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Wednesday, 30 November 2016

Marathon

It all started last March when I mentioned to my younger son that I wanted to visit my cousin in Florence, Italy.  I last saw her at her father's funeral some 20+ years ago and as I get older I feel that I don't want to meet cousins at each other's funerals!!!  Son immediately said "Why don't I run the Florence Marathon at the end of November" and that is what happened, except along the way, son's brother in law also wanted to do the marathon as well.

So off I flew last Thursday, as the first part of the group, arrived at the 'Air bnb' apartment we had booked and was delighted that we were very, very, close to the Ponte Vecchio.
Our apartment is on 2nd floor of block on right

Outside our window was this 'windmill' art installation which appeared very popular.
Back of the Ponte Vecchio
 
All jewellers shops and tourists
That evening I was meeting my cousin at her apartment for a meal and we never stopped talking and catching up.  What a lovely evening.
 
Next morning was spent looking around and getting my bearings. (Lots of photos to follow)

Ponte Santa Trinita from Ponte Vecchio


Palazzo Vecchio


Galleria degli Uffizi

Statue (copy) of David by Michelangelo outside Palazzo Vecchio


Piazza della Signoria and Palazzo Vecchio

An unusual bike I saw in the street!


A typical central Florentine street


Only way to get around - a scooter


'Il Porcellino' - Piglet


The Duomo


Campanile and the dome of the Duomo

Inside the Duomo


The 24 hour clock in the Duomo

Inside the Duomo
Though not a Catholic I have been in many Catholic churches abroad and have been amazed at the decorations, but this cathedral was very austere inside.   
 
The apartment was very close to
 
 
 

 
and I realised that if I needed to know "how much" I couldn't afford to shop there!!
 
The 'boys' registered for the Marathon at the 'Expo'

 
and once again I did the touristy bit with them and in the evening we met up with my cousin for a meal and I snapped night photos.
Ponte Vecchio at night
 

Christmas lights in the main shopping area

I popped up on various places on the marathon course, but only saw my son once to cheer him on, but both of them did well with 'brother in law' getting a personal best and son overcoming an injury and finishing well at just under 4 hours - his 60th marathon!  He had completed 50 marathons by his 40th birthday and wants to complete 100 by the time he is 50, so he is well on course.
A group of runners outside the Apartment, going off to the start close by
On Monday morning my son and I had a quick walk in the Oltrarno district on the other side of the river Arno before leaving for home.
Palazzo Pitti
 
Wedding cakes in a shop window
 
Porta Romano

For myself -  I met my cousin again after 25+ years, completed my Christmas shopping and visited a lovely Italian city that I had last been to 50 years ago when newly married.  What a wonderful weekend.

Wednesday, 23 November 2016

A reunion

Last week I started a new course of training with Chester Farm - 'Finds Marking'.  Every single 'find' that is dug up on the site has to be marked and recorded on a database and as this was our first day of training we had to practice writing very small and very neatly.  This does not come easily to me as my writing is not particularly neat or small but I had a go.  After practising for a while I went to collect my first bag for marking  and immediately recognised 'him'.
Remember this horse's head?

I blogged about this here, so imagine my surprise when it reappeared for marking and I swiftly said I would do it as it felt like an old friend.
Teeny tiny writing underneath


Ready to go back into storage
Ever single item in a 'finds' bag has to be marked, down to the smallest piece, as each piece is part of a bigger picture of the site.
A bag of animal bones all marked

We also marked bags of pottery which can be very monotonous.  On this occasion we didn't enter anything on the database - that will come next time.

What a dreadful day on Monday; it rained from dawn to dusk with some very heavy downpours thrown in.  My morning Nordic Walk was cancelled the evening before after seeing the  weather forecast - all blue over the East Midlands!

However days like this do have silver linings as I headed for my studio to finish something crafty started on Sunday.

Appliqué is the subject of the November Mini Mania and we have to use a 'creature and a plant'.  Well here is a sneaky peek of the finished item
A 'Christmas Rose' perhaps?

Once this was finished I started on a new Christmas bauble that I bought at the Knitting and Stitching show -Narcissa and I love it.
A long way to go

Nearly there
and finally, thanks to a wet and cold afternoon -










The finished bauble
I fancy making some more!!

Sunday, 13 November 2016

A bit of this and a bit of that ....

I have had a very busy last week but nothing of great interest to write about, but I have continued to take a few photos of my activities. 

I am writing this just before I watch the Festival of Remembrance from the Cenotaph, when the Queen will lay a wreath on behalf of the nation and Commonwealth.  I always get choked up by this as my father was in the Great War and World War 11 and I remember those who never came back.  He didn't arrive in France until March 1918 and was demobbed in March 1919 but he went through the second World War manning the East Coast defences in Frinton.  Not glamourous but he met my mother during this time, and though everyone thought he was a confirmed bachelor, they married and hence I am here.  I wrote about him in this blog.

I have been working on 'land conservation' at Chester Farm over the last few weeks and the weather has been amazingly good to us.


This was taken just before the rain poured down!  Luckily we were on our way to our lunch break in one of the barns.  We were clearing the Holm meadow and building up 'walls' of wood to stop dogs (and people) getting into the undergrowth.  The contractors have started work around the farm buildings and have pulled down the corrugated barns and silos and opened up the site to build the new visitor centre.  Work cannot start on the house yet as they have discovered there are bats roosting /hibernating, so they have to be left until they fly off sometime soon - hopefully!!  Bats are a protected species in the UK.

On my Monday Nordic walk we walked by the river in Irthlingborough Lakes and rounded a corner to see this sight.


We thought it was rubbish blown up by the wind, but on closer inspection we realised what they were
A grey heron and white egrets



It was a thrilling sight as we hadn't seen so many egrets together in one place before.  While we were watching the heron lazily flew off.

Yesterday the 50+ Adventure Club had an outing to watch Northampton Saints play rugby and initially I wasn't going, until I heard that they were playing Gloucester in the Anglo Welsh Cup.  My younger son was born in Gloucester and we lived in Gloucestershire and South Wales for 25 years so my family have always supported Gloucester.
Come on you Cherry Whites!!

It was looking good -


but by the end the result was against us - Saints 19-13 Gloucester.  C'est la vie!!  However this was a family occasion for me as my son, grandson, brother, sister and brother in law were all there and when I was parking my car I saw my niece with her children.  Her youngest was playing in an Under 9's mini-rugby competition and at half time the teams paraded round the pitch - great excitement from these youngsters. 

In the meantime I have been very 'crafty', though most of it cannot be shown as it is Christmas related.  However I have completed my latest piece of embroidery.
Goldwork

I bought this as a kit in 2007 when I went to a Royal School of Needlework one day course and it sat around until I thought I should finish it.  My embroidery teacher suggested that the pattern would look better on this emerald green dupion and though the emerald green doesn't show well in the photo, she was right as usual!!  I am going to make it into a box lid when I can find an appropriate box.

Monday, 31 October 2016

Oh Deer!

I ticked off another item on my invisible 'Bucket List' the other weekend!  I went on a Deer Walk.

That might sound very boring, but in the UK at this time of the year the 'rut' is going on in herds of deer and I have never seen it before.  I have seen it on nature programmes on TV but never live, so this is what we were going to see.  I was excited!!

We met in Bradgate Park in Leicestershire and for our morning walk we walked up to 'Old John' which was quite hard going, passing the remains of the Elizabethan house which was the ancestral home of Lady Jane Grey, who was Queen for 9 days, before being executed. 
The little 'huts' are litter bins!!
 
Old John with the war memorial on the left of the photo

After a short break and a look at the 'map'


we walked over to the War Memorial and so back to the start for lunch, passing some very old, but still living mainly oak trees.


A legend says that when Lady Jane Grey was executed the tops of all the trees in the park were cut off and there are some very old and gnarled ones.

A Ranger joined us in the afternoon and we went into the private deer sanctuary hearing the 'bellowing' of the stags all the time, as indeed we had in the morning as well.  Luck was on our side though and in a clearing in the woods we came on a small group of Fallow Deer Does with their Buck (Fallow Deer have bucks and does, Red Deer have stags and hinds) who was a splendid example.
Fallow Deer have palmate horns
I should apologise for the standard of photography.  They were in dappled woodland and at a distance.
A very noisy buck
There was a buck close by who was making our buck very worried protecting his 'girls'.  Eventually there was nothing more than to lock horns and fight it out.


The interloper ran off and our 'Buck' had his wicked way with one of his females - and though I managed a very blurry photo as proof, I am not putting it on here!!

Meanwhile there were some Red Deer close by with a huge stag in charge, but unfortunately I couldn't close enough to get a good photo before he ran off.  I did get this one of a young adult and a doe, with Fallow Deer on the left.
Nearly a 'Monarch of the Glen'

We were able to get close to our Fallow Deer as the buck was more concerned about his rivals than us!

A wonderful walk.

A quick update on the parking area that was finished after 3.5 days and I am really pleased with it. 
Now to tidy up the garden!!

The Mini Mania for October has finished and it has been quite controversial - Joseph's Coat.
My first effort was literal -
Only about 8" high
 
but after a think I decided on this

Roughly 10" square, I used Invisible Machine Applique, which is a technique I learnt after attending a workshop given by Dawn Cameron Dick.  Brilliant technique!!

Now to see what we have to do in November.