Sunday, 26 October 2008

Happy Hallowe'en

I will wish my readers a Happy Hallowe'en now, as Hallowe'en will have come and gone by the next time I blog. As I am out every night for the rest of the week, Dh and I are going out in a few minutes to try and track down a pumpkin (or two). We may have trouble, as apparently all the wet weather this summer has decimated the pumpkin / squash crop. Another reason we may have trouble is, as you may have heard, Hallowe'en is not very popular here in the UK. When I first came over here about 20 years ago, Hallowe'en was virtually non-existent. It has become more popular over the last 10 years, but is still a pale shadow of the American holiday. Very few shops will decorate for it, and in my neigbourhood 3 out of 5 houses will stay dark on Hallowe'en night, hoping that the kids will just leave them alone. Few kids go out to trick or treat, due to safety concerns, working parents, lack of support for the holiday, etc. I have always tried to 'keep the flame' by buying candy and decorating my house, but some years I have had as few as 3 kids. I've also had problems with teens kicking my pumpkins down the road etc., so now I keep most of my decorations inside. The last few years have been pretty good, I think we had about 40 kids last year but some of those were teenagers not even in costume. I have several times seen articles or letters in our local newspapers from church officials preaching against the 'American' and 'satanist' custom of Hallowe'en. It is viewed with much suspicion here, people don't 'get it', I guess because they didn't grow up with it. It is also a night which invites vandalism from teens, which is why many people keep their house dark and pretend they are not home. I find it sad, I wish my son could have grown up knowing how much fun the holiday can be. I did take him to visit my brother in Canada for a 'proper' Hallowe'en once, but he barely remembers that now (he was only 4). And of course now he is too old to trick or treat so I don't even get to go out with him. But I will carry on, I already have my inside decorations up, and will put up the window and porch decorations on Friday morning.

We had part of this week off, as Ds is on school holidays. On Wednesday we took / dragged (depending on your perspective) Ds to see the Red House, home of the famous William Morris the Arts and Crafts designer. Even we were daunted by the 90 minute encyclopedic guided tour which was the only way to view the house, but we learned a lot about the Arts and Craft movement (whether we wanted to or not...).

This weekend Dh and I had a mini-break up in London, as Ds had gone off to his grandparents. In fact, as we drove him down to their house, I finished my first Noro Kureyon glove. I proudly displayed the glove to my m-i-l (who knits), and my f-i-l wandering by said "what colour do you call that then?". F-i-l is obviously not a knitter. I'm pleased with it, it fits really well, and the colour changes worked out pretty well. I had to skip a couple of places in the yarn, once because I got to a big slubby bit just as I was starting a new finger, which would have distorted all around the base of the finger, and two other times where I got to a really bright orange or bright yellow bit, and I didn't think having one bright yellow finger or bright orange finger was going to work. Completely by coincidence, the last finger ended at the right place in the colour sequence to start the next glove, which is now well underway and so far looking like a good match for the first one. This yarn is a bit odd, it is 70 wool, 30 nylon and feels quite rough in the hand, but softens when you wash it. Most of it is fine, but there are some unspun slubby bits ranging from a few inches to several inches, which might not show up in a jumper so much, but of course in a glove are very obvious. Conversely there are some thin bits, including one bit that was so thin it was like sewing thread, and a little bit of plant material which I have been able to easily pick out. I am using 2.5 mm needles.

We had a great time up in London, it really is one of the greatest cities in the world and I am so lucky to live here. Our hotel was in Belsize Park, one stop before Hampstead which is a lovely leafy village type part of London full of very expensive and very old houses dating back to the 1600s in some cases. Here is a pic of one that caught my eye - imagine sitting in that bay window with a bit of needlework...

Next to the village is Hampstead Heath, a huge park/woodland full of paths and ponds and hills. We sat in the sun for a while by the pond and of course I was knitting. I knitted in several parks this visit: Green Park,Regent's Park, St. James Park, and on buses, subways, cafes and at the hotel.

We had several fabulous meals, including a wonderful Chinese meal on board this floating Chinese restaurant called Feng Shang Princess which is moored in the canal in Regent's Park. We went to a very silly musical called Eurobeat, a spoof on the Eurovision song contest, which I enjoyed. We went to the Byzantium exhibition at the Royal Academy on the day it opened. We explored the food halls at Fortnum and Mason's and bought a picnic lunch there to eat in the park. We walked by Buckingham Palace on our way to the Royal Academy. Today we explored Hampstead using a self-guided tour leaflet, and read the Sunday papers while we ate lunch in a friendly cafe. Needless to say I am feeling very fat. But also very relaxed.

And tonight, before dinner, I took advantage of Ds being away to commandeer the dining table again and start making the paperclay shingles for my Rik Pierce house. I suddenly remembered that he told us that Paperclay will go moldy once it has been opened for a while, and go off once it is a year or so old. He gave me the Paperclay back in April and I opened a packet early in the summer, so I suddenly realised I need to get a move on and shingle the roof before I lose my raw materials (you can't buy Paperclay in the UK). I made a start on the dormer roof but before stopping for supper I managed to fill in all the front part of the roof and a bit behind the dormer as well.


swooze said...

Wow what a full post this week.

We live in the bible belt of the US and there are many religious folks that wont do anything for Halloween and if you tap on their door you get to hear all about it. My kids are too old for trick or treat and I will be in Houston. Dad can worry about their activities.

Your mini-break looked great. I wish dh travelled more than he does. Oh well.

Love all the yarny stuff. Great glove! I didn't sew as much as I hoped but I did get to see skipper, romika, arachnea and michele yesterday. Great fun!

Penny said...

Yes, the colours on the glove look very cheerful.

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