Sunday 30 October 2016

Reading - October 2016

Four seems to be the magic number where my reading is concerned, I've read another four books again this month.

I'm not really one for short stories, I think they just get going when it's all over. I much prefer something longer where the story can actually develop but after reading a couple of Jojo Moyes books just recently, I thought I'd give Paris For One a go. I have to say that I did enjoy it and I think the Characters were put across very well to say there aren't that many pages to establish personality traits and back-stories. I'd say give it a go if you get the chance but I wouldn't particularly go out of my way to buy it.

Death On The Nile is one of Agatha Christie's most famous novels, however, I don't think it's one of her best. I thought it took some time to get going, the murder doesn't happen until half way through the book, there's a lot of setting the scene. I actually guessed the murderer right from the start. I still enjoyed reading it but I've read better from her.

I've read Jennifer Worth's midwife trilogy, the books that Call The Midwife is based on, and thoroughly enjoyed them. Afterwards, I read In The Midst Of Life, which is about her experiences as a nurse and ward sister, treating patients nearing the end of their lives but I didn't enjoy this one as much. This month I've read Letters To The Midwife which is a collection of correspondence received by Jennifer. I thoroughly enjoyed this book, each letter gives a glimpse in to what life was like 'back in the day'. It also contains some of Jennifer's journal entries along with an introduction from her family. I enjoyed reading this book.

Eleanor& Park by Rainbow Rowell is a book aimed at young adults but I thoroughly enjoyed it. I actually bought it quite a while ago for Eleanor but she's not a bookworm in any sense of the word and she's never read it so I decided I'd read it myself, I'm glad I did. The story is set around two sixteen year olds, Eleanor, who lives in a dysfunctional family and Park who's half Korean and keeps himself to himself. It's basically a story about first love but with issues. I really enjoyed it and though it's aimed at younger readers, I think it's a book for older readers too.

I've bought lots of new books just lately, some that I've found in charity shops and some which have been offers on the Kindle. I won't be stuck for something to read for quite some time.

Thursday 27 October 2016

Nolon Stacey

I'm harking back to the August bank holiday week again in this post to the Thursday when we visited the Yorkshire Dales.

Masham is a small town in Wensleydale and the last time I visited was when I went on an outdoor pursuits course with work some thirty years ago, our base was situated there. I have happy memories of the time we spent abseiling, canoeing and orienteering among other things. The place we stayed is now a luxury castle hotel, spa, cookery school and events venue and looks very posh.

We parked the car in the market square and set off on foot to have a look round when we came to a sign advertising Nolon Stacey's Gallery. I know of his work but didn't realise his gallery was in Masham so we popped in to take a look.

I've been looking for a picture of a hare for quite some time now and as Nolon Stacey specialises in both domestic and wild animals, I should have known that I'd find something I liked in his gallery. I have to say that I was spoilt for choice. I did find my hare picture, but it was one of several I could have brought home with me, along with a number of other wildlife pictures too.

My mum and dad gave us some money for our silver wedding anniversary last year and we knew we wanted to buy a picture with it, we've been saving it until the right picture came along. It's a limited edition print and comes with a certificate of authenticity.

I couldn't leave this one behind either, how cute is he? We spoke to Nolon about the choices we'd made and he told us that this one is modelled on a dog he had as a child.

I'm thrilled we stumbled upon the gallery and I'm sure we'll be back again in the future. The pictures just need framing now and then they can be hung.

Monday 24 October 2016

August Bank Holiday

It's a long time now since it was August bank holiday and yet I still haven't blogged about what we got up to. For the last few years now, Mick has not only taken the bank holiday Monday off work but has also taken the following four days to give him a full week at home and he did the same this year. We were considering going away for the week but in the end we decided against it, preferring instead to have some days out and about.

When I read Rebecca's Day in Saltburn post on her Writing, fatshion, me blog earlier on in August about the yarn bombing on Saltburn's pier, it had made me want to visit for myself, so on the Monday of that week, that's where we headed.

I've never been to Saltburn before. Actually, I have, I've driven through it but never stopped, I'm not sure why as I had a lovely surprise when we did visit, it's such a quaint little place which hasn't been spoilt by commercialism. The main attraction here is the Victorian water balanced cliff lift which is still in operation today.

The lift was built to allow easy access from the cliff top to the newly constructed pier, and that's what we were there to visit, well, the yarn bombing on it.

The entrance to the pier opens in to an amusement arcade which you walk through to get on to the pier itself, this is the only remaining pier in Yorkshire.

Well, we looked and looked and walked down to the end of the pier where a few fishermen were watching their rods, then we looked back towards the way we'd come and the yarn bombing was nowhere to be seen. It had obviously been removed. We were too late.

Never mind, we decided we'd pop down to the beach and let Archie have a play in the waves.

He had a lovely time.

It would have been nice to have seen the yarn bombing but I didn't mind too much, we've now found a little gem on the Yorkshire coast. I would urge you to pop over to Rebecca's blog though and see the photos she took of all the wonderful knitting and crochet, all Yorkshire themed, it looked fabulous.

Saltburn by the Sea, we'll definitely return.

We spent a few hours in Saltburn before heading off down the coast to Whitby where we spent another delightful few hours. I do love Whitby with its 199 steps, its connection to Dracula, the abbey, the olde worlde charm of its cobblestone streets, the busy harbour where there's always something going on that makes you stop and watch, I could go on and on.

Other places we visited that week were Bolton Abbey, Knaresborough, The Yorkshire Dales and York and we managed a couple of meals out too. We had a lovely week and were quite glad that we hadn't booked anything in the end, there's something about deciding on the spur of the moment what you're going to do that day that makes it quite exciting.

Friday 21 October 2016

Joyful World - October

Spot The Difference.

The top photo is progress to date, the bottom photo is from last month.

Quite hard, isn't it? There hasn't been much done on the Joyful World Stitch Along since last month, but there's something else being stitched behind the scenes which I can't talk about on my blog at the moment so there is stitching being done.

I'm determined to get back to Joyful World again though now so that I've got something to show you next month. Now where's my needle?

Tuesday 18 October 2016

A Beautiful Quilt

My lovely friend, Susan, from Granny Smith's Quilting blog lives in Australia but I was lucky enough to meet her a couple of years ago when she came over for a holiday. She's very sneaky though, I had no idea that she'd made plans to visit again this year until I got a phone call out of the blue one day telling me she was here.

We made loose arrangements to meet before she returned to Australia but it wasn't to be, we just couldn't find a time when we were both free. We had a chance meeting at Bolton Abbey one day in early September but that was it.

It was my birthday while Susan was over here and she'd brought with her, all the way from Australia, a gift for me, how lucky am I? Here it is, a most beautiful quilted bed runner.

I'm not going to use it on the bed though, I think it's perfect to drape over the back of the sofa, that way it can be shown off as it deserves. Just look at all the beautiful fabric which has been used.

Even the back is lovely.

This close up shows the flowery quilting stitch. Sorry if that's not the right term, I'm not a quilter myself.

Thank you so much Susan, I'm absolutely thrilled with it and I shall treasure it always.

Saturday 15 October 2016

Flamborough Lighthouse

Number 38 on my 50 Before 50 list is Climb Flamborough Lighthouse, so that's what I did.

When we dropped Eleanor off at university on the 23rd of September, I decided that I needed to keep myself busy for a week or two until I got used to the peace and quiet in the house. It was a coping mechanism so that I didn't succumb to empty nest syndrome and it's definitely worked. Daniel and his girlfriend were at home that first weekend but the following weekend was the first one Mick and I were to spend alone so on the Saturday we took care of some jobs and errands which needed attending to and as the Sunday dawned bright and sunny, we decided to head off to the coast for the day. We started off in Flamborough.

Tours of the lighthouse take place every half hour and I was really lucky, a large group had just been shown around as I entered, however, there was only me on my tour. Mick kept his feet on the ground as we had Archie with us. I got a guided tour all to myself and the tour guide was so knowledgeable and interesting, it was a brilliant experience.

I've visited the lighthouse on a number of occasions, the most recent being last year and I wrote about it in my Flamborough Head post with a bit of information about the lighthouse too. I've never been inside the lighthouse before though, and never climbed the 119 steps, I don't have a head for heights so this was going to be a bit of a challenge.

I was a little nervous at first given my fear of heights but it was fine, it was only as I started climbing the last few steps where the walls kind of narrow that I felt rather claustrophobic but that soon passed. It was certainly worth it for the view.

This is looking out at the fog horn station. The fog horn was sounding the last time we were there but there was no need for it this time.

Here you can see an emergency standby lamp which is mounted on the gallery of the tower. This is used should the main light and all backup lamps and power sources fail. It can be seen at a reduced distance but can be used until the problem with the main light can be fixed.

Looking back towards Flamborough, you can see the old chalk tower lighthouse which is one of the oldest surviving lighthouses in England. It was designed for a fire to be burnt on top, though there's no evidence that it was ever lit.

I was really pleased that I conquered my fear and made it to the top, that's the first thing that I can cross off my 50 Before 50 list.

Afterwards, we headed in to Bridlington, a place we've been many, many times before. It's somewhere I remember being taken as a child and it's somewhere we've taken our own children. This time it was just Mick and I, oh, and Archie too. The dog ban on the beach had just been lifted for the winter months so Archie had a great time running around, getting wet and rolling in the sand. We walked along the promenade and round the harbour and though the sun was shining, there was a cool breeze so we stopped at a cafe overlooking the sea for coffee and hot chocolate before heading back to the car for our homeward journey after a lovely day out.

Thursday 13 October 2016

Happy Mail

When Eleanor moved to university, I decided that I'd send her some parcels throughout the year made up of bits and bobs, lovely things, happy mail if you like. I know she's only been gone three weeks tomorrow but after the first week or so, homesickness can kick in. It hasn't, but I thought I'd get the first parcel off to her just in case and she received it at the start of the week.

As soon as I saw this plaque I loved it, such an apt sentiment for someone starting out on their university journey. I really do hope that Eleanor chases her dreams, she's worked so hard to achieve what she has so far, I hope she accomplishes everything she wants to.

Eleanor loves pugs so as soon as I saw the cup and straw I had to buy it, it's just sooooo cute. Mick actually bought the mug for her, he saw it and knew she'd like it. The shot glasses are something she'd mentioned she wanted, the drinking games started on day one!

I went in to M&S to buy her some new underwear and saw these trainer socks which had been reduced from £8 right down to 79p, I couldn't believe it. Hmmm, I'll have a couple of packs at that price.

A girl has to be able to pamper herself so I bought her some face masks. She only has a shower, no bath, so I doubt it will be the same as pampering herself during a soak, but nevertheless.

I wrote about the Short Socks in my last post. They were a big hit and are doing their job of keeping her feet toasty warm.

Her room is tiny but it doesn't mean it can't be pretty. I sent a couple of packs of fairy lights to hang, a warm, cosy glow makes the place look homely.

I suffer from chapped lips as soon as the weather turns cold and Eleanor's the same. Added to the fact that she's full of cold, or Fresher's Flu as it's so named, I'm sure she'll put this Cherry Shine lip balm to good use.

I couldn't send a parcel of treats without adding some edible goodies. Lindt Lindor Truffles are her favourites but rather expensive so she got a small bag of those. A bag of strawberry Haribo Balla Stixx, sickly sweet but she loves them. I'm glad to see these Snow Bites back in the shops, yum yum. Toffifee, very moreish.

I also put a few food items in the parcel, things that don't weight too much, it cost me enough to send the parcel as it is.

Eleanor's settled in to university life really well, she had a great time during fresher's week, made lots of new friends and found her feet so to speak. Her lectures, seminars and lab sessions have now started, she's working hard and loving it. She doesn't seem to be missing home at all, which is good, it stops me worrying about her, and she hasn't made any plans to come home as yet. Her boyfriend has gone to a different university but he's travelling to see her tomorrow and staying for the weekend.

Daniel graduated from university this year and I thought that as Eleanor left home for uni, he might be returning. This isn't to be. He's got three job offers and the one he's decided to take is in Surrey, three and a half hours away. He was only half an hour away door to door when he was at university so this will be a big difference. I'm glad he feels confident enough to travel to, and live in, a different part of the country where he doesn't know anyone. It's a bit different from university where there were literally thousands of students all in the same boat, here he'll be on his own, but you've got to go where the work is these days and he's been offered a good job with good benefits, he feels he's got to give it a go.

I'm so proud of both of them, they've grown up in to independent young people and are working hard at building lives for themselves.

So that leaves Mick and I rattling around in the house on our own. I thought I'd miss Eleanor much more than I do. That sounds like I don't miss her, of course I do, but I have enough things to keep me occcupied and it's actually nice for us to have some time on our own for the first time in twenty one years. The times they are a changin!

Tuesday 11 October 2016

Short Socks

I wouldn't usually use acrylic yarn to knit socks with but I knew that the socks I was going to make would only be used for short periods and not really looked after, certainly not handwashed, so they had to be able to be thrown in the washing machine.

I bought some King Cole Moods yarn from Yarndale and though the largest part of it is acrylic, 68%, it does contain 30% wool. It also contains 2% viscose, which is what, I think, gives it the tweedy flecks. I thought this would make some really squishy socks. The bonus is that they're able to be washed in the machine.

The pattern I had in mind was Short Socks by Sarah E. White. It's a nice, easy pattern, though I did knit a larger cuff at the top of the socks than that stated.

These socks winged their way over to Nottingham to keep Eleanor's tootsies nice and warm and were received yesterday. Eleanor won't wear slippers so I thought these would be ideal to slip on in her room whilst she's busy studying. One sock looks bigger than the other here but it's not, I think it's just how the photo has been taken.

They look a little on the big side but they actually look much better when being worn than on the blockers, and they've lovely and cosy. They don't take long to knit at all so I'll probably use this pattern again.

Eleanor was really pleased with them, put them on straight away and said they were a perfect fit. Result!

Friday 7 October 2016

Twelve Days Of Christmas 2016 Swap Partners

Here is the list of partners for this year's Twelve Days Of Christmas swap.

Once you've seen who you've been paired with, can you please make contact with your swap partner either by email or by commenting on their blog. You will need to exchange addresses but please make sure this is done by email, I don't like seeing people's personal details posted on blogs. It would also be helpful if you could leave me a comment letting me know that you've seen this post and that you've made contact with your swap partner.

We've had another great response to the swap, twenty six people including myself, which is exactly the same as last year. Some people who took part last year are taking part again this year and we have some new people added to the mix this year too, which is lovely. There'll be thirteen swaps taking place and here are your partners:-

Sally A from Crafty Northerner - Michelle from Michelle's Make Or Bake

April from Paper Lily Leaf - Hazel from World Of Joy

Tammy from My Journey - Ellie from Feltabulous

Amy from Love Made My Home - Mary from Frugally Challenged

Tracy from Mad About Bags And So Much More......... - Pat from Lilly My Cat

Kim from This Happy Homemade Life - Jo from Through The Keyhole (me)

Marlene from Poppy Patchwork - Debbie from Fairy Bluebell's Craft Adventure

Clicky Needles (Sorry, I don't know your name) - Marlene from Simple Living

Tanya from Allotments 4 You - Kimberley from Creative Chaos

Barbara from Busy Busy Bee Jay - Selma from Eclectic Home And Life

Rebecca from Writing, Fatshion, Me - Jules from A Hidden Jem

Jo from Angel Jem's City Cottage - Cheryl from My Little Piece Of England

Jo from A Whole Plot Of Love- Maggie from Maggie, A Blackcountry Wench

You've now got until the beginning of December to get your gifts together. They should be things you'd be happy to receive yourself and you may choose to make some of the gifts if you so wish.

I'm sure you'll have no trouble choosing gifts for your swap partner but you can have a look at The Twelve Days Of Christmas post which I wrote a couple of years ago which shows the gifts I received from Lisa, or my Twelve Days Of Christmas Reveal post which shows the things I sent and received last year if you get stuck and need some ideas. Some people may enjoy receiving things such as stationery, crafting supplies, books, ornaments, jewellery, smellies, candles, edibles and if your partner lives in a different country from yourself, they may enjoy receiving things they wouldn't be able to get in their own country. That's just a few ideas for you but do take a look at their blogs and see what sort of things they like or enjoy doing.

Each gift should cost a maximum of £2, it's not about the cost, it's about gifting things which your partner will like.

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. Those who are swapping with partners from other countries should check the last posting dates to ensure their parcel will arrive in time for Christmas.

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.

If anyone is unsure about anything or has any problems, don't hesitate to get in touch. You can find my email address in my profile, just click on my name on the About Me section in the sidebar. Above all, have fun with this swap, afterall, that's what it's all about.

I just want to mention that I've put my name down to join in with Sheila's #stitchingsanta 2016 swap over on her Sewchet blog. I took part in this swap last year and it's a great one for any knitters, crocheters or sewers out there. Do go and take a look and see if you fancy joining in.

Wednesday 5 October 2016

Geo Knits

It's only the past few years that I've started knitting again, I learnt to knit as a very small child but stopped in my teens and then didn't pick my needles up again for over twenty years. I used to make all sorts of things when I was young, trying out various patterns, designs and techniques. I'm not so adventurous these days and I'm quite nervous to try anything new, especially where colour changing is concerned, that's why I'm such a fan of variegated and self-striping yarn. I was therefore very interested when asked to review Geo Knits by Mary Jane Mucklestone, 10 Lessons and Projects For Knitting Stripes, Chevrons, Triangles, Polka Dots and More.

I really like how this book takes you on a journey though each geometric design, starting off right at the very beginning with Garter Stitch Stripes.

It then builds on what you've learnt by using other stitches to create the designs as well as introducing more advanced techniques and designs.

The ten lessons in the book include an introduction to the technique, an inspiration board which shows some of the projects you could attempt with that particular technique, the lesson itself and the pattern to create a project using that new skill.

There's also lots of hints, tips and information along the way, how to knit neat stripes, raglan shaping and steeking among others.

Chapter 2 is Basic Techniques. Included in this chapter is information on choosing tools, yarn, and one of the things that many people have trouble with, colour.

The book really is for the very beginner though there's plenty here that I can certainly learn so I think it would also interest those knitters who are past the basics too. It covers tension and how to read charts and even tells you how to cast on and off as well as showing how to knit the basic stitches.

Patterns are provided for projects which include the Garter Ridge Mobius Cowl, Chunky Stocking Striped Beanie, Triangular Garter Stitch Shawl, Dotted Mitts and Super Chunky Stocking Stitch Circle Rug. There really is something for everyone.

Geo Knits by Mary Jane Mucklestone is published by Apple Press and retails at £12.99. It can be purchased direct from Quarto. I received a copy of this book to review, however, all opinions expressed are my own.