Saturday 29 August 2015

Challenge Update - August 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.

I was on holiday for part of August, that accounts for the number of books I've managed to get through this month, seven in total counting my Agatha Christie read. I always read plenty whilst I'm away.

A little while ago, I received a parcel through the post, all the way from Australia. It was sent by my good friend, Susan, from Granny Smith's Quilting. The gift was beautifully wrapped in some floral fabric, which I'm sure I'll be able to make very good use of some time in the future.

Susan thought I might enjoy reading Footsteps in an Empty Room by Lilly Sommers, and she wasn't wrong. This was the first of this month's reads and I thoroughly enjoyed it. The story starts with bumps in the night and goes on to tell the tale of two different time periods which interweave. I've lent the book to my mum and she's coming to the end of it now, having enjoyed it too. I was lucky enough to receive the beautiful dolphin bookmark in the parcel too. Thank you so much, Susan, it was so kind of you to think of me.

What Have I Done is the second book in the No Greater Love series by Amanda Prowse, I read it on my Kindle. Domestic abuse is the subject of this book and it could be quite hard to read at times, especially knowing that this isn't a far fetched story, many women, and men, go through this in reality. It's very well written and kept me turning the pages to find out what happens.

After reading The Fault in our Stars a couple of years ago, Eleanor wanted to read something along the same lines so I bought her Now is Good by Jenny Downham. She's never read it so I decided that I would. Published previously under the title Before I Die, it's a story narrated by Tessa who's sixteen and is terminally ill. She's been given just a few months to live and so she creates a list of things she wants to do before she dies. This book falls in the Young Adult Fiction genre, however, having a daughter roughly the same age as Tessa, it was hard not to look at Tessa's story from a parent's perspective. It's a moving story and one I'd recommend to any age.

The third book in Amanda Prowse's No Greater Love series is Clover's Child and is my favourite book by this author so far. Set in the East End, the story covers what it was like to fall in love with, and get pregnant by, a West Indian boy in the sixties. The book tells of the attitudes and prejudices of people during that time and highlights how things have changed since. A real page turner.

I wasn't sure that I'd enjoy A Little Love, Amanda Prowse's fourth book in the No Greater Love series, but I did. Pru Plum turned sixty six last year but has never found love, mainly because she hides a secret from her past. I did guess Pru's secret quite early on but it didn't spoil it for me. I wouldn't say this is a fast paced, gripping novel but I enjoyed reading about a more mature lady falling in love for a change as most romance stories are centred around twenty somethings.

The Lie of You by Jane Lythell was a free book on my Kindle. This is a thriller about one woman stalking another. I like how the book is written, one chapter from Heja's viewpoint and the next from Kathy's. This is one book where I didn't expect the ending.

My Agatha Christie read for August was The Mystery of the Blue Train. This is another Poirot book and it kept me guessing right till the end. A real page turner and one of my favourites so far.

I've only managed two films again this month.

The Departed is a crime thriller from Martin Scorsese starring Leonardo DiCaprio, Matt Damon and Jack Nicholson. An undercover cop is attempting to infiltrate a gang in Boston but there's a mole in the state police. All I can say about this film is Wow! The ending! I never saw that coming. A decent film but one I wouldn't have chosen to watch if I wasn't doing this challenge.

Sci-Fi is not a genre for me at all but I decided that I'd give The Matrix a go. It actually has quite a good storyline which put me in mind of a Doctor Who episode, New Earth, with the Sisters of Plenitude. I'm afraid The Matrix started to lose me half way through and then again near the end with prolonged fight scenes. Not really my thing.

I've done a bit of charity shop shopping this month. First of all, this Typhoo Tea tray caught my eye in the Age UK shop and then I came across a book in The Salvation Army shop which I'll be reading a little later on in my Agatha Christie challenge. These were both found in Pickering whilst we were on holiday.

I picked up another couple of books nearer to home, one from the PDSA Shop and one from the St Gemma's Hospice shop. I enjoyed watching Poldark earlier on in the year so when I saw the book, I thought I'd have a read. I picked up the Liane Moriarty book because I read one of her books earlier this year and really enjoyed it, I hope this one's as good.

I've recently bought some new towels as my old ones had seen better days, I've had some of them since before we were married and as you know, we celebrated our Silver Wedding anniversary last month. Although the old towels were past their best, I knew that the Dogs Trust would be able to get some use out of them so we bagged them up and took them to our local centre last week. There were bath towels and some beach towels amongst them. Whilst we were there, we visited the dogs which are waiting to be rehomed at the moment. It's heart wrenching seeing all those abandoned dogs waiting for a new home, but the Dogs Trust do all they can to help them so they're a very deserving charity to help.

As I mentioned in my Yarndale Sock Line post, I'm sending a pair of hand knitted socks off to help someone in need. In fact, the socks have been posted today so that they'll be there in plenty of time. Eleanor made me a little label to attach to the socks so that I could write the particulars on the reverse.

It's a bank holiday weekend here in the UK (except Scotland I believe), and Mick's taken the rest of next week off work too so I'm keeping my fingers crossed that we get some fine weather so that we can have a few days out. I hope you all have a good weekend, whatever you're up to.

Thursday 27 August 2015

Photo Medley - August

Another month's coming to a close so it's time again for a round up of the photos which haven't yet made it on to the blog. Lots more to share from our recent holiday.

This is the view we had as we were driving across the North Yorks Moors, the sky was threatening, we did have some rain when we arrived in Whitby.

The sheep looked at us as we passed. We had to be very careful as many were right by the side of the road.

Lobster Pots. Whitby is a bustling fishing port.

The ideal place to go when you're having a disagreement.

Archie enjoying Dalby Forest. He really loved it here, he could come off his lead and be free.

The beach at Sandsend. I love how quiet it is here, so different from the busy seaside towns of Scarborough, Bridlington and Whitby.

The tide was bringing in lots of pebbles.

I'm not sure if Archie could taste the salt from the sea or if he was licking sand off his nose.

Looking towards Lindisfarne Castle. There's so many beautiful views on the island.

Archie enjoying Cocklawburn beach. A sunny day for a change.

Just after we arrived home. Everything in the garden had grown so much, including the grass. I'm not sure if Archie was pleased to be back on his own turf or a bit depressed because his holiday had come to a close.

I've still got quite a few things to write about the holiday so they'll be coming up in future posts. I hope you're not fed up of hearing about it yet.

Tuesday 25 August 2015

Yarndale Sock Line

Anyone who's a crafter and has a blog can't have failed to have heard about Yarndale, the festival of all things woolly which is held over a two day period in Skipton. This will be the third year it's been running and I was lucky enough to attend last year.

There's usually a project which people can get on board with, the first year it was bunting which was displayed throughout the Auction Mart where the festival is held and last year it was mandalas, they were all put together and they made a fabulous visual display. This year, the public have been asked to help with flowers to create a colourful flower garden and afterwards, the flowers will be made in to brooches, corsages and floral wreaths which will be raffled or sold with all profits going to the Alzheimer's Society. Such a good cause.

I've never taken part in any of the Yarndale projects, but recently, Christine over at Winwick Mum blog came up with the idea of a Yarndale Sock Line. You may remember my post about Christine's Sockalong, it was a huge success and so many more people are now knitting socks because of her fabulous tutorial. It was after the success of the Sockalong that Christine came up with her idea. Christine's asking people to send handmade socks before Yarndale or to bring handmade socks to the festival on the day so that she can make Sock Line bunting. It will be a sight to behold, however, the main aim is to have lots of pairs of socks which can be donated after Yarndale to those in need. Homeless, terminally ill, women's refuge and bereaved are just some of those who might need a beautiful pair of handmade socks.

I think the Yarndale Sock Line is a great idea and I've promised to send a pair of handknitted socks to Christine so that they can be included in this brilliant project. Unfortunately, due to lack of time, other commitments and life getting in the way, I haven't been crafting at all just lately, I haven't even finished the Sockalong socks. What to do. Now if you remember all the way back to 2011, I wrote my Finished At Last post. In that post I showed a pair of socks which I'd just finished. The yarn was very hard to knit with, very splitty, and if truth be told it put me off the socks and I've never worn them, they've just been sitting in my sock drawer for the last four years. I'm sure someone could put these socks to good use.

Eleanor's promised that she'll make a little label for me which can be attached to the socks and then they're good to go. I'm not sure yet if I'll be attending Yarndale this year but if I do, I'll be able to see them pegged to the Yarndale Sock Line and I'll know that afterwards, someone in need will be a little cosier because of them.

This is such a wonderful project, anyone who knits or crochets socks knows how snuggly they feel when their feet are wrapped up in woolly goodness so I hope that lots of people will take part. If you'd like to knit or crochet a pair of socks for the Yarndale Sock Line, you can get all the information you need from Christine's Yarndale Sock Line post. You don't even need to send the socks, you could even donate them to a good cause in your own area and just send a photo. My socks will be on their way to you very soon, Christine.

Sunday 23 August 2015

Holy Island

One place I definitely wanted to visit whilst I was in Northumberland was Lindisfarne, or to give it its full title, The Holy Island of Lindisfarne.

The first thing we had to do was to check the tide times. Lindisfarne is linked to the mainland by a causeway and the road is covered twice each day by the tide.

In 635, an Irish monk, St Aidan, arrived in Lindisfarne and founded a monastic cathedral on the island. He served as its first bishop and travelled throughout the countryside of Northumberland spreading the gospel. He's credited with restoring Christianity to Northumbria. The ruins which can now be seen on the island are from a priory established in the 12th century by monks from Durham, which claimed direct descent from the early monastery.

At the side of the priory is a modern day sculpture of St Aidan.

St Mary's Church is reputed to stand on the site of the original monastery which was founded by St Aidan and parts of its structure date back to the 7th century. I'm always drawn to stained glass windows, there were some beautiful ones here.

Inside the church is this statue made from elmwood, carved principally with a chain-saw. It's known as The Journey and depicts monks of Lindisfarne carrying St Cuthbert's coffin on the first stage of its journey to Durham. St Cuthbert was a monk and bishop associated with the monasteries of Melrose and Lindisfarne. He's regarded as the patron saint of northern England.

Lindisfarne also has a castle, however, as with many National Trust sites, dogs aren't allowed so we admired from afar.

Travelling back to the mainland over the causeway, some water had been left on the road which splashed the car windows as we drove across. We must have been splashing the cars behind us too.

It's amazing to think that this area gets fully covered by the sea. The residents of Lindisfarne must have to plan their journeys to the mainland very carefully otherwise they're at risk of being stranded and having to wait for the tide to go out again.

We had a lovely day and even though the weather wasn't at its best, it kept dry and didn't rain.

Friday 21 August 2015


The second week of our holiday was spent in Northumberland.

Again, we'd rented a cottage as a base so that we could have days out in different places in the county. I took a few photos of the cottage to share with you. The living room was open plan with the kitchen along the back wall, a dining area and a sitting area.

There were French doors which opened out in to the garden.

The eight cottages, which were arranged in a horseshoe shape, each had it's own private garden, which was great for us as we were able to shut the gate so that it was a safe place for Archie. Only two of the cottages were dog friendly.

Unfortunately, we had one or two issues with this cottage but we didn't let it spoil our holiday, it was only a base afterall.

Northumberland has a stunning coastline with some fabulous beaches. The first one we visited was Spittal, a sandy beach located near Berwick-upon-Tweed. It was only when I saw the lighthouse that I realised I'd seen this beach many times before on Anne's Frayed At The Edge blog.

I didn't realise that L.S.Lowry had links with Northumberland, he visited Berwick-upon-Tweed several times and the Lowry Trail identifies the sites of many of his paintings, one being Spittal. This is taken from an information board on the promenade.

Cocklawburn Beach is also near Berwick-upon-Tweed. We spent a lovely morning here when the sun finally decided to put in an appearance.

The beach itself is sandy but there are rocks along the sides with rockpools, great for gathering sea treasure.

Archie liked it here too.

This just gives you a small taste of Northumberland, there's so much to see and do here, I'll tell you what else we did in some future posts.

Wednesday 19 August 2015


The second week of our holiday was to be spent in Northumberland. We had to leave the cottage in Pickering by 10am but couldn't access the cottage in Northumberland until 3pm. It was just over a two and a half hour journey between the two which meant that we had lots of time to spare. When I was eleven, I'd been on a school trip to Northumberland, staying in Cullercoats, North Shields. I have fond memories of this trip so I thought it would be a lovely idea to revisit Cullercoats on our way to the second cottage.

We'd stayed in a hotel called Monks Haven. It was a methodist hotel and I remember having to stand behind our chairs in the dining room and sing hymns before our dinner was served. This is the photo I'd taken of the hotel thirty five years ago.

I did a bit of reasearch on the internet and discovered that the hotel had been changed in to a residential home for the elderly. In 2011, the home was given a formal warning for poor standards and bosses there vowed to improve.

I don't know what happened after this as I can't find anything further, however, the building has now been changed in to apartments.

I'd thought the hotel was just across a road from the beach, but I wasn't sure if I'd remembered this right. As it turns out, my memory's better than I feared, there, right across the road from Monks Haven is a lovely sandy beach, enclosed by small piers. Unfortunately, we couldn't go for a paddle as there's a dog ban from May to September.

I remembered going on the beach back in 1980, the trip was taken at the start of the year and it was cold, we'd visited Hadrian's Wall when snow was on the ground. The beach is backed by cliffs and another memory I have is of going in to the caves, the mouths of which you can just see on this photo.

We didn't stay long but it looks like a lovely place for a day out, and the beach is perfect for families.

Monday 17 August 2015


One of the days out we had whilst staying in Pickering on holiday was to Sandsend, a village just north of Whitby.

The village has a fabulous beach and is divided by a stream which runs in to the sea.

It wasn't a brilliant day weather wise but nice enough for a walk on the beach, we were really surprised by how rough the sea was though, we've never seen it like this here before.

You could even hear the pebbles knocking together as the sea whipped them up before settling them back down on the sand.

It's a great beach for treasure hunting, you can find fossils here and I always come away with some sea glass to add to my collection. We all did a bit of beachcombing.

Even Archie did his bit.

The obligatory pebble stack. Well, there were so many pebbles about I just had to make one.

Eleanor had a bit of a paddle but Archie went one better, it's so hard to keep him out of water. Here he is shaking himself dry.

We love Sandsend, it's never once been busy when we've visited and it's a beautiful beach. This is another place I can recommend if you haven't yet been.