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Back at work

Term starts officially on Monday, so it's been rather quiet at work the last two weeks. Haven't done much writing, but sorting paper, photocopying all the relevant parts from all the books that I had ordered before Christmas, updating all the admin stuff etc also needs doing.

I'm slowly going through all the Christmas biscuits and chocolates, and am trying to be good to my body - I've gained at least a size over the hips since I moved home - and cut down on treats this spring. If I manage to do more social dancing throughout the term, hopefully I can see some change come summer. I've also bought a yoga mat today, so now I have no excuse of hard uncomfortable floor if I want to do some push-ups/sit-ups etc. I probably won't start cycling to the train station, since that gives me no flexibility for what station to get off at when coming home (library and the nice bakery = one station; large food shop = either of the other two stations; particular shops = any of the stations).

My plan for using my cookbooks more has been a mixed success. I tried a new recipe a few days back and it was really tasty. On the other hand, the last two nights I've had about 4 hours of sleep* each, so I've taked the easy way out with micro-meals. Tomorrow (fingers crossed), I will try another from the same cookbook.
*: waking up at stupid o'clock with period pain is admittedly more preferable than waking up from muscle cramps, but is still pretty awful.

Since Friday was such a shit day - not only waking up at 4am, but having to get up at 6.30 to be certain to be at an exam at 9.00 (I honestly thought that an evening class would also have the exam in the evening...) - I had the inexplicable need for glittery purple nail polish and decided to treat myself. Luckily it didn't turn out to be a mission impossible, but I found one at the second shop I went to! It's a new waterbased polish, so you can peel it off rather than having to use removers. Unfortunately it has the added oops of accidentaly peeling the whole polish off when getting out the keys rather than just scratching a bit off as with normal polishes. So tomorrow I need to repaint two nails... But it's very purple and glittery, so all in all, I'm very happy!

Still haven't seen The Last Jedi...

Post-Christmas thoughts

The plan for today was to see The Last Jedi, but I woke up really tired and thought 2.5+ hours in the dark would be not the best decision. So hopefully, cinema tomorrow instead. There are more screenings on New Year's Day, so it doesn't matter as much if I'm tired in the morning.

Christmas went well. Nice and quiet as usual, but with no chance of either work-writing or embroidery, since I reacted in my usual stress-release manner of sleep/illness. Thankfully the illness was only a day of consistent blowing my nose, never a full-blown cold or flu. Dad's birthday was a success: we went to the maritime museum in Elsinore, and spent five hours there. And he talks already of going back.

My plans for quiet reading and embroidery has been so-so. I've read mum's Christmas book (a 1930s detective novel), but not yet my own Christmas book (a fantasy novella). I've dipped my feet into the Yuletide archive, but have found very few stories worth recommending. Most are entertaining, and nothing wrong with that, but not necessarily something I'd say: read! Worth a few minutes of your time. Admittedly, there are some longer stories I've put aside for later. It's easier to allow yourself to take a break from what you ought to do if it's a 2,000 word story rather than a 15,000 word story. That said: there are two that should see more readers than the usual yuletide participants, and neither requires great knowledge of the stories/history they are based on.
- Mordre, She Wroot - The wife of Bath solves a murder on the way to Canterbury.
- Praying nuns, weeping queens - "In an alternate medieval Europe, with an all-female church hierarchy, Elizabeth Woodville struggles to find safety for her daughters after the murder of her sons. She thinks she has powerful allies in the new Borgia pope, and in Cardinal Margaret Beaufort's secret 'Council of Women', but all is not what it seems. And besides, her eldest daughter Bess is more interested in power than in safety, with devastating consequences."

I have lots of things on my to-do list, and technically I go back to work on the 2nd. However, since I can work from home I'll probably do that. If nothing else, I took lots of books and articles home for Christmas, and it would be a shame if they had to go back to the office unopened. Tonight is no party night, but (as the last few years) a writing night. Not too late though, if I want to be able to go to the cinema tomorrow.

New tea!

And in good news, my new tea from Perch is tasty (their own Glyptoteks blend), and will be a good tea for work! A bit boring plain black tea, but the roiboos at work is citrus based, and I'm not fond of vanilla, flower or fruit flavoured tea (with exception for citrus, and Kränku's Kalkstensdrömmar) which is most of the tea market in Sweden (and probably also Denmark). I will probably just throw out the old one, as it is not to my taste.


Christmas has started!

Technically Christmas started two weekends ago, when I went to Copenhagen for this year's first Christmas market, organised by Frederiksbergs Haveselskab (Frederiksberg's garden society). I saw it in a list of Christmas markets in Copenhagen, and it seemed interesting. Not like the usual tourist traps in the city centre, but one with potential for local craft. It was a good choice. I had never been to Frederiksberg before, but it was easy to find the market from the metro station. The market was held adjacent to the garden society's garden, just at the entrance to the big park in Frederiksberg. There were lots of interesting stalls with plenty of craft. A lot was garden based (naturally), but there were textiles, pottery, jewellery etc. Not a lot caught my immediate interest, but I walked away with a gorgeous ring from Rapunzel smykker, and managed to not buy any leaf plates (as I have more than enough decorative small plates and bowls) from Helle Bolgen. Before I left Frederiksberg to go back to central Copenhagen, I had a wander through the garden. It was lovely, even in mid-November, which is impressive as that's part of the typically grey horrible south Scandinavian winter. I must go back in spring and see what the garden looks like then! I bet it's gorgeous!

This weekend there were two Christmas markets: The Design Museum's market in Copenhagen, and the Kulturen Museum's traditional market in Lund. The drawback with Kulturen is that they have a pretty hefty entrance fee. And mum wanted to go to the Design Museum's market after I had praised it last year. Decision made: Copenhagen! We were our usual efficient selves, and after a few hours had ticked off the shopping list, seen the market (lots of very pretty and stylish jewellery, pottery and clothing - not that I need more stuff *cough*) and thought about getting some lunch. Unfortunately by that time everyone else was also hungry and there were no seats to be found. It was also not suitable weather for doing the summertime option of getting something to takeaway and eat outside. So we headed back to Malmö, to try some lunch closer to home. And managed to be lucky and got seats at the ramen place at Saluhallen, which has had some really great reviews. Quite pricy for lunch, but decent-sized portions, so for a once-situation, it didn't feel so bad. And it really was tasty food, very suitable for a cold day. We were definitely too full for fika, so we slowly wandered back to the bus stop to take us home.

Decorative ceramic leaf plates
Leaf plates! (and some blackbirds)

Garden with path winding around a pond with small fountain
I'd love to sit here in summer and relax with a good book or embroidery!

Garden with conifers and waterlily-filled pond
This is not bad either...


I feel good. Despite having been home sick for two days (and hopefully having squished the illness dead - I really don't have time to be ill right now), I have cooked proper food two days in a row! New recipes* even! Will this be a game changer, or will I go back to "uh, don't know... pasta+pesto?"?

*: Well, one was just oven-cooked salmon slice added to family dinner leftovers (it's a good dinner if you can get tasty leftovers to bring home!), and one was a simplified adaption of this recipe. But the second one definitely counts as new recipe and proper cooking.


London holiday (the short story)

I've been home almost two weeks: time has really flown, both there and here. It was almost a repeat of last year's London holiday with mum. She came along, we stayed at the same hotel, several hours was spent researching in libraries, and we walked more than "normal" people would expect us to. But it was fun!

We started by walking through an unexpectedly 18°C sunny London, being somewhat overdressed and sweaty. But we got the things we wanted in that part of town (having shelled out on Heathrow Express and arrived in Paddington in 15 minutes as opposed to it taking one hour with the tube) before getting on the nearest bus to go to the hotel. We met up with my mudlarking friend C and her family, who had acted as postal address for me this autumn and thereby saved me lots of money in postage. We also met the very friendly cat and her more blasé brother, got treated to fantastic Thames foreshore finds, and had a very tasty dinner there.

Next day we saw the Scythian exhibition at the British Museum (my main reason for going, since it ends in early 2018) with two of my old workmates (one, who despite being an archaeologist had never heard of the Scythians before! I thought all archaeologists had heard of the fantastic preservation in the permafrost (tattoos!)... ). Afterwards we all went to the London Review Bookshop café for some tea and chat. Then it was library research time. Thursday was generally rather rainy, so spending the day indoors wasn't a problem. I found most of what I wanted, and mum sat watching people and reading her book. Not as fun for her, but that's the price to pay for a personal guide through London. Once I was done we made good use of London's generous opening hours to tick off the rest of the shopping list.

On Friday I showed mum the Geffrye Museum. It turns out it will close for major refurbishment in January, and not open again until 2020, so we were really lucky. Afterwards we wandered through Shoreditch, Brick Lane and Spitalfields until mum's knee complained and we took the tube to the hotel for a rest. I did persuade her to see the Balenciaga exhibition at the V&A as they are open until 22.00 on Fridays. There, V&A betrayed me. They had run out of scones w. clotted cream! Carrot cake, while tasty, is not a proper substitute... Mum enjoyed the exhibition though, so it wasn't as if it was a wasted evening :-) .

Saturday was up early-ish to go to Oxford. Again, we chose time rather than money, and opted for the train. It was nice to be back in Oxford, even if it was just for a day. Unfortunately the people I wanted to see had had to cancel due to illness, but what can you do?

Since we wouldn't fly back until evening, we made good use of Sunday by going to both Hampstead Heath (this time mum could see the view, even if it wasn't the clearest sky) and Greenwich and the fan museum. There was no time to properly see the maritime museum, but we had lunch in their café, and I finally got my scone with clotted cream.

The main lesson learned from this trip is that if you're going to fly to London with handluggage only, go with British Airways. They allow 23 kilo in the hand luggage, which is very handy if you plan to buy lots of books. We were sensible and shared the burden, otherwise I'm not sure I would be able to move my suitcase easily...

A stack of books, two tins of shortbread, tea tin, jam jar and coasters.
And that's excluding mum's stuff.


And back!

Just come back from a long-weekend/short-week trip to London. Am utterly exhausted, so I should probably leave off checking social media until tomorrow or so, when I can keep my eyes open (I hope). However, I've acquired an absolutely amazing book haul, so all in all, the exhaustion is worth it :-) .

You'd think I would realise this by now

Note to self: If you stay up until 1am, and still keep your alarm in the morning, you will be very tired all day. Solution A: stay up late, no alarm. Sleep until you wake up.
Solution B: go to bed at midnight latest.

With love,
Your body

P.S. tell your brain that it isn't housed in a 18 year old body any longer.

Sunday evening gripes

This evening would have been so much better if I hadn't had to go to work tomorrow. I have a to-do list almost as long as my arm, so fingers crossed I can tick most of it off. On the plus side, I did do quite a lot of nice things this weekend - possibly the last warm weekend before autumn. Lots of cycling around, mostly because the shops had only parts of what I wanted, so I had to keep looking. But I have: one lovely kalanchoe, accidental thyme (needed a small plastic pot for re-planting a hearts-on-a-string), dried lavender (going to get some potted lavender for my balcony next year - now it's a bit too late), two small succulents and one accidentally sprouting ginger root. I still need to give the old metal trellis a second coat of paint before I can put up the hearts-on-a-string. Right now they're trailing down my kitchen worktop... And the ginger needs planting.

And perhaps most importantly: I've booked my holiday! Got the last room in the hotel, and one of the last cheap-ish seats on the flight back, so I call that a massive success. I'm off to London in October to see the Scythian exhibition at the British Museum, and probably squeeze in some research at the British Library. It'll be me and mum again, as she also wants to see the exhibit. Anything else we shouldn't miss when we're over there?

Gothenburg adventures

I seem to have reached that age when a very long and busy Saturday means that all Sunday plans must be scrapped. I don't even have the energy to sit on the sofa and embroider....

Backstory: Yesterday I went up very early to catch the 6.49 train to Gothenburg. But what hassle it was: I left the house and came up to the street and then realised that in order for me to get to the local station in time I would need to go by bike rather than walk. So I ran back and got my bike and made it to the station with four minutes to spare. Then I realised that I had left my bike lock at home. So, a quick ride back home, run upstairs to get the bike lock, and then quickly cycle to the main station, where I knew the train would have a 10 minute hold. As I had locked my bike and walked rapidly to the ticket machines, I realised I had left my train card (with 10% discount) at home. And going home now would mean to take the next train and arrive an hour later. So I decided to pay the full price and use my bank card. Then, as the train is approaching the next stop, my adrenaline has gone down to the extent that my brain is starting to run at normal speed - and I realise that I have bought a ticket to the wrong station.... Apparently my stressed brain couldn't see any difference between Båstad* and Borås (which is not even on the same line!). Short name, starts with B and has an Å and an S in it... Luckily the train staff was understanding, and I could buy a ticket from the next station where the train had a longer stop.

*: Last stop in my county. I have the local transport company's summer card which gives you unlimited travel within the county during the summer.

But apart from that the trip was fun. My previous visits to Gothenburg have either been as a child, when the promised amusement park visit was the main thing, or as an adult, when basically all I've seen has been the route from the train station to the university. I hadn't planned much: the town was founded in the 17th century, so there's no medieval churches or buildings. And the amusement park doesn't hold any interest for me anymore. So I went around window shopping, primarily in the area around the cathedral and in Haga. I was surprised how many cafés there were along the main street in Haga, and the size of the cinnamon rolls. One place takes pride in making the biggest ones - the size of a dinner plate! I can't think anyone but the hungriest student or teenage boy being able to finish one by themselves. The shops and cafés in Haga are almost all along one street, another surprise: from the general praises of Haga as being the place in Gothenburg for independent shops etc, I thought it would be several streets at least.

For all my intents of window shopping I didn't leave Gothenburg empty-handed: The best find was a Sami made letter knife of reindeer antler I found in a jumbled antiques shop. I realised I needed a letter knife in the office when an old book I had ordered from the library turned out to have never been opened before. Luckily the library was still open and I could borrow a letter knife of theirs to open the pages there.

Sami letter knife
Isn't it pretty!

The other things I got was not so much for me as for my balcony: a small blanket and two flower pots. I really hope I can sort out the balcony this summer, so I can at least enjoy it for some weeks before winter.

I ended my day in Gothenburg with a visit to [personal profile] frualeydis and her informal crafting Saturday: four women doing various crafts (from embroidery to mending to medieval illumination) and having a good chat. I wished I could have stayed longer, but there was a three hour train trip home to consider.

And by the time I got back it was dusk, and I had forgotten the bike lights, so for safety's sake I walked home. No need to risk getting fined! Once home, the evening finished with big cup of hot tea (needed! my top and linen shirt was not warm enough for evening temperatures) and bed.

Last day of the summer holidays, pt 2

So, back from the dance exchange, I assumed one day of relaxing and then sorting things out at home and/or at work. Hah! I was braindead for most of the week, just sitting in the kitchen refreshing the internet, or taking naps. Not what I had planned, but considering the crappy summer weather, I didn't miss too much.

But yeah... the plans. Our local public transport has a summer card, where for 675kr ($80, £60) you can travel as much as you want in the entire county between 15 June and 15 August. So I had planned a proper summer sightseeing all over for the rest of my holiday weeks (having missed the first week as I was in Britain then). But I have so far seen the "new" exhibition at Trelleborg Museum (more modern, but less interesting for an archaeologist than the old one - at least from what I can remember of it); been twice to the specialist craft shop in Landskrona to buy embroidery yarn, gone to Wallåkra for the pottery (and I have to go back, for while the kiln was open, it was still too hot to remove any of the newly made pots...) and visited Helsingborg and Helsingør (sadly, the ferry ticket was not included in the card). Helsingør was really cute, reminding me of Ystad and Simrishamn in so many ways. I hadn't been over for ages, last time was probably a excursion during an undergraduate course in Medieval Archaeology. But it's a tiny town, and a few hours is more than enough to see it all. Of course, then there's the rest of north-eastern Zealand to see, but that had to wait for another time.

View from Helsingborg Castle (Sweden) to Elsinore (Denmark)
Yes, Denmark is this close! (click to embiggen)

As the keen-eyed among you have noticed, I've mostly visited towns. I'd love to go to the interior, for a walk in the woods, to Ven, or to the north-western tip. Perhaps there will be time for that this year. I've decided to work during my last holiday week, as the weather is a bit crappy, and then "work from home" on other days when the weather is nicer. Hopefully there'll be some good days before the travel card expires. I can't use it the last two weeks, as I'm doing a course in Copenhagen then, so time is rather short.

Otherwise I'm sorting stuff out at home, trying to make the flat livable in a quality way rather just functional. I've been thinking about the balcony a lot, something I in the beginning of summer had decided to wait until next year. Perhaps one of the Äpplarö sofas?

Last day of the summer holidays

Hello friends-list, sorry for neglecting you... I've done so much during these last three weeks of summer holiday: a conference and dance weekend in Britain, one week of post-dance-weekend coma (all plans scuppered), and one week of doing stuff (tm).

In short: the holiday was great fun: I only had 2-3 hours of sightseeing time in Cardiff (where the conference was held), but I managed to see most of the town. What I probably will take with me from Cardiff is the lack of huge flocks of pigeons that there is in other cities, such as London*. Cardiff (and for that matter, Bristol) have sea gulls (!). Quite frankly, I'll never complain about pigeons pestering people again. Sea gulls are bloody vicious when they want something. And they'll rip up garbage bags to get at the contents, so there was so much trash lying around.
*: Tallinn, on the other (other) hand, have huge flocks of house sparrows.

I also met up with an old friend of mine from my Masters year, who's bought a little house in a Welsh mining village (being one of the few areas in the UK where houses are reasonably affordable). Massive repairs needed as the previous owner ticked almost all the boxes in the 'what not to do with an old house'-list (so much mould everywhere...), but they are getting there slowly but surely. Once the plaster on the front wall is removed (and limewashed) and they've get the ceiling insulation up, it's mostly cosmestics left. It will be so pretty when it's done!

View of Brecon Beacons, Wales
View from their village. Click to embiggen.

On my way to London I stopped in Bath, as I haven't been there in years. Unfortunately I had to lug my backpack around as I was only told of a luggage storage place when I was furthest away from the station... And it was really really hot (29-30°C or so). But I walked all over, saw some pretty things, and had a tasty lunch at Whole Bagel (recommended). Not much shopping or museums since I had the backpack, but a) I've done the sightseeing before and b) I really don't need more stuff (ha ha... (see London section, below)).

London kept up the heatwave routine, with degrees around 30°C. Luckily the British Library (had to take the opportunity to do some research) was nice and cool. But I couldn't stay there for ever, so I had to head out in the heaving-with-tourists-West End. (I hate tourist crowds. And hot weather.) Surprisingly, the Hokusai exhibition at British Museum was fully booked (didn't know he was so popular), but I managed to get one of the day-release tickets by being there when they opened the next day. Nice prints, but didn't leave me with much oh and ah, so to speak (and my favourite print was not included in the exhibition shop, so I left with a consolation pack of matcha flavoured biscuits).

The exhibition that really stood out - and that I had included in a 'well, might as well go since it's there, if I have time and there's tickets' - was the Balenciaga exhibition at the V&A. Lots of tickets left, but still much more crowded than Hokusai. Photography and sketching was explicitly encouraged, which lots of people, myself included, took advantage of. Lots of really interesting clothes on the ground floor, from interesting concepts, to interesting design structure, to stuff I'd like to wear. Some clothes that were interestingly designed had their own cases, where one copy rotated slowly and another had been semi-opened so you could see how it was put on the model. The top floor was dedicated to fashion designers that had been inspired by Balenciaga, and where I found my favourite Want! outfit: a skirt/leather jacket ensemble by Gareth Pugh, made for the Dramatic Entrance (tm).

Despite the heat and the tourists, London was fun even if I didn't have time to do all the things. A trip to Lincoln had to be postponed as the train tickets went beyond expected expensive and into ludicrous. I seemed to stay either around V&A or in the West End; only excursion elsewhere was a trip to the newly opened (but temporary) exhibition of the Crossrails excavations finds at Museum of London Docklands. But I met up with some of my SCAdian friends that I hadn't seen for almost a year, and spent many hours chatting with them. I wish I could go to the event at Raglan this year, but I'm double booked with a university course. Maybe next year? Or perhaps it'll be the always clashing Medieval Week in Visby instead?

The dance event in Oxford was fun as always. Good bands, good DJs, good friends and strangers to dance and hang out with. And Oxford is such a nice town to visit. I could stay with my ex-housemate, so I lived relatively centrally too.

OLX 2017 Saturday dance

Remember that I was cramming in ten day's worth of stuff (incl. extra dancing clothes and shoes) in one backpack and one big tote bag? And that I really don't need more stuff? Well... the holiday haul: One big book on draping garments, one big book on medieval and post-medieval calligraphy, one small book on medieval goldsmiths (on sale for £3 at British Museum!), two not-so-small work-related books from Oxbow's sale, one silk scarf from V&A, a cd from one of the bands that played at OLX and some food items I just can't get hold of in Sweden. Amazingly, it all fit! (admittedly, a rather tight fit)

All the things to do

So many things on the to-do list, and so little time until the summer holidays! Keep your fingers crossed that I can tick everything off the to-do list when I get back from the UK.

I'm off to the PZG meeting in Cardiff on Saturday - i.e. I leave on the way too early o'clock flight on Friday morning, in order to get to Cardiff in time and squeeze in some sightseeing as well. I've been to Cardiff before, but that was a unintended 1.5 hour visit, when I missed the connecting bus and had to wait an hour for the next one... Then it's the Oxford Lindy Exchange the weekend after, and inbetween I intend to meet up with friends, see Lincoln and its cathedral, research stuff at the British Library and various other bits and bobs. I hope the weather will be ok.

With a very early start on Monday, in combination with not being able to get to my accommodation until evening, I decided to skip the large suitcase and go for backpack instead. First time I'm flying with a backpack, so I'm going to the outdoor shop tomorrow to get a flight cover for it. I really don't want it to be damaged on the way - particularly not on the way _to_ London! With luck, I'll be able to combine sleeping bag on top of backpack with a suitable flight cover, meaning my handluggage will be minimal. Of course, it will be less minimal on the way home - I've already have four books on my to-buy list!

In not-work things, I've accomplished reading several books*, and started watching Black Sails (thanks [personal profile] selenak!). No embroidery since March, but if I can fit it in the handluggage, I will try to get something done during the trip. Met my friend's cutest little puppy (there will be lots of petting and cuddling in the future!). I've also downloaded Melissa Scott's LGBT+ story bundle as it included Jo Graham's latest Elza story, which I've been dying to have in my hands since, well, since I got to the end of the previous novel. The remaining bundle stories fall in two camps: "already own them and they are great" and "no idea, might be fun". I have a huge pile of unread e-books on my tablet, so in a way it's stupid to add more, but on the other hand you never know what story you are in the mood for right then.

*: I can recommend Martha Wells - All systems red (standalone first in a new scifi series, with a great voice!) and Marie Brennan's Within the sanctuary of wings (last of her alternative Victorian history/female natural scientist with dragons series).

Post-travel exhaustion

And I'm back! It was a good conference, my cold was at the stage of occasional sniffles and didn't go any further. However: I'm back and I'm utterly exhausted - can't go to bed again as I have laundry time in one hour - and my throat has got sore (again). Whoohoo...

I'm so glad I decided not to go to Double Wars this year - as fun as it would be to live medievally again and meet up with new and old friends, I really need to catch up on sleep (and writing).

Rainy Saturday plans

Today has been a day of good intentions. The original plan was to finish the sofa cushion covers yesterday (and doing some general tidy-up) and then spend the remaining three Easter days learning R, which I need for the phd. Since the Saturday forecast was rain and then more rain, surely that was a foolproof plan. Eh, not quite...

The good news is that two cushion covers are done, one is started and some tidying has been done. The less good news is that I haven't even downloaded the program yet, so R-ing will potentially be done next weekend instead (if I decide to continue with major tidying over Easter). And it's too late now to start sewing or do the much needed hoovering, due to noise.

I'd love to start watching Black Sails tonight, but I fear starting a whole tv series* when I have more important things to do. On the other hand, if I get to bed early (hah!) I could start Sunday early and get things done (tm).

*: very smart of them to put up the first episode on Youtube to lure viewers in...

Ripon! and my last days in York

On the second-to last weekend during my stay in York, I went with L and A to Ripon, a small town not that far from York. It has a cathedral, with a _tiny_ Anglo-Saxon crypt and several 15th century misericords in the choir. L and A stocked up on stuff in charity shops for their medieval encampment, but quite frankly there is not much else to do in Ripon once you've seen the cathedral, apart from shopping, caféing and pubbing.

The last week I was very busy with lab work, but managed to do all the samples from Lund University library. Haven't checked the results yet, but I have to do that soon. I also found a great café for sitting working in: The Gatehouse, literally in the gatehouse at Walmgate. No internet, so no distractions, and good tea and nibbles. Of course, it would have been better if I had found it earlier, but hey...

L and D visited me on the last Saturday and we spent the day leisurely around Micklegate, as it was a lovely day (sunshine and clear blue skies, quite warm too!) and town was absolutely heaving with people. Typically I couldn't resist a really interesting book about medieval glass paintings for dirt cheap in Oxfam, even knowing that my suitcases were going to be really really full. We had a very tasty lunch at Café 74 (recommended), and if I had lots of money I'd try their associated boutique hotel too! Reviews sounded great, but prices - ouch. Then L and D got all my leftover food, and I was left with the trouble of trying to pack my suitcases. It didn't go too well; I had to leave some things and ask my landlady to post them to me... But I got all within the luggage weight limits (if you ignore my backpack with computer etc).

Typically, I left York Sunday afternoon in warm blazing sunshine, and got up Monday morning to 5°C and mist. Not the best welcome, Sweden!


Fountains Abbey and Manchester!

A couple of weeks before I had to go back to Sweden, I met up with my travelbuddy A (awesome guy who helped me move last summer!) for a trip to Fountains Abbey, one of the largest Cistercian abbeys in the north of England. They (i.e. the National Trust) had a hefty entry fee, but considering how huge the place was, and how many hours we spent there, I'd say it was well worth the cost. We wandered around the abbey ruins, taking lots and lots of photos, and then continuing to the 18th century Studley estate gardens, where I felt as if I was a character in The Comfortable Courtesan, going for walks in an elegant country estate garden.

Fairly exhausted, in the late afternoon we headed off to Manchester, where A lives. The day after he showed me, if not all, then most of the sights of Manchester*. Or at least it felt like that. According to the pedometre on my phone, I walked 20 kilometers that day!
*: the art gallery, John Ryland's library, the Science Museum, Manchester Cathedral, the postbox that survived the 1996 bombing, Canal Street, Northern Quarter and Ancoat, where newly built apartment blocks sit side by side with old refurbished warehouses and factories (now apartment blocks) and derelict warehouses and factories. I so wished I had lots of money to buy one of them and do it up nicely. As it was a Sunday, most smaller shops in NQ were closed. That might have been for the best, since I did later have a problem fitting everything into my suitcases. But I recommend ProperTea outside the cathedral for tea (duh...) and lunch. Unfortunately we were too far off later for us to try their cake selection. Perhaps another time?

Leeds! (pt. 2)

Last Saturday I was invited to the local SCA get-together in Linton outside Wetherby. There was fighting, fencing, inkle-loom weaving, a potluck lunch in the middle of it all, and at the end we all went down to the pub (as you do) for drinks and chatting in our ordinary clothes.

I stayed overnight with L&D, and on Sunday I, L and A went road tripping. First to Kirkstall Abbey in Leeds, to wander around the ruins. The Abbey House Museum opposite has reconstructed Victorian streets with shop and house interiors. Also a café for lunch (which we definitely needed by then). The day out ended with a visit to the Royal Armouries - after trying to navigate Leed's complicated road system with not the best satnav in the world (my recommendation: don't! Instead take the train and walk from the station). Even if I'm not particularly interested in armour and weaponry as such, L and A hadn't been for ages. Also, I'm quite sure that if I mentioned to my local medieval group that I had been to Leeds and not bothered with the armouries, they would never speak to me again. But they had lots of stuff there, from prehistoric up to the modern day, and from all over the world too. I'd say it's worth a visit (free entry!) if you're in Leeds and have an hour or two to spare.


Leeds! (pt 1)

A few weeks ago I was in Leeds, after a quick trip to Saltaire. Saltaire is well worth a few hours on a Saturday afternoon. It's a purpose built 19th century factory town and nowadays a UNESCO world heritage site. The salt mill now houses an art gallery, a (very well stocked) book shop, restaurant, café, an awesome jewellery shop, a large antiques shop, and some other bits and bobs. It also contains the Early Music Shop, which was the main reason for my trip.

Admittely I need a new hobby like I need a hole in the head, particularly now when I'm busy with a PhD, but for a long time I've been thinking of doing some more participatory stuff when I'm medieval. Sadly good choirs are not to be found locally, but musical accompaniment is usually appreciated. Not that I've been playing an instrument since I was a kid, but you can always re-learn those things, and you can do it solo. So now I have a baroque recorder that I need to start practice on when I get back to Sweden. (there are medieval/renaissance recorders for sale, but they are rare and very expensive)

I took the train back to Leeds to see what the city had to offer. It was rather disappointing. If you like mainstream shopping: good for you! Go to Leeds (if you're in the north, otherwise London, Glasgow or Edinburgh will also do fine). Architecturally Leeds seemed very haphazard. Even in London, where centuries of architecture huddle up against each other, it was more aestethically pleasing.

But there are some good bit there too. The city museum had a small collection of Egyptian and Roman artefacts, among them the wolf/romulus/remus mosaic floor from Aldborough. The wolf is fabulous - you can see that the mosaicist intended a snarling wolf, but just couldn't get the perspective right. The Victoria Quarter is pretty, but again, filled with expensive shops that I've walked past several times in London. I missed going to the Leeds' Library, which looks quite nice, but a) I don't need a library card from Leeds, b) no point in borrowing books there either.

And then I went home. But I did go back last Sunday.


Stupid weather

It's raining pretty heavily, and it's forecasted to do so for the rest of the day. I'd be so tempted to stay inside, doing my embroidery or working on the essay, but I'm all out of bread and need to buy stuff for dinner. How I miss living in Oxford, when the shop was one minute walk away.



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