Saturday, September 28, 2013

Roadtrip Day 3: Balls, boxes and hometime

Day 3 of our roadtrip again dawned sunny and warm. Seriously, I think I need to move to Sydney if only for the warmth and sunshine (but what would I blog about then?). The plan was to drive to our nation's capital, visit the art gallery and mosey around in relaxed holiday style. Even the horrible Sydney traffic that meant it took over an hour to get on the freeway to Canberra didn't pierce my blessed-out holiday bubble and I happily moved on to Chart C of my Serenity blanket.

I ended up having to rewind the cotton by hand because the original ball started to collapse and tangle. I do love Bendigo's bigger balls (hehehehe) but I find that if I knit from the centre I always have to rewind them, which is kinda annoying.

On the subject of balls, our first stop, the National Gallery of Australia, had balls everywhere! There was one hanging over the entrance...

..and another just to the right..

I don't understand why there was a group of pear sculptures also on the lawn but I did like them.

The gallery has an excellent broad collection that includes Impressionists...

..and modern art that really resonated with me. This is part of Josef Alber's series Homage to a Square and I really loved it (not surprising given my previous display of modular art). This was also the part where the security guard nicely told me that photography is not allowed at the NGA and I promptly put away my camera.

There was a bunch of other really cool art like Salvador Dali's lobster phone and the full set of Warhol soup cans along with Warhol's really creepy electric chair print. The only bad thing about the NGA is that it's in Canberra and Canberra may actually be the most boring and cold place in Australia. There was no temptation to move to Canberra after spending the day there!

We drove past Old Parliament House...

..and new Parliament House.

 It's not very clear in this photo but this building is covered by lawn. It's crazy! I'm not sure if it's a good thing or a bad thing that the seat of our nation's power can be walked on. It's certainly a wacky thing. I guess if you have to attend a building in Canberra as part of running the country, it may as well be a quirky building.

Then back on the road and more time with my blanket.

The Hume Highway has a reputation as being one of the most boring roads in Australia. However, the sun setting can make even the most boring vista spectacular.

We stopped at Gundagai for dinner at an awesome old country pub called the Family Hotel (again, no website. These businesses are really missing out.) It has been owned by the same family for like a hundred years and the decor hasn't changed much in that time. Compare this photo to the painting hanging on the wall of the same room 100 years ago.

How kitschy is that lamp! I want. 

The food was excellent and cheap and the atmosphere was wonderful (except for the pokies. I really hate pokies). There's just something so honest and Australian about country pubs where the parmas are made from real chicken and the beer still costs $2 a pot.

Then back in the car for the long drive home. I arrived home to a happy pussy cat who missed me lots and purred so hard I thought she'd hurt herself and my own bed. All in all it was a good holiday and lovely to get away. I think I need to start scheduling more regular minibreaks because, after just three short days away, I feel more relaxed, more alert and more ready to get back to work. 

Holidays are the best.

Roadtrip Day 2: Sun, surf and Serenity.

For our first day in Sydney, Sam and I had left the day completely free so we could do whatever we felt like. When we got up and it was sunny, bright and clear we decided to go to the beach.

It was an excellent decision! We went to the iconic Bondi Beach with my friend and her little girl and it was lovely.

The thing about going to the beach with a baby that isn't yours is that you get all the good stuff like sandcastles and toddler snacks but, when you want to, you can give the baby back and lie in the sun.

After spending the day receiving sun hugs on the soft white sand, listening to the waves crash onto the shore and feeling the tension literally leave my system I seriously started to consider ways I can move to Sydney. Unfortunately, I think the sun must have addled my brain because I can't find any photos taken for the rest of the day! We drove into our hotel in the Sydney CBD (the Wentworth Sofitel, which was both good and bad. The hotel itself is gorgeous and luxurious but they couldn't find our booking when we got there and it cost $50 to park the car overnight (!!!!!). Also, they pride themselves on French luxury, so all of the staff start every conversation with "Bonjour". It's a nice idea but the very Aussie "bon-jurrs" were really really funny, which is probably not what management were going for.), had a drink at Canopy Bar, which was nice, had awful expensive Japanese takeaway from Azuma Japanese Restaurant and had a lovely 10-hour sleep in a soft, delightful king size bed. 

It was a perfect holiday day (except for the terrible Japanese food) and, if I could, I'd spend every holiday ever just like that. Really really divine - holiday bliss.

Roadtrip Day 1: Driving, driving and more driving

The morning of the roadtrip dawned clear and crisp. We had planned to leave at 5am but due to unavoidable factors like my alarm having a snooze button and my total inability to operate early in the morning we ended up leaving closer to 6.30. The sun was well and truly up by the time we crossed the Bolte Bridge and left the city.

I had my camera out ready to take more photos but, seriously, unless you're really into cows, sheep and wide country vistas, driving through the countryside is really boring! After what felt like fifteen but was closer to three hours, we stopped at Gateway Village in Wodonga to stretch our legs.

Gateway Village is a lovely little artists' village that includes the above sculpture (Bonegilla) and art galleries, studios, cafes, theatres and really gorgeous pieces everywhere you look.

We didn't have enough time to really explore the space fully but I did go to the woodcraft shop. It was this wonderful store full of handmade wooden things - everything from bowls, ornaments and pens to children's toys. This stuff was seriously amazing and if I lived closer, every wedding and special birthday present for the rest of my life would be bought from there.

I was (relatively) restrained and only bought a kangaroo Christmas tree ornament for my Indian-American stepmother and a needle holder for me. It's a really pity that the shop doesn't have a website (or even a computer - my purchases were recorded in a paper ledger!). I would love to go there again.

And seriously, that's the only interesting thing that happened on the trip to Sydney. We stopped so the driver could refresh himself with a can of fizzy, sweet chemicals...

..I worked my way through Chart B of my Serenity blanket...

..and the driving continued until we reached our destination. The end.

Friday, September 27, 2013

Roadtripping: T minus 1

Last Tuesday, I left Melbourne on a roadtrip to Sydney. I was super excited because it is my first holiday of the year and I had reached that point where my mind was starting to go a bit melty. When you can't remember how to operate a cheese grater (hold, move cheese), then it's time to take a break!

As a knitter, one of the most important things to plan for any journey is which project and how many projects to take. I knew I'd be in a car for at least 20 hours so I wanted to take something relatively involved but without any loose needles. I knew the perfect project - a Serenity in the Bendy Cotton I bought a few weeks ago.

I  knew I had to get past the stage with DPNs (too much chance of dropping one while driving and being stuck without knitting until the next rest stop) so I cast on a week before I left to give me enough time to get to the circular needles. All was going smashingly until I started transferring the stitches to the circular and saw this:

A big hole where I'd messed up the increases. Because of the cabling that was in the middle of the lace, it was just too hard for me to fix and I almost cried as I unwound hours of work to get back to a mistake-free row.

So much smaller! But (luckily), still big enough to STREEETTTCCCHHHH around the circular needle and, shortly after this photo was taken, the blanket was packed up with its pattern, spare stitch markers and healthy travel-appropriate snacks and on its way to Sydney. 


Monday, September 16, 2013

Monday, another Monday

One of the things I like the most about not being on Facebook anymore is that I don't have to see the weekly "Thank God It's Friday" status updates every single week, like Friday arriving was some kind of surprise that wasn't clearly signposted by the passing of the Thursday prior to it. However, week after week I log in to Blogger some time on Monday and immediately begin my post by talking about my weekend, always noting that Monday has arrived. I am now one of those people!!

Well, Monday is here and apparently I really can't stop myself. My weekend was nice, although slightly unexciting to report on. Saturday morning was gorgeous, warm and bright so I took my knitting and a book outside to spend some quality time with the sun. The book was Flesh Wounds by Chris Brookmyre, which I did not particularly like (my review is here) but I strongly recommend the first two in the series: Where the Bodies are Buried and Where the Devil Drives, especially if you like strong female protagonists in mystery novels. I really do and there's so few of them (sad face).

I spent the afternoon watching local footy, which was fun because the winning margin was only one point. As commentators love to say, the narrowest of margins.

Then, on Sunday, I was lazy but inspired and worked in bed while eating breakfast. Lucy always enjoys a lie-in and was up for a slobby Sunday but, despite her very best efforts, could not manage to squeeze into the bed I "provided" for her.

She's so very cute! And now my nice weekend is done and the business of the week begins :)

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

WIP Wednesday: a sock and a blankie

One day I am going to stop talking about it and actually do a photography course, because until I came inside and uploaded the photos I had absolutely no idea that the light was shining behind me in such a way that it washed out all of my photos.

Despite the massive overexposure, you can see that the blanket is very satisfactorily heading towards its eventual conclusion. I work so much with 4-ply wool that I forget how fast thicker wool knits up and how enjoyable it is to see such measurable progress every day. I think I will have the knitting (if not necessarily the border) finished by next week.  As soon as I do, I'm starting my next TV garter stitch baby blanket - an Op Art in Bendy Luxury.

Next is a pair of socks I started a few weeks ago out of some divine Mountain Colors Barefoot from the stash in Copper. The pattern is the Go With The Flow socks...kinda. I have modified them to knit toe-up instead of toe down so used my favourite toe-up toe. I also kept knitting in stocking stitch after the toe increases were done until to where my physical toes finished (about 2cm) before starting the lace pattern. These socks are my third pair from Favorite Socks, which has to be honestly one of the best value knitting books I have ever bought.

I've had a pretty good week knitting-wise, footy-wise, weather-wise and work-wise. I almost don't want to tell anyone that unless I jinx it! Here's to hoping my current run of loveliness continues...

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Special St Kilda Sunday

Today I finally got my computer back from the repairer. Yay!! I was more pleased to see it than anyone should be to see an inanimate object. Less pleasing, however, was the eight-hour window that the courier told me the package would be delivered in. It arrived at the six-hour mark, which meant I missed my Monday swim (sad face). But, since he brought me my lovely computer, I forgive the courier, the courier company and the ridiculous demands they make of their customers completely (but really, guys, an eight-hour window? Come on.).

I had a pretty busy weekend with work, which was not very enjoyable but expected and necessary. This is my busiest time of year workwise, as I'm pretty sure I say every year at about this time. I had been feeling like I am coping with it much better this year than in other years, but I noticed when I took the recycling out this morning that there seemed to be a few more wine bottles in there than there normally are, so maybe not.

I did take a few hours out of my day on Saturday to go to the footy.

How's that for a quarter-time score, Ross Lyon you arrogant arse.

Whatever faults the AFL has (and they do have many, many, many faults), one cannot argue that they aren't heller good at targeted advertising. 

It was a really great game and one of the nicest experiences I've shared with my fellow St Kilda supporters for years. I love football and I really do miss it when it's not around.

The weather was so divine that I stopped at bar on the way home and watched the sun set while drinking a nice glass of wine.

It was a great Saturday and I enjoyed it very much. However, my enjoyment was nothing compared to Lucy's happiness at today's warm, sunny, still weather.

She is a radiating pussycat happiness right now. It's a delight to watch.

Now, back to work!