library there is the risk of me bringing back some purchased books. Usually it’s not much, but today – it was a while I hadn’t gone – there seemed to be more interesting titles than usual and six curious books joined me on my way home… honestly, I can’t tell how that happened! Neither am I able to tell where these will be placed, as there is hardly any inch free on the bookshelves…

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“The hare with amber eyes: a hidden inheritance”, Edmund de Waal

Trying to forget these little troubles, I would like to introduce the latest members joining our family. All of them have an historic theme, be it perhaps due to my curiosity? Anyhow, we can divide them broadly into two sub-sections: the first related to British history and the latter to international topics.

Proceeding in order we start with a small tome, “A Guide to the Stone Circles of Britain, Ireland and Brittany” by Aubrey Burl. It appears to contain a comprehensive register of prehistoric human-made stone arrangements and some black and white photographs, subdivided in four main regions, from Northern Scotland to the North-West of France. Past visits to stone circles in England were a deeply fascinating experience and so, in the hope of using it in future travels, I took the book.

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The second title is “How we used to live in Victorian Times” by Freda Kelsall, which is an educational book presenting different aspects of life in that age, like work and living conditions, different social classes, technology, law, education and various others. It contains interesting pictures from various sources of the time, which well depict life in the second half of the 19th century. The presentation is concise but fairly informative and pleasant to follow. While this chronicle is not something that I would use every day, it nevertheless constitutes a good reading to learn more about the past culture of Great Britain.

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The last book of the national section is “Blood of the Isles” by Bryan Sykes, which explores the genetic roots of the populations of Britain and Ireland, based on a major research programme that the author and his team at Oxford University carried out on DNA of over 10,000 people from these areas. Such work sought to investigate the relation between the modern genetic composition and that of the tribes and populations – Celts, Romans, Saxons, Vikings and Normans, to name a few – that inhabited these isles. The outcome would appear to challenge common beliefs and conventional historical accounts, and may help improve our understanding of the successive waves of settlers and the traces they left behind.

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The international section starts with “The Hare with Amber Eyes” by Edmund de Waal, a memoir on the journey of a Japanese collection of netsuke (and the family who owned them) across continents and time. A thorough description of the story is presented in this editorial in the Indian’s Telegraph. I had many reasons to buy the book: I recurrently read about it, the title remained impressed in my memory (I loves hares) and also found the cover to be aesthetically interesting.

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I picked up the next book because recently the (American) Civil War has been quite popular in the media, following Spielberg’s latest film “Lincoln“. The title is “Freedom’s Soldiers – The Black Military Experience in the Civil War” and is edited by Ira Berlin, Joseph P. Reidy and Leslie S. Rowland. All editors are professors of history and brought out various related volumes. This work includes many illustrations and a documentary history (letters and other sources from the records of the National Archives) and I thought it may be a good background read on this era.

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The last in this post is not exactly a book to be read… it’s an old French copy of the “Mignon” opera libretto. I neither play an instrument nor sing, but I occasionally go to the opera (if you are in London I recommend visiting the Royal Opera House). And this old print (19th-early 20th century?) was not to be left unloved on that metal bookshelf – it looked so lonely among all the other modern books.

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And what is the strangest book in your collection – or perhaps the one that you like the most?