Monday 31 December 2018

Looking Back At 2018

One of the things I love about keeping a blog is looking back through old posts. I don't read posts I wrote a long time ago very often but they're a bit like a diary, I can look back at them if I need to know when I did a particular thing or when something happened and when I do, I find myself reading more from that particular time and I enjoy the memories.

I thought I'd end this year by taking a look back through each month of 2018.

January saw us taking A Woodland Walk through Middleton Park. My mood, just like the sunlight, can dip in the depths of winter but getting out and about is a great pick me up so even when it's cold and grey, I like to make the effort and go for a good walk.

In February, we went to Meet The Penguins at Lotherton Hall. A colony of Humboldt Penguins, capybaras and a tapir have all arrived at Wildlife World this year so we went to visit them. They've certainly made themselves at home here.

There were a few Itty Bitty Craft Projects completed in March. My craft time is taken up with mostly knitting these days so I especially enjoyed making the little felt star which had come in kit form, a gift from my lovely friend, Lisa, from Jumble and Jelly.

Eleanor's lovely long locks were cut off in April, Hair Today, Gone Tomorrow. She donated a 17 inch ponytail to The Little Princess Trust, a charity which provides wigs to children and young people who have lost their hair due to cancer treatment and other illnesses. Since then, Eleanor's gone even shorter with her hairstyle.

The Temple Newsam Rhododendrons bloom in May so we took ourselves off to see them. It's such a riot of colour, not to be missed, especially as the weather was so good this year which made them look even more colourful, if that's possible.

We try to visit as many theme days and events as we can at Lotherton. We have an annual pass and most of these are included in the price. There was a Wartime Weekend being held there in June so we allowed ourselves to be transported back to the 1940's. A good time was had by all.

We had A Wonderful Holiday in Cornwall in July. We weren't going to bother having a holiday this year but we booked at the last minute after being offered a good deal. I'm so glad we did as we had some fabulous weather and we all came back feeling relaxed and refreshed.

Snap! That's the sound that was heard in August when I broke my toe. Who knew that a break in such a small bone could be so painful. It actually took a long time to mend and still aches from time to time now.

It was my big birthday in September, 50, so we had a weekend away with the family on Mersea Island in Essex. It was the perfect way to celebrate and a little holiday I'll always remember.

In October it was Time To Say Goodbye to my trusty old car. I was sad to see it go to the big scrap yard in the sky after it served me well for nineteen years. I've been managing fine without a car since then so I doubt I'll be getting a new one anytime soon.

I've been knitting a few baby items this year for A New Arrival. One of Eleanor's friends had a baby girl in November, born on her mummy's 21st birthday, what a perfect gift. These little socks have to be the cutest thing I've ever knit.

Eleanor and I went to see The Nutcracker at the start of her Christmas break from university. It was a lovely way to kick start the festivities and we both thoroughly enjoyed the ballet.

Many thanks to everyone who has stopped by my blog this year, especially those who have subscribed and those who leave comments, they're always very much appreciated. Wishing you all a happy, healthy and prosperous 2019.

Happy New Year!

Thursday 27 December 2018

Book Lists

I've always kept a list of the books I've read in my sidebar but these lists are starting to take over, so I've had a bit of a tidy up and from now on I will only show the books I've read during the current year. I do still want to keep a record for myself of the books I've already read so I'm going to list them in this post.

I've noticed my reading slowing down since my birthday in September when Mick bought me an iPad. I often take it up to bed with me and watch a podcast before I go to sleep rather than reading, a habit I really need to get out of.

I'm still working my way through Agatha Christie's murder mystery books in chronological order. I started this challenge back in 2015 and I read one of her books each month. I've now read 48 and as there's 66 of them, I've still got another 18 to read. If I continue in this way I should finish this challenge in June 2020.

This year I've managed to read 39 books. As well as Agatha Christie, other authors such as Amanda Prowse, Jojo Moyes and Donna Douglas continue to feature on the list. Other authors I'm really enjoying are Charity Norman and Philippa Gregory and I can see me reading more of their books in the future.

The Illustrated Lark Rise to Candleford - Flora Thompson
The Other Side of the Dale - Gervase Phinn
Forever Liesl - Charmaine Carr
The Help - Kathryn Stockett
The No.1 Ladies' Detective Agency - Alexander McCall Smith
Sister - Rosamund Lupton
Tears of the Giraffe - Alexander McCall Smith
Over Hill and Dale - Gervase Phinn
Morality For Beautiful Girls - Alexander McCall Smith
The Kalahari Typing School For Men - Alexander McCall Smith
The Full Cupboard of Life - Alexander McCall Smith
Meredith - John Kercher
Head Over Heels in the Dales - Gervase Phinn
Fifty Shades of Grey - E L James
Fifty Shades Darker - E L James
Fifty Shades Freed - E L James
In the Company of Cheerful Ladies - Alexander McCall Smith
Blue Shoes and Happiness - Alexander McCall Smith
The Good Husband of Zebra Drive - Alexander McCall Smith
The Miracle at Speedy Motors - Alexander McCall Smith
Tea Time For the Traditionally Built - Alexander McCall Smith
The Double Comfort Safari Club - Alexander McCall Smith
The Saturday Big Tent Wedding Party - Alexander McCall Smith

The Friday Night Knitting Club - Kate Jacobs
Rebecca - Daphne Du Maurier
The Secret Life of Bees - Sue Monk Kidd
Up and Down in the Dales - Gervase Phinn
The Heart of the Dales - Gervase Phinn
In the Pleasure Groove - John Taylor
Somewhere Behind the Morning- Frances McNeil
Of Mice and Men - John Steinbeck
The Night Rainbow - Claire King
The Fault in Our Stars - John Green
The Limpopo Academy of Private Detection - Alexander McCall Smith
A Street Cat Named Bob - James Bowen

The Minor Adjustment Beauty Salon - Alexander McCall Smith
The Nightingale Girls - Donna Douglas
The Nightingale Sisters - Donna Douglas
The World According to Bob - James Bowen
The Nightingale Nurses - Donna Douglas
Nightingales on Call - Donna Douglas
The List of My Desires - Gregoire Delacourt
Call the Midwife - Jennifer Worth
Shadows of the Workhouse - Jennifer Worth
Farewell to the East End - Jennifer Worth
Cider With Rosie - Laurie Lee
To Kill a Mockingbird - Harper Lee
Midwives - Chris Bohjalian
One Day - David Nicholls
Little House in the Big Woods - Laura Ingalls Wilder
Little House on the Prairie - Laura Ingalls Wilder
On the Banks of Plum Creek - Laura Ingalls Wilder

A Nightingale Christmas Wish - Donna Douglas
The Mysterious Affair at Styles - Agatha Christie
The Yorkshire Shepherdess - Amanda Owen
Little Women - Louisa May Alcott
The Secret Adversary - Agatha Christie
The Inn at the Top - Neil Hanson
The Husband's Secret - Liane Moriarty
The Murder on the Links - Agatha Christie
The Debt & The Doormat - Laura Barnard
A Mother's Story - Amanda Prowse
Snowfall in Burracombe - Lilian Harry
The Man in the Brown Suit - Agatha Christie
The Secret of Chimneys - Agatha Christie
We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves - Karen Joy Fowler
Yellow Crocus - Laila Ibrahim
Fatty O'Leary's Dinner Party - Alexander McCall Smith
Poppy Day - Amanda Prowse
The Murder of Roger Ackroyd - Agatha Christie
The Girl on the Train - Paula Hawkins
The Highway - C J Box
The Rose Garden - Susanna Kearsley
The Big Four - Agatha Christie
Footsteps in an Empty Room - Lilly Sommers
What Have I Done - Amanda Prowse
Now Is Good - Jenny Downham
Clover's Child - Amanda Prowse
A Little Love - Amanda Prowse
The Mystery of the Blue Train - Agatha Christie
The Lie of You - Jane Lythell
The Seven Dials Mystery - Agatha Christie
I Let You Go - Clare Mackintosh
Will You Remember Me? - Amanda Prowse
The Murder at the Vicarage - Agatha Christie
The New Woman - Charity Norman
Miss Phryne Fisher Investigates - Kerry Greenwood
The Sittaford Mystery - Agatha Christie
Christmas For One - Amanda Prowse
Ross Poldark - Winston Graham
Peril at End House - Agatha Christie
The Last Anniversary - Liane Moriarty

Lord Edgware Dies - Agatha Christie
Ballet Shoes - Noel Streatfeild
Liberty Silk - Kate Beaufoy
Murder on the Orient Express - Agatha Christie
In the Midst of Life - Jennifer Worth
There's Something I've Been Dying to Tell You - Lynda Bellingham
Elizabeth is Missing - Emma Healey
The Last Days of Rabbit Hayes - Anna McPartlin
Why Didn't They Ask Evans - Agatha Christie
Perfect Daughter - Amanda Prowse
Me Before You - Jojo Moyes
Grey - E L James
Three Act Tragedy - Agatha Christie
The Liar's Chair - Rebecca Whitney
The Ice Twins - S K Tremayne
The Christmas Cafe - Amanda Prowse
Another Love - Amanda Prowse
Death in the Clouds - Agatha Christie
Nightingales at War - Donna Douglas
The Handsome Man's De Luxe Cafe - Alexander McCall Smith
After the Crash - Michel Bussi
The ABC Murders - Agatha Christie
Us - David Nicholls
Go Set a Watchman - Harper Lee
Nightingales Under the Mistletoe - Donna Douglas
Murder in Mesopotamia - Agatha Christie
A Song For Issy Bradley - Carys Bray
While My Eyes Were Closed - Linda Green
Follow You Home - Mark Edwards
The One Plus One - Jojo Moyes
The Woman Who Walked in Sunshine - Alexander McCall Smith
Cards on the Table - Agatha Christie
Sleigh Bells in the Snow - Sarah Morgan
Big Little Lies - Liane Moriarty
Dumb Witness - Agatha Christie
I See You - Clare Mackintosh
Walking Ollie - Stephen Foster
Somewhere Inside of Happy - Anna McPartlin
Paris For One - Jojo Moyes
Death on the Nile - Agatha Christie
Letters to the Midwife - Jennifer Worth
Eleanor & Park - Rainbow Rowell
Welcome to Rosie Hopkins' Sweet Shop of Dreams - Jenny Colgan
Appointment With Death - Agatha Christie
Suddenly Last Summer - Sarah Morgan
Hercule Poirot's Christmas - Agatha Christie
Christmas at Battersea - Battersea Dogs & Cats Home
Christmas at Rosie Hopkins' Sweet Shop - Jenny Colgan

Murder is Easy - Agatha Christie
Mum's List - St John Greene
Precious and Grace - Alexander McCall Smith
My Husband's Wife - Amanda Prowse
Nigel: My Family and Other Dogs - Monty Don
And Then There Were None - Agatha Christie
Death of a Dentist - M C Beaton
After You - Jojo Moyes
Silver Bay - Jojo Moyes
Sad Cypress - Agatha Christie
Wuthering Heights - Emily Bronte
Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone - J K Rowling
Three Wishes - Liane Moriarty
One Two, Buckle My Shoe - Agatha Christie
When God Was a Rabbit - Sarah Winman
Everything Love Is - Claire King
Evil Under the Sun - Agatha Christie
Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets - J K Rowling
The Invention of Wings - Sue Monk Kidd
What Alice Forgot - Liane Moriarty
N or M? - Agatha Christie
The Last Letter From Your Lover - Jojo Moyes
The Body in the Library - Agatha Christie
Sophia's Secret - Susanna Kearsley
The Constant Princess - Philippa Gregory
Five Little Pigs - Agatha Christie
The Girl You Left Behind - Jojo Moyes
Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban - J K Rowling
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire - J K Rowling
The Moving Finger - Agatha Christie
See You in September - Charity Norman
The Firebird - Susanna Kearsley
Towards Zero - Agatha Christie
Death Comes as the End - Agatha Christie
The Great Christmas Knit Off - Alexandra Brown
Christmas Wishes - Katie Flynn
Sparkling Cyanide - Agatha Christie

An East End Christmas - Elizabeth Waite
The Hollow - Agatha Christie
Maybe This Christmas - Sarah Morgan
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix - J K Rowling
I Won't Be Home For Christmas - Amanda Prowse
Taken at the Flood - Agatha Christie
The Food of Love - Amanda Prowse
The Mistletoe Murder and Other Stories - P D James
Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince - J K Rowling
The Idea of You - Amanda Prowse
Crooked House - Agatha Christie
The Story of Beatrix Potter - Sarah Gristwood
Four Sisters - Helen Rappaport
A Murder is Announced - Agatha Christie
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows - J K Rowling
The Son-In-Law - Charity Norman
The Knitting Circle - Ann Hood
They Came to Baghdad - Agatha Christie
After the Fall - Charity Norman
Mrs McGinty's Dead - Agatha Christie
They Do It With Mirrors - Agatha Christie
The Christmas Surprise - Jenny Colgan
A Nightingale Christmas Carol - Donna Douglas
The Nightingale Christmas Show - Donna Douglas
The Art of Hiding - Amanda Prowse
The Letter - Kathryn Hughes
The Ballroom - Anna Hope
Three Sisters, Three Queens - Philippa Gregory
After the Funeral - Agatha Christie
A Pocket Full of Rye - Agatha Christie
Destination Unknown - Agatha Christie
Anna - Amanda Prowse
Theo - Amanda Prowse
Night Music - Jojo Moyes
Let Me Lie - Clare Mackintosh
How To Fall In Love Again - Amanda Prowse
Hickory Dickory Dock - Agatha Christie
Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine - Gail Honeyman
Dead Man's Folly - Agatha Christie

My reading aims for 2019 are to continue reading one Agatha Christie book per month and to clear the books I've got waiting on my Kindle. I also popped a couple of books I've been wanting to read on my Christmas list and Santa was very kind so I've got those to read too.

Monday 24 December 2018

Merry Christmas 2018

It's a very different Christmas for us this year with just three of us at home but we'll be visiting my mum and dad Christmas morning and we'll chat to Daniel and Jasmine on Skype. We shall enjoy the time we spend with family and friends over the Christmas period.

Wishing all my lovely blogging friends and their families a very merry Christmas.

Friday 21 December 2018

Turning To Mush

Although I enjoy gardening I don't grow many indoor plants, just a couple of orchids, but for the last couple of years I've fancied having a Christmas cactus. I bought one last year, just a small specimen, but it rotted in the pot as soon as Christmas was over. I put it down to something I'd done, either too much water or not enough, and thought no more about it.

This year, I thought I'd have another go. I decided to buy a bigger, more established plant hoping that it would be more settled in its pot and grow well. It was encased in cellophane and as soon as I brought it home and took off it's protective wrapping half of the plant fell away. It looked as if the exact same thing had happened with this plant as last year's, much of the foliage had turned to mush. Since then, more has rotted away. Here you can see what it looks like today, there's a huge gap in the centre of the plant now where the stems have rotted and the foliage on the right hand side is another part which has broken off.

It doesn't look very healthy where the stem has broken, it's obviously diseased.

Here is a part which has broken off, you can see where the stem has rotted. Much of the plant has gone the same way.

I'm really disappointed that my attempt at growing a Christmas cactus has been thwarted again but I'm not going to give up, I shall have another go with another plant next year.

Tuesday 18 December 2018

The Nutcracker

Eleanor arrived home from university on Saturday for the Christmas holidays. She went straight round to see her friend and her new baby, she's nearly a month old already and has changed in the few weeks since Eleanor last saw her.

On Sunday Eleanor and I went to see The Nutcracker at Leeds Grand Theatre. It's many years since I've been to see a ballet and it's a first for Eleanor. We had a quick look around some of the shops in Leeds first and then went for something to eat before the performance. We both really enjoyed it and it was a lovely festive treat which has got us both in the Christmas spirit.

Go To The Ballet was on my Fifty Before Fifty list but I never got round to it in the two years I was completing the challenge so it's good to know that I've eventually ticked it off.

Saturday 15 December 2018

Whodunnit? Who Knows?

As you know, back at the beginning of 2015 I set myself the challenge of reading all Agatha Christie's murder/mystery books in chronological order. There are sixty six in all and I'm reading one per month.

I haven't had any problems finding the books so far. I get some of them from the library, a couple have come up on deals for the Kindle and I've also bought many on Ebay. This month's book is Dead Man's Folly and this is one that I found on Ebay. It's an older copy, as so many of the ones I've bought are, the pages are a bit yellowed but all the books I've obtained have been in good enough condition.

I've really enjoyed this book, it's kept me guessing right to the very end, and I'm guessing still because I came to the last sentence: "But then a totally unforeseen thing happened. A"...
page was missing!

How annoying is that? I've contacted the seller on Ebay and I'm still waiting to hear back but I shall have to see if I can get a copy at the library if I don't hear anything. Whodunnit? Who knows?

Wednesday 12 December 2018

Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine

This book came to my attention because of its title, an unusual name to say the least. Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman. I thought it sounded interesting so I put it on my list of books to read. Since then, I've read quite a few reviews of this book on different blogs and they've been very different from each other. Though some people enjoyed it, many people seem to have been disappointed with it and reading these reviews did make me question whether I wanted to bother reading it myself. When I saw it on the shelf in a charity shop I decided I would give it a go and I'm so pleased that I did.

"Eleanor Oliphant leads a simple life. She wears the same clothes to work every day, eats the same meal deal for lunch every day and buys the same two bottles of vodka to drink every weekend.

Eleanor Oliphant is happy. Nothing is missing from her carefully timetabled existence. Except, sometimes, everything..."

I don't know what I really expected from this book but I do know that it was totally different to what I thought it was going to be. Much, much better. It was one of those books which I didn't want to put down because I wanted to know what would happen in the next chapter and all too soon I was at the end.

If, like me, you've been dithering about reading this book I would definitely recommend it. This is Gail Honeyman's first novel and I'm looking forward to reading more from this author.

Sunday 9 December 2018

Blue Tit Socks

After knitting socks for everyone last Christmas I decided to have a break this year. I have, however, knit one pair to gift and those are for my dad. I'm pleased to say that they're all finished and wrapped already. Other years it's been right down to the wire, I've been casting off on Christmas Eve, I kid you not.

I've used my go to pattern, Vanilla Latte Socks by Virginia Rose-Jeanes and they've turned out just as well as they usually do. They're knit in West Yorkshire Spinners Signature 4 ply in the Blue Tit colourway. I was a little unsure of the colours in this yarn when I bought it, I wasn't sure it was really what my dad would wear but I'm pleasantly surprised at how the colours have worked up, I really like them now I see the yarn knitted up.

I feel I've got the sizing for people in my family down to a fine art, I know just how many rounds I need to knit to get a good fit, so I'm hoping that I've judged these right again and that they fit well.

The cardigan I'm knitting has been put to one side whilst I worked on these socks so it's time to pick that back up again. That's the only thing I've got on my needles at the moment but I can feel that I'm building up to a casting on session. It's always exciting to be starting some new projects.

Thank you for all your good wishes for my dad on my last post. I'm pleased to say that he was allowed home from hospital on Friday, though he still wasn't very well. He's picked up a bit since but he's suffering from prostate cancer and I fear that this latest episode is just another symptom that the disease is progressing, though no one's said that specifically. I'm just hoping now that we can keep everyone well for a while and enjoy Christmas, this is the third Christmas in a row that we've been visiting either my mum or dad in hospital. I could do with a break this year.

Thursday 6 December 2018

The Christmas Experience

It was so dull and dreary last week, we had lots of rain, but Mick was home from work early on Friday so we took advantage of a brighter day, put Archie in the car and headed off to Lotherton before it got dark.

Lotherton's Christmas Experience is currently in full swing and though we didn't see everything on offer, we got a taste of what it's all about. Santa is in residence for those wishing to let him know last minute gift requests and elves are on hand helping in the workshop. More elves can be found in the Elf Village helping little ones in craft activities and telling stories, and older visitors can grab refreshments.

We usually take a walk through the Captains Wood when we visit Lotherton with Archie, he loves woodland walks, but this time was a little different. A magical Twelve Days of Christmas Walk has been set up, let me show you a few of the attractions.

At the start of the walk is this grand organ. Press the buttons and it plays The Twelve Days of Christmas.

Most of the displays are interactive so it's hands on for younger visitors. The Ten Lords A-Leaping were cordoned off, each one lit up in sequence.

The Nine Ladies Dancing could be spun round and round and the faster they spun the brighter they lit up.

Archie was interested in the flashing Five Gold Rings.

There were Six Geese A-Laying in one of the sheds but a golden egg shy had been set up for visitors to try and knock down.

How about these Seven Swans A-Swimming?

1. Hook a swan
2. Move the rod up the window carefully.
3. Place the swan gently on the waterfall.
4. Wait.
5. Watch the swan slide and dive.
6. Celebrate.
7. Swans are swimming.

Here we are at Drummers Avenue where we can find Twelve Drummers Drumming.

If you stand behind each of the drummers and pull on the ropes you can make them drum.

As we came out the woods we saw a sign for the Fairy Dell.

I can't resist fairies so I had to visit their little village.

The houses were so cute and as we walked through the dell, the sound of fairies filled the air. They were whispering to each other about the people who passed by.

We visited the Christmas Courtyard before we ended our visit. Snow was fluttering about and one lady expressed her embarrassment to us, she'd just rung a relative and said she couldn't believe it was snowing, before she saw me taking a photo of the snow machine set up in the upstairs window of one of the buildings.

We could see the Christmas trees twinkling in the windows of Lotherton Hall, we couldn't go inside as we had Archie with us but I bet it's decorated beautifully.

We're so lucky to live close to Lotherton as they really make an effort with all their events.

My dad is currently back in hospital so I've been staying with my mum for the last couple of days. She doesn't have internet access so I haven't been able to get round and visit your blogs as often as I usually do. We're hoping that he'll be discharged tomorrow so, hopefully, normality will resume.

Monday 3 December 2018

Christmas Begins

This Christmas will be the first we've had without both our children being at home. Daniel's girlfriend, Jasmine, is American and she doesn't have any family in the UK so she's celebrated with us for the last three years. This year, however, they're going to spend Christmas with her family in Colorado, leaving just me, Mick and Eleanor at home for Christmas as my parents have stopped coming to us for Christmas now too.

They won't be able to take presents with them so the main bulk of their present is money this year but we have bought them a few things to open. On Saturday, we went down to see them in Essex and to exchange presents too. We were going to stay overnight but in the end we decided we'd do it in a day. We set off early and it took us four and a half hours to get there. Coming home wasn't quite so bad, we did it in about three and a half hours. We're saving the gifts they've given us to open on Christmas Day but they'll be opening their gifts before they go.

I try to hold off doing anything Christmas related until we get into December, apart from buying gifts that is. I don't put the tree up, listen to Christmas music or watch Christmas films until the big day approaches but, Saturday being the 1st of December, we went all out and listened to Christmas songs on the radio the whole way there and part of the way home too.

We had a really lovely day with them, went out for a delicious meal and caught up on each other's news. Living so far apart we don't get to see each other very often these days, this was only the third time I've seen them this year, Mick's seen them more as he sometimes works nearby and they'll meet up and go out for a meal then, but we make the times we do see each other count. I'm sure we'll catch up with each other on Skype on Christmas Day and it will be lovely for Jasmine to spend Christmas with her own family for a change. We will miss them though.

As today is the 3rd of December, I just thought I'd mention that it's thirty years to the day that Mick and I got engaged. Looking back, such a lot has happened in those thirty years and yet on the other hand it doesn't seem like any time at all.