Going out with a bang

Hello All

How are you? Well I hope. I am now home again in snuggly little Kendal all safe and sound. Back to being a country mouse.

But yowzerrs did I save the best to last! Cologne was fabulous and being able to enjoy it with my cousin R’i and her family made it extra super.

One of the downsides of travelling solo is evening meals so it has been lovely when visiting both Prenzlau and Cologne to have cousins who have gone out with me and taken me to places for dinner. Vielen Danke!

On Friday night in Cologne R’i and W’g took me to a beautiful riverside restaurant for an al fresco supper. Just the sort of place I love where you can people watch and chat. Afterwards full with a hearty German meal – needless to say I have loved the food here – and a glass of Kolsch we tootled off for a floodlit walk of Cologne. Amazingly beautiful.

But then … I was diverted into another world….a Jazz Cafe! Flippin’ Heck it was hilarious and brilliant and I don’t think I stopped laughing all the time we were in there.

Into the tiniest space was crammed a good proportion of Cologne (or so it seemed), wedged on balconies, squidging around the bar, packed up to the minuscule stage. Atmosphere in heaps and then to crown it all was a live band playing traditional Orleans jazz and blues. All this and another glass of Kolsch. What more could a girl (erm mature lady) want? Absolutely nothing.

Photos cannot fully convey the sweaty loud joyfulness of it all. These are the best I could do.

That’s what I call a Friday night. A good time definitely had by all.

Jump change!

Saturday saw me polishing up my halo and re-asserting my blue-stocking credentials. Cologne Cathedral (Kölner Dom) and Romisch-Germanisches Museum here I come.

Cologne Cathedral has such significance to residents and visitors alike. As the trains coming into Cologne station pass right beneath its towering spires travellers crowd the windows to get that first glimpse of her and when they do they know they are home. It is difficult to find suitable adjectives but Cologne Cathedral surpasses anything I have seen. It is also certainly a triumph of Long Now thinking as it was begun in the mid 1200s, worked on until the late 1400s and then completed to the original design in the 1800s.

And amidst the grandeur are the small details created with love and pride.

It was magnificent and I needed to have frequent little sit-downs just to absorb as much of it as possible. And before you ask I did not go up the 533 steps into one of the spires! I did that in my twenties so no need to do it again…that’s my excuse I am sticking to it.

From Gothic to Roman in a couple of steps (if you have extremely long legs) as the Roman Museum is right next door to the Cathedral. The museum is built on the site of a Roman villa and was designed around it’s famous centre-piece the Dionysus Mosaic. In addition to the mosaic it has fabulous displays of Roman glassware:

And these superbly exhibited ‘Guardians of the Tombs’

I was in my Roman seventh heaven.

A happy but sad to go family afternoon and evening completed my fabulous stay in Cologne. Time for bed and the final train journey from Cologne to Amsterdam to catch the ferry home.

After bobbing about on the choppy waters of the North Sea I arrived safely in Blighty. I have had the most marvellous few weeks in Germany. It has fulfilled and exceeded expectations.

I hope you have enjoyed travelling along with me.

Until next we meet,

Moke xxx

Let’s go Roman

Hello All

Trier is an historian’s dream. Everywhere you turn you are tripping over antiquities and glorious architecture. I even look out of my window at building works where thousands have been spent on conserving the roman artefacts found there. So much on offer to feed my heritage addiction, where to start?

I went with chronology. Love a timeline. Let’s go Roman. First place to aim for: Porta Nigra a Unesco World Heritage (see we are all at it) Site.

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Built in the 2nd Century AD it is the best preserved and largest Roman city gate North of the Alps. It is MASSIVE…

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Confession: I found the stairs quite scary. Not that good with heights me.

Looking up was enough to make me dizzy. As to it’s name Porta Nigra blame those medieval wags who had noticed that the stone had turned black…. I bet it had a much grander Imperial name sadly that has been lost in the mists of time.

It had to be done. My little old legs cried out ‘Please, please’ so I went all touristy and boarded …

… for a tour around the ancient sites of Trier. Stop laughing you lot! Well this ancient site (you should have seen my hair this morning!) found it really handy to get a ‘floor plan’ of the city and it was easier for me to toddle to the places on my must visit list. Stopping only for Kaffee und Kuchen – who wouldn’t?! – I made my way back to the Basillica of Constantine which was ENORMOUS.

Another UNESCO World Heritage Site – I am racking these up today – it is the largest hall from antiquity still surviving. The Emperor Constantine I – he who converted to Christianity – commissioned the building in around 310 AD. It formed part of a larger (!!!!) palace complex.

Bombed during the war the reconstruction left the walls bare without their nineteenth century embellishments and to my mind this creates a very powerful space, awe inspiring. I was sitting musing on this and getting all philosophical when I clapped eyes on the mighty organ pipes covering most of the entrance wall, my gaze then wandered to the organist’s eerie reached by a rather spindly looking spiral staircase. Hope they have a good head for heights.

As photography is not allowed inside the Basilica I thought I would make a small jotting for you dear readers. Now this seemed to attract attention and a couple of people came over to peek at my artwork. Strangely they took one look and scuttled away without comment…can’t think why….

Michaelangelo I ain’t. But you get the idea.

To regain my artistic nonchalant air I wandered through the beautiful ornamental gardens behind the Basilica to the Roman Archaeological Museum. Once again I was left open mouthed at the SIZE of the museum’s interiors. Here are some of my highlights:

It was wonderful to look through the galleries, it was very quiet with hardly any visitors. It felt very special.

I love the way this smiley bear is covering the eyes of the wild boar, ‘Don’t look she can’t draw for toffee!’:

Hoodies are definitely nothing new:

As this figure of a Celtic Trevari confirms.

I may have eaten rather well on this trip but really…

Today has been a day of grandeur and magnificence. There were moments when I felt like a wee Cumbrian Brigante tribeswoman brought before the might that was Rome. I loved it.

Now dinner beckons and tonight I am translating the menu before making my selection. Thank goodness for translation apps! Yesterday’s meal was a vegetarian’s serendipitous delight (whoever said the German’s don’t do food for veggies? They blinking do) but tonight it will be nice to show that I appreciate the chef’s menu by making considered choices rather than just stabbing a finger at unfamiliar words hopeful of a tasty result.

Until next we meet,

Moke xxx

P.S. I hope I am not raising expectations too much as I may not be able to write a post everyday but I will try my best Wifi and other commitments allowing.

P.P.S. Want to see my reward for being an Eco-friendly guest?

Good isn’t it?

P.P.S. The quest for wool. Just as I thought I would never see a wool shop I saw two in one street so will be checking them out tomorrow. The ripple scarf-shawl-thingy must go on.

Mx

Not a Dodo but definitely a bird

Yahoo! time for some needle felting.  I know I promised to show you how I needle felt a Dodo brooch, small change of plan … yesterday as I cast my eyes over the latest edition of Current Archaeology the cover photograph of a bird of an altogether different kind grabbed me. ca281_banner_280x165

Poignantly this small bronze enamelled cockerel was found along with a pottery feeding cup in the grave of a small child discovered by archaeologists in a Roman cemetery outside the walls of Roman Cirencester. It probably dates from the early 2nd century AD and was dedicated to the goddess Arcana by Ulpius Verinus a veteran of the sixth Legion. A gift for a much loved child to take to the afterlife.

While I thought that this would make a relevant edition to the brooches I make for Kendal Museum – they have a collection of local Roman finds – what most inspired me to create a brooch effigy was the pleasingly tactile shape and design of this small enamel  funerary offering. Here goes.

First I drew a template. DSCN0410

As you can see I had a bit of a struggle with the tail! I simplified things in the second version. So it turned a bit cartoonesque … Then I transfered my design onto fusible interfacing which I pressed with a hot iron onto a piece of felt fabric.

Now I was ready to needle felt my little not-so-feathered friend. I usually use locally sourced and dyed Merino wool tops but I also have some vibrantly coloured Austrian Merino tops that I bought at last year’s Woolfest.

Just a word of warning. Keep the needles out of harms way and watch your fingers while you are felting. Dry felting needles are barbed and they don’t half sting when you pull them out! I’m impatient so I always try to felt too much wool in one go. Best to remember ‘less is more’, you can always add wool its much more difficult to thin it out! Otherwise it’s a bit like colouring by numbers. Keep your needle straight, I’ve snapped several when trying to felt at an angle.

Still my little bird seems to be coming along. DSCN0440

Now all the felting is done. DSCN0442

I trim off the excess felt-interfacing backing, tidy up the rough edges

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and sew on a brooch pin. DSCN0457

Voila! DSCN0458

More Foghorn Leghorn in a beret than the grandeur that was Rome but still good fun.