Tuesday, 21 January 2020

Grandpa's Medals

Those who are on Instagram will know that my dad has been in hospital again. He was taken in at the beginning of last week and I'm pleased to say that he's now back home again. Thank you to those who sent lovely messages, looking after elderly parents is such a roller coaster ride.

While my dad was in hospital, we went round to his house and saw that the postman had left a card saying he'd tried to deliver a parcel but no one was home. We took the card to the local sorting office and collected the parcel. It turned out to be something my dad had been waiting for.

After the Second World War, many servicemen came home and never spoke again of what had gone on during those long years. The sights they will have seen must have been horrific and the only way they could deal with them was to never mention them again. Not only that, but they didn't even apply for the medals they were entitled to, apparently this was very common. My grandpa, my dad's dad, was one of these men. He served as a Sapper in the Royal Engineers during the Second World War and it's only recently when, a passing comment from my dad, led me to discover that he'd never claimed his medals and so I thought I would do something about it.

I printed off the forms I needed, collected the required information, got my dad to sign them and sent them off to the Ministry of Defence. It was all really easy. Inside the parcel I collected from the sorting office were these.

How fabulous is that? Just short of seventy five years since the end of the war, and now we have my grandpa's medals in our possession.

The War Medal 1939-45 is a campaign medal for award to subjects of the British Commonwealth who had served full-time in the Armed Forces or the Merchant Navy for at least 28 days between 3 September 1939 and 2 September 1945.

The Defence Medal is a campaign medal for award to subjects of the British Commonwealth for both non-operational military and certain types of civilian war service during the Second World War.

The 1939-45 Star is a military campaign medal for award to British and Commonwealth forces for service in the Second World War.

The Burma Star is a military campaign medal for award to British and Commonwealth forces who served in the Burma Campaign from 1941 to 1945, during the Second World War.

It's a long time since these medals were earned by my grandpa but at long last, his service has now been recognised, and the parcel containing these medals cheered my dad up no end when we took it into the hospital and he opened it.

Saturday, 18 January 2020

Nella Last's Peace

Last year I read Nella Last's War, a segment of housewife Nella Last's diaries through the years covering the Second World War. Nella wrote this diary for the Mass Observation project, a UK social research organisation, and her diaries spanned the years from 1939 to 1966. I enjoyed this first book so much that I put Nella Last's Peace on my Christmas list.

'Nella Last's War established a housewife and mother from Barrow-in-Furness as one of the most powerful and moving voices of the Second World War, and inspired the award-winning television drama Housewife, 49. In this next instalment of her unique diaries, Nella Last describes how ordinary people re-built their lives after the war was over.

While the Allies' victory was a cause for hope and celebration, much privation and anxiety remained. 'The only peace is that there are no active hostilities', Nella wrote, 'but the corrosion of the war years is eating deeper into civilisation.' In her sensitive and playful account of daily life in the austerity years, written like her war diaries for the Mass Observation project, Nella Last captures the thoughts and feelings of post-war Britain.'

I enjoyed this book just as much as I enjoyed the first one. It's like a peek back in time observed through the eyes of an ordinary housewife around the same age as I am now and it's fascinating to compare what life was like then to how it is now.

There's a further book in the series, Nella Last in the 1950s, which I'm looking forward to reading too.

Wednesday, 15 January 2020

Kitting Up

I've decided that I'd like to do some more cross stitch this year so I had a look on some online sites at different charts. I really love all the little ornaments that people make, especially those which they hang from the tree at Christmas so I definitely want to have a go at some of those. For my first project I've gone with He's A Flake by Little House Needleworks.

I love how these little ornaments are finished off but I'm not confident that I'll be able to make mine look anything like this. Sewing things up is not my forte but I'll try and muddle through.

I'd also like to start a larger project and as my niece is getting married later on this year I decided I'd have a go at a wedding sampler. To Have and To Hold is by Country Cottage Needleworks and though it doesn't look a huge project, I think it will be challenging for me, having done very little cross stitch in the past, so I won't rush it just to have it ready for the big day, it's something I can gift the happy couple at some point in the future if I haven't finished it on time. I want it to be an enjoyable process, not something which I have to work on to a deadline.

The charts arrived yesterday so I've now got to kit them up with thread and fabric and then I'll be ready to go. I'm looking forward to starting something new.

Sunday, 12 January 2020

Stay Home Moon

Friday's full moon.

I can't say I've ever been a star gazer or particularly looked at the night sky, so it must be Mick's influence that encouraged Daniel to study Physics with Astrophysics at university.

I'm going to change my ways this year though. My lovely friend, Maggie, from BlackCountry Wench blog gifted me The Almanac as part of my Christmas gift and it's so interesting. I'm going to read it month by month so that I know what I can expect to see at each particular time of the year. It covers subjects such as The Moon, Nature, The Kitchen, The Sea, and Songbirds, among other things.

'January's moon has several old names: Wolf Moon, from the time wolves howled particularly loudly to their packs through January nights; Stay Home Moon, a sensible idea in the cold and the frost and with all those wolves about; and Moon after Yule, which was given to the first full moon after the winter solstice.'

I've never heard of Stay Home Moon before but I think I like this name best of all and I shall take it at its word.

Thursday, 9 January 2020

Twelve Days Of Christmas 2019

If you've been following my blog for some time, you'll be aware that my lovely friend, Lisa, who I met through blogging, and I have swapped gifts to open on the twelve days of Christmas for the past five years. This year was our sixth swap.

These are the wonderful gifts I received from Lisa this year.

Let's take a closer look.

Some delicious Elizabeth Shaw dark chocolate & raspberry caramels, I haven't tried these yet but they sound delicious. I think Lisa knows me well enough now to know that I love dark chocolate, she also bought me my favourite Bournville Giant Buttons. The Christmas Sisters by Sarah Morgan, I've read a series of three books by Sarah Morgan in the past and really enjoyed them so I'm looking forward to getting stuck into this. The sweetest felt robin kit to make.

Some gorgeous Christmas Cupcake scented tealights, a tea towel adorned with a cute Curly Girl design, a luscious bath fizzer which I shall enjoy using when I'm in need of a bit of pampering and some Berry Icicle hand cream.

A snowman cake pan, I can't wait to make a cake in this, a photo prop pack, I can see this being a lot of fun to use, I shall save it for next Christmas. Lisa knows that we love a good quiz so this Food Quiz is right up my street, and the cutest red mitten necklace.

Thank you, Lisa, you've chosen some lovely gifts yet again and I feel thoroughly spoilt.

This is what I sent to Lisa.

And a closer look.

I always like to include some yummy treats so there was a box of Guylian seashell chocolates and some mini shortbread stars, a little book of Delicious Cupcakes so that Lisa can make some yummy treats for herself, and a set of owl themed writing paper.

It's been a bit of a tradition to include a Christmas themed book, I think I've sent one in the parcel every year, this time it's a book by Debbie Macomber, Home for Christmas. A mini nail set, some bath crystals and a set of  Battersea tea towels with cute dogs and cats on them.

A gift set containing body wash, body lotion and bubble bath so that Lisa can pamper herself, a furry keyring, a set of TV and film quiz cards, and some cinnamon scented tea lights.

I look out for the gifts throughout the year and this swap is always such a lot of fun when Christmas comes around. Thank you for swapping again, Lisa, I received some lovely things and I had so much fun.

Monday, 6 January 2020

Advent Calendars 2019

I mentioned that I'd treated myself to a yarny advent calendar as a little treat for the run up to Christmas and I thought you might like to see what I received.

It was purchased from Hedgerow Yarns and came in good time to begin the opening on the 1st of December.

As well as the twenty five individually wrapped mini skeins of yarn, there was a calico bag which was very handy to keep everything in, as well as being useful afterwards to use as a project bag, a gingerbread scented tealight candle, a stitch marker and a lavender sachet.

This is the yarn which the calendar contained. Each mini skein weighs 10g and they will be added to my scrappy blanket in due course.

I also purchased a Twelve Days of Christmas calendar from Craft House Magic, it was the same idea as an advent calendar but each of the twelve packages were opened on the twelve days of Christmas. Ellie kindly included an extra mini skein in the Pumpkin Patch colourway.

This calendar contained these mini skeins, again, each one weighs 10g. There was also a lavender sachet included in one of the packages and three cute snowflake progress keepers.

I also took part in a yarny advent swap on Instagram and was paired with Debbie from Down Sheepy Lane. What a lovely parcel of goodies I received.

There were lots of extras. Debbie sent me a lovely Christmas themed bag to keep everything in, again, it can be used as a project bag afterwards, some Lindor choccies, yum, a little project book which will be very handy for jotting all my notes down in, a couple of cute stitch markers and three knitted decorations for the Christmas tree which are just lovely.

We swapped twenty four mini skeins of approximately 5g, that's enough yarn to add a square to a scrappy blanket or to use in one of the many patterns which have been designed with mini skeins in mind, and we also swapped a full 100g skein to open on Christmas Day.

It was really exciting opening these little parcels each day in the run up to Christmas and right through into the new year. I shall definitely buy another calendar this year.

Friday, 3 January 2020

Blowing Away The Cobwebs

The Christmas celebrations seem to have gone on for a long time this year with Daniel and Jasmine arriving home the week before the big day and Eleanor breaking up from work early too. A lot of time has been spent indoors, even though the weather has been quite mild. Daniel and Jasmine have now gone home and Eleanor is back at work, but Mick's still at home until Monday so we decided to drive over to the East Coast yesterday for a walk on the beach.

Our destination was Scarborough and though it was mild at home, it was blowing a gale there. I hadn't thought I'd need my hat, scarf or gloves but my fingers were nearly dropping off, it was so cold.

The weather didn't deter Archie though, he had a lovely time playing with the numerous dogs he came across.

He even had a bit of a paddle in the sea.

Every bit of seaweed he came across had to be sprinkled though!

We spent a good amount of time on the beach, letting Archie have a good run around, before taking a wander along the front.

Scarborough was much busier than we'd expected. The children are still on school holidays until Monday so I expect that's why. Most of the shops, eateries and amusement arcades were open.

There were so many dogs around too. I think there must be many people like us who'd decided to give their furry friends a run on the beach.

We'd intended to make more of a day of it but it was just too cold to be much fun so we bought Archie a tray of fish sticks and made our way home early, arriving home just after 3pm.

I hope no one minds but after nearly ten years of doing so, I've made the decision to stop answering comments on the blog. I usually answer nearly every comment I receive but blogging is starting to take up more time than I want it to so something has to give. I do appreciate every single comment I receive and I do read each and every one of them, but it's either answer comments, which often don't require an answer, or use the time to read and comment on other people's posts, which I love doing. I always try to visit the blogs of people who comment here and leave a comment back. I know that many people don't even come back to read the replies I leave so I feel that answering comments is just a waste of time in many instances. Of course, I'll still reply to any questions which are left. I hope my decision doesn't offend anyone.

Tuesday, 31 December 2019

Looking Back At 2019

2019 has been a sad year for me with the death of my mum in March. It's felt as though bereavement has overwhelmed my year, but looking back over my blog posts I can see that it hasn't all been doom and gloom. Yes, I've had plenty of down days, but I've had lots of happy times too. Let's take a look.

We had A Blustery Weekend at the end of January but it didn't keep us indoors, we took Archie out for walks on both the Saturday and Sunday.

In February I told you about the Hobonichi Techo which I'd recently bought. I was hoping that going back to a page a day diary would encourage me to journal on a daily basis and I'm pleased to say that it has. There hasn't been one day which I've missed since starting it.

Mick had quite a bit of annual leave to use up in March and took some of it towards the end of the month. We had a bit of a staycation which I told you about in my Holiday Week post.

I wrote my Up Days And Down Days post towards the end of April. It had been a hard few weeks since my mum died and I wanted to thank everyone who had taken the time to leave lovely comments and send emails and cards, they were all very much appreciated.

In May we had a Day Out In Derbyshire. It was a weekday so we avoided the crowds and we had a wonderful time.

Whilst having a day in the Yorkshire Dales in June, we literally stumbled upon Clapham. I've been visiting the Dales all my life yet this is the first time I've come across this beautiful village. We've visited again since.

2019 saw the hottest July day on record and it just so happened to coincide with Eleanor's Graduation. We were flagging in the heat but it was a wonderful occasion and we're very proud parents.

I told you about the Warty Pigs And Rock Hyraxes, as well as other animals, which we saw on a trip to Lotherton Hall in August. We're so lucky to live close to this Edwardian country hall and estate, there's always something going on there.

We had A Bumper Apple Harvest in September. The trees we have in our garden are just dwarf patio trees so we're lucky that they produce as much fruit as they do. This year was exceptional though.

Autumn arrived in October. I always try to cling onto Summer for as long as I can, I'm not a lover of the darker evenings and colder days, but there was no denying that summer was long gone.

It's not often that I'm poorly, I don't even get many colds, but I was Under The Weather with some sort of bug in November. I had a bad chest, aches and pains and felt generally grotty. I developed a cough which lasted for weeks.

I visited a new yarn show in December. Yorkshire Yarn Fest was held in two barns on a farm and though it was rather cold, there were some great dyers there. I came away with some lovely purchases.

A very special thank you to everyone who has visited my blog this year, especially those who have left comments and those who left such supportive messages when my mum died. It's been a tough year but I think this post illustrates that I didn't just get through it, I did manage to enjoy a big part of it too. Wishing you all a happy, healthy and prosperous 2020.

Happy New Year!

Saturday, 28 December 2019

Books Read In 2019

My reading dropped off a bit this year after my mum died but I've still managed to read forty books. I'm pleased to say that my reading mojo seems to be well and truly back now so long may that continue.

Back in 2015 I challenged myself to read Agatha Christie's murder mystery books in chronological order. There are 66 in total and I've averaged one book each month in between reading other books. I've now read 60 in total, which means I'll complete this challenge next year, hopefully.

This year I've mainly continued with favourites such as Jojo Moyes, Amanda Prowse, Philippa Gregory and Charity Norman but there are a few new to me authors that I've read too.

The Other Boleyn Girl - Philippa Gregory
4.50 From Paddington - Agatha Christie
The Child - Fiona Barton
Ordeal by Innocence - Agatha Christie
Three Things About Elsie - Joanna Cannon
Three and a Half Heartbeats - Amanda Prowse
Cat Among the Pigeons - Agatha Christie
Casting Off - P.I.Paris
The Pale Horse - Agatha Christie
The Mirror Crack'd - Agatha Christie
The Coordinates of Loss - Amanda Prowse
The Clocks - Agatha Christie
The Secret - Kathryn Hughes
The Girl in the Corner - Amanda Prowse
The Ship of Brides - Jojo Moyes
The Key - Kathryn Hughes
A Caribbean Mystery - Agatha Christie
The House of Unexpected Sisters - Alexander McCall Smith
The Boleyn Inheritance - Philippa Gregory
At Bertram's Hotel - Agatha Christie
Nine Perfect Strangers - Liane Moriarty
This is Going to Hurt - Adam Kay
Third Girl - Agatha Christie
Nella Last's War - Nella Last
Love, Nina - Nina Stibbe
The Tattooist of Auschwitz - Heather Morris
The Taming of the Queen - Philippa Gregory
The Things I Know - Amanda Prowse
Still Me - Jojo Moyes
Endless Night - Agatha Christie
By the Pricking of My Thumbs - Agatha Christie
Halloween Party - Agatha Christie
The Queen's Fool - Philippa Gregory
The Horse Dancer - Jojo Moyes
Her Last Promise - Kathryn Hughes
The Virgin's Lover - Philippa Gregory
Freeing Grace - Charity Norman
The Other Queen - Philippa Gregory
Queen Victoria - Lucy Worsley
A Million Dreams - Dani Atkins

It's too hard to choose a favourite from this year's list but noteable reads were The Other Boleyn Girl and The Queen's Fool, both by Philippa Gregory, The Ship of Brides by Jojo Moyes, Nella Last's War by Nella Last and The Tattooist of Auschwitz by Heather Morris.

My 'waiting to be read' pile has been reduced considerably this year but there's still a few books that I haven't got round to yet and I was also bought some books for Christmas, so my reading intentions this year are to read all the books which are still waiting to be read before buying more, and to finish off my Agatha Christie challenge. I'll then have to think up a new challenge.