Saturday, 10 April 2021

Spofforth Castle

On Easter Sunday we decided to drive a little further afield than we have been doing, though we didn't want to go anywhere that was going to be busy so we headed to Spofforth Castle. We've passed this many times but it's the first time that we've stopped and had a look around.

Spofforth Castle, situated in North Yorkshire, was a fortified manor house and ruined during the English Civil War.

It was owned by the Percy family, one of the important and influential families in northern England. Reputedly it was here that rebel barons composed the Magna Carta in 1215.

Only the west range of the medieval manor house, which contained the principal apartments, still stands.

Spofforth Castle surprised me, I wasn't expecting much and though it's only a small ruin, it's very well kept, there's interesting information boards, it's free admission and somewhere a bit different to walk Archie.

Archie was eager to enter the ruins, the steps to the ground floor are quite steep but there are various entry points so you don't have to go down these if you don't wish to.

Ruins such as these capture children's imaginations, there were a few families there when we were visiting but as you can see from my photos, there certainly weren't any crowds. 

William de Percy built a manor house here in the 11th century, although nothing remains of this older building.

During the Wars of the Roses, which I wrote about in my last post, the Percys supported the House of Lancaster. Following the Battle of Towton in 1461 the victorious Yorkist side, led by the Earl of Warwick, marched on Spofforth, burning the castle and plundering the countryside. 

The castle lay in ruins for nearly 100 years until 1559, when it was restored by Henry Lord Percy. By this time, however, the seat of the Percys had shifted to Alnwick in Northumberland.

Sampson Ingleby was the last recorded occupant of the castle, he was the castle steward. He died in 1604 and the castle was finally reduced to ruin during the Civil War.

The ruins, primarily the west side of the original castle, are now listed as a grade II listed building and under guardianship of English Heritage.

It was nice to visit when we had blue skies, though there was quite a strong wind blowing.

The castle stands in the beautiful village of Spofforth. Parking is on the roadside in front of the castle and there's a nice green space with picnic benches which is ideal for families or dog walkers. Our visit here followed on nicely from the Towton Battlefield Trail which we visited on Good Friday and I'm sure it's somewhere we'll visit again.

Tuesday, 6 April 2021

Towton Battlefield Trail

Good Friday dawned quite dull but by lunchtime it had brightened up so we decided to take Archie for a wander. Towton Battlefield is about six miles away from where we live, there isn't much there apart from the information boards, but it's a nice walk. I wrote about it in my A History Tour In Four Parts post back in 2013.

The Battle of Towton took place during a snow storm on Palm Sunday, the 29th of March 1461, during the Wars of the Roses and it was probably the largest and bloodiest battle ever fought on English soil. Approximately 50,000 soldiers were involved in the battle and it brought about a change of monarch with Edward IV displacing Henry VI, establishing the House of York on the English throne.

A memorial cross, known as Dacre's Cross, stands by the side of the road.

A wreath had been laid just a few days prior to our visit commemorating the anniversary of the battle which had taken place 570 years earlier.

The start of the trail. 

There's well positioned information boards along the trail.

The information boards give a good insight into the history of the battle and other interesting facts.

This area is known as Bloody Meadow. Up to 28,000 men lost their lives during the battle.

The weapons of the time were very different from those used today, though still really quite gruesome.

Artefacts from the battle have been recovered over the years.

Even through it had brightened up, a bitterly cold wind was blowing so we didn't walk the whole trail but it was far enough for Archie. It's nice to be out in the countryside.

The hawthorn is just coming into flower.

There's some lovely scenery, though it's always nicer on a sunny day.

Archie enjoyed his walk. He went to the groomers last week and is sporting a very short haircut, which was lovely for him when the weather was warm, not so comfortable now that the cooler weather has returned.

We've had mixed weather over the Easter weekend, a little sunshine, some dull days and lots of wind. At least we missed out on the snow which some parts of the UK experienced.

Friday, 2 April 2021

Long Weekend

It's the Easter weekend, bank holidays today and Monday, giving us a long weekend. As usual for a bank holiday, the weather isn't up to much. We had gorgeous weather on Tuesday and Wednesday, if only it had held.

We don't bother with Easter eggs ourselves but someone in the household wouldn't be happy if he didn't receive one.

This is a special doggy Easter egg. Don't forget, you shouldn't feed ordinary chocolate to your dog as it contains a chemical called theobromine which is poisonous to dogs and other animals.

We don't have anything planned for the weekend. Although restrictions have now eased and we no longer have to Stay at Home, I don't much fancy going anywhere that's busy. We'll just play it by ear, watch what the weather's like and see what we fancy doing.

Have you got anything planned for the weekend?

Monday, 29 March 2021

A Change Of Scenery

We've got some lovely walks close to home but all of us, and I include Archie in this, are fed up of them now after taking the same routes day after day over the past year, so on Saturday afternoon we decided to head somewhere different.

Now you may not think that the photo above looks like a very good walk for Archie but looks can be deceptive. These motorway services opened last year, they're a short drive away from where we live, and there's more to them than meets the eye.

There's plenty of green space to the side of the services and lots of young trees have been planted.

We came to a track which was a safe distance from any roads so Archie was able to come off his lead.

A little further along was a huge lake.

The best part of the walk for Archie. He does love walking through woodland. Unfortunately, it got rather muddy and annoyingly I was wearing my trainers rather than my walking boots so we ended up turning round. If we'd continued on our journey we'd have reached the River Aire and the canal, which I'm sure would be a lovely walk, but that's something for another day.

Saturday was dull and rather chilly but the gorse is flowering which brightened things up.

Back to the lake.

I think this will be a great walk when the sun's shining, and Archie definitely enjoyed going somewhere different.

Thursday, 25 March 2021

The Mother-In-Law

I read a review of The Mother-In-Law by Sally Hepworth on a blog and decided to reserve it at my local library. I'm pleased I did as it's a book I really enjoyed.

"When they first met, Lucy's mother-in-law, Diana, never really approved of her.

That was five years ago.

Now, Diana has been found dead, a suicide note near her body claiming she no longer wanted to live because of a battle with cancer.

But the autopsy finds no cancer. The autopsy does find traces of poison and suffocation.

Why would Diana lie? Why was her will changed at the eleventh hour? And why do the police get the sense that everyone in this perfect family knows a little more than they are letting on?"

I enjoyed how the book was written, mixing what's happening in the present and going back in time to unravel the mystery, it keeps the suspense going right to the very end. The characters were interesting and I enjoyed getting to know them.

I haven't read anything by this author before but I shall look out for more of her books. I'd definitely recommend this one.

Sunday, 21 March 2021

Jabbed

One jab down, one to go.

Both Mick and I received texts last week advising us that we were able to book coronavirus vaccinations. We went to our local surgery yesterday for the first of two jabs, the second one is in eleven weeks time.

It was so well organised, volunteers were taking us in through one door, showing us into the doctor and then afterwards, other volunteers showed us into a room where we had to wait for fifteen minutes as Mick was driving. It was all clearly marked and socially distanced, and as each person left the waiting room, a volunteer would sanitise the chair which had just been vacated. We left through a different door so it was all one way traffic.

We both went to bed feeling fine, though Mick felt a bit unwell during the night so he got up and took some paracetamol. This morning we both feel a little heavy headed and my arm aches a bit, but no other nasty side effects.

I'm very surprised at how quickly they're getting everyone vaccinated. We weren't expecting to have our jabs until the end of April so they're definitely ahead of schedule.

Let's hope there's light at the end of the tunnel now.

Wednesday, 17 March 2021

Mother's Day

Mother's Day is a very different affair these days than it used to be. First of all, I don't have my mum with me any more so there's no card buying for me or trips to see my mum. Mother's Day falls on a different day each year, two years ago it was on the 31st of March and my mum had died just three days before, so this is the third Mother's Day that I've been without her, though the second anniversary of her death isn't yet here. I thought about my mum a lot on Sunday, though if truth be told, I think a lot about her every single day of the year, I don't need a special day to bring her to my thoughts. I miss her so very much.

I try to make Mother's Day about my relationship with my own children these days, though Daniel lives over two hundred miles away, but he always calls me on the day. He sent me a card and a big box of my favourite chocolates. This year, Eleanor is in her own house and the lockdown restrictions make things difficult as we can't see each other indoors, but she did pop round with a card and some beautiful yellow roses, my favourites.

Eleanor also made me my own individual afternoon tea with sandwiches, pork pie, mini Victoria sponges, scones, lemon drizzle cake and the biggest chocolate coated strawberries I've seen in my life. All presented on a little tray which clips to the chair arm. All that was missing was a cup of tea but she could hardly make that when she was only delivering to the doorstep so Mick obliged.

It would have been nice to have a bit of a get together but a phone call with Daniel and an outdoor chat with Eleanor will have to do for this year. It was a lovely way to start this week. Mick is on holiday now until next Monday and though we're unable to travel, we're spending some time each day getting out and about close to home. Fingers crossed that the weather holds up.

Saturday, 13 March 2021

Diamond Wishes

It's so handy having a blog when you want to check back on dates. It was just the other day that I was thinking it must be coming up to Mick's auntie and uncle's diamond wedding anniversary soon. I knew I'd blogged about their golden anniversary as the blog post I wrote about the Golden Wedding Hamper we'd made for them at the time has been my most popular post ever and still gets hits on a daily basis. I was quite surprised to discover that the anniversary is just a couple of weeks away, thank goodness that it had come to mind when it did otherwise I might have missed it.

I rang his auntie to ask if anyone had arranged for them to receive an anniversary message from The Queen, a tradition which goes back to 1917 whereby messages on behalf of The Queen are sent to those celebrating their 100th and 105th birthdays and every year thereafter, and those celebrating their diamond wedding (60th), 65th, 70th wedding anniversaries and every year thereafter. I believe the cards containing a personalised message and which come in a special envelope are sent automatically for birthdays but an application needs to be made by a friend or relative in advance of the special day for anniversaries. They have two sons but neither had made the application so I told her to leave it to me and it's now all organised. It would be such a shame for them not to receive this special card.

We haven't visited a garden centre since before Christmas but I wanted to see if our local one had any appropriate rose bushes in stock which we could buy for them as a gift for their anniversary so we had a quick trip yesterday. I was really impressed with all the plants they had on offer, they seem to have stocked up for the new gardening season, but especially so with their roses, quite an extensive choice and I managed to find the perfect rose, a pretty pink patio rose suitable for borders, pots and tubs called Diamond Wishes.

I just need to find a nice card for them now, which is easier said than done with all the card shops being closed in lockdown.

Tuesday, 9 March 2021

Tulips

We're spoilt for choice at this time of year with all the gorgeous flowers that are in the shops. I always start the year off with Daffs but tulips are always close on their heels.

The flowers come in such a wide array of colours that I'm spoilt for choice and it's hard to make a decision when making my purchase. This time I opted for this gorgeous red and yellow variety and though I usually stick a pin through the stems just underneath the flowers, a tip I learnt which keeps the flowers standing upright, I didn't on this occasion and they're still standing tall. Often, tulips will go rather droopy, but I think that just adds to their charm.

Daffodils are still available in the shops, usually just 99p a bunch in the supermarkets, and these tulips were just £1.79. A small price to pay when they bring so much enjoyment and brighten up the living room.

Friday, 5 March 2021

Back To The Rotation

I started My Crafting Rotation back in August last year and it was working really well for me. I chose seven outstanding knitting, crochet and cross stitch projects and worked on each one for a minimum of an hour each week. Some of the projects got finished so I added in new ones, others were more long standing projects but I could see each of them getting some regular attention. In November, I put the rotation on hold whilst I got ready for Christmas, and if truth be told, I lost my crafting mojo from around that time right up to a couple of weeks ago. Now that I'm back in crafting mode I've decided to get back to the rotation.

English paper piecing is a new craft to me. I've never done any sewing before, or very little, either by machine or hand, but I just fancied giving this a go. I chose fabric from the Lewis & Irene Botanic Garden range. I've cut out some hexagons and glue basted them and I'm now at the point where I've just started sewing them together. I'm enjoying it so far but it's still early days.

The scrappy blanket I'm knitting from commercial sock yarn was put on the back burner last year as I'd run out of yarn to add to it. I've actually got plenty of commercial sock yarn but I'm only adding one square of each yarn. A lovely reader of the blog got in touch and sent me a huge parcel of yarn for this blanket so I've started knitting it in. There was so much yarn in the parcel that I won't be running out again any time soon.

I'm really enjoying my cross stitch again. This is the Twelve Days of Christmas which was a stitch along on Plum Street Samplers blog back in 2015. I really like the limited colour palette of this design, I prefer a good amount of straight stitching without having to keep changing colours.

I have lots of yarn waiting to be added to my scrappy blanket which is being knit from hand dyed yarn. As well as the mini skeins I received in last year's yarny advent calendars, I still have some to add from the advent calendars which I had the year before. This blanket seems to have grown quite a bit.

There's now 500 stitches on my Twinkle Twinkle baby blanket and it doesn't look anywhere near big enough to be finished yet. I wonder how many stitches I'll get up to before I have to cast off. This project is quite slow going now that there are so many stitches to knit in each round, it's a good job there's no babies on the horizon at the moment so I'm under no pressure to get this finished for a certain date.

This granny stripe blanket has been on the go now for a long long time, in fact, a couple of years ago I nearly abandoned it and gave what I'd already crocheted to the charity shop. I'm glad I had second thoughts as I'm enjoying working on it and it's grown quite a bit since.

I started this cross stitch about forty years ago. Yes, you read that right. It was started in my early teens and then it got put away for about forty years. This is definitely my longest work in progress. I was in two minds about whether to finish it or not and to be honest, it's not the most enjoyable thing to work on. It's got so many half stitches and it's quite fiddly, but I'm managing an hour a week and it's certainly a lot nearer completion now than it was when I first picked it up again.

I'm glad I'm back into my crafting again. When I lost my mojo before Christmas I knew I shouldn't force it, I've just enjoyed doing other things until I felt the need to pick up a craft project again and now I'm enjoying reacquainting myself with all my projects. It's fun.

Monday, 1 March 2021

Potato Time

Now that Eleanor and Jacob have got their own house, I'm trying to get them involved in growing some of their own food. Eleanor's seen me growing my own and used to come to the allotment when we first took it on. She was quite young then and soon grew out of wanting to help. I'm not sure whether Jacob's family are gardeners or not. I thought the best way to get them interested is to start some things in containers for them to take over the care of once they start growing.

I'd seen that one of the discount stores were selling small packs of potato tubers so I asked Eleanor to call in and choose a variety she liked the sound of, she chose Charlotte, mainly because she fancied a salad potato, one with a waxy texture, and it turns out that I grew the same potatoes last year. I've grown them a few times but last year was the first time I'd grown them in containers. The yield wasn't all that good last year but we'll try them again and see what happens this year.

They're now set out for chitting and will be planted in their containers soon. There were supposed to be eight tubers in the packet but there were actually ten, I thought that a good deal for just £1.49.

Once they've started growing I shall pass them along for Eleanor and Jacob to take over the care of. Who knows, they might decide to grow their own from scratch next year.

Thursday, 25 February 2021

Winter In The Woods

We've had some lovely sunny days this week and it's been nice to be able to get outdoors for some walks, unfortunately, the day I decided to take my camera with me wasn't quite so nice. It had been sunny on Tuesday morning but by the afternoon it had clouded over and by 3pm, when we drove to Lotherton to take Archie for a walk, it was threatening rain and was really quite breezy. Luckily, it stayed dry, but we were a bit windswept by the time we got home.

There's such a stark difference in the woods during the winter months to what it's like during summer, it actually looks quite barren when the trees are devoid of their leaves. It's still a nice place to walk though, and since last week, crushed stones have been added to the pathways to dry up some of the muddy puddles.

You can see so much more of the trees and their interesting features during this period. The leaves camouflage their shape and other interesting details but they're fully exposed at this time of year and you're free to see them in all their glory.

Everywhere looks dead at a first glance just now but there are signs of life if you look closely. Look amongst the leaf litter underneath the trees and you'll see the first signs of the wild garlic pushing through the earth. I'd wondered what the shoots were when I saw them last week, dismissing all thoughts of wild garlic as I thought it too early, but I then read Jules post on A Hidden Jem and she confirmed my suspicions of it being just that. It's grown since last week and already there's that tell tale garlic aroma. Another month or so and the woodland floor will be carpeted in large green leaves.

The snowdrops have been flowering for some time now. I do love to see them as it makes me think that spring can't be that far away, though I fear we haven't seen the end of winter quite yet.


Wildlife World is closed to the public at the moment because of lockdown but some of the animals can still be seen at various points around the estate. Here's a Visayan warty pig. He, for one, seems quite happy to see so much mud around.


Some birds seem stranger than others though, here's one we came across in the woods. I'm not sure about those goggly eyes.

I'm enjoying being able to get out for a walk again, I just hope this warmer weather holds, I don't like the cold.