Sunday, July 29, 2012

POTMW: 29 July 2012

You know, I nearly typed 2013 there - it seems so long.  I've had some very, very frustrating weeks at work (anyone who's played with a new-and-as-yet-unready IT system which will not allow them to do their job will understand), and quite a busy time otherwise...  So this is sort of going to be a couple of the big things, rather than the little things I jot down in a notebook which amuse me...

I've also stayed with family, and had  family staying, twice in that time; my parents during the Sunderland trip and my brother, SIL and nephew the week before last; both very nice visits but generally photo-free, unfortunately!

This is a long post without many photos - apologies!

Midsummer Night: The Boss in Sunderland


Sometimes you hitch your teenage wagon to an artist or a band, and you just win and win, for decades.  While Born in the USA wasn't the first Springsteen album I bought, it was the first I was aware of, growing up with classically-inclined parents, because it came out when I was 14 or so and starting to be politically aware; in the end Darkness on the Edge of Town was the first I bought (because it was cheap at Makro, the cash and carry), and I haven't regretted that decision...

So, we got three and a bit hours of Bruce in blistering form, racing all over the place; stuff from the new album, stuff from the oldest, stuff which only gets played live.  One track I didn't know, one track my cousin didn't...  and while it was very strange not seeing the Big Man on the stage, his nephew Jake did a pretty good job.

I'd love to say it was a hot summer night; but it wasn't.  It was damp, and chilly.  But it Wasn't Actually Raining.  This, in and of itself, was a miracle - the forecast was somewhat apocalyptic, and I gather Manchester wasn't so lucky the next night and many of the roads around the stadium were flooded out.  But Bruce came on and said "We don't need no 75 degrees and sunny; this is what we EXPECT in England!!" and everyone just went for it; shouting, screaming and dancing were done...

I also have to say that I've never been to a stadium gig so utterly awash with alcohol, and so completely chilled out (in a good way...)  Third Springsteen gig I've been to (previous ones in 1992 and 2003) and the three best gigs ever.

And nobody pulled the plug....

Middle of July: Fibre-East

Talking of weather...  I'm sure this is another reason I haven't blogged more this summer - I seem to have spent an hour drying out every evening...

I can sort of  use the damp as the reason why I have no useable photos from this time - in that my specs lenses were either steamed up or dotted with rain.  But actually, I'd knocked the camera into the macro setting in my bag and I'm so unused to the little one that I hadn't noticed so carried on attempting to take pics against the odds.  However, despite the sog (and the burned-out car which meant going home took two-and-a-half times the length of  the outward journey) I had a great time, and while I spent a fair amount, it was all stuff on my list...

Late June to late July: Les Deux Tours

No, not the second volume of the Tolkein trilogy; the Tour de France, and the Tour de Fleece...  The last couple of years, I've really enjoyed spinning my wheel alongside the Tour de France, and joining in with other people in discussing what I'm making.  This year I ended up catching up with a lot of the footage from the third week on the last weekend of the Tour, but did spin for the equivalent of an hour a day while watching the highlights on ITVPlayer, and did more spinning while listening to the last stage and the arrival in Paris...


Things I always love about the Tour de France:

  • It's in France.  Very obvious, but as previously mentioned I'm a complete Francophile, and I love the towns and villages flying by, particularly when, as in three stages this year, they're villages I know reasonably well.
  • It's all done in French.  The peloton- so much more attractive than "the main group".  Mark Cavendish isn't just a great water-bottle-fetcher for the duration, he's a superdomestique.  When it's not done in French, the interviews aren't dubbed, they're subtitled, so you can hear what the guys sound like.
  • The scoring system, race plans and tactics are somewhat fiendish. You have at least five races going on at once: the maillot jaune/GC race, the points (maillot vert) race, the King of the Mountains, the young riders and the team race, quite apart from the individual daily stage wins, and every team's going for a combination of these; and although in the end you only get one guy standing on the podium, it's actually a team race.  It couldn't really get much more complicated if you got Messrs Duckworth and Lewis involved.
  • The commentary team.  Gary Imlach, Ned Boulting and Chris Boardman are brilliant together; they have a dry sense of humour and a huge amount of knowledge, and not to bang on about it (although obviously I will), Boulting and Imlach are also able to interview in French.
This year, obviously, the way the Sky team overhauled everyone, and the performances of the four British guys who won stages, were absolutely brillant.  I do love Bradley Wiggins; the combination of absolute commitment and laconic comments managed to win over the French as well (helped by, yup, his ability to make equally laconic comments in French)...  And despite his unwillingness to be regarded as race leader, he stepped up when so many riders were felled by some moron strewing carpet-tacks on the road during the middle weekend, and pulled the peleton back...

Anyway, on with the spinning.

Over the Jubilee weekend, I washed a Manx Loaghtan fleece I'd had sitting in a plastic bag in the back bedroom (which was being converted into an actual back bedroom for my nephew to sleep in, rather than the storeroom hip-high in various bags of assorted craft supplies and complete rubbish it started off as); drying it was a bit of a challenge but the Monday and Tuesday were actually OK drying weather...


Washed, it was surprisingly free of straw and other rubbish


and carded, it was lovely and soft.


So far, I have about 400m of chunky-weight bright brown yarn.  (One of the really interesting things about Fibre-East, having spun up a chunk of the fleece by then, was being able to identify yarns and fleece from this particular breed around the marquees from a distance...)


Because part of the fun of the Tour is being able to vary what you're spinning, I then went on to coloured rovings and batts; in the end I produced quite a respectable basketful of yarn and singles for plying into yarn later...  The two additional bobbins I bought at Fibre-East came in handy.


The last couple of weeks I've been wandering around London with a camera taking some pictures of things surrounding the Olympics; and I've also overcommitted myself for the Ravellenic Games (both knitting and weaving) happening at the same time; more about that next time.

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