Monday, 17 February 2020

Another New Phone

I've had a couple of new phones over the past few years, not because I like new or up to date technology but because I've been trying to find a phone with a decent camera so that when I'm out and about I'm able to snap things I see without having to carry a separate camera with me. Unfortunately I haven't been very successful so far.

Up till now I've gone with android phones, I've heard good and bad things about iPhones, but two things have now persuaded me to go with the Apple brand. The first is that I haven't found a decent camera on any of the android phones I've had, and the second is that I've been using an iPad for over a year now and I've got on with it really well.

You can pay hundreds of pounds for a phone but I don't want to spend all that much, so when I saw that Argos were selling second hand iPhones on Ebay with a years warranty, I decided I'd buy one from there. It arrived in perfect condition and it was easy to set up and get working. Being used to how my iPad works has made the transfer from android to iPhone very easy. I'll admit that I haven't actually used the phone to take any photos yet so I've yet to see how that function performs but I'm very happy with it otherwise.

Time to get snapping.

Friday, 14 February 2020

A Sweet Valentine's Day

We've never really celebrated Valentine's Day. There's been the occasional year when we've bought cards or made a token gesture but more often than not we just haven't bothered. I couldn't resist these cupcakes when I saw them in Greggs though, aren't they cute covered in tiny hearts?

And yes, I'm on a diet so they weren't bought for me and Mick, Eleanor's going over to York after work tonight to stay at her boyfriend's for the weekend so I gave them to her for a little treat for them both.

Happy Valentine's Day!

Tuesday, 11 February 2020

Storm Ciara

As forecast, Storm Ciara blew in during the early hours of Sunday morning. We awoke to the rain lashing against the windows and gale force winds. Unfortunately, even in this sort of weather, dogs still need to be taken outdoors to do their necessaries. Mick drew the short straw, as he always does when I don't want to venture out, so he waited until there seemed to be a bit of a break in the weather and then made a dash for it. They must have been out just a matter of minutes when the sky, once again, darkened and without warning the worst weather of the day materialised. The downpour was as heavy as any I've ever seen, and to make matters worse, the rain was coming down horizontally as it was caught by the wind. Archie had his hoodie on, but Mick refuses to walk him with the hood up so his body was kept nice and dry but just look at those ears. He felt very sorry for himself for the rest of the day.

Mick fared much worse, he was soaked to the skin, literally. Every bit of clothing was drenched and was put straight into the washing machine, even his pants and socks.

The storm continued throughout Sunday and it was still raging when we woke on Monday morning, though it settled down a little as the day wore on. There was still plenty of rain about but the wind started to abate. I thought the storm was blowing itself out but that wasn't to be, it's back with a vengeance today, one pane had already been blown out of the greenhouse on Sunday but there were another four panes strewn around the garden when we got up this morning. Luckily, it's just polycarbonate and not glass so it will just clip back in once the wind's died down.

It's still very windy, but we seem to be getting all sorts of weather today, sunshine, rain and even swirling flurries of snow. Let's hope it settles down soon as other parts of the country are having it much worse than us with flooding and wind damage. For now, I'm hunkering down indoors and letting the storm pass.

Saturday, 8 February 2020

Delft Blue

My Delft Blue hyacinths are beginning to open and they're giving off the most heady scent. It has such a big impact as soon as you walk into the room, absolutely beautiful.

I bought this pot of three planted bulbs from the supermarket and it's been a joy watching them grow and finally opening up. As you can see, the one at the back is very nearly fully open now but the other two still have a little way to go, they'll soon catch up.

Once they've finished flowering I'll pop them in the garden as I do with all the indoor bulbs I buy, or those I grow in containers. Sometimes they just rot away but they'll often flower again for a year or two and I can get more enjoyment from them.

Wednesday, 5 February 2020

Seed Stash

I had a very healthy seed stash when I had my allotment. If I saw a packet of seeds I fancied I'd pick them up and buy them, there was always somewhere that I could fit them in. When I gave up my allotment I was quite ruthless and pared down the seeds I kept to the few I knew would definitely get sown, the rest I sold on Ebay. Honestly, bidders went mad for them, even the opened packets which were already out of date sold. These days, my seed box is sadly rather empty.

Since giving up my allotment I've grown very little in my garden, not only because space is more of an issue, but other things going on in my life made me consider the time I'd got to look after the plants.

Last year I grew just one variety of cherry tomato and a couple of containers of potatoes and this year will be much the same. I would like to add a salad tomato to the mix and also a cucumber plant or two so I thought I'd take a look in my depleted seed box to see what's there, not really expecting to find what I was looking for, so it was a nice surprise to see that I have everything I need. There's some Maskotka tomatoes, my absolute favourite cherry tomato, some Bloody Butcher tomatoes, which is a larger salad tomato, and some Mini Munch cucumbers. It looks like I'm in business. Obviously, these aren't new seeds so I shall sow more than I need, I should still get some germination.

There were also one or two other things which I shall get round to sowing this year too.

All that's left to buy now then are the seed potatoes.

Sunday, 2 February 2020

The Nurses Of Steeple Street

I've enjoyed the Nightingale series by Donna Douglas, so much so that when I discovered she'd started a new series about district nurses I knew I wanted to read these books too.

The other draw is that the story is set in and around Leeds and it's been fun recognising places I know whilst reading this book.

'Welcome to the district nurses' home on Steeple Street, where everyone has a secret...

Ambitious young nurse Agnes Sheridan had a promising future ahead of her until a tragic mistake brought all her dreams crashing down and cost her the love and respect of everyone around her. Now she has come to Leeds for a fresh start as a trainee district nurse.

But Agnes finds herself facing unexpected challenges as she is assigned to Quarry Hill, one of the city's most notorious slums. Before she can redeem herself in the eyes of her family, she must first win the trust and respect of her patients and fellow nurses.

Does Agnes have what it takes to stay the distance? Or will the tragedy of her past catch up with her?'

Set in the 1920s, this book reminded me very much of Call the Midwife. The various characters each have their own story to tell, from the district nurses themselves to the patients they attend. I enjoyed this book every bit as much as the ones in the Nightingale series, Donna Douglas does a great job of setting the scene in her books and the harshness of life after World War I had ended is brought to life.

I already have the sequel to this book, District Nurse on Call, waiting on my bookshelf and I can't wait to read it.

Thursday, 30 January 2020

Daffodil Time

I'm a bit late to the party this year, daffodils have been in the shops for a while now but it was only at the weekend that I bought my first couple of bunches.

I always buy them tightly in bud as they don't take long to open up and if you buy them already flowering, they're just about done with in a day or two.

Mick's never keen on having daffodils in the house as he hates their scent. I know there are lots of people like this and I think it's one of those smells which can seem heavenly to some and absolutely awful to others, I'm just glad that I'm in the first camp, Mick has to lump it!

It's a wonderful time of year for cut flowers and bulbs. Tulips are another of my favourites which are in the shops now, I have an amaryllis which is growing in a pot, albeit quite slowly at present, and I also have some indoor hyacinths which will be flowering before long, and none of these are very expensive to buy. Such a lovely choice of blooms to brighten up our homes.

Monday, 27 January 2020

Sorting Out The Photos

I love my digital camera. When I look back, not that many years really, when you had to buy a roll of film and when it was finished, take it in to a shop to have it developed before being able to see your photos, and only getting one chance at taking the 'perfect' photo, how strange it all seems now in this digital age.

When I take photos I upload them onto my laptop and periodically, I go through them, discard the ones I don't want to keep and save the rest on to an external hard drive. I choose my favourites to have printed off to store in albums. Yes, I'm quite old fashioned in that way, I love to keep some of my photos in albums and I do get them out and look through them from time to time. I just don't think it's the same flicking through an album on the computer, though I'd never be able to print off every single photo I've kept over the years so it is handy to be able to do this too.

I didn't realise how long it was since I'd sorted out all the photos I've taken, it's actually two years, and I've taken a lot of photos in this time. It's taken me quite a while over the last few weeks but it's a job done and I just got the photos I had printed out back last week so it was time to add them to the albums. Of course, it always turns into a much longer job than I anticipate as I always get side tracked looking at the albums whilst I've got them out.

I've got all kinds of albums, ones from when I was a child where you peel back a layer of cellophane and lay the photos on a kind of sticky backing, to those I've used since my own children were babies where you slide the photos in to a pocket, I much prefer this kind.

I'd hate to be without my photos, I know we all have memories stored in our minds but it's nice to have something tangible to look at which jogs our memories to times gone by. And how I'd now hate to be without my digital camera and have to go back to those rolls of film, I love snapping away to get the photo I want.

Friday, 24 January 2020

Wildflowers & Honeycomb Socks

Finally, I've managed to get the Wildflowers & Honeycomb Socks off the needles. I'd been wanting to knit this pattern for such a long time but once I got started on them, they seemed to languish on my needles for ages.

I absolutely love this pattern and I love the yarn I used too but I'm a little disappointed with the socks. I followed the pattern when it told me to knit two and a half pattern repeats for the leg, it looked long enough when I started the heel flap, but in hindsight, I wish I'd kept the leg going a little longer as the socks are rather shorter than I'd have liked. Never mind, they're okay and I'll still wear them. I shall definitely knit this pattern again though, and would have done anyway, it's just so pretty. I'll make the legs a little longer next time though.

I used Craft House Magic yarn in the Rio colourway and it looks even more beautiful in real life than it does in the photos. It's so soft and squishy too. I really love Ellie's yarn and will back to buy more, even though I still have more in my stash already.

The Wildflowers & Honeycomb Socks pattern is by This Handmade Life and can be found on Ravelry.

Tuesday, 21 January 2020

Grandpa's Medals

Those who are on Instagram will know that my dad has been in hospital again. He was taken in at the beginning of last week and I'm pleased to say that he's now back home again. Thank you to those who sent lovely messages, looking after elderly parents is such a roller coaster ride.

While my dad was in hospital, we went round to his house and saw that the postman had left a card saying he'd tried to deliver a parcel but no one was home. We took the card to the local sorting office and collected the parcel. It turned out to be something my dad had been waiting for.

After the Second World War, many servicemen came home and never spoke again of what had gone on during those long years. The sights they will have seen must have been horrific and the only way they could deal with them was to never mention them again. Not only that, but they didn't even apply for the medals they were entitled to, apparently this was very common. My grandpa, my dad's dad, was one of these men. He served as a Sapper in the Royal Engineers during the Second World War and it's only recently when, a passing comment from my dad, led me to discover that he'd never claimed his medals and so I thought I would do something about it.

I printed off the forms I needed, collected the required information, got my dad to sign them and sent them off to the Ministry of Defence. It was all really easy. Inside the parcel I collected from the sorting office were these.

How fabulous is that? Just short of seventy five years since the end of the war, and now we have my grandpa's medals in our possession.

The War Medal 1939-45 is a campaign medal for award to subjects of the British Commonwealth who had served full-time in the Armed Forces or the Merchant Navy for at least 28 days between 3 September 1939 and 2 September 1945.

The Defence Medal is a campaign medal for award to subjects of the British Commonwealth for both non-operational military and certain types of civilian war service during the Second World War.

The 1939-45 Star is a military campaign medal for award to British and Commonwealth forces for service in the Second World War.

The Burma Star is a military campaign medal for award to British and Commonwealth forces who served in the Burma Campaign from 1941 to 1945, during the Second World War.

It's a long time since these medals were earned by my grandpa but at long last, his service has now been recognised, and the parcel containing these medals cheered my dad up no end when we took it into the hospital and he opened it.

Saturday, 18 January 2020

Nella Last's Peace

Last year I read Nella Last's War, a segment of housewife Nella Last's diaries through the years covering the Second World War. Nella wrote this diary for the Mass Observation project, a UK social research organisation, and her diaries spanned the years from 1939 to 1966. I enjoyed this first book so much that I put Nella Last's Peace on my Christmas list.

'Nella Last's War established a housewife and mother from Barrow-in-Furness as one of the most powerful and moving voices of the Second World War, and inspired the award-winning television drama Housewife, 49. In this next instalment of her unique diaries, Nella Last describes how ordinary people re-built their lives after the war was over.

While the Allies' victory was a cause for hope and celebration, much privation and anxiety remained. 'The only peace is that there are no active hostilities', Nella wrote, 'but the corrosion of the war years is eating deeper into civilisation.' In her sensitive and playful account of daily life in the austerity years, written like her war diaries for the Mass Observation project, Nella Last captures the thoughts and feelings of post-war Britain.'

I enjoyed this book just as much as I enjoyed the first one. It's like a peek back in time observed through the eyes of an ordinary housewife around the same age as I am now and it's fascinating to compare what life was like then to how it is now.

There's a further book in the series, Nella Last in the 1950s, which I'm looking forward to reading too.

Wednesday, 15 January 2020

Kitting Up

I've decided that I'd like to do some more cross stitch this year so I had a look on some online sites at different charts. I really love all the little ornaments that people make, especially those which they hang from the tree at Christmas so I definitely want to have a go at some of those. For my first project I've gone with He's A Flake by Little House Needleworks.

I love how these little ornaments are finished off but I'm not confident that I'll be able to make mine look anything like this. Sewing things up is not my forte but I'll try and muddle through.

I'd also like to start a larger project and as my niece is getting married later on this year I decided I'd have a go at a wedding sampler. To Have and To Hold is by Country Cottage Needleworks and though it doesn't look a huge project, I think it will be challenging for me, having done very little cross stitch in the past, so I won't rush it just to have it ready for the big day, it's something I can gift the happy couple at some point in the future if I haven't finished it on time. I want it to be an enjoyable process, not something which I have to work on to a deadline.

The charts arrived yesterday so I've now got to kit them up with thread and fabric and then I'll be ready to go. I'm looking forward to starting something new.

Sunday, 12 January 2020

Stay Home Moon

Friday's full moon.

I can't say I've ever been a star gazer or particularly looked at the night sky, so it must be Mick's influence that encouraged Daniel to study Physics with Astrophysics at university.

I'm going to change my ways this year though. My lovely friend, Maggie, from BlackCountry Wench blog gifted me The Almanac as part of my Christmas gift and it's so interesting. I'm going to read it month by month so that I know what I can expect to see at each particular time of the year. It covers subjects such as The Moon, Nature, The Kitchen, The Sea, and Songbirds, among other things.

'January's moon has several old names: Wolf Moon, from the time wolves howled particularly loudly to their packs through January nights; Stay Home Moon, a sensible idea in the cold and the frost and with all those wolves about; and Moon after Yule, which was given to the first full moon after the winter solstice.'

I've never heard of Stay Home Moon before but I think I like this name best of all and I shall take it at its word.

Thursday, 9 January 2020

Twelve Days Of Christmas 2019

If you've been following my blog for some time, you'll be aware that my lovely friend, Lisa, who I met through blogging, and I have swapped gifts to open on the twelve days of Christmas for the past five years. This year was our sixth swap.

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

Let's take a closer look.

Some delicious Elizabeth Shaw dark chocolate & raspberry caramels, I haven't tried these yet but they sound delicious. I think Lisa knows me well enough now to know that I love dark chocolate, she also bought me my favourite Bournville Giant Buttons. The Christmas Sisters by Sarah Morgan, I've read a series of three books by Sarah Morgan in the past and really enjoyed them so I'm looking forward to getting stuck into this. The sweetest felt robin kit to make.

Some gorgeous Christmas Cupcake scented tealights, a tea towel adorned with a cute Curly Girl design, a luscious bath fizzer which I shall enjoy using when I'm in need of a bit of pampering and some Berry Icicle hand cream.

A snowman cake pan, I can't wait to make a cake in this, a photo prop pack, I can see this being a lot of fun to use, I shall save it for next Christmas. Lisa knows that we love a good quiz so this Food Quiz is right up my street, and the cutest red mitten necklace.

Thank you, Lisa, you've chosen some lovely gifts yet again and I feel thoroughly spoilt.

This is what I sent to Lisa.

And a closer look.

I always like to include some yummy treats so there was a box of Guylian seashell chocolates and some mini shortbread stars, a little book of Delicious Cupcakes so that Lisa can make some yummy treats for herself, and a set of owl themed writing paper.

It's been a bit of a tradition to include a Christmas themed book, I think I've sent one in the parcel every year, this time it's a book by Debbie Macomber, Home for Christmas. A mini nail set, some bath crystals and a set of  Battersea tea towels with cute dogs and cats on them.

A gift set containing body wash, body lotion and bubble bath so that Lisa can pamper herself, a furry keyring, a set of TV and film quiz cards, and some cinnamon scented tea lights.

I look out for the gifts throughout the year and this swap is always such a lot of fun when Christmas comes around. Thank you for swapping again, Lisa, I received some lovely things and I had so much fun.

Monday, 6 January 2020

Advent Calendars 2019

I mentioned that I'd treated myself to a yarny advent calendar as a little treat for the run up to Christmas and I thought you might like to see what I received.

It was purchased from Hedgerow Yarns and came in good time to begin the opening on the 1st of December.

As well as the twenty five individually wrapped mini skeins of yarn, there was a calico bag which was very handy to keep everything in, as well as being useful afterwards to use as a project bag, a gingerbread scented tealight candle, a stitch marker and a lavender sachet.

This is the yarn which the calendar contained. Each mini skein weighs 10g and they will be added to my scrappy blanket in due course.

I also purchased a Twelve Days of Christmas calendar from Craft House Magic, it was the same idea as an advent calendar but each of the twelve packages were opened on the twelve days of Christmas. Ellie kindly included an extra mini skein in the Pumpkin Patch colourway.

This calendar contained these mini skeins, again, each one weighs 10g. There was also a lavender sachet included in one of the packages and three cute snowflake progress keepers.

I also took part in a yarny advent swap on Instagram and was paired with Debbie from Down Sheepy Lane. What a lovely parcel of goodies I received.

There were lots of extras. Debbie sent me a lovely Christmas themed bag to keep everything in, again, it can be used as a project bag afterwards, some Lindor choccies, yum, a little project book which will be very handy for jotting all my notes down in, a couple of cute stitch markers and three knitted decorations for the Christmas tree which are just lovely.

We swapped twenty four mini skeins of approximately 5g, that's enough yarn to add a square to a scrappy blanket or to use in one of the many patterns which have been designed with mini skeins in mind, and we also swapped a full 100g skein to open on Christmas Day.

It was really exciting opening these little parcels each day in the run up to Christmas and right through into the new year. I shall definitely buy another calendar this year.

Friday, 3 January 2020

Blowing Away The Cobwebs

The Christmas celebrations seem to have gone on for a long time this year with Daniel and Jasmine arriving home the week before the big day and Eleanor breaking up from work early too. A lot of time has been spent indoors, even though the weather has been quite mild. Daniel and Jasmine have now gone home and Eleanor is back at work, but Mick's still at home until Monday so we decided to drive over to the East Coast yesterday for a walk on the beach.

Our destination was Scarborough and though it was mild at home, it was blowing a gale there. I hadn't thought I'd need my hat, scarf or gloves but my fingers were nearly dropping off, it was so cold.

The weather didn't deter Archie though, he had a lovely time playing with the numerous dogs he came across.

He even had a bit of a paddle in the sea.

Every bit of seaweed he came across had to be sprinkled though!

We spent a good amount of time on the beach, letting Archie have a good run around, before taking a wander along the front.

Scarborough was much busier than we'd expected. The children are still on school holidays until Monday so I expect that's why. Most of the shops, eateries and amusement arcades were open.

There were so many dogs around too. I think there must be many people like us who'd decided to give their furry friends a run on the beach.

We'd intended to make more of a day of it but it was just too cold to be much fun so we bought Archie a tray of fish sticks and made our way home early, arriving home just after 3pm.

I hope no one minds but after nearly ten years of doing so, I've made the decision to stop answering comments on the blog. I usually answer nearly every comment I receive but blogging is starting to take up more time than I want it to so something has to give. I do appreciate every single comment I receive and I do read each and every one of them, but it's either answer comments, which often don't require an answer, or use the time to read and comment on other people's posts, which I love doing. I always try to visit the blogs of people who comment here and leave a comment back. I know that many people don't even come back to read the replies I leave so I feel that answering comments is just a waste of time in many instances. Of course, I'll still reply to any questions which are left. I hope my decision doesn't offend anyone.