Thursday 30 May 2019

In The Making - May 2019

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

There haven't been any finishes this month but I've been cracking on with the projects I've got on the go as well as a new cast on.

I had every intention last month of casting on something new to help bring back my knitting mojo but I didn't expect it to be another baby garment. Eleanor saw her friend whilst she was home over Easter, the one who had a baby towards the end of last year. Do you remember the Flax Light I knit for the baby? The yarn I used was terrible, it was full of knots and big patches of dye where there should only be speckles and I wasn't at all happy with the finished garment but I decided to give it to her anyway. Well, it turns out that it's one of her favourite items of clothing and she asked Eleanor if I'd knit her another, exactly the same, in the same yarn and the same colour, just a larger size. Well, I'm happy to oblige. It just so happens that I'd complained to the yarn company and they'd sent me a replacement ball so I already had the yarn I needed in my stash so I got it straight on the needles. So far so good with the yarn this time, fingers crossed that I don't come across the same problems as I had last time.

Yippee! I've finished the sleeves on the cardigan. Now it's time for the worst bit of all, picking up stitches the whole way round the button bands and neck. I'm putting it off for the time being, I think I'll put this project aside for a while now and come back to it later when I might have more of an inclination to work on with it. Taking a break from something I'm not totally enjoying working on usually helps me to fall in love with it again.

I finished one of the socks I'm working on and I'm nearly halfway on the second sock. I can't say I'm totally happy with the yarn I'm using and I'll tell you more about that when they're finished.

I'm hoping I might have something cast off before next month's post.

Monday 27 May 2019

The Secret

I read Kathryn Hughes debut novel, The Letter, and enjoyed it so I decided to download the other two books she's written onto my Kindle and have just finished The Secret.

I must admit that I haven't been reading much lately so I really pushed myself to make a start on this book, I'm so pleased I did as I couldn't put it down once I got started.

'Mary has been nursing a secret.

Forty years ago, she made a choice that would change her world for ever, and alter the path of someone she holds dear.

Beth is searching for answers. She has never known the truth about her parentage, but finding out could be the lifeline her sick child so desperately needs. When Beth finds a faded newspaper cutting amongst her mother's things, she realises the key to her son's future lies in her own past. She must go back to where it all began to unlock...The Secret'.

This is another book which is told over two time periods and at first I didn't realise where it all fitted together but as I read more, it became clear. There's some wonderful characters in this book and I warmed to most of them. The chapters are only short, there's about fifty in total and I like that, it encourages me to read just one more and before I knew it I was at the end of the book.

I'd definitely recommend this book, it's a real page turner. I'm looking forward now to reading the other Kathryn Hughes book which is waiting for me.

Friday 24 May 2019

What I'm Watching - May 2019

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

The latest series of Line of Duty hit our screens just days after my mum died. As you can imagine, I wasn't up to watching TV at this time so week after week I taped each episode until the week of the finale came round and we binge watched the previous five episodes to catch up before all was revealed. Hmmm, I know everyone loves Line of Duty but at the risk of being controversial I have to say I expected so much more. I'll go even further and say that much of what I watched was boring. This series has just acted as a stepping stone to further series, we haven't learnt much more than we knew at the end of Series 4 except the whole of Series 5 was a "Who is H?" and now we know there's no such person. I'm not even sure I'll bother watching Series 6!

I read something a while ago about a programme being made based on the diaries of Anne Lister and have been watching out for it ever since. The first episode of Gentleman Jack, starring Suranne Jones, has now been shown and I thought it was really good. Anne Lister was a landowner and industrialist from Yorkshire who was born in 1791. She kept diaries detailing her life, financial concerns, work improving Shibden Hall in Halifax and her lesbian activities. Part of the diaries were written in code and it wasn't until the 1930's that they were deciphered by the last inhabitant of Shibden Hall, John Lister and his friend, Arthur Burrell. Burrell advised John Lister to burn them but he didn't listen and continued to hide the diaries behind a panel at Shibden Hall. Anne Lister is often called "the first modern lesbian" for her clear self-knowledge and openly lesbian lifestyle. I wrote a post about Shibden Hall And Park when we visited back in 2012. I'm looking forward to watching more of this series.

Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile are the words spoken by the judge in Ted Bundy's death sentencing and the title given to the new biographical crime thriller told from the viewpoint of Bundy's girlfriend, Elizabeth Kendall. It was released in the cinemas at the beginning of the month but broadcaster Sky has the distribution rights in the UK so, as a subscriber, I was able to watch from the comfort of my living room. I rarely go to the cinema these days. Zac Efron takes the part of Ted Bundy and he's done a great job, I think he was well cast as, chillingly, he does have a look of the evil mass murderer and I think he managed to portray the charming side of this animal as the movie required. Thirty years on from Bundy's execution, there have been countless documentaries and films made about him but telling his girlfriend's story gave the account a new angle. I'm glad I didn't take a trip to the cinema to watch this film but it held my interest for a couple of hours.

I haven't watched anything on Netflix this month but I have binge watched Gayna's Tales From Cuckoo Land podcast on YouTube. This started out over two years ago as a knitting podcast but, over time, it's evolved into a family life podcast. She does still show her knitting projects but she now records more of the general goings on of daily life with her husband and three lovely boys. I'm now up to date and have enjoyed what I've watched.

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

Tuesday 21 May 2019

More Of Derbyshire And A Bit Of Family History

Following on from my last post, after we'd visited Matlock Bath and Caudwell's Mill & Craft Centre we headed off to the ancient capital of the Peak District, Bakewell.

We parked by the River Wye and crossed Weir Bridge.

The railings on this bridge are now just about full of padlocks, a tradition started by lovers fastening 'love locks' on the Pont des Arts in Paris.

There must be thousands of padlocks adorning the bridge.

Bakewell is a busy town but it still retains its character and charm.

Home of the Bakewell Pudding, there are many bakeries selling this flaky pastry dessert.

We had a wander around the town before getting back in the car and setting off once again. We stopped to enjoy the view at Monsal Head, high above Monsal Dale where the viaduct which carried the former Midland Railway over the river can be seen.

It's quite a few years now since I've worked on my family tree but generations of my mum's family came from Derbyshire. I know that my mum's grandparents are buried in the churchyard at a village called Stanton so we decided we'd go and see if we could find their headstones.

Stanton is a small village on the Weaver Hills near Ashbourne. Each generation of my mum's family were born there from at least the 1780's when my great great great great grandfather was born, right down to my my mum's mum who was born there in 1909. It was a bit of a drive but eventually we came upon the church.

It's only a small church and there aren't a great number of graves as it's relatively new, being built in 1847. Prior to that, the villagers worshipped at Ellastone, a village about two and a half miles away so some family occasions such as christenings, weddings and funerals took place there. It didn't take us long until we found my mum's Uncle Henry, or Harry as he was known.

I was really pleased that we discovered my great grandparents, William and Louisa. We only decided to look for the church on the spur of the moment, if I'd known we'd be visiting I'd have taken some flowers. There's a misspelling on the stone, Louisa has been spelt Lousia.

And here is a photo of Louisa, kindly passed on to me from a relative who I found when researching my family tree. I don't know when the photo was taken but Louisa was born in 1871.

The village is in such a peaceful place, you can see for miles from the churchyard.

It's a shame that the church was locked as I'd have liked to have gone inside. I'm so pleased that we found it though, it really made my day.

I used to love to work on my family tree, discovering family history from long ago. Visiting the place where my great grandparents lived, and my nana lived as a child, has reawakened something in me and I'm all geared up again to discover more. I can see this old hobby of mine being rekindled, and I'd love to go and explore this area more and perhaps visit Ellastone church too.

Saturday 18 May 2019

A Day Out in Derbyshire

Mick took a day off work yesterday and though the weather was supposed to be turning, we decided we'd still have a day out. I'm glad we didn't stay in because, even though there was a bit of wind about, it turned into a lovely day.

We set off in the car without a thought in our minds as to where we'd end up but as we got going we soon decided that we'd head down the M1 and visit my mum's county of birth, Derbyshire. We spent our tenth wedding anniversary in Matlock Bath and have never been back to the village since so we thought we'd start off here.

Matlock Bath was developed as one of the country's first tourist destinations. People have been coming here since the late 17th century when the spa waters were discovered but its heyday was in Victorian times when it became known as Little Switzerland by the poet, Lord Byron.

It's set in the gorge of the River Derwent and the main thoroughfare snakes along one side of the river. Along the other side is a riverside path known as Lovers' Walks.

As the sign tells us, Lovers' Walks is known to have been in existence prior to 1742. As well as the pathway by the side of the river, there's another along the cliff top, though we didn't venture there, my head for heights wouldn't allow that.

It was a really peaceful walk along the side of the river, we only passed a few people, though many of the shops in Matlock Bath were closed, many places only opening on weekends and bank holidays so I doubt they get a huge influx of visitors during the week.

There were boats for hire on the river, though again, closed on Friday. Not that we'd have hired one ourselves, we had Archie with us and though he has been on boats in the past, I'm not sure he'd have appreciated being in a small rowing boat.

You can see how steep the cliffs are which surround Matlock Bath. The Heights of Abraham is a tourist attraction which consists of a hilltop park accessed from the village by cable cars or a steep zigzag path.

There's so much greenery about at the moment.

I love this time of year when the foliage is all new, the colours really zing.

This goose stood and posed whilst I took his photo. He had a mate with him but she wasn't so brave.

Looking back from where we came, we crossed the river here and made our way back along the other side.

We only stayed for an hour as we wanted to visit some other places but we certainly enjoyed what we saw of Matlock Bath.

On our way to our next destination we came across a sign for Caudwell's Mill & Craft Centre so we decided to stop and take a look.

It's in a beautiful position, right by the river.

As we made our way to the mill, we passed a field full of gorgeous sheep and lambs.

This lamb stopped and watched Archie, though Archie wasn't at all interested in him.

Caudwell's Mill is a historic roller flour mill which is powered by water from the river Wye. The present mill was built in 1874 by John Caudwell but one or more mills have stood on the site for at least 400 years. You can take tours of the mill but we declined as we had Archie with us.

Also on the site is a shop selling flour, biscuits, ice-cream and other specialist foods, a gift shop and a cafe. There are also artisan craft workshops on the site, though some of these were closed yesterday.

We didn't stay long before we were on our way again. I'll tell you where we went afterwards in my next post.

Wednesday 15 May 2019

I Love The Works

There, I've said it, I Love The Works. It isn't often that I go in that shop and come out empty handed. They sell some wonderful books at such cheap prices.

I'd seen that a couple of people had recently bought the Making Luna Lapin book by Sarah Peel and I quite fancied a copy myself. Now I'm the first to admit that I can't sew, well, I say that I can't but it's something I've never really given a good go, so I'm going to try and if I can't do it I'm happy just looking through this lovely book. Not only does it show you how to sew Luna but it also has patterns for her clothes.

How cute is this little dress.

And if you're clever enough you can even make her an armchair.

This book should have been £15.99 but The Works were selling it for just £5.

Whilst I was there I noticed Pronto! by Gino D'Acampo, again hugely discounted from £16.99 to £5. I can't say I'm a fan of Gino's but there does look to be some delicious recipes in this book. The lamb cutlets coated with parma ham and parmesan was the first thing to catch my eye.

Or how about chicken breast in rosemary and orange sauce?

There's lots of other lovely Italian recipes which are quick to cook in this book, I'm looking forward to giving some of them a try.

Do you buy books from The Works? Have you picked up any gems?

Monday 13 May 2019

A Doggy Birthday

Happy Birthday, Archie.

Archie's 9 today, I don't know where those years have gone, it only seems two minutes since he was a puppy, now he's showing signs of age. He likes nothing better than having a lovely snooze. The photo above was taken last night, relaxing on his cushion.

He usually get spoilt on his birthday, and today's no exception, but Mick booked him in at the groomers for this afternoon without realising it was his birthday, he won't like that one little bit. Never mind, he'll come home looking dapper and with a much shorter coat, which he'll like, and I'm sure he'll get lots of treats to compensate.

This little boy dog is the light of my life.

Saturday 11 May 2019

Sowing And Growing

I didn't sow any seeds last year, nor grow anything edible apart from fruit on the trees and bushes I already have in the garden. It's the first year I've been without home grown tomatoes for many years.

I'm not growing much again this year but I'm not making the silly mistake of doing without my beloved tomatoes for a second year running. Maskotka are my absolute favourite variety, a cherry tomato with a thin skin and a sweet taste, I can eat them like sweeties. They're a bush variety so don't need staking but they're not a compact plant, they tend to sprawl so they should be given plenty of room. I've got four plants growing, they're still not all that big but I'm hoping to get them potted on for the final time today, their next move will be into their final pots. My dad enjoys this variety too and four plants will give me plenty for our needs.

I discovered Mini Munch cucumbers a good few years ago now and they're my preferred variety to grow. Mick doesn't eat cucumber so the snack size fruit is ideal for me, there's no wastage. I wasn't going to bother with cucumbers this year but I had an old packet of seeds in my seed stash so I sowed a few but only one germinated. Unfortunately, it isn't really a viable plant, it isn't growing well at all so it will be composted. Oh well, nothing ventured nothing gained.

I wasn't going to bother growing potatoes either this year but whilst browsing in Wilko I came across this Jazzy variety. I'd never heard of them before but after a little research, I've discovered that they're a waxy potato with a thin skin, they give huge yields and are bursting with flavour. It's a second early variety which has been given an RHS AGM (Award of Garden Merit) for it's superb performance. I've only bought one small packet containing five tubers, I'm growing them in containers, three tubers in one container and two in another. It will be interesting to see how they perform. They're romping away at the moment.

I'm also growing these cosmos Sonata White which Mike from Flighty's Plot kindly sent to me. I usually grow Purity but they can be rather tall for a small garden so it will be interesting to see how this shorter variety compares. Thank you, Mike, I'll let you know how I get on.

I'm only growing a few things this year but I'm hoping for good results from them all.

Wednesday 8 May 2019

Thank You And Casting Off Winner

Before I announce the winner of my little giveaway I just want to thank everyone who left a lovely comment on my last post. I appreciate every single one, your comments always mean such a lot to me and even more so at the moment. I've received such a lot of support from my friends here in Blogland.

It will be six weeks tomorrow since my mum died and I'm feeling worse and worse every day. Some guides tell you there are five stages to grief, some say seven and some say twelve. Whatever, I'm working my way through those stages in text book fashion and I'm now at the Depression, Loneliness and Reflection stage. It's hard going, I can tell you. I had a really bad weekend after A Final Goodbye and my dad did too, that makes it doubly hard for me. I know what he's going through because I'm going through it too, but there's nothing whatsoever that I can do to make things easier, it's just a matter of time for us both before we get to the acceptance stage, how long this will take I've no idea and it could be different for us both.

As I've said before, my mum was suffering from dementia in the last few years of her life and in some ways I thought I was prepared for her death, but I really wasn't. Even after she died I thought I'd got a handle on things, everyone was telling me how well I was taking it, and I believed them. That's just one of the first stages of grief though, denial. This doesn't mean that you deny your loved one has died, it just means that you deny your emotions. I didn't realise that's what I was doing but I obviously was. I'm at the stage now where I just can't keep my emotions in check, it's weird to be walking round a supermarket and burst into tears but I just can't help it. I don't think I've ever cried so much in my life as I'm doing at the moment and I want to stop, I really do, but I just can't, it's terrible. Loneliness is another thing I'm feeling. I've got a close and loving family but I feel so lonely, I know it's because my lovely mum is missing from my life but I just can't shake off this feeling.

Anyway, I think the best thing for me at the moment is to try and get on with life and that's why I'm still blogging through this sad time. I don't think I've ever shared my feelings so much in the past and I realise that these recent posts are quite personal, but please don't feel you have to comment, I'm certainly not writing how I'm feeling for sympathy but it's quite cathartic in a way.

Thank you to everyone who entered my giveaway to win Casting Off by P I Paris.

I pulled a name out of the hat this morning and the winner is Debbie from Fairy Bluebell's Craft Adventure. Can you please let me have your name and address details so that I can get the book sent out to you. You can find my email address by clicking on my name at the top of the sidebar.

I wish I had more than one copy of this book to give away as there were quite a few entries, but as I said before, I can thoroughly recommend it so if you fancy having a read why not see if there's a copy in your local library?

Thanks again to everyone for entering.

Sunday 5 May 2019

A Final Goodbye

We returned to the crematorium on Friday to scatter my mum's ashes, we have a natural rock stone there with a memorial to my sister and we're in the process of having a memorial added for my mum. It's a beautiful place, tranquil and so well kept, and though it's on the other side of Leeds to where we live and therefore takes us about forty minutes by car, it's somewhere we regularly go to take flowers and remember my sister, now we'll be remembering my mum there too.

It would have been nice to have Daniel and Eleanor with us but, both of them having just been home, they were unable to make it this time. There were just four of us, me, Mick, my dad and my brother. The weather wasn't as good as we've had it just lately and though it had been raining all morning, at least it held off whilst we were there.

In my Up Days And Down Days post I touched on the fact that I'd received such wonderful comments, cards and emails from my friends here in Blogland, I've been totally overwhelmed to know that many of you have been touched by what I'm going through right now. Not only have I had such lovely comments here on my blog but also replies to comments I've left on many of your own blogs too. I just can't thank you all enough as the kindness and understanding has helped me in a way you'll never know.

My grief continues to escalate. I felt that I coped very well immediately after my mum's death and right up to her funeral, obviously it wasn't all sunshine and roses but I had a grip on things. Even the week after the funeral wasn't too bad, Daniel and Jasmine and Eleanor were still here and my mind was occupied somewhat with them, but once they'd all left and Mick was back to work, that's when it really hit me. I feel as though I have a knot permanently in my chest and it's so hard to keep my emotions in check. Allowing my mind to wander to my mum invariably results in tears, it's just so hard to keep a lid on them.

Looking back, my mum suffered from dementia during the last years of her life and my relationship with her changed dramatically. We were very good friends as well as mother and daughter and we spent a lot of time together, if we didn't see each other for a day we'd be on the phone for an hour catching up. That wasn't so once the dementia took hold, it was very hard to lose the connection we'd once had but it happened slowly and though I missed my mum, even though she was still here, I think it's only now that I'm not only mourning her death but I'm also grieving for the closeness that was missing over this time.

I've been through grief before, my sister died twenty years ago this coming July, and though all those years have now passed I still miss her every single day. I know it will be the same with my mum, I'll never get over losing her, I know the grief will be with me for the rest of my life, I know this heart-wrenching feeling will last for a long time and I know that many more tears will be shed, but I also know that I will eventually be able to look back on all the happy memories I have, memories which are too painful to recall at the moment, and I'll be able to remember the wonderful person she was and all the good times we shared, and those memories will make me smile.