Friday, 1 July 2022

Scuppered Plans

When the warm weather was with us, we took to walking Archie early morning and later on in the day, when the sun had lost a bit of its heat. It isn't only Archie who struggles in the midday sun, walking during the hottest part of the day isn't much fun for me either. It's been much cooler this week but we've still been walking at different times to usual.

On Tuesday, we decided to visit Temple Newsam, one of our regular walks. I thought it would be nice to show you the walled garden and how colourful it's looking. We arrived about 5pm and just as we were walking towards the gates we were met with a loud "Closed" from a groundsman who was approaching us to lock up. I didn't realise that the walled garden actually closed. It seems we'll have to revert to walking a little earlier if we want to visit this part of Temple Newsam.

Instead, we walked back up towards the house and decided to take a look around the back, an area we don't often visit on our walks. Archie enjoyed having a sniff around.

This is where you'll find the south garden, a formal 17th century design with beech and box hedges, trained laburnum arches and a pleached hornbeam walk.

It's all looking very green at the moment, not much colour about, but I did manage to find a few flowers in the border directly in front of the house.

I was saying to Mick that I can hardly remember what the inside of the house looks like now, I was just a little girl when I last took a look around.

Temple Newsam has featured heavily in my life. From the time I was two years old, our family home was within walking distance so we visited often, and as I was growing up, because we lived so close, I visited with friends. We'd walk or we'd ride our bikes. There was countryside surrounding the grounds but since then, so many new homes and businesses have been built around the area and there's such a lot of traffic. You wouldn't dream of allowing children to wander around by themselves now, how times have changed. We now live a short car ride away from Temple Newsam.

I just love hydrangeas but it's only a recent thing, they're a flower which has grown on me over the years.

Can you see all the seed pods hanging from the laburnum? I'd meant to visit this garden over the past few weeks as the laburnum walk looks fabulous when it's in bloom but I completely missed it. It's something to put in the diary for next year.

The warmer weather is supposed to be returning this weekend but looking at the forecast, it seems to be missing us. It looks like we're in for a bit of sunshine, cloud and rain. more of the same then.

Monday, 27 June 2022

No Crafting Here

You won't have seen much in the way of crafting here on the blog this year, that's because there hasn't been very much crafting happening. I lost my crafting mojo somewhat at the start of the year, working solely on granny square blankets to use up some leftover yarn, and to give me something to do with my hands on an evening whilst watching TV, but since we moved house at the end of April, I haven't picked up any sort of crafting at all.

I wrote a post about A Trio Of Blankets which I crocheted and since I wrote that post I added a further blanket to the pile with the intention of donating them to the Dogs Trust. I still mean to do that, in fact, I've got some other bits and bobs to take with them, I must add that to the never ending list of jobs that I've got to do.

It's been a real eye-opener moving house. We were in our last house for over twenty eight years so I'd forgotten just how stressful and time consuming it can be, I suppose it was inevitable that crafting would take a back seat over this period. There have been a few small jobs that we've wanted to do in the new house, and of course, we've been entertaining people who have dropped by to wish us well, all this eats into the time that we usually do our own thing. I'm finding that the time we start winding down at the end of the day is much later than it was before we moved too, so this will also have an impact on the time I've got to devote to leisure activities. All in all though, I just haven't had the inclination to do any crafting.

I happened to discover my scrappy blanket yesterday though. This is the only thing I left out of packing boxes to work on when we moved. I took it out of the basket where it lives and I felt the stirrings of something, perhaps my mojo returning, which is good because we're having a new carpet fitted in what will be my craft room on Wednesday, and just an hour ago we had an order delivered from Ikea with some furniture for that room, as well as other things. I sincerely hope that my mojo returns after kitting out a new craft room.

All the projects I've got on the go and my crafting materials will be coming out of boxes once I've got the craft room set up, perhaps that will kick start me into some crafting action if the sight of my scrappy blanket doesn't.

Thursday, 23 June 2022

Such A Relief

We took Archie to the vet's on Monday. It was time for his annual booster jab, but he was also due for a medication review and he had a health check too.

The verdict - his heart murmur is extremely loud and is at the most severe stage, he's been living with this for a number of years now, it's caused by mitral valve disease which is common in Cavalier King Charles Spaniels. He doesn't have any symptoms which show that the disease is progressing at this stage, so that's good. He's also got a number of lumps and bumps (haven't we all) which the vet thinks are nothing more than fatty lumps, something very common in dogs and not harmful. Obviously, we're not 100% sure that this is what they are, but Archie is absolutely fine in himself and they don't seem to be bothering him at all, so we're happy to just keep a close watch on him, as we always do anyway, at this stage.

Archie is twelve now, he's definitely slowing down, but he still enjoys life. His tail wags when he's taken for a walk, he's happy to greet other dogs and say hello, and he acts like a puppy when there's any food around. I'm always worried though when he has a vet appointment and it's such a relief when the vet's happy with him, as she was on this occasion.

How are your dogs and cats finding the heat? Archie's been struggling. We keep his fur quite short all the time now as we can tell he's happier when he hasn't got a long coat. His last grooming appointment was three weeks ago but even so, this hot weather doesn't make for a happy doggy. We've been walking him early morning and early evening in the coolest parts of the day, but even so, it's still warm. I believe that storms are forecast tomorrow, perhaps they will clear the air a little and make life more bearable for him.

Sunday, 19 June 2022

Great Expectations

Charles Dickens is widely considered the greatest novelist of the Victorian era, so it's surprising that I've never read anything of his before. I've seen adaptations of Oliver Twist and A Christmas Carol but I don't even know what any of his other books are about.

"Pip doesn't expect much from life...His sister makes it clear that her orphaned little brother is nothing but a burden on her. But suddenly things begin to change. Pip's narrow existence is blown apart when he finds an escaped criminal, is summoned to visit a mysterious old woman and meets the icy beauty Estella. Most astoundingly of all, an anonymous person gives him money to begin a new life in London.

Are these events as random as they seem? Or does Pip's fate hang on a series of coincidences he could never have expected?"


Mick bought me this beautiful cloth-bound edition of Great Expectations for Christmas so I thought it was high time I read it. I can honestly say that I thoroughly enjoyed every word. I really enjoy the experience of reading a book when you have literally no idea of what it's about and the story is only revealed bit by bit as you read on. The plot is excellent, the characters are diverse and Dickens' descriptive writing sets the scenes so well. Having been written over one hundred and fifty years ago, it's still attracting new readers and has certainly stood the test of time. 

I would definitely recommend you read Great Expectations if you haven't already, or even reread it if you've read it before. It's whetted my appetite to read more of what Dickens has got to offer.

Wednesday, 15 June 2022

'Spec'tacular

It's been six years since I last had my eyes tested, yes, six years. I can't believe it either. In my defence I was going to book an appointment when the pandemic hit, we can blame most things on that these days.

I knew already that I'd need some new reading glasses, I have to squint through my old glasses to be able to see anything and I was right, I needed a stronger prescription. I was given distance glasses when I had my last appointment to use when I was driving, but it's well over three years ago now that I got rid of my car and I no longer drive so I don't wear those any more. The optician said I no longer need those glasses if I'm not driving.

So I chose some new frames. Specsavers have a 2 for 1 deal on, you buy one pair at £69 or more and you get a second pair free, which is really handy as I leave one pair upstairs by my bed and use the other pair downstairs and take them out and about with me. I'm not really fussy with the frames, I tried on less than half a dozen pairs before I'd picked these out, and I went for both the same.

It's great being able to see clearly again when I'm reading or doing any close work. I should have definitely made an appointment sooner.

Saturday, 11 June 2022

Another New Job

Last July, I wrote a post when Eleanor Qualified as a biomedical scientist. At the time I said she just needed to find a job, and then when I wrote my Looking Back at 2021 post, I mentioned that she was starting a job in the new year in the department where she really wanted to work.

She's only been in that job for a matter of months but another job has come up. This new job is within the same department but in the field she ultimately wants to work in. Her dream job. She decided to apply and she was successful. Although it's in the same department in the same hospital, it's in a different laboratory, working with different people and with a new boss. She started on Monday and she loves it.

As I've said before, Eleanor's had to work really hard. Passing exams doesn't come easy to her but she's put the work in, struggled through and she's now exactly where she wants to be. It proves that hard work really does pay off in the end. We're very proud of her.

Tuesday, 7 June 2022

A Couple Of Recommendations

We've been so busy with the house move that TV watching has gone out of the window, especially as Mick also watches most of the things I watch these days and we just haven't had a lot of time to sit down together just lately. I've recorded a lot of things which we've still got to watch. There's a couple of series which Mick wasn't interested in though, so I've managed to watch those over the last few weeks.

The first one is The Staircase. I watched the documentary series about the trial of Michael Peterson who was accused of murdering his wife, Kathleen Peterson when she was found dead at the bottom of the staircase in their house. It was really good, so when I saw that a drama mini series had been made starring Colin Firth and Toni Collette, I knew I had to watch it. With so many series available immediately these days, it's quite annoying to have to wait a week for each episode to be released, but it's definitely keeping me wanting more. Colin Firth is brilliant in the role of Michael Peterson, he's been well cast, and I really like Toni Collette too, I've seen her in a few things.

The second series I've watched is Julia. This is based on the life of American television chef, Julia Child, who was recognised as bringing French cuisine to the American public with her cookbook, Mastering the Art of French Cooking. Sarah Lancashire stars as Julia Child. I don't know Julia Child at all so I'm unable to give an opinion on how like her she is, but I do enjoy nearly all the programmes I've seen Sarah Lancashire in, I think she's a great actress, and I've thoroughly enjoyed this series. I believe it's just been given the go ahead for a second series.

As I've mentioned two series which have cast British actors in American roles, I'd just like to mention my own little star. If you've been reading my blog for some time, you'll know that Eleanor used to be part of a Youth Theatre. She performed in many different shows right up to the time when she left the group to concentrate on her A Levels. After this she went to university, but now she's settled in her home life and career, she's decided that she'd quite like to get back into amateur dramatics. She saw a notice from our local society asking for new members so she went along and discovered they were going to be putting on a production of The Wizard of Oz so she auditioned and was given the part of Dorothy. It was staged each night from Tuesday to Saturday, and there was a matinee performance on the Saturday too. We really enjoyed it, and though I had my reservations on whether she'd be able to pull off an American accent, she did it brilliantly and never let it slip the whole way through the show. In fact, she spoke to members of the audience after the shows who actually thought she was American and couldn't believe it when she broke into her broad Yorkshire accent.

What have you been watching lately? Have you got any recommendations?

Friday, 3 June 2022

Proved Right And A Tree Identification

Back at the end of February we had a trip to Temple Newsam and I wrote my post, It's Crocus Season. Although there was an abundance of crocuses at the time, I was bemoaning the fact that the rhododendrons appeared to have been hacked back and I was contemplating a much diminished display this year. Temple Newsam Rhododendron Walk is usually magnificent in May and June, as you can see from the post I wrote back in 2012. Unfortunately, I was proved right, the hacking that the shrubs were given has definitely affected their flowering ability this year.

The beginning of the walk looks promising with quite a few shrubs in flower.

Unfortunately, as you turn the corner, there are quite a few empty spaces. It's a real shame as the impact of so many shrubs growing closely together when they're all blooming makes quite an impact.

There were still some buds waiting to open so perhaps it's looking a little better now as it's a couple of weeks or so since we visited, but there are definitely lots of empty spaces this year.

The azaleas in the open beds are flowering profusely and making up for the slight disappointment the rhododendrons are giving.

There are so many different colours...

...and so many different shades.

It's hard to choose a favourite.

When we visited back in February the trees were devoid of leaves and I'd taken a photo of a particular tree which I loved the shape of. I was wondering what kind of tree it was and Sustainable Mum and her daughter left a comment saying they thought it could be an Oak or a Sycamore going by its shape. It's the large tree in the photo above, isn't it a beauty.

Well, I can report that Sustainable Mum and her daughter were right, it's a sycamore.

It was a really warm day when we visited and Archie took refuge in the bluebells that were flowering, which reminds me that I never got to visit the bluebell wood near our old house when the bluebells were flowering. I had every intention to take Archie for a walk there before our move but time got away from me. I wonder if I'll discover any bluebells near my new house, I'll have to wait until next year to find out now.

Monday, 30 May 2022

Willow Sculptures At Lotherton

There were some willow workshops held at Lotherton last year and there's now quite a few willow sculptures situated throughout the grounds. I've discovered that they were made by a lovely lady by the name of Wendy who is twigsandsprigs_ on Instagram, and it was Wendy who conducted the workshops there too.

As you come up the drive there's this cute little deer. I thought a deer had escaped from the deer park at first glance the first time I saw it.

This hare stands about five foot tall and he can be found by the side of the road as you drive round to the car park at the back of the estate. I think he's my favourite of all the willow sculptures.

The penguin is a handsome chap, he's located right outside the entrance to Wildlife World where you can see all kinds of animals and birds. A colony of Humboldt penguins live here and they're fascinating to watch.

The rest of the sculptures can be see on the Boundary Walk. The fox is right at the beginning.

What a fantastic sculpture the archer is. He even has arrows in his quiver. 

You must remember to look up as you're walking otherwise you may just miss something, like this owl perched in the tree at the end of the Boundary Walk.

Apparently, there's also two squirrels but they're rather elusive, we haven't come across them yet but we're on the lookout.

Do you have a favourite?

Thursday, 26 May 2022

Persuasion

Thank you to everyone who left such lovely comments on my last post, wishing us well with our house move. Everything went smoothly, apart from being kept hanging around waiting for our keys on the day, and though we're nowhere near straight yet as there's a few small jobs we want doing, we've settled in well. There's still lots of boxes hanging around but they'll get emptied eventually as we tackle each room. We're having new carpets fitted and we've got new furniture on order so it's pointless emptying all the boxes just to have to pack everything back up again when we're moving things around. We've got all our necessities to hand though.

I'm hoping to catch up on all your news very soon as I work my way around Blogland.

Anyway, on to this month's book.

Although I've seen a fair few Jane Austen adaptations, I've never read any of her books. I've had a couple bought for me so I thought I'd start with Persuasion.

"Persuasion concerns Anne Elliot, a young Englishwoman, whose family is moving to lower their expenses and get out of debt. They rent their home to an Admiral and his wife. The wife's brother has been engaged to Anne in 1806, and now they meet again, both single and unattached, after no contact in more than seven years. What occurs when they meet each other again is vividly captured in Jane Austen's last complete novel. Persuasion clears the path for many humorous encounters as well as a second, well-considered chance at love and marriage for Anne in her second 'bloom'.

Persuasion is the last novel fully completed by Jane Austen. It was published at the end of 1817, six months after her death."


I had no idea what Persuasion was about so I had no preconceptions whatsoever. I found the writing style quite hard going at first but I soon got used to it and thoroughly enjoyed the story. A will they - won't they love story. There are some great characters in this book and a number of unlikeable ones, but they certainly add to the story. This being the first Jane Austen novel I've read, I have nothing to compare it to, but I think it was definitely a good book of hers to start with.

Tuesday, 26 April 2022

Moving House

I'm going to be taking a short break from blogging as we're moving house this week. 

It's been on the cards for quite some time. The house went up for sale over three years ago but we took it off the market again when my mum died. Then we put it back up for sale and had to take it down again when my dad died. Then we got another sale and the housing market slowed down because of the pandemic and we just couldn't find a house we wanted to move to. Finally, something came on the market which we were interested in and we put in an offer in November but there was a problem at the top of the chain which has taken all this time to sort out. We've been living in a kind of limbo not wanting to do much to the house we're in now or spend money on it because we knew we'd be selling it at some point.

We've lived in our present home for over twenty eight years, we've spent most of our married life here, so it's going to be a big change for us. I'm happy to be moving but I'll be taking some happy memories with me, times we've spent in the house with loved ones who are no longer with us, and of course, bringing our new born babies home from the hospital to this house, and the memories of them growing up here.

The last few weeks have been a frenzy of packing boxes and all the admin associated with a house move, but we've still got lots to do and I know I'm going to be very busy when we get to the new house.

I'll be back when we get settled in.

Friday, 22 April 2022

Nineteen Eighty-Four

The phrase "Big Brother" or "Big Brother is Watching You" has become known because of the television programme of the same name, but it actually originates from George Orwell's novel Nineteen Eighty-Four, with its theme of continuous oppressive surveillance. This book isn't a genre that I would ordinarily choose to read but I was curious.

"George Orwell's terrifying vision of a totalitarian regime has become a touchstone for human freedom ever since its publication, and is one of the most widely read books in the world.

Ruled by the Party, controlled by the watchful gaze of Big Brother and punished by the Thought Police, no one is free in this dystopian world. But, hidden away in an office in the Ministry of Truth, Winston Smith longs for liberty, and starts to rebel."


I knew little about this book really. I had a vague idea of the theme but as it's a genre I wouldn't usually read, I wasn't sure it would be for me. The beginning was a little hard going, but I read on a little more and was surprised to find myself enjoying it. It has a well thought out plot and is well written, you find yourself rooting for Winston Smith and reading on because you want to know what happens. It's a book which certainly makes you think, especially in the world we're living in at present. Another one I'd recommend.

Monday, 18 April 2022

A Trio Of Blankets

Back in January, I did a post about Blankets From Stash. I'm on a mission this year to use up some of my yarn stash and as I have rather a large stash of leftover sock yarn, I decided that I'd crochet it up into blankets to give to charity.

I've lost my crafting mojo a bit this year, to say the least. I haven't picked up any knitting or cross stitch at all, but I do like something to do with my hands once I settle down for the evening to watch TV, so a bit of mindless crochet has fitted the bill well. I've been using two strands of fingering weight, or 4 Ply, sock yarn held together and have managed to make three blankets.

I've made no effort in colour matching, or using colours in any particular order, the aim has been to just use up as much of this leftover yarn as I can, but I love the marled effect which holding two strands of different coloured yarn gives.

They're all decent sized lap blankets which I had intended giving to charity, perhaps to a care home or something along those lines, but this commercial sock yarn feels quite rough to the touch in comparison with the hand-dyed merino yarn I often use for socks, I'm not sure it really fits the bill for a blanket you'd like to snuggle in, so I thought perhaps I could take them to the Dogs Trust. The yarn I've used is wool so the blankets will be nice and warm and I'm sure the doggies won't mind them not being quite as soft as I'd like.

So that's just about all the commercial sock yarn used up, next I'll be on with all the leftover Stylecraft Special DK, of which there's a fair bit. This is an acrylic yarn and though not quite as warm as wool, the blankets will be much softer and snuggly. It's good to be using up all the oddments of yarn I have left over after completing different projects.

Thursday, 14 April 2022

After The Daffodils

The first flowers I usually buy in the new near are daffodils but after the daffodils come tulips.

The daffodils are coming to an end now, the last ones I bought from the supermarket were a pale variety and quite disappointing to me when I love the bright yellow, 'in your face' ones. So now I'm filling my vases with tulips.

It's quite a decision when it comes to choosing the colour, there's so many beautiful jewel tones so I'm spoilt for choice. This week, this dark pink variety caught my eye.

I love to pop a bunch of flowers in the trolley when I'm doing my shopping. It really cheers me up to choose something beautiful to bring home with me, and it's nice to have some colour in the house too.

Sunday, 10 April 2022

Gentleman Jack

The last day of Mick's holiday from work was gorgeous, probably the hottest day of the week. We have some fabulous places to visit within Yorkshire, this day we stayed in our home county of West Yorkshire as we travelled to Halifax to Shibden Hall.

Shibden Hall was built around 1420 and the Lister family owned it from around 1615 to 1926. Anne Lister, 1791-1840, was known in Halifax as Gentleman Jack because of her masculine appearance and she became the owner of Shibden Hall after the death of her aunt.

Anne Lister was known as a well-off Yorkshire landowner as well as a traveller, mountaineer and diarist. Her diaries were detailed and exceeded four million words. She wrote about her life, including her financial concerns and her work improving Shibden Hall. A portion of the diaries were written in code and when deciphered in the 1930s, it was discovered that she'd written about her deepest emotions, her private affairs and relationships with a number of women.

Suranne Jones stars as Gentleman Jack in a programme of the same name which was broadcast in 2019. The series is based on the diaries of Anne Lister. I didn't realise at the time of our visit but a second series has been filmed and the first episode is due to be broadcast on TV tonight.

The hall is surrounded by beautifully restored gardens and estate that forms Shibden Park. It's a lovely place for a day out with the family as it has a number of attractions.

There's a woodland which Archie would ordinarily have enjoyed but it was such a warm day and the parkland is rather hilly so we didn't walk him too far.

The boats were still tied up, too early in the year to row on the lake, I don't think anyone was expecting such beautiful weather in March.

The cafe was doing a roaring trade. There were plenty of people out enjoying the sunshine.

Shibden Hall and Park is a lovely place for a day out with a bit of history thrown in too. One of these days I'll take a look inside the hall but it's always a bit difficult when we visit places such as this when Archie's with us.