Oh, that’s right. Dublin. When I last left you, me and my gimpy knee were trying to sleep one last night in Dublin.

I woke up 50 years old. How the hell did that happen?

 

I got Andy, the cabdriver, to take me to the airport and he gave me a right good talking to on the way. I’ve been told that next time, I need to go to Cork, rent a car and drive up the coast. And that’s how I’ll see more of Ireland. So that’s on my bucket list now. Thanks, Andy.

This is what 50 looks like. In my tiny, perfect room at the UJC.

Travelling with a hurt knee was not fun, but I managed. I forgot to call to pre-arrange a wheelchair for this part of the trip, but lucked into the beep-beep cart at Gatwick, and was whisked away through security right to the luggage pick up. A combination of rolling carts and my wheely luggage and I managed to get, in one piece, down to the Gatwick Express. Getting the bags on the train was another matter, so I just threw pride aside and whomped each bag up the stairs and arranged myself after they were all on board. On the other end, much easier to get a taxi and a ride right to my accommodations, the Union Jack Club.

 

I’ll probably never get to stay there again, as I’m not and never have been in military service, and that’s what this club is all about. But since the iKnit London event was held there, all the teachers got to stay in the tiny, perfect rooms [like a well-appointed dorm room…the coziest sleep imaginable]. For £60/night, right across from Waterloo station. Unheard of! Like I said, it’s a gem meant for those in military service, now or in the past. Thanks for letting me in, UJC…I loved it!

this is the lovely Sajona, and the scones she made our class. she saved the remainder of my trip with her donation of a well-loved walking stick. thank you so much!

That night, Brenda came in for the weekend, so I wouldn’t be without a good friend for my big day. It meant a lot to me to have her there. She knows. We had dinner at the White Hart pub with a few choice friends [thank you, ladies…you made my day!] and then there was passing out in my room. Just me. Brenda stayed with a friend, since my single room couldn’t have been more single if it tried :).

 

 

As for birthday celebrations, well, this whole trip was for my birthday, really, so the quiet day was just fine with me. I expect I will be throwing a party around these parts shortly, just so I can have cake again. Because. Come on. Cake!

 

 

The next two days were all about teaching lovely iKnit students things they didn’t already know [or didn’t know how to do my way] and they couldn’t have been nicer. One student and I bonded over bagels and Jewishness. Another was kind enough to bring me not only home-baked scones [with all proper accoutrements…jam and cream, omg] but a cast-off walking stick, which made the rest of my trip so  much better. I was able to get around the city reasonably well with that extra bit of support. Thank you so much, Sajona!

 

I got fed home cooking at Katie’s house [where Brenda was staying] and we had a little guitar/ukulele concert for each other. It was really, really nice.

 

 I got to meet the man who was scheduled to engrave my leg in a few days time. And Brenda and I went to something we’d wanted to see for months:

 

me and Brenda at the entrance to the Doctor Who Experience!

We had no idea what to expect. But it was a flipping blast. Sure, it’s probably meant for 5-10 year old boys, but so what? We loved it. We giggled at the Doctor. We pointed at the Tardis and the scary Daleks. We both squealed like little girls when the Weeping Angels flew at us in 3D and got all fangy in our faces. It was awesome.

 

Here. Some pictures of the parts I was allowed to take pictures of:

 

Brenda's favorite.

I have two Doctors. I don't have to choose if I don't wanna.

but I don't want to be exterminated!

are you my mummy?

my doctors' TARDIS.

The face of Boe!

So that was that. Very fun.

 

Sunday, I was finished with all the teaching I’d come over to do, and had planned a free day just to explore. With the knee as it was, I kept plans light, and decided to go to Labour & Wait, a store I’d wanted to visit forever.  Tiny, perfect store. I bought an enamelled pan and a few other things.

 

socks in the window. must be a good place.

And then followed the foot traffic to what turned out to be Brick Lane. Which was an excellent place to slowly wander with my trusty stick at my side.  

 

Some things I saw:

 

they may spell bagel funny, but they make them reeeeeel good. yum.

I never found out what a chola was, but the smoked salmon bagel was a steal at £1.60, and delicious

a very old neighborhood

After nibbling my beigel and wandering Brick Lane proper for a while, I was getting tired, so I decided to see where the majority of the foot traffic went and follow them.

 

And found myself at Old Spitalfields Market. Which, it turns out, is kind of like Etsy, but live. My kind of heaven. I’d never been there before.

 

See, I hadn’t prepared for the wandering-London part of the trip because I knew my ability to just GO anywhere was pretty compromised and I didn’t want to be sad about the things I couldn’t do and see. So to have fallen into these amazing areas of town just because I picked a good starting point and followed the people after that? It felt like a little gift from the travel fairy. I was pretty blissed out. I bought gifts for the hub and the sister and tea for me. And then decided that I really needed a pair of Doc Marten boots. My first.

 

do I like these boots? yes. I will buy these boots, Doctor Marten.

How could I resist Union-Jack-lined tall boots of pre-worn-in leather with black satin ribbon laces? You tell me. I couldn’t. I love these boots almost unnaturally. They’re comfortable and make me very happy.

 

The next day was my last full day in London, and it had been set aside ages ago for this:

 

Me getting engraved.

 My celebratory birthday tattoo. I’d chosen the shop and artist months before, met him a few days earlier to talk over the piece and here I was, getting drilled into with needles. A hint from someone before I went in had me prepped with 2 Aleve tablets, which I took just as he started work, and I swear, the pain afterwards […it still hurt like hell during the tattoo] was almost completely eliminated because of them. Brilliant.

 

my little ukulele, topped with a rabbit. this is just after it was finished, hence all the redness.

You might recognize the “k” in the middle there. As for the tattoo, the artist did some things [especially the rabbit] beyond my expectations. I just love it. Some things, not so much. It’s all good — I’ll get the wonky bits evened out by someone local. 

 

The next day, me and my saran-wrapped leg [fresh saran wrap…to protect against germies on the plane, you know] headed to Heathrow and off I went. After trying to convince my taxi driver, who greeted me by hacking up a lung, to try those electronic cigarettes so he could quit the real ones. I clearly was bonding with taxi drivers on this trip.

 

Anyway, this time I’d arranged for wheely assistance to get around. Very helpful at Schiphol, and pretty useless in Toronto, where they were so backed up that people were sitting for more than 40 minutes, waiting for someone to wheel them through customs. I could get up, so I did, and hobbled through on my own. And then I was hugging my husband and soon in my own bed.

 

On this trip, special mention needs to go out to two things: SOAK and linen. I left Toronto well stocked with Scentless SOAK minis, and I used them to wash my work clothes — linen tunics, tops and pants — at every stop, allowing me to pack much lighter than I would have otherwise. And the linen was always dry by the next morning, and any dinner accidents were erased. Really. This stuff is magic, this SOAK stuff, and now that I know how well the SOAK/linen system works, I can pack even lighter next time. 

 

What a trip. Overwhelming at times, exhausting a lot, and fabulous more times than I can count.  I met so many wonderful people, and hope to see quite a few of them again. I got a taste of two countries [Scotland and Ireland] that I want to revisit, and soon. I got a refill of Wales and my good friends. And a little taste of London, that city that I love so much more each time I visit.

 

And within a week of being home, Brenda and I planned to repeat our retreat in 2012. We’re doing it again, next October, in Pembrokeshire, Wales. I’m not sure if I’ll be travelling beyond Wales this time*, but am thrilled to be returning to one of my favorite places on the planet, to spend time with really great people.  

 

*I am talking to shops all over the UK and Ireland about extending my trip next October. Plans are still being worked out, so if you are interested in having me visit your shop, take a peek at my class information page and then drop me a note. 

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16 Responses to So where were we?

  1. Kate says:

    sounds wonderful! congrats on your trip and the big 5-0.

  2. Caroline/sajona says:

    I’m famous LOL :) glad you had such a good time in London – and that is the bagel shop I’ve been in too – smoked salmon and cream cheese bagel FTW!

  3. RebKnitz says:

    “Chola” is challah. Just transliterated in a way that I would NEVER transliterate it. But then again, they spelled bagel “beigel,” so one has some warning that the spelling might be a little…off.

  4. Marion says:

    (aka Knitronomicon on Twitter/Ravelry!) It was nice to see you and speak to you, however briefly, at IKnit when you dropped in. (I didn’t make the classes – can’t afford such luxuries!)

    ‘Chola’ is, as you may already have been told, probably an alternative spelling of ‘challah’ (like beigel/bagel).

  5. Becky says:

    So cool on the Doctor Who Experience! That looks like a lot of fun. And happy somewhat belated birthday!

  6. flossie says:

    so jealous of your Doctor Who fun!!

  7. Ana says:

    Congratulations on your tat!

  8. turtle says:

    what a trip! love the tat! daughter and i play as well.

  9. gilda says:

    you’re really a great storyteller! Love your new tattoo. happy Birthday.

  10. Jean says:

    What fun it has been to read about your trip! I was in Ireland in October and celebrated my 56th birthday by getting my first tattoo in Dublin before returning home. I love my tattoo and the story that goes with it. Enjoy being 50 and tattooed! Happy Birthday!

  11. brandi says:

    I keep telling myself someday I will travel.

  12. Happy 50th Birthday, I know what you mean….how did that happen?? It will be me next year. I adore your tattoo….nice work and I also adore your Docs! You Rock :-) The trip sounds like it was awesome!

  13. Robin F. says:

    Love the Dr. who exhibits. Chola is probably challah.(Jewish braided bread.

  14. Sharon Rose says:

    So good to read about your adventures… and your customization! The little bun is so sweet! Sorry I couldn’t make Wales this year but hope to see you soon at another event!
    Sharon

  15. BeadedLaceHoar says:

    What a wonderful end to your overseas trip. I am so glad I got a chance to get to know you in Wales. Thanks for sharing your adventures.

    Don’t know if I can make it next year, but…

  16. Leah says:

    What an amazing trip — I want to buy awesome Docs and go to the Doctor Who Experience for my birthday, too!

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