Monday 30 May 2016

Reading - May 2016

I've read four books again this month and I'm pleased to say that I got on with them much better than last month's lot.

After finishing off last month's reading with an Amanda Prowse book which I didn't find particularly good, I started off May with, in my opinion, one of her best, Another Love. I didn't know what the book was about before I started reading it but I'm not giving anything away by telling you that the love referred to in the title is alcohol. The book gives an insight into alcoholism from the perspective of a whole family and shows how it can affect all those involved. I found the book extremely moving.

Death in the Clouds is the Agatha Christie book I read this month. The crime this time takes place in the air on board an aeroplane on which the little Belgian detective, Hercule Poirot, is travelling. Another good plot, though I had my suspicions who the murderer was from quite early on.

I've read most of Donna Douglas's Nightingales series which are set in an East End hospital in the 1930's. There are some characters which appear in all the books but new ones are introduced throughout too. I popped to the library a couple of weeks ago and saw that they had Nightingales at War in, which I was pleased about. Like all the others, I enjoyed it very much. There's just one more book in this series to read now, though I see that the author has embarked on a new series about district nurses which is set in Leeds, so I'm looking forward to reading that.

It's a while since I've read any of The No 1 Ladies' Detective Agency books by Alexander McCall Smith so it was good to get back in to this series this month. The Handsome Man's De Luxe Cafe is another book I picked up at the library, though they didn't have it in normal size text so I picked it up in large print. It was good to catch up with Mma Ramotswe and Mma Makutsi again, these stories are so full of charm and I enjoy reading about life in Botswana.

I hope everyone's enjoying the bank holiday weekend, the weather's been much better than I expected, though we haven't seen much of it as we've been stuck indoors decorating. That's the royal we by the way, I hate decorating and any sort of DIY so I leave it all to Mick. The glossing was finished late yesterday so it's just a case of putting the room back together again today so that we can get back to normal. I think Mick will be glad to get back to work tomorrow for a rest.

Thursday 26 May 2016

Here Comes The Rain Again

It's been raining through the night, everywhere was saturated when I woke this morning. I'm glad I got outside with my camera when I did as we've got mizzle now, that fine drenching drizzle which often accompanies mist or fog.

Geum Mrs Bradshaw looking a little worse for wear. I bought this plant as a small specimen from a local garden centre last year for just £1.50. It's really bulked up in the time I've had it and is now putting on a beautiful display.

Heuchera Palace Purple. This plant has been in my garden for a number of years and I just love its purple foliage. The rain tends to collect in the puckered leaves.

I've got so many Welsh poppies in my garden this year, all self sown. They're not very fussy and will grow in most places. They're such delicate flowers, it doesn't take much to make them droop their heads.

The hairy bud of the oriental poppy Brilliant is teasing me with what's to come. I'm looking forward to the silky scarlet petals bursting out and putting on, as its name suggests, a brilliant display. They look rather creased and crinkled at first, as though they could do with an iron but they soon straighten out.

The bleeding heart will always be Dicentra spectabilis to me even though its name has now changed to Lamprocapnos spectablis, what a mouthful. This plant had outgrown its space so it was divided at the end of last year, it hasn't put on such a good display this year but I'm sure it's just finding its feet and will reward me next year.

It's aquilegia season, the purples are flowering profusely but the other colours have yet to burst their buds. I'm looking forward to the beautiful yellow one I bought last year coming in to flower.

Cyclamen usually flowers in autumn and winter but this one is putting on its own show now. A beautiful shade of red, it reminds me of a raspberry lolly pop. It really hangs on to those raindrops.

There's going to be lots of blueberries this year. I gave the plants a good tidy up last year, replenishing the ericaceous compost they're grown in and pruning out the old wood. They seem to be repaying me in kind now. I love how the raindrops collect in the little cups where the flowers have dropped off.

Tulip Queen of the Night still going strong, they've flowered over a long period. Their flowers open beautifully in the sunshine but remain closed when its wet, I don't blame them.

The forecast doesn't look particularly bright, more rain to come by the looks of things and it's a bank holiday weekend so I think most of it will be spent indoors.

Monday 23 May 2016

I Can See Clearly Now

I've got my new glasses at last. I was due an eye test about a year ago but I've been putting it off and putting it off but I finally made an appointment and what a difference these new glasses make.

I've been wearing glasses just for reading and for close work but it was decided that I should really wear some distance glasses for driving too. At Specsavers, you get two pairs for the price of one, which is really handy for reading glasses as I leave a pair by my bed where I do the majority of my reading and I carry the other pair around with me. I chose a black pair and a pink pair in the same design. Instead of getting two pairs of distance glasses, which I won't use all that much as they're only for driving, I opted to get anti glare lenses, which are recommended for driving, at no extra cost. I liked the design I'd chosen for my reading glasses so much that I chose the same ones in black for my distance ones.

I'd just better make sure that I don't get them mixed up.

Friday 20 May 2016

Joyful World - May

I haven't completed February yet but I've made a good start on it this month. I'm about half way through, perhaps a little more.

The stitching is looking a little wonky in the photos but that's just because the fabric isn't laying flat, I can assure you that my eyesight isn't quite that bad, yet!

I'd missed the white stitches which fill the boxes on the border from January but I've rectified that now.

I don't think anyone is as far behind with this Stitch Along as I am, but I'm working on it at my own pace as I do with everything. I am, however, enjoying seeing everyone else's work as they complete each month, it's nice to see what's coming up. It's going to be a wonderful piece.

Tuesday 17 May 2016

Sharing In The Celebrations

This year, my blog buddy, Kim from Wisdom With Needle & Thread, is celebrating a big birthday. She'll be 60 in July and earlier this year, she decided to celebrate this milestone birthday with her friends in the blog world by sending out 60 RAKs (Random Acts of Kindness) and I'm lucky enough to have received one of these special gifts.

The thing with RAKs is that you never know when you're going to receive one, so it's a lovely surprise when the parcel drops through the letterbox, and what a lovely parcel it was.

Now, Kim is a fabulous stitcher, if you don't know her blog I'd urge you to pop over and have a look at the beautiful things she makes. I thought the parcel might contain something stitchy but there was so much more enclosed.

How cute is this little card? So charming.

There was some beautiful fabric. I'm hoping that this is the year I'll finally have a go at using Eleanor's sewing machine. I watched the first episode of the new series of The Great British Sewing Bee last night, that programme always gives me the urge to have a go. There was also some embroidery thread in lovely colours.

The pretty scissor fob is the perfect addition for my scissors, I'm always putting them down and forgetting where they are. There's a beautiful little angel charm on the end.

The piece de resistance, a beautiful thread keep. Just delightful, and very handy to keep all the threads from getting tangled whilst I'm stitching.

Kim's stitching is perfect, absolutely stunning.

Thank you so much, Kim, I love everything you've sent and thank you for including me in your birthday celebrations. Wishing you a very happy birthday.

Friday 13 May 2016

Queen Of The Night

Tulip Queen of the Night is a late flowering tulip but I'm sure you'd agree, they're worth the wait.

The dark maroon petals can appear black and are quite stunning. I bought a pack of twelve but only seven have appeared, it wouldn't have mattered so much had I followed through my idea of planting them alongside a cream tulip, which I thought would bring their colour out even more, but I never got round to buying any other tulips last year.

I have red and yellow tulips in my front garden, they've been flowering for quite some time now, they seem to last for ages. Tulips often only flower for a year or two before giving up but these were in the garden before we moved in, and we've been here now for over twenty two years. They've done well.

Please ignore the cleavers, the garden's well overdue a weed.

I can never resist taking a photo of the insides of tulips, they come out looking like a kaleidoscope.

These are huge, blousy blooms but they seem to hold their own no matter what the weather throws at them. I wish I knew what variety they are.

Not so pretty at the moment is my plum tree. It was covered in blossom and I was hopeful of a large harvest but the leaves are all distorted and I think it's probably a victim of leaf curl which is caused by plum leaf-curling aphids. At least the apple trees are looking good, touch wood!

Tuesday 10 May 2016

The Beginning Of The End

We're at the start of exam season here. Daniel rang me yesterday to let me know how his first exam had gone, according to him, half went well and half not so well but he's hopeful that he did enough to pass. His next one is tomorrow.

Eleanor starts her A levels tomorrow. She's got a number of exams which are spread just over six weeks.

It doesn't seem two minutes since Daniel headed off to university to study Physics with Astrophysics and I wrote my It All Went Well post. These are his final exams and then he's finished, though he's still undecided what he's going to do afterwards. He may go on and do a Masters if he doesn't find a job.

Eleanor finishes school after these exams and she's hoping to go on to university to study biomedical science, though of course, whether she makes it or not will depend on these exam grades. It won't be for the want of trying as she's put such a lot of effort in to her course and in to revision.

It's going to be very strange for me having my children all grown up and no longer at school, another milestone soon to pass.

Saturday 7 May 2016

Doing The Rounds

The Liebster Award has been going for a number of years and I've been lucky enough to be nominated for it on seven previous occasions. Every so often, it seems to do the rounds again, as it is at the moment, and I'm honoured to have been nominated, for an eighth time, by Tania from Retiree Wannabe.

The Liebster Award is a great way of discovering new blogs and to take part you should:-

1. Thank the person who nominated you and link back to his/her blog.
2 Copy and paste the Liebster Award badge to your post.
3. Answer the ten questions you've been asked.
4. Create ten new questions for the bloggers you are nominating.
5.Notify the bloggers that you have nominated.

These are the questions I was asked and my answers.

1. What is your favourite biscuit?
I must admit to having a liking to chocolate on my biscuits so I'd go for a chocolate digestive for an everyday biscuit, but I'm very partial to Marks & Spencer's Belgian Biscuit Selection on special occasions.

2. What is your favourite cheese?
I'm a big cheese fan but I'm not a lover of blue cheeses or anything with a very strong taste. I much prefer good old Cheddar, Lancashire or Red Leicester but my absolute favourite is Wensleydale. We've visited the Wensleydale Creamery in the village of Hawes in the Yorkshire Dales a number of times.

3. What is your favourite perfume?
I've got four bottles of perfume on my dressing table at the moment, Anais Anais and Amor Amor, both by Cacharel, which I use for everyday, Ghost which I use if I'm going to be out and about, but my very favourite, and one which I save for special occasions, is Ysatis by Givenchy. I've used this perfume since I was in my teens and I love it now just as much as I did then.

4. Who is your favourite TV chat show host?
I don't really watch chat shows these days. I've found that people appearing on them usually have something to promote so most of the interview is about that, and these days, people who have appeared on some rubbish reality TV programme or other are classed as celebrities and I have no interest in hearing anything about them. I used to enjoy watching Parkinson, he had some fantastic guests on over the years.

5. What car do you drive?
I have a sixteen year old Renault Laguna, though I don't drive very far in it. We bought the car when it was just eight months old with 8000 miles on the clock. Shortly after, Mick was promoted and given a company car and as I didn't have a car myself at the time, it passed over to me. Had I known it was going to be my car, we would have bought something smaller and more economical to run, however, we'd have lost money on it had we sold it and bought something different so I've kept it. I hate driving but it's handy to be able to do so.

6. What is your favourite TV soap?
I should say Emmerdale seeing as it's set in Yorkshire but instead I'm going to say Acorn Antiques. I was so sad to hear of Victoria Wood's untimely death after her battle with cancer. She was an extremely talented comedian and actor and knew exactly how to make people laugh.

7. Who is your favourite book author?
I don't really have a favourite author, though there are authors whose books I look out for, Amanda Prowse, Alexander McCall Smith, Donna Douglas, and I'm currently working my way through all of Agatha Christie's murder mysteries in chronological order.

8. How do you prefer your eggs?
I love eggs cooked any which way but I have them either scrambled or poached most often.

9. Do you still have siblings?
I have a brother who is eight years older than me. My sister was twelve years older than me but she died of cancer nearly seventeen years ago, she was just forty two. We were very close and I still miss her every day.

10. Do you keep a diary?
I have my Filofax which I keep a working diary in as well as lots of information but I do also have a journal. I don't write in it everyday but I've kept it for over ten years now.

The questions I'd like to ask my nominees are:-

1. What was the last film you saw at the cinema?
2. Where would be your ideal place to live, town, country or coast?
3. Do you have any pets?
4. What is your favourite area of the UK?
5. What song annoys you?
6. What three things would you take to a desert island?
7. If you were given a million pounds, what would you spend it on?
8. What would be your last meal?
9. Have you ever met anyone famous?
10. What's your favourite take away?

The people I'd like to nominate are:-

Janet from MacQue.
Alison from Life at Sylvan House.
Maggie from Maggie, A Blackcountry Wench.
Susan from Granny Smith's Quilting.
Anne from My Blethering Blog.

Thank you, Tania, for nominating me. I enjoyed answering your questions.

Wednesday 4 May 2016

Booked At Last

We've left it quite late this year to book our holiday but it's been a bit of an ordeal working out which dates we're free. What with Eleanor's A levels, Daniel's graduation, Eleanor's 18th birthday, Daniel moving out of his student digs, Mick's 50th birthday and A level results day, we managed to find one fortnight in which we were free.

Constantine Bay
We always used to go abroad on holiday but we haven't ventured further than England now since 2009. Out of the last seven years, we've been to Cornwall five times. One of the years we didn't go was last year and though North Yorkshire and Northumberland were very nice, we did miss it.

'A' Frame Lodge
This will be the fifth year we've stayed at this particular place. There's only ten lodges and two cottages on the site, but lots of things to do - an indoor swimming pool, tennis court, games room, not to mention the four fishing lakes which Mick and Eleanor will make good use of. It's situated in a small village about five miles from Bude and is the perfect place for peace and relaxation, it's so quiet there. It's got a great reputation, many holidaymakers are like us and have visited many times before, so it means that you have to book early but we were in luck, there was just one lodge left for one of the weeks we wanted to stay so we snapped it up.

We love this area of Cornwall, we've got to know some places quite well now and still tend to head for them when we visit but there's always new places to explore too.

I'm really pleased that Eleanor still wants to come away with us again this year, I know lots of young people tend to head off with their friends when they're nearly eighteen but she's still happy to come away with us. She's such good company that I love having her around. Of course, Archie will be coming along too.

Hartland Quay
The one good thing about booking quite late is that we don't have too long to wait until we go, which is just as well because I'm excited already. Can you tell?

Sunday 1 May 2016

Lotherton Hall Food & Drink Festival

I've done lots of posts in the past about our visits to Lotherton Hall, a nearby Edwardian house and country estate. We used to have annual membership, giving us unlimited entry to the whole estate including the bird garden, the house and the extensive grounds, but we let this lapse two years ago.

We've been considering taking out membership again just recently, mainly because it's a lovely place, not too far away, to take Archie for a good walk. Mick was supposed to be playing cricket yesterday but the match was called off due to a waterlogged pitch so we took the opportunity to head off and get it sorted out.

As it happens, the Lotherton Hall Food & Drink Festival is being held in the grounds this weekend so we decided to have a look around whilst we were there. The admission charge for this is included in the normal entry fee, so it was included in the price we paid for our annual membership.

There were local producer and craft stalls selling all manner of delicious goodies to take home and most of the stalls were offering tasters. I was very tempted by the cupcakes but I was good, I resisted, though I doubt I'd have managed it had Eleanor been with us.

The festival bar was serving locally brewed beers as well as Pimms, Prosecco and cocktails, and live music was being played on various stages around the site.

Coffee and other non alcoholic beverages were available for those not wishing to partake.

There were lots of activities for children including kids cookery classes as well as a marquee offering free craft sessions, and even a funfair for all to enjoy.

We headed over to the Hot Food Court where street food dishes from all around the world were on offer, however, just look at the sky as we approached. We had a quick look round taking in the wonderful aromas, but decided to head back to the car sooner rather than later and just as we got there, the heavens opened.

I feel so sorry that events such as these are often caught out by the weather. The festival continues today and tomorrow, it's been rather drizzly this morning but if it dries up, we may just head back to have another look and to give Archie a nice walk. Eleanor missed out yesterday as she was at her boyfriend's, but I'm sure she'd like to come with us too. I doubt I'll resist the cupcakes this time!