US Road Trip 2013: Day 2: Blinking Headlights!

 Posted by at 10:14 on 28 July 2014
Jul 282014
 

I’ve gotten nothing but positive feedback from this series, so I know you’ll all be pleased it’s picking back up again. I can’t manage the rate I started at, though, so I shall aim for two to three of these a week (since there are a fair number to get through), and then that’ll allow me to intersperse other things without cluttering up your life.

Remember to click on the images to see a bigger version, and to click the link in the description (you may have to scroll down) to see an even bigger version if you want to (though probably not on this particular post, since it’s just photos of rain, but this is a refresher since I’ve taken such a hiatus from these).

Now on to the next exciting installment!

Day 2 (Saturday, 30th March 2013): Grenada, MS to Vienna, IL.

“Blinking headlights!” (mostly by Chris)

Day mileage: 316

Super 8 Grenada, 1451 Sunset Dr, Grenada, MS 38901 to Limited Inn, 709 E Vine St, Vienna, IL 62995 via New Asia, 2540 Lone Oak Rd, Paducah, KY 42003 (US51->US79->51 in Memphis)

We’ve changed how the maps are done – the zoom was messed up, so instead of a zoomable map here on this page, you get a photo of the map that links to the zoomable Google map.

US2013_Day2

We set the alarm for 7:30am, as we wanted to get on the road and headed north before 2:30pm this day. Originally SJ had budgeted half a day to explore Mackinac Island in north Michigan (it’s actually between the two peninsulas of Michigan), but we’d found out that they don’t actually open Mackinac Island to tourists until later in the year, so we could spend that half day looking around Memphis rather than racing through it on the interstate, but only if we got going pretty early rather than hanging around Grenada for a chunk of the day.

So, up early we got. I got showered and dressed to go over to the continental breakfast, but they only had boxes of cereal and no actual cartons of milk, so we ate a breakfast of our own cereal and doughnuts in our room, and then began another Grand Sort to try and make it easier to find things and keep track of everything, after which I performed the Tetris-like loading of the car. While loading the car, I went and had another hunt for the possible cause of the whine we had been experiencing on the road. The plastic flashing around the windscreen had been damaged in various places over time, and it looked like, while we were washing the car, some bits had been caught and bent into just the right way to vibrate and whine when air passed over them rapidly. A few minutes’ work to stick them down properly and I was fairly sure I’d squished the problem. This was made a little tricky by the drizzle that had descended while I loaded the car, the first precipitation of any kind we’d seen since the snow flurries up in Chicago; otherwise we’d had clear, sunny days so far.

We managed to check out exactly on 11am (despite getting up early, that sorting business takes time – we’ve learned some lessons about packing for our next trips, road and otherwise) and got on the road, back onto I-55 North to Memphis. As we gained speed, and the whine failed to reassert itself and its vehement hatred of my ability to think, we tentatively declared my fix a success (and indeed, we were untroubled by it for the rest of the journey). The joy over this was very slightly offset by the rain which was steadily getting heavier and heavier as we drove, to the point where occasionally it looked like cars were gliding over a sea of water (although it was absolutely nothing on a storm we drove through later in the trip.) We were fine though, and managed to avoid getting wet thanks to Iolana, until we had to stop for gas – and sugar as it turned out – somewhere between Grenada and Memphis.

Somehow, in all the preparations we’d made in Bossier and Shreveport before the start of the road trip, we had managed to completely forget that I needed sugar for my tea. I don’t need much – I put one teaspoon in half a litre of tea, for goodness sake – but it is amazing how noticeable the absence of sugar is when I don’t have any. During breakfast SJ had made the ever-so-helpful suggestion that, since I kept on insisting that US cereals are made entirely of sugar, I should just mix some of those into my tea.

I love my wife. I truly do. Every day I feel lucky to have found her, and that she married me. And I did manage to refrain from telling her that she was out of her godsdamned mind, but I did have to tell her that sometimes she can be really, really disgusting.

That said, eating the US-style double-sugar-level Frosties did make it easier to drink my tea. See? I was right.

The subject of sugar does deserve some mention, however: it’s all over the place in the US, even in things you’d think it had no business being in at all. The cereals are obvious and at least understandable (and there are some “Boring Grown-Up Cereals,” as SJ calls them, that don’t have half a sugar plantation included in the box), but the breads are as bad unless you specifically get bakery bread, and even some of them have noticeable amounts. But the one that really got us was when we picked up a sausage of ground meat during one of our visits to a supermarket in Shreveport only to fine that even that had sugar in it. It was insane.

But none of that was suitable for my tea – especially the meat, believe it or not – so while I filled up the car, SJ went into the gas station store and managed to get some sugar, and some desperately-needed Rain-X for us to apply the next time the windscreen was dry enough. They also apparently had the most horribly pinky-purple bathroom SJ had ever seen… It was like being inside a bottle of Pepto-Bismol, with added fuschia, ugh.

Back on the road, we headed to Memphis. We’d emailed SJ’s brother again during breakfast, telling him that we were going to be in Memphis that day and would still like to meet up, but by the time we hit the outskirts of Memphis we still hadn’t heard from him, so we decided just to carry on though. He’d only recently moved to Memphis, so I didn’t have a phone number for him – not sure if he even had one yet, it was that recent – or an address. He was probably still unpacking. However, instead of staying on the interstate, we decided to pull off onto US highway 51: Elvis Presley Boulevard (there are only two roads named after Elvis in the US: one in Memphis, and one in Shreveport, and we’ve been down both now…)

We do wonder what the King would think of his boulevard now, as some significant stretches of it were described charitably by SJ as being, “not the best neighbourhood in the world,” (and less charitably by me, as “a total shithole”). Some areas were horribly poverty-stricken, bizarrely and incongruously interspersed with sections of immaculately maintained, obviously expensive houses apparently oblivious to the precipitous drop into near-slumdom just across the next intersection. At one point SJ spied a grocery store, and pulled in, leaving me to guard the car while she went in for milk and a couple of other things, on the basis that she knew the prices would be low. If I’d thought about it at the time, I’d have been vaguely concerned about trusting milk from such a place, but I didn’t, and we’re still alive, so it must’ve been okay!

The road took us into central Memphis, doglegging west and through parts of the medical district (which is very aptly named, given the insane density of hospitals. Apparently Memphis is full of extremely ill rich people). We remained on US-51, but at this point it was also simultaneously US-79, and US-64, and state highway 3, and probably something else because the US road system hates me and wants to make me go insane.

Ahem, the US road system is an inanimate object, so it does not hate Chris or want to send him insane. It’s just that 51, 79, 64, and 3 overlap for a short section there, that’s all. Whereas in the UK, they’d rename that chunk a whole nother name/number, and then the next ten feet would get its own name, and again a new name for the ten feet of road after that, in the US, we’re expected to zoom out a bit and look at the overall road system, rather than constantly being zoomed in so far you can see a mouse take a poop on the side of the road.

US-51 turned north again, magically dropping US-79, US-64, and 3 and only managed to pick up state 1 in the process, and for a while went through a decent area of the city. But as it went farther north the decay began to return; more derelict buildings, more abandoned lots, and more signs of poverty.

Around 1:30pm we were both getting pretty hungry, so just before the north edge of Memphis we pulled up on an abandoned lot across from a Blues club to eat lunch. We knew we’d be on US highway for quite a while, and that there wouldn’t be any rest areas along the road, so we’d otherwise end up having to pull off onto the shoulder to eat. We had sandwich stuff with us, because that’s part of how we like to travel: it’s often easier, and much cheaper, for us to make or bring our own lunch when we need it, rather than trying to find somewhere to eat. I’d cut some rolls, the salami was pre-sliced, and SJ had – by dint of herculean effort – managed to slice some cheese (real cheese, I note, not US “cheese”, aka yellow plastic…) the evening before at the hotel using the plastic knives we had with us. So we pulled up off the road, sat in the car and ate our lunch as the rain came down around us, watching the world go by and looking at the artwork on the nearby wall.

Shame the light wasn't better, it was very impressive.

Shame the light wasn’t better, it was very impressive.

After lunch we headed on north up US-55. The Rand McNally map shows US-55 as a scenic route, so we’d hoped it would have some, I don’t know, scenery to look at! In the most literal interpretation of the word it does have scenery – the car was not, in fact, surrounded by an infinite, black, featureless void as soon as we left Memphis – but it certainly isn’t scenic. Unless, that is, you classify churches, flea markets, gun stores, or antiques stores as scenic, in which case it is positively picturesque. I began to wonder if Rand McNally were actually using the dotted marking on the side of the road to indicate the locations of churches or flea markets rather than actually indicating a scenic route.

Around Dyersburg the US road network conspired to continue its assault upon my sanity as US-51 was subsumed beneath the harsh rolling asphalt of I-69, and I became horribly confused about what was going on. Thankfully, we managed to end up continuing north, rather heading west towards Missouri. Just south of Troy (not the Trojan war one, the one in Tennessee) I-69 mysteriously and instantly vanishes (or at least goes into hiding, possibly inside a giant wooden horse or something. I believe it reappears – poof, as if by magic – near Calvert City. Madness, I tell you) and US-51 once again reasserted itself beneath our ever-rolling tyres as we went on around Union City and crossed into Kentucky at Fulton.

At Fulton US-55 branches off north west, whereas we needed to carry on north and north east, so we took US-45 towards Mayfield and then north towards Paducah. All the way up from Grenada the rain hadn’t really let up at all; it got lighter and heavier, but it never really stopped. As we drove into the gathering evening we passed areas that looked like submerged fields, and everywhere had that air of emphatic wetness.

As we came up on Paducah at 5:30 to 6pm, we decided that we should start looking for somewhere to eat dinner. Driving in on a US highway rather than an interstate meant that we got to see a few differences from the normal selection of roadside eateries; local independent shops, rather than national chains. After we passed two Chinese places in quick succession, we pulled in at the third Chinese place; New Asia on Lone Oak Road, on their opening night as it turned out. The place was nice, the staff were friendly, the service was excellent, and the food was good, although SJ was less than impressed by their iced tea, and from here on for much of the trip I needed to make her tea.

I have friends here who are so confused about my tea drinking habits; the sort of tea I drink is so alien to them, I gave up trying to explain it years ago. It’s just your normal sweet, iced tea, inspired by what’s found in the South of the US, except made with Twinings (a British tea brand) because it’s far superior and doesn’t give that astringent aftertaste. When Brits add sugar to their tea, they do it on the order Chris mentioned earlier – a few grains per cup. As my mom said when Chris either showed or told her this, “What’s the point?” Southern sweet tea is so sweet by their standards that Chris calls my drink “tea flavored simple syrup.” (Simple syrup is where you boil more or less equal quantities of sugar and water together until it’s dissolved.) Hah. Some of my friends have concluded that I don’t drink tea at all; I let them, because that’s easier than explaining that hot tea is gross, unsweet tea is gross (it’s still unsweet with just those few grains of sugar added), and so forth. Anyway, to me, tea is also just something nice to have – I’m okay without it, which is another alien concept for most here (including Chris). Since we had teamaking equipment (a necessity for Chris), we made me tea as we went through YankeeLand, but if we hadn’t, it’d have been fine. Don’t get between me and my Coke, though!

After dinner we drove up Lone Oak Road and joined I-24 West – which actually goes north, because US roads – with the intention of trying to get to Marion, Illinois to stay overnight. But the fates, or at least those concerned with automotive matters, had different plans for us that evening. As we drove north from Paducah through the persistent rain, darkness descended upon the land, as it is wont to do as the evening passes and the sun sets. But we were in a car, and cars have headlights, so we drove on northward through the damp gloom… until we were somewhere on the long, empty stretch of I-24 north of the hilariously grandiosely named Metropolis, Illinois (population: a whopping 6,482) when suddenly one of the headlights stopped working. And then it came back on again, only for the other to go off shortly after. And then both went out, and SJ was driving along with no headlights, and then they both came back on. All of this spontaneously, for no discernible reason, much like they had done while crossing the bridge back in Shreveport. And this continued, headlights going on and off, with nowhere we could see to stop, no exits for a couple of miles.

This was one of the most frightening driving experiences I’ve ever had – certainly not the worst, that was hydroplaning on Barksdale Air Force Base’s East Reservation (read: out in the middle of nowhere) – and unlike any other frightening driving experience, I had no clue what was causing it, or that this was ever even a possibility, which added to the fright. Thankfully, there wasn’t any traffic, the tail lights were unaffected, and I could see the road ahead clearly enough (it was a full moon, after all), and of course opposing traffic was way off on its own road, hundreds of feet away (wide American roads), so we made it through. I perhaps should have stopped and called for a tow, but between all the conditions, I really didn’t feel it necessary to wait the two hours or more it quite likely would’ve been just to go those last couple of miles.

Eventually we saw an exit for a town called Vienna, which apparently has two gas stations, and a single entry for a non-chain motel called “Limited Inn” on the ‘Lodging’ sign, and pulled off the highway there and headed to the forecourt of a BP so that I could check whether the headlights had worked loose and fallen back into the engine compartment or something. Peering into the engine compartment, I checked the headlights only to find they were firmly in place, and any hope we might have had that this was a simple issue was gone. I wanted to double-check fuses and stuff, just in case, but it was cold, wet, and late, and SJ vetoed the idea and said we should just get a room at the Limited Inn for the night. Getting to it proved interesting in the pouring rain, in the dark, with bandy headlights, up a poky road with no street lighting, but we managed it and, after checking the room out, decided that it was good enough (not that we had a huge amount of choice, mind) and checked in for the night.

We unloaded the car, dragging all our stuff in while trying to stop it getting too wet, and trying to avoid slipping on the tiled floor in the lobby. The room was adequate, although I had to do a quick repair on the curtain rail after it fell off when we tried to close the curtain, and while SJ was in the shower I had to sacrifice a small black goat (we always carry several when we travel, naturally) to coax some life out of the horribly poor data connection (the motel had no wifi, and the mobile signal in the area was faint at best) to consult the Great Internet Oracle to see if I could work out what the problem with the headlights might be. At that point the only thing I found was a consensus that, if the bulbs and fuses were okay, the only things left were relays and wires, so I decided that I’d try checking the relays in the morning. After I showered, and we got a snack, we collapsed into bed with the alarm set for something like 7am so that we could get up early and see what we could do about the headlights.

Poole’s Cavern

 Posted by at 00:04 on 15 July 2014
Jul 152014
 

Last Wednesday, 9 July, I went to Poole’s Cavern with Glossopdale Women’s Institute. It’s well worth a visit – a great cave, good info from the guide, and really easy for those less mobile with not too many steps, and flagstoned walkways and handrails throughout. I borrowed Chris’ camera because it has an infrared setting, so I could take pictures in the low light of the cave.

We had an early start; we set off about 8:30am. We were trying to beat the rush – apparently every school in the High Peak decided to take its kids to tour that cave that very day. Schools tend to start later here than what I’m used to, more like 9am than 7, so we got there for when the cave opened at 9, and got the first tour, and just were vaguely aware of the first lot of kids being around. Phew.

Pictures from the cave …

It’s been awhile since I did one of these gallery things – remember to click on the first photo and then use the right arrow on the right side of the screen to see each picture one by one, and the full caption I’ve written at the bottom.

After the cave, we split into three groups – convenient, since we’d come in 3 cars and all. One lot went off hiking up the hillside over the cave. I’d have liked to join them, but since I’d dressed for the 45F/7C cave, it worked out for the best that I didn’t; I was sweltering before too long without exertion. I shall drag Chris and we’ll hike that woodland another time (and I’ll dress less warmly!). Another lot went off to a fine lunch at the Old Hall Hotel. My carload wandered off to the Buxton Pavilion Gardens for a compromise between the two: a stroll instead of a hike, and a light lunch instead of a fine lunch.

Pictures from Buxton Pavilion Gardens …

All in all, a lovely day out!

I PASSED!!!

 Posted by at 00:08 on 12 June 2014
Jun 122014
 

HOORAY! I passed the driving theory test! Amazingly, on the first try! Wowza! What luck!

I’m not opposed to a written test for driving – there are all sorts of reasonable things to make sure drivers know, like what various road signs mean (moreso here, since they’ve used a bunch of symbol ones so they can be standard across Europe), for example. Lots of other things that would occur to me if I wasn’t so exhausted just now, too.

Excuse me while I rant a bit and natter on about the test …

I am, however, opposed to the stupidity that is the hazard perception test, rolled in with that multiple-choice ordinary test. Mostly, I’m opposed because the video quality is so grainy that you can barely make out anything, and yet you’re expected to be able to tell what the five pixels that are a distant pedestrian are, and what the one pixel that is the biker’s face turning is, and so forth. The video quality is from around 1980. Behold, the instruction section before the test clips I saw today at the test center (skip to about 1:51 to see one of the clips in question):

In contrast, here is the video quality I’m used to seeing these days:

On top of that, I learned by searching online last night that what they tell you about when to click isn’t actually right. They tell you that the earlier you click when you see a hazard, the more points you get. I’d bought the official practice DVD, and was running it over and over again (trying to be able to suss those few pixels that meant this or that), so I knew the clips, and would click very early when they’d appear … and was getting zero scores. Bwuh?

It turns out that within the clip, there’s a certain window of time that is the scoring window. Clicks before this don’t count at all for or against your score. They want you to click every time you see a potential hazard, and every step of the way when that changes – so for example, you’d click when you see the pedestrian, again when you see their (one-pixel) face as they turn to see the road, again when they move their body to face the road, again when they get up to the curb, again when they step into the road, and so on. I’m not sure exactly when the scoring window in that scenario opens, but it’s most certainly not when you see the pedestrian to start with. This is all sheer stupidity.

Anyway, after I knew that, I did a few more practice clips this morning before we left – and what do you know, I scored way better on them! Lo and behold, I did very well indeed on the test, as well. Amazing what a difference it makes to actually know the grading rubric.

When you click, a red flag appears. At the test center, the red flags accumulate on the bottom of the screen. During the introductory video, as I saw that happen, I was reminded of American football, and how I’ve heard announcers talk about flags on the play. “There was a flag on that play, we’ll have to wait to see what the refs say.” “One – two – three! – flags on that play!” Etc. I don’t know much about sports, but I think those flags are thrown by the referees to say that the play wasn’t done quite right. (If I’m wrong, don’t bother correcting me; it’ll just go in one ear and out the other because I really don’t do sports.)

Chris and I have concluded that Aliens From A Utopia Planet (where everything is perfect all the time) came up with the rules I’m being tested on in this process. So I decided to just make a video game out of it. “That pedestrian isn’t walking perfectly correctly! Flag on the play!” “That car isn’t driving perfectly correctly! Flag on the play!” “That van is turning! Flag on the play!” When I started the city center (extremely urban) clip, I wondered if there was any limit to how many flags I could put on the play – but it turns out I spent most of that clip stopped at a red light (appropriately enough), so it was actually the suburban clips that drew more flags.

So, yes, one hurdle down. Now some lessons (I do have to master the stick shift and the extremely narrow roads, after all), and then the driving test – however many times I have to take it.

The rest of the day – and a few pictures, too!

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After I passed, as I stood waiting for the elevator, I had a lovely view of a canal, with a small waterfall over a lock wall, right in the center of the city – so lovely and so completely unexpected – and me without any camera! (They’re very particular [pdf] about not letting you have anything in the testing room that I thought it best to just leave absolutely everything nonessential with Chris, who was waiting outside the building.) I found Chris and walked him around the building until I found the scene I’d seen from the 6th floor.

 

The white building is where I took the Life in the UK test.

The white building is where I took the Life in the UK test.

It doesn’t look as nice from the ground as it did from way up there, but it was a lovely, tranquil place. Chris was amused, because, turning left a bit from looking at the canal, he saw the building I’d jumped through a different ridiculous hoop in — where I’d taken the Life in the UK test (citizenship test, essentially, though it’s given before that point in some cases, including mine).

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We were also in Manchester for a doctor appointment for me, at Manchester Royal Infirmary. They have this process of three waiting spots: you go from a larger waiting room in the ENT department for everyone, to a smaller one for the section you’re going to that day, to a line of chairs in the hall right outside the room you’ll be seen in. I guess it’s so that even if they’re running late, you know you haven’t been forgotten – I’m all for it. Anyway, while sitting on the chairs in the hall this time, I found myself being drawn … towards … these … rooms … 😉

Haha, just had to share that with you. After the test, we hopped back on the train immediately – the 3:47pm train is just about the last one before rush hour starts – and headed back to Glossop. I was in desperate need of new shoes, and finally found some. I hate shoe shopping – my feet are very awkward and need all sorts of support that isn’t fashionable, so it’s usually a frustrating experience – but thankfully the gent at A & B Shoes on High Street made it as painless as possible, and I found a pair that will do. Don’t know why I’ve never poked my head in there before. By then it was 5, and our favorite restaurant, Thai To Go, should be open, so we went to have a celebratory dinner. Except they weren’t open yet. The proprietress comes by bus, and it runs late sometimes, as buses do, so we wandered around a bit, watched and anthromorphized the ducks a bit, and wandered back.

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It still wasn’t open by 5:20, and Chris was ravenous, so we gave up and headed home. We went via the in laws’, and told them the news, and told them about the stupidity of that hazard perception test, and so forth. We got home, set our stuff down, etc, and before starting dinner, I tried phoning the restaurant again to see if it was open yet – yes, they’d just gotten there, the bus had indeed been late. This served to reinforce to me why I’m going through all this annoyance with this driver’s license malarky – public transport is unreliable, vastly more expensive, dirty, and annoying. I was going to order delivery, but sadly they don’t deliver on Wednesdays anymore. So we trekked back out and had that celebratory dinner after all. It was fab, just as we expected. 🙂

All in all, not a bad day!

A canal walk around Uppermill

 Posted by at 01:37 on 29 March 2014
Mar 292014
 

On Wednesday, I went with some of the members of my WI for a walk alongside the canal near Uppermill, a town in Saddleworth, Oldham, Greater Manchester. It’s a beautiful place, very much like the High Peak, and I thoroughly enjoyed it. I snapped a whole lot of photos, and wanted to share some with you.

My last photo-heavy post got no comments, and I suspect that it took so long to load that everyone gave up on it. This time I’ve resized all the photos, so it should load quicker, and added a link in each caption to the full size photo, should you want a closer view of anything. I really hate squinting at a small photo, trying to make something out, that would be dead easy to see if only the full size photo was available. This is the best balance I can think of at the moment. Please let me know how it works for you.

Photos incoming …

Remember to click on a photo to see it a bit bigger, and also to be able to read the whole caption.

And then we came home – I was worn out! I totted it up; we’d covered 4 miles in all – not bad!

Trip to Manchester Art Gallery

 Posted by at 01:23 on 30 January 2014
Jan 302014
 

As I mentioned last week, I went to Manchester Art Gallery with Glossopdale WI, where I thoroughly enjoyed the Gallery of Craft and Design. I got completely absorbed in that section, and took a ton of photos.

Upon arrival, we stopped in the cafe for a drink first, and then made our way upstairs. Be sure to click on the photo & then the right arrows to follow the narrative.

First round of photos …

I’ve done what I can with these photos; they’re not brilliant, but these things are just too neat to not try to share. The lighting is absolutely terrible in that room – I was struggling to see many things with my eyeballs, forget about through the lens. Things behind glass are always difficult to photograph; moreso when they have no opaque backing, making the background difficult to control. I tend to prefer not to use my flash on old things, though I except certain materials like silver where I don’t think it makes a difference. And then, just for kicks, my camera batteries ran out at lunchtime, so the rest of the photos were taken with my cell phone – thankfully it usually takes acceptable photos.

Thoughts on Grayson Perry’s exhibit …

That’s all I had time for in the hour before we were meeting back in the cafe for lunch. After waiting an eternity to pay for a simple pre-made sandwich, I listened to the others discuss the tapestry exhibit they’d gone to see. I’m glad I did; one friend observed that she feels like the artist is trying to shake Britain by the shoulders and tell us to wake up and realize how petty and vanishingly small the differences that we latch onto are. Later, after I’d gone to see it myself, I found I wholeheartedly agree with that idea. Included in the exhibit was also the set of drawings A Rake’s Progress, which was very interesting (you can see the whole thing there at that link).

I found the tapestries, which are very garish and cartoonish, giving caricatures really, illustrative of what the perceived differences are between classes. When the mother and father feel like they’ve moved from working class to middle class, the cleanliness of their place is highlighted, particularly by the mother vacuuming the astro-turf lawn. Apparently everything being perfectly clean and tidy is a strong impression the working class has of how the middle class is.

I don’t expect I’ll ever understand the signs for classes here – in large part because I don’t actually care about social class, but rather whether an individual is a classy and decent person. I also find class is something that won’t be discussed, generally. Apparently there was a strong message put out in the 80s and 90s that modern Britain is a classless society, classes no longer exist, etc. It didn’t work, of course. Instead, now class simply isn’t talked about. When I raise the subject for possible discussion, I’m always met with the refrain that Britain doesn’t have classes anymore, and the conversation moves swiftly to some other subject. And yet, when I observe closely, I see that social class is very much still noticed and very much affects opportunities and people.

I do wish it wasn’t this way. I fervently wish we could just take individuals as they are, and not feel this need to put them into bins, stereotyping them in order to simplify and hasten our process of (mis)understanding them. This is what underlies all stereotypes, whether they come from class, occupation, sex, age, weight, color, height, proclivity to wear polka dots, or anything else under the sun. We won’t, of course, because there are many people and our energy is finite. *sigh*

After lunch photos …

After lunch, though, I went back to the Gallery of Craft and Design to pick up where I’d left off. I got to the Grayson Perry exhibit later on, and then to the Dutch paintings exhibit. More photos from the craft and design gallery:

I didn’t take photos of anything else in the building; I was tired of taking photos by then.

After gallery photos …

I left the gallery at about 3:30 because I was tired and because I wanted to make it to a shop to price fabric for a project I’m considering. I wandered through Chinatown, and then groped fabric, and then headed home. A few more photos:

Then I headed home! Hope you enjoyed my day out as much as I did!

Travel Tuesday: Denman College

 Posted by at 00:56 on 8 January 2014
Jan 082014
 

Welcome to a new series, Travel Tuesday, wherein I share photos from our outings. Most will be daytrips (since that’s what we do the most – we do like our comforts of home); some will be longer. Some will be multi-part. I hope to post this at least most Tuesdays.

For this first one, I’ve decided to share the photos from my trip to Denman in April & May last year. These are mainly of the grounds, because I did manage to look around a bit in the mornings before class started, but otherwise, as you’ll recall from my year in review post, I generally looked like this:

I was at Denman for a week of sewing with the fabulous May Martin. I looked like this a lot. - 1 May 2013
Click for photos …

There was a long train trip, but it was pretty boring countryside, to be honest, and none of the few photos I took came out, so just imagine 3 hours’ worth of fields to start with. Oh yes, the one interesting thing was that there were less dry stone walls and more hedges. Right, so three hours’ worth of hedged fields. And then…

(Remember to click on any photo to start the slideshow.)

My favorite pair of photos out of those are these two:

20130502_083544 20130502_084848

What a difference the angle makes!

And then it was home sweet home. 🙂

Year in Review: Photographic highlights from 2013

 Posted by at 22:56 on 1 January 2014
Jan 012014
 

I always feel daunted by all the reflective posts at this time of year; I generally don’t have deep thoughts in this week between Christmas and New Year’s. Maybe I’m just too busy flomping from the hectic season, I don’t know. Anyway, this year I’ve decided I will at least reflect a bit: here, enjoy a smattering of our photos from the year.

I know, these sorts of posts usually have their place in the days leading up to 31 December, not on 1 January. I’ve always had a problem with punctuality. Ho hum. Besides, the year wasn’t over yet – something interesting could’ve happened!

Chris has found and installed for me a great new photo widget (thanks to John Scalzi for using it so I knew it existed), which I didn’t really explain in my last post. Click on the blue arrow as ever, and then if you want, you can click on any of the photos to start the slideshow view – where you’ll be able to do things like read the whole caption and look at all the photos by using the left and right arrows.

On with the photos!

Happy Birthday, Logan! — A Trip to Chatsworth

 Posted by at 10:00 on 28 December 2013
Dec 282013
 

Today’s my eldest nephew’s 9th birthday – Happy Birthday, Logan! We’ve sent him a book that is set in my local area: Chatsworth House, a stately home dating to the 1550s which is the home of the Duke of Devonshire. Since I’ve visited Chatsworth House, I thought Logan might like to see some photos of what it looks like these days, either before or after he reads that book. Others might enjoy it, too.

We went on 30 August, 2008, so it’s a bit of a blast from the past to look at these photos, but I’m sure it hasn’t changed too much since then.

First we explored the grounds …

The part of the house they’ve opened to the public is the part they built in anticipation of King William and Queen Mary (reigned 1689-1702) coming to visit. How the other half lives: houseguests? Time to build another wing onto the house! The visit never happened, but it does make for a good showpiece to open for tours. There weren’t any guided tours available, so I got an audio tour and listened to that.

Then we went into the house …

Then we looked around outside the house a bit …

Then we were home! Hope yall enjoyed the trip. 🙂

A few photos

 Posted by at 17:12 on 12 December 2013
Dec 122013
 

A few photos from my wanderings yesterday. Click on any to bring up the nifty new gallery way to see them, clicking from one to the next. Let me know what you think of this new plugin!