Thursday 30 November 2023

November 2023

The hours of daylight are now less and winter is knocking on the door, in fact, we've got a sprinkling of snow this morning, the first of the season. It's not my favourite time of year with the colder months ahead but at least we've got Christmas to look forward to.

The Christmas markets and craft fairs have started popping up this month and I always enjoy visiting some in the run up to the festive season. The huge German market in the centre of Leeds is back this year after a four year hiatus but it gets so busy. We haven't been yet this holiday season but we did go to a smaller festive makers market at a nearby farm shop. We came home with a new ornament for the tree and a bottle of locally produced beer.

We visited our local high street for the annual Christmas lights switch on. The whole road is closed off to traffic and there's usually market stalls set up along the pavements but it was a little disappointing this year as the market had been cancelled by the powers that be. I've read various reasons for this so I don't really know why, but there was still a stage with musical entertainment, side stalls such as hook-a-duck, children's fairground rides, and food vendors. Some of the shops stayed open too. I like to support local events but my goodness, the weather had suddenly changed and it was freezing.

I saw on Instagram that various vendors who were exhibiting at Yorkshire Yarn Festival last Sunday were offering free tickets so I took one of them up on the offer. Eleanor came with me, it's the first yarn show she's been to as although she can knit and crochet a little, it's not really her thing, but she did enjoy looking at the different stalls and squishing the yarn. It was nice for me to have some company too. As we were driving home we saw signs for a Christmas market so we stopped off at that and had a wander around there too. The only thing I bought was a little gift for a friend at the yarn show.

I've read eleven books this month.

Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson.

"Published as a 'shilling shocker' in 1886, Robert Louis Stevenson's  dark psychological fantasy gave birth to the popular idea of the split personality. Set in a hellish, fog-bound London, the story of outwardly respectable Dr Jekyll, who unleashes his deepest cruelties and most murderous instincts when he is transformed into sinister Edward Hyde, is a Gothic masterpiece and a chilling exploration of humanity's basest capacity for evil."

Also included in this book, which I didn't know when I bought it, is The Bottle Imp, another story by Robert Louis Stevenson which I'd never heard of before, so I got two for the price of one.

I'm sure you've heard of people with dramatic mood swings being described as Jekyll and Hyde, well this is where it comes from. I knew the outline of this story before reading it but didn't know the full tale. The setting, the back streets of London amongst the gloomy fog, is key in creating a sinister atmosphere and prepares the scene for the horror story that follows. Definitely a classic.

I read Treasure Island and The Ebb-Tide, both also by Robert Louis Stevenson, earlier this year. He's a great story teller, so I had no hesitation in reading The Bottle Imp too. A short story which is very entertaining.

The Nightingale Daughters by Donna Douglas.

"London's East End, 1957.

Three young women are beginning their nursing training at the Florence Nightingale Hospital...

Winnie desperately wants to win her mother's approval - but will following in her footsteps and becoming a nurse help?

Tearaway Viv has never been one to follow the rules, though the Nightingale may help her mend her ways.

Beth is following her late sister's dream by training as a nurse. Will it be the right path for her?

There's a steep learning curve ahead. But with friendship on their side, the Nightingale Daughters are ready to rise to the challenge..."

It was nice to be back at the Nightingale and catch up with some of the earlier characters as well as some new ones. I've read every book in this series and enjoyed them. Following different nurses through their training and onto the wards, as well as delving into their private lives, can be quite a saga.

I was a little disappointed that the ending seemed rushed and that not all loose ends were tied up, let's hope there's another book in the offing to follow this up as I still enjoyed the story and I'd like to read more.

The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S.Lewis.

The Magician's Nephew.

"The adventure begins.

On a daring quest to save a life, two friends are hurled into another world, where an evil sorceress seeks to enslave them. But then the lion Aslan's song weaves itself into the fabric of a new land, a land that will be known as Narnia. And in Narnia, all things are possible."

The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe.

"They open a door and enter a magical world.

Four adventurers step through a wardrobe door and into the land of Narnia - a world enslaved by the power of the White Witch. When almost all hope is lost, the return of the Great Lion, Aslan, signals a great change...and a great sacrifice."

The Horse and His Boy.

"A wild gallop for freedom.

On a desperate journey, two runaways meet and join forces. Though they are only looking to escape their harsh lives, they soon find themselves at the centre of a terrible battle. It is a battle that will decide their fate and the fate of Narnia itself."

Prince Caspian.

"A Prince fights for his crown.

A prince denied his rightful throne gathers an army in a desperate attempt to rid his land of a false king. But in the end it is a battle of honour between two men alone that will decide the fate of an entire world."

The Voyage of the Dawn Treader.

"A voyage to the very ends of the world.

A king and some unexpected companions embark on a voyage that will take them beyond all known lands. As they sail farther and farther from charted waters, they discover that their quest is more than they imagined and that the world's end is only the beginning.

The Silver Chair.

"A prince imprisoned - a country in peril.

Through dangers untold and caverns deep and dark, a noble band of friends are sent to rescue a prince held captive. But their mission to Underland brings them face-to-face with an evil more beautiful and more deadly than they ever expected."

The Last Battle.

"The last battle is the greatest of all battles.

During the last days of Narnia, the land faces its fiercest challenge - not an invader from without but an enemy from within. Lies and treachery have taken root, and only the king and a small band of loyal followers can prevent the destruction of all they hold dear in this, the magnificent ending to The Chronicles of Narnia."

I've never read The Chronicles of Narnia, nor seen the films, I didn't even know what the story was about really, but I've ordered a yarny advent calendar this year which is inspired by The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, so I thought I'd better read it, and whilst I was reading that book, I might as well read them all.

Fantasy is not a genre I'd usually choose and this is possibly why I never read these books as a child. I did enjoy them on the whole, though some parts dragged a little and it reinforced the fact that fantasy just isn't for me. I often feel I've missed out when people talk about books they enjoyed as a child which I've never read, but who's to say that children's books are only for children. I fully intend to acquaint myself with more books I never read in my younger days.

All Good Things by Amanda Prowse.

"Daisy Harrop has always felt like she exists in the background, and since her mother stopped getting out of bed, her life has come to a complete standstill, Daisy would give anything to leave the shabbiest house on the street and be more like the golden Kelleways next door, with their perfectly raked driveway and flourishing rose garden...

Winnie Kelleway is proud of the beautiful family she's built, They've had their ups and downs - hasn't everyone? But this weekend, celebrating her golden wedding anniversary is truly proof of their happiness, a joyful gathering for all the neighbours to see.

But as the festivities get underway, are the cracks in the 'perfect' Kelleway life beginning to show? As one bombshell revelation leads to another and events start to spiral out of control, Daisy and Winnie are about to discover that things aren't always what they seem."

This book does make you realise that you never know what goes on behind a closed door or what secrets even the most seemingly idyllic family keep. A thoroughly entertaining read which held my interest. 

Amanda Prowse is a prolific author. Mitzi from the Lazy Days & Sundays blog recommended her to me back in 2015 and I've read twenty nine, which I think is all, of her novels since then, as well as a memoir she wrote with her son about his depression and mental health struggles. Her books are usually about family dynamics, focusing mainly on women and the situations they may find themselves in. If you haven't read any of her books, give her a go, I always look out for anything new from her.

It was Jasmine's birthday on the 24th. We had our birthday get together a few days later when everyone's shift patterns meant all six of us were free. Mick made a lovely roast beef and Yorkshire pudding dinner for when they finished work and then afterwards, as we often do, we had a drink and played games. We do love board games, we often add to our collection but invariably return to the oldies but goodies.

A bit of a progress report on my English paper piecing. I started this a couple of years ago having never hand sewed anything before. I put it down when we moved house and picked it back up a few months ago. I'm using the Botanic Garden fabric from Lewis and Irene. It's certainly not perfect but I've now got it to the point where it measures about 31.5" by 26". When I started it I was assembling the hexagons without a final project in mind but now it's this size I suppose it would be nice to make it into some sort of quilt. My question would be, will this size suffice for a baby quilt or a floor mat for a baby to lie on, or do I need to add more hexies? To be honest, I'm nearly done with it now. I sometimes get to the stage in a project where I just want it to be finished and I'm just about at that point with this. In any case, I think I shall put it away now and bring it back out again after Christmas.

December sees us heading into the festive season. I'm hoping to get our tree and decorations up at the very start of the month and as we've got most of the Christmas shopping done it should be a nice relaxing month for us. Haha, who am I kidding, December is always crazy!

Tuesday 21 November 2023

Copper Conifer Socks

I chose the Copper Conifer Socks pattern by Rachel Fletcher to use for my Strictly Sockalong socks this year.

Ali from the Little Drops of Wonderful podcast hosts this knitalong, where you knit socks whilst watching Strictly Come Dancing, or cheat and knit them whilst not watching Strictly Come Dancing, and this is the sixth year that I've joined in.

I really enjoyed knitting this pattern, it's a simple lace with a four pattern repeat and it's quite instinctive. The photos don't show it off to its best, it looks so different when it's stretched out a little on a foot.

I used yarn which I've had in my stash since 2012. It was dyed by Laughing Yaffle and the colourway is Winter sunrise. The first hand dyed yarn I bought was from Laughing Yaffle back in 2011 and though that got used up, I've still got a full skein from Laughing Yaffle in my stash from the same year.

I learnt to knit as a very young child and continued into my teens but I put my needles down in the eighties and didn't pick them back up again until 2010. It's funny how you come back to things, isn't it.

Sunday 12 November 2023

Ripley Castle

We were looking for somewhere new to visit on the last Sunday of October. The clocks had just gone back so we'd had a leisurely morning with the extra hour we'd gained. We didn't want to travel too far but fancied going somewhere we hadn't been before and after a quick Google search, we came up with Ripley Castle.

Ripley Castle is a 14th century country house which is situated three miles from Harrogate in North Yorkshire on the edge of the Yorkshire Dales. We were actually really lucky when we visited because there was an artisan market being held in the grounds and therefore, admission was free. It also meant that we had extra to see on our visit.

The market was held in the Castle courtyard and there were the usual artisan food and drinks on offer, as well as a few craft stalls.

Such a beautiful setting for a market.

We ventured round the side of the Castle and into the grounds. There's plenty of space here for a good walk around.

There's a large ornamental lake with a waterfall, and if you cross this it takes you into the deer park.

The outbuildings comprised of a brewhouse, bakehouse, game larder, laundry and stores for the Castle. They were restored and converted to their present use in 2001.

Just look at the colour of this acer, absolutely beautiful, even on such a dull day. I'm sure it's even more stunning with a little sun shining through the leaves.

All the trees were clothed in autumn's hues, dripping in reds and golds.

Nature is so clever. This is a self-perpetuating beech tree.

The sign explains it better than I could.

How about this beautiful Redwood in the woodland. Isn't it a beauty.

There's a beautiful walled garden which I expect looks spectacular in the sunny summer months, though I'd like to visit in the springtime as there's a collection of Hyacinth which not only provide a riot of colour but also a magnificent aroma.

The buildings in the walled garden have undergone repair work and though at one time they were on the Heritage at Risk Register, they've now been removed.

The Palm House and Hothouses hold the current collection of tropical plants and ferns.

The archway leads you from the walled garden into the walled kitchen garden.

It's so well kept, even at this late stage of the year.

An avenue of fruit trees.

There's still so much to see in the kitchen garden with some beds planted up for the winter months.

It was quite a whistle stop tour as we didn't want to be out too long, but we did linger over hot drinks before we returned to the car.

The Castle is set in a small village, though we didn't look around the wider area this time.

A return visit is definitely in order. There's so much we missed on this visit and there's enough here to keep you entertained for a whole day and more. That's without even mentioning the Castle tours which you can take if this is something which would take your fancy. Yes, we'll definitely be back.

Tuesday 31 October 2023

October 2023

October has seen autumn settle in. The temperature has dropped, the trees are beginning to change colour, some dropping leaves, and nature's bounty can be found in the hedgerows. We've had all kinds of weather, some beautiful sunny autumn days when it's a joy to be out and about, but storms have also hit the UK with devastation for some including, very sadly, loss of life. It's that time of year when we just never know what we'll get.

We've tried to make the most of the good weather when we've had it this month with a few outings, though we've stayed closer to home rather than taking long drives. Mick had a week off work in the middle of October and we spent a lot of it at home just taking some time to recharge our batteries while getting some outside jobs done ready for the winter months, amongst a couple of trips out. One of the places we visited was Knaresborough, a market town in North Yorkshire, about twenty miles from where we live. The photo above shows one of the Town Windows. Many windows in buildings were blocked to avoid window tax or incorporated in the building's design to provide symmetry. Artwork has been installed on many of these panels around Knaresborough which illustrate characters and events from the town's history. I keep saying that we'll visit one day with the intention of seeing how many we can find, but we haven't done this yet. You do see them all over though as you wander around.

I've read seven books this month.

Alice's Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll.

"Lewis Carroll's anarchic, disturbing and boisterously funny Alice stories, conjured up one afternoon to entertain a young girl, are a unique blend of wordplay, logic, parody, puzzles and riddles.

Their dream worlds of nonsensical Wonderland and the back-to-front  Looking Glass kingdom depict order turned upside-down: a baby turns into a pig, time is abandoned at an unruly tea-party and a chaotic game of chess makes a seven-year-old girl a Queen. But, amongst the eccentric humour and witty conundrums, are poignant moments of nostalgia for a lost childhood."

Actually two books in one as Through the Looking Glass is also included in this edition. I'd never read about Alice's adventures before, though I think most people know the general story. A perfect tale for children and adults alike, lots of word play and general nonsense. I have to say that I dream exactly like Alice, I wake up feeling shattered! I rarely read books with pictures these days but the story was punctuated with forty two illustrations by John Tenniel which I enjoyed. A true classic.

Christmas at Thrush Green by Miss Read.

"The villagers of Thrush Green celebrate Christmas in a way that has hardly changed over the generations, Children eagerly hang up their stockings, families go to church together - and when the snow arrives, it seems as if Christmas will be perfect this year. But not everything is as peaceful as it seems.

Phyllida and Frank have their work cut out when an outbreak of chicken pox disrupts preparations for the Nativity play. The indomitable Ella Bembridge has been behaving strangely, much to the concern of her friends. Then there are the Burwells, newcomers to Thrush Green, who cause a stir with their meddling and their tasteless Christmas decorations. And Nelly Piggott, owner of The Fuchsia Bush tea shop, receives an unexpected letter that sends her into a spin.

Full of nostalgia, warmth and brilliant characters, Christmas at Thrush Green is a truly festive treat."

Sadly, this is the final book in the Thrush Green series. I was sorry when I came to the end of the Fairacre series and didn't think I'd enjoy Thrush Green as much but I have. I do have to say that I was very disappointed in this book though. Billed as a Miss Read book, Dora Saint, who wrote under the pen name of Miss Read, was 96 when this book was published and it's stated at the start of the book that although the initial idea and developing storyline was discussed with her long-time editor, it was actually Jenny Dereham and not Miss Read who put it into words, and you can tell. When you've got to know the characters through a series of books you get to know the way they talk, the way they think even, and definitely how they'd behave in certain situations, and unfortunately, many of the characters just didn't ring true.

I'm sad to say this but if Miss Read was unable to write the book herself, then it should have been left well alone. It's a sorry end to a brilliant collection of books.

Lessons in Chemistry by Bonnie Garmus.

"Chemist Elizabeth Zott is not your average woman. In fact, Elizabeth Zott would be the first to point out that there is no such thing.

But it's the early 1960s and her all-male team at Hastings Research Institute take a very unscientific view of equality. Forced to resign, she reluctantly signs on as the host of a cooking show, Supper at Six. But her revolutionary approach to cooking, fuelled by scientific and rational commentary, grabs the attention of a nation. And soon a legion of overlooked housewives find themselves daring to change the status quo. One molecule at a time."

I'd seen such good reviews of this book that I couldn't resist picking it up when I saw it in The Works. I'm glad I did as it deserved every one of the reviews I'd read.

Going back to the 1950s and 60s, this book highlights the plight of women, not only in science but in all sorts of different situations at that time. I loved Elizabeth Zott and what she stood for, in fact we're introduced to many wonderful characters but my favourite has to be Six Thirty, the dog. The book was witty but also sad in places too, and the story has a tidy ending. One of my favourite books of the year, I'm not surprised that it's being made into a TV series.

From a Far and Lovely Country by Alexander McCall Smith.

"Mma Ramotswe's birthday was not going to go entirely unmarked and there was the additional prospect of tea with a slice, or even more than one slice, of Mma Potokwani's justly celebrated fruit cake. There is always a silver lining, thought Mma Ramotswe - or almost always. The trick was to recognise the silver lining when it came. That was what needed to be done, Sometimes you had to look quite hard and the silver lining might not appear until rather late in the morning, as was the case that day.."

This is the twenty fourth book in the No.1 Ladies' Detective Agency series and I've read and enjoyed every one of them. Set in Botswana, a country I know little about, I love the feeling of the slow pace of life and learning about this country's customs. 

These books fit into the cosy crime genre but really, it's like catching up with old friends when you sit down to read the latest instalment in this series.

A Merry Little Christmas by Julia Williams.

"As the festive season ends in the village of Hope Christmas, what will the new year bring?

With four children, a Christmas cookbook to write, and her mum suffering from dementia, Cat Tinsall has plenty to juggle. When her eldest daughter, Mel, starts going off the rails, Cat has even more on her plate.

Pippa Holliday adores her family although often finds her hands full. But when her husband, Dan is involved in a terrible accident, Pippa's world is turned upside down.

Balancing her job as a school teacher with twins and her stepson Steven isn't easy for Marianne North. With her husband's ex causing trouble, life is getting even trickier.

As Cat, Pippa and Marianne help each other through a difficult year, they're all hoping for a much brighter Christmas."

Too early for a Christmas story in October? I don't think so. I've got a few Christmas books to read this year so I thought I'd start sooner rather than later. I received this book as a gift from my lovely friend, Lisa, in our Twelve Days Of Christmas 2022 swap, a gift swap we've been doing for the past ten years, and over those years I think I've received a book to read as one of the gifts every year, and I think I've sent Lisa a book to read every year too.

This was an easy read about three families who live in a village called Hope Christmas. I wouldn't say it's a story about Christmas other than the ending being at Christmas time, but it was enjoyable and I whizzed though it. I had the feeling that there may have been more books about the village before it and on checking afterwards, found that this is the second in a trilogy, but it certainly stood up to being read as a standalone book. Perhaps I'll look for the other two.

Strictly Christmas Spirit by Helen Buckley.

"From disco balls to Christmas baubles...

Ex-dancer Emily Williams turned her back on the sparkle of popular dancing show Strictly Dancing with Celebs to help those in need. Now the only dancing she does is teaching lonely pensioners to waltz, and the closest she gets to disco balls is making baubles with the homeless people in her Christmas crafts class.

She's certainly not star-struck when Hollywood heart-throb Blake Harris is sent to her at short notice for community service, and has no desire to babysit the arrogant actor with his bad boy antics and selfish ways. Christmas might be a time for miracles, but Blake seems to be a lost cause.

But Emily's reasons for abandoning her dancing passion means she understands the Hollywood wild child more than she'd like to admit. Could their time together, coupled with a dash of Christmas spirit, lead to a miracle change of heart for them both?"

This was another book I received as a gift last Christmas, this time from my pen pal, Pauline. I loved the story set around a community drop-in centre, quite an original idea I thought. Although the story is about Emily and Blake, it's quite a short book at just 212 pages so more could have been made of the other characters, who I wanted to know more about. A very enjoyable read, so much so that I read this book in a day.

The Merry Christmas Project by Cathy Bramley.

"Anything can happen at Christmas...

Christmas has always meant something special to Merry- even without a family of her own. This year, her heart might be broken but her new candle business is booming. The last thing she needs is another project - but when her hometown's annual event needs some fresh festive inspiration, Merry can't resist.

Cole loves a project too - though it's usually of the bricks and mortar variety. As a single dad, his Christmas wish is to see his kids again, so getting the new house finished for when they're all together is the perfect distraction.

But this Christmas, magic is in the air for these two strangers. Will it bring them all the joy they planned for...and take their hearts by surprise too?"

Another gift from my pen pal last Christmas. I've never come across Cathy Bramley before but after reading this, a bit of research has led me to discover that she's written quite a few books and there's even a sequel to this one which I've now bought. A feel good Christmas story, quite predictable but hugely enjoyable. I shall definitely look out for more from this author.

Does anyone else tend to get in a rut where cooking meals is concerned? Mick's a very plain eater so we get to the point where we stick to the same meals week in and week out. I got so fed up of this at the back end of last month that I pulled out the cook books and we've decided to choose one new recipe to try each week. Those of you who follow me on Instagram will see some of the things we've cooked so far: Cumberland Sausage, Chicken and Squash Tray Bake from the Hairy Bikers British Classics; Chicken Hot Pot from Mary Berry's Simple Comforts; Pizza-Stuffed Chicken from Pinch of Nom are the first three we tried. We've enjoyed them all and more besides. We're actually enjoying cooking and trying some new things. Sometimes you just have to shake it up a little.

It was Bakewell Wool Gathering on the 14th of October. I'd made a note of it in my diary but it wasn't until the day arrived that I made up my mind to go. It's a lovely wool show, very friendly and not too big. I was very restrained and didn't buy much but it was fun to look round all the stalls and chat to the stallholders. Afterwards, we had a wander around Bakewell, situated on the River Wye, it's the biggest town in the Peak District and we always enjoy our visits there.

During the summer months I find very little to watch on TV but as soon as autumn arrives, the TV schedules begin to look up again. As well as old favourites like Strictly Come Dancing and The Great British Bake Off, I've been watching one or two other things to note.

The Reckoning.

Steve Coogan portrayed Jimmy Savile in this TV mini-series and what a fantastic job he did. It was hard to remember that we weren't actually watching Jimmy Savile himself in some parts and it was rather chilling. The series told the story of Savile's life from his working-class upbringing to his rise to stardom, and ultimately how he was able to get away with sexually abusing hundreds of young girls and boys, including many children, before finally being exposed as a predator and paedophile after his death. It actually beggars belief how he got away with it for his entire life.

The Long Shadow.

A seven part true crime drama detailing the events from 1975 to 1980 when Peter Sutcliffe, dubbed the Yorkshire Ripper, committed his thirteen murders. I was just seven when he began his killing spree, twelve when it ended, but living close to some of the areas where he murdered his victims, I can still remember the fear of that time. This drama focuses on the victims rather than Sutcliffe himself, and the botched police investigation.

All Creatures Great and Small.

A feel-good series based on the early career of vet, James Herriot. Shown on Thursday nights, it's one of those programmes which lends itself to Sunday evening viewing when all the family sit down together to watch something gentle and entertaining. Wonderful characters and appealing storylines set amidst the backdrop of the Yorkshire Dales, what's not to love. 

I've got another yarny advent calendar on order to countdown this Christmas so I thought I'd better start using up the advent calendars I've still got from years past. I decided to cast on the Habitation Throw by Helen Stewart. I won a pattern of my choice from Alex at the My Yarny Corner blog quite a while ago, this is the pattern I chose and I'm really enjoying knitting it. I'm using yarn from the charity advents which Helen at Giddy Yarns put together last year and the year before, each mini skein is from a different yarn dyer and it's a treat to use such a selection.

Today is Halloween. We've visited the Spooky Skeletons Trail at Lotherton as we do just about every year, it's such good fun, especially for children. Mick's carved a pumpkin and we've decorated the front of the house so that any trick or treaters know that we're game for their visits. We love to see the creative ways they've dressed and enjoy seeing their excited faces. We've got plenty of treats waiting in readiness. 

Now that the clocks have gone back we seem to have much shorter days. It makes me want to go into hibernation mode, hunkering down until spring arrives, so I'm not sure what I'll have to report in November. On the bright side, the coming month will see the start of Christmas preparations so we may get out to an event or two. We'll see.

Friday 20 October 2023

Mills And Canals

Mick's been off work this week. We knew the weather wasn't going to be brilliant so we didn't plan on doing much other than having some downtime and recharging our batteries. It's been lovely actually. We've had lots of slow days, eaten out, seen family, and we did manage some short outings close to home too.

On Wednesday we drove over to Sunnybank Mills where The Great British Sewing Bee is filmed. 

We had a mooch around but didn't stay long. There's a lovely yarn shop there called Ewe Neek which sell a good range but I was good and resisted adding anything to my stash.

Afterwards we drove about a mile to Rodley so that we could take a stroll along the canal. Our usual walks Down By The Canal are along the Aire and Calder Navigation but this is the Leeds & Liverpool Canal which stretches for 127 miles and links the cities of Leeds and Liverpool.

Some parts of the canal stretch through residential areas, other parts travel through tranquil countryside.

The trees are just beginning to start showing their autumn hues. I hope they manage it before they drop their leaves, which the strong winds we've had over the last couple of days are helping them to do.

A beautiful swan came gliding down the canal. He was all alone, I hope he's got a family waiting for him somewhere.

Further along the canal it becomes more built up along the sides, and there are boats moored up here too.

A swing bridge allows pedestrians and bikes to cross. You can actually feel it move as you walk across it, a weird sensation.

It was a lovely day, blue skies and very mild for this time of year, so there were quite a few people out walking. The storm was forecast that same night though it wasn't as bad as had been forecast. It's now full on though, rain lashing the windows and strong winds, I'm glad to be indoors on a day like today.

There were quite a few boats along this stretch of the canal.

I love the name of this one. Music lovers I think.

Not sure this one's water tight. It's definitely seen better days.

Horses graze along the other side of the canal.

The footpath at the side of the canal is a great place for a Little Free Library. I had a look but nothing took my fancy.

Soon it was time to turn back and head for the car as Archie's little legs couldn't walk much further. This photo shows how close the canal is to the houses. I'd quite fancy living close to the canal and watching the boats sail by.

It was a nice idea for a couple of hours out when we didn't want to go too far.