Saturday 29 September 2018

Three Sisters, Three Queens

I read The Constant Princess by Philippa Gregory last year and enjoyed it so much that I immediately downloaded Three Sisters, Three Queens by the same author onto my Kindle, however, I've only recently got round to reading it.

Three Sisters, Three Queens is about Henry VIII's elder sister, Margaret, who married James IV of Scotland, Henry VIII's younger sister, Mary, who married Louis XII of France, and Henry VIII's first wife, Catherine of Aragon. It's told from Margaret's perspective from the time when Catherine of Aragon arrived at the Tudor court right the way through to the early 1530's.

Much has been written about Henry VIII and his six wives but I knew much less about his sisters so I enjoyed getting to know more about them. Obviously, being a novel, fiction is mixed in with fact, but I've found only recently that I enjoy reading books of this kind. They certainly encourage me to look into particular events and I find myself googling to find out more.

The relationship between the three queens was complex, changeable according to what was happening in Tudor England and Scotland at the particular time, but they eventually discovered that their special connection bound them together.

I really like the way in which Philippa Gregory writes, she makes the books easy to read and easy to follow, however, I must admit that I preferred The Constant Princess to this book. I found Three Sisters, Three Queens to drag a little in places, however, I would still recommend it.

Wednesday 26 September 2018

So Long, Farewell

It seems a long time since Eleanor arrived home at the end of her second year at university. The summer break is a long one so we get into a routine of being three again, it's quite a wrench when she has to go back.

Fresher's Week started at the weekend and though Eleanor isn't a Fresher, there are some Refresher events lined up for students in other years this week. She chose to stay at home for the weekend though so that she could work a couple of extra shifts at the little bar job she has when she's at home, returning to university on Monday.

The boot was jam packed, and this wasn't it all, the back seat was full too.

You may remember that she failed a couple of her exams and had to resit them. She's got the results and has passed them this time, coming out with a 2:1 for the year, which is a very good result overall. The good marks she got in her coursework throughout the year has pulled the grade up for her. Eleanor suffers terribly with exam anxiety, it started in school and has carried on at university too. Failing a couple of exams made her realise that she must finally bite the bullet and see the doctor. She's been given some anti anxiety medication and is being sent for counselling. I hope this will help her when it comes to sitting exams this year.

This is the last time she'll be packing everything up to return to university, how did her final year come round so quickly?

Sunday 23 September 2018

Woodland Walk Socks

Aren't these the most perfect socks for autumn? The pattern looks like leaves falling from the trees and tumbling down the legs.

The pattern is called Woodland Walk Socks and it's a free pattern by This Handmade Life on Ravelry. It's the first pattern I've used which calls for an Old Norwegian Cast On, but I'm so impressed by the stretchiness of this method that I'll be using it on a regular basis when I'm knitting socks from now on. There's a 1x1 twisted rib, which, in my opinion, gives a neater cuff, and an Eye of Partridge heel. The pattern is charted, but very easy to follow. The leaf lace stitch is knit either side of the socks, so there's a definite right and left sock in this pair.

I used Tamiwicolors Tough Sock which is a little more woolly than other 75% superwash merino and 25% nylon yarns which I've bought in the past, and though it's not the silkiest yarn I've ever used, it does soften up when washed.

I chose the Beth colourway and I absolutely love the pops of yellow in with the pink.

I got these off the needles just in time so that I was ready to join in with Ali's Strictly Sockalong on her Little Drops Of Wonderful podcast. I cast on during the first Strictly Come Dancing show last night. I'll tell you more about the pattern and yarn I'm using for this at a later date.

Thursday 20 September 2018

In Search Of Colour

I wrote about our trip to Lotherton in The Changing Seasons post and although we found lots of signs that autumn is on the way, we weren't very lucky in seeing much autumnal colour so on Sunday we headed off to Temple Newsam to see if it was any different there.

A first glance made us think that there wasn't much seasonal colour here either.

As we looked further we could see some small changes in the trees which shows that autumn is definitely on the way.

The trees seem to be changing colour very slowly. There's subtle changes at the moment but somewhere down the line, it will seem as though the changes have happened overnight.

This tree was covered in berries. I hope it doesn't mean there's a harsh winter on the cards.

Now this is more like it, a tree dressed in its autumn finery already.

It was a dull morning and really quite windy as you can tell from the ripples on the lake.

These little birds were right by the edge of the lake, their brothers and sisters were swimming close by.

I wonder how long ago these carvings were made on the trunk of this old tree. They look as if they've been there for some time.

Ahhh, here it is, the colour I was searching for. It would have looked better with a blue sky though.

I think it will be a different story in a few weeks, many trees will have lost their leaves by then and those that haven't will stand radiant in their autumn splendor.

Monday 17 September 2018

The Changing Seasons

I make no secret of the fact that I'm a summer girl, I love long, bright days filled with sunshine and I'm quite sad when they come to an end, but it doesn't stop me from appreciating the beauty that autumn has to offer.

It's over five weeks now since I broke my toe and though the toe itself feels much better I'm still struggling to walk properly as the top of my foot is quite painful. I pulled all the muscles in my leg when it first happened which, I think, was down to the fact that I was walking totally different to how I usually walk because my toe was so sore. I haven't  had many days out during these past five weeks and I was feeling quite cooped up so on Saturday we had a short trip to Lotherton where I managed to hobble around and photograph the signs of autumn

Autumn is usually ablaze with beautiful hues of red and gold, not so at Lotherton. Many of the leaves on the trees are beginning to curl and die and there's lots of leaf litter too, but no real autumn colours as yet. Perhaps it's just a bit too early, after all, the autumnal equinox isn't until the 23rd of September.

There are lots of other signs of autumn around though and the woods are a great place to find them.

These conkers were still hanging from the tree but there were a few cases on the ground which we opened up so that we could bring the conkers home to lay on the windowsills. It's supposed to deter spiders from entering and nesting in the house. I don't think it really works but I wish it did.

I found this fungus at the base of an oak tree. I believe it to be Inonotus Dryadeus, or more commonly known as oak bracket or weeping conk. It secretes an amber liquid which weeps from tubes in its upper surface. It doesn't look very pretty, does it?

Have you turned your heating on yet? It's turned quite cold here and not only have we turned on the heating but my hot water bottle is out again too. I don't know about us Northerners being made of tough stuff, this summer girl is really quite a wimp when the cold weather arrives.

Friday 14 September 2018

Traveller's Notebook

I absolutely love my Filofax. Actually, Filofaxes, I have a few, but only two that I use on a regular basis. I have a red Chameleon in the A5 size which I use for finances and household things and a crimson Malden in the personal size which is for everyday use.

My set up is still very similar to what I blogged about in my A Tour Of My Filofax Crimson Malden post back in 2014. A few things have changed but not a great deal.

I still love using my Filofax, it keeps me organised and it contains so much information at the tip of my fingers. There's so many other organisation tools out there but I've never been tempted to try any because of how happy I've been with my Filofax, however, reading Nikki's Stationery Sunday: Elrohir Leather Steampunk Traveller's Notebook post on her Notes of Life blog, something clicked and I decided that I'd like to give a Traveller's Notebook a go. I'm still really happy with my Filofax so I don't want to change my system of organisation but I thought I'd like to try a Traveller's Notebook in conjunction with my Filofax.

I mentioned this to Nikki and asked her advice about buying one and she kindly offered to make one for me.

A Traveller's Notebook is basically a book-like cover which holds one or more smaller notebooks with elastic bands.

I'm absolutely thrilled to bits with the Traveller's Notebook which Nikki has made. Isn't she clever?

It's in the most beautiful soft purple leather and Nikki has added a little charm to the band which keeps the notebook closed.

The binder holds four notebooks in the Field Notes and Pocket size and Nikki has very generously supplied the first four to get me started. There's one with plain purple pages, one with plain green, a lined notebook and one with dots.

It's a lovely size to hold in the hand and won't take up much room if I pop it in my bag to take it out and about with me. Nikki said that she prefers a more rigid leather but if I'd bought one, I'd have gone with a soft leather so I'm really pleased with this.

I always love reading Nikki's Stationery Sunday posts, I'm a bit of a stationery freak and have always loved paper and pens. If you're the same and haven't yet checked out Nikki's blog I would urge you to do so.

Thank you, Nikki, I'm thrilled to bits with my Traveller's Notebook and I'm looking forward to using it.

Wednesday 12 September 2018

Eighth Blog Anniversary Giveaway Winner

Thank you to everyone who left a comment and entered my Eighth Blog Anniversary Giveaway. I was overwhelmed by the number of comments left on that post and all the lovely things you all said, I just wish I could give a prize to everyone.

The name picked at random is Crimson Kettle. Can you please let me have your name and address details so that I can get the prize sent out to you. You can find my email address by clicking on my name in the About Me section at the top of the sidebar.

Thanks again to everyone for entering my giveaway, reading my blog and commenting. I've made such wonderful friends over the last eight years through this little blog of mine and it's all down to the connections made through your comments so please do continue to read and comment. Blog friends are the best.

Sunday 9 September 2018

50 Before 50 - The End

My 50 Before 50 list was started two years ago on my 48th birthday. As I've now turned 50, it's time up! So how have I done.

First of all, for those of you who don't know what I'm on about, you can see the list and read all about it, including how I was getting on at various stages over the two years, in the following posts.

50 Before 50 - Part One
50 Before 50 - Part Two
50 Before 50 - Update 1
50 Before 50 - Update 2
50 Before 50 - Update 3

So how did I do? Well, here's the complete list. Those things I completed are show in red and any blog posts I wrote about them can be seen by clicking on the appropriate link.

1. Keep a journal. Keeping A Journal.

2. Start swimming regularly. Swimming.

3. Get my fortune read. I had every intention of seeing Lee Ester Alita Lee, the spiritualist clairvoyant who has a kiosk in Whitby but she was closed when we visited. I decided I'd see her the next time we went to Whitby but, unbelievably, she was closed again. Never mind, I'm sure we'll be back to Whitby again soon and perhaps she'll be open next time.

4. See a Shakespeare play. I've only seen one Shakespeare play advertised at a convenient location to me since I set this challenge and it was on a date I couldn't make. I thought I'd have my pick of plays to choose from as I thought Shakespeare would be more popular.

5. Finish Joyful World cross stitch. I still love this cross stitch design but I just wasn't enjoying working on it. You can read about my decision to call it a day in my More Than I Can Chew post.

6. Visit Wales. Weekending In Wales.

7. Take a boat ride. Messing About On The Water.

8. Sleep in a caravan. This is one which Mick was glad we didn't get round to. He likes his luxuries when he's on holiday and has never fancied camping in a caravan or a tent.

9. Read Wuthering Heights. Wuthering Heights.

10. Book on to a workshop or course. Since buying my sewing machine, I thought a sewing workshop or course would be ideal but seeing as I still haven't even taken the machine out of the box yet, I haven't looked for a course. This is one I shall definitely do at some time in the future though.

11. Fly a kite. Let's Go Fly A Kite.

12. Have a health check. I had intended to book for a well woman check up at my doctor's surgery, I haven't done that but I did have a mammogram so I'm counting this as done. Screening for breast cancer begins at the age of 50 in the UK but there's trials happening where you're invited sooner and this is why I was offered a mammogram at the age of 48. I've got a smear test due next month which I'll definitely attend. I've also had my blood pressure measured as the nurse keeps an eye on this when I go for my vitamin B12 injections. All the tests that I have had have come back fine.

13. Explore Leeds Art Gallery. I made arrangements to visit the gallery right at the beginning of this challenge and then found out that it was closed for refurbishment. I never got round to rearranging a visit.

14. Visit a Christmas market. The Wanderer Returns.

15. Have a manicure. This is something I'd still like to do at some point. I usually keep my nails quite short and I'm not one who paints their nails so this would be a bit of a treat.

16. Subscribe to a magazine. Simply Knitting.

17. Pick fruit at a Pick Your Own farm. I really miss the strawberries I used to get from my allotment so I'm a bit disappointed that I didn't get round to this. Perhaps next year.

18. Try a food I've never tried before. Black Pudding. - Weekending In Wales. Scallops - These Are Not Just Yellow Stickers.

19. Take a train ride. I live in a small town and we're very lucky to have not one but two railway stations here, both within walking distance from where I live, yet I rarely use them even though I love travelling by train. I shall endeavour to take a train ride very soon.

20. Take part in a charity walk. Bark In The Park.

21. Lose two stone. Big fail. Least said!

22. Touch the white horse of Kilburn. Horsing Around.

23. Go to the opera. Though we've never been to the opera before, Mick's quite enthusiastic about going to see a performance so I'm sure we'll get round to this in the future.

24. Watch a whole cricket match. I still haven't watched a whole cricket match, even though Mick plays every week in summer. I must make more of an effort.

25. Go to Blackpool to see the illuminations. Blackpool Illuminations.

26. Visit the Lake District. I was hoping that I'd get to visit the beautiful Lake District whilst doing this challenge. I don't live that far away so it's surprising I've never been before but it's still on my list of places to visit so I hope to get there soon.

27. Use my camera more on manual settings. I'm afraid I don't use my DSLR very often these days. I really wanted a zoom lens for it but they're rather expensive so I bought myself a Panasonic DMC-FZ72 bridge camera instead as this camera has a 60X zoom. I actually find it easier to carry this around instead of the Nikon DSLR and I tend to use it with it's pre set functions.

28. Have a go at needle felting. I haven't touched the kit which was bought for me for Christmas a few years ago. I shall get round to it at some point.

29. Take a trip to the cinema. I very rarely go to the cinema but Eleanor and I had decided to go and see the new Mamma Mia! film, we just never made it for one reason or another.

30. Do the Leeds Owl Trail. I thought this would be something to do on a quiet Sunday afternoon but it's something I just never got round to.

31. Go on a picnic. I've been on many picnics over the last two years as we usually take a picnic with us whenever we go out for the day. We've enjoyed picnics at the coast and picnics in the countryside. Mick always makes the picnics and he always makes a good job of it, he packs some scrummy treats.

32. Read all the Harry Potter books. Harry Potter.

33. Watch all the Harry Potter films.

34. Go to the ballet. I haven't been yet but I do have the tickets bought and paid for. Eleanor and I are going to see The Nutcracker in the lead up to Christmas. You can read about it in my Christmas Cracker post.

35. Visit Scotland. Weekending In Scotland.

36. Have a massage. I could have ticked this one off the list when we went on holiday this year as they have a spa at the place where we stay. It's something I'd have done if we'd stayed in the lodge more but we didn't hang around the accommodation very much with the weather being so good.

37. Take an overnight trip with Eleanor. This is something I really wanted to do but with Eleanor being away at university and Mick having to be at home if I'm away to take care of Archie we just never sorted out the dates.

38. Climb Flamborough lighthouse. Flamborough Lighthouse.

39 Go on a ghost hunt. They do ghost walks and bus tours of haunted places in York which I think would have been fun but it's something else I just never got round to.

40. Watch a sunset from a beach. Sunset.

41. Go for afternoon tea. Mick isn't one for afternoon tea so I thought it would be something nice to do with Eleanor. We'll definitely do it at some point in the future.

42. Treat myself to something I really want. A Gift To Me From Me.

43. Adopt an animal for charity. Redwings.

44. Finish the Spice Of Life crochet blanket. I'm afraid this is a big fail, I just wasn't enjoying working on this blanket so I ended up pulling it out. You can read about it in my Rip It Up And Start Again post.

45. Send a message in a bottle. I had second thoughts about this one. I'm sure everyone is aware of the plastic pollution in our oceans and many of us are trying to cut down on our use of plastic and reduce the amount of plastic we buy. I certainly don't want to add to the problem so I decided I wouldn't send a message in a bottle.

46. Engage in social media. I've never had accounts with Facebook, Twitter or Instagram, my blog is really the only social media that I engage in but I had intended to give Instagram a go. I'm a bit of a technophobe so I still haven't quite plucked up the courage to dip my toe in the water, but it's something that I do still intend to do at some point, especially now that I've got an iPad, which Mick bought me for my birthday.

47. Visit a craft show. Spring Into Wool 2017. Nottingham Yarn Expo 2017.

48. Attend the Christmas lights switch on. Christmas Lights Switch On.

49. Grow a tree from a pip. Edward VII And Ashmead's Kernel.

50. Explore Nottingham. Wollaton Hall. Shopping In Nottingham.

So there you have it. I've only managed to tick off twenty five things, and to be honest, some of the ones which haven't been crossed off could have easily been done. What this list has done is encourage me to do some of the things I've been wanting to do for a long time but just haven't got around to, such as Visit Scotland, Read Wuthering Heights and Watch a Sunset From a Beach. I think the thing I enjoyed the most was my trip to Wales, I discovered a part of the UK which I fell in love with and will most certainly visit again.

I may now be 50 but I intend to keep going with the list and cross off some more things. It's definitely been a fun thing to do.