Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Burt Reynolds in Suffolk (well, almost)

We rented A Bunch Of Amateurs this weekend. The general premise is that Burt Reynolds plays a washed-up Hollywood actor who ends up coming to "Stratford" in England to perform King Lear. He thinks he's going to Stratford-upon-Avon to perform with the RSC, when in fact he's in the (fictional) village of Stratford St John, performing with the amateur drama society. And where have they put this village supposedly at the end of the earth? Suffolk, baby! They didn't actually FILM it in Suffolk (which is silly, since the style of house-building here is completely different from the houses in the film).

John and I both thought it was pretty funny - Imelda Staunton was really good, and Burt Reynolds was well-cast as the no-longer-leading-man. They were both entirely overshadowed by a supporting role from the Suffolk Mobile Libraries van. Too funny.

I can FINALLY blog about this, since the gift has been given: I made a baby quilt for my friend Liz's new baby, Gabi. Both of Gabi's parents went to the University of Wisconsin, so my initial thought was to knit a red baby sweater with a big W in it.

I think everyone is glad that I abandoned that idea once I found some Wisconsin Badgers fabric on the web. I ordered it, had it shipped to England, matched it up with some polka dots, and started in. I intended to make a small-ish crib quilt for her, and then went a little overboard when I was cutting my squares. Pattern? Me? Naw! It ended up about the size of a twin bed, FAR too big for a newborn (even if she IS tall like her dad). I had some leftover fabric, so I made a stroller blanket as well.

Here she is, modeling it.

There are a few more scraps left (a yard of Wisconsin fabric goes a very long way), so there will be a few more UW items delivered when I'm in NY next month.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

My little (BIG) brother

My brother came to visit last week. He has now decided that Suffolk is NOT entirely composed of fields full of sheep. There are some fields with pigs in them.

Here we are with the Bury St Edmunds Cathedral tower:

Me (note: fully airborne) in front of the Norman Tower (12 bells, baby!):

Future beer...mmm. We took the tour at Greene King (yes, beer purists, it's not the best beer, but it's pretty tasty). There were four rules, according to our tour guide: stay with the tour (it's a working factory), don't step in puddles, turn off your phones, and don't touch anything.

We'd all been up to the roof (great view) and back down again, and were standing near the mash tuns when one of the women on the tour (who had been an insufferable know-it-all) started turning a valve on one of the huge pots. Edward and I yelped and ran to the other side of the room, and our tour guide caught her before she caused the whole thing to explode. EEK!

Here's Ed, with some actual beer, at lunch (note, beer AND cider):

We also stopped in at Ickworth, where Ed was treated to the full experience. We arrived at 4:30, knowing that the house was already closed. We were told that the gardens were still open, so paid our £4 each to go see them. When we got to the gardens, there was a sign on the gate saying that last admission had been at 4:30, with the gardens closing at 5. We tried to find a staff member to get our money back, but there were none. Finally, we found someone, who let us out into the garden, where we were then yelled at by the gardener who told us we shouldn't have been there. It was truly mind-boggling. I'm toying with the idea of issuing a proper complaint to the National Trust, but I don't think I have the energy.

We did a running tour of the garden, then walked down to the falling-down church. Don't worry, we didn't go in...

In stark contrast, we went to Framlingham Castle on our way back from Aldeburgh the next day. Competent staff, clear signs, and a very English "if you fall off the 50-foot wall it's your own damn fault" set of fences. We gave it a shot to reenact all of the various potential amusements, listed below:

We had a blast (and I got to visit a whole bunch of things that I only really think to do when I'm playing "tour guide")!

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Non-horizontal horizons

We've been letting James take pictures with our SLR. He has his own camera (my trusty Canon Elph), but he doesn't always have it with him.

He has a really good eye for composition, and he's always coming up with really unlikely angles to shoot from, but we've found that about 80% of his pictures list ever so slightly to the right. As if the pressure of pushing down the shutter button tilts the camera. Teehee.

Here are two. I'm an evil stepmother and have left them "au naturel" (i.e. a little slonchwise):

These were both taken at Snape Maltings, after we fled Aldeburgh on Monday. (Aldeburgh? On the May Bank Holiday Monday? With scattered showers? WHAT WERE WE THINKING??)

My garden has been coming along (to the detriment of the blog, I think). Here are some seedlings (some that I started myself and some that have been adopted - thanks, Janet!). The ones in the foreground are sunflowers, and the first one has just popped above the soil this morning.

I'm completely obsessed with Gardener's World on the BBC. Who else but the Beeb would film and air a gardening program for n00bs like me, detailing exactly what to do, when. It was their idea to plant the sunflower seeds in POTS - apparently slugs (::seething hatred::) love to munch on freshly-planted sunflower seeds. Can't get 'em up here, bitches!

Oh, and this was a "plant in a basket" that Michelle gave us back in January. It was supposed to last two weeks. Ahem. It's happy as a clam on the windowsill...

After all my evangelising about how awesome the library is, John has discovered that they have a fairly extensive art movie collection. £2 for a week, per movie. Can't beat it!

We watched The Science of Sleep (another movie featuring a naked Gael Garcia Bernal - does the boy not like to wear clothes?), which was suitably surreal but quite enjoyable.