Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Maeve Binchy:: a tribute

The Glass Lake  Circle of Friends Tara Road Evening Class
This morning I heard the news that one of my favorite writers passed away. Maeve Binchy's books have been at the top of my comfort reading list for over a decade now, so I was really sad to hear this news. I always looked forward to read her most recent book, usually saving it as a special treat to be savored slowly, as her stories and characters came to life and always left me with a smile long after I finished it.

The first book I read by her was The Glass Lake. I stumbled upon it totally by chance. Years ago a friend of mine was moving back to England and I went to her house to help with the packing. She had a stack of books she wasn't taking back and asked if I'd like to keep them. Among these was a really worn out copy of The Glass Lake. I can't remember if I read it immediately or if months later, but when I did it made me cry and laugh at the same time. It is still my favorite Maeve Binchy book, even now after I read all the others. I probably re-read it three or four times since then, and will likely read it again soon.

After the Glass Lake I slowly began reading all her other works. Her books are not about complicated plots, alternative universes or any kind of special characters, they're about ordinary people, their stories and daily lives. Usually they're set in Ireland, with the occasional leap to Italy (Evening Class), Greece (Nights of rain and stars) or the US (Tara Road). Also, I love the fact that several characters reappear later on different books, it's like being reunited with old friends over and over again.

Although sad I won't have more new books by Ms Binchy to look forward to, I'm glad she wrote as many novels as she did and that I was able to enjoy them all. And if you haven't read any, and are in need of a nice, feel-good novel this summer, then give it a try, I promise you won't be disappointed.

Saturday, July 07, 2012

toddler pants

S. was in need of summer pants, so I chose a basic pant pattern from book #1 and adapted it to her size (a bit shorter and much larger on top to accommodate the diaper butt). The first experiment (the brown with blue mushrooms) ended up being a bit short on the waist, but the second pair turned out perfect. The fabrics are both Japanese medium weight cotton fabrics from one of my favorite fabric shops in Lisbon, and S. absolutely loved them.

Wednesday, July 04, 2012

slow knitting

Summer always seems to slow down my knitting. I've been patiently working on a new cardigan for myself, but because I was in need of some variety I just cast on this cute Middy Jumper for S.

Tuesday, July 03, 2012

verona once again

Like the cherry on top of the ice cream, the last destination of our Italy trip was Verona, where we briefly spent a couple of hours and stopped for lunch on our way to the airport. We had first visited here back in 2006 and it was love at first sight, and this second time round just confirmed that impression.

Monday, July 02, 2012

lake garda

We decided to spend a day driving around Lake Garda, which although not as impressive as Lake Maggiore, or as charming as Lake Como or my favorite Lake Orta, it's still worth a visit. The road from Riva del Garda down to Malcesine and Garda seemed to be the most touristy, and not so pretty with all the construction, hotels and camping places along the way. I'd read that the tiny village of Sirmione at the southernmost point was a must visit, so we decided to head down that way and have lunch there. The reviews were right, it's a very picturesque village, with its walled center and the castle entrance. Also, it had amazing ice cream shops, as you can see below ... Sara had her first taste of Italian ice cream and I think it's safe to say it won't be her last :)

riva del garda

A's conference was held in Riva del Garda, located at the northern point of Lake Garda. It's a small charming village, with a nice pedestrian area and lovely gardens by the lake. Not really a place I'd go out of my way to visit, but enjoyable for a quick visit if you're in the neighborhood. We spent a day just strolling around, and S. went wild when we found the children's park near the centre.