Tuesday 31 October 2017

Spooky Goings On

There's something spooky happening at Lotherton Hall.

The Scarecrow Trail is back with clues around the house and estate leading to the super spooky scarecrows.

We didn't follow any clues and we didn't go in the house but we still managed to see lots of scary scarecrows.

I think this diver near the pond must have been here for some time.

A howling black dog was stalking the pet cemetery.

There must have been some apples left in the orchard after the recent Apple Day as this scarecrow has filled his trug.

There were skeletons in the woods.

There were giant spiders on the house.

The gardeners had turned into scarecrows.

One gardener was headless.

There were ghouls in the trees.

Even some of the visitors had turned into scarecrows.

A sign on the stable.

That doesn't look like a horse to me.

Skeletons trying to get into the house.

I'm not sure what these three were up to but there was a lot of spooky sounds coming from the temple.

Lotherton's Spooky Scarecrow Trail runs until the 5th of November.

Happy Halloween.

Sunday 29 October 2017

Christmas Reading

I had loads of Christmas themed books lined up to read last year and then disaster struck, as well as being poorly myself for most of December, my dad was taken into hospital and was seriously ill. Luckily, he made a good recovery, though it hadn't been expected. It's no surprise then that I didn't get half the books read that I thought I would. I decided that instead of reading them into January, I'd hold onto them ready for this year.

There's more Christmas themed books waiting for me on my Kindle as well as these four paperbacks so I've decided to start early this year and begin reading them in November. I just hope that all goes to plan this year.

Nothing like getting in the Christmas spirit early.

Friday 27 October 2017

Raindrops On Roses - October

These are a few of my favourite things.

Catching up with friends. I used to see some of my friends all the time when our children were little. I live just around the corner from the primary school which our children went to so it was really easy for friends to pop in for a coffee just after dropping off time or else they'd call in for a coffee an hour before they were due to pick up their little ones. Once the kids went to secondary school, I saw these friends less as it was a case of arranging a time to meet up, it was less convenient than just popping in for a coffee on the way home from school. We have lots of news to catch up on when we do meet up so we usually arrange to meet in a cafe and spend a couple of hours hearing what's happening in each other's lives. I had one such meet up this month, a new garden centre opened very close to where I live last year and it's got a lovely cafe so we arranged to meet there and we spent a lovely couple of hours putting the world to rights.

Autumn colours. I can't say I'm a huge fan of autumn, I'm definitely a summer girl so it's with a heavy heart that I admit to my favourite season ending and the arrival of the cooler weather. One thing I do love about autumn though is the colour pallette. We're now at the time, just before the trees lose all their leaves, when there's an array of yellows, oranges, reds, pinks and purples brightening up the parks and the trees put on a fantastic display.

October television. As soon as the darker evenings descend, we're treated to new series of old favourites on TV and some new goodies too. I'm pleased that Strictly Come Dancing is back on our screens, though I don't know many of the celebrities, I'm still enjoying watching. The second series of Victoria was just as good as the first. Liar has had it's fair share of coverage in the media, and though I did enjoy it, I found I enjoyed Rellik, over on the BBC, more. This thriller was told in reverse, apparently showing us the killer at the beginning of the series, but as each episode unfolded backwards, there were twist and turns aplenty. Even the title of this programme was in reverse. Cold Feet, ahhhh, I loved this series in the 90's and I think the revived series works just as well.

Shopping with Eleanor. A lovely day was spent with Eleanor in Nottingham, and though we were shopping, which is definitely not my favourite thing, we had a lovely time. I'm not a particularly girly girl so I could never imagine myself with a daughter, especially after having Daniel. How lovely it is though to spend time with my gorgeous girl.

The Body Shop soap. I'm not a lover of scented soap really, not only do I have sensitive skin but I have many allergies too and lots of things make me sneeze. I do love soap from The Body Shop though, I've used their products for many years. I tend to go for the citrusy scents, pink grapefruit and satsuma are favourites, but I like the tropical fruity scents too, I'm using a mango scented soap in the bathroom at the moment. One complaint is that they no longer do the lemon soap which used to be my absolute favourite, and I liked the apple one which they no longer do either. I wish they'd bring them back.

What favourites do you have this month? How about joining me and writing a post about them?

Tuesday 24 October 2017

Shopping In Nottingham

We were supposed to be popping over to Nottingham a couple of weeks ago to take Eleanor shopping but she got Fresher's Flu so our plans were postponed. Fresher's Flu is the name given to an assortment of illnesses contracted by students during the first few weeks at university, it could be actual flu or it could be something else altogether, they're just put under one umbrella and given the name Fresher's Flu. I suppose it's inevitable that an assortment of germs will be passed around when a large number of people from all around the world gather together. She was really poorly with it last year, right up to Christmas, she ended up going to the doctors about three times in total and was told she'd got pleurisy and to go to A&E if her chest pains got any worse. I don't think it's quite as bad this year, she's still snuffly and has got a cough but she's feeling much better now so we decided we'd take her shopping on Saturday.

In hindsight, we'd have been better doing the shopping before she went back to university but she was so busy working on the weekends that time seemed to run away from us. It was a good excuse to go over to Nottingham and spend some time with her anyway.

The main things she was looking for was a warm winter coat and some shoes to go with more dressy outfits, she managed to find a coat she liked but wasn't so lucky with the shoes. She did get some boots though.

She also wanted a pair of black jeans which we managed to find straight away. We were really lucky though, lots of the shops were having sales and whilst she was looking amongst one of the rails, she found some blue jeans in her size so she tried them on and really liked them. They didn't have a tag on them so we weren't sure if they were in the sale or not, many people put things down in shops anywhere and non sale items get mixed up with things which are reduced, so she asked a sales assistant how much they were and sure enough, they were in the sale and had been reduced to £4! As if that wasn't good enough, she was told that there was an extra 20% off sale items on Saturday so she actually got the jeans for £3.20, so she ended up with a pair of black jeans and a pair of blue jeans. She also found a couple of tops in that same shop in the sale so she did really well.

Whilst we were in the town I popped into Knit Nottingham, a lovely independent yarn shop. I didn't buy anything but I enjoyed looking around and the assistant was really chatty and friendly. This shop has won awards in the recent British Knitting and Crochet Awards 2017 and I'm not surprised, the people of Nottingham are lucky having such a lovely yarn shop local to them.

I'm not someone who enjoys shopping for clothes, in fact, I'd go so far as to say I hate shopping for clothes, for me. If I'm shopping with Eleanor, for Eleanor, I quite enjoy it, and it was nice to go shopping somewhere different for a change. Nottingham is less than half the size of Leeds but it's still a very busy city.

Explore Nottingham is number 50 on my 50 Before 50 list so I suppose this little shopping trip could count towards that.

Before heading home we took Eleanor food shopping, it's amazing how these students plead poverty, even though you know you've given them enough money already to buy provisions. Ah well, at least I know she'll be eating well again, for the next week at least. And she did okay for food on Saturday evening as we bought her a KFC take out before we left.

Eleanor's always appreciative of things we do for her, she always thanks us there and then but she always sends us a little message afterwards too.

It will only be a couple of weeks now until we see her again if the trip we've got planned comes off.

Saturday 21 October 2017

Yarndale 2017

It's a while now since I went to Yarndale so I thought I'd better write a post about it before it gets completely forgotten about.

I missed the very first Yarndale, it was the weekend that Daniel started university back in 2013, and every year since then I've had either Daniel or Eleanor going back to university the same weekend as Yarndale, though I've still managed to fit a trip to Skipton in. It was the same this year, however, Eleanor wasn't going back until the Sunday and ordinarily I'd have made the most of her last day at home on the Saturday but she was working from midday until 11.30 at night so it didn't matter that I spent the afternoon at Yarndale.

This is the first year that I've been on my own, we didn't have anyone to leave Archie with so Mick dropped me off and then went dog walking in the woods behind Skipton Castle, they both enjoyed their afternoon so I didn't feel guilty at all spending plenty of time stroking and squishing gorgeous yarn.

To be honest, I wasn't sure I'd be visiting Yarndale this year, I came away a little disillusioned last year after being pushed and shoved out of the way by people with terrible manners. I'm glad to say that it didn't seem quite so busy this time round and there was a happy spirit about the place.

There were lots of vendors which I'd seen before but plenty of new ones too this year. I was quite spoilt for choice when it came to making purchases.

I visited the Yarndale Sock Line but as there were a few of us who had used the same yarn to knit our socks, I'm not sure whether I spotted my Lavender Socks or not. I do know that they'll be gifted to someone who'll appreciate them though. There were lots of socks hanging up this year, definitely many more than in previous years. It's nice to see such a worthwhile project being well supported.

The community charity project this year was Creative Hearts. It's recognised that yarn crafts promote emotional and mental well being so it's hoped that the display will raise awareness and funds for Mind, the mental health charity.

A few animals had been brought to Yarndale, as usual. I didn't see any alpacas this year but what a beauty this Exmoor Horn Sheep is. Such a handsome chap.

There was a good mix of stalls, knitting, crochet, spinning, felting and weaving, and others besides. They've definitely got a good balance at this festival.

I always do a full tour of the stalls before buying anything, it actually takes quite a lot of time to get round them all.

Once I've seen everything on offer, I make my choices and revisit the vendors from which I'm going to make a purchase. This works for me, at least I know I'm not going to see something I want after I've spent up.

I always come away with renewed enthusiasm and this year is no different. There seems to be so many possibilities when faced with so much beautiful yarn. Better get the Christmas knitting finished first though.

I expect you'd like to see my little haul.

My favourite is the Mothy and the Squid yarn in the Calico Cat colourway. I just love those orange/red black/brown shades on the ecru base, and there's a bit of silver stellina sparkle added for good measure. I'm very pleased with all my purchases though.

It was a lovely day out again, I'm so pleased I made it.

Thursday 19 October 2017

The Girl You Left Behind

I've become a bit of a Jojo Moyes fan since reading Me Before You, however, none of the other books of hers which I've read since have lived up to that one. The one I've just read has come the closest though.

I downloaded The Girl You Left Behind on to my Kindle without knowing anything about it, other than that it was written by Jojo Moyes, I didn't even know the outline of the story, but it had me gripped straight away.

The first part of the story takes place in occupied France during the First World War. Sophie Lefevre's husband, Edouard, has gone to fight in the war leaving her behind to run her hotel. She's ordered to serve up dinner each evening to the German troops and the Kommandant takes a shine to the portrait of Sophie, painted by Edouard, which hangs in the bar. His obsession with the painting leads Sophie to take the biggest gamble of her life.

Fast forward nearly a hundred years and the painting is now owned by Liv Halston. It was bought for her by her husband, who has since died, whilst they were on honeymoon. But where's it been in the interim? This is what Liv has to find out.

If you enjoyed Me Before You I'm sure you'd enjoy this book too but be warned, have a box of tissues at the ready.

If you want to know what else I've been reading lately, you can find a list in the sidebar. This shows all the books I've read this year and there's also lists of the books I've read right back to 2012.

Monday 16 October 2017

#stitchingsanta 2017

I just thought I'd mention the #stitchingsanta 2017 swap which Sheila from Sewchet blog is running. This will be the third time that I've taken part in this swap and it's always so much fun, I thought a few of you may enjoy joining in too.

It's a bit like a Secret Santa, you get given a partner to send a swap package to and a different person gets given your name and in turn sends a swap package to you, so it's not a straight swap with one person.

The great thing about this swap is that it's for crafty people, you can opt to join the knitting/crochet swap, the sewing swap, or both.

The cost, I think, is very reasonable. Gifts to the value of £10 (excluding postage) should be added to the parcel, but you're also able to add things which you've made or which haven't cost anything. I often add little kits or free gifts from the front of magazines and I always send something handmade too.

It's such a lovely swap for crafters, so if you fancy joining in, head over to Sheila's Sewchet blog and sign up on the #stitchingsanta 2017 post.

Perhaps I'll see you there.

Friday 13 October 2017

Blackpool Illuminations

Go to Blackpool to see the illuminations is on my 50 Before 50 list.

We decided to go a fortnight ago, Mick had planned to finish work early, however, he had to go and visit a customer and got stuck there so we didn't actually set off until 4.30pm. The traffic on the motorway, being a Friday evening, was horrendous and we didn't arrive in Blackpool until 8pm, by which time it was already dark and the illuminations were already lit. We got in the queue of cars at the North Shore to make our way through the display of lights which run the whole length of the promenade, and beyond. The imposing Tower can be seen from most points.

Most visitors drive through the six miles of illuminations, and therefore, it takes quite a while in the queuing traffic. There are also open top trams, and other trams which are illuminated to look like ships, which run along the tramway, as well as horse drawn landau.

There have been illuminations at Blackpool since 1879, though they consisted of just eight carbon arc lamps. The first display similar to what we see today was held in May 1912 when Princess Louise, Queen Victoria's Granddaughter, visited Blackpool to open a new section of the promenade, Princess Parade.

Not only did we get to see the illuminations but the World Fireworks Championship was also being held in Blackpool and they were putting on a display for four consecutive Fridays in September so we got to see the Celebrations Display by the UK. It made the time spent waiting around for the cars to actually move more bearable.

Many of the illuminations are sponsored by businesses. These 'I'm lovin' it' lights were outside McDonalds.

Forty large tableaux are displayed from North Shore to Bispham, these are set back beyond the tramway and a pedestrian walkway runs the length of these.

I liked this Hickory Dickory Dock tableau. Here you can see the mouse at the top of the clock after it's run up, but as the lights change and the clock strikes one, you get to see the mouse run down the clock again.

Here are a small selection of the 2017 illuminations.

Blackpool itself was extremely busy with families out to see the lights as well as party goers spilling out of the bars and clubs onto the pavements. I have to say that even though I live in a large city, I've never seen so many police vehicles speeding around at any one time. At one point, we were in the queue of traffic when a police car, sirens blaring, sped towards us on the other side of the road, finally coming to a halt right in front of our car. Five police vans followed suit and all the officers jumped out, running down a side street, to what I do not know. It totally unnerved me though. Sirens could be heard more or less continually during our time there and we saw so many police cars and ambulances, some of which were speeding along the tram lines as the roads were chock o block full of queuing cars. The emergency services were very busy and I wonder if this is normal for a Friday night in Blackpool.

It took us a good two hours to drive right the way through the illuminations and though we thought we'd have an easy drive back home, we discovered that part of the motorway was down to one lane due to night time roadworks and another part of the motorway was closed, so it was actually 1.30am by the time we arrived home. I usually go to bed pretty early so it was a bit of an adventure to be doing something out of the ordinary like this so late at night.

That's something else crossed off my 50 Before 50 list.