… I’ve been to London, to visit the Queen!
I was barely in London (if Gatwick even counts as London), and I didn’t see the Queen or any of the Royals – but I did spend a really wonderful 6 days in England. My parents were there on a longer itinerary and very, very generously flew me over to join them for the last few days of their trip.
I flew over on a Tuesday night, heading straight to the airport from a conference I had organized for work. I landed at Gatwick on the Wednesday morning, and was greeted warmly by the unspeakably lovely Ruth of Rockandpurl.
I had never met Ruth in person, but we connected by twitter and by blog and Ravelry a couple of years ago, and I knew I’d found a kindred spirit. It turns out that she is even more sweet and generous and fun in person than she is online!
After we spent some time at her house and I ogled her studio and yarns (OMG TEH PRETTIEZ) and decompressed myself a bit after the flight, she took me to a lovely tea room and treated me to lunch. I almost ordered a clotted cream tea for lunch and didn’t — and although my sandwich was delicious, in retrospect, that was the only time on the trip where I saw clotted cream on offer, and I do regret not ordering it. I do not regret the excellent chatter over lunch, though, nor do I regret the fantastic tea or the rather fetching waitstaff! (Ruth says she has a friend who thinks the entire staff at the tea room must be comprised of models.)
I found Ruth so easy to talk to – even for someone shy and anxiety-ridden like me, who was jet-lagged and travel-stunned to boot – and our conversation ranged far and wide. We talked about her upcoming book with Cooperative Press (!!!) and about her life as a knitwear designer and editor; we talked about our husbands and shared stories of first dates and silliness; we talked about Canada and hockey and Tim Hortons and patriotism, and who knows what else?
After lunch, Ruth took me for a walk around the village, and into a “spooky cemetery” that is wild and overrun with greenery and generally unspeakably beautiful. It had been dumping down rain, briefly, and then suddenly the sun came out, and everything was glistening. It felt like we had stepped off the high street into some kind of fairy kingdom! (Had it been dark out, the cemetery would have been spooky, but as it was daylight, it was much less ominous, and much more enchanting.)
There was something about the greenness of the setting, and the sheer age of the stones, that made it especially clear to me that I was in England, not in Canada anymore. Oh, we have green, to be sure, but this was a very English green that I hadn’t seen in many years. Somehow this place, even more than the tea room or the driving on the other side of the road or the age of the buildings in the village, made the reality of the trip sink in particularly deeply. It set the scene for the rest of my visit perfectly.
Ruth has tried to convince her photographer to take pattern photos here, but the photographer is convinced that when she loads the photos there will be ghosts materializing in each shot.
We eventually wandered back to her place again in time for a bit of knitting together (and more fondling of her book projects) before my father came to pick me up.
Ruth wouldn’t let me leave without pressing yarn into my hands and insisting I take it home. See that photo above? That’s four skeins (two larger, two smaller) of hand-dyed Alpaca Silk Lace goodness from The Mulberry Dyer. They are exquisite, and entirely naturally dyed! I think it must be a new yarn base for her, because I don’t see it listed on Ravelry or on her website.
My other little souvenir from my time with Ruth? It just happened that I’d gotten the latest issues of both Interweave Knits and Knitscene just before leaving Canada, and Ruth had designs in both, so I made her autograph them for me, which she did with characteristic sweetness:
When my father finally managed to drag me away (with many hugs and promises of future visits!) he settled me into the rental car for a drive off to Norfolk to visit family there. More on that next stage of the adventure in my next post!
For now: it’s Ruth’s birthday today (for a few more hours) so please wish her a very very happy day!