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Monday, 14 July 2014

Time to Unwind

Brighton! It's been such as long time since I was there. It holds some particularly fond memories for me, so really I don't need much of a reason to visit - especially as I've now discovered that it's only about 45 minutes train journey from Clapham Junction! Only 45 minutes to a mini seaside holiday..
And the only thing better than a mini seaside holiday? A mini seaside holiday with YARN!

Unwind Brighton featured masses of the stuff, along with informative talks and lessons on all manner of knitterly topics. They also sold very pretty bags:

Being something of an Iceland-o-phile, I chose a talk by the inspiring Ragga on Icelandic knitting. I wasn't really sure what to expect, but even with technical challenges (screen was not Mac friendly) Ragga proved a true professional and wowed us all with her knitting passion as well as dropping in some unusual snippets to keep us entertained. For example: did you know that she's also Iceland's premier sex educator and has a book coming out on the subject? The woman has many talents..

After a quick visit to the 'marketplace' I'm pleased to say that I managed to keep to my pre-planned list of requirements, rather than going crazy on random pretty yarn (this may have happened in the past).

The only stall I allowed myself to go a little greedy on was buttons. Yes, I love buttons. Especially when they are as cute as these:

Here's the rest of the haul which will in turn become a couple of baby cardigans and baby scarf/hat set. Note the magazine which was a freebie bonus - always worth hanging around until the very end ;)

Also worth a big mention is Helen's winning shawl design Pebble Beach, modelled here by yours truly (thanks for the pic Helen!):

In addition to the honour and a small prize, Pebble Beach was also featured in the Unwind programme:

A worthy winner indeed! Read more on Curious Handmade or nab the pattern on Ravelry from today!

Ah Brighton, we may be seeing each other again very soon..

Friday, 4 July 2014

By the pricking of my thumbs..

So how do you like to spend your Saturday night? How about in a foreboding council block in the East End, surrounded by witches, power-hungry usurpers and borscht? No? Ok, you might want to stop reading now.

We were lucky enough to nab some tickets to RIFT’s epic production of ‘Macbeth’, set within the monolith that is Balfron Tower. We are also lucky enough to have friends who are willing to join us on such daft adventures, so at 8pm sharp our motley crew of 9 assembled on a patch of astro-turf in the shadow of the Tower. 

We happily signed our lives away, exchanged some pounds sterling to ‘Bordurian Rand’ (in order to purchase beverages within the building) and waited in anticipated for our guide Uri to check that our visas were in order.

After some banter with Uri, he lead us down to the entrance into the bowels of the building. I think we were all feeling a little nervous at that point – this is the building they used when filming ’28 Days Later’ after all! As our eyes adjusted to the darkness of the underground carpark, witches seemed to materialise out of the gloom and stalk a couple of the more unfortunate members of our party. Assembling around a burning oil drum, Macbeth and Banquo soon joined us and the action began in earnest.

Some six hours later we emerged from the same building shiny-eyed and drunk on adrenaline. So what happened in between?!

It’s tempting to say: 'well go and see for yourself' but I guess that would be a bit mean seeing as the tickets are now broadly sold out. And anyway, I wouldn’t want to give too much away. Although I will say that we were mainly based in ‘our flat’ with action going on around us, in a couple of ‘bar’ areas and a few other flats around the building.

I think it may suffice to give you a couple of glimpses into scenes from the evening:
  • Flattening myself into a dowdy armchair in our tiny living room while two men fight with knives approximately half a metre away (ok, don’t panic, they were realistic-looking plastic knives!).
  • Being singled out and pulled into bed with a pleading Lady Macbeth. Having to be prised away from her convulsive sobbing by one of the guides.
  • Feasting on borscht, rosti, cabbage and chocolate trifle at the banquet scene, before having a large pot with a severed head placed on our table to be incorporated into the action.
  • M falling off an armchair and almost kicking Lady Macbeth in the face as she burst in through a door unexpectedly.

Ok so the last point wasn’t exactly planned, but was none-the-less most entertaining.

The acting was amazing - on the verge of making you feel a little bit like you were actually experiencing some real council estate drama at some points. The fact that the setting and costumes had a 70s theme definitely definitely enhanced this - and strangely didn't seem to clash with the Shakespearean English script.

We could have stayed over in 'our flat' if we would have wanted to (bunks and blankets provided), but we decided to head for the comforts of home at around 2am and forego the breakfast that would otherwise have been served the next morning.

The only problem is, what could we possibly do next to top this?