Sunday, 25 May 2008

Enough, already

Just got back this evening from a weekend up in the Midlands, near the Welsh border, studying bats. Whilst it was very interesting, particularly in terms of all the technical stuff I got to discuss about the physics of bat calls for echolocation (harmonics, frequency modulation, heterodyne, FFT... check out the pipistrelle call sample on that Wikipedia page for what we were hearing on our surveys), we really should not have gone to this straight after getting back from South America. Not that we knew when the holiday would be back when we booked the course, but still.

Anyway, I am dog tired and slightly disturbed that I am also away for, er, every weekend until the end of June. Next weekend I need to go down to the south coast to view a potential wedding venue, then I'm off up north to visit my dear friend Gloria, then attending a wedding in Shropshire, then Manchester to see Leonard Cohen in concert (yay!), then hopefully Woolfest in Cumbria... Sigh. I would quite like to spend a weekend in my own little flat at some point, but that doesn't look terribly likely, does it?

Oh well, I suspect I'm just particularly grumpy tonight because I can detect the lingering smell of dead bat specimens about my person, and cannot get rid of it.

Incidentally, it amused us this week to see signs on the way into Shrewsbury, where we were staying, proclaiming it to be the birthplace of Charles Darwin. Can't get away from the bugger at the moment, can we?

We also saw a lorry emblazoned with the intriguing crest of "The Sheep Show". Having just looked it up online, I am bemused: "A humorous educational live stage show about sheep and wool.  Edu-tainment at it's best. 9 breeds introduced onto their own stage. Don’t miss the Dancing Sheep." Huh? And can I get them for the wedding?

Finally thank you all for your lovely comments/e-mails/texts/calls/cards about the engagement. If anybody's around tomorrow and fancies a celebratory drink on a bank holiday Monday, we'll be at The Old Dairy in Finsbury Park (it's raining). Cheers!

Thursday, 22 May 2008

An announcement, or two

Announcement #1

I'm back! And in one piece no less, having braved rope bridges, sheer drops, sharks and scary carpenter ants over the last few weeks. I'll be writing it all up as soon as I can, promise! Thank deity-of-choice that it's a bank holiday here in the UK on Monday, so I might just be able to process some of the literally hundreds and hundreds of photos I have.

Announcement #2, even more exciting

On my travels, I managed to pick up this little sparkler:

Courtesy of my darling boyfriend, or, as he is now, my fiancé! Yes, the Galapagos Islands were that inspiring to his biologist-ness, that he was moved to propose in the cathedral of evolution. Awww. And of course I said yes.

The ring is a beauty, a big mandarin garnet (aka spessartite), because I'd said before that I didn't fancy a diamond like everyone else, and to go with my hair. Isn't he a sweetheart? Big hugs to Lotta and Anna for helping him with the ring creation, you are stars (but as I said, secretive little minxes). Oh, the stone, if anyone's interested, is from AJS Gems in Thailand, who I've used before and who are really, really good. The ring itself was set by Van Den Berg in Soho.

Am now in a whirl of planning - we will hopefully be getting hitched in September 2009. My dear mother is already in overdrive, suggesting venues, putting notices in The Times and the like. I will try my best not to turn into either a raving lunatic or a bore.

Finally, congratulations to Hels, who is expecting! Baby knitting time!

Saturday, 10 May 2008

Knit in peace

I shouldn't be blogging at all from on holiday, but I found out today (Friday here) that our dear friend and fellow knitter Tash died on Sunday. I am terribly sad not to have been around at the end, for her and for all you lovely Wednesday night girls and her husband Mark, and especially to have missed today's memorial service. I am thinking of you all.

This afternoon, just after I heard the news, we went out hummingbird spotting here in the cloud forests. They are such beautiful creatures, so quick, bright, remarkably feisty (we even saw one chase off a hawk), in love with colour (the flowers they feed on, the gorgeous metallic greens, purples, blues and golds of their own feathers) and gone far, far too soon, just like Tash. We'll miss you, sweetie.

Thursday, 1 May 2008

Clap your hands say yeah!

It's finished! The giant green clapotis is finished!

According to the boyfriend, I should drop dead now, this being my "death shroud" as he puts it. Or perhaps he suspects that I have been ripping it out, like Penelope, every night. Not true, I was just bored with all the straight repeats.

It is large, being about six feet by two feet of cuddly emerald Noro Cash Iroha, nearly seven balls. I think it's rather lovely. I'd almost like to launch straight into another one, as mine is solid - a gorgeous glowing solid green of course - and I've seen some inspiring ones in variegated yarns, silks especially. On the other hand I think I really need to not be doing all those bloody repeats for a little while, and I probably only need one clap.

What else can I write about it? Nothing that's not said far more eloquently here.

I have no photo yet (I finished sewing the ends in only five minutes ago) but I promise to take some pictures in the sunshine when I get to Ecuador... tomorrow! Yes, our big South American adventure is finally here after three years of waiting. We will be at altitude in Quito this time tomorrow, deep in the Amazon rainforest the day after that, and afterwards we're heading to the cloud forests in the mountains then the Galapagos Islands. We'll be back in about three weeks' time.

One final anecdote before I go - when I first heard people refer to a clapotis, I had no idea they were talking about a shawl pattern. Eventually I became aware that it must be a famous pattern, but I thought it was called a clafoutis, like the cherry pudding. But the physics term for a standing wave fits the rippling pattern, and my own loves, much better.  Science triumphs over sponge!