Thursday 31 December 2020

Looking Back At 2020

At the end of 2019 I commented that the year had been a sad one for me with the death of my mum, and here I am again at the end of this year saying the same thing following the death of my dad. I never would have predicted that I'd have such a devastating couple of years, and on top of this, we've had coronavirus to deal with this year too. It's been a very mixed twelve months with sad time and happy times too, lets take a look back over the last twelve months.

We were Blowing Away The Cobwebs back in January with a new year trip to Scarborough. Little did we know then but this, and another day in March, would be the only trips we took to the coast this year because of the coronavirus restrictions and lockdown.

Storm Ciara blew in during February causing damage and destruction. We had quite a few days of stormy weather but got off lightly compared to many people. There was flooding, loss of homes and sadly, loss of life too.

Coronavirus came to our attention in March and we all started to practice Social Distancing. Who'd have thought that we'd still be in this pickle at the end of the year.

We were only allowed to walk in the neighbourhood during lockdown so I took you with us on Another Local Walk For Archie in April. We were lucky that we had some lovely weather at this time and we went on many local walks.

In May we were Enjoying The Rhododendrons at Temple Newsam. We like to visit around this time each year to see all the beautiful blooms, though it was a different experience this year with social distancing still in place yet very few people following the guidelines.

I was finally At The End of my five and a half year long challenge in June to read all of Agatha Christie's sixty six murder mystery books in chronological order. It was a fun challenge and I was sad to come to the end of it.

I wrote about A New Normal in July after the death of my dad the previous month. I recognised that after spending so much time caring for and looking after my dad, my life was about to change now that he was no longer here.

We had an impromptu day out in Burnsall in August to celebrate Mick's birthday. We haven't had many days out during this year because of coronavirus restrictions so this was a welcome visit to the place I love best, the Yorkshire Dales.

Crafting has been a big factor in my life this year especially with having to spend so much time at home. I decided to give my attention to a number of different projects with a view to getting some of them finished, and making some good progress on others, and I gave An Update On My Crafting Rotation in September.

At last, we had something to celebrate in October when Jacob asked Eleanor to marry him and She Said Yes. They haven't set a date yet but they don't want to wait too long.

We had some very murky days in November so it was nice to come Out Of The Fog and enjoy a walk at Roundhay Park. As you can see, Archie had a lovely time too rolling about in the fallen leaves.

We discovered A New Walk in December. Being close to water, it's a walk which will attract Mick time and time again, we've returned once already.

A huge thank you to everyone who has visited my blog this year and those who have left such wonderful and supportive comments, especially when my dad died back in June. It's been a tough year in more ways than one but life has gone on, albeit in a very different way to that which we're used to. Wishing you all a happy, healthy and prosperous 2021.

Monday 28 December 2020

Books Read In 2020

I'm pleased with the number of books I've managed to read this year, especially as my reading dropped off a bit after my dad died in June. I found myself unable to concentrate on reading, as well as most other things, during this time but I did get back into it again eventually. During December though I've only read two books as I just haven't seemed to have time for anything. In total I've read seventy five books this year.

In 2015 I challenged myself to read Agatha Christie's murder mystery books in chronological order. There are 66 in total and I averaged one book a month for five and a half years, having completed this challenge just before my dad died. I never got the chance to tell him I'd finished reading them all, he was always interested in which book I was reading having read some of them himself.

I've found some new to me authors this year so as well as reading books by authors I already enjoy, I've read quite a few books from some different authors, some of which I'll continue to read. Some new favourites are Dani Atkins, Elaine Everest, Celeste Ng and Mary Gibson. Some old favourites are Charity Norman, Amanda Prowse, Jojo Moyes and Donna Douglas.

Passenger to Frankfurt - Agatha Christie

The Colours of All the Cattle - Alexander McCall Smith

Nella Last's Peace - Nella Last

Nemesis - Agatha Christie

Elephants Can Remember - Agatha Christie

Postern of Fate - Agatha Christie

The Nurses of Steeple Street - Donna Douglas

District Nurse on Call - Donna Douglas

The Light in the Hallway - Amanda Prowse

A Nightingale Christmas Promise - Donna Douglas

The Librarian of Auschwitz - Antonio Iturbe

Nightingale Wedding Bells - Donna Douglas

To the Land of Long Lost Friends - Alexander McCall Smith

The Girl in the Red Coat - Kate Hamer

The View From the Corner Shop - Kathleen Hey

The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry - Rachel Joyce

The Story of Us - Dani Atkins

A Good Heart is Hard to Find - Trisha Ashley

While I Was Sleeping - Dani Atkins

Our Song - Dani Atkins

This Love - Dani Atkins

The Christmas Sisters - Sarah Morgan

The Choice - Edith Eger

Fractured - Dani Atkins

The Woolworths Girls - Elaine Everest

If Nobody Speaks of Remarkable Things - Jon McGregor

The Other Half of Augusta Hope - Joanna Glen

The Perfect Couple - Jackie Kabler

In Five Years - Rebecca Serle

Half a World Away - Mike Gayle

Curtain - Agatha Christie

A Mother's Journey - Donna Douglas

Dear Edward - Ann Napolitano

The Wish List - Ruby Hummingbird

Found - Erin Kinsley

Sleeping Murder - Agatha Christie

One Split Second - Caroline Bond

Three Hours - Rosamund Lupton

When All is Said - Anne Griffin

Love After Love - Ingrid Persaud

Little Fires Everywhere - Celeste Ng

The Man Who Didn't Call - Rosie Walsh

The Keeper of Lost Things - Ruth Hogan

The Secrets of Strangers - Charity Norman

Poirot Investigates - Agatha Christie

The Garden of Lost Memories - Ruby Hummingbird

The Beekeeper of Aleppo - Christy Lefteri

Sister of Mine - Laurie Petrou

The Day She Came Back - Amanda Prowse

Where There's a Will - Beth Corby

The Adventure of the Christmas Pudding - Agatha Christie

I Confess - Alex Barclay

The Chain - Adrian McKinty

The Day the Nazis Came - Stephen R Matthews

The Alibi Girl - CJ Skuse

Everything I Never Told You - Celeste Ng

All We Left Behind - Danielle R Graham

Hughie Mittman's Fear of Lawnmowers - Conor Bowman

The Holiday - TM Logan

Christmas at Woolworths - Elaine Everest

Wartime at Woolworths - Elaine Everest

The Two Lives of Lydia Bird - Josie Silver

A Gift From Woolworths - Elaine Everest

After the End - Clare Mackintosh

Blood Orange - Harriet Tyce

Foreign Fruit - Jojo Moyes

Custard Tarts and Broken Hearts - Mary Gibson

Jam and Roses - Mary Gibson

Gunner Girls and Fighter Boys - Mary Gibson

Bourbon Creams and Tattered Dreams - Mary Gibson

Hattie's Home - Mary Gibson

A Sister's Struggle - Mary Gibson

The Peacock Emporium - Jojo Moyes

One Moment - Linda Green

The Secret Santa - Trish Harnetiaux

The stand out book for me this year was The Other Half of Augusta Hope by Joanna Glen. I don't know what it was about this book that did it for me, it's just a touching story which is beautifully written and I came across it by chance during the first lockdown when I'd run out of books to read so I was looking for something on my Kindle. In fact, I stumbled across many books this way this year. Other memorable books were The Librarian of Auschwitz by Antonio Iturbe, The Beekeeper of Aleppo by Christy Lefteri and Custard Tarts and Broken Hearts by Mary Gibson.

Now that my Agatha Christie challenge has come to an end I'd like to think of a new reading challenge, what that will be I don't know, however, I'm going to cut back on my reading in 2021. I've found that I immerse myself in whatever I'm reading to the detriment of my other hobbies. I'd like to spend more time on them this coming year, but we'll see how it goes.

Wednesday 23 December 2020

Merry Christmas 2020

It's going to be another strange Christmas. Last year was the first Christmas without my mum and this Christmas is the first without my dad. It's been a strange year all round actually with many of us being separated from our families because of coronavirus. I had taken comfort in the fact that we were going to spend a few days with Daniel and Jasmine who we haven't seen since last Christmas but as they live in Essex and therefore have entered Tier 4 restrictions, we're now unable to see them. It's going to be very quiet around here.

Wishing you all a happy and peaceful Christmas.

Sunday 20 December 2020

Aava Socks

Once again, I've taken part in the Strictly Sockalong which Ali from the Little Drops of Wonderful podcast hosts each year. I used the Cha Cha Chevron sock pattern last year and the year before so this year I decided to go with something different. I had a look on Ravelry and came up with a pattern by Heidi Alander, Aava Socks.

It's a pattern with a design running down the outside of each leg, so there's a definite right and left sock. It looks pretty and the lace pattern isn't too difficult so I didn't have to concentrate too hard whilst watching Strictly.

I used Noodle Soup yarn in the Disphotic Zone colourway. It's on a stellina base and is very sparkly but the photos don't really show just how sparkly they are. I thought this yarn was perfect for Strictly socks with all the glitz and glamour.

The socks were started during the Strictly Specials which were aired prior to the launch show and I've knit them whilst watching the main Strictly shows, the results shows and the sister show, It Takes Two, which is shown on weekdays. I got them finished just ahead of the final last night.

They're a perfect fit and I'm very happy with the end result.

Thursday 17 December 2020

Radio Times

First of all I'd like to thank everyone who left a comment on my last post about my dad, I know I'm not alone in my grieving, many of us have lost one or both parents and it's a hard thing to go through. So much so that many of you are still missing your parents many years on, and I know I'll be the same. It's all still very raw for me but I know in time I shall be able to look back and remember the good times we shared. Your understanding when I've written these posts about my mum and dad over the last twenty months have meant such a lot to me, it's been very comforting reading through your comments so thank you once again.

Let's talk about Christmas traditions, or one Christmas tradition in particular that we had as a family when I was a child. My parents would always buy the Radio Times and TV Times at Christmas. In those days you had to buy two magazines as the BBC channels were listed in the Radio Times and the ITV channels were listed in the TV Times. Nowadays, each publication lists the other channel listings. 

I remember all three of us kids sitting down and circling all the programmes we wanted to watch over the Christmas period. I know a lot of people had the same tradition and they still follow this with their own families now. It's something we no longer do, we have Sky so we just go through the programmes on the listing page and set it to record the programmes we choose. I don't think it's as fun doing it the way we do though so I thought I might buy a copy of the Radio Times and go back to our old ways but I got a bit of a shock when I picked it up, the price was £5. I decided I wouldn't bother just for old time's sake, I'll stick with my Sky listings, especially as there aren't that many programmes on my 'must watch' list these days.

Monday 14 December 2020

Six Months Without My Dad

It's six months today since my dad died and I've found it very hard to come to terms with. I think his death coming just seventeen months after we lost my mum has made it even harder to deal with.

Looking back, I think the death of my mum hit me in a different way, basically because my dad was still here and needed my help and support with day to day things. It made me put my own grief to one side in order to support him. It's very hard to explain but I also think I'd come to terms with losing her once already to dementia, so although I was still devastated, I'd dealt with my grief already to some extent.

My dad was taken into hospital at the peak of the coronavirus pandemic during lockdown and we weren't allowed to visit him in hospital for the first week of his stay. He was poorly when he was taken in though he was still aware and alert, but during that first week I received a phone call from him which was heartbreaking. He was speaking very child-like, we'd been told that he was suffering from delirium, and he told me he didn't think he'd be coming out again and that he didn't believe he'd ever see me again. The hardest thing after receiving a call like this was the fact that I was unable to go in and see him. I still think about this call all the time. It was like he was pleading with me to help him.

After he'd been in hospital a week we received a phone call from the consultant asking us to meet him. We were told that my dad didn't seem to be getting any better but they were still treating him and they were still hoping to see an improvement. I was allowed to go in and see him for ten minutes which I was so grateful for. I could see he was in a lot of pain and it was difficult for him to talk but he was able to make himself understood. I knew it didn't look good so I made sure that I told him I loved him and we said our goodbyes as I didn't know if I'd get to see him again.

Four days later we were asked to go in and see the consultant again. This time they basically told us that the treatment wasn't working and that it was now just a matter of time. We were allowed to visit whenever we wanted from here on in but only one person by his bedside at once, though this was relaxed and two of us were allowed to visit together in his final couple of days. In just those four days between us meeting with the consultant he'd deteriorated so much that he could no longer speak, although he was trying to. One of the things that haunts me now is that I know he wanted to say something but I don't know what it was. He was also in so much pain. They kept dosing him up with painkillers but they didn't seem to touch him. I was willing him to die just to get out of the pain. 

It was another five days before my dad eventually passed away and it was a relief at the end, he'd suffered so much and it was a terrible death.

We couldn't have the funeral we wanted, we were allowed just ten people at the crematorium and no gathering afterwards. We all had to sit separately in the crematorium, even those from the same household were made to sit apart. I found this so hard, I couldn't even comfort Eleanor who cried through the whole service. There are still restrictions now on the number of people who are allowed at funerals. We'll have some sort of gathering in the future when we're allowed, to celebrate my dad's life. The one thing he'd want is for us to raise a glass to him and he'd be put out if that didn't happen! Hopefully we'll be able to organise something in 2021.

We've spent a lot of time dealing with my dad's affairs since his death and this continues now. Mick's the executor and he's spent an awful lot of time sorting things out. My dad left a will, a couple of bank accounts and his flat and it's all quite straightforward and yet we've had so much paperwork to deal with, goodness knows what it's like for the relatives of those with more complicated estates.

My dad's death has been a very different experience than that of my mum's, mainly because of how he died, I can't think of anything other than the pain he suffered. His death has also brought the loss of my mum to the fore again and I think of them both so very often, especially so at the moment. I'm not sure what it is but Christmas does seem to bring our loved ones who are no longer with us to the forefront of our minds.

Time is a funny thing, it doesn't seem nearly twenty months since my mum died yet it seems much longer than six months since my dad died. Our lives have changed dramatically in this time, we used to be visiting umpteen times a day and doing such a lot for him that it took up a great deal of time and in a way there's now an emptiness there.

We've had a hard couple of years, I know the thing most people will remember 2020 for is coronavirus, for me it will be the loss of my dad, and 2019 the loss of my mum, but we have to remember that it hasn't all been bad. We've had celebrations too in 2020 with Eleanor and Jacob's engagement and this reminds us that for all the sadness and despair, life does go on, time stretches out ahead of us and the future is to be lived.

Saturday 12 December 2020


You may remember the Confetti Socks which I finished back in August. Eleanor bought me the yarn that I used from Ducky Darlings and it was a dream to knit with. I follow Ducky Darlings on Instagram, they've been doing a weekly giveaway during lockdown and I was so lucky to win the last one.

I received a beautiful skein of yarn in the Cascade colourway, a mixture of greens, yellows and blues.

It's on a superwash merino velvet cotton base, 85/15. I presume this is 85% superwash merino and 15% cotton, and it's beautifully soft. There's 400m to 100g so it's quite a plump yarn. I think it would make a beautiful hat, or perhaps a pair of mitts.

In the past I've purchased minis from Ducky Darlings which have been added to my scrappy blanket and I've been very happy with all the yarn I've had from them. Why not have a look at their online shop, though it could be quite tempting with all the loveliness on offer.

Wednesday 9 December 2020

Back To The Canal

After finding A New Walk last week, we decided to head back to the canal yesterday. It was another dull day but I was aware that it was forecast rain in the afternoon so we made sure we got out for a walk late morning.

This time, instead of walking through the woods, we parked near to the canal and set off on the other side of the water to which we walked last time, though it was very muddy.

The River Aire runs to the left of the canal so we went to take a look. The water was fast flowing. We thought we might take a walk along one of the tracks here but the mud made this impossible.

We decided to turn back and walk down the other side of the canal which didn't look quite so muddy. We passed this boat, it's The Floating Gift Shop.

It wasn't open for business but had a sign telling passers-by what they sell and advertising their website.

On the other side of the canal we came across a boat selling refreshments. We read the menu boards and we were very tempted but we resisted. We shall definitely treat ourselves when we visit again. They sell all manner of things from a bacon butty to hot doughnuts to Belgian hot chocolate. Somewhere to visit when I feel in need of a little treat.

We walked further on and came to the marina.

I think the ducks were hoping for a snack but we didn't have anything with us to give them.

We got to the lock and then turned back as it became too muddy for us to pass.

I think this will definitely become a regular walk for us, though perhaps more so during the summer months when the ground will be a little dryer and cleaner.

Sunday 6 December 2020

One Moment

I've only read one book by Linda Green in the past and to be honest, I wasn't impressed. I don't know why I decided to read another book by this author but I'm so pleased I did because I loved it. I reserved One Moment at my local library before the first lockdown and my name has only just come to the top of the list. It was worth the wait though.

"Ten-year-old Finn, a quirky, sensitive boy, is having a tough time at school and at home.

Outspoken Kaz, who has a sharp sense of humour and a heart of gold, is working at the cafe when Finn and his mum come in.

They don't know it yet, but the second time they meet will be a moment that changes both of their lives forever..."

The chapters of the story follow both Finn and Kaz and are told before and after the life-changing event, which isn't revealed until the end. It jumps between time and characters but is still very easy to follow. It was such an easy to read book and it kept me wanting to pick it back up to read more. I don't want to say any more about this book in case you choose to read it yourself, I don't want to spoil it for you in any way, it's a book I would thoroughly recommend. 

Thursday 3 December 2020

A New Walk

Having stayed local for our dog walks for much of this year owing to lockdown and coronavirus restrictions, we feel as though we've exhausted our local walks so yesterday, we got in the car and drove ten minutes to a nearby village where there are some woods where we haven't taken Archie before.

It was a bit of a drab day but the forecast for the rest of this week is considerably worse as it's supposed to rain all day today and tomorrow so we decided to get out while we could.

There's a lane which runs to the right side of the railway track and then to the right of this lane are the woods.

Archie is always nervous when we walk anywhere new, it's as though he's spooked, he keeps stopping and looking around him. I don't know what he's looking for but there were very few people about.

I expected the ground to be much muddier than it was. There were patches of mud but it was quite dry in the main.

Archie enjoyed himself, there were lots of new scents for him to sniff out. I'm always conscious that we do many of the same walks so I don't want him to become bored, though he does seem to like the familiar more than the unknown.

I do think that these woods will be more attractive if we return during the summer months, it looks so stark at the moment but I can imagine what it will be like in spring when the trees are covered in zingy green leaves.

As we passed through the other side of the woods we came to a sign for the Trans Pennine Trail. This is a long-distance path running from coast to coast across Northern England entirely on surfaced paths and using only gentle gradients.

The path here runs alongside the Aire and Calder Navigation, which is the canalised section of the Rivers Aire and Calder in West Yorkshire. The navigation was built to connect Leeds to the Humber and the North Sea.

Archie loves water and did wander off to the side of the canal but I think the drop was too far for him to really consider jumping. We always used to put him back on his lead when we were near water but he's got better as he's got older and tends to do as he's told these days and stay out of the water.

We turned and had a wander the other way.

Various boats were moored here and one of the boats was selling refreshments.

This is somewhere we'll definitely return to. We enjoyed our short walk but we'd definitely like to venture a little further down the canal the next time we visit.

Monday 30 November 2020

My Advent Calendars

Last year was the first time that I'd had a yarny advent calendar. I enjoyed opening a little package containing a small skein of yarn each day in the run up to Christmas so I decided I'd treat myself again this year.

I've gone for a calendar from Beaches and Birdsong this time. I've heard a lot about the beautiful yarn from this dyer but I haven't tried it for myself yet so I'm really looking forward to opening a selection of different colourways. Each parcel contains 10g of yarn. Each square in my scrappy blanket takes about 4g of yarn so I'm left with about 6g of yarn for other scrappy projects or swaps.

I've also treated myself to the 12 Days of Christmas Charity Selection Box which Helen from Giddy Yarns has organised. There's a package to be opened on each of the twelve days of Christmas which contains a 20g mini skein from twelve different UK indie dyers.

In addition to the calendars I've bought, there's also the advent swap I'm doing with Maggie from Black Country Wench blog. We're swapping 6g mini skeins made up from our leftovers, it's enough to add to our scrappy blankets. This came beautifully packaged and I opened it yesterday to take a photo and ready to start opening tomorrow and I'm overwhelmed with what's inside the box. The packages look exciting enough but just look at that little Santa sack. We're also swapping a 100g skein to be opened on Christmas Day so I expect that's it, and there's a lovely scent wafting out of the box too, I'm not too sure what that is yet. It's all so exciting.

I can't wait to start opening these little packages tomorrow and the opening will continue right through until the 5th of January.

Have you got an advent calendar this year?

Friday 27 November 2020

A Crisp Autumn Day

We woke to a frost on Monday. The weather has got much cooler over the last week or so, though I'm not complaining when I see that my Canadian friends and some of my American friends too have snow now. It may be cold but a bright sunny crisp autumn day is preferable to a dull soggy one so as soon as I saw the sun shining, and with my back feeling a little better than it had last week, we decided on a short walk at Lotherton.

There's a marked difference now to how everything looked the last time I was there. Many trees are devoid of their leaves and there's no doubt in my mind that winter has just about arrived.

The woods look rather bright with few leaves to block out the light. It's a totally different outlook to that we see during the summer months.

Although Wildlife World is closed at present because of lockdown, the woods take us round the back of the pens and we can catch glimpses of various birds. The emus were quite inquisitive on Monday.

Our walk takes us through parts of the wood which looks stunning with all the vibrant leaf litter beneath the unclothed trees.

Archie managed to find the soggiest leaves in the woods, though it isn't as muddy at the moment as it has been.

There aren't many berries on the holly bushes we saw. Perhaps the birds have had their fill already.

Where there's holly there must be ivy, and here it is creeping up this tree.

Although my back was hurting as I walked, it wasn't as bad as it was last week and it's continued to improve throughout the week so I'm hoping it's on the mend again.