On the home front / a blanket

This blog probably gives the impression that I travel a lot more than I do. And it’s probably going to continue giving that impression since I’m, oh, three or four separate holidays behind. *hangs head in shame* Apparently I need to update more. I’ll try, okay?

At any rate, I do actually spend a lot of time at home, in Melbourne. I am, in fact, a total homebody. When I’m not travelling near and far, anyway. What can I say? I’m chronically inconsistent. Perhaps this is why the Sorting Hat quiz can never decide on my Hogwarts house…

I’ve been working hard the last year at turning my home into a place in which I am happy and comfortable, that I feel reflects my personality. Admittedly given my home is shared with other people – people whose aesthetics and lifestyles don’t always coincide with mine – it’s never going to be completely my own brand of artsy-craftsy domestic serenity. But that’s okay. Compromise is a thing, and there are still a couple of small spaces that are completely my own. And some of the shared spaces are lovely too. Two thirds of the household (present company included) are disgusting hipsters who love their indoor plants, so we’ve been working away busily on this. Of course, the room that gets the best sun doubles as a dumping ground for tools, but the plants are happy, so I am too!

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Poor babies need me to get off of my behind and find them new pots!

I also knitted a blanket, in a (wholly triumphant) attempt to use up some of my yarn scraps. Given how admirably Devin (what, you don’t name your car?) performed during the road trip detailed over the last few posts, I thought a reward was in order, and I’ve always liked having a blanket in the back seat in case of unseasonable cold, impromptu picnics, etc.

There is something else, though. If we’re being completely honest, the blanket was originally relegated to the car because… I was fairly convinced that it was going to be horrifically ugly. 50% of the yarn used was a violently purple wool/angora blend that I picked up for $1 per ball some years ago, because I’m only flesh and blood and can’t resist on-sale natural fibres. The yarn, of course, languished unused, but I couldn’t bring myself to de-stash the it; even though it was certainly not a colour I’d voluntarily wear, it was deliciously warm and snuggly. A blanket that would be banished to the car (where I didn’t have to look at it very often) seemed an elegant solution, if indeed you could ever use the word “elegant” in a sentence relating to such a virulent shade of purple (debatable). The thing is, the monstrosity actually grew on me as I knitted away. It’s not what you’d call tasteful or subdued, but it’s somehow glorious in its own way. This blanket clearly doesn’t care what anyone thinks. It’s now finished, and you know what? I love it, albeit a little sheepishly.

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The pattern is Stephen West’s Garter Squish; it’s a seriously wonderful design for using up scraps, and I really love the i-cord edging. As per the pattern, I used two worsted(ish) yarns held together to get a roughly bulky weight fabric. In practice, this meant holding one strand of Cleckheaton Angora Supreme together with random scraps from my stash, and knitting until the thing was enormous. In an attempt to break up the purple a little, I also dyed some of the Cleckheaton yarn a royal blue colour using food dye.

While I didn’t record exact (or inexact) quantities, in terms of metreage, this blanket is certainly the biggest thing I’ve ever knitted, and probably heavier than anything bar my Sylvi coat INSERT LINK). I was expecting such an enormous project to be tedious, but this actually went surprisingly fast and at no point did I want to light it on fire. It took a long time, yes, but that’s mostly due to the fact that I was only picking it up as brain-free knitting in between other projects. It also made for a superb gaming project; kept my hands busy (and my lap and legs toasty) through many a merry hour of Mass Effect.

And, of course, it’s incredibly warm; the wool/angora blend is super snuggly and the finished product is very cosy without being particularly heavy. The only problem now is that I need to wait until autumn to snuggle under it again. I still find myself eyeing it after trying days, but given it’s summer and all, I’d probably expire if I sought shelter within its lurid depths.

Thankfully, it makes me happy just by existing on my study chair. Just look at this magnificent bastard! ❤

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Pens. And change

So, I lost my favourite pen down the back of my desk. It was purple and punchy and I was pretty damn keen on it.

The up side? In less than a week I will probably be moving and I’ll get it back then!!

This is one of my more transparent attempts at feeling cheerful about the fact that come early November, I will be leaving this apartment. I will be sad to see the back of my time here. It’s by no means a perfect apartment, as well meaning friends remind me when I get maudlin about the impending move – it’s cold and damp in winter, kiln-like in summer, the kitchen is small and falling apart, the laundry facilities are increasingly lack-lustre, and we are fairly certain (beyond the standard intra-building paranoia) that the neighbours get up to nefarious things on a regular basis – but there are things to love about it. The large windows and the wealth of natural light. The multitude of cupboards for craft supply storage. The built in shelving that through happy coincidence matched my cheap IKEA bookshelves, making my living room appear more put-together than it had any right to look. The balcony on which I have spent many, many contented hours with a glass of wine/cup of tea/armful of knitting.

The oven that gets to near-volcanic temperatures that allow me to bake excellent bread.

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The tree outside my bedroom window in early spring.

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My lounge room with its million books and lovely rugs and sundry bits and pieces acquired on various overseas journeys.

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My windowsill garden.

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These are things I will miss. I am a bit strange in that I am, for someone who lives to travel, also a complete and utter homebody. I love going away, but I love coming home as well, and it’s that much easier to get through the day when I know I am returning to a place of my own with my proverbial fingerprints all over it.

And, you know, after I leave, it’s going to be a while. First off I have business in the north; having nearly completed my practical legal training, and generally being a fool for the Hume Highway, I’ve taken a placement in a community legal centre on the mid north coast of New South Wales. Anyone who has followed my blogs over the years knows that I can’t stay away from this place; it’s as much my home as Melbourne, really. Of course, I’ll be there for work and not for play (at first), but given how much I love the area, it’ll be equally satisfying to know that I’m contributing to the community in a way I never have on my previous visits (you know, besides giving my patronage to the local used book store).

It will be good, I hope. Change is not easy for me, to say the least, but it’s necessary and this time I hope it’s for the better. But I will miss this place. Dearly.

Malta

And now to the final destination: Malta.

As silly as it is, I don’t feel I’m able to talk about Malta without talking about the flight over. I had a jaunt from Edinburgh to Gatwick that was fairly forgettable bar its perilously late arrival, and then at Gatwick just managed to board my flight to Malta. All of my flights within Europe had been with discount airlines but not this leg: dear readers, they fed me. Twice. I nearly cried with gratitude, which is pretty pathetic really but all in all it was a lot nicer than that to which I had become accustomed. They fed me, and it was edible, and they had a palatable vegetarian option on hand. There were nuts. And wine. And dessert. I snacked my way across western Europe and spent most of the flight gazing out the window, as it was a perfectly clear day and I could see everything. I saw the English Channel, Paris, the French Alps, the Mediterranean, and Sicily. I actually felt kind of guilty for being in the window seat because the view was so lovely and the aisle seaters didn’t get to enjoy it  as much.

I arrived in Malta late, rendezvoused with my father and his partner (old hands when it comes to Malta), and we climbed about a bus bound for Gzira. Once we arrived at our accommodation I didn’t really have eyes for anything except my bed, but the next morning I awoke to a view that was none too shabby.

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We spent the next couple of days exploring Valetta, Mdina, and Marsaxlokk. I couldn’t get over the colour of the sea. I mean, I don’t want to knock the good old Tasman Sea or poor old Bass Strait, but they can’t compete with the Mediterranean in the blue stakes.

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One day we took the ferry out to Gozo and spent a pleasant day poking around the towns, having a nice cold beer near the beach at Xlendi, and wandering around near the Azure Window. I didn’t actually realise that they filmed the Dothraki wedding from Season 1 of Game of Thrones here until I returned to Australia and nearly choked on my tea while watching the scene. Friends joked that between Iceland and Malta I was doing the Game of Thrones tour of Europe (I will admit to making a few silly jokes about going north of the Wall) but I was completely oblivious to this one until after the fact!

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I also spent a lot of time indulging my inner history nerd, as Malta has a history that is as long as it is eventful. I pottered around archaeological museums. I ducked into the National Library in Valletta and stared longingly at all of the old books. I giggled like a moron at some of the more awkward taxidermy in the Natural History Museum in Mdina, which I actually do recommend because taxidermy notwithstanding, it is a very sweet little museum. And of course, I visited Ducks’ Village.

Ducks’ Village is a funny little place that is completely unlike anything else I saw on Malta, and I loved it both ironically for its vaguely Texas Chainsaw Massacre chic decor but also un-ironically because it is actually very sweet. I guess you would describe it as a more-than-slightly ramshackle, completely home-made, sanctuary-cum-adventure playground for rescued animals. There are ducks, but also chickens, and I also saw some rabbits lolling about. A passer-by told me that the man that runs it takes in animals that have been abandoned by their owners, so I think the cast of characters changes pretty frequently.

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Perhaps I’m not selling it very well but trust me, it’s adorable in its own weird way.

We capped off our final day with a tour of the harbour. Again, I spent a lot of time swooning over the history and the water by turns.

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The less said about the trip home the better – it took me four flights to get home and by the end I was pretty damn tired. I love Melbourne, but it does take a long time to get there from more or less everywhere! It was good to be home though. It always is. I love my city.

And it’s still good to be home. I’m obviously a bit late in writing these travel posts, as I returned in June and it’s now coming up on late-October. No excuses bar the fact that the interim period has been extremely busy. For the first time in a few years I’ve returned to studying and have been completing my practical legal training. The course I’m doing is very demanding, but it’s certainly nice to be studying again. I’m also enjoying the practical focus of the course; I learned many of things at university, first and foremost that I am not a particularly theoretical person. It’s nice to be able to learn by doing, and to use the skills that I’ve been taught. And come November I will get the opportunity to use them in a whole different way, but more on that next post.