Wednesday 31 October 2018

Spooky Halloween

It's Halloween so I thought I'd take you on a little adventure to Lotherton Hall.

The Spooky Scarecrow Trail provides clues which lead you around the house and estate taking in the super spooky scarecrows.

We visited the Spooky Scarecrow Trail on Sunday and though we didn't follow any clues or go in the house we still managed to see lots of spooky scarecrows.

You may remember the Spooky Goings On from last year but the Spooky Scarecrow Trail is even bigger this year and though some of the scarecrows were the same, there's lots of new ones too.

It was very busy on Sunday with lots of families visiting this super event.

The summerhouse and some of the outbuildings have been utilised this year to stage spooky scenes.

Even the tops of the buildings have been adorned with scary characters.

You must remember to look up too otherwise you'll miss what's creeping above your head.

Be careful where you're walking though, you don't want to put your foot where you shouldn't.

You wouldn't usually expect to find spooky things dangling from the trees but anything goes here.

There's even things in the pond which shouldn't be there.

A dog was seen haunting the pet cemetery.

Even the gardeners here are scary.

Archie didn't take up the offer. Nora Bone indeed!

We were lucky to get out alive.

There were lanterns throughout the grounds and woods, and lighting could be seen by the displays which will illuminate them once it gets dark, which is brilliant because this year Lotherton have extended their opening times into the evening to make it even spookier with a scary walk through the haunted woods. The Spooky Scarecrow Trail is on until the 4th of November and admission is free with normal admission to the estate.

Happy Halloween.

Monday 29 October 2018


Hasn't it turned cold? I was chilly in bed on Friday night so I went and bought a new quilt on Saturday, a 10.5 tog. We used a 4.5 tog all last winter, I don't know why I didn't feel the cold then. I changed all the bedding yesterday and I was so snug and warm last night, it was lovely.

My slow cooker makes an appearance as soon as the cooler weather arrives. I don't use it during the summer months but I love it for making stews and casseroles, good hearty meals. I included beef, potatoes, carrots, swede, parsnips and onions, you can't really tell how much food there was but this is a 6.5l slow cooker so it's big. I bought it when the family was at home so it's a bit big now for just the two of us but I make extra and then it does for more than one meal.

Excuse the dribbles on the plate, Mick dished up and he's not the most careful!

It was delicious, even if I say so myself, and plenty of leftovers for another cold day.

Friday 26 October 2018

Nellie's Tree

The Aberford Railway was a privately owned light railway, it was built in the 19th century by the Gascoigne family of Yorkshire to transport coal from their collieries. It closed down in March 1924 and these days, is known locally as The Flyline. It's a popular three and a half mile route from Garforth to Aberford, through Parlington Woods, for dog walkers and cyclists. The weather last weekend was lovely so we decided to take Archie for a walk.

There's a lovely outlook along the walk, farmland with cows grazing in the fields.

These pears were outside a cottage inviting passers by to Take One.

Archie loves walks like these where he can come off his lead and he's free to wander and sniff.

Autumn is now in full swing, the track was littered with fallen leaves.

It was a gorgeous day,  the sun was trying to break through the tree canopy.

We didn't cross the stile but Archie managed to squeeze himself underneath the fence before being told to come back, we weren't going that way.

We came to a small tunnel known as Light Arch.

Eventually, the reason for our walk that day, we came to Nellie's Tree.

Nellie's Tree, so called as nearly 100 years ago Vic Stead would walk from his home in Garforth near Leeds, along the old colliery railway, to visit Nellie, the young lady he was courting who lived in the nearby village of Aberford. One day, he came across three beech saplings on his route and grafted one sapling between the other two to form the letter N, for Nellie. Vic and Nellie would go on to marry and have a family, and though they are both gone now, Nellie's Tree, also called The Love Tree by locals, still remains. The tree has recently been voted Woodland Trust's 2018 Tree of the Year for England and is in the running to become the UK Tree of the Year.

Isn't that a lovely story? It looks as though other sweethearts have carved their initials into the tree, or perhaps just vandals. Nellie's Tree has gone on to be a symbol by the Save Parlington Action Group for the protection of the woods against development. There's proposals to build a new town, incorporating 5000 houses, in the historic green belt of Parlington which campaigners are fighting to prevent.

This is the point where we turned and went back the way we came. Back through Light Arch.

We noticed that the cows had wandered further down the field.

We hadn't seen this pear tree in the cottage garden when we passed it the first time, it was dripping with pears, no wonder there was a box of them left out for passers by.

This huge insect was crawling about on the floor. I think it may be a European hornet. It really was huge.

We stood for a while watching a red kite circling in the sky. I could watch them for hours.

We're lucky to have such beautiful walks so close to where we live, we really are spoilt for choice when we leave the house.

Tuesday 23 October 2018

Joining In

First of all I'd just like to thank everyone for their good wishes for my dad. It was a stressful week, to say the least, for us all but things are settling down again now that he's home. Obviously, it's a worrying time when a loved one is in hospital but it's also very trying when we're having to also look after my mum, who has dementia. Any change to her routine upsets her so she was very glad to have my dad back home again. As I've mentioned before, my dad is fiercely independent and won't have any outside help, other than from family, so it does put a bit of pressure on us, and it's obviously having an effect on his health so we've mentioned it again since he's been home but he's still resisting. There's not a lot we can do if he doesn't agree.

I've recently completed three pairs of socks which were on the needles, just in time to join in with a couple of knitalongs.

Ali from the Little Drops Of Wonderful podcast is hosting a Strictly Sockalong so I cast on this pair of socks during the first Strictly Come Dancing show. I'm using the Blue Fairy colourway from Elm Tree Yarns, there's silver stellina in the yarn but the photo doesn't show how sparkly it is. I'm using the Cha Cha Chevron pattern by Sandra Paul which was designed especially for this sockalong.

I knit myself a pair of Christmas socks last year and had quite a bit of this Candy Cane yarn by West Yorkshire Spinners left over so I thought I'd join in with Amy's Christmas Knitalong on her Stranded Podcast and make Eleanor a pair of socks to wear over Christmas. I'll knit the cuffs, heels and toes in the coordinating Cayenne Pepper colourway to make sure that I don't run out of the main colour.

Ellie over on the Craft House Magic podcast is hosting a Xmas Craftalong so I'll be able to enter the Christmas socks in that too.

It's fun joining in with knitalongs, it really spurs me on when I see other people working on their projects. It's not too late to take part in any of these knitalongs if you fancy joining in.

Saturday 20 October 2018

A Second Heart Attack

I'm afraid I haven't been around much this week, we've been hospital visiting again.

We got a phone call late on Tuesday night from my dad who was having chest pains, he thought he was having a heart attack so he'd rung the doctor who said he'd send an ambulance. Why he didn't just ring 999 I don't know. I was in bed at the time so I jumped out, quickly got dressed and got to his house just as the first responder arrived. Not long afterwards, the ambulance turned up. He'd had a heart attach back in 2011 and ended up having stents fitted then, he said the pain was very similar but after looking at the information provided by the heart monitor, the paramedics didn't think he was having a heart attack this time. They said it could be a touch of angina.

We ended up in A&E until about 3.30am when the doctor said they'd be keeping him in and that he'd be transferred to a ward. When we enquired on the ward later on that morning it was confirmed that he had indeed had a heart attack.

As most of you know, my mum is now suffering from dementia and it's getting steadily worse. She couldn't be left in the house alone whilst my dad was in hospital so I've spent both days and nights there with her when I haven't been hospital visiting. It can be quite trying at times.

I'm pleased to say that my dad's now home, none the worse for wear, though he's got another tablet to add to the numerous pills he already takes. I'm just hoping that we can steer clear of hospitals for a while again now.

Wednesday 17 October 2018

Anna & Theo

Anna and Theo are two separate books by Amanda Prowse but each tells the story about what happens when two very different people fall in love with each other.
"Theo and Anna are two damaged souls, from two different worlds. Is their love for each other enough to let go of the pain of their pasts? Or will Anna and Theo break each other's hearts?"

There are two sides to every story and each book tells Anna and Theo's own stories.

I thought this was an unusual concept, two books, one story, but each book telling Anna and Theo's own side to it. Each book could be read as a standalone story, however, some things from one book are explained in more detail in the other, so to get the full story you would need to read them both.

I actually enjoyed Theo more than Anna, I'm not sure why, it just seemed to grip me more than Anna did. I find Amanda Prowse books a bit hit and miss, some I love and some are just okay. I'd recommend Anna and Theo, I like the idea of two different sides of the story and I did enjoy each book but I wouldn't say they're her best.

Sunday 14 October 2018

Mick's Bullfinch Socks

Mick's a fairly new convert to hand knitted socks, it's only last year that he really started wearing them on a regular basis. He doesn't have many pairs in his sock drawer so I thought I'd better get him another pair knitted up ready for this winter.

I used West Yorkshire Spinners Signature 4 Ply in the Bullfinch colourway and the Vanilla Latte Socks pattern by Virginia Rose-Jeanes.

I never hand wash socks which have been knit in West Yorkshire Spinners yarn, they wash perfectly well in the washing machine without any felting or shrinkage so it's a good yarn to use if you're knitting for other people and aren't sure they'll want to hand wash their socks. Not that Mick does his own washing, he's very good around the house but the washing and ironing is something that's always left to me. The Vanilla Latte pattern is really good if you're knitting for other people too as the rib pattern tends to hug the feet so the socks don't have to be such a precise fit, very handy if you're not trying the socks on someone as you knit them.

That's all my old sock projects off the needles now but I have cast on more, I'll tell you about them very soon.

Thursday 11 October 2018

50th Birthday Gifts

My birthday was at the beginning of September and I received some really lovely gifts. In fact, I received one or two belated gifts too, one of which was from my lovely blog friend, Susan. She lives a very long way away over in Australia, though I have met her a few times when she's been over in the UK. She blogs at Granny Smith's Quilting.

A parcel arrived towards the end of September and as I hadn't ordered anything, I wondered what it could be. There was a card enclosed with the gift which had the most lovely words.

Oh my word, I wasn't expecting what I found inside the wrapping, the most wonderful portrait of Archie which has been painted on slate. Isn't it fabulous? And unusual too.

It was painted by one of Susan's friends, Kate. You can find her website here. Kate really has got such a good likeness of Archie in the painting, right down to the little brown patch on his cheek. It deserves pride of place so I must find the most perfect place to hang it. Thank you, Susan, it's such a lovely, and unusual, gift.

My lovely friend, Maggie, who blogs at BlackCountry Wench bought me a bumper gift of knitting goodies.

She knows me so well as I love everything in this package. Beautiful Craft House Magic yarn in the Time After Time colourway, Regia Pairfect yarn which I've been wanting to try for ages, and Wrapture wool wash which has a gorgeous scent, my woolens will smell fabulous. She also bought me a project bible and WIP cards, which will come in very handy as I usually jot things down on bits of paper and end up losing them. I'm a bit of a stationery geek so these are right up my street. I've got to admit that the Toffifees which were also in the parcel have long gone. Yum yum!

Thank you so much, Maggie, such a thoughtful gift, I shall enjoy using everything.

Lisa, my oldest blog friend who blogs at Jumble and Jelly, celebrated her 50th birthday just six weeks before I celebrated mine. She knows I love my garden so she bought me a National Garden gift card so that I can choose something myself.

Isn't that hedgehog the cutest? Thank you, Lisa. I think I'll buy a lovely plant which will remind me of our friendship whenever I look at it. I'm enjoying doing a bit of research to find something I really love.

I'm so lucky to have made such fabulous friends through this wonderful world of blogging.

Monday 8 October 2018

Hats For The Homeless

Last winter, as the temperatures plummeted, a call was put out for clothing, coats, hats and gloves, to help the homeless. It's a terrible thing to have no home and my heart goes out to those in this predicament, especially so in the harsher weather.

Back in May, I decided to start knitting some hats from yarn I'd got in stash, ready to donate to those in need this winter. I've managed to knit ten in different sizes, styles and colours.

The Yorkshire Building Society are running Socktober, their month long appeal throughout October where they request donations of socks and other items to help support homeless people. The campaign is part of the society's charity partnership with End Youth Homelessness and to raise awareness of World Homeless Day which is on Wednesday the 10th of October. I popped along to my nearest branch and popped the hats I've made into their collection bin.

I'd like to think that ten people will be a little warmer now this winter.

Friday 5 October 2018

Petty Harbour

I'm still not back in socks yet but I know I will be soon as the weather is much cooler now, so I'm pleased to have another pair of socks off the needles and at the ready.

This pattern is Petty Harbour Socks by Rayna Curtis and I really enjoyed knitting it. It's a four row repeat, so very easy to memorise, and works up into a lovely textured fabric. I've used the Playground Politics colourway from The Yarn Tart. They don't look as if they quite match in the photo above but I can assure you they do. I've often found when taking photos of socks, one of them looks bigger or smaller, or the pattern doesn't look the same on them both, I don't know why that happens.

I must say that I've absolutely loved every minute that I've spent knitting these socks as I really enjoyed the pattern but also, the yarn was wonderful to work with, beautifully soft.

The only problem I did encounter was after I'd finished knitting them, I popped them in the sink to soak for ten minutes before blocking and I couldn't believe the amount of dye which was left behind, I've never come across anything like this before. I do think they lost a bit of their vibrancy after this first wash. This small amount of yarn was left over and it does look brighter than the socks do now which is a shame, I wouldn't expect the colour to fade so quickly.

That was a little disappointing but I think the socks will be a delight to wear.

Tuesday 2 October 2018

Time To Say Goodbye

It was back in 2000 that we bought our Renault Laguna, it was just eight months old. Mick was working in Bradford at the time so with a daily round trip of over forty miles he needed a decent car.

Later that year, Mick was promoted and with that promotion came a company car. This meant that we could afford for me to have a car myself. I would have chosen a much smaller car as it was just going to be a little runaround, but we would never have got back the price we'd paid just a few months earlier for the Laguna had we sold it at that point, so we decided that we'd keep it.

The car is now nineteen years old and I'm sure you'll agree, it doesn't look in bad nick for its age. It would cost far more than it's worth though to get it through its MOT so it's gone to the big scrap yard in the sky. I must say that I was quite sad to see it go. It may just be a lump of metal but it's served me well over the years, back and forth to school, taken Daniel to cubs and Eleanor to her singing lessons, as well as giving me a bit of freedom to go here and there. I waved it off with a heavy heart.

Having a car is a luxury, especially when I don't actually need one as I don't work. The one thing it was really handy for was getting me to my parent's house now they're elderly and in need of help, but I can walk there, though it will take a chunk out of my day. I've decided that I won't be replacing the car, we're more fortunate than some as Mick still has his company car. I shall have to start walking to places I would normally drive to, or take public transport. I'll just have to see how I get on.