Thursday 30 April 2020

An Abandoned Abode

Mick decided to clean the shed out on Saturday. We don't have a garage so all our outdoor, DIY and gardening things are stored in our shed. As you can imagine, it does get rather cluttered and needs keeping on top of in order to keep it organised. Unfortunately, it's some time since it was last cleared out so it was a bigger job than it should have been really. Still, it's lovely and tidy now and there's plenty of room to move around in there.

I don't know how long this had been there but look what we found, attached inside the shed on the ceiling.

It's a wasps nest. Look how intricate it is. It was obviously abandoned, thank goodness, almost as soon as building had begun as it's not very big, about an inch square.

Taken from the internet "Wasps nests are made of a substance similar to paper that the insects produce by chewing wood into a pulp and then sticking it together with saliva to form a honeycomb-type structure". Aren't they clever.

I find nature fascinating but I'm glad that the wasps didn't stay around to continue building their nest. We want none of that business here thank you.

Monday 27 April 2020

Pressing Flowers

Thank you for all your lovely comments on my last post. It does mean such a lot to me to have so much support here in Blogland. I can't tell you what a relief it was to receive the letter, it's put my mind at rest now.

We went into the woods again on Saturday, the same woods where we went for Another Local Walk For Archie. The bluebells are flowering now and it looks so pretty.

I was hoping to collect some flowers with a view to pressing them but there wasn't all that much about.

The wood anemone and the calendine are in very short supply now, they're both coming to the end of their flowering period but I managed to find a few hidden here and there.

Wild garlic is blooming all over the place now and the garlicky scent is hard to miss, it's so pungent.

The hawthorn is just starting to flower.

Dandelion seed heads always look so pretty but I don't think I'd manage to get them home in one piece to press.

I managed to collect a few things to bring home with me.

It's just a case of waiting for a few weeks now to see how they press.

I might have a go at pressing flowers from the garden next time.

Friday 24 April 2020

The Big C

I know the 'C' on everyone's mind at the moment is coronavirus, but another 'C', the original Big C, has been a worry for me for the last couple of months.

As most of you know, I suffered from bowel cancer twenty years ago. I had to undergo surgery and six months of chemotherapy after that, and luckily, apart from one or two minor niggles that I've been left with, I haven't had many problems since. I won't go into detail here as bowel habits aren't a very nice subject to discuss, but they're something we should all be aware of as any change can signify that all isn't well.

Back in February, I went to see my GP as I had a few concerns and she sent me to see a colorectal consultant on an urgent two week referral. From there I was given another urgent appointment, this time for a colonography, which is a type of CT scan. The preparation for the scan started the day before, I had to follow a special diet and swallow a contrast agent so that my bowel would show up. They would usually perform a colonoscopy but I'm unable to tolerate this more invasive procedure due to adhesions from my surgery. I had this scan in March and just as I was expecting the results, the country went into lockdown.

I've spent a lot of time on the telephone over the last few weeks speaking to various people in a number of departments trying to chase up the results but as out-patient departments are now closed and so many admin and clinical staff are off work due to the coronavirus, or redeployed elsewhere, no-one could help. I had resigned myself to the fact that I would just have to wait for the results until all this is over. I tried to tell myself that no news is good news, but having heard of cancer patients having their treatment halted half way through, and other people who have been diagnosed with cancer just recently not even able to start on their treatment, there was still a gnawing worry in the back of my mind.

Even after twenty years, the anxiety of having had cancer never goes away. Having to have another scan and waiting for results took me straight back to 2001 after my treatment, when I sat in clinics and out-patient departments, waiting to be told if the cancer had gone, was still there, or worse still, had spread. For many years afterwards I had regular check-ups and the same old feelings would return. I only have to catch a whiff of the surgical tape which was used to hold cotton wool on my arm where a needle had been inserted, to be taken back to the ward where I had my chemo, or a letter dropping through the letterbox on hospital headed notepaper to get those butterflies in my stomach, so to speak. There's so many little things which evoke traumatic memories from this time.

After finally admitting defeat, there was no-one at the hospital who could give me my results, a letter eventually dropped on the doormat, nearly six weeks since I had the colonography, telling me that the scan has 'not shown any serious or concerning large bowel pathology'. I can't tell you what a weight off my mind this is. They did say that there was a 'relevant incidental finding outside the colon', but I won't go into that here. Suffice to say, it's nothing connected to the reason I was sent for tests in the first place and nothing life-threatening, but will be followed up as an out-patient in a different department once clinics are open again.

It's been a turbulent couple of months, what with my dad being in hospital at the time of my hospital appointments and then the lockdown coming in to force. At least this is one less thing to stress about now, and my dad seems to be managing at home at the moment, though I hope by saying this I'm not tempting fate. There's always something to worry about, or at least there is for me, I'm a born worrier.

Tuesday 21 April 2020

Additions To The Uniform

The additions to Eleanor's uniform. Face mask, safety specs and gloves.

Better to be safe than sorry.

Eleanor works in a laboratory in a private hospital. All private treatment in the hospital is now on hold and instead, they're taking NHS neurology and orthopaedic patients, though some of them have suspected coronavirus. They're not nursing these patients on the wards, instead, once these patients are identified, they're being transferred back to a nearby NHS hospital to be treated on the coronavirus wards, but obviously, staff have to wear protective equipment in case it turns out that these patients do have the virus.

There's plenty of work in the labs for Eleanor to be kept busy at the moment but all staff have been told that they'll be redeployed onto the wards to be trained and work as healthcare assistants if there isn't enough work in their own departments. It's all hands on deck. Eleanor says she's quite happy to do that, she'd rather be busy than sat twiddling her thumbs.

Saturday 18 April 2020

Projects On The Go

I thought I'd do a bit of a roundup post of the projects I've got on the go at the moment. I've been glad of all my hobbies during the lockdown, and having a choice of projects to work on means I'll never get bored.

It was time I cast on some new socks, the last pair came off the needles back in January and I always like to have a pair on the go, even if I'm not actively working on them. I like to know they're there if the urge takes me to do a bit of sock knitting. I decided I'd like to knit another pair of Wildflowers & Honeycomb Socks by This Handmade Life. I've used this pattern before and it's such a pretty design. I'm using some yarn which Eleanor bought for me for Christmas 2018. It's by Ducky Darlings in the Confetti colourway and it's knitting up beautifully.

Why have just one pair of socks on the needles when you can have two? On the same day that I cast on the Wildflowers & Honeycomb Socks, I also cast on the Sugar Frost Socks by Marianne Heikkinen. This is also a pattern I've knit before but I thought it would go well with the stripes in this West Yorkshire Spinners yarn in the Mojito colourway. I'd only knit the cuff when I realised that the stripes never play nice in self striping yarn when it comes to knitting the heel so I decided to pull out what I'd already knit, order some coordinating yarn, and start again. The cuffs, heels and toes will now be knit in the yarn I've just bought, which is also West Yorkshire Spinners, in the chocolate lime colourway.

I've been putting a few more stitches in on my cross stitch. I love to see the design grow, albeit slowly as I don't spend too long a stretch on it at any one time. This wedding sampler is To Have and To Hold by Country Cottage Needleworks and I'm hoping that I'll have it finished in time to give to my niece when she gets married in September, all being well.

I don't do a lot of crochet these days but I've still got my granny stripe blanket on the go for when I get the urge. It's nice to put in a stripe here and there. I don't think it will be finished any time soon but that's okay.

A few more squares have been added to my scrappy blanket. I've got a lot of mini skeins to add from the yarny advent calendars I had last year, and also leftovers from projects I've finished. Again, this is another long term project but it's really relaxing to work on.

I've been looking at some cardigan and jumper patterns, there's some really lovely designs out there, but I just don't know if I'm in the right frame of mind for a large project at the moment. Perhaps I'll just stick with smaller things and long term projects that I can add a bit to here and there for now.

Wednesday 15 April 2020

Bohemian Rhapsody, Rocketman And Yesterday

Over the last eighteen months there have been three films released which I really wanted to see. I rarely go to the cinema so I've been waiting for them to be shown on Sky.

It's nearly thirty years since Freddie Mercury, the frontman of Queen, died. It's hard to believe it was that long ago, isn't it? Bohemian Rhapsody is a biographical drama about his life. This was the first of the three films to be made and the first to be shown on Sky, and I wrote about it last year in my What I'm Watching - Septmeber 2019 post. I thoroughly enjoyed this film, I thought the acting and the casting was brilliant, at times it was like I was watching Freddie himself, especially during the stage scenes, he was such a great showman and this is carried through in the film.

In the same vein, Rocketman is a biographical musical film based on the life of British musician Elton John. Again, I thought the acting was very good and the story doesn't hold back when it comes to Elton's past addictions, we see those warts and all. It was interesting how the story explored his childhood relationships and how they may have influenced the man he's become.

The most recent film to be released was Yesterday, it premiered on Sky on Easter Sunday so that's when we sat down to enjoy it. This film is different to the other two in that it's a romantic comedy. Although it features music from The Beatles, it's not about them. Jack Malik is a struggling musician who's involved in an accident, after which, he is apparently the only person who knows the music by The Beatles. He begins playing their songs claiming them as his own, but the course of true love never runs smoothly does it, and Jack must make a fundamental moral decision about his music.

I'm not a great film watcher, I often get bored half way through as I find it quite difficult to concentrate on anything for any great length of time, but each of these films held my interest. I enjoyed every bit of the first two films, Yesterday was okay but it wouldn't be one I'd go out of my way to watch again, though I did particularly enjoy the bits involving Ed Sheeran, he did make me laugh.

All three films were watched by me, Mick and Eleanor and we all agreed that we'd rate them in the order I've wrote about them here, Bohemian Rhapsody favourite, Yesterday least favourite, with Rocketman in between.

Sunday 12 April 2020


Dani Atkins is an author who I've discovered fairly recently. I read one of her books at the end of last year and have read more this year, the most recent being Fractured.

"The night of the accident changed everything...
Now, five years on, Rachel's life is crumbling. She lives alone in a tiny flat, working in a dead-end job, desperate with guilt over her best friend's death. She would give anything to turn back the clock. But life doesn't work like that...Does it?

The night of the accident was a lucky escape...
Now, five years on, Rachel's life is perfect. She has a wonderful fiance, loving family and friends around her, and the career she always wanted. But why can't Rachel shake the memory of a very different life?

Gripping, romantic and heartbreaking, Fractured is a magical love story, set at Christmas, that asks: can two different stories lead to the same happy ending?"

I must admit that the story had me somewhat puzzled, I was wracking my brains whilst reading, trying to come up with a plausible ending as I just couldn't see how it was going to work out, but I needn't have bothered, the ends were all tied up very well.

This was Dani Atkins first published novel, and though I've now read all the books by this author, Fractured was the last one I read. I've thoroughly enjoyed every single one, but if I had to choose, While I Was Sleeping and The Story Of Us would be my favourites.

A Sky Full of Stars, Dani Atkins new book, will be out later this year and I can't wait to read it.

Thursday 9 April 2020

Another Local Walk For Archie

Back in October, I showed you A Local Walk For Archie. At the time, I had intended to take you on more of our local walks, so as we're only allowed to exercise our dogs locally at the moment because of the coronavirus, and because the sun was shining on Sunday, I thought it was a good opportunity to take you on another of our local walks.

This is the start of the walk we went on last time, up the lane.

However, this time we're turning to our left and passing through the gap in the hedge.

The farmer hasn't planted up his field yet but it has been ploughed so we'll stick to the side and walk around the edges. If you look across the field, that's where we're heading.

Here's the entrance to the woods.

The trees are still devoid of their leaves at the moment but it's starting to green up. Buds are unfurling and there's quite a few flowers blooming on the woodland floor.


Wood Anemone.


Grape Hyacinths.

It's a little early for bluebells yet but there are a few buds...

...and even one or two flowers. Another few weeks and the woodland floor will be a riot of blue, as can be seen in my In And Out The Shady Bluebells post which I wrote nearly eight years ago.

Archie loves walking in the woods and luckily for us, we don't often meet many people whilst walking here, so social distancing isn't much of a problem when we take him here.

The woods aren't huge so we take a circular walk around them. Another field is adjacent to the return path but Archie is really spooked about this field and won't go there no matter how much we try and coax him, I don't know why.

We're lucky to have some nice dog walks on our doorstep, especially at the moment when we can't visit our usual haunts which are further afield.

As you can imagine, the woods get rather muddy during the winter months, as does the farmer's field which we have to cross to get there, so I'm pleased the weather has improved. In fact, the ground at the moment is rock hard, we haven't had very much rain lately.

This is another walk which is just the right length for Archie now he's getting older. He does love being out there and is quite sprightly until he gets back home and then he's knocked for six.

And then we're back to the farmer's field which we have to cross once again on our way home.

I hope you've enjoyed another local walk with Archie.

Monday 6 April 2020

Beach Days

I started this Beach Days wrap quite some time ago. I've knitted it in between other projects until finally, this was the only thing left on the needles, except for a couple of long term blankets, but just recently, for one reason or another, my knitting mojo disappeared. I'm pleased to say though that it's now finally finished.

I'd asked for Opinions Please back in November about whether I should knit the centre colour block panel of the pattern or not. I wasn't sure I liked the block of blue and gold waves right in the middle of the wrap and in the end I decided to omit it. I'm glad I did now.

One thing I wasn't very happy about was running out of the speckled yarn, which I knit the eyelet bands in, before I could finish on a gold wave. I quite like things to be symmetrical but there's a gold wave at one end of the wrap and a blue one at the other. Now it's finished I don't mind that, I don't think it looks odd at all.

I used two semi solid colourways from Jellybeans Yarns, Midnight and Golden (a one of a kind), and a speckled yarn from Norah George Yarns in a Harry Potter colourway named The Room of Requirement. They're all 75% superwash merino 25% nylon.

I wasn't sure the wrap was going to be as long as I'd like but I shouldn't have worried, it's blocked out really well and is a very nice size.

I'm very happy with the finish, I love the design, the colours and the drape of the wrap, I think it'll get plenty of use.

Friday 3 April 2020

Gloves In A Bottle

When Eleanor started working in a hospital laboratory last year, her hands didn't know what had hit them. She constantly washes her hands throughout the day when she's working and it takes its toll, making them red and inflamed. I know that with all the hand washing we're having to do at the moment because of the coronavirus, many of us have sore hands too, so I thought it was worth mentioning what Eleanor's found useful in her quest to banish the discomfort.

Gloves in a Bottle is a shielding lotion which forms a barrier. It stays in place for up to four hours and doesn't wash off, and it's absorbed into the skin without leaving any greasy residue. Eleanor's tried many different creams and lotions but this is the best she's found.

When her hands are particularly bad, Eleanor wears moisturising gloves in bed at night. She slathers on the hand cream and then wears the gloves on top. She finds this really helps too.

This isn't a sponsored post, all opinions are Eleanor's. I just thought these products were worth mentioning as so many people are suffering with sore hands just now with all the washing that's going on.