Wednesday 30 September 2015

Challenge Update - September 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.

2) Support charities.

My reading has slowed somewhat this month as the crafting bug has bitten me once again, however, I've still managed to exceed the one book per month I challenged myself.

I Let You Go by Clare Mackintosh was a Kindle Daily Deal, it cost me 99p and is probably my favourite of all the books I've read this year so far. It's a psychological thriller and starts with a child killed in a hit and run accident after running out in to the road when his mother let go of his hand. I don't want to say too much about the story as it really would spoil it, there's so many twists and turns. I can definitely recommend this book but don't read any reviews before you do as any hint of the plot would spoil it for you. This is Clare Mackintosh's first book and I'm now looking forward to seeing what she brings out next.

I've read another book in the Amanda Prowse No Greater Love series, this time the story of a woman diagnosed with terminal breast cancer, Will You Remember Me? I have to say that this isn't my favourite Amanda Prowse book, I'm not sure if the subject of the book is a little close to home having suffered from cancer myself when I had two very young children, if it's because I wasn't very keen on some aspects of the actual story or if it's because there were lots of parts where I just couldn't relate to the characters and their emotions. I'm finding Amanda Prowse's books very hit and miss, some I've really enjoyed and others aren't quite up to par.

I thoroughly enjoyed my Agatha Christie read this month. The Seven Dials Mystery resurrects characters previously introduced in an earlier Agatha Christie novel, The Secret of Chimneys. There's always twists in these whodunnit books, however, I never saw this one coming. Definitely one of my favourites up to now.

I thought I might get a few more films watched now the nights are drawing in but I've only watched two again this month.

WALL E is a Disney Pixar animation about a waste collecting robot whose space journey will ultimately decide the fate of mankind. I thought there were a few funny and a few endearing parts of this film, but on the whole, I'm sorry to say that I found it boring.

I've been looking forward to watching The Lion King again, one of my very favourite films. I think there's such a good mix of characters, beautiful music and a wonderful storyline with underlying morals. This one would make it into my top ten for sure.

I've been buying a little extra when visiting the supermarket. It's amazing how a couple of extra tins, packet of pasta or a box of cereal soon mounts up.

It didn't take long to amass this lot which has now been taken to the local food bank. They were so pleased with the donation and it will go to help families less fortunate than myself. You can find your local food bank on The Trussell Trust website.

Back in February, I told you about Lend With Care, part of Care International, which allows entrepreneurs in developing countries to make their own way out of povety with the help of a microfinance loan. I made a contribution to a loan advanced to a lady called Maureen who is 44 and lives in Zambia. She is married with six children, all of which are in school. Her husband is a seasonal farmer. Maureen requested a loan of £437.80 over a period of four months so that she could invest in her bakery business. The contribution I made to this loan has now been repaid so I was in a position to help someone else. This time, I've contributed to a loan advanced to another lady in Zambia, Brenda, who requested a loan of £310.07, again over a period of four months. Brenda is 38 and is married to a business man. Their four children all go to primary school. Brenda has requested this loan to order more stock of second hand blankets and curtains to sell on her market stall and also hopes to employ someone to help with the day to day running of the stall. I think helping people to help themselves in this way is a fantastic scheme.

Our local Tesco store has a second hand book stall at the back of the shop. People donate books and others can buy them by making a donation to Diabetes UK and The British Heart Foundation. I sorted out a few books which I've read this year and took them along. I haven't seen any there which I want to buy yet but I do look every time I go in.

Eleanor's drawers and wardrobes need a good sort out. I did go through one of her drawers with her and managed to fill a black bag. This was donated to the Age UK charity shop.

If there's anyone else who wants to join in with the swap I'm running, The Twelve Days Of Christmas Swap Sign Up closes today, the 30th of September 2015, so do get your skates on and leave a comment on that post. I shall be posting a list of swap partners on Saturday so if you've said you'd like to take part, please remember to check back then.

Monday 28 September 2015

Photo Medley - September

It's time again for a round up of photos which haven't yet made it on to the blog.

The sundial on the church in Eyam. It's dated 1775 and not only shows the time in half hours but also indicates the time in places worldwide.

This stone is found in the churchyard in Eyam. I wonder if Mick's headstone will say something similar.

Another view of the main street in Bakewell.

A recent addition to the bridge over the River Wye.

The viaduct and river at Monsal Head looking down in to Monsal Dale.

Birthday flowers from Eleanor. So pretty.

Donkeys sharing their field with the sheep at Temple Newsam last weekend.

Autumnal shades. The leaves are changing colour now.

A sneaky peek at Yarndale, I was there on Saturday. Blog post to follow.

That's it for another month.

Don't forget about the swap I'm running. The Twelve Days Of Christmas Swap Sign Up is still open, but only for another two days. If you fancy joining in, just leave a comment on that post and I'll add you to the list.  We've got quite a few people who are happy to post worldwide so location isn't a problem. I'm sure we're all going to have a lot of fun with this swap so don't be shy, add your name to the list.

Sunday 27 September 2015

A Friendly Reminder

This is just a friendly reminder to all those who haven't yet put their names down to join my Twelve Days Of Christmas Swap, you've only got until the 30th of September 2015 to do so.

The people who have put their names down so far are:-

Jo from A Whole Plot of Love
Hazel from World of Joy
Simple Living
Pam from A New Life in Wales
Cheryl from My Little Piece of England
Rebecca from Writing, Fatshion, Me
Jo from Angel Jem's City Cottage
Eleanor from Stitches and Seeds
Debbie from Fairy Bluebell's Craft Adventure
Maria from Dotty's Daughter
Michelle from The Diet Starts Tomorrow..
Frugally Challenged
Mitzi from Lazy Days & Sunday's at Willow Cottage
Kimberley at Creative Chaos
Alison from Life at Sylvan House
Ellie from Feltabulous
Sally A from Crafty Northerner
Fat Dormouse Getting Thinner
Amy from Love Made My Home
Marlene from Poppy Patchwork
Susan from Granny Smith's Quilting

We've got a good list there, lots of swaps will be happening, but it would be lovely if I could organise a few more. Lisa and I had lots of fun swapping our gifts last year and I'm sure whoever joins this swap will have lots of fun too.

Lots of our swappers are happy to post worldwide so it doesn't matter where in the world you are, someone is just waiting to exchange gifts with you.

If you fancy joining in, have a read of my Twelve Days Of Christmas Swap Sign Up post and leave a comment on there. I'm looking forward to hearing from you.

Friday 25 September 2015

Sockalong Socks

It was back in May when Christine over at Winwick Mum blog hosted her sockalong. I got all my bits and pieces ready, chose the yarn I was going to use and started on time.

I don't know what happened to my crafting mojo over summer but it disappeared almost completely. I know I've been short of time due to one thing and another, but I wasn't really bothered about all the projects I had on the go even when I had a spare hour or two.

I think it's the fact that the nights are drawing in and there's a distinct autumn feel in the air now which has prompted me to get back on with things and I've managed to muster up some enthusiasm for my knitting again. These are the socks I started way back in May for the sockalong, finally finished.

The yarn I used is Superwash Blue Faced Leicester from Wharfedale Woolworks in Neon Iris#1 colourway. After finishing the first sock I wasn't sure there was going to be enough yarn left to make the second one, there just didn't look to be enough there but as it turns out, there was plenty and quite a bit was left over too. I'm never very good at gauging just how much yarn I'll need for a project, I usually overestimate.

So, now the sockalong socks are off my knitting needles, I shall crack on with some of the other projects I've got on the go, as well as making a start on the crochet along I'm joining in with.

Don't forget about the swap I'm running. The Twelve Days Of Christmas Swap Sign Up is still open if you fancy joining in, just leave a comment on that post and I'll add you to the list. It would be lovely to have a few more participants, there's lots of people who are interested in swapping worldwide so it doesn't matter where in the world you are. Don't be shy, it's a great way to make some new friends.

Wednesday 23 September 2015

Spice Of Life Crochet Along

I've been tempted, those two naughty Jo's, Jo from A Whole Plot Of Love and Jo from Angel Gem's City Cottage, have enticed me with their talk of squishy yarn and blanket projects.

Sandra from Cherry Heart, in conjunction with Black Sheep Wools, is hosting the Spice Of Life Crochet Along and I've decided to take part. Even though I've got a few blankets under my belt, I still consider myself a beginner when it comes to crochet. I don't know many stitches so I thought this would be a great project for me as it will show me lots of new stitches.

The crochet along is running for a number of weeks, the pattern will be released in stages, however, I'm never any good at working to a schedule so I've decided that I'll download each bit of the pattern as it's released but work at my own pace. I like to savour my crochet time, enjoying each stitch I put in to the work. I don't want to be rushing to keep up with everyone else so this is going to be my winter project. I just hope that I can manage the stitches, it's nothing like anything I've ever crocheted before.

There's a choice of two different yarns in two different colourways, Rico Classic Baby DK or Stylecraft Special DK. I prefer the Rico colourway so that made my mind up about the yarn. It's one I've never used before but unfortunately, Black Sheep Wools were out of that yarn pack when I decided to order so I ended up buying mine from Wool Warehouse. I'm thrilled with it, I'm not sure yet what it's like to crochet with but its squishability (is that a word?) is top notch and the colours are gorgeous.

The first part of the pattern was released yesterday but I haven't yet started, I've got the pattern printed off though so I'm good to go. I do have quite a few other things on the go at the moment though so I'm hoping to work on them at the same time too.

Are any more of you other than Jo and Jo taking part? It's a beautiful blanket and I'm looking forward to seeing it take shape, if I can manage the stitches that is.

Don't forget about the swap I'm running. The Twelve Days Of Christmas Swap Sign Up is still open if you fancy joining in, just leave a comment on that post and I'll add you to the list. As well as having lots of fun with the swap, it's a great way of making new bloggy friends so don't be shy. I'd love some more people from outside the UK to join in as we have quite a few bloggers who are interesting in swapping worldwide.

Monday 21 September 2015

Union Chain Bridge

I first read about the Union Chain Bridge on Anne's Frayed At The Edge blog on her A Taste Of Honey post and immediately put it on my list of places to visit whilst we were holidaying in Northumberland.

The Union Chain Bridge is a suspension bridge which spans the River Tweed between Horncliffe in Northumberland, England and Fishwick in Berwickshire, Scotland. When it opened in 1820, it was the longest wrought iron suspension bridge in the world.

At one side of the bridge is the sign for England.

Neither Eleanor nor I have ever visited Scotland so off we set across the bridge.

Eleanor got there first.

There are some wonderful views from the bridge, not that you'd notice from my photos. This was one of the extremely dull days we encountered on our holiday, as you can see. The sky was threatening rain.

The bridge was strengthened in 1902-3 and it has seen other repairs and renovations over the years too. It's now ready again for some further restoration work for which fundraising is underway.

So now, I can say at last that I've been to Scotland.

Don't forget about the swap I'm running. The Twelve Days Of Christmas Swap Sign Up is still open if you fancy joining in, just leave a comment on that post and I'll add you to the list. We've got quite a few people now signed up but it would be lovely to have more, especially international bloggers as we have quite a few people who are interested in swapping worldwide. It's a great way to make new bloggy friends too so don't be shy.

Saturday 19 September 2015


Getting back to tales from our holiday. Our Northumberland holiday cottage was situated not far from Bamburgh, notable for two reasons, its association with Grace Darling and the imposing castle which overlooks the beach.

Grace Horsley Darling was a lighthouse keepers daughter. She was born at her grandfather's cottage in Bamburgh in 1815 but was taken to live in a cottage attached to the lighthouse on Brownsman Island, one of the Farne Islands, when she was just a few weeks old. In the early hours of 7th September 1838, Grace Darling and her father, William, took a rowing boat out to save survivors of The Forfarshire, a steamship, which had foundered on rocks by the lighthouse and broken in half. The weather was too rough for the lifeboat so they rowed nearly a mile to save four men and a woman. William and three of the rescued men rowed back to the lighthouse where Grace then remained whilst William and the three men rowed back to the wreckage and recovered four more survivors. News of the rescue and Grace's bravery reached the public and donations totalling over £700, including £50 from Queen Victoria, were raised for her. Grace Darling died in Bamburgh of tuberculosis in 1842, she was just 26 years old. She's buried in the churchyard in Bamburgh.

The first thing you see when you're approaching Bamburgh is the impressive castle built on the coast.

It's a magnificent building and was once home to the kings of ancient Northumbria.

It's quite a sight when you look back from the beach.

The castle is lived in but some of the rooms are open to the public. We'd have liked to visit but once again, Archie hampered our plans. I'm sure we'll return one day.

The castle overlooks the castle green where Bamburgh Castle Cricket Club play their matches. It was only once we'd seen the cricket pitch that Mick, being as interested in cricket as he is, looked at their website. It transpires that if you drop them an email a few weeks before you're visiting, you could have the opportunity to play for the club whilst you're there. Mick wished he'd known this before we visited as he'd have loved to have played. I don't think there can be a cricket pitch in England with a more beautiful backdrop.

Bamburgh isn't a huge village but it's a lovely place for a day out, and it has the added attractions of the Grace Darling Museum, St Aidan's Church, a beautiful beach and a couple of decent pubs and hotels too.

Don't forget about the swap I'm running. The Twelve Days Of Christmas Swap Sign Up is still open if you fancy joining in, just leave a comment on that post and I'll add you to the list. It would be lovely to have some more international bloggers joining as there's quite a few people who have already registered their interest in swapping worldwide. Don't be shy, it's a great way to make new bloggy friends too.

Wednesday 16 September 2015

Twelve Days Of Christmas Swap Sign Up

Do you remember The Twelve Days Of Christmas gifts which Lisa from Jumble and Jelly and I exchanged last Christmas? We each exchanged twelve separate gifts and then opened them one by one on each of the twelve days of Christmas, December 25th through to January 5th. It was a wonderful idea which Lisa had and I thoroughly enjoyed prolonging the Christimas gift opening in this way.

When I mentioned it on my blog, I had quite a few comments saying what a great idea it was so I thought that if enough people wanted to take part this year, I'd organise a swap. What do you think?

I suppose we'd better have some dates and rules so that everyone knows what they're doing.

16th September 2015 - Sign up begins.
30th September 2015 - Sign up ends.
3rd October 2015 - Partners assigned.
5th December 2015 - Parcels to be posted by this date.
25th December 2015 - 5th January 2016 - One gift to be opened on each day between these dates.

The Rules.

You must have a blog to take part.

Leave a comment on this post by 30th September 2015 if you wish to take part. Please state if you're happy to post your parcel worldwide or just in the country in which you reside. I shall do my best to pair everyone up accordingly.

I shall post swap partners on my blog on 3rd October 2015 so please check to see who you're paired up with.

Please introduce yourself to your partner either by leaving a comment on their blog or by email.

Your parcel should contain twelve gifts, wrapped individually so that your swap partner is able to open one on each of the twelve days of Christmas, and should be posted by the 5th of December 2015.

Gifts should be things you'd be happy to receive yourself. You may choose to make some of the gifts if you so wish.

I want the swap to be affordable for people to take part so each gift should cost a maximum of £2, or the total amount spent on all twelve gifts should not be above £20. There's lots of lovely things which can be bought or made for a pound or two, it isn't about the cost, it's about gifting things which your parter will like.

Only one gift should be opened per day starting on the 25th of December 2015 through to the 5th of January 2016.

It would be a nice idea to show the gifts you received on your blog in January.

I hope this covers everything. I'd be very happy for you to mention the swap in a post on your blog so that we can get lots of people joining in. I do love Christmas and I know from my own experience last year how exciting it was to have gifts to open right the way through in to the new year so I do hope you'll all join in.

Monday 14 September 2015

My Birthday

It was my birthday at the beginning of September. The roses I were bought have now died but the lilies are still going strong.

I got lots of yummy chocolates. I do like to savour nice choccies, I've still got about half left.

I received other lovely gifts including perfume, things for the garden, a dvd, smellies and money.

My birthday fell during the week Mick had taken off work so we decided to spend the day, as we had done last year, in Skegness.

It probably wasn't the best day to visit the seaside, it was quite dull and actually rather cold, but we made the best of it. We didn't stay as long as we would have done had the weather been better but I still enjoyed our day out.

While we were in Skegness, I visited the little yarn shop I'd discovered last year and bought a couple of extra shades to go with the yarn I bought from there last year. This time I chose Raspberry and Claret. I think these colours will compliment the other autumnal colours I previously chose. I want to make a blanket with it eventually but I still haven't decided what sort.

I also bought a couple of balls of craft cotton, I use this for making dishcloths and had recently run out.

Time was getting on by the time we got home so we decided to go out for my birthday meal the following day. It was nothing special, just Pizza Hut, but we enjoyed it just the same.

Thursday 10 September 2015


Today is Eleanor's first day back at school, it's the last time one of my children will return to school after the summer holidays. Hopefully, Eleanor will be starting university next year.

You may remember my AS Level Results post where I told you about Eleanor's disappointment at her grades. It transpired that although she'd got a D in English Language, she was only one UMS mark off a C, so even though she intended dropping the subject, we thought it worth having one of her modules remarked to see if she could pick up that extra mark.

She'd got a C in one module and a D in the other, giving her an overall grade of a D so she decided to have the module she'd done the worst in remarked as after she'd taken the exam, she thought she'd done quite well in it so was surprised by the result.

We've now got the results of the remark and she hasn't only just picked up one or two extra marks on this paper, she's picked up eighteen! What??? Her grade for this module has jumped from a D to a B, but the C grade in the other English Language module has taken her overall English Language grade to a C. She's only three marks off a B though now. She's still adamant that she wants to drop this subject though, but the AS grade will be shown on her university applications and a C certainly looks better than a D.

What I'm asking myself now is how many other exam papers, Eleanor's and other people's, have been marked incorrectly. This isn't a small mistake, this is huge, the difference of two grades. We often hear how bad the exam system is in this country and this is yet another example.

Eleanor's spoken to her individual tutors now and come to the decision that she'll retake one of the Biology modules and one of the Psychology modules this year to try and bring her grades up in those subjects. It will mean a lot of extra work but hard work is something that Eleanor isn't afraid of so I'm sure she'll do her very best.

Wednesday 9 September 2015

Fifth Blog Anniversary Giveaway Winner

Thank you to everyone who entered my giveaway to celebrate my fifth blog anniversary, and also for all the lovely messages you left for me, they were all truly appreciated.

A name has been chosen at random from all the entrants and I'm pleased to announce that Mitzi from Lazy Day's & Sundays at Willow Cottage is the winner. Can you please let me have your name and address details so that I can get the prize sent out to you.

I always feel guilty that I can't offer a prize to everyone who enters but I hope you know that I do appreciate you reading and commenting and hope that you'll continue to do so.

Monday 7 September 2015


After our visit to Eyam last Wednesday, we decided it wasn't quite time to go home yet. I'm sure you can guess where we went by this photo.

Bakewell is famed for its Bakewell Pudding, seen at the very left of the photo, but I think we all recognise the Bakewell Tart more these days.

Bakewell is a small market town and the ancient capital of the Peak District. Market day is Monday so it wasn't on when we visited but the the town was still a hive of activity.

There's a good array of shops, lots of places to eat, and as you might imagine, a number of bakeries, many of them purporting to sell the 'Original Bakewell Pudding'.

Pretty side streets run off the main road and there's lots of little courtyards hidden away too.

The River Wye flows through Bakewell and it wasn't long until we stumbled upon it.

Canada Geese were bathing in the shallow areas.

Lovers Locks have been placed along the railings at each side of the bridge spanning the river.

A tradition which started by tourists tying a 'love lock' on the Pont des Arts in Paris before throwing the key into the River Seine below seems to have found its way here now.

On the way home, we drove by Monsal Head to take in the view. Monsal Head stands high above Monsal Dale and is a famous beauty spot with fabulous views. It overlooks the viaduct which carried the former Midland Railway over the river and into a tunnel which goes right beneath Monsal Head.

The River Wye meets a band of harder rock here which forces it to make a sharp turn and carve its way through a high ridge of limestone.

All in all, it was a lovely day out which we thoroughly enjoyed.

Don't forget, if you haven't already entered my giveaway, you've got until twelve noon on Tuesday the 8th of September 2015 to do so. Just leave a comment on my Fifth Blog Anniversary Giveaway post.