I know I only just got back from my summer stint in Brittany, but I have more travels to report back on, as well as the promised book reviews – and (gulp) more knitting and yarn acquisition. I have no excuse, I am but a weak woman!
The visit of a dear friend from Canada – we hadn’t met for 11 years! – was a good excuse for daily jaunts around Switzerland, including yet another cable car ride, this time up to 2502 m above sea-level…
…as well as a beautiful day out in Lucerne and a drive over more mountains, visiting old haunts from when our children were small and an epic Robbie Williams concert. Among other things. I don’t think I stopped grinning all week! Thanks, E!!
Believe it or not, I am presently in England yet again and for the last time based at my granny’s house. A very bittersweet time as we pack up and sell; the house is now looking decidedly minimalistic and it’s a bit like camping – but interestingly, we have all we need! There must be a lesson in that.
While we’re here, we still take advantage of a day here and there to go out and do something and visits to friends and relatives further afield are an opportunity to see a bit of countryside.
We spent an afternoon of bright blue skies in Bath… followed by an unexpectedly beautiful return journey thanks to Apple maps satnav taking us around motorway congestion and through some tiny Cotswold country lanes I wouldn’t have dared to follow alone but with the September sunset throwing a wonderful light over the landscape. The route spat us out gently on the top of a hill south of Gloucester with a phenomenal view down over the Severn estuary as we descended to the M5 motorway on what seemed to be a pass road zigzagging back and forth. Breathtaking.
…then another afternoon on a fascinating visit to Stourbridge, which used to have an important glass industry. I had no idea. Glassware for the Titanic was made here! The Red Cone Glass Museum (possibly/probably changing its name soon?) is on the site of Stuart glassworks and shows the history of the industry over the 18th and 19th century. The complex includes a shop where beautiful pieces can be bought and a number of craft shops. We especially enjoyed the Red Cone Coffee House lunch of salads and a traditional ploughman’s – definitely to be recommended!
Autumn arrived yesterday, so I really want to get the summer wrapped up… which leads me to this summer’s books.
There were two of my favourite authors to catch up with: Alexander McCall-Smith and Donna Leon. Both are prolific and there are new stories each year, in the case of the former, a new story for each of his series, most years. This summer I enjoyed the latest in the Sunday Philosophy Club/Isobel Dalhousie story, A Distant View of Everything, which I think is the 11th in this gently meandering musing, as always with the light humour McCall-Smith does so well. Donna Leon’s Commissario Brunetti appears once again in the 26th volume of the popular series that plays in and around Venice – this time it’s a particularly hot summer that sees our hero out rowing on the lagoon…
Another author I’ve mentioned before is Ann Cleeves. I love her Shetland series (close to the wool lol) but her other protagonists are also good. A new Vera Stanhope story is out, The Seagull, which no doubt will also turn up as a televised episode at some point. Much as I like the actress Brenda Blethyn in the TV series, I have to say that the books give us a much fuller, richer appreciation of the character and her background that are completely lost in the visual medium. Once again, the new book goes into depth concerning Vera’s relationship with her father. I was less impressed with a short book in Peter May’s China series and therefore relieved that his final volume in the Enzo MacLeod tale was as intricate and fascinating as the previous 6. Will there be another Hebrides/Lewis episode, I wonder?!
I seem to be stuck in a sea of series… that would be my collector gene coming out! Having said that, I haven’t read any of the Kurt Wallander books by Henning Mankell, the well-known Swedish author (Wallander is “his”) detective. The style is not dissimilar to the Sjöwall/Wahlöo Inspector Beck crime books, also previously mentioned on my blog! I have seen most of the televised serialisations, though, some of which feature the actor Kenneth Branagh as Wallander. All this to highly recommend two quite different books by Mankell, The Italian Shoes and The Swedish Wellies (tentative title translated from the German, as apparently not yet available in English! I hope it soon will be.). The latter was Mankell’s last book and both are a poignant reflection on old age wrapped in a lonely old ex-doctor’s senior years. Despite this the two books are quite funny and show the appealingly wry and dry sense of humour I have come to appreciate in the few Swedish books I’ve read: examples being A man calles Ove (Backmann), which I listened to as an audiobook after having read it a couple of years ago, and The 100 year old man who climbed out of a window and disappeared (Jonasson). All well worth a read in my view!
And now for the wool.
Another Quill shawl by Jared Flood in the smaller size fell off my needles inbetween travelling – Plassard’s Rando sock wool has given me a sky-blue beauty I have yet to photograph properly, and the navy Lang Jawoll turned into some vanilla socks in a nice shaded navy. A quick pair of Supersimple Slippers are pretty and useful for my mother as the weather cools.
Which brings me to acquisitions. I do not need any wool. I have plenty of wool. And yet… sigh. Let’s get it over with:
Lovely West Yorkshire Spinners’ Blue-faced Leicester DK
The very special North Ronaldsay (the island sheep have a diet high in seaweed…!) and some Faroese wool in navy for a very warm hat!
This Swedish wool is nearly a cabled cushion already…
while this sock wool jumped into my basket at the supermarket!
How could I resist trying Wensleydale wool for some pretty mittens? Like the cranberries in Wensleydale cheese!
The new Drops Nord in “fog” colourway seems right for autumn! Alpaca-wool-polyamide mix
More Drops – self-explanatory, really 😮
Three gorgeous skeins from A Yarn Story in Bath – their own Walcot Yarns Opus, some Julie Asselin and some Fibre co., both very much luxury items that have no plan yet except to be beautiful…
That should keep me busy for a while!
(apologies for odd fonts and spacings – I’m working from an ipad today and seem not to have as much control over these as I do on a laptop!!)