Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Knights and Snails

What? Knight and snails? What an odd combo, although we have to admit they both carry armour. 

It's a curious fact that in illuminated books (meaning books illustrated and handwritten, usually by monks assigned as scribes) dating around the turn of the 14th century (1290 - 1310 - did I get that right?) there are many instances of knights facing snails in armed conflict, particularly in the marginata. Of course, it's possible the books could date from an even earlier period, with later additions of marginata

Here's a short video illuminating the idea for us.

Quirky marginata seem to have been the street art of the Middle Ages, a bit subversive but always thought-provoking. It's something to look for if you are lucky enough to view the pages of one of these medieval tomes in the future.

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Straws Suck

Confession: just recently I used a plastic straw to drink a smoothie. Then I discovered that there is a campaign on to eliminate or at least reduce the use of single-use straws except maybe in hospitals where they might be useful for patients.

Straws, being so lightweight, blow around easily. From the outdoor table, from the trash container, from the landfill before it gets covered over....straws blow around and often end up in fields, roadsides, streams, ponds, beaches and ocean. The health of animals, birds, reptiles and fish all put at risk because of straws and other plastics that we unthinkingly use and toss.

If we really need a straw, we could use a re-usable one. Glass straws of different shapes and sizes can be ordered from Strawesome. Made in clear or coloured, different lengths and bores and with or without a bend or decoration, they are a bit pricey, but if a straw breaks they will replace it (though not if you are using it as a drumstick, they say)

Colored Barely Bent Glass Straw Set

But if we can drink coffee and tea without a straw, why do we need one for our iced coffee/tea? If we enjoy a beer or a glass of wine without a straw, why do we need one for our cola? 

We've cut down on our use of plastic bags so why not cut out our use of plastic straws. I remember when straws used to be paper and would eventually get so wet, they'd start to unroll in your drink. Why not just drink without a straw?

This is so hard to watch. I cried.

What do you think now about the use of plastic straws? I think in the future I'll use a spoon instead of a straw in my smoothie.

The Last Plastic Straw

Thursday, August 3, 2017

A Bit More of England

Don and I spent our first week in the UK together before splitting up for our separate vacations - him to golf in Scotland with his buddies and me to walk across England along Hadrian's Wall with Wendy.

On arrival in Glasgow on May 11, we picked up our rental car and headed south. Our first hotel booked for that night turned out to be dark and deserted but we were directed by the friendly group playing whist in the next-door community centre to head down the M74 just a bit further to Moffat, a good-sized town with a couple of options for hotels and managed to score a "cottage", actually an annex to the main hotel that was a self-contained apartment with 2 bedrooms, a sitting room, kitchen and large bathroom. Perfect! And quiet! 

The next day we headed down to the Lake District, spent the night in Staveley and then headed over to Yorkshire, visiting the Yorkshire Downs, Skipton, Harrogate and York. 

We didn't take many photos. These are a few.

from Bolton Abbey, founded in 1154 by the Augustinians near Skipton in the Yorkshire Dales: It was pouring rain when we arrived, so photos are dark.

The priory. The west end is still in use as a parish church. The east end is in ruins from 1540 when the monasteries were no longer allowed to remain during the reign of King Henry VIII.

The Bolton Abbey grounds are extensive and on a better day, we would have looked around a lot more. This day, we retreated from the rain into this lovely tea room.

Then ventured outside again to admire the size of this tree

and some typically awesome English gardens

We drove through the Yorkshire Dales, but on dark and dreary days the photos were not inspiring. Our visit to Harrogate was interesting but also marred by rain. We managed to score a table at the world-famous Betty's for an afternoon coffee and watched the rain from inside. Breads, cakes, scones and chocolates, hot beverages and light lunches have been served here since 1919.

With 2 nights in Skipton, we walked up to see the castle, remarkably well-preserved and went on a canal boat for a short distance which was pretty interesting too. 

The rain was spottier in York and we took a Hop-on-Hop-off Bus for a city tour and did quite a bit of walking around. 

The narrow streets and unavailability of parking meant we had to leave our car outside the walls of the old city and trundle our bags about a kilometer across cobblestones into our accommodations.

Our hotel, Galtres Lodge, was just around the corner from York Minster Cathedral and just behind our window was the Cathedral School. We attended Evensong at the Minster to hear the choir. Wonderful!!

In the same courtyard as the Cathedral is the much smaller St. Michael-Le-Belfrey, with beautiful windows, though different from Yorkminster.

Constantine the Great hangs out just behind, keeping watch. He was the Roman emperor who converted to Christianity.

To Constantine's right, you can see part of York Minster where there are ongoing repairs.

 From York, we headed to Newcastle for one last night before parting ways. As you might expect, Newcastle has a castle. We were there after closing time but snapped a few photos anyway.

We walked about a bit before dinner but did not venture down the hill to the Tyneside since it meant having to climb back up and of course, I knew I'd have a close view of the waterfront in just over a week's time on the last day of our walk.

There was a pedestrian way with some sculptures. I liked this one.

 And that's about it for our trip. We had a great time exploring some of the Lake District and Yorkshire. Also enjoyed the North York Moor on the way from York to Newcastle. There's always so much to see and do in the UK. I hope to go back soon!