Thursday 29 September 2016

Reading - September 2016

Four is definitely the average number of books I read each month, it's four again for September.

Dumb Witness was my Agatha Christie book this month. When an elderly spinster tripped over her dog's ball on the stairs it looked like an accident but the more she thought about it, the more Emily was convinced that one of her family were trying to kill her. By the time Hercule Poirot became involved, she was dead. Another enjoyable read with twists and turns throughout the book.

My favourite read last year was I Let You Go by Clare Mackintosh. It was her first book so I was looking forward to seeing what she brought out next. I very rarely buy a book as soon as it's released, preferring to wait until it comes out in paperback or I can pick it up at a charity shop or from the library, but knowing how much I was looking forward to the release of Clare Mackintosh's second book, I See You, Mick bought me the hardback version for my birthday. I think it was a very interesting storyline and I did enjoy the book, however, I don't think it was a patch on I Let You Go. I'm afraid that's the problem with having such a good debut novel, the second one rarely lives up to it.

I picked up Walking Ollie by Stephen Foster from the charity shop. When I saw that cute little lurcher on the front cover, I just couldn't resist. It's basically about the author's experience of adopting a dog from the National Canine Defence League, now known as Dogs Trust. Ollie came with quite a few problems and though the author tried his best, Ollie just couldn't overcome them. I think the author was trying for a fun read but I actually found it quite sad, it was obvious that Ollie was very unhappy and some specialist intervention from a dog behaviourist was needed. It's not really a book I would recommend.

After reading The Last Days Of Rabbit Hayes by Anna McPartlin earlier in the year, I didn't hesitate to pick up Somewhere Inside Of Happy by the same author when I saw it in the charity shop. I'm glad I did as I really enjoyed this book. It's the story of sixteen year old Jeremy Bean who goes missing and the days which follow until the terrible conclusion a few days later. Other stories run concurrently with Jeremy's story and the book deals with a number of issues. I really enjoyed this book and would definitely recommend it, just make sure you have some tissues handy if you decide to give it a go.

Don't forget about the swap I'm running. The Twelve Days Of Christmas Swap 2016 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 proved to be a very popular swap last year and it would be lovely to have more people joining in. It's a worldwide swap so it doesn't matter where you live, it's a great way to make new friends too.

Tuesday 27 September 2016

Yarndale 2016

I hadn't made any plans to visit Yarndale this year, Eleanor was moving to university on the Friday so Daniel and his girlfriend had arranged to come home on the Thursday evening so that they could look after Archie while we took her and we didn't know how long they'd be staying for. In the end, they decided to stay until Sunday evening and they told us they'd look after Archie again on the Saturday while we made the trip to Skipton to visit Yarndale. Even then, I wasn't feeling all that well on Saturday so it wasn't until late morning that we made the decision to go.

I know from experience how busy Yarndale is on the Saturday morning but having arrived in the afternoon, I thought things might have calmed down a little. How wrong I was. I've visited Yarndale on two previous occasions, both times on a Saturday, and I've never seen it as busy as it was this time.

To be honest, it took a lot of the pleasure out of it for me. As I said, I wasn't feeling 100% as it was, but to be pushed and shoved as I made my way around was rather uncomfortable to say the least. I really don't know where some people's manners were, they must have left them at home as they certainly didn't bring them with them. I've made a decision that if I ever go again, it will be on the Sunday. I've heard that things are much quieter than on the Saturday.

We didn't stay very long and there were many stalls this year that I just didn't get round to seeing, which is a real shame, I just didn't feel up to fighting my way through the crowds. One thing I did make a point of visiting though was the Yarndale Sock Line, organised by Christine from Winwick Mum blog. These socks will be gifted to people in need after the festival. I didn't take part this year but I was pleased to see that there were definitely more pairs of hand made socks donated this year than last.

I'm always drawn to the animals too, this year there were rabbits, alpacas, goats and sheep.

I didn't take many photos, it was just too busy to start getting my camera out all the time and certainly too busy to carry it around my neck with all the jostling going on.

I bought more this year than I've bought in previous years even though I wasn't there as long this time. First of all, six balls of Drops Alpaca Mix, two balls each in three lovely colours. This yarn is 100% alpaca and is beautifully soft. I also picked up two 100 gram balls of King Cole Moods in a lovely tweedy grey. It was just £2.50 per ball and contains 68% acrylic, 30% wool and 2% viscose.

I've been using a Knitpro Zing circular needle and I've got on with it really well so I thought I'd give their double pointed needles a go. Each size needle comes in a different colour. I usually use 2.5mm needles for sock knitting and I was thrilled to see that this size comes in red. I know, little things make me very happy.

I bought three skeins of sock yarn from Knitglobal, I love the names of their colourways, Harvest, Summer Berries and Marine. This is 75% superwash merino and 25% nylon.

My favourite purchase was this gorgeous dark grey yarn from Truly Hooked. Again, this is 75% superwash merino and 25% nylon and I think it's destined to become a shawl.

I'm drawn towards yarn with tweedy flecks in it at the moment. This is Sparkleduck Pebble in Duckwing colourway which is 85% superwash bluefaced Leicester and 15% Donegal nep.

I did buy a little snowman Christmas tree ornament too but I forgot to take a photo of him before squirreling him away until December. I saw a lovely button stall which I couldn't get near so I meant to go back before leaving but I forgot. Ah well, I don't think I really need any more buttons, it would have been nice to see what they'd got though.

I wonder if anyone else had the same experience of Yarndale as I did with the crowds or whether I was being a bit oversensitive as I wasn't feeling very well. Did you go to Yarndale and have you written a blog post about it? I'd love to know, I like to see what everyone else thought of the day and what they bought. Do please leave me a comment with a link to your blog.

Don't forget about the swap I'm running. The Twelve Days Of Christmas Swap 2016 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 proved to be a very popular swap last year and it would be lovely to have more people joining in. It's a worldwide swap so it doesn't matter where you live, it's a great way to make new friends too.

Friday 23 September 2016

The Next Chapter

Thank you for all your good wishes for Eleanor as she headed off to university.

We spent the best part of the day there today, I thought it would be a case of dropping her off, doing some food shopping and then coming home again but it took rather more time than we expected. There were quite a few administrative things she needed to do so we helped with those before leaving.

Her room is much smaller than Daniel's was but she likes it which is the main thing.

The view from her window.

Directly below her room is a polytunnel and some veg beds, I don't think she'll be volunteering her services, she wasn't keen on helping when I had the allotment.

Two other girls were moving in to her flat today whilst we were there, there's another three arriving tomorrow, a girl, a boy and one other who they don't yet know. There's lots of things planned for Fresher's Week, both during the day and at night, as well as lots of introductory workshops and meetings and then her lectures and lab sessions begin properly the following week. She's very excited about it all but has taken some photos to remind her of home all the same.

This is where the next chapter starts for us all, Eleanor at uni and Mick and I home alone for the first time in twenty one years. It will feel very strange to start with but I'm sure we'll soon get used to it.

Don't forget about the swap I'm running. The Twelve Days Of Christmas Swap 2016 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 proved to be a very popular swap last year and it would be lovely to have more people joining in, it doesn't matter where you live, many people who have already signed up have expressed an interest in swapping worldwide so I'll definitely be able to find you a partner. It's a great way to make new friends too.

Tuesday 20 September 2016

Twelve Days Of Christmas Swap 2016 Sign Up

I organised the Twelve Days Of Christmas Swap for the first time last year and it worked so well that I thought it would be fun to arrange another one this year.

What is the Twelve Days Of Christmas swap? Well, it's a swap in which you exchange twelve small gifts with your partner, each gift to be opened one by one throughout the twelve days of Christmas (December 25th - January 5th). Sounds like fun? It certainly was last year and I'm sure it will be fun again this time round.

The swap sign up is quite early to give you enough time to buy or make the twelve gifts you intend to send, also, it gives you plenty of time in case you're sending the parcel overseas.

Here are some dates and rules.

20th September 2016 - Sign up begins.
4th October 2016 - Sign up ends.
7th October 2016 - Partners assigned.
3rd December 2016 - Parcels to be posted by this date.
25th December 2016 - 5th January 2017 - 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 4th October 2016 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 7th October 2016 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, and please ensure that you provide your name and address to them by email in good time, I had quite a few emails last year from people who couldn't contact their partners and didn't have their address in order to send out their parcel. Don't worry, it was all sorted out in the end, but if you could let your partner know these details in good time, it will save them having to chase them up.

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 3rd of December 2016.

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 £24. There's lots of lovely things which can be bought or made for a pound or two and it's actually quite fun seeing how far you can make your money go. It isn't about the cost, it's about gifting things which you think your partner will like. If you want some ideas, take a look at my Twelve Days Of Christmas Reveal post where I show the things I sent and received last year.

Only one gift should be opened per day starting on the 25th of December 2016 through to the 5th of January 2017.

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

I think that's everything covered. If there's anything I haven't mentioned or if you have a question, just ask, I'll do my best to answer. I'd be very happy if you mentioned the swap on your blog so that we can get lots of people joining in, we had quite a few people involved in the swap last year and it would be lovely if we could get even more this year. Having gifts to open right in to the new year is such fun and extends Christmas by nearly two weeks, how good is that. I do hope you'll all join in.

Sunday 18 September 2016

The Natural World Of Needle Felting

I've been wanting to have a go at needle felting for a long time, in fact, Mick bought me a kit for Christmas 2014 which I haven't yet got round to using, but I remember having my interest aroused when I visited Yarndale that year and saw all the lovely creations on display. When I was recently asked if I'd like to review The Natural World of Needle Felting by Fi Oberon and published by Jaqui Small Publishing, I jumped at the chance. I'm so pleased I did.

The first thing I want to say about this book is that it's absolutely beautiful. It has a hardback cover and the title is embossed. It certainly looks as though every detail has been well thought out and the photography by Brent Darby throughout the book is fabulous. Even the inside covers are made use of, depicting delightful autumnal scenes with fallen leaves, pine cones and pretty little needle felted acorns in an assortment of colours.

As a newbie to needle felting, I feel this book will be a great help to me. The first part starts right at the very beginning explaining What is felt? The first chapter is entitled Tools, Equipment & Techniques and has various sections about Wool, Needles, Getting Started, Adding Colour and Wirework, amongst others. It takes you right through everything you might need to know.

It's then on to putting what you've learnt in to practice. There's a page right at the start of the book titled Nature & Nurture, it's about what it was like for Fi Oberon growing up in The Cotswolds. It explains some of the things she encountered on a daily basis, the things she saw and experiences she was exposed to. It's not surprising that she's chosen The Natural World as the subject for the projects in this, her first book. The projects themselves are divided in to four different chapters, Farmland, Polar Regions, Uplands and Coast.

For each project, a list of Equipment and Materials is provided and there's also suggestions for Creating the Set, using a combination of crafts as well as bought and found objects, to reflect the natural habitats of the animal you're going to make. The instructions are given in a step by step way with plenty of clear photographs for guidance.

I'm absolutely enamoured by the little animals that can be created, I think my favourite in the whole book is this Cotswold sheep. How cute is she with her curly fleece.

There's instructions provided in the book to make more than twenty animals, everything from an Ayrshire cow to a polar bear, or what about a red squirrel, an oystercatcher or a rabbit.

Reading through this book has given me the confidence to have a go at needle felting myself. The projects are graded from one dot to three by level of difficulty and there's plenty here for a beginner to choose. This hedgehog is graded at two dots, a project to have a go at once you're a little more confident. Who knew that there's specialist hedgehog fabric which can be sourced online.

A project for the more advanced is this owl which has been given three dots for the level of difficulty.

Wait a minute, I've seen that owl somewhere before. Yes, I'm right. Looking back at my Yarndale 2014 post, I'd admired Fi Oberon's owl there.

I've thoroughly enjoyed reading this book and it's given me lots of inspiration, I shall definitely have a go at needle felting myself. Eleanor's done a bit in the past and she's also expressed an interest in having a go at some of the projects in the book. If you've ever thought you might like to have a go yourself, I can thoroughly recommend this book. Even if you've had a go in the past, I'm sure there'd be lots of projects in the book that would appeal to you.

I received a copy of this book to review, however, all opinions expressed are my own. The book retails for £20 and can be purchased direct from Quarto.

Thursday 15 September 2016

Joyful World - September

There hasn't been much work done on the Joyful World Stitch Along since my last update in August, life around here is busy at the moment but I expect that to calm down once next week is over and we're back to living as a couple for the first time in twenty one years. Things here are going to be very different and perhaps I'll find more time to work on crafting more, maybe I'll whizz though the projects I've got on the go then.

As you can see, all I've managed to get done this month is finishing off the stork and a few flower stems on the March design. There's lots of flowers and bits of stitching on this pattern, I think all the needle threading when changing colours is going to be quite time consuming.

I'm also picking my knitting up when I get the chance, though the crochet hook is staying tucked away. I'm sure that will change once the cooler weather arrives.

Sunday 11 September 2016

University Preparation

It's now less than a fortnight before Eleanor heads off to Nottingham to start her degree course and things around here are busy. This is just one corner of my conservatory which has been stacked with things she's going to need.

We've already bought the majority of the larger items, things like a duvet and pillows, pots and pans, and you can see one set of bedding which has been washed and ironed, it's so cute adorned in sunflowers and buzzy bees. You can't see the second set she chose which is underneath but is also very pretty, a red patchwork design. There's still lots of smaller items left to buy.

As well as shopping for essentials, there's lots of paperwork to complete. Registration for the local doctor's surgery, an application for a HC2 certificate to help with medical costs, university enrollment, an application for a student bank account, an application for a rail card, an application for an NUS Extra card and tickets for freshers events to be purchased among other things.

On top of this, Eleanor's been given some work to complete before her first day of induction, an essay illustrating the roles of biomedical scientists in the NHS. She thought she was going to have some rest and relaxation during the last days of summer but this has put a spanner in the works.

Mick and I are going out for a meal tonight with Eleanor and her boyfriend and his parents. We thought it would be nice to have a get together before they head off. He's studying in Sheffield, so they won't be all that far away from each other, and he leaves next Saturday, a week ahead of Eleanor.

It's all go around here at the moment, how different things will be in a fortnight when Mick and I are home alone for the first time in over twenty one years. I suppose that means we'll have to start talking to each other again.

Friday 9 September 2016

No Clear Winner

After giving up my allotment at the end of last year, I decided to have a rest from growing my own veg this year, with three exceptions, cucumbers, tomatoes and potatoes, all grown in containers. I only ended up with one cucumber plant after the other keeled over and died for no apparent reason but it's produced lots of delicious fruit which I've been able to share with my mum and dad.

I think this year has been my worst tomato year and that's down, in part, to me starting the seeds off late. I just couldn't get going at the start of the year, probably due to the fact that I didn't really have that much to do at seed sowing time. I think that sometimes, the less you have to do, the less motivation you have to do it. The Bloody Butchers, which I bought as young plants from a local garden centre, have given me a good enough crop for our house and to supply my mum and dad but the Maskotkas, which I grew from seed, are only just starting to ripen now. Still, they'll be worth the wait as they're the tastiest tomato I've ever grown.

Which just leaves the potatoes. I've grown two varieties this year, Anya and Arran Pilot, and again, they haven't done as well as in other years. The yield has been small compared to what I usually harvest, though Anyas never produce a very large crop.

When I grow potatoes in containers, I put them in the bottom of the pot with a little compost beneath them and a little on top to cover them and then as they grow and the foliage begins to show, I add more compost bit by bit until the whole container is filled. This is known as earthing up. When I grew potatoes in the ground at the allotment, I didn't bother with this method, instead just burying the potatoes and leaving them to get on with the business of growing. Earlier this year, I read a post on Mark's Veg Plot blog titled "Earthing-up". Is it worth doing?

I decided that I'd have a go at growing one lot of potatoes the way I usually do, earthing up as they grow, and one lot planted about half way down the container before filling it completely with compost from the start. Apart from this, each container was treated in exactly the same way, the same compost was used, they received the same amount of water and the containers were stood side by side. I did the trial with both Anyas and Arran Pilots and three tubers were planted in each container.

This is the harvest from the first container of Anyas grown using my usual method of earthing up. The potatoes are rather small and the contents weigh 625g.

The second container of Anyas which were grown in a container filled with compost from the start produced larger potatoes but the weight of the harvest was less at 500g.

The first harvest of Arran Pilots grown using the earthing up method weighed in at 775g.

This time, the second container of Arran Pilots which were grown in a container filled with compost from the start produced a heavier crop at 800g. Again, the potatoes were larger than those harvested from the first container but there were very few of them.

I don't think this trial gives any clear results and that may be down to a poor growing year in general. I would usually expect to harvest a lot more potatoes than I have from any of these containers so I don't think these results can be used to say that one method of growing is beneficial over the other. I think it would be interesting to give it a go again next year and see what results it throws up then.

One thing's for sure though, no matter what method you choose, home grown potatoes are so tasty.

Wednesday 7 September 2016

Sixth Blog Anniversary Giveaway Winner

Thank you to everyone who entered my giveaway, I had such lovely comments left on the post which I enjoyed reading, they're all appreciated so very much.

Without further ado, I'd like to announce that the winner, chosen at random from all the comments left on the post, is Maggie from Maggie, A Blackcountry Wench. Can you please let me have your name and address details so that I can get the prizes sent out to you. If you click on my name in the sidebar, you'll find a link to my email address there.

The yarn which is included in this giveaway was bought at Yarndale last year. Are any of you going this year? I missed the very first Yarndale back in 2013 as it was the weekend when Daniel was moving to university and this year, it happens to fall on the weekend that Eleanor moves to university. I'm still hoping to go but I'm not making any firm plans at the moment until we see what the weekend actually brings.

Thank you again for all the lovely comments you left on the post, and all the comments which so many of you leave on all my other posts, they always bring a smile to my face. I'm so lucky to be blessed with so many lovely bloggy friends.

Monday 5 September 2016

50 Before 50 - Part Two

Following on from my 50 Before 50 - Part One post, here is the second part of my list of fifty things I want to do before I reach the age of fifty.

26. Visit the Lake District.
We don't live that far away from The Lakes but it's somewhere I've never been.

27. Use my camera more on manual settings.
I've had my DSLR camera for over three years now and even though I went on a workshop showing me how to use it, I still have it on automatic most of the time. It's time I got to grips with it and started using the manual settings so I intend to take more photos without the camera being set to auto.

28. Have a go at needle felting.
Mick bought me a needle felting kit for Christmas 2014 and I still haven't had a go at it. I love the little hare that can be made with it so I really should get it out and give it a go.

29. Take a trip to the cinema.
I rarely go to the cinema. The last thing I saw was Me Before You in June but Les Miserables back in 2012 was the last thing I saw before that.

30. Do the Leeds Owl Trail.
Leeds has owls on its coat of arms and because of this, owls have sprung up all over the city. The purpose of the Leeds Owl Trail is to inform and inspire people about Leeds' rich heritage. Owls can be found perched on various historical sights including the Town Hall, St Anne's Cathedral and Leeds Bridge.

31. Go on a picnic.
Mick makes a great picnic, he always packs such yummy snacks and treats.

32. Read all the Harry Potter books.
I've already read some of the books but not all so I'm going to start again right from the beginning. Daniel and I read some of the books together but he continued reading on his own and I didn't bother so I've no idea what happens in the later books.

33. Watch all the Harry Potter films.
Like the books, I've seen some of the early ones but not the later ones so once again, I shall start all over again with them.

34. Go to the ballet.
It's years since I've seen a ballet so it's about time I went to see one again.

35. Visit Scotland.
The first time I went north of the border was last year when we stayed in Northumberland. Even then, we only ventured about five miles in to Scotland so I'd like to see a bit more of the country.

36. Have a massage.
I could definitely do with a massage at times to relieve stress so I'm going to indulge when the need arises.

37. Take an overnight trip with Eleanor.
We both love the theatre so this may or may not involve seeing a show.

38. Climb Flamborough lighthouse.
The lighthouse was closed the last time we visited but I'd like to overcome my fear of heights so that I can see the view from the top.

39. Go on a ghost hunt.
I think York would be a good place for this, there's always lots of ghost walks taking place and they even do ghost tours by bus now.

40. Watch a sunset from a beach.
There's something magical about seeing the sun dip below the horizon.

41. Go for afternoon tea.
I only drink tea occasionally but I love the idea of sandwiches and sweet treats, a quintessential British tradition.

42. Treat myself to something I really want.
I'm not sure what this will be, nothing springs to mind at the moment but I'm sure something will pop up that I'd like.

43. Adopt an animal for charity.
I don't mean one that will come home to live with me, I don't think Archie would take too kindly to that. There's lots of organisations that ask you to adopt an animal or become a sponsor, like Hope Pastures where I've adopted Banjo the donkey in the past.

44. Finish the Spice Of Life crochet blanket.
I'm over half way through this project but it's been put aside for quite a while now along with my Granny Stripe blanket. I'm not sure what's happened to my crochet mojo, I'm more in to knitting and cross stitch at the moment but I'm sure it will return when the colder weather arrives.

45. Send a message in a bottle.
I always wanted to do this when I was a child but never did. I wonder where the bottle will end up and whether anyone will read my message.

46. Engage in social media.
I've so far managed to avoid Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and most other social media but I'm thinking of joining in. I'm not sure if I'll just sign up to one or two things or if I'll go the whole hog and join everything. I'll have to find out how everything works first though.

47. Visit a craft show.
I think various craft shows are held at Harrogate International Centre, or a little further afield at the NEC in Birmingham.

48. Attend the Christmas lights switch on.
The lights switch on in my small town has become more of an event over the last couple of years, it's organised by the local Lions, a service club organisation, and now incorporates a fun fair and market as well as local groups providing entertainment throughout the day. I haven't attended for a good many years so it's time I put in an appearance again.

49. Grow a tree from a pip.
I'm sure I remember sowing apple pips from the fruit I'd eaten when I was a child, not that I can remember anything growing from them. Perhaps I was just too impatient and gave up too quickly. I think I'll give this a go again, perhaps I'll sow something a little more exotic this time.

50. Explore Nottingham.
I should have plenty of opportunity to do this as Eleanor will be living there for the next three or four years. I've already spotted a great yarn shop in the city centre which I'd like to visit and I'm sure there's some lovely green spaces around the city.

So that's my list of fifty things that I want to tick off before I reach my fiftieth birthday in two year's time. I wonder how many of them I'll actually do. A few of you have shown an interest in making a list yourself, I'd love to know if you do, it would be fun to see what things you've included on your own list.

Don't forget, if you haven't already entered my giveaway, you've got until midday on Wednesday the 7th of September 2016 to do so, just leave a comment on my Sixth Blog Anniversary Giveaway post.

Saturday 3 September 2016

50 Before 50 - Part One

It's my 48th birthday today. Life seems to be rushing by, just two more years now until I'm fifty. I've seen a few lists around of people wanting to complete thirty things before they're thirty, forty before they're forty or fifty before they're fifty. I thought I'd make one myself so I've been jotting things down as I've thought of them.

1. Keep a journal.
I do already keep a journal but I write in it very infrequently. It's still interesting reading back through my thoughts from a few years ago so I think it would be good to increase the number of entries I make. I aim to be writing in it a few times each week.

2. Start swimming regularly.
I have to admit that I don't do a lot of exercise. I walk, mainly because I've got a dog so I have to, but I used to love swimming and it would be good to get back in to it for the exercise alone. I'm sure it would be something I'll enjoy doing too.

3. Get my fortune read.
I don't really believe in it but I think it would be fun.

4. See a Shakespeare play.
I remember going to see Hamlet on a trip to Stratford upon Avon with school and I'm ashamed to say that I fell asleep. I'd like to make amends and see another play, this time watching it the whole way through.

5. Finish Joyful World cross stitch.
I'm only on the month of March at the moment so I've got a long way to go to get it finished.

6. Visit Wales.
I've been to Wales three times, once when my brother got married as his wife (now ex) came from there, once for my niece's christening and once for her eighteenth birthday party, and each time was to the same place in mid Wales. I'd like to see a different area.

7. Take a boat ride.
Perhaps it will be a pleasure cruise or maybe a pedalo, who knows.

8. Sleep in a caravan.
I've only slept in a caravan once and that's when I was about four years old. Mick's not keen on trying camping so this is the closest I can get.

9. Read Wuthering Heights.
I've wanted to read Wuthering Heights for years but still haven't got round to it. Perhaps putting it on this list will encourage me to do so.

10. Book on to a workshop or course.
There's lots of things I'd like to learn, the only thing holding me back is finding appropriate classes. I must look harder.

11. Fly a kite.
It's years since I flew a kite. This is a good one for a windy day.

12. Have a health check.
My doctor's surgery keeps asking me if I want to attend for a health check but I keep putting it off. It's something I really need to take up.

13. Explore Leeds Art Gallery.
I can't remember the last time I went to the art gallery. We have lots of museums and galleries in Leeds but they're places I never visit.

14. Visit a Christmas market.
I absolutely love Christmas and markets are great places to get in the Christmas spirit, I love the atmosphere.

15. Have a manicure.
I don't do much with my nails. I don't bite them but I always cut them short and I rarely wear nail varnish. I should make more of them.

16. Subscribe to a magazine.
I love magazines but I rarely buy them unless they're on a special deal as they're so expensive. I'm going to treat myself.

17. Pick fruit at a Pick Your Own farm.
I've really missed the strawberries from my allotment this year, supermarket offerings never live up to freshly picked fruit. A Pick Your Own farm is a good substitute to growing your own.

18. Try a food I've never tried before.
We eat very plain meals as I live in a family of fussy eaters. I'd be happy to eat different things to the meals we do eat but go along with the rest of them for ease. Now that there's going to be just the two of us at home, it's time to try some different things.

19. Take a train ride.
I love train travel but I rarely use public transport since I gave up work. I sometimes get the train in to Leeds but it's only a fifteen minute journey.

20. Take part in a charity walk.
There's always lots of sponsored charity events going on and it's good to raise money for worthwhile causes.

21. Lose two stone.
I've been weighed today and I want to be at least two stone lighter when I weigh myself again on my fiftieth birthday.

22. Touch the white horse of Kilburn.
We visited The White Horse Of Kilburn a couple of years ago but didn't get right up to it. This time I want to take a walk through the woods and get up close.

23. Go to the opera.
I've never seen an opera, though my mum and dad are both big fans so I've grown up with opera music in the house.

24. Watch a whole cricket match.
Both Mick and Daniel play cricket but I've never watched a match the whole way through. Mick's given up asking if I'm going to watch so I shall just surprise him one week and turn up. I think I shall try and make it a week when they're both playing.

25. Go to Blackpool to see the illuminations.
Daniel and Eleanor were only little when we last went to see the illuminations, I remember them standing up and sticking their heads through the sun roof to get a better look. The illuminations usually run from the beginning of September to the beginning of November.

I'll stop there for now, I think twenty five things are enough for one post. I'll list the remaining twenty five things on my list in another post.

I've been very spoilt on my birthday, lovely cards and gifts, chocolate and flowers. Daniel's coming home this afternoon and we're all going for a meal tonight.

Don't forget, if you haven't already entered my giveaway, you've got until midday on Wednesday the 7th of September 2016 to do so, just leave a comment on my Sixth Blog Anniversary Giveaway post.