Thursday 30 January 2014

Challenge Update - January 2014

My 2014 challenges are:-

1) Knit one hat each week for The Innocent Big Knit.
2) Do something nice for me.
3) Choose a non fiction book from the library.

I'm on track with my Big Knit hats. They're so easy to make and take less than an hour of my time. I'm really pleased that I've made this one of my challenges this year as I've been meaning to join in and knit hats for the last few years but just haven't got round to it, so this challenge is making sure that I get plenty made this year.

My nice thing for January was to sit down and watch my Les Miserables dvd. I went to see this film at the cinema when it came out last year and couldn't wait for it to come out on dvd so that I could watch it again. I was given this for my birthday in September but just haven't got round to watching it until now. I chose a quiet afternoon when Mick was at work and Eleanor was at school, made sure I had plenty of tissues on hand to mop up the tears and snuggled down on the sofa and indulged. I thoroughly enjoyed myself.

My non fiction book this month was Scenes From East Leeds which I did a post about earlier in the month.

That's the first month of the year nearly finished already. I think this year's going to speed by again.

Monday 27 January 2014

Worth The Wait

Do you remember me having to buy tulips from the supermarket a couple of weeks ago because they didn't have any daffodils? Well, I had to go in to Leeds on Saturday to get some material which Eleanor needed for her Textiles coursework at school. We went to Kirkgate Market, one of the largest indoor markets in Europe. It also has an outdoor section too. There's a stall there, B&M fabrics, which is really good. Eleanor got everything she needed at a very reasonable price, and the staff are very knowledgeable and helpful.

There's some great flower stalls in the market and I just happened to notice some daffodils as I was passing one, £1 a bunch or £2 for three bunches. I went for three.

Aren't they gorgeous? Definitely worth the wait.

They were tightly in bud when I bought them on Saturday, but as you can see, they've opened out already.

I'm very happy now that I've got my daffodil fix.

Friday 24 January 2014

Scenes From East Leeds

One of my challenges this year is to visit the library each month and choose a non fiction book. The book I've brought home for January is Scenes From East Leeds by John Gilleghan.

It doesn't look like the sort of book which jumps out at you, a plain green hardback cover with no photographs or drawings on it.

There are, however, two reasons for me choosing this book. The first is that it contains lots of interesting information about places which I know well, all from the area where I grew up and still live, and it's all in bite sized, easy digestible sections.

The second reason is that the author was one of my teachers at middle school. He was born in the area and after obtaining an honours degree in Botany and Zoology at Durham University, he obtained a post at the local grammar school teaching Biology. It was in 1974 that he was appointed Head of Science at the newly built middle school where later I was to become a pupil and where Mr.Gilleghan would become my Science teacher. He took early retirement from teaching in 1991 but he's very well known in the area as his love of local history and travel has led to him presenting very popular colour slide talks which he presents to local groups.

The book is based on a 100 part local history series, Scenes From The Country, which was published in the free local paper. It's intended to be a comprehensive A to Z guide to villages, people, estates, events and landmarks in East Leeds and in the distribution area of the paper in which it was published.

This is John Gilleghan outside Whitkirk Church, the church in which Mick and I were married.

I've enjoyed reading about my local area and I've learnt many things from this book. As you might expect, places I've mentioned many times on my blog feature in the book and I've learnt more about them.

This is one of my old Science books from the time when Mr.Gilleghan was my teacher.

I'd just moved to middle school and I had just turned ten years old.

This topic concerned the diet of mammals. I think the drawing is supposed to be a wild cat. As you can see, I got an A for this work, he obviously wasn't grading my drawing. Now you can see why I didn't take Art.

The school was just outside Temple Newsam, a place I've written about many times. We often visited it when covering certain topics and it was the ideal place when our topic was about trees. Some more fabulous art work there. It's interesting to see the Elm included in the work, though Dutch Elm Disease is mentioned too as it was around this time that the trees were being attacked by this devastating disease.

The library book is due back now, so I shall be scanning the shelves to see what I might choose for February. It's interesting how this month's book took me on a trip down memory lane.

Tuesday 21 January 2014

Watch The Birdies

Our Sunday morning walk this week was at RSPB Fairburn Ings. There were lots of garden birds to be seen, they were taking advantage of the fact that the feeders outside the visitor centre had just been filled up.

We had Archie with us so we wanted a decent walk, we decided to take the Riverbank Trail, a path which runs beside the River Aire.

A very big bird must have made this nest. There were a few of them clustered together in the tree tops, all packed with leaves.

We took a break at the Village Bay Viewpoint to look out on the lake.

It's the Big Garden Birdwatch this weekend, so don't forget to register. You'll get a free guide and a £5 RSPB shop discount. All you have to do is spend an hour counting birds in your garden, how simple can it be?

I'm stocked up and ready to go.

I always offer a variety of food in the garden, mixed seed, sunflower hearts, niger seed and suet blocks, as well as tasty treats from time to time. Offering an assortment of food encourages different species to visit. It's just as important to have water on offer too.

I hope I get plenty of visitors this weekend.

Friday 17 January 2014

No Crowds Here

I wandered lonely as a cloud
That floats on high o'er vales and hills,
When all at once I saw a crowd
A host of golden daffodils.

Whilst shopping in Morrisons a couple of weeks ago, I noticed that they had daffodils for sale. I didn't buy any on that shopping trip, but last Friday when I had to pop in to Tesco for a few things for tea, I decided that I'd treat myself. I was so disappointed to find that they didn't have any. I absolutely love daffodils. They're such a simple spring flower, yet they're so cheerful, beautiful and make me smile.

What they did have for sale were these tulips. Can you believe that they were reduced, yet they hadn't even started to open out. They should have been £3 but I bought them for £1.50.

Now, I love tulips too, but I do like to start my spring cut flower displays with daffodils, followed by tulips at a later date. Mind you, I've still got geraniums and marigolds flowering in the garden so it seems everything's topsy turvy this year.

A little tip, if you want to keep your tulips standing up tall rather than drooping their pretty heads towards the ground, just prick the very top of their stems, right underneath the flower, with a pin. It works wonders.

I've just put the tulips in the brown garden waste bin this morning, so they lasted a full week. I don't think £1.50 is bad for a weeks worth of pleasure.

Monday 13 January 2014


Yesterday, we went Garden Visiting In January to the historic walled and landscaped gardens in Wentworth. You can read about it on my other blog, The Good Life. Afterwards, we decided to pop in to the village to have a look around. Diane from Heart Shaped had mentioned it to me a while ago, she thought I'd like it there, and I did.

The main street is one long road and there's some beautiful little chocolate box cottages.

A street sign.

Paradise Square is aptly named, I think you'd agree.

Even the side streets are lined with pretty cottages.

Such a quaint little tea room with a charming garden. It was too cold to sit outside yesterday though, a frost lingered all day.

The heart of any village is The Village Shop.

Wentworth is a small village, yet it has two churches. The new church was commissioned in 1872 by the 6th Earl Fitzwilliam in memory of his parents. We walked up the tree lined avenue to take a look.

It has a spire of almost 200 feet which can be seen for miles around.

The old church is believed to have medieval origins.

Only the chancel and North Chapel remain intact.

The church was open so we went inside.

There's monuments to various generations of the Wentworth family as well as the Fitzwilliam family vault, though this was closed off yesterday.

A handy guide to tell you what to look for so that you don't miss anything.

I was interested by the reference to the Gascoigne family, especially Margaret Gascoigne who married Thomas Wentworth. As you know, a place we visit often is Lotherton Hall, this once belonged to the Gascoigne family and I wondered if there was any connection. It turns out that Margaret Gascoigne was indeed the ancestor of the Gascoignes who lived at Lotherton. The chest tombs hold the remains of Thomas Wentworth and Margaret Gascoigne.

I'd definitely recommend a visit to the church if you're in the area, there's so much history here and so much to see.

We had a wonderful day out, though we were glad the heating was on when we got home.

Thursday 9 January 2014


I've always said that I wouldn't like to use an eReader. I don't know what it is about books but I love the feel of them in my hands, turning the pages and being able to actually see how far through the book I've read.

I bought Mick a Kindle Fire HD for Christmas. I'd been toying with the idea of buying him an eReader for some time, though he'd never expressed a desire to own one and I didn't actually know if he'd use one. After doing a bit of research, I decided to go with a tablet version rather than a basic eReader as I thought he might get more use out of that. I have to say that it's been a big hit. I'm really pleased that I went for the tablet version as I was right, he's used it more for checking emails or searching for things on the internet than he has for reading so far, so it's good that I went with the model I did.

I've now been converted myself, I'd love an eReader. I'm often awake during the night but I never turn the light on to read in case I wake Mick up. An eReader with a built in light would solve this problem and I'd be able to read instead of just lying there awake. I'm not sure whether I'd want a tablet version though, a basic eReader would probably be ok for me.

Flighty has just done a post about his new eReader titled E-what! He didn't go for a Kindle though.

I don't think I'll ever lose my love of having a book in my hand, but I now think there's a place for both books and eReaders. Perhaps Santa will leave one in my stocking next Christmas.

Sunday 5 January 2014

Christmas Yarn

I got some lovely wooly gifts for Christmas this year. Would you like to see?

Look at this huge pack of Stylecraft Special DK. The pack is inspired by Lucy from Attic24 and includes the 17 shades which make up her Granny Stripe blanket. I'm not sure if I'll make a Granny Stripe blanket with it myself, I may use it for something different. It's still sealed in the bag it came in, it will be better leaving it this way to store it until I'm ready to use it, but I can't wait to get it all out and play with the colours, so many of them.

I also got some other Stylecraft yarn. This is Classique Cotton DK, I absolutely love the colours. I've earmarked some of this yarn for some washcloths, they should brighten up the bathroom.

I was very spoilt with this Debbie Bliss Baby Cashmerino. It's so soft and scrummy. I've decided that I'm not going to use this yarn yet, I'd like to build up a little stash of different colours before I make up my mind what to use it for.

One thing's for sure, I'm going to be busy with yarny projects in 2014.

Wednesday 1 January 2014

2014 Challenges

As usual, my challenges this year are fun, things I'm going to enjoy doing. I don't see the point in making new year's resolutions when they get set on the 1st of January and broken around the 4th.

Do you remember these little coloured balls that I posted about back in December? I told you that they were going to be used as part of my 2014 challenges, but I left you guessing what for.

Each year I keep meaning to join in with The Innocent Big Knit but so far, I've never got round to it. To join in, you have to knit little hats which are then sent to Innocent for them to put on Innocent bottles in November. Once sold, 25p from each bottle goes to Age UK to help vulnerable older people.

The hats need to be sent in by the beginning of October, and as I'd like to get fifty done to send in, my challenge is to knit one each week. There would still be a shortfall, so I've knit eleven already to start me off and get me on track.

So where do the little coloured balls come in? Well, take a look at the hat at the back of the photo below, the one which is knit in two different blues. This was the first one I knit. Just look at my rubbish attempt at making a pom pom. After that turned out so bad, I decided that I needed to rethink my idea and that's where these little coloured balls come in. I think the rest of the hats look much better.

My second challenge for 2014 came to me when I read Su's blog post, A List of Nice Things on her Living On The Edge blog. Su's post was about doing something nice for herself each month, and I thought this would be a nice challenge for me this year. What the nice things will be, I have no idea yet, but I intend to find twelve fun things. I suppose that most of them will be done with other people, but perhaps a couple may be things which I do on my own, we'll see.

A visit to the library is my third challenge. We're very lucky where I live, I know that so many libraries around the country have been under threat of closure, whereas my local library has recently been refurbished after the Big Lottery Fund awarded over £1m of funding to extend and refurbish it. It's now based on a green design which features the use of recycled materials and a variety of green technologies such as solar panels for heating water and a living sedum roof which is energy efficient and encourages wildlife. As we're so fortunate to have such a great resource in our area, it's important that we use it.

Back to my library challenge then. What I'd like to do is visit the library each month and choose a non fiction book to read. There's so many subjects I'd like to learn more about but never get round to, so this challenge should spur me on.

So that's my challenges set for 2014. They're all things I'm going to enjoy doing again so I shouldn't have any problem keeping up with them.

I hope everyone enjoyed their New Year's Eve celebrations. Another year's sped past, it's hard to believe that we're now in to 2014. Mick's back to work tomorrow, Daniel heads back to uni on Saturday and Eleanor's back to school on Monday. It's all over for another year.

Happy New Year.