Thursday, 15 November 2018

Christmas Gifts For Men

As it's now just over five weeks to Christmas my thoughts have turned to present shopping. I don't buy for many people these days, I've cut right down, buying for immediate family, my parents, and Mick's auntie and uncle. I think you could go on and on buying for extended family and friends but it has to stop somewhere so we made the decision a few years ago that we would streamline the number of people we buy for.

I could go on and on buying things for Eleanor, she's so easy to buy for and always so appreciative of whatever she unwraps on Christmas morning. It's not so easy buying for Mick and Daniel, I find shopping for men really hard. This year, Daniel will be in Colorado for Christmas, he's going with his girlfriend, Jasmine, to spend three weeks over the festive season with her family. I'm sure it will feel strange not having him at home, it's the first time our family won't be together at Christmas, but I'm sure we'll catch up on Skype and he'll have an amazing time. We're hoping to see them before they go so I've bought them a few bits and pieces to unwrap, they won't be able to take them with them so they'll open them when we see them, and then we'll give them money so that they can open that on the day.

Mick's my biggest problem, I like to get him a main present and some little ones but I really run out of ideas for him. I've had a couple of great gift ideas in the past which he didn't know he was getting but was really pleased with. In 2012 I bought him a Tassimo Machine. There's only Mick who drinks coffee in our family, apart from Jasmine when she's here, but this coffee maker gets used every single day. We don't buy instant coffee any more as Mick says it doesn't taste anywhere near as good as what the Tassimo makes.


In 2013 I bought Mick a Kindle Fire. I had an idea that he could read books on it so I was going to buy him the eReader version but I asked Daniel's advice and he said he'd go for the tablet. I'm so glad I listened to him as not one book has been read on it, but Mick uses it for internet browsing just about every day.


I bought Mick a Fitbit in 2015, he didn't even know what one was at the time, but he uses it continually. Actually, the one I bought him broke so I bought him another one, at his request, last year.


There's usually cricket paraphernalia which Mick wants for Christmas so I might buy him gloves one year, or pads another year, but it ends up being his main gift when he requires a new bat, such is the cost of them. He last got a new bat in 2016, we took a trip to St Austell while we were on holiday in Cornwall so that we could visit The Cornish Cricket Company. Here he chose a piece of wood and his bat was hand made from it. It was a special present for his 50th birthday.


Goodness knows what I'll be buying him this year. Do you struggle knowing what to buy the men in your life?

Monday, 12 November 2018

Nottingham Yarn Expo 2018

I visited the very first Nottingham Yarn Expo last year and was so impressed at the way it was set out and the number of exhibitors, over 100, that I decided there and then that I would return again this year. Unfortunately, my trip there yesterday was quite disappointing. Instead of the market place being held on two days over the weekend as it was last year, it was only open on the Sunday as Saturday was reserved for workshops. That was fine, I wouldn't have visited both days anyway and I was free to attend on the Sunday. What did disappoint me was the fact that several of the advertised exhibitors were not there. Some may have dropped out several weeks ago, I admit that it's a while since I looked at the list online, but tickets were on sale at the time these dyers were still being advertised. I checked the online exhibitors list when I got home and some businesses are still on there even though they weren't at the show. It was so much smaller than last year, yet the admission price had increased. I didn't find the shopping experience as relaxing as last year either, it's quite a large venue so it was nicely set out last year meaning there was no hustle and bustle but this time the stalls on the upper floor were squashed together and at times it was hard to tell where one person's stall finished and another began. It was much better on the lower level though. I was sorry that I didn't get to sample the wares of dyers such as Norah George, Lay Family Yarn and Beehive Yarns amongst others, all these dyers were originally advertised but weren't there on the day.

Disappointment aside, I did manage to do a little shopping so I'll show you what I brought home with me.


Jellybeans Yarns is new to me, I haven't come across this yarn company before but I was so impressed by the gorgeous colours which were available. I bought three different semi solid colourways, Golden (one of a kind), Midnight and Red Ember, but it was very hard to make a choice as there were many which took my fancy. The colours are more saturated than these photos show, I could have spent a fortune on this stall and I'm sure I'll be buying more from this dyer in the future.


I picked up a couple of Christmas colourways, Little Elf from Dina's Home of Crafts on a stellina base, there's got to be a bit of sparkle at Christmas time, and I also picked up Fairy Lights, this year's Christmas colourway from West Yorkshire Spinners. I'm not sure I'll get either of these knit up in time for this Christmas as I've got other things on my needles at the moment but I'll be able to knit up some socks ready for next year.


I went to the show knowing that I'd like to bring some mini skeins home with me to add to my Scrappy Blanket. I picked up a bundle of 10 gram minis from Down Sheepy Lane and an odd 20 gram mini from Snuggly Stars Yarns.


Helen from Giddy Yarns and the Giddy Knits Podcast was exhibiting for the first time at Nottingham and it was lovely to finally meet her as I've been watching her podcast since she started it. I believe I was one of her very first customers when she started her yarn business too. My Dorothy In Oz Socks were knit in Giddy Yarns and I have another four different colourways from Giddy Yarns in my stash so I didn't buy any full skeins from Helen on this occasion, however, Helen's four year old son, Arthur, had dyed some mini skeins especially to be sold at Nottingham with all the profits going to him so I had to have one to add to my blanket. These were being sold under the Kiddy Yarns logo rather than Giddy Yarns, how cute is that? There's no surprise that there's plenty of purple in this colourway as it's Arthur's favourite colour. I did peruse Helen's stall though and I have to say that her Lost At Sea and Loganberry colourways are on my wish list.


I'm really pleased with my purchases but I'm not sure it's a show I'll go back to next year.

As you know, Eleanor is at university in Nottingham so we paid her a visit whilst we were in the area. We turned up with a bag of supplies for her so she'll be eating well this week. It was lovely to see her.

Friday, 9 November 2018

Let Me Lie

I Let You Go, the first book by Clare Mackintosh, was my favourite book of all the books I read in 2015. I subsequently read her next novel, I See You, and although I enjoyed it, I didn't think it a patch on her first one.


Clare Mackintosh has now released her third book, Let Me Lie. It popped up on Kindle daily deals so I downloaded it. This author writes books with more than a couple of twists in the story line and this latest offering is no different.

"The police say it was suicide.
Anna says it was murder.
They're both wrong.

One year ago, Caroline Johnson chose to end her life brutally: a shocking suicide planned to match that of her husband just months before. Their daughter, Anna, has struggled to come to terms with their loss ever since.

Now with a young baby of her own, Anna misses her mother more than ever and starts to ask questions about her parents' deaths. But by digging up the past, is she putting her future in danger? Sometimes it's safer to let things lie..."

I actually guessed the main twist but it didn't spoil the story for me, there were lots of other twists along the way too which I didn't guess.

I should say that each of this author's three books are stand alone stories but I must admit that my favourite of the three is still I Let You Go but I did enjoy this one.

Tuesday, 6 November 2018

Eleanor's Christmas Socks

I'm a big fan of West Yorkshire Spinners yarn so when I saw their Candy Cane colourway last Christmas I couldn't resist. I knit myself my Aunt Petunia's Christmas Socks in this colourway but as I'd knit the cuffs, heels and toes in a coordinating colour, I had lots of yarn left over. I recently pulled it out of my stash and decided that I'd use this yarn to knit up a pair of Christmas socks for Eleanor to wear this year over the festive period.


I knit a plain pair of socks, no pattern this time, but once again, used the Cayenne Pepper colourway for the cuffs, heels and toes. Yarn goes so much further when you introduce a second, complimentary, colourway.


They're a bit shorter in the leg than I usually knit but Eleanor doesn't like her socks quite as long as I do so I think she'll like them. She's got small feet, she's a UK size 4 so her socks don't take up too much yarn. They're quicker to knit than socks for other people too, she's got the smallest feet in our family, though the men in the family aren't too bad, they've mostly got size 8 or 9 feet.


I've seen the Christmas colourway which West Yorkshire Spinners have released for 2018, I'm not sure I can resist.

Saturday, 3 November 2018

Nativity

One thing I didn't already have amongst all my Christmas decorations was a nativity set or scene so I was thrilled to be the winner of Mary's Pre Christmas Giveaway over on her Trundling Through Life blog.


This little wooden nativity set was made at The Rock Foundation, a charity local to Mary which supports people with learning disabilities and disadvantages. The scene just slots into the base so it will be easy to assemble and also easy to store once all the decorations are packed away for another year.

Thank you, Mary, I'm really thrilled with my prize and I'm looking forward to having it on display during the festive period.

Wednesday, 31 October 2018

Spooky Halloween

It's Halloween so I thought I'd take you on a little adventure to Lotherton Hall.


The Spooky Scarecrow Trail provides clues which lead you around the house and estate taking in the super spooky scarecrows.


We visited the Spooky Scarecrow Trail on Sunday and though we didn't follow any clues or go in the house we still managed to see lots of spooky scarecrows.


You may remember the Spooky Goings On from last year but the Spooky Scarecrow Trail is even bigger this year and though some of the scarecrows were the same, there's lots of new ones too.


It was very busy on Sunday with lots of families visiting this super event.


The summerhouse and some of the outbuildings have been utilised this year to stage spooky scenes.


Even the tops of the buildings have been adorned with scary characters.


You must remember to look up too otherwise you'll miss what's creeping above your head.


Be careful where you're walking though, you don't want to put your foot where you shouldn't.


You wouldn't usually expect to find spooky things dangling from the trees but anything goes here.


There's even things in the pond which shouldn't be there.


A dog was seen haunting the pet cemetery.


Even the gardeners here are scary.


Archie didn't take up the offer. Nora Bone indeed!


We were lucky to get out alive.


There were lanterns throughout the grounds and woods, and lighting could be seen by the displays which will illuminate them once it gets dark, which is brilliant because this year Lotherton have extended their opening times into the evening to make it even spookier with a scary walk through the haunted woods. The Spooky Scarecrow Trail is on until the 4th of November and admission is free with normal admission to the estate.


Happy Halloween.

Monday, 29 October 2018

Brrrr

Hasn't it turned cold? I was chilly in bed on Friday night so I went and bought a new quilt on Saturday, a 10.5 tog. We used a 4.5 tog all last winter, I don't know why I didn't feel the cold then. I changed all the bedding yesterday and I was so snug and warm last night, it was lovely.

My slow cooker makes an appearance as soon as the cooler weather arrives. I don't use it during the summer months but I love it for making stews and casseroles, good hearty meals. I included beef, potatoes, carrots, swede, parsnips and onions, you can't really tell how much food there was but this is a 6.5l slow cooker so it's big. I bought it when the family was at home so it's a bit big now for just the two of us but I make extra and then it does for more than one meal.


Excuse the dribbles on the plate, Mick dished up and he's not the most careful!


It was delicious, even if I say so myself, and plenty of leftovers for another cold day.

Friday, 26 October 2018

Nellie's Tree

The Aberford Railway was a privately owned light railway, it was built in the 19th century by the Gascoigne family of Yorkshire to transport coal from their collieries. It closed down in March 1924 and these days, is known locally as The Flyline. It's a popular three and a half mile route from Garforth to Aberford, through Parlington Woods, for dog walkers and cyclists. The weather last weekend was lovely so we decided to take Archie for a walk.


There's a lovely outlook along the walk, farmland with cows grazing in the fields.


These pears were outside a cottage inviting passers by to Take One.


Archie loves walks like these where he can come off his lead and he's free to wander and sniff.


Autumn is now in full swing, the track was littered with fallen leaves.


It was a gorgeous day,  the sun was trying to break through the tree canopy.


We didn't cross the stile but Archie managed to squeeze himself underneath the fence before being told to come back, we weren't going that way.


We came to a small tunnel known as Light Arch.


Eventually, the reason for our walk that day, we came to Nellie's Tree.


Nellie's Tree, so called as nearly 100 years ago Vic Stead would walk from his home in Garforth near Leeds, along the old colliery railway, to visit Nellie, the young lady he was courting who lived in the nearby village of Aberford. One day, he came across three beech saplings on his route and grafted one sapling between the other two to form the letter N, for Nellie. Vic and Nellie would go on to marry and have a family, and though they are both gone now, Nellie's Tree, also called The Love Tree by locals, still remains. The tree has recently been voted Woodland Trust's 2018 Tree of the Year for England and is in the running to become the UK Tree of the Year.


Isn't that a lovely story? It looks as though other sweethearts have carved their initials into the tree, or perhaps just vandals. Nellie's Tree has gone on to be a symbol by the Save Parlington Action Group for the protection of the woods against development. There's proposals to build a new town, incorporating 5000 houses, in the historic green belt of Parlington which campaigners are fighting to prevent.


This is the point where we turned and went back the way we came. Back through Light Arch.


We noticed that the cows had wandered further down the field.


We hadn't seen this pear tree in the cottage garden when we passed it the first time, it was dripping with pears, no wonder there was a box of them left out for passers by.


This huge insect was crawling about on the floor. I think it may be a European hornet. It really was huge.


We stood for a while watching a red kite circling in the sky. I could watch them for hours.

We're lucky to have such beautiful walks so close to where we live, we really are spoilt for choice when we leave the house.

Tuesday, 23 October 2018

Joining In

First of all I'd just like to thank everyone for their good wishes for my dad. It was a stressful week, to say the least, for us all but things are settling down again now that he's home. Obviously, it's a worrying time when a loved one is in hospital but it's also very trying when we're having to also look after my mum, who has dementia. Any change to her routine upsets her so she was very glad to have my dad back home again. As I've mentioned before, my dad is fiercely independent and won't have any outside help, other than from family, so it does put a bit of pressure on us, and it's obviously having an effect on his health so we've mentioned it again since he's been home but he's still resisting. There's not a lot we can do if he doesn't agree.

I've recently completed three pairs of socks which were on the needles, just in time to join in with a couple of knitalongs.

Ali from the Little Drops Of Wonderful podcast is hosting a Strictly Sockalong so I cast on this pair of socks during the first Strictly Come Dancing show. I'm using the Blue Fairy colourway from Elm Tree Yarns, there's silver stellina in the yarn but the photo doesn't show how sparkly it is. I'm using the Cha Cha Chevron pattern by Sandra Paul which was designed especially for this sockalong.


I knit myself a pair of Christmas socks last year and had quite a bit of this Candy Cane yarn by West Yorkshire Spinners left over so I thought I'd join in with Amy's Christmas Knitalong on her Stranded Podcast and make Eleanor a pair of socks to wear over Christmas. I'll knit the cuffs, heels and toes in the coordinating Cayenne Pepper colourway to make sure that I don't run out of the main colour.


Ellie over on the Craft House Magic podcast is hosting a Xmas Craftalong so I'll be able to enter the Christmas socks in that too.

It's fun joining in with knitalongs, it really spurs me on when I see other people working on their projects. It's not too late to take part in any of these knitalongs if you fancy joining in.

Saturday, 20 October 2018

A Second Heart Attack

I'm afraid I haven't been around much this week, we've been hospital visiting again.


We got a phone call late on Tuesday night from my dad who was having chest pains, he thought he was having a heart attack so he'd rung the doctor who said he'd send an ambulance. Why he didn't just ring 999 I don't know. I was in bed at the time so I jumped out, quickly got dressed and got to his house just as the first responder arrived. Not long afterwards, the ambulance turned up. He'd had a heart attach back in 2011 and ended up having stents fitted then, he said the pain was very similar but after looking at the information provided by the heart monitor, the paramedics didn't think he was having a heart attack this time. They said it could be a touch of angina.

We ended up in A&E until about 3.30am when the doctor said they'd be keeping him in and that he'd be transferred to a ward. When we enquired on the ward later on that morning it was confirmed that he had indeed had a heart attack.

As most of you know, my mum is now suffering from dementia and it's getting steadily worse. She couldn't be left in the house alone whilst my dad was in hospital so I've spent both days and nights there with her when I haven't been hospital visiting. It can be quite trying at times.

I'm pleased to say that my dad's now home, none the worse for wear, though he's got another tablet to add to the numerous pills he already takes. I'm just hoping that we can steer clear of hospitals for a while again now.