Saturday 17 November 2012

Ear Muffs

Havent had too much time for sewing-heavy projects since reading week. Apparently I am a terrible student and have lots to do for school. However, you can only read about the history of modern business practices for so long before you want to rewrite the world and turn everyone into rabbits... so I needed to find something quick to do during study breaks.

I had bought some cheap ear muffs a month or so ago to protect my poor little ears against the tricksy Irish weather (tip: It's windy here. Don't trust the temperature reports.) but they were rather boring. Just fluffy white ear parts and a knit white band. Nothing special.

So I figured I'd use some of my extra fabric to pretty them up a bit - or at least make them a tad more interesting.

Customized Ear Muffs
Gogo terrible picture go!
They were done over the course of the last week, a teeny bit here and there. I quite like how they came out.

Customized Ear Muffs

The ribbons are removable so I can match with different outfits. I made another set in burgundy, but it doesn't photograph well, so you'll just have to imagine.

The insides of both the band and the ribbons are messy, so I would never think of giving them to anyone else, but they were a fun little project that I wouldn't mind trying again. :) I should go back and see if they still have any in stock to take home with me. Hmm...

Thursday 15 November 2012

Reading Week in the UK - Part 4 - Glasgow

Glasgow was a random choice because we wanted to go to Scotland. If we had looked at it more, we probably would have chosen to just go to Edinburgh, despite the cheap flight home from Glasgow.

That said, it does have some excellent points.

The main one being that Glasgow is a UNESCO City of Music, and also a very big art city. We managed to spend a decent chunk of time wandering the Gallery of Modern Art, which is surprising considering how small it is.

They had a film by some German (?) artists with chemical and kinetic reactions pushing random things around a warehouse. It was like a gigantic, complicated version of mousetrap, and as such, was amazing.

Then it was pointed out to me that there was an art store across the street... so of course we went there. It was really well stocked! Stuff for kids, jewellers, sewers, painters, drawers and everyone in between. Not the most extensive collection, they're not going to have those squirrel hair brushes you're looking for, but it was really fun to wander around. Dublin art stores are sadly lacking.

CiizenM Candle Box

We stayed at the CitizenM hotel. Which is a new hotel chain trying to reinvent the hotel world or some such thing. It was actually really excellent. Comfy meeting areas, excellent Wi-fi (a joy after London, let me tell you!), modern decor, friendly staff and the oddest combination of space pod and dorm room I've ever seen.

Quirky is probably the best word.

They've got some in The Netherlands and soon New York and London, so we're definitely keeping them on the short list for hotels next time we travel.

CitizenM Hotel - Glasgow, Scotland, UK
Lanterns over the first floor stairwell.

We had a fancy dinner at The Ubiquitous Chip. It has a lot of fancy meat dishes (rabbit, duck, etc.) so, if your unadventurous or bunny-loving like me, it might not be the best place, but the food was excellent and the decor is really lovely. I should really have taken a photo.

If you go, however, make a reservation a few days in advance! We forgot and did it one day before and could only get a 10:00 slot, and there were only 2 other free tables.

Our very last stop was the Glasgow Necropolis. I wasn't really interested when we first headed out, but seeing it from afar with the tall obelisks, crypts and celtic crosses peeking out from behind the trees was just beautiful. I can't imagine how impressive it must look in the fall.

Glasgow Necropolis - Glasgow, Scotland, UK

Despite not really thinking I would, I ended up quite enjoying Glasgow, it was a nice city to finish off the trip - not too busy, but not empty either - though I will admit the whole thing is a bit coloured by the fact that I managed to lose my cell phone on the very last day. :(

Now it's back to finishing up all the school work I should have been doing during the week! Wish me luck! DX

Wednesday 14 November 2012

Reading Week in the UK - Part 3 - York

As I mentioned, the real reason I wanted to go to York was for the Shambles, where they filmed Diagon Alley for (at least) the first Harry Potter film.

Part of it was just pure fan-ness... but I was also having a rather difficult time accepting that there was a real street somewhere out there with such tippy buildings!

The Shambles - York, England, UK
The Shambles

I will say, it's a tad more impressive in the movies, what with the lighting and the people and the lack of construction scaffolding... but it was still pretty neat to see. I'm amazed some of the buildings are still standing.

We ended up wandering looking for some place to have dinner, and stumbled upon Betty's Cafe. I must say, it was a delightful experience. The staff is knowledgable, the food is delicious and they also have a no mobile phone policy, which is kind of neat (though less so if you use your phone for pictures).
We had a brown bread ice cream sundae for dessert, because brown bread ice cream... And despite being super confused, it turned out to be very good. Though between this and risotto in Cardiff, I've decided I don't like cherry breads.

They had a little bakery attached to the cafe, and I'm wishing we'd got something from it... but it had closed by the time we finished eating. :(

Bridge near Guild Hall

We made a quick stop the next day to the Merchant Adventurer's Guild Hall, which was interesting, but not really worth the tour in my opinion. It would be an amazing place to host an event though!

Clifford's Tower - York, England, UK
Clifford's Tower

We went up the stairs to Clifford's Tower, but didn't end up going in because we wanted to do a quick circuit of the old city walls. It was really awesome to see, I really love walled cities, but I was panicking a bit about falling off in some places. ^^;

Oh! I also found this guy* (and his two friends) hanging out with some European geese. Tad far from home I think.

Canadian Goose - York, England, UK

Even though we only stayed for 2 half-days, I think York turned out to be my favourite place. It was so full of random little streets and random little shops, you never knew where you would end up once you turned the corner.

I don't think it's somewhere I could live though, just because there were not quite enough people (ironic after London!) and it could seem really dead at times.

*Might be a female goose... I am not well versed in these matters.

Tuesday 13 November 2012

Reading Week in the UK - Part 2 - London

After Cardiff we were off on a (relatively) short train ride to London!

I think London is one of those cities that tends to be especially romanticized - alongside other big cities like Paris, Tokyo, Venice and Rome.

London, England, UK
View across the Thames, showing the London Eye all lit up.

I know I had great expectations for the city and was looking forward to seeing London more than the others we had planned (I mean come on. It's LONDON), but I think it turned out to be my least favourite in the end. (Not by much, though)

Big Ben - London, England, UK
Big Ben
Don't get me wrong, I loved everything we did (though I think I wore out my boyfriend constantly checking souvenir shops for things to send mendokusai. ^^;), and it was really beautiful, but London has a bit of 'big city syndrome'. Lots of people impatiently rushing, but not really going anywhere - and I'll just say now, I'm really not a fan of being smushed into subway walls or pushed on the street, just so someone can be 2 seconds earlier to wait for their train. :|

Interesting place to visit, couldn't live in the city centre.

Anyway! Our biggest attraction was definitely the British Museum, conveniently located a half block from our hotel, along with all the regular tourist-y things like Big Ben and the Thames.

We spent almost the entire first day wandering the museum before we had to leave for food, and since we weren't able to see everything we wanted, we had to go back again on the last day! XD

It was incredibly fascinating seeing all of the items I've seen in pictures during university classes actually existing (even if they were in plexiglass boxes ^^;).

Royal Standard of Ur, British Museum - London, England, UK
The Royal Standard of Ur

At lulufae's recommendation, we made a stop at Liberty and Co. where I picked up a couple of new fabrics. Most of the designs in the current collection were rather lacklustre, but the two I found are quite nice. I think they'll end up as dresses for Jonas. I almost wish I hadn't gone though, because now I'm completely in love with their fabric. So soft and drape-y.... *mournfulsigh* It's very difficult to find though. I've only seen little squares of it online and never in person before.

We did a tour of the whole store just because the building was so interesting, but homg expensive! o____________o;

They were all lined up on the other side too.

We made (what we thought was going to be) a quick stop at Buckingham Palace the next day to take some photos. That's what you do in London isn't it? But ended up staying a while just because there were SO MANY (hundreds at least!) people we figured something must be going on...

They did a changing of the guard (I think?), which could have explained it... but there was also a huge big parade and band and army guy with dog... so I don't quite know what was up. The internet doesn't tell me anything special happened, but there were just so many people. O.o

If QI has taught me anything, the Queen was in. Maybe she was going out for lunch or something?


We finished off our London adventure with an attempted visit to the Tower of London, but it was just about to close and very expensive so we didn't go in.

Maybe next time.

Tower of London - London, England, UK
Tower of London

We did, however, buy last minute tickets to Les Misérables at the Queen's Theatre. I know very little about the story, but everyone had been telling me how wonderful it is, so why not. I quite enjoyed it, though I have a feeling that the book is better. I didn't really like the actress playing Fantine, not sure why, but the music was excellent - I've had a mash of a few of the songs stuck in my head ever since! - and Jean Valjean was simply stunning. Can we say 'Holy vocal range Batman'?!

Definitely a great ending to the trip.

Monday 12 November 2012

Reading Week in the UK - Part 1 - Cardiff

Finally back from my 'whirlwind' UK trip last week! It was definitely a lot of fun and I can now officially say I've been to every UK country.

I have learned that 4 cities in 9 days is a bit much, however, since we were rather travelled out by the time we got to Glasgow and probably didn't end up enjoying it as much as we should have.

Looking back, I wish we'd gone to Edinburgh or Newcastle instead of Glasgow (though I did like it!) and spent less time in London and more time in York, but it was fun overall.

Our first stop was Cardiff!

Cardiff Castle - Cardiff, Wales, UK
The entrance to Cardiff Castle.

As you may or may not know, I was somewhat recently introduced to Dr. Who, and also the most recent BBC version of the Sherlock Holmes universe and have become quite a big fan of both.

Coincidentally*... they are both shot in Wales and Cardiff in particular, so it was pretty much a no brainer for our first stop.

Dr. Who Experience, Cardiff Bay - Cardiff, Wales, UK
A somewhat unconventional parking space.
The Dr. Who Experience recently opened in Cardiff Bay as well, so that was our first touristy thing. The experience portion was fun and rather cute (it's a bit geared towards children) and the exhibit was lovely for me since they had all the outfits for a large portion of the main characters and villains over the years, so I made sure to get photos of almost all the outfits.

I feel like there may have been something in the middle of the room that I forgot to photograph... but I just can't quite remember....

I picked up a few souvenirs for a friend of mine who is an even bigger fan than me - I'm hoping she likes them, even though she has to wait a few months to get them! - and tried to find a little Dalek for Tobi, but didn't have much luck, so I just picked up a little sonic screwdriver for me and a t-shirt for my boyfriend.

Maybe I'll be able to find one once I get back to Canada.

Cardiff Castle - Cardiff, Wales, UK
Then after that, we were off to Cardiff Castle, where we spent an hour or two lost in the walls and the keep (right) and then wandered in to the main 'house' to check out the fancily decorated rooms.

Most were done in a 'traditional' English-y style, but there was one room (creatively named the 'Arab Room') done in an incredibly detailed gold-leafed mosaic and a stunning library unfortunately filled with tomes of city council minutes and copies of Dickens novels. :/


The Old Library at Trinity is similarly designed (if a tad more impressive), though I don't think they would appreciate us sitting in there for long periods of time ruining it all for the tourists, but if I ever find one that is both similarly decorated and well stocked you may not hear from me for a while.

Maybe I should just buy a house and decorate the basement or something. That might be easier.

'Arab Room', Cardiff Castle - Cardiff, Wales, UK
Gilding. Gilding everywhere!

I probably could have spent at least an hour staring at all the little details in that room, but there was about 2 square feet for you to stand in smushed at the corner of the room....

My camera was basically on the floor for me to get this shot. -_____-

As we were leaving, I noticed that there were actually stuffed parrots placed along a mantlepiece all around the room.

Definitely wishing I'd asked someone what that was all about.

I brought Tobi and Jonas along on the trip, but only ended up taking one photo of either of them...

Jonas - Bisou Ai Bonbon; Tobi - Unoa Lusis hybrid; Cardiff Castle Tower - Cardiff, Wales, UK

Overall, I really loved Cardiff. I think 2 days was enough for the city centre, but I wouldn't mind going back and visiting Caerphilly Castle as well.

Maybe when the 12th Doctor appears and they add him (her? :O ) to the exhibit! :P

*It's probably not coincidental, they're both written/directed/produced by the same people.

Thursday 1 November 2012

Reading Week in the UK

Next week is reading week for Trinity students, so I'm jetting off to visit the UK.

We leave on Saturday and are going to (at least) Cardiff, London, York and Glasgow. We have a few days in Cardiff and London, but York is mainly for the Shambles and Glasgow is a quick trip so I can say I've been to all the countries in the UK. :)

Mali and Tobi are coming along and I'm going fabric shopping at Liberty & Co. in London, so I'm very excited about that, but I'm finding I'm SUPER nervous about the whole trip for some reason.

I have to completely empty my memory card for the first time ever, so that could be part of it, but it means I can get some awesome photos during this trip!