Thursday, 5 December 2019

Freeing Grace

Charity Norman has written five books, I've now read all of them and enjoyed every one. Freeing Grace was her debut novel.

"Grace's teenage mother dies shortly after giving birth and the perfect adoptive parents are found for her. Until, that is, Matt, Grace's shell-shocked young father, falls in love with his daughter and decides to keep her. A thought provoking story exploring the sacrifices we make for family and what it takes to be a good parent."

This book wasn't what I expected it to be. After reading the blurb I was anticipating a tug-of-war story over a baby, however, this tale was so much more. Back stories of several characters are explored as are family dynamics, and the story twists and turns throughout the pages.

I think the characters were well developed, though not always likeable, and I was kept guessing right to the end.

I'm thrilled to discover that a new book by Charity Norman is due out next year, I'm a big fan and would definitely recommend all her books.

Monday, 2 December 2019

Yorkshire Yarn Fest

There are more and more yarn festivals popping up each year and I visited the newest one on Saturday in York, Yorkshire Yarn Fest.

Held in two barns at White Syke Farm, goodness, it was muddy and the barns were cold. There were warnings that we'd need to wrap up well but I felt sorry for the vendors who were having to warm their hands on cups of coffee. There were a good selection of exhibitors, over thirty in total, but I have to say that the lighting was so poor in some areas of the main barn that Mick actually took out his phone and shone the torch so that I was able to see. Not ideal for a yarn show.

I bought two gorgeous skeins of yarn, each from dyers I haven't come across before. The first is from Castle View Yarns in the Owl Post colourway and the second is from Noodle Soup in the Disphotic Zone colourway. I have to say that this is the sparkliest yarn I've ever come across, though the photo doesn't do it justice.

There looked to be a good turnout and it was good to see some new to me dyers, but I do hope they'll do something about the lighting before they hold their next show, which is already scheduled for March next year.

Friday, 29 November 2019

Winters Frost

I've finished my Winters Frost socks by This Handmade Life.

They were a pleasure to knit. I decided to give magic loop another try, I usually use double pointed needles when knitting socks, but I always think it's good to master different techniques. Once I'd got into the rhythm of using the circular needle I found it quite easy. I'm not sure if magic loop will become my sock knitting method of choice as I do still prefer double pointed needles but I'm pleased to have given it a go and succeeded. I managed to sort the ladder issue I had out too. Sometimes ladders appear in the fabric between the end of one needle and the start of another when knitting in the round. I struggled a bit with this at the start but it's no longer a problem.

I love the colour of these socks. The colourway is The Goblin's Revenge by Paper Stories, though I don't think this dyer is in business any more. Mick bought me the yarn for Christmas 2017 so it was time it was knitted up into something lovely.

Now it's time to get on and finish the other pair of socks which have been on my needles for some time.

Tuesday, 26 November 2019

Magnifying Daylight Lamps

I know there are quite a few of my readers who are cross stitchers so I'm seeking your advice.  I haven't done a lot of cross stitching in the past but when I have, I've struggled a bit to see what I'm doing, especially when there isn't a lot of daylight about.

I've got one of those contraptions which clips to the embroidery hoop, there's a small magnifier and light on it. It's okay for what it is, not brilliant, but it certainly helps. I've got a snap frame which I'd like to try out but the clip on the magnifier is too small for this and there's no way I can stitch without some kind of magnification.

I'm thinking about putting a magnifying daylight lamp on my Christmas wish list and wondered if any of you use one. I think one which stands on the floor rather than a table would be better for me and I'm sure it would come in useful for more things than cross stitch, especially during the winter months when there isn't much daylight about. I'm looking for any recommendations you can give. Do you have one of these magnifiers, can you recommend a particular one, do you find it useful, is it worth having?

Any and all advice gratefully received.

Saturday, 23 November 2019

What I'm Watching - November 2019

TV and film that I've been watching this month.

I watched both season 1 and season 2 of The Crown earlier this year and since then I've been looking forward to the release of season 3. It's finally here! Olivia Coleman has succeeded Claire Foy as Queen Elizabeth II and Tobias Menzies has taken over the role of Prince Philip. I'm trying not to binge watch so that I can string out the new series and so far I've watched two episodes and I've enjoyed them as much as the earlier ones. The new cast have taken on their roles well as we embark on a new era for the monarchy in this third series.

Cold Call is a four part mini series which was shown on consecutive nights this past week. Sally Lindsay stars as June, a woman who becomes the victim of a cold call scam. It was frightening to see how easy it is for these fraudsters to get people to believe in their rackets. It was a bit far fetched and a ridiculous final episode, but I thought it had a good plot and I did enjoy it.

I'm not a lover of sci-fi but I saw that War of the Worlds had been remade as a mini series so decided to give it a go. I began watching but it soon became apparent that even in this format it just wasn't for me. I think Mick will watch it though, it's much more his genre.

Mick was visiting my dad in hospital last Sunday (by the way he's home now and doing well, thank you for all your good wishes for him), and Eleanor was out with friends so I had the house to myself. I decided to watch a film, something I don't do very often. I had a look on Sky to see what was available and decided on Christopher Robin. Ewan McGregor stars as an adult Christopher Robin who is reunited with his old bear, Winnie the Pooh, and the animals in Hundred Acre Wood. I wasn't sure it was for me at the start and nearly turned it off but I'm glad I stuck with it as I actually found it quite charming. The perfect movie for a Sunday afternoon when you want to just sit and watch and not have to think too hard.

Have you been watching any of these? What else have you been watching this month?

Wednesday, 20 November 2019

In The Making - November 2019

A roundup of the things I'm working on at the moment.

I'm pleased to say that crafting is firmly back on the agenda at the moment. My mojo has been coming and going since my mum died back in March, which I suppose is to be expected as my grieving navigates its twists and turns, but it's nice when I'm at a period where I'm getting enjoyment from the things I usually do. I've even completed a project this month, my Strictly Cha Cha Chevron Socks 2019 are off the needles.

I've been working on my Winters Frost socks. I usually knit my socks using double pointed needles but I'm beginning to enjoy using the magic loop method which I'm giving a go on these socks. The pattern is a pleasure to knit and I love the colour of this yarn. I'm knitting the heel flap of the second sock at the moment so these socks may be finished soon.

I asked for Opinions Please on my Beach Days wrap. Thank you to everyone who left a comment. I wasn't sure whether to follow the pattern and include the centre wave panel on the wrap or omit this, I didn't know if it added anything to the wrap or not. I think most people who commented on my post said that they'd leave out the centre panel so this is what I'm going to do. I shall add some extra blue and gold waves and eyelet bands instead but I need to work out how much yarn I have in order to do this first.

Only a couple of projects which I'm actively working on at the moment but it's nice to be focusing my efforts and seeing some progress. I'm hoping for another finish before my next monthly roundup.

Sunday, 17 November 2019

Opinions Please

I've been knitting a little more on my Beach Days wrap and have now got to the point where I start knitting the centre colour block.

What I can't decide is whether to follow the pattern or omit this centre panel of blue and gold waves and just continue with the design I've followed so far, blue wave, eyelet band, gold wave, eyelet band, and so on. The centre panel looks something similar to the blue and gold waves that I've already knit at the end of the wrap and I'm not sure I like that block in the centre.

What do you think? Would you follow the pattern or would you miss out that centre block? Help me decide please.

Thursday, 14 November 2019

Under The Weather

I've had the lurgy, in fact, I've still got the lurgy. It's not often I'm ill, which is just as well as I make a bad patient when I am, but this time, I've had it well and good.

I started at the beginning of last week with a really sore chest and it developed into a dry cough, I coughed so much that I was physically sick. It's not a cold, I haven't had a runny nose, but my whole body has ached and I've had a high temperature.

It wouldn't be so bad if my dad wasn't in hospital. We took him to A&E on the Sunday night before I was ill as he had chest pains and he was having trouble breathing, his ankles were also very swollen. They hooked him up to a heart monitor, took blood to test and did a chest x-ray and they discovered that his kidneys weren't working as they should. My dad's got prostate cancer and he knew that he'd lost the function of one kidney completely and was down to 27% function in the other kidney. They wanted to keep him in hospital but he refused point blank so they allowed him home, but on the Monday he received a phone call from the urology specialist asking him to go in and see him on Tuesday. It was the first day I was feeling off it so Mick took him to the appointment. He was told that the function of his one remaining working kidney is now down to 16% and that they needed to drain it. He wasn't impressed that he had to stay in hospital but Mick eventually talked him round and he's been in there ever since.

I didn't think it was a good idea being in close proximity to my dad, or anyone else in hospital, when I'm obviously carrying germs around so Mick's been doing all the toing and froing whilst my dad's been in hospital, not that I felt able to get there anyway. I don't know what I'd do without him.

Mick also had a big interview last week and has just earned himself a big promotion. He's worked for his company since leaving school thirty six years ago and has worked his way up through the ranks so his promotion is very well deserved. He's now responsible for all his company's UK factories. We haven't celebrated yet but I'm sure we'll do so as soon as I feel up to it.

I've still got a really bad cough but I'm feeling a lot better in myself than I have done over the last ten days so I'm hoping that it doesn't last much longer. I'm also hoping that my dad gets sorted out soon and is allowed home. It never rains but it pours!

Wednesday, 6 November 2019

Strictly Cha Cha Chevron Socks 2019

I've been taking part in the Strictly knitalong which is being hosted on the Little Drops of Wonderful podcast. I took part in this same knitalong last year, and in fact, knit the same sock pattern which was last years official Strictly knitalong pattern. It's the Cha Cha Chevron pattern by Sandra Paul and though I don't want to knit anything too complicated whilst watching the dancing, it's interesting enough for me not to get bored.

My knitting mojo has been coming and going since my mum died in March but taking part in a knitalong has been keeping the momentum going on this project. It's also encouraged me to pick up other projects and knit on those too.

These socks have been knit whilst watching Strictly Come Dancing, the results show and its sister show, It Takes Two which is shown on weekdays. It's been a while since I've had a finished item to show so I'm very pleased to have got these done. I've used a hand dyed yarn which I received in a swap which I took part in on Instagram, I don't know who the dyer is but the yarn is so soft, it's been a pleasure to knit with.

Unfortunately, I started the toes a little too soon and the socks are a tad too small for me, but I don't mind, they'll make a lovely Christmas gift.

Sunday, 3 November 2019

Still Me

I read Me Before You by Jojo Moyes back in 2016 and absolutely loved it. I'm always wary of reading sequels when I've enjoyed a book so much as they rarely live up to the first offering and unfortunately, I found this in After You, which I read the following year. It left me wishing that the author had left Me Before You as a stand alone book.

When I saw that a third book in the series, Still Me, had been published I decided that I wouldn't bother reading it, however, after reading a few reviews and people telling me that it was much better than the second book, when I saw it for sale in a charity shop I picked it up.

"Lou Clark knows too many things...

She knows how many miles lie between her new home in New York and her new boyfriend Sam in London.

She knows her employer is a good man and she knows his wife is keeping a secret from him.

What Lou doesn't know is she's about to meet someone who's going to turn her whole life upside down.

Because Josh will remind her so much of a man she used to know that it'll hurt.

Lou won't know what to do next, but she knows that whatever she chooses is going to change everything."

At first, I thought I'd made another mistake reading this book, I found it quite slow going and there were definitely characters which I didn't warm to. I'd have to say that it's a book of two halves, I could have quite easily put the book to one side even when I was half way though, it was probably the last third of the book which I enjoyed the most, though it was very predictable and I guessed the outcome of each storyline well before it was revealed.

Would I recommend the book? I think I'm probably expecting too much after loving the first book in this series so much so perhaps I'm being over critical of the following installments. Still Me is probably a good enough story in its own right for me to recommend but I still think that the story of Louisa Clark should have finished at the end of Me Before You.

Thursday, 31 October 2019

Happy Spooky Halloween

You may remember my Spooky Halloween post from last year where I took you on a tour of the grounds of Lotherton Hall where they'd put on a Spooky Scarecrow Trail. This has been going for a few years now, but last year they decided to extend their opening hours into the evening to make it even spookier with a scary walk through the haunted woods. We went during daylight hours last year but we decided we'd be brave this time and went after dark. Some of my photos look like daylight but it's because I used the flash on my camera, it was actually very dark.

The first thing we came to were the wooden cabins by the car park which have all been decked out as Spooky Wild West. Some new cowboys were just arriving in town.

I think they were just in time to join the cookout.

They'll probably want to join in with a hand of cards later on.

Or perhaps they'll just enjoy some time in the saloon.

All needs are catered for, though the public conveniences could do with a dust looking at the number of cobwebs.

They'll need to have their wits about them though, not everyone gets out of here alive.

If they don't want to join the cookout they can always purchase a burger or hot dog, though on second thoughts I don't think the chef will be up to making them.

After exploring Dodge City we set off to explore the haunted woods.

Unfortunately, the lanterns they'd got strung from tree to tree were only working at the entrance to the woods. The spotlights they'd got trained on the exhibits weren't working either. It turned out to be a spookier walk than was intended as it was pitch black. Mick had to use the torch on his phone so that we could see where we were going and we missed so much of what we were supposed to see.

This was at the start of the trail and looked very spooky in the dark.

I jumped out of my skin when these monks started chanting.

There were lots of scary and spooky things hiding in the trees but unless Mick managed to pick them out with his torch we ended up missing them.

A scary mummy dangling from a tree.

It's such a shame that the lights were out. We always enjoy the events at Lotherton, they really do make an effort with them, and I thought visiting the Spooky Halloween Trail in the dark would really add something to it, but unfortunately, without lighting it was just too dark to see much of anything. Oh well, there's always next year.

Happy Halloween!

Monday, 28 October 2019

What I'm Watching - October 2019

TV and film that I've been watching this month.

I started taping the BBC drama The Capture when it started but by the time I got round to watching it I had all six episodes waiting for me. I quite like it when this happens and I can watch a new episode one night after the other instead of waiting week after week. The first episode was compelling, I didn't know where the story was taking me but I was hooked waiting to see what was unfolding. It wasn't until episode two that I understood in which direction it was going. I thought it was a great storyline and really made you think.

Once we finished The Capture, we started on Dublin Murders. I watched the first episode and wasn't sure it was for me, the second episode lost me completely, it just didn't hold my interest at all. I've decided not to watch any further but Mick's going to persevere with it.

I haven't watched The X Factor for many years now, I thought it had run its course after just a few series. This year, instead of searching amongst the public, they've cast their net amongst, so called, celebrities. How is it that an unknown who then goes on to appear on some reality show automatically turns into a celebrity? Anyway, I thought it might be fun to watch X Factor Celebrity so we watched the auditions and have watched the first live show too, but I think they're flogging a dead horse. It's time they called it a day and put this horse out to pasture. I don't think I'll watch any further.

There are a few podcasters who are doing Vlogtober this month. Basically, they record snippets of their everyday lives and upload them daily to YouTube. I'm watching Ali at Little Drops of Wonderful, Sherrie at Ollie & Bella and Gayna at Tales From Cuckoo Land. It's like a little peek to see what they get up to each day, gosh I am nosey!

Have you been watching any of these? What else have you been watching this month?

Friday, 25 October 2019

In The Making - October 2019

A roundup of the things I'm working on at the moment.

I have to say that my crafting has slowed down somewhat this month. I'm not sure why that is, I just haven't been reaching for my knitting as often as I usually do.

Strictly Come Dancing is back on our screens so, just like last year, I decided to join in with the knitalong which is being hosted by Ali on her Little Drops of Wonderful podcast. I had a look in my stash and thought this yarn I was given in a swap I took part in on Instagram would look lovely knitted up into the Cha Cha Chevron socks, the official Strictly knitalong pattern from last year. I'm very pleased with my choice so far. I only knit these socks whilst watching Strictly Come Dancing or its sister show, It Takes Two, which is shown on weekdays but I've already completed the first one and I'm down to the heel on the second.

I've added the two gorgeous mini skeins I received for my birthday from Maggie from BlackCountry Wench blog into my scrappy blanket. These are from Beaker Button, a dyer I'd never heard of before. It's such soft yarn. Maggie also gave me this beautiful needle case for my birthday, I've opened it up so that you can just peek the gorgeous fabric inside, and the cute little hedgehog stamped on the back. Thank you, Maggie, such a thoughtful gift.

My crafting enthusiasm seems to be coming and going at the moment but there's no point trying to force it, a hobby is all about enjoyment so I'll pick things up if and when the mood takes me, I'm sure my mojo will return again soon.

Tuesday, 22 October 2019

Stocking Up The Bookshelf

I often buy second hand books from charity shops but I'm noticing more and more places are accepting book donations and selling them for charity. There's a charity book stand in our local Tesco's and one in Wilko's too.

Our local chemist has recently set up a bookshelf for this exact purpose. The books are sold for 50p each and the money raised is donated to a local hospice.

Unfortunately, as yet, the shelves are not very well stocked so I popped back in to donate a couple of books which I've recently read. No books came home with me as there weren't any there which took my fancy, but I shall keep popping back in just in case something comes in which does.

Saturday, 19 October 2019

A Local Walk For Archie

We often jump in the car and take Archie to lovely places like Lotherton or Temple Newsam, which I've posted about many times in the past, but we've also got some lovely walks on our doorstep without needing to travel in the car to get there. These are the places he walks daily so we rotate them. I'm going to show you the walk we took on Thursday.

A lot of dog walkers use this lane and it also leads to some stables, though there were no horses in the yard on Thursday, they were all tucked up indoors. A dog did come out to see Archie as we passed though and he wanted to come on our walk with us but he was very good and went home when we told him to.

The view to our right. We used to cross this field and it would take us to lower fields where we could continue on a circular walk. Unfortunately, back in 2012, sixty eight houses were built on the lower field and we're now unable to take this circular walk, we have to turn around and come back the way we came. I wrote about it in my A Sad E-State Of Affairs post.

The view to our left. This field is full of crops during the summer months but they've all been harvested now.

Archie's really good when he's off his lead, he does love a good sniff around but he doesn't stray from us very far, he runs to catch up as soon as he sees we've walked a few yards ahead.

I always try to get some good photos of Archie when we take him for walks but it's very difficult, he doesn't stand still for long so my efforts result in blurred snaps. If he does stand still he's usually eating grass!

I was expecting the lane to be rather muddy on Thursday as we'd had quite a bit of rain but it wasn't too bad, there was the odd puddle or two but we managed to avoid them.

It's not a long walk but it's long enough for one of Archie's daily walks, we don't take him as far as we used to these days. He's fine when we're out and about but it knocks him out when we get home.

I hope you enjoyed seeing one of Archie's regular walks. Perhaps I'll show you one of the others another day.