Nath Knits

and should probably be doing something else.

Various and Sundry – Day Just-Over-Seven-Months

6 Comments

Take heart, Canada! Spring will come for you too!

Last day to Say it with Cross-Stitch!  Comment on this post for a chance to win some bespoke cross-stitchy goodness!

Happy last day of February!  It’s been an especially crappy winter for both Canada and the UK.  March, despite its proverbial coming in like a lion, is the beginning of the end.  Hang in there – summer is coming.  We’ll be complaining about the heat in just a few months.

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I put my back out today doing burpees.  My knee hurts from an undignified injury I suffered about four years ago so I’ve stopped running.  I feel like I’m about 80 years old.

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We’re back to the usual routine this week.  We had a last week off (half-term break for the kids) and had planned a day trip to Cambridge, as well as another country walk.  However, Vorlon was sick and housebound for most of the week, so the walk was canceled and the trip to Cambridge* was postponed to the last Sunday of the break.

We had some friends over for dinner the first weekend – they’d generously offered to take the kids to see the Lego movie with their kids, so I invited them all over for dinner afterwards.  It was nice to cook for a crowd, and to socialise.  I’m slowly making friends at choir and the museum, and Dr. Thingo has found some squash buddies.  Zebula had a friend the other day who was trying to convince her to stay (“What if all your Canada friends could move here too!”) and was invited to a birthday sleepover next weekend.  Vorlon wants to stay for another year so that he can go up the O2 Centre (apparently, you have to be 10.  I said if he saved his allowance for the next 10 years (both for the flight and for the ridiculous entrance fee), he could come back.).  We’re leaving in less than 5 months, and finally starting to feel like we’re making roots.  That’s how it goes, I guess.

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Only 311 steps to go!

We ventured out into the city last Saturday – it was a beautiful, sunny day, and Vorlon was feeling better, and we were all pretty antsy.  We wandered around, with no real plan other than for Dr. Thingo to find the plaque marking the location of London’s first coffee shop, and ended up having a nice afternoon.  Included were the aforementioned coffeehouse plaque, Christopher Wren’s Monument to the Great Fire of London, the park at St. Dunston in the East and a failed attempt to go to this park, which I hadn’t seen before, but which the kids had been to with Dr. Thingo and which they assure me is awesome (unfortunately, it was closed).

The Monument, built by Christopher Wren in the 1670s

View from the top. That’s the Tower Bridge, and you can see the Tower of London too.

Kilroy was here, 18th century style.

St. Dunstan in the East. It was bombed out during the Blitz, and has been converted to a park. It’s a beautiful, quiet, meditative spot, so of course we couldn’t be there with the kids for more than 5 minutes…

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Please help me identify the following bird and plants.

Spotted in Cambridge

Also spotted in Cambridge. It has bright yellow feet.

Spotted on my street, looks like it should be from another planet.

Spotted on my street, smells fantastic.

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I think I’ve mentioned before that I’ve started helping out a lady in my choir who has been teaching drama for a long time (she ‘retired’ 8 years ago).  Her area of expertise is in what she calls ‘Reminiscence Theatre’, where you speak with elderly people and encourage them to remember their past, and act it out.  She’s had great results and has done many plays over the years, and has toured them all over Europe.  Topics range from people remembering what their mums did to keep their families running during World War II, to talking about how they found out about sex, to talking about what healthcare was like before the NHS existed.  It’s very interesting.  She still works with the elderly, especially groups with dementia, to encourage them to share their memories.  She feels strongly that, while what she does is by no means a miracle cure, it does draw people out of what must be a  great deal of frustration and isolation, and they keep surprising her by willingly and enthusiastically sharing their memories with her, and acting them out.  She invited me to join in a training session she was holding for filmmakers who are working on the same kind of reminiscence project, both to get a sense for what she does, and to experience it for myself.  I admit that I wasn’t that enthusiastic about going, but accepted anyway (this sabbatical is all about new experiences, right?). I’m not that fond of this kind of forced group activity (icebreaker games at so-called ‘team building’ events make me deeply uncomfortable).  The workshop was this morning and I was surprised to find myself having a very good time.  Her approach feels very natural and unforced.  It was revealing and made me appreciate a little bit more what people with dementia must feel.  She’s also invited me to join her for a session with some patients, and I think I will join her.

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I still feel very self-conscious every time I open my mouth to speak.  People are never mean-spirited or dismissive of my accent, but it still feels very conspicuous.  And I still have a hard time with people with particularly heavy South London accents and have to listen very closely.  I don’t know how long I’d have to live here for that to stop being the case.

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Public bike pump, next to Cycling Superhighway. I would love to see both of these implemented in KW.

All of February’s pictures are here

* Cambridge will get its own post.  Someday.

Author: nathknits

Mom, knitter, IT nerd, trying to make it all run smoothly.

6 thoughts on “Various and Sundry – Day Just-Over-Seven-Months

  1. Nath,

    Love the blog! Thanks for taking us along with you on your UK journey. Please take more photos of the bike infrastructure! Let me know what you think of the Boris bikes (I’m working on a bikeshare here in K-W http://www.theworkingcentre.org/cab)

    Looking forward to your next post :)

    cheers,
    Jane

    • The cycling infrastructure is great where it exists. Lots of bike lanes, and a whole network of cycle-safe routes all across the country (they’re not all bike lanes, but usually streets where it’s either fairly quiet, or there’a enough room for both bikes and cars). I’ve seen people cycling in that crazy set of intersections around Trafalgar Square (I’ fairly comfortable cycling on any street or intersection in KW, but that’s just crazy!)

      There are Boris bikes everywhere, and I see them used, but I must admit, I have never used them or felt the need to.

      I still haven’t gathered up the courage to cycle here. It’s more a function of the fact that I have to drag the bike out of the basement when I want to use it, and then back down when I’m done. What a drag! There’s nowhere outside could keep it (front of the house has nowhere to put it, back of the house is only accessible through the house). The driving on the left thing is unnerving. Still, I should just do it.

  2. The yellow flower in the first picture is Aconite (Eranthis hyemalis), sometimes called Winter Aconite. It might be my favourite spring bulb because it comes up through the snow, just when you need that punch of colour.

    • Thanks! They are pretty, and I hadn’t seen them before. No snow here this winter, but I bet they would look nice againt the snow.

  3. The bird is a common moorhen (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Common_Moorhen).

    The last bush is probably an Oregon grape? (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Berberis_aquifolium_4207.JPG)

    No clue about the plant from another planet.

  4. Thanks! That Oregon Grape is really nice – I should see if it’ll grown in Canada. It smells wonderful!!

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