ewein2412: (osprey hair)

My husband Tim is in the computer games industry, and since computer games are, yanno, a form of film art, he's joined the British Academy of Film and Television Arts, aka BAFTA. It is, incidentally, a charity; and they give out the British film awards. As a member Tim got tickets, kind of just for fun, to the Scottish BAFTA Awards, which were held last night.

I knew it was going to be black tie, which meant putting Mark in a suit (his first), and digging out one of my long-disused EVENING GOWNS (last worn in 2001, I believe). But I think we clean up rather well.

I'd kind of glanced over the list of nominees without taking any names in and I certainly didn't expect to spot Peter Capaldi (for those of you who don't watch: Dr. Who) straight away. Which just goes to show you how unprepared I really was.

Mark spotted Steve Moffat about 5 minutes later (again, for those of you who don't watch: he's the Dr. Who writer, and writes for a bunch of other BBC shows including Sherlock. Well I wouldn't have recognized Steve Moffat!). At which point Tim mentioned that Peter Capaldi and Sam Heughan were both nominated for Best Television Actor and I was like...

Well, those of you who know me as an Outlander fan can guess what I was like. And then it turned out that Catriona Balfe was nominated for Best Television Actress, and suddenly I was ALL OVER this evening, which I had previously assumed was just going to be fun but that I wouldn't know or recognize anybody because I never go to any movies or watch any television and apparently the Scottish BAFTAs are sort of looked down on for being "provincial." AYE RIGHT.

It turns out - why had I not realized this? - that basically all my favorite actors are Scottish!

And they were ALL THERE - either receiving awards or presenting them or both.

Catriona Balfe & Sam Heughan

same, because they are essentially EYE CANDY #jamie

Catriona Balfe accepting her Best Television Actress award

Peter Capaldi as presenter

Steve Moffat

Moffat was a great presenter, funny and personable, and said a lot of excellent things about how writers don't get enough credit in the visual arts business because WE ARE THE BEST. ;)


James McAvoy

The funny thing was, neither Tim nor Mark knew who most of these people were (apart from Dr. Who), so every time I had another flip-out over who was up on the stage, they were a bit baffled.

So, you'd have thought I'd have already had a great evening, right? No, look who was ALSO HERE PRESENTING AWARDS. Oh, you don't recognize her? MAYBE YOU'D RECOGNIZE HER VOICE.

Morven Christie #julie

Morven Christie happens to be the Scottish actress who voiced Julie for the audiobook of Code Name Verity.

I'd had absolutely no idea she'd be there and I couldn't have been more excited - if NONE of those other people had been there, meeting Morven Christie would have absolutely made my evening.

So of course after the awards were over I had to go introduce myself. She was lovely and just as excited to meet me as I was to meet her. She told me how much she'd love CNV, how she'd read it in one day the first time, and then when she was reading the audiobook it was like Julie was speaking through her, like she was reading her own words aloud -

And then we both had a huge rant about Brexit and the American election.

Morven Christie & E Wein!

(There was a lot of Brexit-bashing. The most sustained round of applause all evening, indeed, was when one of the awards acceptance speeches included the line, "Up yours, Brexit!")

The full list of awards is here: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-37893926

It was an absolutely fabulous event in so many ways. And I am SO INCREDIBLY LUCKY I LIVE IN SCOTLAND.

ewein2412: (osprey hair)
We had our bank holiday early and are working today, but on Friday we drove a couple of hundred miles across the country to see THIS PLANE in flight.


It is a Catalina, a flying boat (you pronounce that like one word, with the emphasis on the first syllable: “FLYingboat”), the oldest airworthy amphibian plane in the UK. It can land on water or land. This one was built in Canada in 1943 – it spent part of its life as a waterbombing firefighter! (Full details of its history here). It was in Oban on Friday as part of a five-day tour around Britain to commemorate, and indeed to recreate without incident, the 100th anniversary of the Circuit of Britain Race flown by Harry Hawker in 1913. (More on its progress here.)

I once had a lesson in a seaplane – this Piper PA-18 Super Cub, which also happens to be the oldest aircraft I have ever flown, built in 1954 – I flew it from Loch Earn to Loch Tay and back again, and used the experience (with added spice) in my short story “Chain of Events” (in Rush Hour: Reckless, edited by Michael Cart). I have a secret desire to become an accomplished seaplane pilot, buy my own amphibious aircraft (possibly a Teal), and spend the rest of my days loch-hopping. So when I heard the Catalina, one of a dying breed, was coming to Oban, I put the date in my diary and Tim and I took the day off work to go see it.

We arrived at Oban Airport just as the Catalina was finishing its flying display and coming in to land!

catalina in flight

There were a ton of people out taking pictures (where did they hear about this, anyway?), and there was a little craft sale going on in the hangar. The flight school was open and… well, one of the instructors, Graham Dawson, used to work at Perth so we knew him, and Tim had brought his flight bag and his license is current, so we hired the school’s Cessna 172 and went for a flight around the Inner Hebrides.

catalina and cessna 172

Like you do. Because you’re there and the plane’s available.

Guys, it was just unbelievably beautiful, and one of the coolest spontaneous days off we’ve ever had. We flew over the grass airstrip on Mull.

glenforsa airfield

We saw Staffa


and Fingal’s Cave

fingals cave

[cue Mendelssohn] all from the air. We flew over Iona and saw the abbey.


iona village

iona abbey

There is a whole lot of nothing out there, just sea cliffs and inaccessible white beaches and green mountains and ruined castles.

beaches on mull

castle on island

And all within a hundred miles or so of home—accessible if you know how and if you are careful.

I was so glad we had Graham along, partly because he was extremely conscious of where the good fields were to glide to if the engine failed and which passes to avoid in case the clouds closed in, but mainly because he knew this landscape like the back of his hand and could point out things like the Dutchman’s Cap and the Atlantic Bridge.

We landed just as the rain started and then stood in line for about forty minutes to get a look at the interior of the Catalina. The “blisters” are an original feature (though the glass has been replaced) and were used for loading and unloading crew when the plane was parked on water. We climbed in just as a pair of nonagenarian former Catalina crew were climbing out. They were awesome. (Very agile, too.)

Bonuses: Catalina and pipe band.

bagpipes and catalina

Also, I just love this shot of them refueling - so many caring hands crawling all over this old plane.

refueling catalina

We got home just in time for me to make supper for Mark before driving out to Jane Yolen’s house in St. Andrew’s for Bob Harris’s book launch—his hilarious The Day the World Went Loki has just been released by Floris Books.

A pretty darn awesome day of skiving.
ewein2412: (osprey hair)
This time it's a character from Rose Under Fire and by gosh it isn't Rose - it's IRINA. I'm pretty sure that if you haven't read the book there won't really be any spoilers here, but if you have, let me just say: RED BATHING SUIT WARNING. I don't know whether to laugh or to cry, really.

Irina arrived today and I got all excited and worried just looking at the customs label.

irina customs declaration
Excited because, well, Amanda has actually already made me four other literary action figures. Worried because, um, Ravensbrueck. You will have to leave some of Irina's accessories to your imagination. But don't worry, she is the BEST EQUIPPED BARBIE I HAVE EVER OWNED.

I bring you the experience of opening the package! This is what lay on top:irina storch

It is a diagram of a Storch. Fieseler 156. Not Irina's aircraft, but hey. Significant for other reasons.

And when you lift the paper, here she is. Look! she even comes with a pretty civilian summer dress so she can go dancing or something:
irina in box

And here is her marvelous gear. Escape kit - maps, Russian spam, compass -irina escape kit

And parachute, of course. I hope she knows how to get it on.

irina parachute
She also happens to be a decorated Hero of the Soviet Union.
irina with medals

Close-up of those medals:irina medals closeup


irina swimsuit



She also sent me a scissors. Best. Eiffel. Tower. Tat. EVER.

irina eiffel tower scissors
The instructions are worth reading, too.irina scissors caution
ewein2412: (snowicon)
I am compelled to report on our participation, because Mark was marching with the Scouts in the 1000 Pipers Parade in Perth (which culminated in an ACTUAL PERFORMANCE by all 1000 of them).

PKC info re 1000 Pipers Parade
(I've decided not to subject you to the videos.)

We did not participate in the Kilt Run which followed, and so you can blame MARK for being one of the 16 kilted non-participants who caused this race to fall short of being the LARGEST EVER KILT RUN. The record is currently held by Perth, Ontario, with 1089 participants. Only 1074 crossed the finish line in Perth, Scotland. I AM ASHAMED.

PKC's Kilt Run info

Most of our Jubilee weekend was pretty low-key, but on Monday I started getting beacon-itchy. I mean, I kept hearing how they were lighting all the beacons and then some, and starting them on the other side of the globe, and I thought… wouldn’t it be cool to go see a beacon alight?

So I did a little web-surfing. And I found the most wonderful, ridiculous website EVER - The Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Beacons website.

(To fully appreciate true nerdy amazingness of this website, I have to give you a little background here. I call myself the Queen of Google. Even my geeky kids acknowledge that if I can’t find it, it’s not on the Internet. But when I first started hunting for Jubilee beacon info I actually used too many search terms. It turns out you only need One. Beacons. That’s it. If you do a Google search simply for "beacons," this website is your number one hit! I seriously recommend you poke around on this site. It includes a flame-covered interactive map, insurance forms, a PDF guide that shows you how to construct a beacon, and the wonderful, mysterious "Lighting Times" schedule. It is so slick and yet so specific - an expensive, user-friendly, beautifully designed site that’s good for ONE DAY.)

Well, using their Beacon Locator, I figured out that the nearest beacon whose site-location I actually recognized was East Lomond Hill in Fife. Sara was at music camp and Mark had no school the next day because of the Jubilee, so even though Lighting Time was after 10 (it doesn’t get DARK till after 10), it didn’t matter if we were going to be up late… (also, we had champagne to drink when we got home, for reasons unrelated to the Queen’s Jubilee).

So we drove up to East Lomond Hill not really knowing what to expect, but kind of figuring on sitting in the car and watching a bonfire from a distance. ([livejournal.com profile] katranides, you were there with us on Christmas Eve once - do you remember?)

What we GOT was a trail of 60 pairs of fire baskets marking the path to the summit, minor fireworks, and a procession of 200 people (including us!) carrying lighted flambeaux. And a very jolly bonfire on top.

Our Lighting Time was 10.26 (the Lighting Times are specific and appear to be extremely random), which means that the East Lomond beacon was one of those run by "All other charities, organisations and individuals etc, including hospitals, clubs, pubs, Lions, Round Table and Rotary Clubs, Masonic Lodges, Caravan Club, Trinity House, commercial companies, Private Households and others etc." I don’t know which of these was running the show, but there was some historic connection with the mining communities of Fife, because one of the tableaux fireworks they set up was a Davy lamp - a safety lamp created in 1815 specifically to reduce the risk of explosions in coal mines.

There was also one guy carrying an actual Davy lamp - Tim, who grew up in the coal mining part of Kent, was quite excited about this. Fife, too, is coal mining country - since the 16th century. They still do open cast coal mining in Fife (I love Fife. The county is still called the Kingdom of Fife, you know).

The Davy Lamp... now you know.

The torchlight procession to the beacon site is quite possibly the most pagan event I have ever participated in. Nobody sang "God Save the Queen."

The tune stuck in my head was "Sumer is icumen in," although it was freaking FREEZING (note how everyone is wearing winter coats). From the top of the hill we could see 7 other beacons and some distant fireworks. (It was fun trying to guess where they were. "Crieff Knock! Berwick Law! Arthur’s Seat!" Clearly, we have gone native.)

The poem stuck in my head was A.E. Housman’s "1887." Yes, HONESTLY, I had Housman’s "1887" stuck in my head as we watched the Jubilee beacons burning all around us. From Sound and Sense in Randy St. John’s 10th grade English class back in Harrisburg, PA in 1979. Nothing is wasted. So it seems entirely appropriate to finish with it here.


From Clee to heaven the beacon burns,
The shires have seen it plain,
From north and south the sign returns
And beacons burn again.

Look left, look right, the hills are bright,
The dales are light between,
Because ’tis fifty years tonight
That God has saved the Queen.

Now, when the flame they watch not towers
About the soil they trod,
Lads, we’ll remember friends of ours
Who shared the work with God.

To skies that knit their heartstrings right,
To fields that bred them brave,
The saviors come not home tonight:
Themselves they could not save.

It dawns in Asia, tombstones show
And Shropshire names are read;
And the Nile spills his overflow
Beside the Severn’s dead.

We pledge in peace by farm and town
The Queen they served in war,
And fire the beacons up and down
The land they perished for.

"God save the Queen" we living sing,
From height to height ’tis heard;
And with the rest your voices ring,
Lads of the Fifty-Third.

Oh, god will save her, fear you not:
Be you the men you’ve been,
Get you the sons your fathers got,
And God will save the Queen.

- A.E. Housman

ewein2412: (Harriet LOL)
This is my birthday present from Amanda.

Basically, in the war of The Diddy Things, she wins. Although Sara’s comment was, “You are both as bad as each other.”

It made not be as blindingly obvious to everybody as it is to me that these are the heroines of Code Name Verity. It all arrived in the mail yesterday and it was like the scene in A Little Princess where they open The Last Doll. The room was in CHAOS as we unpacked everything. “Oh!” cried Ermengarde, darting forward, “she has got an opera glass in her hand - a blue and gold one!” … only in this case it was a gas mask, or a pair of aviator goggles, or a row of hairpins on someone’s tiny pajama pocket, or seamed stockings…

I can’t possibly do any of it justice in a couple of photographs but I do need to point out that the coats and flying jacket are FULLY LINED, and the gas mask bags are exact replicas of the 1940 ones I bought for us off eBay, and there are pockets in the coats, and their duffle bags are printed with their surnames. Beneath their clothes they are wearing tiny undergarments which I won’t show you. (Bear in mind that Amanda is the woman who once made me a John Constantine doll complete with earring, packet of Silk Cut cigarettes, and a tattoo of a tree on his bum).

Amanda says she found the patterns on eBay and etsy… then she had to go and do all the same research that I did about the ATA and the WAAF and the Special Operations Executive. As a result of this project her 5 year old daughter now has Barbies, because as Amanda’s partner pointed out to her, “You can't play with them and not let her…” And she adds that there are some scary people out there if the websites for 1/6 scale war time items are any indiciation. "There are all these WAR men dolls and websites for grownups... that is where I found the goggles and the map bag.”

ewein2412: (Default)
This project started when in a fit of madness I bought a French sewing pattern allegedly dating to the 1940s.

Those of you not interested in sewing, look away now.

If this coat were being sold in a shop window it would be labelled: Made in Scotland of pure Hebridean wool. Macclesfield silk lining; Czech glass buttons. Patron-Modèle pattern designed and cut in Paris, circa 1940. (And I would have to charge something like at least £800 for it, although it didn’t cost me anywhere near that much except in time and energy. There is nothing like making your own clothes to make you appreciate why good-quality stuff is so expensive.)

I haven’t been able to date the pattern accurately. It closely resembles other Patron-Modèle patterns dating to the mid-thirties, except that the picture on mine is a little more modern looking, and the price has gone up from 3 to 5 francs. However, on a similar postwar pattern purportedly dating to 1948, the price has suddenly soared to 55 francs. The giant inflation suggests a radical change in the market, or, well, A WAR, between the two patterns being issued. I haven’t got the strength of character required to do the detective work on French economics that would help me figure out this mystery, but I’m guessing my pattern dates to somewhere between 1937 and 1947. I think it’s probably just pre-war but I could be wrong.

Anyway it’s in French, so my first project was to sit there with my mother’s college French dictionary (handily dating to 1950) and translate the darn thing. Boy did I learn a lot of new words (facing, interfacing, lapel, pleat, etc.). I had the cloth to hand already, which I’d ordered for a different project but which had turned out to be heavier than I’d expected. I’d bought the lining from the Macclesfield Silk Museum at Paradise Mill many years ago and never did anything with it. The pattern made no contingency for lining, so I kind of made it up as I went along, using my old dress coat as a guide. Incidentally, I bought my old dress coat at Wanamaker’s in about 1987, and it is AMAZING how similar in style it is to this one.

Ladies’ coats are rather timeless, I have concluded.

When I’d finished laying out the pattern and followed the directions for increasing the size I was feeling extremely pleased with myself, and it wasn’t till I cut out the LAST PIECE - the pockets - that I realized there was no seam allowance included on ANYTHING.

And this is actually another thing that dates the pattern, because my 1948 pattern explicitly states to allow 3 cm around the pattern edges for a seam allowance.

I had to put it all aside for a few days while I considered this problem. (If you don’t sew and you haven’t fallen asleep, it means that once you’ve stitched everything together it will be SMALLER. My hands weren’t going to fit in the pockets.)

I ended up sewing the whole thing with 1/4 inch (0.5 cm) seams (which is extremely narrow), reinforced with zigzag stitching, and the zigzags reinforced with another seam - essentially I’ve sewn the entire coat together THREE TIMES. It is a little tight, but not impossibly so, or uncomfortable. If I hadn’t increased to the next size up before I cut the fabric, it would have been a disaster. I’m just so relieved that I can actually get the darn thing on.

Apart from that, the sewing wasn’t difficult. The instructions, once translated, are quite straightforward, and recognizable to anyone who’s done any modern dressmaking. They’re pretty terse, though - they fit on the outside of the pattern envelope, and no detailing is included - you’re expected to know how to do things like set in sleeves, pockets, buttonholes, etc. (They’re not even mentioned.)

I bought the pattern on eBay from ryphat, whose shop, Au Fil du Temps, specializes in antique French patterns (and other antique French stuff. Now you too, like Sara Crewe, can wear real Valenciennes lace). It seems a bit sinful to USE the pattern, and stick little tears and pinholes in it. But what a great way to acquire a vintage wardrobe!

Haberdasher’s secret tip: Decent PINS are a fantastic investment.
ewein2412: (verity text)
the last lot were english. these are french.

I failed to include anything to give a sense of scale here, but the box of cigarettes is 2x3 cm.

I feel sure I'm in the wrong line of work, but I don't know if my true calling is with Mattel's accessory dept. or as a counterfeiter.
ewein2412: (verity no text)
I feel fairly confident that I would get A LOT MORE WORK DONE if I were shut in a room for nine hours with paper and ink and my ankles tied to my chair.

But since I am a free woman, I have spent the past hour making extremely diddy WAAF accessories. AMANDA I BLAME YOU.

(the cigarettes were fun, but the lipstick was INSPIRED)
ewein2412: (Default)
last weekend Perth was invaded by waxwings. Mark and I first spotted them on Sat. 30 October, in a rowan tree in a garden a few doors down from us (apparently their preference is for rowan berries). We recognized them right away because they look so much like the cedar waxwings that we see all summer in the trees and shrubs around the Mt. Gretna Lake in Pennsylvania. We were actually in the process of working on a "nature diary" project for Mark so we took pictures:

And then we realized that there were about 100 of them all hanging out together. I'd seen about 3 waxwings in Perth several years ago, so it was kind of unusual, and we looked them up in the bird book--it turns out that usually about 100 or so are seen in Britain in a year. They breed in Scandinavia, but sometimes the population "erupts" because there is not enough food to sustain it, and then a thousand or more come foraging south. So that is what is going on this year! (The bird book also said there have been more "eruptions" in the past 20 years.)

The following morning there were easily 200 of them in the linden (lime, to you Brits) trees in our front garden, and they devoured our rowan berries, too.

These were taken through our bedroom window:

And this one was taken through Sara's window:

Having stripped bare every rowan tree in Perth, I think they have now moved on--they have to eat some ridiculous amount of food a day to keep going--10 times their own body weight or something like that (I made that number up, but you get the idea. It is some multiplication of their body weight. Maybe only 2 or 3 times, but there were a LOT of them).
ewein2412: (verity no text)
Found this on [livejournal.com profile] sartorias's birthday blog entry:

I am still discovering the extent to which writing a book about the French Resistance has left me shell-shocked. I can no longer look at a picture of the Eiffel Tower WITHOUT BURSTING INTO TEARS.

Also, despite my pride last night when I woke up and realized I hadn't dropped a single stitch, I cannot, in fact KNIT IN MY SLEEP. The *unpicking* the following day had me laughing out loud (some might say: IN STITCHES, haha).
ewein2412: (once I was a scholar)
Remind anyone of anything?

Move on over, Holy Grail and Ark of the Covenant.

I don't know where I first discovered this. I found the link in my "favorites" folder, which I was clearing out, so presumably I knew about it before now.


ewein2412: (Default)

September 2017



RSS Atom

Most Popular Tags

Style Credit

Expand Cut Tags

No cut tags
Page generated Sep. 25th, 2017 04:48 pm
Powered by Dreamwidth Studios