Thursday, 28 April 2011

A grand day out

We're very lucky to live only a short train ride from London - all the benefits of village life with the opportunity to see the city when we can. On Easter Monday we decided to be tourists for the day and headed down to have a look at the preparations for the Royal Wedding tomorrow. We thought a good plan might be to start at Buckingham Palace and walk the route, along with many many other people who had the same idea!

The first thing we noticed was the stunningly large TV presence - I was expecting cameras but for some reason the scale of it all amazed me.

I did feel like a bad mother when my little ones told us we'd never taken them to see the Palace before - we've done museums galore but not "the sights". Time to set that right with a look at the balcony - and an explanation that the next time they see it on TV there will be lots of people in big hats standing on it.

We had a quick whizz round the Royal Mews to look at the horses and carriages and take bets as to which coach will be used - I'm pretty sure it won't be one of these:

or this one (though the girls think it should be!)

A march down a refreshingly traffic free Mall took us to Horseguards Parade where even our equine companions were suffering from hay fever. (Did I mention the pollen? And the dust? Blimey.)

We tried to show the girls 10 Downing Street - and I'll show my age my revealing that one of my earliest memories is of being taken to stand outside the house itself where I'm sure my parents gave me exactly the same serious description of its importance as we gave our girls. I think they took about as much notice as I did ...

Can you believe we've never even taken them to see Big Ben? What kind of monsters are we?!

And then what was, for me, the highlight - going in to Westminster Abbey which I have not done since I was a teenager taking a German pen pal to see the sights. It is a glorious place - the building itself is stunning but it's filled with so many gems - and we were lucky enough to be shown some extra special highlights by a friendly verger - he allowed the girls to climb through the Queen's own special door to her seat in the choir stalls (complete with embroidered booster cushions) , showed us Dick Whittington and his cat in one of the stained glass windows and even let us under the rope in front of Isaac Newton's memorial to show us the details of the carving you can normally only see from 20 feet away. Be still, my beating geek heart!

Sadly no photography allowed inside, but when we see this shot from these cameras on Friday, we can say - we were there! The girls said it was their "best day ever". It was certainly one to remember.

To those of you who are planning to watch, have a lovely day - we have our wedding feast planned! - and I hope that those of you who have no interest in it can spend the day doing something you enjoy too.

Tuesday, 5 April 2011

Rose quartz - delicious!

As I mentioned in my last post, I was practising my tiny wire wraps with specific projects in mind, and this is one of them:

Rose quartz and sterling spiral loop frame earrings, made using a design from the very talented Kristin Smith. It involves wire bending, hammering and wrapping - a step beyond my usual pieces but I adore these. Absolutely adore them. I am loving playing with wire, and the hammering takes it to another level entirely. The rose quartz briolettes came from Tracy's destashing sale and I am glad to have found the right project for them.

And they even show up against my hair - the dark earrings I usually make tend to disappear unless I tie it up - which is often a step too far in the morning!

Sunday, 3 April 2011

Wearing your genes

One of the projects we made at the Science Festival was DNA bracelets - using the sequence of DNA to make a brightly coloured strand of beads and then making a matching strand by following complementary base pairing rules. DNA has only 4 "letters" in its alphabet - A pairs to T, C pairs to G - so it's easy to pair a a red bead (T) to a green (A) , and a blue bead (C) to a yellow (G).

My little people had a fine old time making bracelets based on trout sequence:

That's fun and everything, but I'm a little too old to get away with wearing one. Instead I took two gauges of silvery wire, some glass crystals and a silver coloured bookmark and made this.

Believe it or not, this is the genetic code for "dottycookie" - or rather DTTYCKIE which is the closest you can get if you use the 20 letter amino acid (protein building block) alphabet to represent my name. If you give it a twist ...

Since DNA encodes protein sequence, you can represent words as proteins, and then backtranslate to figure out a corresponding DNA sequence, for example using this program. It's a long sequence as it takes 3 DNA letters to encode each amino acid.

It's the ideal adornment for a book about one of my heroines, and did serve a serious purpose - I needed wire wrapping practice for a project to be revealed in the fullness of time.

And if you think this is just plain daft, I take comfort in the fact that I'm not the only freak on the block - Emma Pebble pointed out some truly fabulously geeky objects for sale on Etsy ...