Thursday, 22 October 2020

Incy Wincy Spider

I have a phobia of spiders. I'm not quite so bad if I see them outdoors but indoors they reduce me to a quivering wreck. So it's just as well that this little guy is currently living in a web he's made between two pots of geraniums outside my back door.

He's been there for ages. I don't mind just so long as he stays there and doesn't venture indoors. After I'd taken this photo Archie came to see what I was doing and swished his tail right through the web. The spider inched his way up a strand of the web which was still attached to the geranium and crept inside the flower. The following morning he'd spun himself a new web so he's still in residence.

Indoors, we've had some whoppers. A couple of weeks ago I walked into the bathroom to find the biggest spider I've ever seen running around the washbasin. Eeek, it makes me squirm just to think of it. I shot out of the bathroom I can tell you and Mick was left to deal with it.

Are you afraid of spiders?

Monday, 19 October 2020

Our Sunday Outing

It was a bit dull yesterday morning. I could quite easily hunker down on autumn days when the sun isn't shining but as dog owners, we don't have that luxury. We were thinking of somewhere different to go for our walk and we came up with Middleton Park, somewhere we haven't been for quite a while, and Archie loves it there as there's so much woodland, in fact, it's the largest ancient woodland in Leeds.

We park our car near the lake. It's not a large lake but it's well used with fishermen setting up their lines here. I wonder how successful they are. I suppose they must get plenty of catches as there's always people fishing whenever we've visited this park.

It's a well used park with plenty of green space, the woodland, a children's playground and a rose garden. There's also tennis courts, bowling greens and a visitor centre with a cafe which was doing a roaring trade yesterday. I have to say their bacon butties smelt delicious.

We chose a path and headed into the woodland. Middleton Park is situated four miles south of Leeds city centre and of its 630 acres, 200 acres are ancient woodland.

It's a very well used park, it's always busy whenever we visit but it's large enough that it doesn't feel at all crowded and we were able to stay socially distanced without any problem at all.

It's still very green here but we were aware of leaves falling from the trees as we walked. Some trees are showing their autumn colours.

It was rather damp. It's nice that there are pathways through the woods so that you can avoid any muddy patches, although we don't keep to them all the time. I suppose it must be the perfect environment for mushrooms as there were lots of them about.

We even spotted these tiny mushrooms growing on the trunk of a tree.

There were a few trees down. The top of this tree was lying across the other side of the path but the stump has started sprouting growth again now.

Straying from the main path, there are an abundance of ferns. I think they're so tactile, they make me want to swish my hands through them.

Talking of tactile, moss is another thing which I always want to stroke. This tree was covered in it.

If you're in the area, I can thoroughly recommend a trip to Middleton Park. As you walk through the wood there are information boards about the shaft mounds which are thought to mark the sites of medieval coal mines. Also, if you walk right through the woodland, you come to a station on the Middleton Railway, the world's oldest continuously working railway which has been in existence since 1758. Lots of great reasons to visit the park.

Friday, 16 October 2020

One Down, Eleven To Go

I've finally finished the first day of my Twelve Days of Christmas cross stitch.

This design is by Plum Street Samplers, it's a free chart on their blog. I'm really enjoying stitching it, I'm especially enjoying the limited colour palette, there's just four colours in the whole of the design and as you can see, I've only used two of them so far. 

I'm very happy with my choice of fabric. I'm using a 32 count Murano in Vintage Country Mocha, the highest fabric count I've used so far, and though my eyesight is quite bad, I'm managing perfectly well with my magnifying light.

Marlene from Poppy Patchwork and Linda from Linda's Crafty Corner are stitching along with me so don't forget to check their blogs out to find out how they're getting on.

I know I won't have this finished for this Christmas but I don't mind that, it's not about rushing, it's about enjoying the process and I'm certainly doing that.

Tuesday, 13 October 2020

It's Been A While

Archie seems to have had one problem after another with his little legs just lately, he developed a limp which he recovered from only to start limping on another leg. I don't think it's anything serious, he was seen by a vet who didn't think it was anything serious either. He's often had limps throughout his life and they seem to improve with rest so I think he must be prone to pulling a muscle or something.

We always take care how far we walk him when he's limping. He can walk the limp off but we don't want to do any further damage so we take him on very short walks for a while so that he gets plenty of rest, it seems to do the trick. This does mean that it's been a while since we've visited Lotherton so we thought we'd remedy that on Sunday.

It was a nice day, we had blue skies nearly all day but there were times when rain threatened though it never came. It wasn't too cold either, though I did finally succumb, I wore my winter coat for the first time this year.

Autumn is in full swing with the trees putting on a colourful show, they seem to be hanging on to most of their leaves for now.

We're a bit late for conkers, the seed cases are strewn on the ground with the shiny brown seeds already gone, picked up by little hands and taken home no doubt.

I haven't seen Lotherton so busy for a long time. I wonder if people were just taking advantage of the fine day, or whether they were making sure to have fun whilst they could with further coronavirus restrictions in the offing. The majority of people were sensible and stepped aside as they passed others but as always, there's always the odd ones who are rude and walk two or three abreast and won't let others pass safely. It does annoy me.

The orchard has been relieved of its fruit. There are lots of different apple trees growing at Lotherton, some very old varieties, and visitors are invited to pick the apples on a set day in September and the fruit you pick can be purchased, I think it was 10p per apple when we last attended the event a few years ago.

It was nice to get out, what with Archie not having long walks and us not travelling any distance because of coronavirus rules, it seems I've been cooped up indoors for too long. I have to admit that autumn isn't my favourite time of year with summer now gone and winter to look forward to, spring seems a long time away. I don't mind the dry days though, especially when the sun's shining and the sky is blue, it's the dull grey days which tend to get me down.

There's always the beautiful colours of autumn to cheer me up though, just look at this leaf litter, so vibrant.

Lotherton is home to a herd of red deer which were introduced back in the 1980s and have bred successfully ever since.

We stopped for a while to watch them.

There's some magnificent stags too but we didn't catch sight of them on this occasion.

Lotherton is currently gearing up for their Spooky Skeletons Trail which will run over half term, covering Halloween. A few of the exhibits have already been set up.

As you can see, Archie was rather nonplussed at the sight of the skeleton dog.

I'm glad we got out for a walk when we did as it poured down yesterday, and although today has started off sunny, it's forecast rain again later and I'm a bit of a fair weather walker.

Saturday, 10 October 2020

After The End

I've read I Let You Go, I See You, and Let Me Lie by Clare Mackintosh. Last year she brought out After The End, a different genre to the three I'd already read so I didn't go out of my way to read it, but when I saw it on a Kindle deal I thought I'd give it a go.

"Max and Pip are the strongest couple you know. Only now they're facing the most important decision of their lives - and they don't agree.

With the consequences of an impossible choice threatening to devastate them both, nothing will ever be the same again."

The story is split into two halves, the first half covering the devastating situation that Max and Pip find themselves in. Their two year old child is in Paediatric Intensive Care suffering from brain damage resulting from surgery to remove a brain tumor. They have the unenviable decision of deciding whether to transfer him to a hospital in America for treatment, which may or may not prolong his life, or follow the hospital's advice to provide him with palliative care which will ultimately lead to his death. Max and Pip don't agree.

The second part of the story is 'After The End' and follows two separate stories of what happens to Max and Pip after their son dies.

It's very clever how the second part of the book follows two pathways depending on which decision is taken, though I must say that I found it quite confusing following what was happening as it flits in time and storyline from chapter to chapter and the ending had me totally baffled. I like Clare Mackintosh's twists in her books but I don't think this book, with the subject matter as it is, calls for it.

I'd say it's an okay book but it is a story of two halves and I much preferred the first half where I knew where I was and I didn't have to concentrate quite so much.

Wednesday, 7 October 2020

She Said Yes

It was Eleanor and Jacob's two year anniversary of when they started dating on Saturday. They had booked to go to London for the weekend to celebrate but with the new coronavirus restrictions in place in Leeds they had to cancel, so instead, they booked a night at the Queen's Hotel in City Square. 

They wanted to make it special so they ate on Saturday night at The Ivy in Victoria Quarter. They hadn't been there before, it was expensive but they said the food was excellent and it was lovely if you have something to celebrate.

Afterwards they visited a cocktail bar before ending their evening at the Sky Lounge, The Hilton's rooftop restaurant and bar, for more cocktails. There's an outdoor terrace where you're able to take in the panoramic views of Leeds, however, the weather on Saturday was such that the doors had been locked and they had to drink their cocktails indoors. Unbeknown to Eleanor, Jacob had a word with the staff and they unlocked the doors for him so that he could take Eleanor outside amongst the bright lights of Leeds and he proposed to her.

Although it wasn't a total surprise to Eleanor she was taken by the moment and couldn't stop crying. Jacob had given his phone to a member of staff who managed to snap some photos for them.

Of course, Eleanor said yes and afterwards, people who had seen what had happened were clapping and congratulating them. They were given glasses of prosecco on the house.

Eleanor and Jacob met whilst they were at university. It's funny really as both my children took science degrees and both have partners who were their lab partners whilst at university. Jacob comes from the Midlands but when they finished university he wanted to be nearer to Eleanor so he looked for a job here in Yorkshire. He found a job in York and rents a room in a shared house. He came here to stay for the weekend a couple of weeks ago and just as he was about to go home he got a text from one of his housemates saying that one of the other housemates had tested positive for coronavirus. This meant that he had to isolate for a period of fourteen days. He couldn't really go back home where someone had coronavirus as Jacob wasn't showing any symptoms and if he didn't have it we didn't want him catching it so he stayed here. Whilst isolating, the new restrictions came into force and we're now not allowed to mix in our own houses or gardens with other households. We figured that as Jacob was already here and isolating, he was part of our household. This is the reason why Eleanor and Jacob have managed to spend some time together. He's now gone back to his own house as everyone is out of isolation, and luckily, none of the other housemates have come down with the virus. Unfortunately, it now means that as Jacob is now back in York, and Leeds is still under local restrictions, they don't know when they'll get to see each other again.

It's such an awful situation. When the country was in lockdown earlier this year they didn't see each other for over twelve weeks. The worst part of it is that Jacob moved here to be with Eleanor, he doesn't even have any family nearby.

Wedding preparations are now on hold until they're able to see each other again. They had hoped to get married next year but it's looking more and more unlikely with so many restrictions in place. I should imagine that everywhere will be booked up anyway with so many weddings from this year having been postponed.

And what about the ring? Well, the proposal wasn't totally out of the blue. Jacob had taken Eleanor ring shopping when we came out of lockdown and she'd chosen the ring she liked so she knew a proposal was on the cards, she just didn't know when it was going to happen. The ring is an 18 carat white gold single stone ring with diamond detailing. It's so sparkly.

Asking the bride's father's permission before proposing may seem a little old fashioned in this day and age but I think it shows respect and we were very touched that Jacob approached Mick and told him of his intentions before he proposed. We can't be happier to be welcoming him to the family, he's such a lovely young man and they're both very lucky to have found each other.

Sunday, 4 October 2020

The Kindness Of Strangers

I recently gave An Update On My Crafting Rotation and mentioned that I'd put my scrappy blanket, which I'm knitting out of commercial yarn, on the back burner as I had no more yarn to add to it at the moment. I received a lovely email from a reader of my blog asking if I'd like some yarn she had as she had no use for it. I jumped at her offer.

This is the parcel of yarn which I received. What a generous gesture. I'm always blown away by the kindness I receive here in Blogland. The internet can be a scary and unpleasant place in some instances but I've had nothing but good experiences here on my blog. My readers and commenters have always been so very kind.

Most of the yarn has ball bands so I know which company produced it and what colourway it is, but those without ball bands have been bagged up and a little note popped inside the bag letting me know this information.

There's some beautiful yarn, all different colours, I can't wait to add it to my blanket.

My sincere thanks go to the lovely reader who sent all this wonderful yarn to me, I'm truly grateful and appreciate your generosity.

Thursday, 1 October 2020

Christmas Is Coming

We popped to the garden centre yesterday, I've got three very small house plants which are desperately in need of repotting. I've been looking for plant pots just a size up from the ones the plants are growing in at the moment and haven't been able to find any anywhere. I'd looked in this particular garden centre previously but decided to have another look and lo and behold, I managed to get some. My poor squashed plants will be heaving a sigh of relief.

I was lucky actually as there won't be hide nor hair of garden paraphernalia there soon. Yes, I know it's a garden centre but it's all but taken over by Christmas in the coming weeks. They're just starting to fill the shelves with their Christmas display so I thought I'd take a few photos to share with you.

We were hoping to get a new Christmas tree in the sales in January but we didn't come across a single one we liked. I don't know whether to make do with our old tree for another year or splash out. They did have some lovely trees to choose from but they're so expensive.

I loved this snow globe. It's electronic so you don't have to shake it to make it snow and it lights up too. So pretty.

How about these pop-up snow globe greetings cards. They don't have the live action snow effect but they are rather lovely.

I absolutely love these cards by Wrendale. I have a couple of mugs in these designs. It's just a shame that all ten cards in the box are of the same design, I would be very tempted if they were a mixture, though I may succumb and buy a box yet.

Santas, snowmen and penguins. Which one would you choose? I can't say I'm particularly taken by any of these.

Do you have outdoor decorations? We don't have any but I do like this snowman.

Only 85 sleeps to Christmas.

Monday, 28 September 2020

Following Orders

It was announced on Friday afternoon that as from midnight, Leeds was being placed under new local restrictions after a rise in coronavirus cases over the past few weeks. We're now unable to mix with anyone other than our own household in our home or garden, nor can we visit anyone else's home or garden, in or outside Leeds. If we go against these rules we could be fined.

We've also been told that we should try to avoid meeting people we do not live with in outdoor spaces such as parks, meeting people we do not live with in pubs, cafes, restaurants and other public indoor venues, or visit friends or relatives in care homes. We cannot be fined if we go against this advice.

On Saturday night, one of Eleanor's friends was in a bar in Leeds with her sister, her boyfriend and her sister's boyfriend, that's three households mixing together, but that's not against the law, it's only going against advice. What is against the law is if a family member visited my house, stayed in the garden and we kept thirty metres apart. What?

I'm sorry to say it but I think Boris has lost the plot. Making pubs and clubs close at 10pm, what is that going to achieve? People who are meeting there have already met and spread the virus, it's not in hiding until after 10pm. Local restrictions may work if they were lockdowns but putting restrictions on people meeting in houses and gardens but only advising people against meeting their friends in pubs just won't work. Advising people against doing something won't stop them doing it. We're never going to get on top of this with these silly non-rules in place.

On top of this, we have 'guidance' on bubbles, rule of six, travel restrictions, work restrictions, face coverings, no wonder most people are confused about what they can and cannot do. I don't have a problem at all in following any rules set out, but please, let's have rules which make sense and are consistent, which are going to achieve the aim, and proper clarification which everyone can understand.

As things stand at the moment, I'm not allowed to have a socially distanced meeting with my brother in my garden, yet I can meet with five friends, all from different households, in the pub and sit at a table together. Where's the sense in that?

We haven't seen Daniel since Christmas. They're being extra cautious as Jasmine is in a high risk group and they don't feel safe going about their business as so many people are disregarding the advice given. I don't blame them.

Friday, 25 September 2020

An Update On My Crafting Rotation

I started working a crafting rotation in August as a way to ensure that projects which were languishing without being worked on got a little bit of attention. I chose seven outstanding knitting, crochet and cross stitch projects and ensured I worked on each of them for at least an hour each week. I just chose a different project each day to pick up. Since starting this rotation I've had finishes on my Mojito Socks, my Confetti Socks, and there's been Lessons Learnt when I came to finishing off a small cross stitch. My Snowman cross stich has also been finished but hasn't yet been turned into anything.

Of the other three projects I was working on, the scrappy blanket I'm knitting out of commercial yarn has been put on the back burner as I have no more yarn to add to it at this stage, but the scrappy blanket made from hand dyed yarn and my crochet granny stripe blanket have been brought forward to my updated rotation.

I've also added another five projects into my new rotation.

After much procrastination I've finally made a start on my English Paper Piecing. So far I've cut some fabric and glue basted a few hexagons, I've still got to start any actual sewing but that bit will come once I have some more hexagons ready.

I love knitted dishcloths and my supply is now running a little short so I thought I'd get a few knitted up so that I don't run out. I usually use the Grandmother's Favourite Dishcloth pattern but I thought I'd give the Wondrous Dishcloth pattern by Jooles Hill a go this time. It's knitting up well but it looks a bit on the small side for what I like so I shall have to see what it's like when it's finished. Perhaps I'll just cast on extra stitches next time, we'll see.

I mentioned the cross stitch project I'd started when I was about eleven or twelve and never finished in my Rusty Cat post. I'd left a needle in the fabric which, over the following forty years, had rusted. Even after a soak the stain wouldn't come out and I was wondering whether to try and finish it off or not, the majority of the comments on that post encouraged me to carry on stitching and I'm glad I did as the stain has been covered. I have to say though that I now know why I put this project down and didn't pick up another cross stitch project until recently, it's so hard going with all the half stitches, it's enough to put me off it again. An hour a week is probably just enough time to devote to it and it will get done eventually.

Someone on Instagram showed a baby blanket they were knitting and I just couldn't resist. I've still got so may projects already waiting in the wings but this pattern really called out to me. It's called the Twinkle Twinkle Blanket and it's by Helen Stewart. I'm knitting it in Drops Baby Merino in the Light Beige colourway. There's no babies to knit for at the moment but I'm sure it will come in one day.

I asked Who Fancies A Bit Of Stitching? when I came across the Twelve Days of Christmas design by Plum Street Samplers. I've now made a start on this and I'm pleased to say that Marlene from Poppy Patchwork and Linda from Linda's Crafty Corner are stitching along with me so do keep an eye on their blogs for their updates. If anyone else fancies joining in, it's not too late, do let me know if you decide to stitch along with us. It's a lovely design which I know I shall enjoy stitching.

Of course, you'll notice that I haven't got a pair of socks on the needles at the moment and that's unheard of for me. Well, it isn't actually true as I have cast on a new pattern but as I'm joining in with the Strictly Knitalong hosted by Ali on her Little Drops of Wonderful podcast and as I'll be knitting these whilst watching Strictly Come Dancing I haven't included them in my rotation. The first of the Strictly Specials was on TV last weekend so I cast on then. I haven't got much done yet but I'm sure now they're started I'll see some progress each time I pick them up.

My crafting rotation seems to be working well for me so far and I'm enjoying having so much variation in my crafting at the moment.