Saturday, 23 July 2016

Joyful World - July

February is finished at last. Here's Mr and Mrs Mallard looking all loved up, presumably because Valentine's Day is this month.

I'm really loving this project and though it's a big design to tackle for a newbie to cross stitch like me, having it split up in to twelve totally separate areas makes it more manageable.

I can see already how lovely it's going to look when it's finished.

Wednesday, 20 July 2016

Round And Round The Garden

Wow, wasn't it hot yesterday? My living room is north facing and I'm so pleased of somewhere cool to retreat to when we get warm weather, however, it was hot in there too yesterday. It does make a change though, it's our first real taste of summer this year, though back to form, we're forecast rain today.

I thought I'd share a few things of note in the garden with you today, things which are making me smile when I go outside.

I'm not very good when it comes to sowing biennials, plants which flower the year after they're sown. Annuals, those plants which flower the same year as being sown, are sown early in the year whereas biennials are sown a little later and I usually forget all about them. I actually got my act together last year though and now I'm reaping the benefits. These are just a few of the Sweet Williams that are flowering in my garden at the moment, I've planted them around the base of my small apple trees.

Talking of apple trees, they're doing really well in the garden. I had been growing my two patio trees in containers but decided to plant them in the ground and I think I'm going to be rewarded for my efforts. The varieties are Golden Delicious, a green variety, and Gloster which produces red apples.

Daniel bought me an unnamed rose bush for Mother's Day in 2013. It hasn't done very much each year since but it's blooming beautifully this year, it's covered in vibrant red flowers. It obviously needed to get well settled before it did its thing.

I do like understated flowers but I've also got a thing for those 'in your face' showy blooms. I have a pot of these scarlet pelargoniums at each side of my back door. They were freebies actually which I picked up on a visit to Wyevale Garden Centre back in 2014, I've managed to keep them going since then. They're a newish variety, Black Velvet Scarlet, and their colour stands out beautifully against the nearly black leaves.

After a slow start, my tomatoes are finally producing fruit. My plants aren't all that good this year so I'm not expecting great things but I'm glad I'm not going to be completely without, I can't imagine a year without home grown tomatoes.

My porky pig cane topper, isn't he cute? I have a few of these which are placed on the top of supporting canes to stop any accidents. Apparently, there are many injuries every year caused by garden canes which are used to support plants, especially to the eyes. I'm not taking any chances.

The potato foliage is dying back which means it's harvest time, yippee. You can see the later planted containers towards the back, their leaves haven't quite toppled yet. I love the taste of home grown potatoes, just one of the things which tastes so much better when you've grown it yourself. I'm growing two varieties this year, Arran Pilot and Anya.

It's going to be a bumper blueberry year, my plants are laden with fruit and it's starting to ripen.

I have three blueberry plants, each one a different variety and each one maturing at a different time, which means that the harvesting period is extended.

The sedum is starting to come in to bud. I really love this plant, not only is it great for giving some late colour in the garden but it also attracts masses of butterflies, all different varieties too. I've never had so many butterflies visit my garden before growing this plant. Bees too are attracted to it. Just a good all rounder.

I did the same thing with my cherry tree as I've done with my apples, turfed it out of its container and planted it in the ground. It's responded well and I had high hopes of a good harvest this year, there were loads of cherries hanging from the tree when we went on holiday. Alas, when we returned, every single one had disappeared. I presume the birds have had a feast. My next door neighbour's cherry tree overhangs the garden fence and is loaded with fruit, they've hung CDs amongst the branches to deter the birds.

There's such a lot of things going on in the garden at this time of year and it's at this point when veggies are in abundance if you grow your own. I'm missing all the fruit and veg I used to get from my allotment after giving up the plot at the end of last year but I have to admit that I'm not missing all the work it entailed. I think this year's been quite challenging for gardeners too with the cool, wet spring and early summer, but one consolation is that rarely does everything fail, hard work is more often than not rewarded.

Monday, 18 July 2016

Spuds For Tea

Yesterday, I emptied my first container grown potatoes of the season. They were flowering before I went away on holiday and the foliage had all but died back so it was definitely time. These are Arran Pilots.

The first container yielded very little, what a disappointment. I'd sown three tubers and got about the same back.

I've had similar experiences in previous years where the potatoes I plant earliest don't produce much. These were sown on 10th of April and we've had lots of rain since then, perhaps they got waterlogged or it was too cold for them, it's been a chilly spring and summer so far.

Undeterred, I decided to empty out a second container of Arran Pilots. These were planted at the same time and the foliage had also died back.

This time, I found more potatoes lurking beneath the soil. Still not a huge yield but more respectable than what I harvested from the first pot.

I'm going to my mum and dad's shortly and I'll take the Arran Pilots with me, they've been waiting patiently for some new potatoes so they'll be pleased with those.

I've also grown some Anyas this year, they're my absolute favourite so I emptied out a container of those too.

I've had mixed results from Anyas in the past, sometimes they don't seem to produce a big harvest but the taste more than makes up for that in my opinion. This time, they've done better than the Arran Pilots. Some of them have a pinky tinge to them which isn't surprising as they're a cross between Pink Fir Apple and Desiree.

These were also planted on 10th of April and are a second early, whereas Arran Pilots are first earlies, so in theory, they should take longer to grow. I think if I'd left them a little longer they'd have grown a bit bigger, but there's some decent sized spuds there. We'll be having them with our turkey dinner this evening.

I've still got lots more containers to empty out so I'm hoping that the later sown potatoes have done a bit better.

It was a sunny day yesterday though rather windy. Archie was out in the garden with us relaxing on the grass.

It was time for his annual vaccination booster last Tuesday and whilst he was at the vet's, he had a routine health check. We got the bad news that he's developed a heart murmur. He's got to return for further tests but we know that heart mitral valve disease is the leading cause of death in Cavalier King Charles Spaniels. It's a serious, progressive disease which is caused by the deterioration of the heart valves and is about twenty times more common in this breed than others. We haven't noticed any difference in his health at all but we'll know more once further tests have been done.

We enjoyed some lovely celebrations last week, Daniel's graduation and Eleanor's 18th birthday, thank you for all your lovely comments and good wishes for them. While we were enjoying the celebrations, we had this devastating news in the back of our minds. I'm trying not to worry too much until we know exactly what we're dealing with but that's easier said than done.

Friday, 15 July 2016

Happy 18th Birthday

It's Eleanor's 18th birthday today. It's hard to believe that my children are all grown up, where did those years go?

This year, she's hoping to head off to university to study biomedical science, we're keeping our fingers crossed that she gets the grades she requires.

We're heading out shortly to a cafe for breakfast and tonight we're having a party where Eleanor's friends, family and family friends can help us celebrate, after which, she's heading off with her friends in to Leeds to a nightclub. Mick and I are also taking her out for a meal over the weekend so that we can have a more intimate celebration ourselves.

We're so proud of Eleanor, she's grown to be a happy, caring and thoughtful young lady and we wish her a lifetime of happiness.

Happy birthday Eleanor. xxx

Wednesday, 13 July 2016

Graduation Day

Daniel graduated from The University of York today with a 2:1 in Physics with Astrophysics.

This is Central Hall where the ceremony took place. Everything was so well organised, we were really impressed.

There were lots of students graduating today, Daniel's ceremony comprised both physics and chemistry students.

After the ceremony we were invited to a champagne reception in the physics department. I don't think Daniel's taste buds are sophisticated enough for champagne, three years of being a student has probably wrecked them forever.

Afterwards, we all went out for a meal to celebrate. It's been a wonderful day and we're all so very proud of Daniel.

Sunday, 10 July 2016

Here Comes The Sun

We've just had our two week summer (!) holiday in Cornwall and the weather, to put it bluntly, was terrible. We hardly saw any sign of that big yellow round thing in the sky during our first week, in fact, the rain hardly let up. We did get a few good days in the second week though and managed to spend a little time on the lovely beaches there. I didn't take many photos, I just couldn't be bothered recording our time spent in the pouring rain, but here's a few which I took when the sun decided to put in an appearance.

I think we've visited Boscastle every time we've been to Cornwall, it's such a lovely little fishing village and great for a wander round.

Aren't these cottages pretty?

It's hard to keep Archie out of water, even when he's on his lead.

We walked up towards the harbour. The tide has often been out when we've visited previously but as you can see, it was in this time.

We climbed a little way to see the natural inlet which leads to the harbour.

Mevagissey is on the south coast of Cornwall, we visited for the first time two years ago and really liked it so we decided to take a trip there again on this holiday.

The harbour is busy with working fishing boats, though tourism is now the major industry here.

One thing we missed last time was the museum which is located by the harbour. It's quite compact but is situated on three floors which are jam packed with exhibits and all very interesting. It was well worth a visit and they even let Archie in. I'd definitely visit again, admission is free but donations are welcome.

There's lots of touristy gift shops in Mevagissey which we enjoyed browsing, especially when it started to rain, yet again.

We misjudged the weather when we visited Padstow, rain had been forcast so we decided to head here for a wander instead of spending time on the beach, however, the sun decided to put in an appearance afterall.

It was glorious weather so after refreshments in a lovely beer garden, we spent the remainder of the day on the beach at Constantine Bay. It was rather windy though, Mick and Eleanor went off to the sea to do a bit of body boarding but returned rather sooner than expected, the waves had literally whipped Eleanor in a full circle on her board and everyone on the beach got an eyeful as she emerged with a boob hanging out of her bikini.

Another beach we visited was Trebarwith Strand. This is another place we found for the first time two years ago and we learnt then that you have to check the tide tables before you go as the sea covers the whole of the beach at high tide. We judged it right this time and not only did Mick and Eleanor manage to have some time body boarding in the sea but Archie also enjoyed some time splish sploshing around in the rock pools.

As is usually the case, he dried himself off by rolling around in the sand.

We couldn't spend time in Cornwall without visiting our favourite haunt, Blackrock Beach, which is part of Widemouth Bay. This beach isn't very far from where we stay and it's dog friendly too. As you can see, it wasn't very sunny this particular day but Eleanor still managed to get burnt, silly girl.

We spent rather more time than usual in our lodge, especially that first week, but Mick and Eleanor did lots of fishing (there's four lakes in the grounds) and I did plenty of reading. I'd taken knitting and stitching with me but hardly did any crafting at all. It's the first time we've holidayed at the end of June and beginning of July but it's a gamble whatever time of year you go on holiday in the UK with the weather being what it is. We made the most of it though and had plenty of rest and relaxation.

We've got a busy week coming up, Daniel's graduation on Wednesday and Eleanor's 18th birthday on Friday, celebrations all round.

Friday, 24 June 2016

Cats And Other Things

I went to see Cats at Leeds Grand Theatre last night. I've never seen it before and to be honest, when Eleanor asked if I wanted to see it with her, I wasn't that bothered. I wasn't particularly looking forward to it but I'd been exactly the same when we went to see Wicked and yet I absolutely loved that so I hoped it was going to be the same with Cats. Well, what can I say? I liked it but I didn't love it. I thought the dance routines were exceptional, the costumes were purrfect (sorry, couldn't resist) but the show as a whole didn't really do it for me. I'm glad I've seen it but I wouldn't bother again.

Eleanor's finished her exams now, she had the final two yesterday so she's now got to wait until the middle of August for the results. That's it now, no more school runs, no homework, it's a funny feeling having your children all grown up and no longer going to school. This is Eleanor on her first day back in 2002, she started in the September and she'd just turned four in the July.

And this was her yesterday about to set off for the last time.

We go on holiday tomorrow to Cornwall for a fortnight. There's WiFi at the place we're staying but the reception isn't very good so I doubt I'll be around until I get back. The weather forecast isn't looking promising for next week, I just hope it picks up in time for the second week.

Wednesday, 22 June 2016

Reading - June

Only two books read this month, though I'm writing my post early as I'll be away on holiday at the end of the month. It does mean that there should be quite a few books read between now and the end of July.

I heard Caroline from Mrs M's Meanderings mention After The Crash by Michel Bussi on one of her You Tube videos and thought it sounded good so I borrowed it from the library. It's about a plane crash where the only survivor is a three month old baby girl. Two families believe her to belong to them which results in an investigation lasting right up to her eighteenth birthday, when the truth is finally discovered. I enjoyed this book and couldn't wait until the end to find out who she really was.

The Agatha Christie book I read this month was The ABC Murders. I thoroughly enjoyed this book, and though Poirot features, it was actually written in a slightly different way to the Agatha Christie books I've read before. There's a serial killer working his way through the alphabet, the first victim is A A in Andover, the second B B in Bexhill. A copy of the ABC Railway Guide, open at the place of the murder, is left on each body. A very clever murder mystery which I would thoroughly recommend.

I've got a few books from the library waiting to be read as well as a few on my Kindle. I usually read a lot on holiday so it will be interesting to see how many I get though. Next month's reading round up may be quite lengthy.

Monday, 20 June 2016


It was celebrations all round yesterday. Firstly, it was Father's Day so Daniel decided to come home from York for the day to bring a card and present for Mick. It was his 21st birthday back in February but he was ill at the time and though we went to York to see him, he didn't feel like going out for a meal. He's been studying hard since then so we never got round to making another date so we decided we'd go out for lunch yesterday to celebrate both occasions. We let Daniel choose where he wanted to go and he went for Bella Italia, how times have changed, he wouldn't touch pizza before he went to university, now he eats lots of things he didn't used to like. And there was I, three years ago, worrying how he would survive away from home.

Actually, we had another reason to celebrate yesterday. Daniel's just had confirmation of his results and he's got a 2:1 degree. We're so very proud of him, he took a tough subject, physics with astrophysics, and he's worked very hard for it.

Now the hard work really starts, he's got to find a job!

Saturday, 18 June 2016

A Squishy Parcel

I thought my yarn stash could do with a little enhancing so I had a squishy parcel of wooliness delivered earlier this week. I blame Wool Warehouse, they stock so many lovely yarns that once you start shopping, you just can't stop so the parcel contained a lot more than I was orginally intending to purchase.

The organza bag looks quite full from the front but there's even more yarn hiding round the back.

I've been wanting to try Drops Fabel for quite some time. It's 75% wool and 25% polyamide so will be ideal for socks, hard wearing, but it's superwash treated so it's machine washable, and it's very reasonably priced. There's a huge range of colours to choose from, I went for two 50g balls in the Heather Print colourway.

I also bought another two 50g balls of Drops Fabel in the Lavender Print.

Drops Paris comes in some fabulous colours, I was spoilt for choice, but eventually whittled it down to Light Turquoise, Strong Yellow, Medium Pink, Pistachio, Opal Green and Raspberry. It's beautifully soft.

I bought some other cotton yarn too, Drops Love You 5 in Heather. This is an aran weight and is a limited edition yarn made from 100% recycled cotton.

My supply of craft cotton has recently run out so I popped another couple of balls in to my basket. I usually use this for making dishcloths. Grandmother's Favorite Dishcloth is the pattern I usually use, it's very simple and knit corner to corner.

Cascade Heritage Sock Yarn is beautifully soft, the merino in the yarn makes it that way, and with nylon added, it will be perfect for socks. I went for the butter colourway. I tend to go for multicoloured sock yarn but patterns don't always show up too well on them so this yarn will be ideal for a patterned sock design. I think it's a gorgeous colour.

My favourite purchase is this Opal Wintermond. Why? Well, because Mick has finally said that I can knit a pair of socks for him. He's resisted so far, I'm not sure why, but this 8 ply yarn will make him some cosy winter socks. I let him choose the colour himself and he went for New Years Eve, isn't that a great name for a colourway? They'll be great for tucking in to his walking boots when he takes Archie for his walks in winter.

And that's it, stash replenished after what's been taken out of it recently and a little more added too, well I had to buy enough to qualify for free delivery. That's my excuse and I'm sticking to it!