Thursday, July 31, 2008

tuesday inspiration (belated): maggie gyllenhaal

I know it's technically Thursday, not Tuesday at all, but I was too caught up in my Lakes posts to put up my Tuesday inspiration.  Lucky, because last night SJ and I went to see The Dark Knight, which rekindled my fondness for Maggie Gyllenhaal.

Sidenote:  The film was really really good.  It probably helped that I watched Batman Begins on iTunes 2 days before, so I had the backstory, but the special effects, cinematography, and overall writing and acting were amazing.  Heath Ledger was especially powerful and believable as the Joker (you can definitely see the results of living alone in a hotel room for a month to form the character's psychology, posture and voice), and Christian Bale was great again as Batman (you'd never realise he was actually Welsh).

But back to Maggie.  I don't know if it's her round face, plump cheeks, pretty eyes or nice smile, but she just seems like someone who would be very fun to be around, and who doesn't take herself too seriously.

The Joker and Rachel Dawes (Maggie).

Heath Ledger as the Joker.

Christian Bale and Batman.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

cool food for cool days

So my friends and family back home will hate me for saying this, but: where is summer?  It is almost August in London and there are only a few signs of it. 

I still sleep with a duvet on at night, most mornings (and days) need at least a cardigan or longer sleeves, and I am still cooking nice HOT food to keep us warm when the cold breezes rush through the window.

split pea soup

best biscuits ever

(sidenote: like my mother, I like to have the windows open as often as possible; one day I left the windows open when I left the flat and when we came back SJ asked "You left them open?"  yes, yes I did :)... ).

One of the things that I find charming about the native English during the summer is that they don't know how to deal with 'heat'.  I say 'heat' in inverted commas because by heat they mean anything over 70s, or anything just involving direct sunlight on you.  This past weekend we had a mini heat wave, and no one could cope.  

I'm sure the temperature went up to at least 85 F.

However, the one place that never fails to feel like summer is the Underground.  They are just beginning to talk about installing some kind of ventilation or air system for the hundreds (thousands?) of commuters who tough it out like roasting sardines everyday.

vintage poster from the London Transport Museum

But to all of you roasting in the U.S.A., I apologise, but we like it cool and damp over here.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

very appropriate

When I went on Google yesterday I realized it was Beatrix Potter's birthday, see if you can see how I figured this out below...

back from the lakes part 4

Thursday: On Thursday we decided to conquer the mountain peaks around Chapel Stile.

A slate building with a mossy roof on the way up.

I'd love to live somewhere like this one day.

Hiking up the steep sides and looking down at Chapel Stile.

Some people about to climb up the mountain side.

Almost at the top, looking at the nearby lake that we visited later.

The last stretch to the top.

View from the top.

View in the other direction of Lake Windermere.

A waterfall on the mountain that we later had a close encounter with.

View of the quarry behind Chapel Stile and the pub in the centre.

Busy bee.

There were lots of sheep up on the mountain.  I kept wondering if there was a farmer around who was wondering himself where all his sheep had gone.

Rocky hill.

On the way down we decided to follow a stream instead of a cut path, it was fun scrambling over rocks and boulders and drinking fresh mountain water.

Two sheep who, from the look of their long coats, must have been up on the mountain for at least a month to avoid the shears.

That waterfall I mentioned before.  The stream ended up leading right to it and what you can't see in the picture is that it is about 15 feet tall and that it is surrounded by steep sides, covered in thistles, and that there is another 12 foot drop below this plateau.  Once getting to this point we decided to off-road up a hillside of ferns to try and find a path down again.

After getting down we decided to bike to that lake in the 5th picture and read our books.

Tomorrow, getting back to London...

Monday, July 28, 2008

wholesome breakfast

I don't know what it is about Bran Flakes, but I never can get enough of them.  Lately I've been sprucing mine up with raisins and almonds.

yum yum in my tum

All of this talk about the Lake District and nature makes me enjoy the natural knobs in our shop even more.  Being around them all the time I can't help but save the river pebble ones that I like the most...

back from the lakes part 3

Wednesday:  On Wednesday we set off for Beatrix Potter's first cottage in the Lake District, Hill Top Farm.  Of course, we used our bikes as our primary means of transportation from Chapel Stile to the village of Near Sawrey.

Our bike path (in blue).

Picture taken during a bike rest and map check.

We arrived at Hill Top Farm around 12:45pm, ready to find somewhere to eat our pack lunches, but we first went and bought our tickets, which gave us entry at 1:30pm.  I also bought a small book about Hill Top and Beatrix Potter (it was offered in two languages, English and Japanese).

We ate our lunch outside the small cottage and read the book.

Beatrix outside Hill Top.

Within two years of her purchase, Hill Top Farm had 10 cows, 14 pigs, some ducks and hens, and over 30 Herdwick sheep.  Beatrix added to her property whenever she could, buying land to extend her holding when it became available.  In May 1909 she bought a second farm in Sawrey, Castle Cottage, which met up with Hill Top land, and which she later moved into with William Heelis, whom she married in 1913.  Even after moving to the larger home she kept Hill Top exactly as it was to use as her studio and study, and as a place to entertain her increasing number of 'book visitors'.

SJ eating lunch and reading.

Part of her vegetable garden.

Being at Hill Top began to influence her writing and in the book there are many examples of illustrations from her books that are inspired by Hill Top.

The Entrance Hall and illustrations from The Tale of Samuel Whiskers (click to enlarge).

The Landing and illustrations.

The garden path and illustrations from The Tale of Tom Kitten and The Tale of Pigling Bland.

Pictures from her home and sketches that match with her book illustrations.

I find Beatrix Potter to be a great source of inspiration.  Not only did she strive to do what she truly enjoyed (and succeeded), but she was a very strong woman in other aspects.  For example, during World War I, with the men being called up at ploughing time and taking horses to the Front, Beatrix managed the farm herself, even working in the fields at harvest time.  In 1924 she bought Troutbeck Farm (which I would like to go to someday), near Windermere.

Through her friendship with Canon Hardwicke Rawnsley, who founded the National Trust in 1895, she became a strong supporter, particularly interested in land preservation, preventing the break-up of large estates and the destruction of old cottages, in stopping the building of cheap developments, and ensuring the continued breeding and maintaining of Herdwick sheep on farms in the district.

Beatrix left everything in her will to Willie for his lifetime, stipulating that after his death all her property should go to the National Trust: over 4,000 acres of land, and numerous cottages and farms.

After Hill Top we biked down to the lake to get the ferry across and then to take another ferry ride up to Ambleside.

Views from the ferry.

From Ambleside we biked 4 miles back to Chapel Stile, where we washed up, took our postcards to the pub and wrote while having a pint to cool down.

Adventures in the mountains tomorrow...

Sunday, July 27, 2008

back from the lakes part 2

Tuesday: On Tuesday we woke up around 10am and prepared for a day out walking.  We left around 11am and went on an 8 mile, 4 hour, walk around the countryside, mainly in the valleys between and around the peaks.

We started out walking down the road from the cottage to connect with a walk from SJ's Dad's Lake District Walks book.

Map pages; we started out in the top right hand block in Chapel Stile and followed the path all the way until point 'F' where we veered to cut through Elterwater and back to Chapel Stile.

Walking down the road.

A bit down the road I realized that I didn't have my glasses, and since I actually wanted to see what was around us on the walk, I went back to get them.  On my way back I passed a local butcher cutting and weighing meats in the back of his van.  It looked like he just pulled up to homes that had asked for a delivery that week and cut the right amount right there and delivered it!

Wild raspberries on the side of the road that we picked and ate.

Walking on a path past farms and toward the mountains.

Cutting through a field where sheep were grazing.

More sheep higher up in the mountains.

Sheep looking at me eagerly from inside a barn.  I could hear the shears that the farmer was using.  I don't think they wanted to loose their wool.

Farmhouse and mountains.

View of the mountains and lake.  The clouds were looming in the distance, but we didn't get any rain.

When we got to Elterwater we followed a footpath to cut through the quarry that we saw the day before and made our way back to Chapel Stile to enjoy some cool drinks and dinner.

Part 3 coming tomorrow...

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