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

Celebrations

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!

Thursday, 16 June 2016

My Knitting Mojo Is Back

The thing with having lots of different hobbies is that I seem to favour one or another of them at any one time at the expense of the others. I hadn't picked up my knitting needles since last year until recently as I was first hooked on crochet and then I got started on my Joyful World stitchalong so I was doing lots of cross stitch. Having recently discovered some great knitting podcasts, my knitting mojo has returned.

So what have I got on my needles at the moment? Well, I've been wanting to have a go at a shawl for ages so I decided that instead of jumping straight in with a lace weight one, which is what I'm really looking forward to trying, I'd have a go with a thicker yarn to start off with. I had a look on Ravelry and came across the No-Fuss Shade-Loving Shawl by Susan Ashcroft, a free pattern, which can be knit in almost any weight, and the pattern looked very easy too which is just what I wanted to start with. I had a look in my stash and came across this James C Brett Woodlander double knitting yarn which I won in Mitzi's giveaway on her Lazy Days & Sundays blog nearly two years ago. I'd been waiting for just the right pattern to use it in and this is it. It's 80% acrylic and 20% wool, so it will be easy to care for, and is shade L9 which is a mixture of blue, beige and cream.


Now I've never used a circular needle before but I knew I'd have far too many stitches to be able to use straight needles for this project. I already had this Pony circular needle, not long enough but it would do to start on, however, it was such a pain. The joins between the tips and the cable were so uneven that they kept snagging the stitches and could easily have put me off using a circular needle ever again.


I ordered a new, longer circular needle, this time opting for KnitPro Zing and the difference is amazing, no uneven joins and the stitches glide effortlessly. I'm totally converted to circular needles now. This is how it's looking so far, I love how the colours in the yarn are working up.


I've added a little more since the above photo was taken and I'm up to about two hundred stitches, it's taking much longer to complete each row than it was as the beginning but it's a nice, easy knit which I can do whilst talking or watching television.

At one time I would start one project and work on it exclusively until it was finished, but that doesn't happen any more, which is just as well because not only have these podcasts I've been watching tempted me to pick up my needles but they've also inspired me to cast on a new pair of socks. I've got lots of sock yarn in my stash so it was just a matter of choosing which one to use. I went with this gorgeous yarn from Laughing Yaffle in Mango Tango colourway. This sock yarn is 80% wool and 20% nylon. Many of the socks I've knit previously have been in Laughing Yaffle, it's a lovely yarn to work with.


This is what it looks like once it's been wound. I'm always excited to see how it knits up and what pattern it will produce.


I haven't got very far, I'm still on the cuff but I'm liking how the colours are coming out. This will be a good portable project to take with me on holiday.


Can you see the little paw print stitch marker on the sock? They're so cute. I bought them from a shop on Etsy, Little French Meadow, and if you're in the market for new stitch markers I can highly recommend you take a look, there's a fabulous choice. I'm definitely going to buy some more. The service was excellent too, I received an email thanking me for my order, they arrived really quickly and there was a handwritten thank you note enclosed and a vanilla chai teabag which I'm going to try. That's the lovely thing about ordering from Etsy, you still get that personal service which is missing in so many 'real' shops today. By the way, I suppose I'd better mention that this isn't a sponsored post in any way, I bought the stitch markers myself and haven't been paid to write a review, this is just my own opinion.


I've also just started a dishcloth for the 2016 Dishcloth or Mug Rug Swap which I told you about in my last post. I don't know who my partner is yet but with a holiday looming and a very busy week when I get back, I want to be organised. If you're interested in joining this swap then do go and take a look, it's going to be a lot of fun.

Just in case you're interested, the podcasts I've discovered are:-
Cherry Heart. Sandra has got a tab at the top of her blog where you can find the podcasts all together.
Betsy Makes.
Little Bobbins Knits. I'm still working my way through all Dani's past episodes.

So that's what I've got on my needles at the moment. There's also the two crochet blankets and the Joyful World stitchalong waiting for my attention so I definitely won't get bored, will I? I'd love to hear what you're working on, perhaps you could do a round up post of all the projects you've got on the go.

My stash has been added to just lately too, I'll tell you all about the squishy parcel I received the other day in my next post.

Wednesday, 15 June 2016

2016 Dishcloth Or Mug Rug Swap

Last year, my blog friend, Kimberley, over on Creative Chaos blog, hosted a dishcloth swap. She's decided to host the swap again but this time she's added in a sewing option too for those who can't knit or crochet. I didn't take part last year but it looked like a lot of fun so I'm definitely going to take part this time.


All you have to do is sign up on Kimberley's 2016 Dishcloth or Mug Rug Swap post by June 26 2016, after which, Kimberley will get in touch with you with details of your swap partner. You then knit or crochet a dishcloth or sew a mug rug, choose another couple of kitchen items to add to the parcel as well as something sweet, parcel it all up and post off to your partner by July 24 2016.

I hope that some of you will join in, It makes a swap more fun if there's a lot of people taking part, and most people can manage the crafty element of this swap. If you can do any basic stitches in knitting or crochet then you can manage a square to make a dishcloth, and if you can't, then there's always the mug rug option if you're more of a sewer.

It would be great to see some of your names on the list.

Sunday, 12 June 2016

Joyful World - June

I haven't done a lot of work on my Joyful World Stitch Along this month as I've rediscovered my knitting needles, more of that in another post, but February is coming on, albeit slowly.


I love how well the colours have been chosen for the mallards, they really bring these little ducks to life.


The flowers just need their stems adding now, they're so pretty.


I hope to get February finished and March started before I do my update for July, but we'll be away from home for a fortnight during the next month so I'd better get on with it.

Wednesday, 8 June 2016

They Croaked It

Do you remember me telling you about the frogspawn we found in a watering can? We moved it in to our teeny tiny pond and hoped we'd get some tadpoles this year.

The day after we moved the frogspawn, we noticed that fresh clumps had been laid too. We've had our little pond for seven years and though we get plenty of frogs in there, this is the first time we've had frogspawn.

Unfortunately, it wasn't to be. The frogspawn has just disappeared over time without hatching out. I think the pond may be too small, it measures just 84cm x 64cm.

As I said, we do get plenty of frogs in there though. They also use the little frog house I have at the side of the pond which is camouflaged by the plants. Here's a froggy sunning himself on the side of the pond.


Preparing to jump.


You can just see his legs here, he's resting underneath the marsh marigold.


I don't think we're destined to ever have tadpoles but I'm just glad that the frogs are happy to visit.

Saturday, 4 June 2016

Me Before You

I don't often go to the cinema, I find it overpriced and I'd much rather sit in the comfort of my own home and watch a film once it's been released on Sky or DVD, however, I made an exception yesterday when Me Before You was released.


I'd read the book by Jojo Moyes back in March and loved it so much much that I knew I couldn't wait to see the film on this occasion. I usually prefer to read a book before seeing the film adaptation as in most cases, it's always much better, and this was the case with Me Before You, but I still enjoyed the film for what it was.

The problem is that the book raises some very serious issues. If you're not familiar with the story, it's about Louisa Clark, happy with her lot in life, and Will Traynor, the guy who had everything, including his health until an accident robbed him of this and he became quadriplegic. I don't want to say too much about the story in case I spoil it for anyone who hasn't yet read the book or seen the film, however, some serious subjects were tackled in the book. To then portray the story on film as a chick flick has, in my opinion, done it an injustice as I think these topics were skirted around and they should have been given a greater prominence in the film.

I can see the point of many disability activists who are up in arms about the film showing the life of a paralysed man in a negative light, but had the film been made in a different vein and steered away from the chick flick genre, I'm sure the serious issues could have been dealt with more appropriately.

I did enjoy the film though and if you're thinking of going, I can recommend you take plenty of tissues with you. There's one point in particular when the whole audience were wiping away their tears and lots of sniffs could be heard. I was managing to hold it all in until the girl next to me (not Eleanor) started literally sobbing. Mind you, I cry at the John Lewis Christmas adverts, there's no hope for me.

Thursday, 2 June 2016

Lagging Behind

I've definitely lost my gardening mojo this year. I gave up my allotment plot at the end of last year and since then, I just haven't seemed to want to do much in the garden, and that includes sowing seeds, a job I've always found enjoyable in the past.

I knew there were two main things I still wanted to grow this year though and they are potatoes and tomatoes. The potatoes have been planted in containers and seem to be doing well so far but I just couldn't get myself motivated to sow my tomato seeds. I'd decided to cut down anyway this year, just two varieties, Maskotka and Bloody Butcher, and less plants of each, but that ten minute job of sowing the seeds was put off and put off. The seeds were eventually sown but not one of the Bloody Butcher seeds germinated. I was quite upset about that actually as I bought the seed fresh this year from Simply Seed, an online company which I haven't used before. I'd grown this tomato variety for the first time last year having seen plants for sale in a local garden centre. I hoped that the same garden centre would be selling them again this year as it was too late by now to resow the seeds, a trip out confirmed that they were so I bought two plants.


The Maskotka seed was what was left over from last year but they germinated fine, however, as they were sown so late I hoped that I'd find some plants which were more established than my own at a local plant sale where I'd bought this variety in the past. Unfortunately, they weren't selling them this year but I did pick up a Totem plant. This is another bush variety which I've grown previously and has always been reliable, though the fruit isn't quite as tasty as Maskotka. It should give me a harvest sooner than the Maskotkas I've grown from seed though.


This plant even had its first flowers.


The photos in this post were taken a week ago and as you can see, the seedlings are just that, seedlings. I wouldn't class them as plants yet. This is one of the Maskotkas.


I'm growing four Maskotkas and the other two seedlings are Mini Munch cucumbers.


I fear it will be a very late tomato season for me this year.

Monday, 30 May 2016

Reading - May 2016

I've read four books again this month and I'm pleased to say that I got on with them much better than last month's lot.


After finishing off last month's reading with an Amanda Prowse book which I didn't find particularly good, I started off May with, in my opinion, one of her best, Another Love. I didn't know what the book was about before I started reading it but I'm not giving anything away by telling you that the love referred to in the title is alcohol. The book gives an insight into alcoholism from the perspective of a whole family and shows how it can affect all those involved. I found the book extremely moving.


Death in the Clouds is the Agatha Christie book I read this month. The crime this time takes place in the air on board an aeroplane on which the little Belgian detective, Hercule Poirot, is travelling. Another good plot, though I had my suspicions who the murderer was from quite early on.


I've read most of Donna Douglas's Nightingales series which are set in an East End hospital in the 1930's. There are some characters which appear in all the books but new ones are introduced throughout too. I popped to the library a couple of weeks ago and saw that they had Nightingales at War in, which I was pleased about. Like all the others, I enjoyed it very much. There's just one more book in this series to read now, though I see that the author has embarked on a new series about district nurses which is set in Leeds, so I'm looking forward to reading that.


It's a while since I've read any of The No 1 Ladies' Detective Agency books by Alexander McCall Smith so it was good to get back in to this series this month. The Handsome Man's De Luxe Cafe is another book I picked up at the library, though they didn't have it in normal size text so I picked it up in large print. It was good to catch up with Mma Ramotswe and Mma Makutsi again, these stories are so full of charm and I enjoy reading about life in Botswana.

I hope everyone's enjoying the bank holiday weekend, the weather's been much better than I expected, though we haven't seen much of it as we've been stuck indoors decorating. That's the royal we by the way, I hate decorating and any sort of DIY so I leave it all to Mick. The glossing was finished late yesterday so it's just a case of putting the room back together again today so that we can get back to normal. I think Mick will be glad to get back to work tomorrow for a rest.

Thursday, 26 May 2016

Here Comes The Rain Again

It's been raining through the night, everywhere was saturated when I woke this morning. I'm glad I got outside with my camera when I did as we've got mizzle now, that fine drenching drizzle which often accompanies mist or fog.


Geum Mrs Bradshaw looking a little worse for wear. I bought this plant as a small specimen from a local garden centre last year for just £1.50. It's really bulked up in the time I've had it and is now putting on a beautiful display.


Heuchera Palace Purple. This plant has been in my garden for a number of years and I just love its purple foliage. The rain tends to collect in the puckered leaves.



I've got so many Welsh poppies in my garden this year, all self sown. They're not very fussy and will grow in most places. They're such delicate flowers, it doesn't take much to make them droop their heads.


The hairy bud of the oriental poppy Brilliant is teasing me with what's to come. I'm looking forward to the silky scarlet petals bursting out and putting on, as its name suggests, a brilliant display. They look rather creased and crinkled at first, as though they could do with an iron but they soon straighten out.


The bleeding heart will always be Dicentra spectabilis to me even though its name has now changed to Lamprocapnos spectablis, what a mouthful. This plant had outgrown its space so it was divided at the end of last year, it hasn't put on such a good display this year but I'm sure it's just finding its feet and will reward me next year.



It's aquilegia season, the purples are flowering profusely but the other colours have yet to burst their buds. I'm looking forward to the beautiful yellow one I bought last year coming in to flower.


Cyclamen usually flowers in autumn and winter but this one is putting on its own show now. A beautiful shade of red, it reminds me of a raspberry lolly pop. It really hangs on to those raindrops.



There's going to be lots of blueberries this year. I gave the plants a good tidy up last year, replenishing the ericaceous compost they're grown in and pruning out the old wood. They seem to be repaying me in kind now. I love how the raindrops collect in the little cups where the flowers have dropped off.


Tulip Queen of the Night still going strong, they've flowered over a long period. Their flowers open beautifully in the sunshine but remain closed when its wet, I don't blame them.


The forecast doesn't look particularly bright, more rain to come by the looks of things and it's a bank holiday weekend so I think most of it will be spent indoors.