Thursday 31 January 2019

What I'm Watching - January 2019

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

The new series of Call the Midwife is currently showing and I'm really enjoying it. It's such a lovely gentle programme for Sunday night viewing, though I admit I usually record it and watch it later. This current series is set in 1964, just four years before I was born. It's hard to imagine how things were back then when we look at the advances in all areas of life since. There's some new faces this time and lots of the old familiar ones too.

Cold Feet was my favourite programme when it was first shown towards the back end of the 90's and into the new century. It had been off our screens for thirteen years when they decided to bring it back in 2016 and I wasn't sure it would work, but it does. I'm enjoying it as much now as I did back then.

If you read my post about Netflix you'll know that we've got a one month trial at the moment. I still haven't explored everything on offer but I have watched Conversations with a Killer: The Ted Bundy Tapes. I'm fascinated by true crime, what makes a person kill another human being, and it was quite chilling hearing Ted Bundy's own voice discussing his crimes. However, Netflix's warning not to watch this alone is a bit over the top. In my opinion it's a mediocre documentary with very little new material to that which has been offered in other documentaries which I've seen in the past.

Me Before You was my favourite of all the books I read in 2016. I don't often go to the cinema but I went to see this film when it was released not long after I'd read the book, and it's premier on Channel 5 was on Sunday night. I recorded it and watched it on Monday afternoon. The book is far superior in my opinion but I enjoyed the film for what it was and would recommend it. If you missed it, it's being shown again on Channel 5 on Friday 1st of February at 11pm.

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

Monday 28 January 2019

A Blustery Weekend

We didn't do much at the weekend, not only was it cold but it was blowing a gale too. I could have quite happily stayed indoors but when you've got a dog, hunkering down and hibernating isn't an option.

It was the Big Garden Birdwatch over the weekend and though I didn't take part this year, we decided to take Archie to RSPB Fairburn Ings for a walk. There were plenty of birds to be seen there. We just managed a quick walk before the heavens opened and it poured down.

The wind picked up a pace on Sunday so it was a bit foolish of us to head over to Pontefract Castle for a dog walk as it's quite open and we nearly got blown away. We didn't stay long but it gave Archie a chance to stretch his legs and get a bit of fresh air, though it was a bit too fresh for my liking. I didn't take many photos as my hands were nearly dropping off with the cold but you can read more about the castle and its history in A History Tour In Four Parts, a post which I wrote back in 2013.

Today has dawned sunny and bright and the wind has dropped but looking at the forecast I think we're in for a week of frosty and, possibly, icy weather.

Friday 25 January 2019


We've been umming and ahhing for quite some time now wondering whether to get Netflix. We've subscribed to Sky for a very long time, mainly for the sport, but we also have our phone line and broadband with them so we do get quite a good deal, but I often hear people mention the programmes they've watched on Netflix that they've enjoyed so we thought we'd give it a go.

So, what I'd like to know from those of you who have Netflix is what programmes can you recommend? I haven't started watching anything yet as we only signed up last night so I'm open to all suggestions.

We've got a one month trial so we'll see how it goes, whether we want to continue with it after that remains to be seen.

Tuesday 22 January 2019

Auntie Mavis

My Auntie Mavis died last week, she was my dad's only sister and would have been 90 this year. She was suffering from Alzheimer's and passed away in her sleep.

My dad is the youngest in his family, there were between eighteen months and two years between each of his siblings. Walter was the eldest, then came Mavis, George was next and then my dad. Both Walter and George died in 2011, the same year that two of my mum's brothers died too.

Mavis and my dad weren't particularly close, they didn't see each other very often but my dad got a bee in his bonnet last year about wanting to go and see her in the nursing home where she was being cared for. She didn't know him when he went, owing to the Alzheimer's, but I think he's glad now that he made the effort.

My mum came from a big family, some of her brothers and sisters have died but she's still got two sisters still living. My dad is the only one still here from his family, Walter's widow died last year, she was the last of his sibling's partners who was still living.

It's terribly sad seeing the older part of the family dwindle but then we hear the news that one of the younger generation are expecting the patter of tiny feet, life goes on.

Saturday 19 January 2019

In The Making - January 2019

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

Shapely Boyfriend by Stefanie Japel.

I've come to a bit of a standstill with this cardigan. I'm trying to work a row here and there just so that work on it doesn't come to a complete halt but I've lost a bit of enthusiasm for this project. I suppose it's because it's plain knitting and a plain coloured yarn, nothing to keep me interested. I do want the finished garment though so that's enough incentive to keep me going on it.

Sugar Frost Socks by Marianne Heikkinen.

I've knit this pattern before for Eleanor and she's asked me to knit her another pair. I used West Yorkshire Spinners Signature 4 ply when I knit them before and I'm using it again this time round. Eleanor chose the Blue Lagoon colourway which I had in stash and I bought the Blueberry Bonbon colourway for contrasting cuffs, heels and toes. You can see the funny way it was delivered in my Flat Pack post. I'm just on the gusset decreases on the first sock so quite a way to go yet.

Knit Baby Jacket Set: Sweater by Yarnspirations Design Studio

Eleanor's friend had a baby girl towards the end of last year, I knit a few things for her in the first size and now I've made a start on the 6-12 month size. I'm knitting this little jacket out of Sirdar Snuggly Crofter, which Eleanor chose before she went back to uni, and it's really living up to its name, it's very snuggly indeed. I'm loving working on this at the moment. I've already separated for the sleeves and I'm just knitting down the body.

There are other things I'm waiting to cast on but I really want to make some headway on the cardigan before I do so, it's feeling a bit like a millstone around my neck at the moment.

Wednesday 16 January 2019

The Other Boleyn Girl

I've just finished reading The Other Boleyn Girl. I enjoyed the other two books I've read in Philippa Gregory's Tudor Court series but this one was even better.

I've seen the film which is based on this book but it didn't grip me as much as reading the story for myself did, I couldn't put it down and I'm really sorry now I've finished it, the sign of a good book.

The Other Boleyn Girl tells the story of Mary Boleyn from the time she arrives at court and becomes the young mistress of Henry VIII right through to her sister, Anne, becoming Queen and ultimately, Anne's execution by beheading.

Many have criticised the historical inaccuracies in the book but I've taken it at face value, it's a novel and I've enjoyed it as such, however, as so many historical fiction books often prompt me to do, I've looked up bits and pieces along the way to find out more actual facts about her life and that of her family.

I've got the next book in this series already downloaded on my Kindle and I'm looking forward to reading it.

Sunday 13 January 2019

Back To Uni

It's a grey and dismal day today, which matches my mood because Eleanor is going back to university. She came home for the holidays on the 14th of December and it does seem as though she's had a long break this time, sometimes her time at home seems to pass by in a flash, but I'm still sad to be waving her off. She's still packing at the moment but she'll be leaving soon.

Our Christmas was unusual this year, just the three of us at home for Christmas dinner, but I'm not complaining about it being a quiet Christmas, it's preferable to the last couple of years when we've been hospital visiting and having to fit the festivities in around that.

Daniel and Jasmine Skyped us on Christmas Day from Colorado, it was late afternoon here by the time they were getting up. They arrived home last weekend and they're now back into the swing of work again. They had a lovely time. Jasmine's sister is expecting her first baby in spring so they'd like to go back again later this year, it must be hard for her living all this way away from her family, especially when big events like this are happening.

It always seems quiet when Eleanor goes back to university and Mick and I are left on our own again but we soon get used to it. It will only happen once more, Easter will be her last break from university before graduation. How did that happen? Three years have gone by so fast.

Just twelve weeks until she's home again, not that I'm counting or anything!

Thursday 10 January 2019

Yarny Gifts

As usual, I was very spoilt at Christmas, I received a wide selection of wonderful gifts from family and friends and I thought I'd show you just a few which were knitting and yarn related.

This is everything all together but I'll show you each thing in a bit more detail.

Mick bought me three full skeins of yarn: a sock set from Lay Family Yarn in the Hot Chocolate colourway. This set comes with a 20g mini for coordinating cuffs, heels and toes. Biffsugar Yarns in the Waterlily colourway and Sherry Iris in the Pumpkin Season colourway which came with a sachet of tea and a lavender sachet keyring.

Mick also bought me a pack of 10g mini skeins from Hedgerow Yarns to add to my blanket and a Socker's Rule which will take the guesswork out of sizing when I'm knitting socks for other people. I've often mentioned how I like to support small businesses and how buying from them is such an enjoyable experience. The parcels are usually beautifully wrapped and there's often little extras included in the parcel but just look at everything which Jane from Hedgerow Yarns popped in this parcel. There was an extra 20g mini skein, a little scented candle and a lavender bag, very welcome little extras.

My dad had asked Mick if he knew anything I particularly wanted for Christmas and asked him if he'd get it for him and my mum to give to me. Mick bought me a set of KnitPro Zing interchangeable needles last year and had remembered me saying that I'd like a set of the double pointed needles in different sizes so this is what I got from my mum and dad, along with some money to treat myself. There's six different needle sizes in the set which will be very handy for hat and sleeve knitting along with other things which are knit in the round.

Eleanor bought me a skein of yarn from Ducky Darlings in the Confetti colourway which came with a couple of sweeties but they were scoffed whilst I was still opening presents, but the piece de resistance were the little piggy progress keepers.

She'd bought these from Scruffy Dog Eco on Etsy, a shop I'd never heard of before. Aren't they the cutest? I have a thing for pigs!

My family know me so well, they always buy me the most wonderful gifts, I'm very lucky.

Monday 7 January 2019

Twelve Days Of Christmas 2018

Once again, my very good blog friend, Lisa, from Jumble and Jelly, and myself have done a Twelve Days of Christmas swap. This is the fifth time we've done it and it's still as much fun now as it was that very first year back in 2014. We send each other twelve small gifts, one to be opened on each of the twelve days of Christmas, which extends the festive fun right into January.

These are the lovely gifts I received from Lisa this year.

Let's have a look at them a little closer.

The box of crackers were opened on Christmas Day before we ate dinner so we each pulled one. They contain a wind up Santa which you then use to race with, lots of fun and there are three crackers left to use next year. A pack of tasty Highland shortbread in the shape of mini scottie dogs, so cute, and a sachet of Dorset Tea in the strawberries & cream flavour, some hand & body lotion and a packet of cute sheepy tissues, citrus scented mini wipes and hand gel.

Lisa knows that I enjoy old films and Gone With the Wind is one of my favourites. I shall enjoy sitting down to watch this DVD. There's a spatula and some sugar stars to decorate the next cupcakes which I make, a Christmas garland and a trio of lip balms.

Umbrellas are always handy to have with the weather we get in the UK, such a lovely design too. A pack of colour your own greeting cards and some heart tags, a handy tote bag and my favourite Green & Black's chocolate in the salted caramel flavour.

Thank you Lisa. Once again I'm really pleased with everything I received.

These are the gifts I sent to Lisa.

I usually include a Christmas themed book in the parcel as I think it's nice to read something seasonal over the festive period. This year it was The Christmas Promise by Sue Moorcroft. An adult colouring book and colouring pencils, I thought these were really clever, twelve pencils but twenty four colours as they're pointed at each end. A cute sloth notebook and an IQ quiz.

A box of Toblerone Tinys and a packet of mini gingerbread men, I thought these looked very tasty. A pair of cute cosy socks and five wine glass charms. These are a good way of not getting each other's drinks mixed up.

Tubes of hand cream and lip balm, always handy once the cold weather arrives, I always get chapped hands and lips. Some snowman earrings and snowman bath fizzers. A cute little tin cat ornament which I must admit I had trouble parting with.

Here he is again. It's hard to get a good photo of him, or perhaps it's a her with those eyelashes.

Thank you, Lisa. I received some lovely gifts and I had fun again this year with this swap.

Friday 4 January 2019

Flat Pack

Eleanor has asked me to knit her a pair of socks similar to the Sugar Frost Socks which I'd knit her for Christmas 2017. She wants the same pattern and is happy with the West Yorkshire Spinners Signature 4 ply that they'd been knit out of so I showed her the other colours I've got in my stash. She's chosen the Blue Lagoon colourway but, being striped, they knit up much nicer if the heels are knit out of a contrasting colour so that the stripes aren't interrupted. I don't have anything which would go with this colourway so I've ended up resorting to buying a ball of the Blueberry Bonbon colourway from a seller on Ebay. I was flabbergasted when it came.

It had been vacuum packed, all the air had been sucked out of the packaging and it was just millimetres thick. I suppose this cuts down on postage costs.

You can see what a difference it makes when laid next to the ball of Blue Lagoon from my stash. It's quite comical actually.

I was very surprised when I cut into the package, the yarn sprung back to how it should look immediately without any help from me. I really didn't think that it would.

Now to get on with the sock knitting. My first cast on of 2019.

Tuesday 1 January 2019

Find Me On Instagram

No more procrastinating, I've finally set up an Instagram account.

Engage in social media was on my 50 Before 50 list but I never set up an account in the two years that I worked my way through this challenge.  Better late than never. I thought that Eleanor could help me set it up but she's away from home staying at her boyfriend's at the moment so Mick and I muddled through the set up process, it was like the blind leading the blind, though Mick says we wasn't even that good. Goodness knows what I'm doing with it but I'll give it a go.

Please come and find me if you use Instagram, you can find me if you search jothroughthekeyhole.

I now need to find out how I find and follow people on there. Please leave me a comment with your Instagram user name and I'll do my best to find you.