Sunday, 29 September 2013

Ta dah! Finished Neat Ripple bright blanket

I love this blanket!
I finished it a couple of weeks ago and its been on my bed ever since.It's soft and drapey and heavy and so bright. I started making it about a year ago and it's popped up again and again until now, here it is done
I used Attic24's neat ripple pattern which was pretty straightforward once I got the hang of it.The yarn is Sirdar Snuggly Baby Bamboo and I think I used 30 balls.
I struggled to take a complete picture of the whole blanket, which is why I'd taken it outside, but I think you get the idea

I love it so much!

Friday, 27 September 2013

More from Petra

We stayed in Wadi Musa, the town next to Petra for two nights and visited Petra three times. Entrance is pretty expensive (50JD for one day, 55 for two days, 60 for three days, 1 Jordanian Dinar is equivalent to £1) but I think it was completely worth it. We visited twice during the day and then again one of the evenings for a magical candlelit walk accompanied by local musicians.
There's a fairly obvious main path through the siq, past the treasury that takes you down an ancient road, past an amphitheatre, hundreds of tombs and houses both grand and tiny. There's a huge variation in how well preserved the carvings are. Some of the buildings look as if they're only recently finished, with completely perfect carved details whereas others no longer have their façades and are only recognisable as hollows, without much indication of what they would've been used for.
There are camels and donkeys throughout the area as well as horses along the path nearest to the main entrance. Most of the animals are owned and looked after by local Bedouin people, who also guide them around and offer rides. This camel above looks like it has a wound on its face, I know there's also an animal hospital near to the reserve so hopefully the owner will get it treated.
I feel like I'm not doing a super job in describing just how amazing being there was, there are only so many superlatives I can use! I hope the pictures give you some impression of how awesome Petra is

Friday, 20 September 2013

Petra, Jordan

I loved Petra.
I think it's probably the most amazing place I've ever been, more monumental than the Pyramids at Giza, huger than the leaning tower of Pisa, more stunning than the glories of Rome or the natural beauty of Niagara Falls.
I think one of the reasons Petra is so amazing is that it covers such a huge site. There are miles and miles of hiking paths and hidden tombs and carvings all over the place. All of Petra's buildings have also been carved out of solid rock rather than built, which is incredibly impressive when you see some of the structures that seem to stand away from the rock faces. Also the land is amazing, even if there weren't carvings all over the place, it would be an amazing place to visit with it's a large natural rift with layers and layers of rock visible . In a lot of places the land looks striped with all the different colours of rock, reds, oranges blues and creams all together is simply breathtaking.
I took approximately one bajillion pictures during the three visits we had into Petra including a night visit so instead of bombarding you with them all in one go I'm splitting them up. Here is the first bunch of pictures, these start at the main entrance to Petra and go through a natural gorge (caused by moving tectonic plates rather than water) called a Siq and end up in front of the most stunning  site in Petra; the treasury.
There has been habitation in the area for thousands of years, these caves are thought to have been Neanderthal dwellings 
A lot of people who work in Petra are Bedouin and keep horses, camels and donkeys which visitors can ride, there are also carriages for people who are unable to walk the whole distance. The carriages do go quite fast through the Siq and you hear them thundering towards you from quite a distance.
The Nabateans (the people who built Petra) were incredibly skilled engineers, these channels carried water several km through the Siq to the city
I love these pictures which show how tiny people look compared to the height of the Siq walls. I couldn't manage to get to full extent of the stone walls into a picture!
At the end of your walk through the cool shade of the Siq you're met with this sight. The Treasury in full sunlight, simply stunning!

Monday, 16 September 2013

The Dead Sea

I've recently got back from a rather busy week travelling around Israel, Jordan and Palestine, I had an amazing, thought provoking time and took thousand of photographs.
One of the things I was keen to experience was swimming in the Dead Sea. Besides the fun element of bobbing around in in incredibly buoyant water and knowing you're on the lowest point on the face of the Earth ( as our hyperbolic Lonely Plant was keen to point out) I wanted to see if it would have any effect on my skin.
I have had psoriasis for the past 15 or so years and it gets pretty irritating as well as being quite sore on occasion. Apparently the German healthcare system send psoriasis patients on regular treatment visits to the Dead Sea ( more information gleaned from the Lonely Planet). Unfortunately I don't think our few hours of floating had much effect, I did buy some good quality mud though so I'll have to experiment with that too.
The water was very clear and very, very still. The air was slightly hazy, we could see across to the other side of the sea to Jordan clearly but looking north or south there was no visible horizon
Though there were quite a few other people around and in the water it was so still. It was the hottest place we visited and the water wasn't much cooler than the air so it was rather like floating in a vary large, warm bath into which someone has emptied too much bath oil. The water is, of course, very salty but it isn't something you can feel, instead it feels oily, there are patterns within the water that look like oil and water moving together.
I felt like I had to take the clichéd picture of reading while floating, so here I am reading White Teeth in the Dead Sea!

Thursday, 12 September 2013

Yarnbombing in the West Bank, Palestine

I spent last Sunday and Monday in and around Bethlehem in Palestine.
I have a lot of thoughts that I'm still processing from my visit there, mostly my feeling was simply how unfair a lot of life is for Palestinians.
My travel partner Kathleen and I had decided to try and buy all of the gifts and souvenirs we wanted from our trip in Palestine as we really wanted to support the local economy there.
In one shop where we stopped to buy pottery, we were befriended by a relative of the shop owner who was also a taxi driver, after finishing our shopping he gave us a tour around the area and in particular showed us the artworks and murals on the wall. He told us how quickly the wall had gone up, how recently many Israeli settlers houses had been built locally, how the checkpoints had meant so many local shops had closed down, how he couldn't get to Jerusalem just 8km away. He was still cheerful and glad to have us as visitors but I was nearly in tears with the injustice of it all.

One of the things he was particularly keen to show us was all the Banksy artwork on the wall and on local buildings.

I think this flower thrower is one of my favourite pictures, it's on the side of a petrol station/garage and people driving by can see it. I've been sorting out things in my room and realised I'd previously bought a print of this picture without realising where it was or really knowing it was Banksy.
I wasn't really sure how to respond to being at the wall, our taxi driver was quite keen for us to buy some paint and have a go at painting on it ourselves but we're not really skilled in spray painting murals, I was going to just leave it until I remembered Meredith's Sheepish bloom drop. I'd participated in her Valentine's Sheepish heart yarnboming and really enjoyed leaving little hearts all around my neighbourhood and I'd thought about getting involved in this one but hadn't really had the chance while wondering around the middle east.
I'd brought a crochet hook and some yarn on the plane with me and sort of winged a pattern. I'd been sat next to an Orthodox Jewish, Israeli woman who'd been delighted to see me crocheting and helped me figure out a pattern and told me about the shawls she'd made for her ten granddaughters. Between the two of us we'd settled on this pattern and I'd made about 5 and then left them at the bottom of my bag to be carried through Israel, Jordan and then to Palestine. I finally felt it was time to use them.
I know this is a bit different from what I usually post and a bit sensitive. I don't feel I know a lot about Israel or Palestine really and I would definitely value any comments, questions and opinions.