Saturday, 27 July 2013

Whitstable Oyster Festival

Nothing would persuade me to eat an oyster, but the Festival sounded fun!

The Festival website tells us: Today’s Festival is a relatively modern (1980s) revival of a festival from Norman times. Back then, when Whitstable was already an established fishing port, fishers and dredgers held annual ceremonies of thanksgiving for their survival at sea and the success of the harvest. Being practical, hard-working people, Whitstable’s fishermen held their celebration during the slack period and closed season for oysters. That’s why, even today, you’ll find the festival is in the summer, outside the season for eating Whitstable native oysters.

We arrived in Whitstable in time for the landing of the catch on Reeves Beach, entertained by Samba Pelo Mar while we waited.

The oysters were presented to the Lord Mayor of Canterbury and blessed

 and then there was a procession into town for the delivery of oysters to the many businesses that sell them. Not to me I hasten to add, the very look of them is enough :-(

I enjoyed the parade though!

There were lots of local children dressed in an ocean theme and morris dancers - great fun! 
Tomorrow there will be a "mud tug" which sounds unmissable.

Tuesday, 23 July 2013

Whitstable Whimsy

Today's photos are all things that amused me on our walk around Whitstable yesterday. Strickly whimsical.

We've walked past the swimming pool many times but hadn't been to look at the sculpture at the entrance before. It's fab! A deep-sea-diver supports a snorkler who supports a swimmer. The details are great, click on the photos to enlarge them.

Of course someone (no, not me!) had poked pebbles into his helmet - and why not? He doesn't seem to mind! If anyone knows who the sculptor is I'd love to acknowledge him/her, but google couldn't help me today.

When we got to the harbour the first thing I noticed was our "friend" LI114.
We can't help it, we're "of a certain age" and have a seaview - so we have a telescope. We see two little fishing boats most days, checking their lobster pots. LI114 is one of them.

A lorry was delivering a load of shellfish. It looks like they're being delivered straight to the gulls, but they're actually going into the shed then the empty shells come out at the back. 

According to the gulls, not quite empty after all.

Oooh - our other "friend", R14. See you tomorrow!

Still at the harbour - look at the bottom line. I wonder if it's a technical term or a typo? :-)

And another ;-)

Thanks Whitstable, we love you really! 

Monday, 22 July 2013

From Russia with love

I was very excited last month to send a meerkat to be rehomed in Russia, it's always fun to ship to a new destination.

Today though - even more excitement! I had an email from the kat himself, and his new companion gave me permission to share his news. Over to Albert...

"Hello, my name is Albert not to mistake me for Adolf and I wrote you from Mother Russia. I  reached the place OK , the envelope was fairly comfortable, but the way was long and tiresome and only mustache brightened it up  warming in severe frost and cooling in cold therefore I was especially happy to  reach the place.

Of course I was anxious to know what hands I would be in, but it turned out that the hands belonged to a wonderful girl, who now calls herself my mistress, but we all know the actual state of things ... In any case, I prefer to call her My  Senior Companion. My acquaintance with Russia began with a walk, which fact is vividly illustrated by the following pictures.

I would like  to tell about it in bright colors myself, but my vocabulary limits  me to using only black and white colors, so you just look. The next day My Senior Companion, let's called her Anna, suggested me to join her in a big IT company and now I hold an important position at the monitor. My task is to inspire the people by my  gorgeous looks. And  I cope with it perfectly well, so I am expecting a soon promotion. In general I am quite happy and send you my hello."

Big thanks to Albert and his new keepers!

Sunday, 14 July 2013

Oh deer ;-)

Challenges? Love 'em! You name it, I'll knit I was very happy to hear from Rich at Homecrafts last week, telling me the sad story of a deer who was very unhappy - could I help? Oh yes indeed! 

Apparently the young buck had been looking for adventure, and had googled to find out what does a STAG DO for fun....well, it all ended in tears and he rushed home from Brighton with only a plain brown box to ensure his modesty.

The poor deer told me he was bored to tears with the all-white environment of the North Pole and was desperate to bring some colour into his life. He'd tried Wimbledon...but what colour do tennis players wear? White! 

"I need colour, I need FUN - but one stag do is more than enough!"

We put our heads together (carefully avoiding the antlers) and decided that colour is one thing you just can't have too much of.

Test piece was soon knitted: what was the verdict?


Hmmm, not such a good camouflage in the woods any more, but perfect for Brighton. I'm not expecting him back any time soon because he is so proud of his rainbow outfit that he's planning another visit next month for Brighton Pride ... I wonder how he'll get on?

Edited to add - see how some other bloggers decorated their deers here!

Before you ask - no he's not for sale, but other upcycled yarnbombed animals have their own section at Niftyknits:

Thursday, 11 July 2013

Owl Socks update

When I first got the pattern book Socks a la carte 2 to review I was excited to find Kate Davies' owl design on a cuff.

However - having already knitted a pair from book one of this series (review here) it was disappointing to struggle with the patterns in this book. Knitting socks from the toes up, on DPNs, is not for me - I vastly preferred book 1 with patterns worked on 2 circular needles. Those designs also had patterns on the foot too, whereas this book has plain feet - very boring to knit.

I started knitting these socks last month but got sidetracked by meerkat orders - finally finished one! Sadly it is doomed to be unpicked, as it has turned out much too tight to wear and in any case I can't face knitting another! Plain feet really a horribly boring. I thought it would be easier to check for fit with DPNs but it isn't. I shall unpick, rewrite the owl cuff for my own use so I can knit it from the cuff down and start again! I do so love the owls.

I wasn't sure which colour beads I liked for the eyes so I've tried a variety from my stash, there are 6 owls per sock so 24 beads in total.

I used Sirdar Snuggly 4 ply in lavender, given to me by Minerva Crafts (thank you!). They stock 20 different shades and it was good to knit with. 100 gm is ample for one pair of socks, I have almost 20 gm left from my 50gm ball after one sock.

Socks a la Carte 2 was also given to me free of charge to review - I'd recommend trying to find book one, cuffs up, working with 2 circular needles is so much easier and it's much more fun continuing the pattern down the foot.

Friday, 5 July 2013

Addressing international mail and customs declarations

Fun subject, no?

Sellers who are new to international shipping often come to the forums for advice, but I prefer asking Royal Mail.

This is what Royal Mail say about addressing international mail. At first they say put sender's address on the back ... but read on. They state further down that if you put a customs declaration sticker on your parcel, you MUST include seller's full name and address on the FRONT. Click on the picture below to enlarge it to readable proportions. The right hand image shows the instructions on the reverse of the form.

I did once have a parcel returned to me because my sender's address was confused by the post office (thanks guys) and this is why people often decide to put their return address on the back. The instructions here though are definitely for the front. I got an address stamper (free from vistaprint) so I stamp my address at the top left hand corner under the airmail sticker, then write the buyer's address good and big!

A frequently-asked question is whether it's ok to mark the parcel as "gift". The answer is that it is only ok if the contents are indeed a gift, from you to the recipient. If you have sold the contents of the parcel, then it is NOT a gift. Marking a package as "gift" when it is not is fraud and carries a big penalty which I cannot find - help anyone?

Worryingly it seems the buyer can also be held responsible if the seller inaccurately represents the contents - see below or here

"2.1 Does the sender have to declare the goods?

Yes. Under international postal agreements the sender must complete a customs declaration (form CN22 or CN23) which in most cases should be fixed to the package. The declaration includes a description of the goods, the value and whether they are gifts or commercial items. Any Post Office abroad should be able to give advice to the sender.
Under customs law, you as the importer are legally responsible for the information on the declaration; therefore it is in your own interest to ensure, wherever possible, that the sender abroad completes the declaration accurately and in full.
If no declaration is made, or the information is inaccurate, the package may be delayed while the Border Force make further enquiries, or in some cases the package and its contents may be returned to the sender or seized by the Border Force."

So - what to write on the form? It asks for "detailed description", but what does that really mean? I assume it's so that if the parcel is opened at customs the contents will match the description. I write "knitted and wired soft sculptures" on mine. I started to add "wired" because I thought maybe parcels might go through some sort of security scan at airports (no idea if they do!) and if I'd only written "knitted" maybe alarms would go off. Anyone know?

Value is another interesting question. The lower limit for parcels coming into the UK is a daft £15, at which point you might well get charged VAT and an £8 fee from the post office for their hard work collecting that tax.

Buyers sometimes ask for the price to be fraudulently stated as below the threshold. What happens if that parcel then gets lost in the system? No chance of claiming back the true price!

Lastly - if you ask at your post office they will give you a roll of customs and airmail stickers so you can fill them in at home and save time in that queue!