Tuesday 31 December 2019

Looking Back At 2019

2019 has been a sad year for me with the death of my mum in March. It's felt as though bereavement has overwhelmed my year, but looking back over my blog posts I can see that it hasn't all been doom and gloom. Yes, I've had plenty of down days, but I've had lots of happy times too. Let's take a look.

We had A Blustery Weekend at the end of January but it didn't keep us indoors, we took Archie out for walks on both the Saturday and Sunday.

In February I told you about the Hobonichi Techo which I'd recently bought. I was hoping that going back to a page a day diary would encourage me to journal on a daily basis and I'm pleased to say that it has. There hasn't been one day which I've missed since starting it.

Mick had quite a bit of annual leave to use up in March and took some of it towards the end of the month. We had a bit of a staycation which I told you about in my Holiday Week post.

I wrote my Up Days And Down Days post towards the end of April. It had been a hard few weeks since my mum died and I wanted to thank everyone who had taken the time to leave lovely comments and send emails and cards, they were all very much appreciated.

In May we had a Day Out In Derbyshire. It was a weekday so we avoided the crowds and we had a wonderful time.

Whilst having a day in the Yorkshire Dales in June, we literally stumbled upon Clapham. I've been visiting the Dales all my life yet this is the first time I've come across this beautiful village. We've visited again since.

2019 saw the hottest July day on record and it just so happened to coincide with Eleanor's Graduation. We were flagging in the heat but it was a wonderful occasion and we're very proud parents.

I told you about the Warty Pigs And Rock Hyraxes, as well as other animals, which we saw on a trip to Lotherton Hall in August. We're so lucky to live close to this Edwardian country hall and estate, there's always something going on there.

We had A Bumper Apple Harvest in September. The trees we have in our garden are just dwarf patio trees so we're lucky that they produce as much fruit as they do. This year was exceptional though.

Autumn arrived in October. I always try to cling onto Summer for as long as I can, I'm not a lover of the darker evenings and colder days, but there was no denying that summer was long gone.

It's not often that I'm poorly, I don't even get many colds, but I was Under The Weather with some sort of bug in November. I had a bad chest, aches and pains and felt generally grotty. I developed a cough which lasted for weeks.

I visited a new yarn show in December. Yorkshire Yarn Fest was held in two barns on a farm and though it was rather cold, there were some great dyers there. I came away with some lovely purchases.

A very special thank you to everyone who has visited my blog this year, especially those who have left comments and those who left such supportive messages when my mum died. It's been a tough year but I think this post illustrates that I didn't just get through it, I did manage to enjoy a big part of it too. Wishing you all a happy, healthy and prosperous 2020.

Happy New Year!

Saturday 28 December 2019

Books Read In 2019

My reading dropped off a bit this year after my mum died but I've still managed to read forty books. I'm pleased to say that my reading mojo seems to be well and truly back now so long may that continue.

Back in 2015 I challenged myself to read Agatha Christie's murder mystery books in chronological order. There are 66 in total and I've averaged one book each month in between reading other books. I've now read 60 in total, which means I'll complete this challenge next year, hopefully.

This year I've mainly continued with favourites such as Jojo Moyes, Amanda Prowse, Philippa Gregory and Charity Norman but there are a few new to me authors that I've read too.

The Other Boleyn Girl - Philippa Gregory
4.50 From Paddington - Agatha Christie
The Child - Fiona Barton
Ordeal by Innocence - Agatha Christie
Three Things About Elsie - Joanna Cannon
Three and a Half Heartbeats - Amanda Prowse
Cat Among the Pigeons - Agatha Christie
Casting Off - P.I.Paris
The Pale Horse - Agatha Christie
The Mirror Crack'd - Agatha Christie
The Coordinates of Loss - Amanda Prowse
The Clocks - Agatha Christie
The Secret - Kathryn Hughes
The Girl in the Corner - Amanda Prowse
The Ship of Brides - Jojo Moyes
The Key - Kathryn Hughes
A Caribbean Mystery - Agatha Christie
The House of Unexpected Sisters - Alexander McCall Smith
The Boleyn Inheritance - Philippa Gregory
At Bertram's Hotel - Agatha Christie
Nine Perfect Strangers - Liane Moriarty
This is Going to Hurt - Adam Kay
Third Girl - Agatha Christie
Nella Last's War - Nella Last
Love, Nina - Nina Stibbe
The Tattooist of Auschwitz - Heather Morris
The Taming of the Queen - Philippa Gregory
The Things I Know - Amanda Prowse
Still Me - Jojo Moyes
Endless Night - Agatha Christie
By the Pricking of My Thumbs - Agatha Christie
Halloween Party - Agatha Christie
The Queen's Fool - Philippa Gregory
The Horse Dancer - Jojo Moyes
Her Last Promise - Kathryn Hughes
The Virgin's Lover - Philippa Gregory
Freeing Grace - Charity Norman
The Other Queen - Philippa Gregory
Queen Victoria - Lucy Worsley
A Million Dreams - Dani Atkins

It's too hard to choose a favourite from this year's list but noteable reads were The Other Boleyn Girl and The Queen's Fool, both by Philippa Gregory, The Ship of Brides by Jojo Moyes, Nella Last's War by Nella Last and The Tattooist of Auschwitz by Heather Morris.

My 'waiting to be read' pile has been reduced considerably this year but there's still a few books that I haven't got round to yet and I was also bought some books for Christmas, so my reading intentions this year are to read all the books which are still waiting to be read before buying more, and to finish off my Agatha Christie challenge. I'll then have to think up a new challenge.

Monday 23 December 2019

Merry Christmas 2019

Daniel and Jasmine spent last Christmas with her family in Colorado so it was a quiet Christmas for us. They're with us again this year, which I'm really pleased about, but it's the first Christmas without my lovely mum so it's going to be bitter sweet.

It really does help having family around when you're feeling sad. I know I'm not the only one who has lost a loved one this year so I'm sending my thoughts out to those in the same position as me, as well as all my lovely friends who have been so kind and thoughtful this year, leaving such kind comments and helping me through this difficult time.

Wishing you all a happy and peaceful Christmas.

Friday 20 December 2019

Driving Home For Christmas

The family are all arriving tonight ready for the Christmas holidays.

Everyone's got time off work over the holiday period, Eleanor finished on Tuesday and has been at her boyfriend's house from Wednesday, they're coming home later today, and Mick was working in Basingstoke yesterday and today so he'll pick Daniel and Jasmine up on his way home as they've finished today. Daniel's got to work on the 27th but he can work from here, and Eleanor has to work on the 27th too but other than that, everyone's off work until the 2nd of January. It will be a lovely long break and the family will be all together for much of it.

I'm looking forward to seeing them all, it's nearly four months since we've seen Daniel and Jasmine. I was hoping to be all ready for Christmas but I've still got some last minute jobs to do. I'll be able to finish them off whilst they're all doing their own thing.

Not long now, five sleeps to go.

Tuesday 17 December 2019

What I'm Watching - December 2019

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

I read Elizabeth is Missing by Emma Healey back in 2016 and it has now been made into a TV drama which I recorded and watched last week. Glenda Jackson took the leading role of Maud and what a fantastic performance. Maud's friend, Elizabeth, goes missing and Maud's determined to find out what happened to her, but in the process, an old mystery comes to light. Running alongside this storyline is a brutally honest depiction of what it's like to live with dementia, from the person suffering with this horrible illness's point of view and also their family's. Anyone who has taken this journey with a loved one will recognise the emotional anguish which Maud goes through, and also the torment which her family suffers. If you didn't see this TV film I would definitely recommend it if you can find it on catch up.

The Strictly Come Dancing Final. The fifteen contestants were finally whittled down to just one overall winner. I really enjoy seeing the improvement week on week of non dancers in this show so I was quite disappointed to find that two of the three finalists had actually danced in the West End previously. To me, that's not what the show is all about. Granted, they were good dancers, but they weren't non dancers when they started like most of the other contestants were. I was thrilled to see Kelvin and Oti win and they seemed to be a very popular choice.

If there's one Christmas film I have to watch each year it's National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation. I must have seen this film dozens of times now and yet it never gets old, I still laugh as much as I did the first time I saw it. I've already watched it this Christmas and I might even watch it again yet.

Most of the podcasts I watch are doing Vlogmas this year, videoing snippets of their daily lives. Each video only lasts around ten minutes but gives you a flavour of what they've been up to. I love watching these little videos, it really puts me in the Christmas spirit watching people decorate their trees, bake some yummy festive goodies, visit jolly events, and generally get in the Christmas spirit. It can be a challenge keeping up with the videos as more people than ever seem to have joined in this year, but it gives me something cheery to watch.

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

Saturday 14 December 2019

Fun And Games

Whenever the family come together we always get the board games out. I think our favourite is Trivial Pursuit, it's certainly the one we play the most. I've been playing this game since the 80's, first the original edition and then updated versions which were brought out over the years. You used to be able to buy additional questions for the original game but I believe they stopped doing that, and does anyone remember the games where a video was supplied with the questions? We had a few of those in different genres.

We bought a new game a few years ago as the questions in the game we were using were out of date but unfortunately, the same thing is happening again. It would be good if new questions were released on a regular basis instead of having to buy a completely new game.

We noticed that a new Trivial Pursuit game had been launched, the Ruby edition to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the Trivial Pursuit brand. This comes with all the usual trivia questions, but also has an additional Ruby deck featuring key questions from the past forty years. We succumbed, it will be fun having some brand new questions to answer when the family are all together over Christmas.

Another favourite is Who Dares Wins. We enjoy this quiz show when it's on TV so we bought the game a couple of years ago.

Pointless is another game which usually comes out when we're all together too. As you can see, we do enjoy a quiz in this house.

We've got the usual Monopoly, Cluedo and Scrabble amongst others which we also play, but it's the quiz games which get the most use.

Do you enjoy playing games as a family? Which are your favourites?

Wednesday 11 December 2019

In The Making - December 2019

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

I was hoping that I might have another project off the needles before I did this month's roundup but that wasn't to be. Being ill during November held back my Christmas preparations and I feel as though I've been playing catch up ever since so crafting has had to take a bit of a back seat.

There's only one thing I've been picking up when I've had time and that's the Wildflowers & Honeycomb Socks which I started some time ago. I've now turned the heel on the second sock and I'm about half way through the gusset decreases. It will be plain sailing then as I knit down the foot.

Not much to show this month but I'm sure my crafting will pick up again in the new year.

Sunday 8 December 2019

Christmas Mugs

I have a bit of a thing for mugs, which is quite funny considering it's only recently that I really started drinking hot drinks. I used to drink the odd hot chocolate, but I now enjoy at least one cup of tea each day. Even when I didn't drink hot drinks I bought plenty of mugs. Surprisingly though, I've never bought a Christmas mug.

Until this year! I've never thought about buying Christmas mugs in the past but I saw this lovely one in the local garden centre and couldn't resist.

Then, yesterday, I was in Sainsbury's and saw these two had been reduced so I grabbed them while they were on offer.

I can see the beginnings of a new collection.

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.