Sunday, June 3, 2012

Week 22 - England and Home

The 2nd week in England began with a trip to Rowan. For my non-knitting readers, Rowan is one of the best yarn companies in the world. They have gorgeous yarn and some of the best designers anywhere. And we were going to their world headquarters, which is a converted mill in the middle of nowhere. I was VERY excited. Martin took the bus with us from the hotel and was teaching us a master class on cabling. But not before two big wigs from Rowan met us and gave us a preview of the fall line. They actually told us we couldn’t take pictures of the presentation because it was still secret. How cool was that? Too cool. Then we got our hands on yarn and Martin taught us cables a go go. It was lots of fun.

But two things stick out from this day. The first was when Jenny, one of the people on our tour, picked up Martin’s example scarf, pointed to his stitches and said “What a good knitter would do here…..” and proceeded to tell him how to improve his knitting. Now Jenny had been “on” for days and almost seemed manic but when she said that to Martin, everyone at my table stopped dead, jaws dropped and were dumbfounded. She then told him he needed to remember her tip for his next class but not to change his pattern because it would be confusing. OMG! Martin Storey is a knitting god and she was correcting him. Speechless is not a state I’m in very often but this was one time for sure. I could not believe she did that. Martin was gracious but I was just in shock. The other thing was that the hallway leading to our class room was lined with boxes of yarn and the presenter from Rowan mentioned in passing that they were all 1 pound each. Now most of this yarn would be in the $10-15 range so I dug in. I bought 27 balls of yarn. Yikes! Good thing I’d packed space bags.

When we were done at Rowan, they bussed us to Holmfirth, the nearest town which was the setting for the British TV show Last of the Summer Wine. I had never seen that but was perfectly happy to browse the shops and then sit in the sun for tea and a scone until it was time to leave. We were eating dinner in a pub outside of York and had ordered our food days earlier. When we got there, I was dismayed to see that I’d ordered fish again. I had eaten so much fish in the past week and was clearly over it. I also wasn’t hungry after the scone so ate a bit of my starter, none of my dinner and just had a single scoop of ice cream for dessert. I took a shower and went to bed as soon as we got back.

I had started Monday with hot flashes – the first I’d ever say I’d had. Well, by Tuesday, they were bad. I was actively sweating just sitting at breakfast. It didn’t help that it was about as hot outside as it ever gets in England. We had a sock knitting workshop in the morning so I opened a window and was OK. But when we went shopping in the afternoon, I was sweating like a pig. I went through half a box of Kleenex just wiping my head and neck. I looked stunning I’m sure. I did manage to hit a few stores I’d wanted to get to – The National Trust and Dutton’s for Buttons. I was out of room in my suitcase though so was judicious in what I bought. That evening, there was an open house at Philip and Jean’s, which was just a few blocks from the hotel. It was cooler by then and they put on a beautiful spread of food. It felt like the first normal food I’d eaten in weeks. After dinner, Jean got out her guitar and we had a sing along. I didn’t know most of the songs but it was still a fun time. I also got to pet their cat, which felt great.

Wednesday was our last full day and we went to Castle Howard. Having seen both versions of Brideshead Revisited (the 1981 PBS version was MUCH better than the movie), I was excited to see it. We had a private tour of the grounds and our guide took us to Ray Wood, which is a wonderful woodland that has many rare rhododendrons. It was also nice to be in the shade because I was still sweating. By now I’d given up on the Kleenex and was using the facecloths from the hotel, which was a big improvement. We had tea and cake in their cafĂ© and were headed to the gift shop when the fire alarm went off and we were evacuated. Surreal for sure. It was the last shopping I’d do and I found a few last minute things then it was back to the hotel to pack. The space bags saved my butt. Even with two of them chock full of yarn, I barely got my suitcase closed. I had no room for cookies or any of the British food stuffs I normally bring home. Oh well. We ended the tour with a farewell dinner at an Italian restaurant. It was all delicious but while I was ready to go home, I knew I’d miss my new friends. I’d bonded with my Canadians (Irene, Gayle and Sue) and Cindy from Tennessee. Who knows when I’d see them again so it was a bit sad. It was a wonderful group and Philip and Jean were their usual fun selves.

Only five of us were headed to the airport on Thursday morning so they’d booked a minivan taxi that would pick us up at 6:00. We were all downstairs for an early breakfast (continental) and were on the road on schedule. Philip came to see us off, which was sweet, then we were bound for the airport. The trip home was completely uneventful. I got lots of knitting done and watched both of the movies on the flight. I grabbed a bad frapuccino (my first in 2 weeks!) at O’Hare and was back in Omaha on schedule at 4:40. Lori from knitting picked me up and I was back in my house by 6:15. It felt great to be home. I petted the cats as they bolted out the door and then unpacked.

I was determined to stay up until 9:00, at which point I would have been up for 23 hours straight but I thought that I’d sleep through the nice. Nope! I struggled to fall asleep and then was up in the wee hours and actually read from 4:00-5:30 before falling asleep. My friend Lorri called at 9:20 and woke me up. She actually thought I’d gone to work and so was going to leave a message. I guess it was good she got me up so I didn’t sleep all day but I was a zombie. I managed to do 4 loads of laundry but otherwise but sat like a lump waiting for bedtime. I went to bed at 9:00 (the magic hour) and was able to fall right asleep. I woke up early (5:00 a.m.) but at least slept all night. I felt much better when I woke up.

I grabbed BK for lunch and then headed to Fremont with Andrea. She needed to go to the cobbler’s and I just wanted to hit a grocery store for some produce. We also hit the quilt store and I bought some fat quarters for my Ravelry swap partner (a.k.a swapner.) It was nice to get out of the house. I slept even better that night and then had a relatively normal Sunday, cooking, doing chores and getting back to normal. I also swapped out my winter and summer clothes and in the process went through all my clothes, coming up with 4 huge stacks of clothes for Goodwill. That felt good.

I had wonderful memories of the trip but it felt good to be home and back to normal. And I still had another day before I had to head back to work. Perfect!

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