Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Britain Extra - Fiber and Sheep Spotting

If you don't know by now, I'm a knitter, spinner, weaver and lover of all things fiber.  If you don't know that about me haven't been reading my blogs.  Anyway, in the course of our travels, anything fiber related was photo worthy.  This entry is to share with you my finds.

The Standing Stones of Stenness in Orkney are actually fenced in for sheep to graze.  When you go and view them, you are invading their territory!  But don't worry, walk slowly.  If you're lucky, you'll get to see them itching their butts on the stones.
Standing Stones of Stenness

On the Mainland just north of Evie is a neat little shop called the Woolshed.  

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Britain Outtake - 8 Reasons to Visit the Orkney Islands

What makes the Orkney Islands unique?  We had the opportunity to find out.

1.  There aren't many trees on the island.  So the islanders put up standing stones so their sheep can itch themselves on them.  There are possibly more sheep than people on the islands.
Standing Stones of Sheepness/Stenness

2.  Are you my mummy?

Britain - the Homeward Journey

So we walked, took the tube then flew home.  We were picked up by a friend and rediscovered our comfy couch and delivered pizza.  

I would go again to Scotland in a heartbeat.  I didn't really like London, but then I don't like crowds and busyness.  Perhaps next time I'll need to explore the west side of England.  Also, I will stay on North Ronaldsay and take the overnight ferry to the Shetlands.  And then there's Ireland and Wales.  

The Hills of Hoy from Brinkie's Brae

I would go again and just sit in the

Britain Day 14 - Oxford and the C. S. Lewis Jubilee

When planning this trip, I searched for C.S. Lewis tours in Oxford so we could do a day trip from London.  To my surprise, Holy Trinity Church, where Lewis attended, was having a C.S. Lewis Jubilee Festival.  This is in honor the 50th anniversary of his death.

We took a bus out to Headington and walked a few blocks down to the church.  There was a walkway up to the carriage house where the exhibition was to be.

We walked in and saw...a display board.  We exchanged glances and smiled, had we come so far to read a display?  But of course there was more.  They had audios of people who knew Jack and of course, cake and tea.  

Britain Day 13 - 221B and the Globe

Sometimes you just have to visit a tourist trap because you want to.  Such is the case with us visiting 221 Baker Street.  It's the actual address where Doyle based the Sherlock Holmes series, so perhaps it's not such a tourist trap after all.  

The place is not just for Sherlock fans, it's also a neat little Victoria style museum.  The building is protected because of its unique Victorian style.  

Even the toilet in the visitor center was picture worthy,

Britain Day 12 - Sarah and the Tower of London

About 10 years ago, I started chatting online with an English woman named Sarah.  We share the same birthday, though not the same year.  We read lots of the same books, have many other interests in common including writing.  Along with a Canadian friend, we three have a writing group together.  Since I was in the "neighborhood," she came down to London to meet me.

"Rosalind" and Sarah

We met at the Tower of London and toured it together.  First off, a beafeater tour.  Quick, humorous and to the point.

I've always pictured the Tower of London more like just a couple tall, towerish buildings.  It's more like a mini town that was built on over the centuries.  There was lots to see and we didn't go into most of the buildings.  Hubby said I was too busy talking.  I say

Britain Day 11 - Salisbury...and the rain, it raineth every day

Another rainy day greeted us as we took a train to Salisbury.  How does one get to Stonehenge without pre-booking?  Take the Salisbury tour bus.  We were able to hop on and off at places around the area, the first stop was of course, Stonehenge.

Yep, there they are.  Huge ancient standing stones.  We walked around them and snapped some pics, trying to stay dry.  On the plus side, there were less people there because of the weather.  I couldn't help but think that the Ring of Brodgar and the Standing Stones of Stenness were more impressive to me.  But it's just one of those things that a tourist has to do if in the area.

2 Ravens having a conversation

 We took the bus to the next stop, Old Sarum.  In retrospect we should've skipped it because of the weather.  The walk up the hill was wet and chilly,

Britain Days 9 & 10 - The Night Train to London

We woke to a rainy, windy morning.  After checking out of Bluebell, we dropped off our laundry and took a taxi to Culloden.  No buses go there on Sunday.

This is where the clans had their last battle and died within an hour.  We spent some time inside the center then walked out onto the battlefiled.

Headsets were provided and we got to #2 when the rain began to pour.  Up went my umbrella, then it went inside out.  At this point in the trip we were pretty tired from a lot of walking and more days were wet than dry.

Britain Day 8 - Pitlochry Highland Games

So if you go to the Scottish Highlands, you'll want to see men in kilts and hear bagpipes, right?  So far the only men in kilts were those who were renting bikes or a part of a wedding party.

Pitlochry Highland Games to the rescue.

We took the train to Pitlochry and as soon as we got off, we heard bagpipes and lots of them.  Just a short walk under the train bridge and to the grounds and we were there.  They were still setting up, I didn't have my time right, so we looked for a place to sit in the lovely "bleacher" section.

Terraced Seating?
The website didn't have a schedule on it, so I guessed what time we should be there.  I knew there would be a parade that went through the town.  We found out that we didn't have to go into the town, the parade would end up walking right in front of us.

The Black Watch

Men in kilts, everywhere.  Lots of them were part of bagpipe bands in which they'd compete later.  If ever there was a place to be inconspicuous in a kilt, this was it.  

Monday, September 23, 2013

Britain Days 6 & 7 - To Inverness and Loch Ness

 We said good-bye to the Orkney Islands and flew off for Inverness.  Yvonne packed us a lunch which we ate at the airport.  The Kirkwall airport is basically one big room, with a door off to a security part.  There is 1 conveyer belt for luggage, I watched some men bring in the luggage from a plane by hand - 4 suitcases.  But everyone took their job seriously and it was the highest security check we had all trip.

Our first stop in Inverness was to do laundry.  The center of the town is really quite small and easily walked within 5-10 minutes.  Our B&B, the Bluebell House was just 2 blocks from the laundry.  We had a lovely 4 poster bed and took advantage of it right away.  We were both pretty tired and took a zero day of napping and vegetating.  I finally had a chance to do some knitting too.

Friday morning we went to a kiltmaking museum.  It was interesting, but there was less there than I thought there would be.  We learned how they are made by hand, saw a funny film about "famous kilts" and saw some people sewing them.

Another shop down the street caught my eye and I went in.  I discovered things made by an Orkney artist, whose studio I wanted to visit but it was always closed when we went by.  Her sister, Judith, owns this shop, a little bit of Orkney in Inverness.

Britain Day 5 - Hoy Island

On a cool, misty morning, we drove onto the car ferry at Houton which took us to Lyness on Hoy.  It was cold and windy outside, so I didn't stay on the deck long and missed seeing the dolphins.  But I guess you can't see everything.

Right from the pier is the Scapa Flow Visitor Center.  We poked around a little in the museum, there is a lot to see there.  We left and decided to drive northwards first.

Up in the northeast part of Hoy is Beneth'll Cafe.  It's a little place with great views over the sea.  Hubby had the special, I had a sandwich and hot chocolate with marshmallows and whipped cream.  The lady was glad we stopped in, she didn't think there would be anyone about since it was a rainy day.  We might have been the only ones to order her special!

Britain Day 4 - Kirkwall and the Southern Islands

Our second day in Orkney was a little cooler but still nice.  We headed east, toward Kirkwall and then down to the southern islands via the Churchill Barriers.  The first stop was the St. Magnus Center where we watched a video.  Then to the St. Magnus Cathedral.

I can't help but think that we did the St. Magnus thing right.  First, the church, then the video then the Cathedral.  It's a chronological way to learn about him.

Just outside of the Cathedral, I visited R. A. Finn's which had some wool for sale.  I chose a skein of North Ronaldsay fingering weight yarn.  I wish I would've gotten 2 skeins,

Britain Day 3 - Orkney NW loop

Morning view from our room
We woke up on Orkney to a breathtaking view of the hills of Hoy.  The mist was lifting from the sea and it was going to be a picture perfect day.  When you can see the top of Hoy, it's going to be a good day.

Our first stop was to Skara Brae, something that I have wanted to see for over 10 years.  It's a neolithic settlement that was found after a storm.  The walk from the visitor center to the settlement was lovely.

Skara Brae was like it was in pictures.  I was a little disappointed that you could no longer walk through one of the homes, but preservation is important too.  Honestly, it was a little bit of a let down and I was wondering if my hopes of Orkney were too high and I wouldn't enjoy it as much as I thought I would.  I shouldn't have worried.

Britain - Day 1-2; Travel, Travel, Sleep, Travel

We left on a Friday evening and flew into Heathrow about noon on Saturday.  After a little debating on what to do next, we decided to travel on towards our Gatwick hotel since I was feeling tired from pneumonia still.  We stayed at the Gatwick Best Western Moat House Hotel near the Gatwick airport, which we would fly out of the next day.  It was a small room but comfortable.  They had a place to eat where we had our first fish n chips.
Gatwick Hotel
 From Gatwick to Kirkwall, we had a few hours layover in Glasgow.  We took a bus to the city center and wandered around the streets and saw a Tardis.