Monday, 24 January 2022

Blankets From Stash

I've got quite a healthy yarn stash and want to get some of it used up this year as it does take up quite a bit of storage space. I thought it might be a nice idea to start with all the odd bits of leftover yarn, knitting or crocheting them up into blankets to give to charity.

To that end, I've started off with a crochet blanket. I'm using leftovers with a high wool content in fingering weight and holding two strands of different yarn together. As this is all about using up the yarn I'm not worrying about colours going together or matching, but I do like to see the marled effect which holding two strands together is creating. I also have quite a bit of Stylecraft DK which is an acrylic yarn which I'd like to do something with too, but I won't be mixing fibres in the blankets so I shall begin a separate project with that in the future.

This blanket is going to be one large granny square. This is the first bit of crafting I've done since before Christmas, I've lost my mojo for knitting, crochet, cross stitch etc. but I've been missing having something to do with my hands whilst watching TV so this fits the bill nicely. It's mindless crochet, going round and round the square. I see that Ali from the Little Drops of Wonderful podcast and Sherrie from the Ollie and Bella podcast are hosting the Cosy Winter Blanket Along at the moment so I'll be able to join in with that.

Do you like my crochet hook? Eleanor bought this for Christmas 2020 for me but this is the first time I've used it. I'm really pleased with how it feels in the hand, I find it really easy to hold and comfortable to crochet with. I love the sunflowers and little bees.

Perhaps this little project will encourage my crafting mojo to return.

Thursday, 20 January 2022

Wordle

Has anyone else discovered Wordle? I'm probably very late to the party, as usual, but I love word games and this is right up my street.

No one in my family particularly enjoys playing things such as Scrabble, so that's something I often play online, and Wordle is now something else I can have a go at each day.

From Wikipedia - "Every day, a five-letter word is chosen which players aim to guess within six tries. After every guess, each letter is marked as either green, yellow or grey: green indicates that letter is correct and in the correct position, yellow means it is in the answer but not in the right position, while grey indicates it is not in the answer at all. The daily word is the same for everyone."

I haven't failed at guessing the word yet, though it's been very close a couple of times. Do you enjoy word games? Have you played Wordle?

Sunday, 16 January 2022

The Great Gatsby

 As I mentioned in a previous post, I'd like to read some classics this year so with that in mind, the first one I picked up was The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald.

" 'I believe that on the first night I went to Gatsby's house I was one of the few guests who had actually been invited. People were not invited - they went there.'

Jay Gatsby's opulent Long Island mansion throngs with the bright young things of the Roaring Twenties. But Gatsby himself, young, handsome and mysteriously rich, never appears to his guests. He stands apart from the crowd, yearning for something just out of reach - Daisy Buchanan, lost years before to another man. One fateful summer, when the pair finally reunite, their actions set in motion a series of events that will unravel their lives, bringing tragedy to all who surround them.

Widely considered F. Scott Fitzgerald's masterpiece, The Great Gatsby is a tale of excess and obsession, and a work of classic twentieth-century American literature."


I didn't read the synopsis before I picked up this book and as I haven't watched the films either, I hadn't a clue what it was about or what to expect. I have to say that the first half of the book had me wondering why it was considered a classic, but once I had read to the end, I could see that the beginning is merely setting the scene for what is to come.

I definitely found the the story a book of two halves. The second part of the book was infinitely more interesting, or to me at least, quicker paced and held my interest far more than the beginning. As for the characters, there was only one who I was remotely interested in, that of the narrator, Nick Carraway, and I suppose this is because he's more relatable than the rest who are self-absorbed socialites. I cared very little what happened to them. I do think you have to have some affinity with the people you're reading about, so perhaps the reason I'm not raving about this book is because I don't.

Although I wouldn't give this book a five out of five rating, I can see why some people would see it as a classic. As I said previously, it definitely improves in the second half, and I'd actually like to read it again at some point in the future as I think you often get a different feel for a book when you read it for a second time. I'd also like to see one of the films now too.

Have you read this book? What did you think of it?

Wednesday, 12 January 2022

A New Year's Walk

We're already well into January now but I'm taking you back to New Year's Day and a lovely walk we took. We'd spent New Year's Eve at Eleanor and Jacob's, Daniel and Jasmine were still staying with us, but Mick and I had come home after the celebrations at about 1am, whereas Daniel and Jasmine stayed until 3am. Consequently, all the younger members of the family had a good sleep in so Mick and I decided to head out for a walk with Archie.

When I was growing up, we lived a couple of miles away from the small town where I live now. A road at one end of our street took you directly there, but if you turned the other way out of our driveway, you were in farming country. We'd often walk down the back lane, which took us on a more scenic route to where I now live, past stables, farms and fields, and walk in a circular route, coming home via the road. Apart from the road, all you could see from the back of our house was farmland. It's all changed now, there's been so much development since the seventies and eighties. If you look out over the back of our old house now you can see a motorway, office buildings and a shopping centre. I find that so sad. That back lane no longer connects our old house to the small town where I now live as it's now a no-through road, owing to the buildings which have appeared.

We've lived in our small town now for over twenty eight years and have never walked that route that I used to take in reverse. I knew we wouldn't be able to reach my old house, but I wondered what it would be like from the other end as the new development hasn't reached that far down the lane. So that's the walk we decided to take on New Year's Day.

There's still stables at this end of the lane, though the horses weren't anywhere near the fences on this particular day, so no photos of them.

Walking down the lane brought back so many memories. I remember the walks we used to take when extended family visited, and the walks we took with the dogs that we had at the time.

Someone's left some treats for the birds.

It was a gorgeous day. I was wearing my coat but I really didn't need it. Apparently, it's been the warmest New Year on record. I can't believe how mild it's been.

Looking back you can see our small town. Like the surrounding villages, it prospered and grew as a result of the coal industry, and now the population is about 15,000. The town is about seven miles from Leeds.

Look across the fields and you can see a lake. You'd be completely unaware it was there unless viewing it from this point.

What a great little hiding place in the trunk of this tree. I can just imagine Winnie the Pooh characters in the Hundred Acre Wood living somewhere like this.

It's good to see that some farms have survived the redevelopment projects, though how long they remain here is anyone's guess. It seems that they're swallowed up by housing estates, roads or office blocks almost overnight.

This is more reminiscent of the view I saw on these walks as a child. It's good to see that some land remains untouched, and long may it be so.

We returned home to a lovely New Year's Day roast dinner, and Daniel and Jasmine went back to Essex the following day, however, while they were in Leeds they managed to find a flat to rent so they'll be coming back again at the end of the month, this time to stay.

Saturday, 8 January 2022

Twelve Days Of Christmas 2021

These Twelve Days of Christmas posts come round far too often for my liking, not that I don't love to receive these gifts from my lovely friend, Lisa, but because each year seems to slip by quicker than the last. This is the eighth year that Lisa and I have swapped gifts. We swap twelve separately wrapped gifts, one to be opened on each of the twelve days of Christmas. We met through our blogs and though Lisa doesn't blog now, she's on Instagram and we swap regular emails keeping up to date with each other's family life.

These are the lovely gifts which I received from Lisa this year.

Let's take a closer look.

A box of Christmas crackers. These were unwrapped on Christmas Day but I didn't use them this year so that I could photograph them with the rest of the gifts. They'll be put away and used next year though. Some Bonne Maman chocolate biscuits, I've never tried these so I'm looking forward to tucking in. Some Bourneville Old Jamaica rum and raisin dark chocolate. I remember this when it was in an orange wrapper with a ship on the front, it's years since I've had it but I know I like it. A pocket pouch shopping bag, very handy to carry around with me, I'm always scrabbling about for a bag.

Some journal stickers and memo pads. These will be very handy for my journaling this year. A pair of Christmas socks with hedgehogs under the mistletoe, so cute. A handy Kilner jar adorned with gingerbread men, this will be lovely filled with the festive treats I make next year. A can of seeds, you just water and they grow, what a fun gift.

Kate Humble - Thinking on My Feet. A book celebrating the act of walking. It's written month by month and I think it might be fun to read in this way too. Mints in a Christmas tin, which will be put to very good use once the mints have been eaten. Avon nail varnish in a very glamorous shimmery pink colour and some raspberry panna cotta handcream. It actually smells good enough to eat. Last but not least, Miss Mary Christmouse. I actually gave a little squeal when I unwrapped her, isn't she the cutest.

I couldn't resist taking an extra photo of Miss Mary Christmouse. She hasn't been packed away with the rest of the Christmas decorations, Miss Mary will be sitting in my craft room to keep me company.

Some wonderful gifts, I'm sure you'll agree. Thank you, Lisa, I'm thrilled with everything I received.

This is what I sent to Lisa.

And a closer look.

I know that Lisa likes to spend time in her garden relaxing after work, at least in the summer when the weather's nice. I thought this garden nesting box would add some interest in the spring if a blue tit family move in. The Brain Benders are wooden puzzles to get the old grey matter working. There's four puzzles so all the family can try one each. The tea infuser reminded me of one of Lisa's cats, Rocky. Isn't it cute. I don't know about you but my hands get so dry during the winter months so I thought these Cath Kidston handcreams might come in handy.

Lisa sent me a lovely cross stitched card for my birthday last year so I thought she might like to have a go at this alphabet sampler. I usually add a Christmas themed book in the parcel. This year it's by author, Cressida McLaughlin, I actually read one of her books myself in the run up to Christmas. The title, The Cornish Cream Tea Christmas, sold it to me. I know that Lisa meal plans so I thought this meal planner would come in useful, and the body butter duo should keep Lisa's skin moisturised during the harsh months of winter.

I always put a few sweet treats in the parcel. There's the Galaxy Chocolate Collection which contains a few different bars of choccie. Thorntons Milk Chocolate Caramel Crunch, and I didn't remember it at the time when I picked these up but Lisa had actually sent me a box last year so I can vouch that they're delicious. The Make Your Own Gingerbread Man is a bit of fun, it comes with a gingerbread man cookie cutter. There's also some Galaxy Hot Chocolate, which has mini marshmallows included to make a luxury hot chocolate drink, and a little ceramic owl spoon too.

It's been such a fun swap again, I love opening these gifts, one each day on the Twelve Days of Christmas, it just extends the festivities a little. Thank you, Lisa.

Tuesday, 4 January 2022

Advent Calendars 2021

Back in November I told you about My Advent Calendars For 2021. I had two advent calendars this year, a Charity Collaboration which was organised by Helen of Giddy Yarns and a swap I did with Maggie from BlackCountry Wench blog. I thought I'd show you what I received in each of them.

Twenty four independent dyers collaborated to bring together the yarny advent calendar I bought this year. I received a 10g mini skein from each of the dyers, one to be opened on each day of advent, and there was a lovely assortment of colours. I've bought yarn from a number of the dyers in the past but this is a great way to try yarn from the other dyers without having to buy a full skein. Helen also included a sachet of Thornton's Luxury Hot Chocolate and a hand balm from The Lonely Knitter. Money was raised from the sale of these advent calendars which was donated equally amongst three different charities.

Maggie thoroughly spoilt me with the swap parcel I received from her. We made up a parcel of twenty four 5g mini skeins to be opened throughout advent but Maggie also included chocolates, a needle minder, a needle keep, a tape measure, a tree ornament and a tin of Vaseline Gold Dust Lip Therapy. Just look at all those gorgeous colours, and all wound on bobbins ready to use. 

At the beginning of advent, Maggie said I could open one of the gifts and it turned out to be a book, The Canal Boat Cafe Christmas by Cressida Mclaughlin, so I read this in the lead up to Christmas, it was a nice Christmassy tale.

We'd agreed to swap a skein of yarn on Christmas Day and I received this gorgeous Little Bear Yarn in the Vintage Yule colourway. Thank you Maggie, I love it. There were also so many more little parcels in the box which Maggie said I could open throughout advent if I wished but I saved them all and opened them on Christmas Day. 

I'm sure you'll agree, I opened some wonderful things in my advent calendars this year, and I received some wonderful gifts in the swap. Thank you Maggie, I love everything.

Some of my mini skeins will be added to my scrappy blanket but I'd like to have a look for some other projects to use them in too as I've still got lots of mini skeins to use from previous advent calendars.

I really enjoy opening the little yarny parcels in the countdown to Christmas, it's the third year I've had yarny advent calendars and it's now become a part of my Christmas traditions.

Friday, 31 December 2021

Looking Back At 2021

Well, what a year it's been again. I didn't think we could have another year like 2020 but with Coronavirus still in our midst and further lockdowns and restrictions throughout this year, it's been another turbulent year. Still, life goes on so let's take a look back at the things I've been up to these past twelve months.

I started the year off with some sad news, one of my mum's older sisters died just before the new year. Here is my Auntie Beryl on the right of the photo, sitting next to my mum. Only one of the six sisters are still living. For the last three years I've hoped for a happier year than the previous one following the deaths of my mum and dad, but yet again there was sadness at the very start of the year and reading my post back now I can see how much this affected me.

In February I wrote about Eleanor and Jacob becoming First Time Buyers. They've done so well and worked so hard to afford their own home at such a young age and we're very proud of them. They're currently doing a few renovations, they've had new windows fitted and are decorating various rooms.

The big news in March was that I was Jabbed when I got the first of my coronavirus vaccinations. I had the second one a short time later and I had my booster earlier this month. I'm pleased to report that I only had very mild side effects with the first one and nothing at all with the second. I did feel rather poorly the day after I'd had my booster but it was short lived and it's a small price to pay in the grand scheme of things.

It had been over a year since we'd visited the seaside but in April I got a dose of Vitamin Sea when we visited Scarborough on the Yorkshire coast. I think Archie enjoyed it just as much as we did, it was a beautiful day.

I've finished quite a few craft projects this year, in May the Twinkle Twinkle Blanket finally made it off the needles. I didn't make this with a recipient in mind, there haven't been any babies in the family for a long long time, but sometimes I see a pattern and just want to make it, so that's what I did. I enjoyed knitting this so much that I've got plans to make another one, still with no baby to knit for, but who knows, one may come along soon.

Mick had a week off work in June so we had a staycation, taking days out here and there throughout the week. One of our days out was to Bridlington. Archie, at eleven years old, is starting to slow down, but he always shows his pleasure when he's taken to the seaside, you'd think he was a puppy again. We couldn't have chosen a better day, the sun was shining and it was lovely and warm, we had such a wonderful day.

In July I wrote about Eleanor's journey to become a biomedical scientist. She'd worked so hard for it so we were so proud when she finally Qualified. I wrote in that post that she now had to find a job but wasn't keen to change hospitals. Well, in the end she decided that she did want a complete change, she applied for three jobs away from the hospital she was working at and got offered two of them, one of them being in the department she really wanted. She had a three month notice period at her current job but left on Christmas Eve and is starting her new job in the new year. Jacob has also now qualified and is working as a biomedical scientist too.

Daniel and Jasmine spent more than a week with us in August but I was lamenting that All Good Things Must Come To An End. We had a lovely time while they were here, enjoying days out as well as time together at home. They came to stay again a week before Christmas and they're still here, they're going home on Sunday or Monday, they haven't decided yet, but I won't be as sad this time as they're coming back to live in Leeds at the end of January. It will be lovely having them living close by again.

In September I finally finished the Little White Cat cross stitch which I started more than forty years ago. Don't worry, I wasn't working on it continually during that time, I started it as a child and came across it again recently. I didn't enjoy finishing it off but I do like the fact that I've still got the very first cross stitch I ever started.

I took you on a visit to Halloween At Ledston in October. The whole village had made an effort to decorate and it was a fun trip out to somewhere close to home.

In November there were some Colder Days after a mild start to autumn. Towards the end of the month we had Storm Arwen blow through causing death and destruction but earlier in the month we had some lovely weather.

We visited The Fairy Dell at Lotherton in December, just part of the Christmas Experience there. We visit each year and it was nice to see that they'd changed things up a bit this year. It's a lovely place to visit at any time throughout the year but especially so at Christmas and especially if you have children.

A massive thank you, as always, to everyone who visits my blog and reads along, especially those who leave comments, it wouldn't be half as fun if I felt I was rambling on to myself. I've always said that the friendships we make through blogging can be so rewarding, so thank you. It's been another tough year for many and it does help sometimes to post about how we're feeling and know that there's always someone who is there with an ear to lend. Let's hope that 2022 is a good year. Wishing you all happiness, health and prosperity as we head into a brand new year.

Tuesday, 28 December 2021

Books Read In 2021

I thought my reading was down on last year, there have been a few periods when I just haven't felt like reading and the number of books I read during December always drops off because I'm so busy, I think I've only read three books this month, but I'm completely on par with last year. I've read seventy five books this year, exactly the same as last year.

Last year, I finished my challenge of reading all of Agatha Christie's murder mystery books in chronological order so I was looking for a new challenge. I decided I'd start reading Miss Read's books, starting with the Fairacre series. I've read one each month, twelve in total, and there's more to go so that will take me well into 2022.

Again, I've found some new authors to read, along with some old favourites, and this year I seem to have had a bit of a chick lit fest. I think that has come about from picking books up in The Works, they have a 3 for £5 deal and many of the books they offer are from this genre. I have to say that I've enjoyed some lighter reading.

The Bermondsey Bookshop - Mary Gibson

Village School - Miss Read

Sheltering Rain - Jojo Moyes

Cilka's Journey - Heather Morris

The Man in Black - Dylan Rhys Jones

The Dinner Party - RJ Parker

Village Diary - Miss Read

A Watermelon, A Fish and A Bible - Christy Lefteri

The Giver of Stars - Jojo Moyes

Rendez-Vous in Cannes - Jennifer Bohnet

Storm in the Village - Miss Read

The Mother-In-Law - Sally Hepworth

The Boy Between - Amanda Prowse and Josiah Hartley

Wedding Bells for Woolworths - Elaine Everest

How to Raise and Elephant - Alexander McCall Smith

Miss Clare Remembers - Miss Read

A Sky Full of Stars - Dani Atkins

The Familiars - Stacey Halls

Secrets and Seashells at Rainbow Bay - Ali McNamara

The Teashop Girls - Elaine Everest

Christmas With the Teashop Girls - Elaine Everest

Over the Gate - Miss Read

All the Lonely People - Mike Gayle

A Sister's Wish - Donna Douglas

An Ordinary Life - Amanda Prowse

Firefly Lane - Kristin Hannah

Fly Away - Kristin Hannah

Mrs Miniver - Jan Struther

The Butlins Girls - Elaine Everest

Village Christmas - Miss Read

Mine - Susi Fox

Mine - Clare Empson

Fairacre Festival - Miss Read

The Love Square - Laura Jane Williams

Together - Julie Cohen

Letters From the Past - Erica James

The Salt Path - Raynor Winn

The Secrets You Keep - Kate White

The Last Charm - Ella Allbright

Where The Crawdads Sing - Delia Owens

Emily Davis - Miss Read

Between Sisters - Kristin Hannah

A Mother Forever - Elaine Everest

Escape to the Art Cafe - Sue McDonagh

The Switch - Beth O'Leary

My Sister's Keeper - Jodi Picoult

The Christmas Mouse - Miss Read

Miss Benson's Beetle - Rachel Joyce

Coming Home to Penvennan Cove - Linn B Halton

The Little Paris Patisserie - Julie Caplin

The Phone Box at the Edge of the World - Laura Imai Messina

A Cottage in the Country - Linn B Halton

The Little Cafe in Copenhagen - Julie Caplin

A Little Sugar, A Lot of Love - Linn B Halton

The Little Brooklyn Bakery - Julie Caplin

The Thursday Murder Club - Richard Osman

Tyler's Row - Miss Read

The Northern Lights Lodge - Julie Caplin

The Secrets of Villa Rosso - Linn B Halton

Twopence to Cross The Mersey - Helen Forrester

Liverpool Miss - Helen Forrester

By the Waters of Liverpool - Helen Forrester

Lime Street at Two - Helen Forrester

Christmas at Bay Tree Cottage - Linn B Halton

The Joy and Light Bus Company - Alexander McCall Smith

A Village Affair - Julie Houston

All the Light We Cannot See - Anthony Doerr

A Greek Affair - Linn B Halton

The Patchwork Girls - Elaine Everest

Farther Afield - Miss Read

The Secret Cove in Croatia - Julie Caplin

Waiting to Begin - Amanda Prowse

No Holly for Miss Quinn - Miss Read

Never Greener - Ruth Jones

The Canal Boat Cafe Christmas - Cressida Mclaughlin

My stand out book of the year is Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens. I nearly didn't bother with this but I'd heard about it in so many places and from so many people that I thought I'd give it a go. It's had some rave reviews and, in my opinion, rightly so. I absolutely loved all the descriptive writing and it does make you think about prejudice, intolerance and acceptance. I read a couple of other books which had won various awards and which people were raving about, The Salt Path and All the Light We Cannot See, but they didn't really do it for me. I did enjoy the latter but wouldn't give it more than a six out of ten, but I didn't get on with The Salt Path at all. I found it badly written, boring and couldn't get over the fact that someone who had just been made homeless, and at the same point in time their husband had been diagnosed with a terminal illness, would take themselves off to walk 630 miles along the South West Coast Path. Nor did I enjoy reading about them creeping into campsites after dark to use the facilities and then leaving without paying. Surely it would have made more sense to sort out their lives and arrange their benefits before embarking on a journey where they had to resort to petty crime. That's just my way of thinking, I know lots of people enjoyed this book.

In 2022 I'm going to continue to read Miss Read books. I've still got some of the Fairacre series to read and then I shall move onto the Thrush Green series. I've also decided that I'm going to start reading some classics. In preparation for this I added a few different book ranges to my wish list, though didn't specify any particular title. I've had a good few books bought for me as gifts throughout the past year and I'm looking forward to getting started on them. I've also decided to consciously cut back on my reading this year. There was a time when I only read in bed, and though I don't want to go back to doing just that, I do want to give myself extra time during the day for other things. I did say the same thing last year so I'm going to have to make myself put down my books more in order to achieve this.

Have you set yourself any reading challenges this year?

Thursday, 23 December 2021

Merry Christmas 2021

There have been many changes for us over the last few Christmases, firstly back in 2018 when Daniel spent Christmas with Jasmine's family over in America. It was the first time one of our children hadn't been with us over the festive period. 2019 was the first Christmas without my mum and then in 2020 my dad was no longer with us either. That was the Christmas we had the lockdowns and restrictions because of Coronavirus too.

This year will be another change for us as Eleanor has moved into her own house with Jacob, though they don't live far away so she'll be here to celebrate with us. Jacob is working a night shift on Christmas Eve so he'll spend a portion of Christmas Day sleeping. Daniel and Jasmine came up from Essex last Thursday and they're staying until the new year so it's lovely that the family is all together. Hopefully, in the new year, they'll be moving back to Leeds so that's something to look forward to.

Thank you to all my bloggy friends who have sent me Christmas cards, I know many people don't send so many these days, or else they've cut right back, but it is lovely when a card drops through the door and greetings are received in this way.

Wishing you all a happy and peaceful Christmas.

Saturday, 18 December 2021

Year Of Dishcloths 2021

I wrote about the Year Of Dishcloths back in January. Hosted by The Kitchen Sink Shop on Instagram, a dishcloth pattern was released each month of this year and I decided that I would knit along. I kept updated with the patterns through a newsletter but they have all been released as free patterns on Ravelry.

It's been fun to join in, a dishcloth doesn't take long to knit, and most of them could easily be completed by a beginner knitter. I like the textured patterns best, just a mix of knit and purl stitches, they work up to make lovely designs.

I've got all different colours and all different sizes, it's handy having a range of cloths for different requirements and purposes.

My least favourite is the colourwork one above. Colourwork isn't my favourite knitting technique. The three below are my favourites from the twelve I've knit. The textured patterns combined with the yarn I chose worked well.

I think this many be running again next year but I shall leave it here, I'm well stocked up with cloths now.