Monday, June 30, 2008

scotland so far...

Sorry for my silence!  I've been busy seeing things and a bit under the weather.  I caught a cold in Edinburgh -- fancy that!  I think I'm over the worse of it now, though, but even when I did have a hacking cough, I didn't let that stop me from seeing things.  I really want to post photos, but feel a bit overwhelmed by the idea.  Not surprisingly, I've taken a good many.  Scotland is a beautiful, beautiful place.  

I've enjoyed exploring Edinburgh very much -- and spent my first few days here doing just that -- but I have also been able to take some day trips to other places in Scotland.  To save time (since I should really be in bed right now -- leaving early tomorrow for Loch Ness!), I will make use of bullet points.

  • Tuesday:  took a short bus-ride to Rosslyn to see the Rosslyn chapel (made famous by the Da Vinci Code).  It was a bit tourist-trappy, but still lovely, and in really pretty spot of countryside.
  • Wednesday:  I bought a Historic Scotland Explorer Pass, and used my first of three valid days to go to Edinburgh castle. Very interesting, and in a beautiful spot overlooking the city.
  • Thursday: took the train and a bus to St. Andrews.  I used my pass to go to the castle there and the cathedral ruins.  The cathedral used to be the largest in Scotland, and is in a breath-taking spot, right on the water.  Since falling into ruins, it has been used as a cemetery (for some few hundred years...!).  And of course, I saw the golf course, too.
  • Friday:  spent the day in Glasgow.  Walked around the city, which has quite a different feel from Edinburgh... more urban and edgy.  I explored the city for most of the day, and then met Jon and some of his friends for the Radiohead concert in the evening (!!).  We had an interesting time getting back to Edinburgh on the train (since there were so many Edinburgh-ers at the concert)-- the initial crowdedness of it reminded me of rush hour in Hong Kong, or worse.  Thankfully, ScotRail spontaneously added another train to help deal with the crowds, so we ended up not so squished for the 50-minute train ride back.
  • Saturday:  took the train to Stirling, with the aim of using my pass once more.  Stirling Castle was very grand and had some lovely gardens.  The town itself was very quaint as well.  On the train ride there, I noticed some beautiful ruins at a stop called Linlithgow and realized that that was a Historic Scotland spot as well.  So on my way back to Edinburgh, I "broke journey" (which I was happy to find was perfectly legal) and stopped at the Linlithgow Palace.  It was gorgeous.  Set right on a loch, and though only the skeleton of the original building still stands, you can get a feel for what a sight it must have been in its prime.  
So there you have the bare bones of my stay so far.  I hope to fill in some of the blanks with photos and stories soon.  As I said earlier, I'm going to Loch Ness tomorrow.  Will also see Inverness, too.  It's a bit far from Edinburgh, so I decided to sign up for a day-tour package.  So it looks as though I'll be one of those tourists on the tour buses.  I guess I'm OK with that.  With all of the navigating I've been doing on my own, I'm quite happy to take a break and have a guide take me places and tell me what I'm looking at.  Anyway, more to come soon, hopefully.  And I might get a chance to add a few highlight photos to this post at some point in the next few days.  

Looking ahead, I leave for Oxford on Wednesday morning, will spend a couple days there before going to Wales to visit my distant cousins (more specifically, my late grandfather's cousin, May, and her children and grandchildren).  Should be great!  After a few days in Wales, I'll head back to the London area, spend a couple more days seeing the sights, and then fly home.  

Saturday, June 21, 2008

greetings from scotland!

I've made it to Edinburgh! I flew in to London early this morning, dropped my pack off at King's Cross and spent the whole day walking and tubing (?) around London. I wasn't sure how much I'd be able to see in one day, so had a conservative plan of just going to Westminister Abby. Well, I was there when they opened at 9:30, and then left after an hour or so of touring, so had plenty of time to sight-see before my 4:30 train. I went by the houses of parliament and Big Ben, had a picnic lunch on the Thames overlooking the London Eye. Then I went over to London Bridge, and in my wanderings happened upon none other than St. Paul's cathedral. Then I walked all the way back to the Tower Bridge and the Tower of London. From there, already being exhausted, I took the tube to Green Park and walked through the park to Buckingham Palace. Then finally it was back to King's Cross to pick up my bag and take the 4.5 hr train ride to Edinburgh.

There's so much more I could say about today, but as you can imagine, at this point I'm barely coherant. It's 11:15 pm here in Scotland, and the sun just went down. Seriously. That's probably part of the reason why I'm able to still be awake right now -- the ridiculous amount of summer daylight. But in HK time it's 6:15 am and I've pulled an all-nighter. Jon has been a very gracious host, and is offering me his room while I'm here. Not sure I should take him up on it the whole time I'm here though... we'll see. I can't wait to see more of this amazing city tomorrow. It's spectacularly beautiful, but still quite quaint for a capital city. Another cool thing is that it seems to be the perfect size to explore on foot! I'll try to post a few photos soon!

Thursday, June 19, 2008

a few parting words...

I 'll be leaving in a couple hours for the airport, so am feeling extra giddy at the moment. So what to do with all this nervous energy? Why not BLOG?!

Here are some highlights from today... a day of last-minute errands.

I was out around lunchtime, so decided to enjoy one more cheap meal while I still can. Eat Together comes through again -- $22!
Then I happened to pass by a Hui Lau Shan (a.k.a. The Mango Drink Place), and decided to enjoy one more delicious mango treat before I go. I don't think I'll be eating much mango while I'm in the UK. Haggis and blood pudding -- yes -- but probably not much mango.

While waiting for my drink to be made, I noticed these mango-themed cautionary signs on the wall. How did I miss these before?

And then I got home and back to my packing. It seems a little bit strange to be packing a lot of my winter clothes for a summer holiday, but that's what I've done. The highs and lows that I'll be experiencing, especially in Scotland, are reminiscent of a HK winter. I'm only taking my backpack with me, which should be interesting, as it's as light as I've ever traveled.

Here's one of the little bird buttons that I put on my pack a few years ago. I still like them, which is a good thing, because the backs are completely rusted, making them irremovable (I'm quite sure that's the first time I've used that word...). That's all I have for now. I'll try to update my blog from time to time while traveling. Stay tuned! :)

vote for goodbye lenin

While in Scotland, I'll get to visit my friend Jon who, in addition to working on a theology degree, plays lead guitar in the band Goodbye Lenin. They're attempting to go to Lollapalooza this year, and to do that they need to make it through a few rounds of voting. Please go here to listen to their music and vote!

The deadline for the first round of voting is fast approaching, so don't delay!

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

final cozy post, for a time

I think this will be my last cozy post for a while. I decided to try to get the sewing bug out of my system since I most likely won't be anywhere near a sewing machine for the next few weeks. It will be weird, especially since the machine has become a virtual appendage these last few stay-at-home rainy days. But I think I'll cope. Being in new places and seeing new things should serve as a good distraction if I do start missing the Singer.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

two-eight and one more cozy

I turned 28 today, which feels a lot younger than I thought it would. My birthday falls on Father's day this year, just like it did the year I was born. Happy Father's Day/Birthday to Dad/me!

I'm having a good day. It started with my brother arriving home from college early this morning -- the "ultimate birthday present," as he puts it. Then I joined some good friends on worship team at church this morning, had a joint Father's day/birthday lunch with the family, and finally came home for what else -- cozy-making. I hadn't planned to sew today, but then just felt compelled. I had a friend in mind to make a cozy for, and suddenly had the realization that she might not be crazy about appliqué. Yes. You read that correctly. I've accepted that appliqué might not be for everyone...

So here's the plain cozy that came about after that realization... and I've got to say that I really like it! Part of the draw for me is the pearly snaps. Sal and I bought them the other day at Sham Shui Po, and I realized while hammering them in yesterday that they pearly part shatters easily. But I've found a way to put them in with minimum breakage, and really like the way they look.

I'm about to meet friends for Indian food and [fingers crossed] karaoke (I haven't told anyone else about this, but that's where I'd like to see the evening end up...), so all in all, today is turning out to be the best birthday ever.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

record-breaking cozy-making

I had a record-breaking day today -- 5 cozies. I've decided to make multiples of designs that I like, since it saves time cutting and planning. The top two are the same, as are the bottom two (showing front and back sides). The middle one is for my dad. I hadn't made him one yet, because I wasn't sure what to appliqué onto it. Then I thought about all the hikes we've been on together, and decided I'd appliqué a whole mountain scene onto it. I'm quite happy with it -- I hope he likes it! This was the first time I'd considered appliquéing scenes, and it opens up a whole new realm of possibilities... :)

some updates

Crafting update:
I'm in the middle of making a few new cozies (surprise, surprise!). One of them is a very special Father's Day cozy for my dad. Stay tuned for photos...

School update:
I finished cleaning up my classroom today, and officially checked out for the summer! That being said, I will be returning mid-July for a couple weeks of summer school.

Travel update:
I mentioned that I'll be going to the UK soon. I'll spend a little over 3 weeks there -- visiting friends in Scotland and England, and then meeting some of my distant cousins in Wales! I'm ecstatic!

Templeton update:
The cat-child is doing well, and amazingly enough, seems to be getting furrier!

Thursday, June 12, 2008

rainbow thread

I will now be able to appliqué to my heart's content for quite some time... and in rainbow colors... and each spool only cost me HK$2 (less than a US quarter)! What a deal! And what made it even more of a satisfying purchase was that the man at the first place I saw the thread for sale wanted to charge me $5 a piece. I guess the saying is true -- good things come to those who wait.

The thread (and some other goodies) were bought in Sham Shui Po (where else?). Here's a little shop cat in a place where I bought some twine. She was cute. And as you can see, she had a lot to say.

In other news, today was our last school day! I'm going in tomorrow to sort through a few things, and after that, the summer holidays will officially begin! I haven't mentioned this in my blog yet, but I'll be going to the UK for a few weeks this summer. I fly to London a week from today!! But more on that later...

Monday, June 09, 2008

for posterity's sake

Two interesting things noticed on the walk home from the train station:

1. A sparrow taking a dust bath in a dried up mud puddle (yay, the rain stopped!).

2. A man with tattoos all over his bare chest and arms riding a bike with training wheels.

olympic pandas

For those of you who, for whatever reason, are not interested in coffee-cup cozies, this little hiatus from coziness is for you. It's a photograph of one of the many Olympic displays around HK. There are no Friendlies present (though you'd be forgiven if you thought you saw Jingjing there somewhere -- he is indeed a panda, too), but still, pretty impressive stuff. I think the light-up sign in the foreground says something to the effect of "Beijing and Hong Kong sharing Olympic spirit."

more shooting stars

I'll admit, all this cozy-making might seem a tad on the obsessive-compulsive side. In my spare time yesterday and this morning I turned out 2 more, almost identical shooting star cozies. On a positive note, I think I've cut the time on making these down to about an hour. Which might still seem long for something so small. But in crafting terms, very doable. I've promised to start working on the tetris quilt I talked about so much last year once school is out (3 more days!). That will be a slightly more time-consuming project.

Saturday, June 07, 2008

hko logo

I just checked the HK observatory website to see if any new warnings were posted, and accidentally clicked on the observatory's logo, thinking it would take me back to their homepage. Instead, it took me to an explanation of their logo, which for some reason, I found amusing, and felt like sharing here:

one more...

I had a very productive crafting day today. There was a black rainstorm warning up when I woke up, so I had no desire to go outside (it would have meant immediate drenching, with or without an umbrella). So I stayed in, sewed and watched TV all day.

Here's my latest appliquéd cozy: shooting stars. It's one of my favorites so far.
Another view, so that you can see the reverse side. It's weird how different the colors look with no flash (above) and with flash (below). I need to figure out a consistent angle and formula for photographing these little guys.

cozy update

Here are the latest cozies I've made.

Appliquéd flowers.

Star on stars.

Button flower...

...which needs to be unsnapped to get the full effect.

More posts to come. My camera is full of photos of stuff I've been meaning to blog about... stay tuned!