Saturday 30 May 2015

Challenge Update - May 2015

My 2015 challenges are:-

1) Read one book each month.

1a) Read Agatha Christie books in chronological order.

2) Watch films from IMDb's top 100 movies of all time.

3) Support charities.

May has been a good month for reading, I've managed four books as well as my Agatha Christie book.

I didn't know what to expect from We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves by Karen Joy Fowler as the blurb doesn't give much away. There's a bit of a twist, well, a lot of a twist so I won't give it away but I will tell you that it's about Rosemary, her family and family relationships. This book has got many mixed reviews, some people rave about it, others find it very hard going or even boring but there's no getting away from the fact that it will make you think. I actually thought it was an excellent read and I did shed tears, especially as there are some very sad true events documented in the book.

I saw a review for Yellow Crocus by Laila Ibrahim on Mrs M's Meanderings blog and thought it might be my kind of book, I was right I thoroughly enjoyed it. It follows the lives of Lisbeth and her enslaved wet nurse, Mattie, over the course of many years. It was one of those books where you want to keep reading to find out what happens next.

I'm a fan of The No.1 Ladies' Detective Agency books by Alexander McCall Smith so when I saw he'd got a new book out, Fatty O'Leary's Dinner Party, I thought I'd give it a go. It's recently won the Bollinger Everyman Wodehouse Prize for comic literature but I'm afraid to say that I found it very dull. It's supposed to be humorous but I didn't find it funny in the least, it was just one ridiculous situation after another. The Handsome Man's De Luxe Cafe, the latest Ladies' Detective Agency book, is still on my wish list though.

I read A Mother's Story by Amanda Prowse back in March and really enjoyed it. It's part of the No Greater Love series so I thought I'd read the rest of the collection. Poppy Day is about a married couple, Martin and Poppy, and how they cope when Mart is taken hostage in Afghanistan where he's serving in the army. Poppy is determined to bring him home herself after the army's failed rescue attempt but she faces a heartbreaking dilemma. I expected something different from this book, it didn't follow the course I thought it would and it was very far fetched, but I still enjoyed it.

The Secret Of Chimney's is the fifth Agatha Christie book I've read and it's been the hardest one to get in to so far. I had a bit of trouble at the beginning keeping track of who was who but it got easier to follow as I went along and I ended up enjoying it.

I managed to watch four films from the IMDb list this month.

I think everyone knows the Here's Johnny catchphrase from The Shining but I'd never seen the film. After all the hype surrounding it I expected more, I found it a bit disappointing.

A Clockwork Orange is definitely not my kind of film, I nearly turned this one off after the first half an hour as I just didn't get it. Thank goodness that some kind of story emerged after this time but it's not one I'd want to watch again.

I knew a bit about Reservoir Dogs before watching it. I'd shied away from it before as it's not the genre of film I'd ordinarily watch but it was a good film, not one I'd watch again but it managed to keep my interest. I did have to watch part of it from behind a cushion though, it's quite violent to say the least.

Toy Story 3 was my favourite film this month. This film is number 68 on the list yet Toy Story is not in the top 100 which I find unbelievable as I think it's far superior. I just loved the interaction in the first one between Woody and Buzz and how Buzz wouldn't believe that he was a toy. How about you, if you've seen the three Toy Story films, which would you say is your favourite?

I posted earlier this month about knitting Hats For Babies for Norfolk and Norwich Hospital: NICU (neonatal intensive care unit). I recently received an email thanking me for the knitting donations which I thought was very nice of them.

I decided that I'd save up all my 5p, 2p and 1ps for the duration of a month and then donate the total to charity. The coins totalled £1.80, not a lot I know but every little helps. I saw some lovely dogs with collecting tins for Guide Dogs and thought this was a great charity to help. The lady seemed very pleased when I got my little money bag out and dropped the coins in the tin.

I've finally got round to sorting out all my shoes. I have to confess that I don't wear many different pairs of shoes as I've always had problems buying comfortable footwear but I've collected quite a few pairs over the years which I shall never wear again, most of them only worn once or twice, so someone else might as well get some use out of them. I took them all to the Mind charity shop.

I've managed to keep up to date with my challenges even though May has been a very busy month. As you know, my dad was taken in to hospital at the beginning of the month and since then, my mum's also been in but she's home again now. I'll be glad to see the back of May, I'm just hoping for a healthier June.

Thursday 28 May 2015

Photo Medley - May

It's time for this month's round up of photos which haven't yet been seen on the blog.

I thought I'd start this collection with Archie chilling out. He certainly knows how to make himself comfy.

Sammy having a nibble at the living rabbit food I've grown for him, it didn't last long once he'd got going on it. I'm pleased to say that he hasn't had any more problems with his leg.

I was thrilled earlier this month when I saw a male bullfinch in the garden. It's the first time I've seen one visit, I'm always glad to see new birds at the feeders. It returned the following day but I haven't seen it since.

I managed to find a lampshade I liked for my bedroom. It doesn't shade the light too much which is what I wanted, and it makes pretty patterns on the ceiling and walls.

Eleanor mid recording.

Another photo of the goose family by the river in York.

I hope you've enjoyed this month's offerings.

Tuesday 26 May 2015

Down By The River

We had a trip to York on Saturday, mainly to see Daniel, but the weather was so nice that we had a detour before we went to call on him and ended up by the river. It's such a wonderful place to be when the sun's shining. You can just see the Minster in the background of this photo above the trees.

We love seeing all the different boats moored by the riverside.

How cute is this little goose family. Although the gosling at the back looks as though it has a broken neck, I can assure you that it was fine.

The boat sporting a cow is an ice cream boat, it was doing a roaring trade.

I spotted the bar behind the ice cream boat so we decided to cross the bridge and go for some refreshment.

It was really lovely sitting in the sunshine watching the boats on the river. It's always nice to do something unplanned like this.

As it happened, York Marina had organised a flotilla of 30 boats to sail from York Marina to Clifton Bridge and back so we watched them all go by.

Some of the boats had been decorated and their occupants were dressed up too.

I think if we ever won the lottery, a boat would be the first thing that Mick would buy.

We didn't stay long before carrying on our journey to see Daniel but it was a lovely break in the day and we enjoyed our time catching up with Daniel too.

Sunday 24 May 2015

Eleanor's Recordings

Eleanor's singing lessons ceased at Easter 2014 when her singing teacher retired. She was going to look for a new teacher but has been so busy with first GCSEs and now AS levels that she just hasn't had the time. She still loves to sing though.

It's about eighteen months now since she last recorded a song but she made up for it today as she was back in the recording studio and recorded two songs. I'd love for you to listen.

I hope you enjoyed them.

Friday 22 May 2015


It's a while since I've done any cross stitch. If truth be known, it's because I'm not enjoying the part I'm doing at all.

I've now completed all the cross stitch and I'm working on the backstitch, I'm finding it tedious. Do all cross stitch patterns incorporate some backstitching?

You can see bits which I've completed in the photo but there's still lots to go. It doesn't help that I'm not that quick at it either.

Never mind, I'll get there in the end.

Tuesday 19 May 2015

A Room With A View

This is the view from my bedroom window at the moment.

The lilac tree is in full bloom and it's looking beautiful.

I don't know what variety it is, it was already in the garden when we moved here back in 1993, but it's the most wonderful colour, much darker than most lilacs you see.

It also has the most glorious scent. I look forward to it blooming every year.

Sunday 17 May 2015

Sockalong - Week 3

I'm joining in with Christine's Sockalong over on her Winwick Mum blog.

My progress photo shows the exact point that I was at last week, I'm still at the same point. I had intended to go at my own pace with this Sockalong and that's exactly what I'm having to do. Events and commitments have left little time for knitting this week.

It's the final part of the sock tutorial on Christine's blog today so there'll be no further updates from me on the Sockalong now until my socks are finished, it could be some time, but I'm enjoying knitting away when I get chance.

Friday 15 May 2015

Hats For Babies

It was back in September last year when I read a post on Sally's Crafty Northerner blog about some charity knitting she was doing. She wrote in her blog post When To Admit Defeat? about some yarn she'd bought for the charity project she was undertaking but she just couldn't work with it because of the way the colours were falling. I commented on her post that I actually quite liked the yarn and Sally offered to send me the second, unused ball she'd bought.

The yarn is Wondersoft, Stylecraft's baby yarn, so I thought I may use it to make something for a baby. Afterall, it's lovely and soft.

Sally had intended the yarn to be used for charity knitting so I decided that I'd knit something for a baby charity. I had a look around the internet to see what I could find and I came upon a plea from Norfolk and Norwich Hospital: NICU (neonatal intensive care unit). They're in desperate need of blankets and hats for the babies in their care. To give you some sort of idea, they need 900/1000 hats in the coming year. I thought this was a good charity to knit for.

I started with a pattern I'd found on Ravelry for a Basic Baby Hat by Heather Tucker.

I then remembered the Easy Bright Stripes Newborn Baby Hat by Marianna Mel which Alison from Life At Sylvan House wrote about on her My Gift For A New Baby Boy post, and knit one of those too.

I used a range of sizes, afterall, babies come in all different sizes.

I managed to get six hats out of the one ball. It's interesting how the patterns from the variegated yarn form. A different hat results in a different pattern.

If you fancy doing some knitting for charity I found the UK Hand Knitting Association website very helpful. If you look under the Directories tab at Knitting for Charity, there's lots of current projects which need your help.

Wednesday 13 May 2015

Study Leave

It's Eleanor's last day at school today before her study leave starts. I thought being away from school for a couple of weeks would allow her extra time to revise for her AS Levels but the school are still putting classes on for those students who want to take advantage of them. Eleanor will be one of those students, she's worked so hard this year taking advantage of any extra classes she's been offered and working under her own steam out of school. It doesn't come naturally to her as it does to some kids, she has to work to get her grades, but work she has so I hope she's rewarded with the grades she deserves.

She's already taken one of the Psychology exams on Monday and one of the Sociology exams yesterday and she thinks they went ok. Two down, I think there's another eight to go. She's taking four subjects, Psychology, Sociology, English Language and Biology as well as sitting exams in General Studies.

There'll be no rest for her when the exams have finished, she's straight back to school to start on Year 13 work ready for her A Levels next year.

Daniel's also taking exams at university at the moment. His first one was on Monday and he thinks that's gone well. He had another one at 6pm yesterday but I haven't spoken to him since so I don't know how that went. His next one's on Saturday. They do sit them at odd hours and on funny days. I think he's got about five or six exams in total.

It's a busy time for exams at the moment, GCSEs, AS Levels, A Levels amongst others. Good luck to everyone out there who's sitting them.

Thank you for all your good wishes for my dad. I'm pleased to say that it wasn't as serious as we thought at first. It turns out he had appendicitis but with his other ongoing health issues we do worry and fear the worst. He underwent an emergency appendectomy at midnight on Sunday night and he was allowed home last night.

Sunday 10 May 2015

Sockalong - Week 2

I'm joining in with Christine's Sockalong over on her Winwick Mum blog.

After a week knitting the first sock, this is where I'm at. You can see the pattern of the yarn starting to emerge now.

I'd hoped to have reached the heel flap ready to knit along with the next part of the pattern but unfortunately, my dad was rushed in to hospital so lots of things have taken a back seat. I shall plod along with the sock at my own pace, which I'd intended to do anyway.

We're not sure how long my dad's going to be in hospital for so things are quite busy around here at the moment, but I'm trying to keep up with my blog and also reading other blogs, but I may not have time to comment as often as I usually do, I hope you understand.

Friday 8 May 2015

An Update On Sammy

I thought I'd give you a little update on Poor Sammy.

Sammy is Eleanor's rabbit and last month we noticed that he'd got some hay caught around his back leg. He'd bitten his leg trying to get it off, but he carried on biting once we'd removed the hay and he ended up having to wear a collar to stop him getting to his leg.

I'm pleased to say that the collar did the trick. He ended up having to wear it for quite a while as each time we took it off, he'd start biting again and we were back to square one, but he didn't seem to mind the collar and managed really well with it on. His leg is now fully healed and he's a very happy bunny again.

You can see the little bird bath in the photo above. This is one of two bird baths I have in the garden, the other is on a stand but this one is quite low. The birds love this as it's quite deep and holds a lot of water so they get a really good bath in it. The blackbirds especially like it. Sammy has realised it holds water so it's the first place he goes to when he's let out of his hutch and run for a scamper about on the grass. He manages to stand on his back legs and has a drink.

He's such a cutie.

Tuesday 5 May 2015

My New Bedroom

It's not actually a new bedroom, we've lived in this house for over twenty one years now and this has always been my bedroom, it's my newly decorated bedroom.

I should have taken some before photos but I didn't think at the time, you'll just have to imagine it, lemon walls, blue carpet and blue soft furnishings. We have fitted furniture, which may not be trendy or fashionable, but it gives us lots of storage space which is something I love in such a small room so we decided to keep it. There's three double wardrobes, one with three drawers at the bottom, and a run of nine drawers underneath the window.

We had wallpaper on the walls before but as we decorate each room, we're having the walls plastered so that they can be painted rather than us having to hang paper each time. I've gone for ivory walls which gives the room a clean, bright, airy feel.

We've got a new bed. I've always had a divan in the past but I loved this natual oak bedframe as soon as I saw it. It was rather more expensive than a decent divan would have cost but my mum and dad bought it for us as a gift. We're very lucky.

When I first thought about the new bedlinen I wanted, I thought I'd go with a small flower design but I saw this bedding set and knew immediately that this is what I wanted. It's embroidered with pretty flowers and little bees and butterflies. So pretty.

I wanted a second set of bedlinen and though I was tempted to buy two sets the same, I decided on a change. This time I've gone for a floral design with a contrasting polka dot.

The room isn't completed yet, I'm still looking for a lightshade and I want a picture for the chimney breast and a shelf for the wall to the side of it, you can see how bare it looks at the moment.

I also want a picture for above my bed head, that's quite a large wall so it will need to take up quite a bit of space. I'm not in any rush though, it will all come together eventually.