Monday, February 26, 2007

Fabulous Fuzzy February Footcoverings Finished!
Knitted in Fyberspates alpaca sock yarn from the sock club (and old 4ply wool I had hanging around in my stash for the fairisle pattern). I used 'Diamonds in the Rough' top down Cabin Fever pattern.
Look - there's even enough yarn left over to knit some fingerless gloves...

Sunday, February 25, 2007


I've come a long way in (nearly) 50 years! Visiting BendingPeak's blog brought back some memories of the past - my time in Atkinson Morley Psychiatric Unit where I worked as a nurse. I went hunting for some writing I did then and found this piece about a time even further back, from when I lived in the USA when I was 17 years old, circa 1974.

top picture is me holding my Norwegian Elkhound puppy, Ianto - and a young friend Amy - where is she now I wonder?

bottom picture is a headless me ?dancing around the sitting room in the house in Burlington, Wisconsin, USA.

"Chris saw them coming through the window, and with unaccustomed agility, darted downstairs and disguised himself as a pile of dirty laundry. "Ah, shit, it's the pigs. Look - I'm not here, you don't know me and..." The door to the basement had slammed and the muffled message hung in the air. I answered the door with a confidence born of the fact that I knew the two policemen hadn't come to take ME away. In fact they HAD come to take me away.

They looked mildly embarrassed as they took in the 17 year old, flat chested, skinny, psychedelic furry freak that I was: "You Teresa Evans?".

"Eh, yep" I nodded and stood on the doorstep glumly holding on to the mesh screen door as support, more than to keep it from swinging shut.

"Ugh, we have instructions to take you to the Juvenile Detention Centre, you gotta come with us"... one of the two waved an official looking typed sheet of paper in my face.

I chose not to argue, even question the summons but went along with them with the same resigned acceptance that characterised the rest of my life. I felt outside, a mere passive observer of queer goingson.

"Mind if I fetch a book?", I slid away before they answered.

One of the two - the squatter spotty one - looked suspicious, but the taller, clean shaven guy waved at me as an OK.

I envisaged long periods sat in waiting rooms like at the dentist's and a good escapist novel seemed the thing. Never mind clothes, clean underwear - how long? who knew?

I was accompanied by the two armed policement to their squad car, feeling red, hot, shy and self-conscious. I feigned an air of unconcern, but I was scared shitless, floundering in unknown waters.

In the squad car, they argued, like the archetypal good cop/bad cop. The suspicious guy thought I might make a run for it at the very least, or at worst run amok with an axe (that's what these pot smokers do, right?). The other guy shrugged his shoulders, seemed more laid back, was driving. He gave me encouraging smiles through the protective mesh - tuned into a decent FM station. His partner promptly turned the radio off and locked both back doors automatically. "Jeez, Mac - whaddya think she's gonna do?".

I didn't know. Had I any rights? Why was I here? I looked out of the window and saw we were headed for Milwaukee. I was adrift, flotsam and jetsam.

What was identified as Milwaukee Police Department was an enormous building, knifing up into the sky at least 20 stories. We whisked to the very top in an elevator (that's a lift, to you and I). The doors opened on to a dingy bare room with a scuffed linoleum floor, tainted by no natural light. This space was L shaped and around the corner was a sturdy table surrounded by vinyl backed chairs: I was told why I was there by an official looking person - the authorities had been informed by our neighbour, Mrs Kramer, that I was a juvenile living without adult supervision and I had been taken into custody for my own safety. My mother had returned to the UK several months before, ostensibly for a 'holiday' and just never came back, leaving me and my younger sister with our incompetent, inadequate stepfather (a man named Wally who was - a complete Wally). This stepfather had had a heart attack recently (unsurprisingly: he lived on ice-cream and sweets) and had gone to friends in Arizona to recuperate, leaving us alone in the Burlington house.

I was taken through several other locked doors and put in a cell with two beds in it. The other bed was already occupied by a 15 year old plump girl who I later found out was pregnant. And she hadn't told anyone!"

And that's where that bit of memoir finished. I wrote it when I (briefly) belonged to a women's writing group with some friends in London - around 1986-7.

Saturday, February 24, 2007


Here is my 'NAMELIAN' - she's a member of the Wolflutterby genus and the sun shines down on her. This bit of fun was courtesy of Jo and I thank her very much... In turn, she got the idea from Steve where you'll find the destructions for YOUR name. But, in case you can't be bothered to follow the link:-

To create a namelien you:

a. fold a piece of paper in half

b. open your paper up

c. turn your paper so the fold is horizontal

d. write your name in cursive, "real big" on the fold line (a thick-tipped, dark-colored marker, crayon, or pencil works best)

e. keep your paper where it is, fold it up again, and trace the name you wrote (a thin sheet, a lightbox, or holding the paper against a window with good light can help make the tracing easier, if needed)

f. open your paper again

g. trace over your name again (write on the original, front side), this time you'll be writing it backwards

h. turn your paper so that the fold line in the middle is now vertical--choose which way is rightside up (you will now see an interesting, symmetrical design created from your name)

i. have fun adding things (we make ours totally symmetrical)--such as eyes, arms, legs, antennae, wings, hands, claws, feet, hair, patterns, textures, colors, etc.

j. create a nonsymmetrical background/environment for your namelien (optional)

There is just so much fun out there on the internet!

(comment from DH: "Are you on drugs???")

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Startling Starlings...

I was collecting Seth (DS) from Exeter last Monday when we came upon the most amazing spectacle - unfortunately I didn't have my camera so I've nicked a photograph from here (thanks RSPB!) which sort of demonstrates what we witnessed in a totally inadequate way - imagine this flock of birds quadrupled and you get the picture. We had to stop the car and just look. As did lots of other folk.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

I might have forgotten to take any food - but I did remember to take some knitting with me to Wales. One FO (one of those silly funky fur type scarves) and nearly finished first February sock:
I finished it later that same weekend and I'm well into the second now - but I'll wait to get the camera out for the finished pair now, methinks. BTW, I've always used a large circular needle for my socks, and pulled a loop or two through. Noone showed me how to do this - it was just something that developed out of necessity. Imagine my surprise when I discover that this is what is known as the 'magic loop' technique. I'd always thought that this 'magic loop' thing was far more complicated.
LAST weekend - February 10th-11th 2007 - in search of snow.

Yeah, I know I've not even finished blogging about Thailand last OCTOBER, but...
I promised to write the Trip Report.

This is the 'suggested itinerary' as emailed me by Sal:

South Wales Kayak Trip Details

(approx 2 miles north of Abergavenny)

Smithys Bunkhouse,
Lower House Farm
Tel 01873 853432

What you need to bring:
All food for weekend (except Sat eve – Pub Grub). If you want fry-up on Sun, bring your bacon etc. Wine/beer for evening. There’s a supermarket in Abergavenny if you forget anything.
If you are staying in bunk house, you need sleeping bag!
Walking boots (in case there is no water and we need to resort to other activities)

Friday 9 Feb – arrive (after work) journey takes approx 2 hrs from Exeter. First one to arrive, please speak to Katy Smith for keys etc. If you are staying in the cottage, the double bed is not yours unless you are called S or G.
Food for Friday – bring your own tea or test out Abergavenny’s take-aways. (I don’t recommend their fish & chips)

Sat 10 Feb – planning to paddle 2 rivers with quite a long drive to start off with so early start and later finish
Evening - pub (a short walk up the road)

Sun 11 Feb – a more relaxed start, Richard's famous breakfast fry-up, tidy up & leave accommodation. Paddle a section of the River Usk. Plan to finish weekend no later than mid afternoon.

I was really, really reluctant to go. I’d signed up for the trip before Christmas in a burst of enthusiasm after paddling the Lower Dart (an easy grade one/two stretch) in glorious autumnal sunshine.

Steve (- DH and erstwhile paddling partner) had declined the trip – he doesn’t like driving all that way just to paddle COLD water in February (for goodness sake).
The last time I’d paddled before this had been in Thailand – and the water had been WARM. I’d also made it to the bottom of a grade 4 drop but had bailed out when I’d been faced with what appeared to be an impenitrable large wall of water and then failed to roll up and then swum for several hundred metres in the fastest water I’d ever swum in. I was fished out unceremoniously into the bottom of the raft feeling like I now KNOW what it’s like to be flushed down the toilet. It's all in the mind. Really.

I haven’t got a roof rack on my Volkswagen Polo so unless Steve going paddling coincides with time off work, it’s difficult to get any paddling in. Sally was organising the trip and she’d said something about ‘experienced’ grade 3 paddlers reccying some new rivers – the more I thought about this and the more I thought about my rusty whitewater skills the more I regretted signing up for the trip.

It was with these thoughts uppermost I told her I wanted to pull out when she phoned to confirm details. I was quite happy to forfeit the money paid up front for the accommodation. What a wimp I am. And, I explained, I didn’t want to be a liability or put a dampener on the weekend for everyone else. Sally told me not to be so silly and come anyway – K was going just to walk so I could go and not paddle. Alright, Alright, I’ll go.
Thursday evening and I’ve still not packed. I half heartedly throw all my paddling gear into a heap in the spare room. I hear news of the biggest snow blizzard in years hitting Britain and schools closing. HUH. There’s no snow in Devon! for all you folk who live in parts of the world where snow showers are a regular occurrence, be aware that everything grinds to a halt in England if there's a centimetre of snow on the roads!

You will observe that the itinerary above contained perfectly clear communication about what I needed to bring. So how come I forgot to bring any food ?? (apart from a single loaf of bread, admittedly home baked, and plonk that is. I also remember to roll up sleeping bag but forgot to put it in the car. See? I'm evidently not committed.

Friday I manage to get off work at the phenomenally early time of 15.30hrs, aiming to get to Sally’s by 16.30hrs… Get phone call to say weekend may be off as the farm is inaccessible. We are to await communication from our leader. Am I disappointed? Envisage more time to knit and read and do other such slovenly activities over weekend.
Unfortunately, (or fortunately?) Sal doesn’t manage to get through to Ian and Richard who have already set off. Never mind – they can act as probes.

Next morning I get up at some ridiculously early time and packing takes on some urgency– Richard and Ian have apparently succeeded in getting to farm (brave lads!) and we are to attempt to get away by 8am. I have it on oath that my dogsitters, K and B, will not mind be woken at 7am. When I get there with dogs they are obviously up but not hearing doorknockers or shouts (or glass breaking -) (kidding!). Am just about ready to dump dogs in back garden when door opens. By time I leave dogs it is already 7.40hrs. I don’t think I’m going to be at Sally’s on time. What’s new? I leave message. We are on our way about 08.50hrs.

As we get into Wales I get excited – SNOW! I see it so rarely – I’m like a big kid. The itinerary has changed – we will go for a walk that afternoon, then pub supper. The next day as planned – we'll paddle a familiar section of the Usk. This sounds far more like my cup of tea and I'm eager to get started.

We arrive at around 1100hrs. WE are seven: Chris and Jude (sans young Alex), Ian and Richard (sans the misses), sharing cottage, Sally, K and moi in the Bunkhouse.
The cottage has a woodburner which is blazing away and well stoked by the time we arrive (Thanks to those probes).
The weather is mild and the big melt on the way – but the snow is still a foot deep. It is lovely snow – soft, pretty, cohesive, good to make snow balls, snow women and even to eat (pistachio flavoured).

The accommodation has just about everything we need – we don’t discover the communal kitchen and lounge for the bunkhouse till next day but the cottage fits us all in cosily.

We are on our way to walk to Skirrid (Ysgyrryd) Fawr in the snow by midday, complete with packed lunch (cheddar and marmite sarnies) and flasks of hot drinks.
Skirrid Fawr, as seen from the Bunkhouse on Sunday morning, when it can be seen that the snow is disappearing rapidly :-( (Saturday it was shrouded in mist). We walked across and up the right side(south) and down the left (north slope)- the hill runs roughly on a north south axis - see map below).We’ve parked up at the pub just in case we can’t get up the driveway (Pantygelli and the Crown pub is to the West of Pentre Farm, the other side of the railwayline you can just see up in the left hand corner of the map). We immediately start off by going the wrong way – the farmer points out the correct gateway and we trudge down a lane and climb over a stile into a field full of sheep. There are lots of snow balls whizzing around to begin with. Most emanating from Jude. But these start to lessen off as the effort of trudging through relatively deep snow takes its toll – it’s like walking on a shingly beach and just as tiring. From the fields we cross over a railway bridge and then reach the main road. We cross over this and wonder on past farms. Richard has some r and r!
After walking up a lane and turning onto a narrow bridle path which got more and more like a stream than a path we finally come out on a road from where we reach the foot of Skirrid Fawr. K has to eat at this point ( she being 'fair clemt wit' 'unger'!) - the rest of us decide to wait to eat until we reach the top – shrouded in mist. The way to the top of Skirrid Fawr is well trodden and we pass several dog walkers and a couple of families.
The weather deteriorates as we ascend – until we can only just see each other in a white out gloom like an untuned TV screen. K is finding the going hard as her back is now in considerable pain. The Greens and Sally lend her several arms to lean on.

The footpath is marked as going down beyond the trig point – but that way is virgin snow, untrodden territory. Chris takes a compass bearing and points down a steep slope – that way, but not too far left because there’s a cliff! The best way to go down is on our bums. I’m like a big kid romping down roly poly lovely. YOu can just about see the rest of the gang up the hill behind me...Richard says make sure you can stop - as he thuds into my back! Ian's not got any gloves so I loan him my spare pair - see, I wasn't totally unprepared!At the bottom we find our way into some woods and sit amongst the dripping trees for sarnies and mulled wine (Richard's recipe: heat up red wine, orange juice, cranberry juice: mmm).

We lose the path in the woods and trespass across farmer’s fields to come out into a farmyard. K is seized up by this time so she and Jude knock at the Farm door to ask for shelter while the rest of make it back to the bunkhouse in quick time just as its getting dark. Chris goes with Sally back to get the refugees who have been treated right royally with tea and a warm fire. We are completely soaked through and a massive drying operation gets underway. Only criticism: luke warm showers - but there were hot baths in the cottage.

Then that evening we all trudge up to the Crown Pub where the food and hospitality is excellent: Brilliant bunkhouse! With lovely pub at end of drive - what more could one ask for?

Jude and I stay up the longest chatting (and me knitting of course) in front of the woodstove – a pile of steaming boots cooking in front.

After a restless night (the heater was on and it was actually too hot!) – we all get up bright and early and begin the task of packing up while Richard makes one of his famous fry ups: bacon, sausages, eggs, toast.
Jude goes and looks at the river down at Llangynidir with Chris and thinks it’s too full on to paddle so decides to walk with K. Back at Talybont at the 'Put in', the river level is actually lower although still brown and fast flowing: most of the snow melt has already gone on down and the level is dropping not rising.
sunday morning is glorious sunshine (and it's raining in Devon teehee).
I decide to go but my mouth is dry and I’m nervous. Fortunately there is a mile of flat river before the river drops more steeply – plenty of time to relax and warm up.

We are joined by Liesl, an old friend of Sally’s and known to many of the others – she’s driven down from Hereford to paddle. She is officially the most qualified paddler present: a level 5 coach. What with three level 3 coaches and a level 5 coach, Richard and I (the relative novices) are in good hands should we get into trouble (was going to say ‘hot water’ but its not, it’s cold brr).

WE all get on by sliding down the snowy bank – excellent seal launch.
And ferry glide across to the far bank. Warm up time. The river flows fast and we soon get to the top of Mill Falls – Chris gets out to reccy while we wait in an eddy at the top – It’s mostly washed out (you can normally see lots of rocks!) and it’s a straightforward bounce down standing waves on river left. River right is to be avoided – not at all nice. Check out the expression on my face. Hilarious - I look like I've been punched in the mouth!And in this picture, Richard comes on down.
And so does Sal. (paddling pics courtesy of K - ta!)
Everyone makes it down to the eddy at the bottom safely. From here on in the river gets bouncier and the eddies smaller to get in to. What with red wine and the late night I can feel myself getting tired so Ian and I get out a couple of drops before the end and stroll up to the carpark in Llangynidir. Richard paddles on to the official get out. The sun is hot and the day fine.
What a fab weekend and I’m soooooo glad I didn’t chicken out. I wouldn't have missed it for the world.
Must get roof rack and paddle more. Thanks, Sal, for organising this so well - Brilliant accommodation, food, drink, brilliant weather, excellent company! I'm so glad you talked me in to it.
And next trip I'll remember to bring some grub.

Thursday, February 08, 2007


Though they only seem to come in one size. We actually use a stripy knitted womb for our preparation for birth classes.

I've just found a pattern here OK?!

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Secret Pal numero TEN
- I've signed up again, having had a rest for 9. Secret Pal 8 was my first experience of this wonderful internet phenomenon - and my spoilee and my spoiler were both great. Unbeknownst to us at the time, we were a little triangle: I spoiled Spinning Sue, she spoiled Yvonne, who, in turn, spoiled me. And Yvonne hit all the right buttons, she was EXACTLY right - I've never had such fantastic presents before or since. Yvonne was uncanny in her ability to pick just the thing that I would want. So I'm doing it again and hope this time will be just as good.

Oh dear. I've just read this over and realise it might be off putting for my new spoiler. I didn't mean to do that at all and I'm SURE this time will be just as good which is why I've signed up!

Here is the Secret Pal Ten questionnaire:

1. What is/are your favorite yarn/s to knit with? What fibers do you absolutely *not* like?
I love soooooft yarns, but also hardwearing machine washable type yarns as I'm not very good at handwashing being a lazy slob. I like angora, alpaca, cashmere, wool, sock yarns, handpainted yarns, cotton yarns. I dislike 100% acrylic but am not averse to mixes. I guess that makes me a yarn snob. But I have been known to knit those funky fur scarves for pressies.

2. What do you use to store your needles/hooks in? See question 1 ref to slobbery (as opposed to snobbery!) I have a denim roll bulging at the seams with one of the ribbons missing. I also have a wooden box in the living room which holds much stash and has inserts in the top which are filled with notions and needles. There are also needles lurking in a ceramic jar by this PC. I am also not organised and need to declutter.

3. How long have you been knitting & how did you learn?
I have been knitting since Primary School - where I was taught to knit in a craft session when i was about aged 10yrs. I didn't have the patience to finish the garter stitch owl I started. I got really interested when i was about 12 yrs old and knitted myself a bright sickly green raglan V neck jumper. Would you consider your skill level to be beginner, intermediate or advanced? I would say I was intermediate. 'Though since the resurgence of interest in knitting and blogging I have been learning just how much I don't know.

4. Do you have an Amazon or other online wish list?
My Amazon wish list is here

5. What's your favorite scent?
I like spicy smells like ginger and white musk, old hippy smells like pachouli and fruity smells like citrus or even vanilla. I'm not particularly light and flowery. Though I love the smells of nicotiana, nightstock and sweetpeas (for example) in the garden.

6. Do you have a sweet tooth? Favorite candy?
Yes - I looooooove chocolate. BUT I am on a (Charles Clark low carb) diet and I haven't had any sugar since January. eeek.

7. What other crafts or Do-It-Yourself things do you like to do? Do you spin?
I like drawing, painting. I've tried my hand at quilting and patchwork and embroidery (I love recycling old fabrics) and I don't spin but it's a growing ambition that I might just take further this year.

8. What kind of music do you like? Can your computer/stereo play MP3s? (if your buddy wants to make you a CD) I have pretty esoteric tastes (By that I mean noone else has ever heard of the bands I like!). I like oldies but goodies like the Beatles, Pink Floyd, The Who, King Crimson, Caravan, Gentle Giant, Frank Zappa, Neil Young, Hatfield and the North. I am going deaf so I don't listen to music that seriously any more. My DH likes Jazz and I enjoy his taste and my son (when he's staying here) listens to an eclectic mix which I also enjoy, but I rarely take note of names. Of newer music which I have taken note - off the top of my head: that wonderful song by Johnny Cash called 'Hurt', (the Nine Inch Nails song) (that really makes me well up) and Ali Farka Toure (playing with Ry Cooder on 'Talkin' Timbuktu') and I went to see Bill Bruford not that long ago and he was fantastic (but old!).

9. What's your favorite color(s)? Any colors you just can't stand?
I love greens - mossy green, wintergreen, dark greens, not bright green. I love colour blends - I like autumn colours. I'm not into bubble gum pink or pink in general, or orange or pastels either for that matter. Bleugh. But I do like dusky pinks. I have an orange, pink, blue, etc rainbow sweater that I wear if I'm in the mood - there's nowt so strange as folk.

10. What is your family situation? Do you have any pets?
I live with hubby in a small village on Dartmoor. Our son is 19yrs and has moved out (for the second time) to a village not far away. He hasn't any transport yet, so we still see a lot of him. I have two chocolate labradors (mum, Tilly and son, Syd).

11. Do you wear scarves, hats, mittens or ponchos?
I don't wear ponchos. I wore them the first time around and remember them well. I wear all the other items and sometimes even at the same time.

12. What is/are your favorite item/s to knit?
I'm not very in to lace, but I love fair isles and traditional knitting like ganseys. I've recently discovered that it's very nice to finish something small and quick - so I've got into socks (I'm participating in the sockamonth challenge) and hats and scarves and, yay, even dishcloths!

13. What are you knitting right now?
Oh dear. a list of WIPS you ask? I am knitting: a pair of socks, a fun fur scarf, a huuuuge stashbusting long term kaffefasset tumbling blocks bedcover project, a peg bag knitted out of plastic bags, a child's moss stitch jumper, another child's aran jumper and an aran jumper out of yarn I was bought for Christmas. I think that's all. (there's also an old UFO lurking in the attic somewhere but out of sight out of mind).

14. Do you like to receive handmade gifts?
Certainly do! mmm.

15. Do you prefer straight or circular needles? Bamboo, aluminum, plastic?
I like any needles. If I knit with straight needles I like em to be long as I knit with the right one tucked under my arm. But honest, I'm not fussy. I don't particularly like the old fashioned grey plastic you used to get once upon a time. I found them too bendy and lightweight, as well as boring to look at.

16. Do you own a yarn winder and/or swift?
I've got a yarn winder somewhere.

17. How old is your oldest UFO?
Now you're asking. As I said for q.13 I think there's a UFO in the attic which is (whispers) round about 18years old!!!!

18. What is your favorite holiday? See my blog for details of Thailand and walking the South West Coast Path last year.

19. Is there anything that you collect?
Not really - I have lots of knitting books, I guess, especially ones on traditional knitting techniques and patterns. But I need to declutter - I've got 'Life Laundry' on my Mount Toobie (read).

20. Any books, yarns, needles or patterns out there you are dying to get your hands on? What knitting magazine subscriptions do you have?
I subscribe to an Art magazine but I'm hinting to my sister that I want a sub. to Interweave. I've put some books on the Amazon list. I'd like the all in one EZ pattern for a baby by Elizabeth Zimmerman.

21. Are there any new techniques you'd like to learn?
Always. I was reading about some complicated technique for mulitcoloured mittens by Yarn Harlot the other day. Wow. And I haven't learnt long tailed cast on yet. And I'm trying to teach myself continental knitting so I can do fair isle easier. And I'd like to try this modular knitting I've read so much about. And, of cours,e, spinning and dying - not done that yet. And I've never yet blocked anything. There - now that WAS a confession! So, there are loads of techniques I'd like to learn and I'm sure there's more to find out that I'm not even aware I don't know yet (IYKWIM!).

22. Are you a sock knitter? What are your foot measurements?
Yes I'm a sock knitter and my foot measures 9" around the ball of my foot and 10 1/4 " in length. I'm (UK) size 7, continental size 41

23. When is your birthday?
Ages away - November 10th with a sting in my tail. I will be a big round figure this year :-)

Monday, February 05, 2007

Lookee what I got today!
A package with a lavender theme - a facecloth (It's too good to be relegated to the dishes) a fancy mirrored lavender bag with the coolest stitchmarkers clipped on to its lacy collar. And look at the lovely presentation. The clue was:

"I used to be in Opal's Rainforest,
but now I am quite rare,
But you can find me dressed up in Woolworths
Because I'm always there!"

It took me a minute, but the penny finally dropped - Ladybirds! Knitting Ladybird AKA Linz... I'm dead impressed.

This was from the Dishcloth Swap on Swap-Bot. Thanks to Jacquie for organising it - t'was great fun.

Sunday, February 04, 2007

Finished Object: Wellington Hat.
A Winter Sunshine Stroll up the hill...
I've got another 5 days of photographs from Thailand to upload, but here's a few from Lustleigh to demonstrate that 'there's no place like home'. We went for a quick stroll up the hill to Hatherleigh woods in the late afternoon wintry sunshine yesterday - it was just delightful!
This is looking up the Wray Valley toward Moretonhampstead. You can't see our row of terraces but they lie below the trees to the South West of the picture.
Into the woods - this picture is a bit dark, but Tilly is in the forefront. It's been such a mild winter that everything is budding.
Looking down on the village, the church tower is to the left and the houses curl up Mapstone Hill. The smaller pic shows Syd in the foreground.

But stay - what is this fey, shy creature with large horns peeking over the 5bar gate? It's that DH of mine playing silly buggars.

Saturday, February 03, 2007

Thailand 2006 take six

Saturday 28th October and I'm now half way through my adventures. This Grandmother from the one of the numerous Hilltribes in Northern Thailand (Karen, I think) was on a street stall outside the Imperial Mae Ping Hotel selling lots of handcrafted goodies. I bought some beautiful embroidered purses for pressies to take home (haven't got room to carry much!). Grandmother posed with her grandson for me - isn't he just gorgeous?

A few of you Blog commenters have asked me what Hashing is. I did put a (admittedly obscure) link in Thailand take four... But from this site I quote: "Basically hashing is a form of non-competitive cross-country running with the main objective of working up a decent thirst. Great emphasis is placed on the social aspects - particularly the communal boozing session at the apr├ęs-hash. It's a fun activity and not be taken at all seriously.

Now that we've cleared that up, on with INTERHASH! After buying the aforementioned goodies, I stroll back to EagleHouse2 to collect some laundry, then drop in a nearby cafe for breakfast and internet thrown in for a couple of quid. Then I go to catch bus to the Stadium - only to find I've missed it! Reading the programme a bit more closely I notice the last one went at 11.30hrs and it's now midday. How stoopid is that. I find a Canadian Hasher and a couple of Aussie Hashers wondering around in a similar predicament - and we join forces to share a taxi for 70Baht each.

I get on the coach for Run number 20 descibed thus: "A-B run Country lanes thr0ugh orchard area into high hills, especially the medium run. wonderful views of rice paddies and orchard, and the villages below, spectacular steep finish from the temple and wade knee deep river to the circle".

This pic is of hashers piling off coach and listening (or not) to the Hares describe the route. There were a large number of Malaysian and Aussie hashers on this one. I made the mistake of going long when I should have gone short - Shade? What shade? There were two hills to climb in the heat and humidity - the hare at the back took pity on me (and a couple of others) and showed us a shortcut skirting the second hill - so I never reached the temple, which is just as well as there were over a 1000 steps up to it and I think I'd have died... don't know why they can't just arrange down hill hashes! Despite cheating, there were still some stupendous views...

Didn't bother with wading in the river on the way back to the circle - didn't know what might be lurking in there! The circle was great - not too long. There were lots of the feral Thai dogs wondering around looking hopefully at the sandwiches which had been provided. One particularly healthy looking young dog stole a young hasher's camera and ran amok with it! Sister Michael, a scothasher who I remember from Cardiff Interhash, was also on this hash and got a 'down down' for accidentally going long instead of short - he's the guy with the enormous beerbelly girth in the fluorescent yellow/green shirt kneeling with his fellow victims in the pic. He entertained us with an aria from his amazing repertoire of bawdy tunes.

Back at the stadium, I run into several hashers from the South West of England - but STILL no Bangkok and Ferret (who, if you recall, I'd entrusted my hash goodie bag to!). I go back to the hotel relatively early and am asleep by 10pm. Hatrack, by all accounts, didn't get back until 3am because he was sharing old navy/asian memories with ex-pat buddies. I sleep in to 8am.

Sunday 29th October - last day of Interhash.Slept in until 8am. Finally run in to Ferret and Bangkok at breakfast in the hotel and collect my goody bag - Tshirts, a towel, the Interhash survival guide etc etc - we don't know how we kept missing each other! That's the trouble with these daft names - I mean you can't exactly go up to reception and ask what room Bangkok is staying in, can you? Have noodles and enormous prawns for brunch and get on Coach E for run no 2 "Doi Wiang valley and dam is an incredibly beautiful valley with good easy running on small country paths and mostly shaded. There's a moderate climb up to the Stupa on the hill and great views, some interesting creek crossings and an interesting 'on-in'." Turns out there are an enormous number of us south west UK hashers on this particular run - see pic! What a motley crew. That's me on the left looking like I want a pee. Today I did the short: about 5.2 km. This hash was vastly superior to yesterdays - much more shady, running along jungle trails and a wonderful slither down between trees from the stupa on the hill where the Buddhas was all dressed in gold and saffron. We ran past some Thais preparing a float for the Loi Krathong Ceremony.The run yesterday was mostly along dirt tracks and began by circling around what appeared to be an industrial excavation site. Today's, in comparison, was beautiful, finishing at a Dam, where grass roofed houses littered the shore and young lads fished. I went swimming in the muddy water - blissfully cool and no leeches!

This was a picture of the scrawny chickens - not Fallen Woman!

The circle was OK start with, but then when on, and on and on - for over two hours! I'm used to circles that last all of

20minutes if that at my 'home hash' in Ashburton and I got a little bored.

Picture of several Thai lads bemused by the antics of the circle!

Buzby (a keen hasher from Exeter) was in his element and there was much foolishness and merrymaking.

We got back to the Stadium by 1900hrs - where I proceed to search buses. This morning I had purchased around 20 postcards and diligently stuck stamps on them all. I had put them tidily into a paperbag and left them on the bus! I never found them so I hope they went to a good home. After eating, I went off to watch the closing ceremony. It's a very odd thing that out of all the thousands of hashers present at this gathering, one should keep running into the same few people. It took me a few minutes to realise that I had once more met up with the Pussy Galore and Cumlord sat right next to me, that same couple who had fed me beers and sympathy the night I lost the bicycle key.

On November 5th the Thai people celebrate their 'Festival of Lights' or Loi Krathong.

"When the tide is high and rivers brim on the full moon in November, Thais pay
tribute to water. Held this year on November 5, the Loi Krathong festival sees
most of the population head to canals, streams or rivers like the Ping or Chao
Phraya to bless this element so central to their culture, and to seek
forgiveness for using and polluting it in the process. Thais say this thank you
with flowers. Only they don’t present bunches or even
garlands; they fit the plants architecturally into krathong —
elaborate natural rafts that they construct from materials found in the
traditional Thai garden or field. Most urbanites, however, buy ready-made
krathong from pierside stalls."

A miniature version of this ceremony, with processions by beautiful young men and women in full costume was put on for us now as part of the closing show. There is more information on Loi Krathong here. This year's Loi Krathong was to take place at the same time as the ROYAL FLORA RATCHAPHRUEK an International Horticultural Exposition as part of the celebrations of the 60th year of His Majesty the King of Thailand's ascendancy to the throne and to coincide with his birthday. Three million people were expected to descend on Chiang Mail and accommodation would be in short supply. Since I would be homeless the next morning I was mildly concerned - but I needn't have been. Another part of the Loi Krathong ceremony traditionally performed in Thailand is the sending up of huge paper lanterns into the sky: Several lanterns get stuck in trees and the Tourist Police had to run around with a long pole, dislodging them.The Kome Loy is a lantern that is similar to a hot-air-balloon. Because the air lantern must rise up to float in the air, it must be lightweight, therefore, it does not have a bamboo cylinder inside. In order to send the lantern into the air, it requires a method to heat the air. This is done by tying a small bowl underneath the open section of the lantern. Oil is then placed into the bowl along with a cotton cloth. As the oil catches fire and commences burning, the hot air quickly travels into the lantern and it soon rises into the air.
It is believed that by sending off these lanterns an individual can send one's sins and bad luck into the air. Usually before the lantern soars into the sky, an individual will pray that one's sin or bad luck will be transported on the lantern and floated away high into the sky. Sometimes an address is left inside. The purpose of this is when the lantern come back down to the ground, and individual can follow an address and seek for money from whomever wrote the address. Or even sometimes, the maker will put some money inside the lantern. The purpose of the hot air lantern is to worship and pay respect to the Phra Ged Kaew Ju La Manee. An old legend tells that during war, these lanterns were sent into enemy territory and exploded. The Interhash Mismanagement Committee had arranged for a thousand lanterns to be sent up into the sky - permission had to be obtained from the air traffic control so the timing of the release was crucial. The lanterns were beautiful - A spectacular finish to Interhash. Perth has won the vote for NEXT Interhash in two years time, but unfortunately I don't think I'll be going to Australia.

Back to the Imperial Mae Peng Hotel for the penultimate kip before I'm homeless.