Wednesday, September 28, 2011

This is not my beautiful house

The work of Bruegel(s), Bosch and Magritte - he has a whole gallery - wasn't the only art we appreciated in Belgium. There was a lot of interesting architecture - in particular, Art Nouveau buildings are something to look out for in Brussels. We had a coffee in the rooftop cafe at the amazing Musical Instruments Museum. Now I wish I had made the time to check out the exhibits as well, but, you can't do everything!
This is the beautiful Maison Cauchie, which we just stumbled across after leaving the Military Museum.
Above, the Brussels-Central Railway Station - designed by Victor Horta.
In Ghent we visited the excellent Design Museum.
The Egmont statue took a bit of finding - we knew he was no longer in the Grand Place, but it turned out he wasn't quite in Egmont Park either, but in another park just across the way.
I also pointed the camera at a lot of street art.

Monday, September 26, 2011

In Brussels

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Three of our five days in Belgium were spent in Brussels. One of our first destinations was the Royal Museum of the Armed Forces and of Military History. Some of which looked a lot like the museum at our own Australian War Memorial....

but some rooms had quite a different feel! Some startling relics of colonialism.
They love their comics (sorry, 'BD') in Belgium. Tintin and the Smurfs are everywhere, as both were created by Belgians.
There are several of these large murals on city buildings. The European comics/BD scene seems to have a much more mature understanding of the potential of the graphic medium to tell any kind of story. The mainstream view here (and I dare say, in the US and UK as well?) so easily reverts to tired old assumptions that comics are mainly about superheroes and other topics for children or the childish. The bookshop at the Brussels military museum had a large range of comics about war and history, which is just not something you would ever see here.
The Grand Place (Groot Markt) was grand! Some of the buildings have been cleaned and repaired magnificently, topped with lots of shiny gold. I love the facade cloths used while the building is under repair. I've seen them before - maybe in Krakow? London? - and they never fail to amuse.

A major highlight was spending time in the Bruegel room in the Museum of Ancient Art (part of the Royal Museums of Fine Arts). They have a couple of paintings by Pieter Bruegel the elder, and some of his sons' paintings and copies. All wonderful - it's easy to see why these paintings are so popular and well loved. The scenes of peasant life are charming and real, along with bits of torture and misery, partly due to the Hieronymous Bosch influence. A few rooms away there was also one Bosch, a copy made by his own workshop I believe. I have Rolf to thank for first introducing me to the Bruegel family. Thanks Rolf.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Another way you could do it

When I packed for my recent trip to the UK, I took only one knitting project. The honeycomb lace scarf was small to carry and more than enough knitting to keep me going. It hadn't gone so well on an earlier trip to Melbourne, but after weeks of messing it up and a fair bit of tinking (undoing knitting, stitch by stitch), I had established enough of a rhythm with the pattern.

I usually go for fairly easy, boring knitting for travelling, or any time I'm knitting with other people. It should be something without much counting required, and that I can put down at a moment's notice. That used to mean plain socks in the round, but I've gone right off knitting socks for now. The honeycomb lace is not at all boring or easy, but I felt that I had settled into it sufficiently. I really wanted to make some progress on it during those long flights (and in the end, I did).

But I wasn't really committed to only knitting on one project for almost four weeks. I saw Jane Eyre not long before I left, and came home with the desire to make one of those basic, slightly daggy garter stitch shawls. It was quickly pointed out to me that Sunday Knits had already written a pattern for the shawl(s) worn in the film, with several variations.

So I purchased the pattern and brought a copy with me, as well as a Knit Pro cable and a couple of sizes of interchangeable needle tips. My plan was to buy some suitable wool to knit it while I was away.

What I didn't take (though I considered it for a moment) was any of the double pointed needles that I use to knit pods and pears in the round.
So, when I found myself wanting to make and felt a little pod from some souvenir Welsh wool, I had to improvise. And I am here to tell you that it is possible to use your Knit Pro needle tips as DPNs! It was a bit fiddly, the stitches wanted to slip off, especially as the stitch count increased. This was partly because I only had four needle tips (two 4mm and two 4.5mm) and I normally use a set of five DPNs. It would have been much more difficult with the slippery nickel ones.

Unfortunately I forgot to take a photo of the finished pod.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

I took a lot of photos in Ghent

This amazing building houses a Laura Ashley shop.

It was a very warm day, and we didn't see many of those, so it was great to see people out in their summer clothes. We took a canal tour which was excellent value. Unlike the Amsterdam tour boats, these ones are open to the elements, they just have a bucket of umbrellas ready. I was very glad not to have to use those.




Sunday, September 04, 2011

I found a picture of you

Goodbye Wales. For now.
We stopped *somewhere* along the road, in mid-Wales. After rain all day yesterday, it was a great sunny day for driving.
Goodbye Welsh mountain sheep. There were sheep everywhere in the mountains, including on very steep slopes, often wandering contentedly quite separate from their fellows - contrary to the sheep stereotype. And of course I found a bit of Welsh wool to bring home.

Saturday, September 03, 2011

Y Ddraig Goch ddyry gychwyn

(The red dragon leads the way)

Hello from north Wales!

Unfortunately, I don't seem to have any photos here which capture the amazing northern Wales mountain scenery, though we have driven through a lot of it. I just love being in alpine country.114
Wales is littered with railways of varying gauges, some continuing to operate as tourist attractions and many abandoned. Yesterday we took the Snowden Mountain Railway, which takes a one-hour journey from Llanberis to the summit of Mt Snowden, allows half an hour to get out and look around, and then descends. Except, apparently, when conditions at the top are too windy. We only got about three-quarters of the way there, and didn't have an opportunity to get out. It was a bit cramped and noisy in the small, tightly packed carriage, and I really could have used a bit of air and leg stretching time. However, the views were completely amazing all the way, so it was well worth it.
All the signs are bilingual and you do hear the locals speaking Welsh a lot. Many of the place names look bizarre, but once I hear how they are pronounced, they make more sense. I'm still probably making a mes of it though!
While waiting for our train ride we took a short walk uphill to see the ruins of Dolbadarn Castle. The castle may have only been in use for less than 100 years, and yet there it is, still standing, and it probably will be for many years to come.
These last two shots are from the town of Llanberis.