Saturday 31 May 2014

Challenge Update - May 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.

This month, I've knit the Innocent Big Knit Garlic again by Juliet Bernard which can be found on Ravelry. I've used this pattern before but I previously knit the hats in cream so that they resembled garlic, but this month, I've knit them in bright colours.

My nice thing for May was spending some time at Fairburn Ings RSPB reserve to get to know my camera a little better. I got my DSLR camera last year but I'm still getting to grips with it. I enjoyed taking lots of different photos, here are a few of them.

We've booked to go to Cornwall again for our holidays this year so I thought the Country Living Guide To Rural England - The West Country would be a good non fiction book to choose for May. It contains lots of information about various places in Cornwall, as well as other counties in The West Country. We're staying about five miles away from Bude so we're not all that far from the border with Devon, which we sometimes cross on days out while we're on holiday, so it's good to have information on places in Devon too.

Eleanor hasn't had any exams this week with it being the school holidays so we've had a bit of a lazy week. Just as well really with me just getting over my bad cold. She's still been revising but has taken a bit of time out for a couple of sleepovers at friend's houses as well as trips out with friends. Just two more weeks to go and her GCSEs will be finished. I hope all the studying she's done will be worth it.

Thursday 29 May 2014

Healthy Eating On A Budget

I'm often lucky when I visit our local supermarket, I seem to arrive just at the right time when yellow stickered items are being put on the shelves.

We don't eat lots of salad so I only grow bits and bobs, so being back on my healthy eating regime, I decided I needed to fill up the salad drawer in the fridge.

I don't think I've ever got bargains quite as cheaply as these.

A continental side salad for a penny, a bag of sweet alfresco salad for 2p, an iceberg lettuce for 2p, a bunch of spring onions for 7p and two little gem lettuces which the yellow sticker has dropped off but they were either a penny or 2p.

That's not only healthy eating but healthy shopping too, my purse is very grateful.

Tuesday 27 May 2014

Nearly A Match

I love self patterning or self striping yarn, it takes all the hassle out of changing colours when knitting and I love to watch the pattern emerge as I'm working with it.

This is Regia World College Color in Bachelor, a yarn which is now discontinued. I usually knit socks in 4 ply but this is thicker, perfect for wearing inside boots in winter. The ribbed Thuja pattern also gives the socks a bit more bulk and pads them out.

When I use a self striping yarn for socks, I try to match each sock. As you can see, I nearly managed it, there's just a little more red on one toe than the other.

It's been quite a while between knitting my last pair of socks and these, but I'm back in the swing of sock knitting again so I don't think it'll be long before I'm casting on my next pair.

Sunday 25 May 2014

Nursing A Cold

I'm not ill very often, so why is it then that I could get a cold any day of the year, but it has to come for the bank holiday weekend?

Actually, it started on Wednesday and today is the first day that I've started to feel any better. It's really knocked me off my feet with the sore throat, runny nose, sore eyes and achey muscles, though I've had to carry on with all the household chores as you do when you're a wife and mum.

We hadn't planned to do anything this weekend. Mick was supposed to be playing cricket yesterday but the match was cancelled as the pitch was waterlogged. It allowed him an extra day to get Daniel's bedroom decorated. We've had the walls plastered as they've been papered before, so now we can just paint them. The carpet's being fitted next weekend. We're in a rush to get it done before Daniel tells us he wants to come home from university for the weekend again.

Eleanor's pleased that she's got a break from her exams at the moment, the next one isn't until next Monday. She's given the revision a rest this weekend, and yesterday she met up with a friend and they went clothes shopping in Leeds. It's the first time she's seen friends outside school since her GCSEs started, she's been non stop revising so it's nice for her to have a bit of a break, though I'm sure she'll soon be back to it as she's still got five more exams to come.

I'm having a rest this weekend whilst I nurse this cold, though hopefully, I'm now on the mend. I think an afternoon in front of the tv with my crochet is called for.

Friday 23 May 2014

Nature Notes

It was back at the beginning of May when Mum from Mum's Simply Living Blog hosted a virtual spring fair with virtual raffle. The prize on offer wasn't virtual though, it was very real, The Nature Notes of an Edwardian Lady by Edith Holden, and I was the lucky winner.

Not only did Mum send me the book, but she also popped a lovely bookmark in the parcel too. I don't have many bookmarks so I was really pleased with this.

The Nature Notes of an Edwardian Lady is the predecessor to The Country Diary of an Edwardian Lady which you may already be familiar with, and is written in a similar style.

The book is illustrated with Edith's watercolour paintings of flowers, plants, birds and butterflies which are just charming.

Edith's writing transports me to places I've never seen before.

On the 16th of March 1920, at the age of 48, Edith Holden died tragically by drowning in the Thames at Kew whilst gathering buds from chestnut trees.

Thank you, Mum, I shall enjoy reading this book very much.

Wednesday 21 May 2014

The Times They Are A Changin'

My baby left school today. I don't know what I think about it really, I can't believe that both my children are now past school age, that makes me feel very old.

Here she is ready for her very first day at school, back in September 2002, she'd just turned four in July.

This was taken in September 2009 on her first day at secondary school. I can't believe how she's grown up in the last five years.

Another one for the album, taken this morning on her last day in school. She's glad that she doesn't have to wear a tie any more.

Eleanor's now on study leave, only having to go back in to school when she's got an exam scheduled. She's going back to sixth form in September to take A levels, but I'm sure she'll feel different knowing that she doesn't have to be there and that it's her choice.

Eleanor's had the same form tutor for the full five years she's been at secondary school. When she first started, he got the class to write a letter to themselves which he kept and handed back out to them yesterday.

They were supposed to write about what they liked and what they wanted to do in the future. This is Eleanor's. She only took two of the options she said she would, and she no longer wants to be a fashion designer.

This is what she wrote on the back of her letter.

I did as I was instructed and this is what I found.

Matthew was Eleanor's first boyfriend and they're still good friends, awwwww.

They all signed each other's shirts today, leaving lots of good luck messages for the future.

Eleanor's always loved school so today has been a bit of a wrench. Lots of her friends are going off to different sixth form colleges so it's been a sad day having to say goodbye to them all, but I'm sure the future holds lots of good things for her.

Sunday 18 May 2014


We had a wonderful time last night at Leeds Grand Theatre watching Evita.

Mick and I have seen it on stage before, but it was the first time for Eleanor, though she's seen the film and loves the music. She's performed songs from it many times on stage herself. This production was different from the last one we saw, we thought this was the better of the two, though we still enjoyed it last time.

Marti Pellow from Wet Wet Wet took the part of Che and he did a fantastic job. Last time we saw this musical, three actresses took the part of Evita, each playing a different time of Eva Peron's life, but in this production, Madalena Alberto played the whole part herself, quite a demanding role as she's on stage nearly the whole way through, and it lasts for over two hours.

The flyer includes a couple of quotes. The Stage: "I defy anybody who sees this production to say they have seen a better one". What's On Stage: "Everything about this show is spectacular... As good if not better than any of its predecessors...Truly magnificent". Quite a claim, but true in our experience.

Friday 16 May 2014


I'm going back a while here, a week last Monday actually when it was May bank holiday. Eleanor had gone off to her friend's house, five of them were meeting up to rehearse the scripted play which they were performing as part of their Drama GCSE later on that week.

Mick and I decided we'd have a couple of hours out of the house so I suggested that we go to Selby. It's about fifteen miles away from where we live, but I know that Monday is market day, and on bank holidays, the market attracts more stalls than usual and spreads along the streets. I enjoy wandering around a good market and seeing what each stall has to offer. If you don't already know, it's Love Your Local Market fortnight May 14th to 28th 2014, a celebration of our market culture here in the UK, with lots of events scheduled. There's a link on the site to find your nearest event.

Selby has a beautiful abbey which is open to the public every day. It has a lovely coffee shop which is open most days, and on the day we went, there was a craft fair in the abbey too. We browsed the various craft stalls as well as taking a look at the inside of the abbey.

Back outside, we carried on strolling around the market and came to a book stall where I couldn't resist purchasing books two and three of The Midwife Trilogy, Shadows of the Workhouse and Farewell to the East End. I know I haven't read Call the Midwife yet but it's good to have these other books ready to follow on when I do. Another two books to add to my reading pile then.

Archie had been left at home, I didn't think he'd appreciate being dragged around a market whilst we kept stopping at every stall, so we decided to buy him a treat of a pig's ear. I should imagine that pig's ears are quite a delicacy to dogs, Archie takes his time when given one, sniffing it for quite a while before licking it and eventually giving it a good chew. I have to tie his ears up in a scrunchy to avoid them becoming a slimy, matted mess when eating anything like this.

After a while, he took his lovely pig's ear outside to eat in the sunshine whilst he watched Mick cut the grass.

You'll be pleased to hear that all the rehearsals for Eleanor's performance paid off. We were allowed to go in to school to watch the exam performance and it was very good. Afterwards, her teachers presented each of the students with a dvd of the performance as a keepsake, a lovely touch.

Only another week to go and we get another bank holiday.

Tuesday 13 May 2014

Reading Pile

The books on my reading pile keep increasing, I can't read at a fast enough pace to keep up with them.

You may remember me reading A Street Cat Named Bob by James Bowen towards the back end of last year. I've recently read the follow on to this book, The World According To Bob. This book continues telling the tale of James and Bob's life together and the ways in which Bob has helped James through many hard times. I thoroughly enjoyed reading about Bob's antics.

I've also read the third book in the Nightingale series by Donna Douglas, The Nightingale Nurses. This book is my favourite so far, perhaps because I've got to know the characters so well through the first two books. I couldn't resist buying the fourth book, Nightingales On Call, when it came out at the end of April and I'm reading that now. New characters have been introduced in this book so I'm looking forward to getting to know them better.

While passing a bookshop in Leeds which sells discounted books, I saw Call The Midwife by Jennifer Worth for just £1.99. I love the television series which is based on these books so I'm sure I'll enjoy reading these memoirs.

I buy many of my books from charity shops these days, though I'm careful about which ones I buy from as some want to charge nearly the same price as it would cost new. These two books cost me the princely sum of 99p for the pair, they were buy one get one free. Midwives by Chris Bohjalian sounds worlds away from the gentle pace of Call The Midwife. The blurb:-

Sibyl Danforth is a midwife, highly experienced and respected in her local community for delivering babies at home. Then the unthinkable happens. On a winter night in an isolated house in rural Vermont, in the middle of a lengthy and strenuous labour, tragedy strikes. With phone lines down and roads slick with ice, Sibyl is forced to perform an emergency caesarean on a mother she believes has died of a stroke.

But what if Sibyl's patient wasn't dead - and Sibyl inadvertently killed her?

Related through the eyes of Sibyl's 14-year-old daughter Connie, Midwives is powerful and gripping to the end. A courtroom battle ensues as Sibyl faces the antagonism of the law and the accusations of her own conscience, while trying desperately to keep her own family and reputation intact.

The other book, One Day by David Nicholls, has now been made in to a film and though I haven't seen it myself, Eleanor has watched it over and over again, she loves it. Perhaps it's something to do with the fact that the one day which the title relates to is the 15th of July, Eleanor's birthday. More often than not, I prefer a book to a film, so I thought I'd give this one a go. The blurb:-

You can live your whole life not realising that what you're looking for is right in front of you. 15th July 1988. Emma and Dexter meet on the night of their graduation. Tomorrow they must go their separate ways. So where will they be on this one day next year? And the year after that? And every year that follows?

We've recently started decorating Daniel's bedroom while he's away at university. Whilst packing the books on his bookshelves away, I came across the copy of To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee which he used in secondary school whilst studying for his English Literature GCSE. It's a book which I also studied for my English Literature O Level and I'm now looking forward to rereading it. Flicking through the book, I can see that Daniel made notes in it and underlined various text. I've seen the film version of this book starring Gregory Peck many times and I never tire of it so I'm sure I'll be able to say the same for the book.

I'm not a fast reader, I only read a chapter or two when I go to bed so I think there's enough there to keep me going for a while.

Saturday 10 May 2014

The Belle Of The Ball

Eleanor had a wonderful time at her prom last night. I thought you might like to see some of the many photos I took.

We called at my mum and dad's so that they could see her on her way to her friend's house. These photos were taken there.

The back of the dress is laced up.

All the girls were already there when we arrived at her friend's house, we were still waiting on a couple of the boys though.

It had been raining heavily in the morning but luckily, it had brightened up by the afternoon. It was very windy though and the girls kept having to adjust their hair.

They all scrub up well, they don't look like this when they're coming out of the school gates.

Sharing a joke.

BFF's. (Best Friends Forever).

The obligatory limo line up photo.

They all managed to fit inside the limo, three of the boys were seated at the back.

I knew Eleanor would be the first one with a glass in her hand. Like mother like daughter.

The prom was held at the Centenary Pavilion at Leeds United Football Club. Here they are arriving.

Eleanor and her date.

After the prom, they all went back to Eleanor's friends house where they partied the night away in to the small hours, after which, they crashed where they dropped. Eleanor had a fabulous night and memories were made which I'm sure she'll remember for a very long time. Just the GCSEs to get over and done with now.