Tuesday, 17 November 2009


Well, what with being in the middle of a thousand things and nothing really to show, except for photos of a thousand unfinished things, I decided to go with a completely pointless and arbitrary post.

classically proportioned pigeons

I feel like I'm living in a French version of a British children's programme:  Rue de Pigeon...

pigeons sur le toit d'église
(you have to click on this - don't know why, but it just makes me giggle!)

I don't know what's worse: writing a post about pigeons, complete with photographic manifestations of my observations outré; or having been captivated enough to take interest in this sujet singulier in the first place!

moody urban pigeons

Actually, possibly the worst thing is that I'm trying to find French expressions to make this post seem a little less bizarre and a little more sophisticated.  

But, we're talking about pigeons, right?  Maybe I should just stick with the bizarre...  I mean - what kind of person jumps up to find their camera when they see a plethora of pigeons on the roofs opposite? 

Certainly not a sophisticated one!

Thursday, 5 November 2009

V is for...


tourists, lots of tourists.  oh, and a palace, too

Now, the first thing to be said about the marvellous Château de Versailles is that you'll be amongst thousands of tourists.  They're everywhere...  You'll be lucky if you can get a photo of the façade or the gardens without a couple of hundred folk obscuring the details.  You'll be lucky if you can find a sandwich for love OR money after the hour of 2pm.  You'll be lucky if you get to spend more than a couple of minutes in any room in the palace without being swept away in the current of the crowd. 

But you'll also be lucky to go there and see all the wonders in person!  Truly! 

My sis and I were awestruck with everything!  The size of the place, the richness, the history, the grandeur...  Even though I had been there before (I sang solo in the Chapel Royale with Les Arts Florissants, doncha know!) somehow visiting as a tourist made everything so much grander!

DS and I decided to 'do' the gardens first... and it was just as well we did...

the bassin de latone and grand canal

We spent 5 hours.  FIVE WHOLE HOURS in the gardens alone.  I had monstrous sunburn to account for that.  Even though there were plenty clouds in the sky, it was a 35-ish degree type of day so when the sun came out to play, he played hardcore.

the palace from the baths of apollo

Even with 5 hours of tramping around the groves, basins, fountains and avenues, I reckon we barely covered half of what there was to see in the gardens and I have to admit finding it hard to take photos of gardens of such a massive scale!  Also, me being me, I took more photos of the beautiful sculptures than the anything else!  We did make it as far as the Trianons - the Grand and the Petit and both were delightful to behold!

loggia of the grand trianon

petit trianon

Then, after tramping back a couple of miles, it was time for the interior of the palace, itself...  And it's totally breathtaking!  The French kings certainly stamped their majesty on the architecture and decoration everywhere, from the stunning Hall of Mirrors (which was being renovated while we were there);

la galerie des glaces

to the Chapelle Royale (which we could only view from the Royal gallery on the 1st floor and the door on the ground floor, so please excuse blurry photos - we were amongst many folk all jostling for a peep!);

you can kind of get an idea of the grandeur...

the organ by cliquot

through the royal apartments;

the ceiling of one of the state bedrooms

to the grand apartments:

impressive door in the hercules salon

It was a tad on the tricky side trying to get photos, but the few I have give me such excellent reminders of a terrific day out that made any jostling and cramming totally worthwhile!! 

Monday, 14 September 2009

Q is for...


When I first moved into this building in 2004,  the quartier and the building were pretty quiet - out of the 9 apartments in my building, there was, I believe, one student living in the studio apartment on the ground floor.  Now there are 5 student apartments, with at least 2 students in each one.  And that's just this bâtiment. 

Which leads me to the title of this post... Quiet, or lack thereof.  Because, seriously, I'm about to go spare.  One noisy neighbour, maybe two, and you can cope.  And they usually have their own time-keeping, noise-wise, so you can work around it. But when you have multiple auricular raiders who seem to have worked out a timetable that leaves no minute auditorally un-assaulted... things can get a little...  AAAARGH.

Here, let me show you...

welcome to hell
(ganked from googlemaps, edited by an exhausted fraggle)

My building:
  • Mr and Mrs Loud-Speaker, 1st floor: obviously deaf judging by the level of noise emanating from their sound system.  Quite handy for the removal of dust from the rafters, though.
  • Mademoiselle Poaimon (Player Of All Instruments, Master Of None), 2nd floor:  nice girl, studying literature I think, just not real musician material, sadly.  Enjoys jam sessions with her friends in her flat, complete with keyboards, vocals, bass guitar and an over-excited amp.
  • Miss Saxomophone, recent replacee of Death Metal Boy in the ground floor studio apartment.  Also learning to play the bongos.  I kid you not.
  • The Klaxon Boys in the back flat, ground floor.  Four pre-schoolers (read: 1st year uni students - but they look so yoooouuuuuuuuuuuuuung) who seem to adore shrieking, yelling, shouting and blowing their klaxon horn in the stairwell at 4 in the morning.  Bless 'em.
  • Laughing Girl, 3rd floor above me: not there all the time, and has the BEST infectious laugh ever.  It's just not quite so appreciated when it's a constant through to 3am.
  • Punk Girls, my new neighbours on the 2nd floor.  Likes are: slamming their toilet door shut; inviting many, many people into their poky wee flat; having loud parties that last until 5:30am.  Dislikes are: respecting their neighbours; cooking food that isn't fried or cremated.  (Their kitchen/living-room window is at right angles to my bedroom window in a wee courtyard in the centre of the adjoining buildings.)
And that's just this building...  Looking further afield we have:
  • The Pisser Boys, 1st floor, opposite building: penchant for french rap parties and weeing off their balcony onto the street below.  Gardyloooo...
  • Scratchy Pistol Boy, top floor, opposite building: has an obvious hatred for pigeons, judging by his love of shooting them with his air pistol.  Also an aficionado of the ancient art of 'scratching' records, that 80s Dj-ing phenomenon involving scratching a record back and forth on the turntable and destroying the needle.  Updated for 00s computers and cds, of course.
  • Piano Man, 1st (2nd?) floor in the building to the left: Practises  either jazz or Beethoven all day long - a particular favourite being the Pathetique Sonata.  Is also know for his enjoyment of playing loud and obscure Romantic piano concerti recordings from 7 to 9am.
  • The Party Animals, bottom floor, 2 buildings away to the left: Generous souls who hold open-air parties for the whole neighbourhood, all from the comfort of their own front room and wide-open windows.  They also have a rather disturbing love of Cyndi Lauper.
I didn't put them all in the piccie, because it was just too depressing!

Of course, you can't forget about the students who like to hang around the square with their carry-outs, getting drunk and disorderly and abusing the poor old fire-hydrant, the litter bins, the benches and each other.  The use of tinny mobile-phone musical accompaniment may not be obligatory, but is preferred.

Last night I was kept awake until 4am.  Friday night it was 5:40 before the noise stopped.  Today I put on my big girl pants and went round to complain, receiving embarrassed apologies in return.  No promises of it never happening again, though.  I was also informed that they think my singing is cool.  So cool in fact that it was accompanied by a thumbs-up.  Wow.  It must be cool then, and they weren't just trying to deflect my attention away from my original complaint.

I hope to God that I get some sleep tonight as I'll be leaving here at 9am to get to rehearsals in Blois, because at the moment my throat is scratchy and I have a temperature. 

I think I need the number of some heavies on speed dial!

Thursday, 3 September 2009

P is for...

Palais de Luxembourg

on a crisp november afternoon

Okay, so I'm actually going to cheat a little with this post, as I haven't actually set foot inside the Palais de Luxembourg, which is in Paris, at all.  I did spend two lovely afternoons tramping around the gardens, though, so it's just a little cheat, not an o-my-stars-I'm-going-to-hell-in-a-handbasket type cheat, so I'm hoping you'll let me off with a warning only!

The Luxembourg Palace was originally built for Marie de Médicis, mother of Louis XIII in the early 1600s and went through several owners, becoming a museum in the mid 1700s.  During the German occupation the palace became the headquarters for the Luffwaffe and it is now the seat of the French Senate.

cherubs and chrysanthemums - typical autumnal garden fare

I was lucky enough to be staying with a grand family who owned a massive apartment not 5 minutes from the gardens, so I took great pleasure in taking the odd hour or two I had off between rehearsals to wander around the very large parterre jardins and snap away at pretty much everything.  The gardens were formal in places, but away from the palace itself, were more extensively gravel walks between very evenly spaced trees, completed with a smattering of statues. 

The latter didn't really bear too close an inspection as I suspect a lot of them were concrete replicas of statues long ground into dust, but surrounded as they were by metal chairs and general detritis left over from the promenade season, I have to admit that I found them rather endearing!

waiting for the bandstand to come to life again...

The gardens also played host to a variety of pursuits: joggers made use of the outer pathways; the occasional roller-blader and skateboarder weaved and whipped around the sauntering tourists; senior citizens from the surrounding area took part in some tai-chi nearer the water garden (While I wandered around, there were 3 rival groups all contending to be... well, how do you determine the winners?  Contending to be the most gawped at?  The group who has the least amount of fallers?) and more than the odd one or two folk on bicycles leading their dogs for an afternoon stroll dash/drag around the park.

For an inner city garden, it was surprisingly peaceful and it was good to see that there were locals and not just tourists taking advantage of the tranquility. 

the long autumn rays of the setting sun

I must admit that my afternoons in the gardens were enjoyed in my favourite kind of weather - a crisp and cold  sunshiny Autumnal day, with the sun streaming through the trees making long shadows on the fallen leaves. My days around the Luxembourg were deliciously perfect.

Sunday, 23 August 2009

Here's one I made earlier.

irish ale socks 'murphy's red' verysion by yours truly
walker merino sock yarn by the yarn side
in red lentil evenings colourway

Because right now?  Too hot for anything.  Really.  Just too hot.  What with the mean temperature in my apartment  over the last few weeks of 29°C (oh to live in a country where air-conditioning is the norm) even a mention of the 'Y' word* is enough to bring on a most unlady-like bout of perspiration. 

This means, of course, that very little knitting has been done. Plenty of drawings, working-outs, (or should that be workings-out?) typing-up, chart-making and name-choosing, but very little entanglement of string and sticks to see whether all
this general periphery of sock-making actually makes sense in 3D.

So instead of anything brand-spankingly new, shiny and hot off the needles, I'm showing you my finished pair of Irish Ale Socks.  Actually, I've been remiss in posting about these darlings, as I finished them over 3 weeks ago. 

frothy cuff close-up

I'm not ashamed to admit that I'm fond of these babies.  The yarn is so very soft and possesses the perfect semi-solid colour I had in mind for this version.  The lace is stretchy but not too stretchy and they fit perfectly.  Oh Yes. 

And I just LOVE how the stitch pattern turned out!  It shows off the 'Y'* a real treat, too. 

mine's a pint

You can find the link to the main pattern page in the 'Weavin' Paitrens' box just to the right.

But back to the old grindstone.  Situated very nicely just across from the standing fan.

(*Yarn... ack :: sweats :: )

Thursday, 13 August 2009

O is for...


What with concerts in Brittany and slight attacks of vertigo, my poor Wronicles have been somewhat neglected as of late.
But, true to form, I have photos of stained-glass.  Many photos of stained glass, in fact.  I may have to treat myself to some extra memory for my poor overladen computer in the near future.

So, Brittany, eh?  Indeed.  In the rather lovely fortified port town of Saint-Malo. Unfortunately I didn't get the chance to have a wander around the town, which is a royal shame, as the fortress, ramparts and ancient architecture had me drooling as we drove past them to the cathedral.  Or the
Cathédrale Saint-Vincent-de-Saragosse de Saint-Malo to give it its full title.  Bit of a mouthful, but quite the cathedral!

the rose window from the altar

We were singing Domenico Scarlatti's 'Stabat Mater' for 10 voices here, and it was an absolute pleasure.  (I'd never performed, never mind heard this piece before, and was blown away - I'd recommend listening to the recording by The Immortal Bach Ensemble, directed by Morten Shuldt-Jensen on Naxos.) The accoustics weren't too boomy in the cathedral, considering we were in the middle of an extremely large building and being in the crossing, we weren't hampered by anything that could have dampened the sound.  Rather pleasant, on the whole!

But I didn't let this singing thing get in way of my cameratic photophying! 

old-style windows
new-style windows (totally in my colours - nom!)

old-style windows

new-style...  yeah, you get the picture!
(feel free to click on the piccies to get a bigger view...)

I was click-happy, but have to admit that quite a few photos didn't come out.  I try not to use flash most of the time, as it just flattens everything out, and you get a false light relation, but there was one photo of one of the side chapels that turned out looking like a painting by Vermeer:

just lacking period dress and a jug-toting milkmaid

Yes, I know, it's just the colours and the light spilling in the windows, but it's quite pretty never-the-less!

But back to ye olde-grindstone.  I've just started work on a new alcoholic sock...  something a little fruitier this time...  ;-)

Tuesday, 28 July 2009

Leaving the Nest

zombie socks - the return by sheryl giles
in angels&elephants 4-ply sock wool in maisie

They're gone!  oh WOE is my orphanage!  But thanks to the WIPs Wresting tournament on Ravelry, I have 2 orphans homed with new siblings!  The first of which was made with the Zombie Sock pattern by Sheryl Giles - my second go at the pattern.  For some reason the second sock just didn't want to be cast on...  I suspect it was the acres of knit stitches through the back loop that threw me. 

scary dropped stitches everywhere

For some reason I wasn't bothered by this in the first pair, or, indeed, in the first sock, but I'd do one pattern repeat of 6 rows and put the second sock down for, well, a month at a time...  But that says more about my SSS than anything else! 

notice cunning use of home-made cardboard sock blockers,
artfully covered by a plastic bag!  does the job, though!

Anyhoo - eet ees done, and they are re-housed in the sock drawer!  HUZZAH!  I have to say, though, that these are insanely comfy socks - the yarn is lovely, of course, but the pattern just seems to be rather comfy all on its own! 

The second little orphan to leave the nest this week has been waiting on a sibling for, oh... five months now...  And boy, can you see that time lapse in my change of gauge...

cherry blossom sock or kaibashira by chrissy gardiner
in king cole zigzag, colourway heather

Holy Pooling, Batman.  Actually, the pooling is in the older sock - I managed to get some cool stripes with the second and my slightly tighter gauge.  But I do love how they have turned out!  The yarn is lovely, too, with the mainly pink and white colouring, but with tiny spots of peach, blue and green.
This is basically a feather-and-fan based pattern, with a really lovely  cuff cast-on.  Slightly tricky, but totally worth it:


This darling pair will soon be winging their way to the States, as I was part of a hand-knit socks swap - one person knits the socks for someone that is sadly not conversed in the art of sock making, and the happy knitter gets some goodies in return!  HUZZAH again!

:: sobs :: they grow up so fast...

And, bound wrist notwithstanding, (slight tendonitis, possibly due to too much knitting tbl... :: grins :: ) I should have one more pair finished by the end of the month...  Which is - ACK - only 3 and a half days away. 

Wish me luck!

Monday, 20 July 2009

N is for...

New Pattern (woohoo!)

irish ale socks 'murphy's red' version by yours truly
walker merino sock yarn by the yarn side
in red lentil evenings colourway

Yes indeedy!  Not only am I posting twice in two days, (shock, horror) I have a new pattern to pimp!  HUZZAH!

May I present RedScot's Irish Ale Socks...

After showing my Gin and Tonic socks to some friends, it was suggested that I continue the alcoholic beverage theme and make some Guinness-type socks.  I, of course, thought this was a marvellous idea until I realised that if I was to make a pattern for black yarn, then I'd need, at the very least, a very lacy and/or textured pattern...

irish ale socks (Guinness version)
phildar preface in

This feather-and-fan type stitch with a half-drop fits the bill very well, as it creates a great swirly 'just-poured' look, complete with more lacy eyelets than you can shake a ball of black yarn at!
Topped with a frothy lacy-ribbed, fold-over cuff to complete the look, these Irish Ale Socks look almost good enough to slurp!  Why not try them in green for St Patrick's Day?!

The cuff is knitted quite loosely with a frothy lace rib, then turned inside out and continued in an ordinary 2x2 rib for staying-put power!

some nameless white mostly acrylic white yarn
but it does the job quite nicely!

I have to say that I'm pretty pleased with this pattern, as it looks great with black wool, as well with lighter variegated types.  I have been very fortunate with my testers for this sock, and there has been a great range of yarns used - even a self-striping that looks very striking, too!

thirsty, anyone?

Using two contrasting yarns to symbolise the frothy head and swirling, settling ale-y goodness, these socks are knit from the cuff down, with written instructions for using dpns, although circ users will find it easy to follow, too. (My intrepid test knitters were of both types!)  

If you'd like to have a copy of this pattern you can buy it for only $3.50 (roughly €2.40 or £2.00) from the Ravelry download shop by clicking here:
Go on - you know you want to! =D Many thanks to G, C and H for all their help!

Sunday, 19 July 2009

M is for


chenonceau in typical visiting weather

I'm cheating a bit, as I'm up to my ears in WIPs that need wrestled for the July WIPs Wrestlemania on Ravelry.  (Basically a chance to have some support in trying to finish some of the many works in progress that we all, no doubt, have languishing in corners, under cushions, behind settees, under fridges, in old coffee cups, etc etc etc...) 

Where does the cheating come in?  Well, my DS was over for a holiday recently, and we visited some of our favourite châteaux... Châteaux that have already received their own abc-along post...  Do you think I'll get away with it?!

Well, best foot forward, and a stiff upper lip etc.  I'm starting with Chenonceau, because it is my absolute favourite.  The weather was (yet again) unkind to us while we were there, and we had also been warned that some of the walls were under scaffolding for cleaning and restoration.  Did we still want to go?  Well, duh, yes! In the end, the scaffolding was draped with very cleverly constructed gauze prints of what the walls looked like behind the scaffolding.  Genius, as, unless you looked closely, you didn't really notice it.

For some reason I finally got a shot of my favourite room, too - the black-clad room of Louise of Lorraine.  She turned the chateau almost into a nunnery following the assassination of her husband, Henri III.

the mourning bedroom of louise de lorraine

And I don't think I've ever taken such a clear shot of the bed and tapestries in the bedroom of Catherine de Medici, either:

richness abounds

Blois was also on our itinerary.  With an additional falling down some steps, for me.  I sprained my foot, but didn't really feel it until we got home, so I was a bit lucky.  Kind of.  In a falling-over-and-hurting-myself-but-not-so-badly-as-to-ruin-the-day type way.

blois - the first view when walking/hobbling from the station

It's really rather an impressive edifice!  You're presented with the François I (early 1500's) wing on the left, and at the right you see the edge of the Gaston d'Orléans wing (early 1600's).

You then find yourself in front of the oldest part, the Louis XII wing, and entrance to the château.

the grand front door

Then you get inside and arrive in a courtyard surrounded by 3 eras of architecture!  It's stunning!  Well, it was a little less stunning than normal, as most of the courtyard was cordoned off...  I think I'm right in saying they were setting up lights for the Sons et Lumière (Sound and light) evening spectacle.  A fourth era of architecture, perhaps?  But the overall impression of awe wasn't dented that much!

the other side of the françois i wing with the amazing spiral staircase

the louis xii wing and chapel taken from the top of the spiral staircase

The next chateau we visited was Villandry!  I was very happy to show my DS this wonderful place.  The only thing marring the day was that although it was VERY hot, it was mostly cloudy and threatening thunder-showers at any minute.

the 'love' garden

I am rather fond of Villandry!  Although the chateau was 'officially' completed in the mid 1500's, the interior has been set out in late 18th century and Edwardian styles (early 20th century) - the latter being of the last incumbent, a Spanish doctor by the name of Joachim Carvallo, who bought the château in 1906.  (The castle is still owned by the Carvallo family.)

Although the place is more famous for its gardens than the interior of the chateau, I am repeatedly charmed by the nurseries on the top floor, the sumptuous yet simple bedrooms, the rustic kitchen, the 18th century dining room and especially by the incredible 15th century painted Moorish wood-panel ceiling to be found in a room to the back of a gallery of religious paintings.

:: sighs at the prettiness ::

To finish up, I'll give you a wee photo of part of the love garden... There are many more shots of the gardens to be found in the 'G is for...' post of a few months ago.

oh, I so want to put something about perfectly clipped love garden bushes...

Mair Bloag Weejits

Footerin' Aboot

Footerin' Aboot
Heh! I'm so funny!

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