Wednesday, 22 September 2021

He's A Flake

I started He's A Flake by Little House Needleworks at the beginning of last year and I actually had it finished quite quickly, or at least quickly for me, but it's been languishing in my craft room waiting to be made up into an ornament.

It's a lovely design which I stitched on 28 count Brittney Lugana. It has a few beads added, beading was something new for me to learn and it definitely adds to the finish. I found it a little bit fiddly but I hadn't done it before and it certainly wouldn't put me off using beads again.

I love the actual cross stitching but I'm not confident at finishing things off properly so I end up putting them to one side for months on end. This could have been made into a lovely ornament in plenty of time for last Christmas and I decided that if I didn't get a grip, it wouldn't be finished in time for this coming Christmas either. I will admit that I chickened out though and it's actually Mick who has done the finishing for me.

I think Mick's done a very good job. He's not the least bit crafty but didn't mind measuring, adjusting and glueing. I got the idea for this on the internet so popped into Poundland to see if they had any of these little wooden serving boards, they're ideal for crafts such as this.

I'm happy with how it's turned out, I just need to have a look at the Christmas decorations appearing in the shops and then I can find something to trim the borders up with. I think it will look very festive.

Saturday, 18 September 2021

Strictly Sockalong 2021

The Strictly Sockalong, which is hosted by Ali from Little Drops of Wonderful podcast, starts today along with the first episode of this season's Strictly Come Dancing. 

The last pair of socks I knit was the Aava Socks which I knit as part of last year's sockalong so I'm itching to get some socks on the needles again. I've gone shopping in my stash and come up with this Mad Scientist yarn in the Badgers Mess colourway which I think is perfect for all the glitz and glamour of Strictly. The photo doesn't actually show how bright and sparkly the yarn is, it's a 75% superwash merino 20% nylon and 5% lurex mix so it has silver flecks running through it.

I've always used a pattern for the socks I've knit in previous Strictly sockalongs but I think this yarn speaks for itself and so I shall knit them plain this year. I can't wait to see how the yarn knits up. I've decided to use the magic loop method this time instead of double pointed needles, I'm getting to enjoy this way of knitting socks more and more. I still knit one sock at once even though there's a way of doing two at once with a long circular needle.

I'm really looking forward to Strictly tonight. Will you be watching?

Tuesday, 14 September 2021

Gloster

I bought my little Gloster apple tree back in 2012. It's a patio tree, grafted onto dwarf rootstock to keep it small, but despite its size it's given some good crops over the years, though none so good as this year.

It's only a small tree though the size of the fruit is anything but, they're of good proportions. I counted about thirty apples before I started harvesting. It's a wonder the tree can support all this fruit.

Gloster is a red skinned variety with crisp flesh. They taste delicious.

The green apples are from my Golden Delicious tree, again, a patio variety It's never done very well. Just four apples this year, and much smaller than the Glosters, but they'll be enjoyed by Mick, they're his favourite.

We'll be okay for apples for a while.

Friday, 10 September 2021

Granny Stripe Blanket

My granny stripe blanket had been on the hook since January 2015, the yarn was a Christmas gift in 2013 and I was anxious to get it crocheted up into something as I'd been dithering the past year over what it should become. It came as an Attic24 granny stripe blanket pack, though I was thinking of using it for another design, however, in the end I did indeed begin making a granny stripe blanket.

Skip forward a few years and by the middle of 2019 there hadn't been very much work put into it and I did consider taking it to the charity shop for someone else to finish before I reconsidered and decided to finish it off myself. Yes, it's still taken me a long time to do that but I've finally got there.

I have to say that this isn't my favourite blanket, it isn't the most enjoyable blanket I've crocheted and the end product isn't my favourite either. I think it's the colours, it's just too colourful for me. There's seventeen colours all together and it's all too much, they jar.

It's quite a big blanket measuring 75inches X 55inches and it will get used, I think it might be nice for picnics or a beach rug, the happy colours would work well in that setting, it's just a little too big for a sofa blanket.

It's made from Stylecraft Special DK yarn and there's quite a bit left over. I'm thinking of adding this to the other Stylecraft Special DK I've got and crocheting up some lap blankets or doggy blankets for charity. It's good to have a bit of mindless knitting or crochet to work on when I'm watching TV.

Monday, 6 September 2021

My Birthday

It was my birthday on Friday. Mick took the day off work but we didn't really make any plans, we just waited for the day to dawn and then decided what to do on the spur of the moment. 

We headed off in the direction of the east coast but this time, decided to travel a little further north than we usually do to Saltburn by the Sea, a lovely seaside town which still has the olde worlde feeling about it. The main attraction here is the Victorian water balanced cliff lift, and though it's still in operation today, it wasn't in use on Friday.

It was a murky, grey day but there were still quite a few people about, I suppose they were making the most of, what will have been, the last day of the school holidays for many. Here you can see the pier. Yorkshire was once home to six piers but sadly, one by one, they've been lost to the sea and the pier at Saltburn in the last one standing.

We took a walk along the pier but only got half way, as you can see by this photo of the sea, it was quite choppy out there.

Instead, we went down onto the beach but even Archie avoided the sea on this trip, he's usually up for a paddle. He's such a good little dog, he comes on all our outings with us and never complains when we traipse him all over the place. He's getting older though now, he's eleven, and I'm mindful not to overdo things for him. Saying that, after our stroll on the beach we headed off to Whitby where the weather improved somewhat and we had a wander around the cobbled streets of the old town. It was a lovely day out and the hours zoomed by. 

We were going to have a meal out in the evening but I've been suffering quite badly just lately with hayfever, something I suffered with terribly as a child, though nowadays I seem to just have sporadic flare ups. I decided that I'd rather stay at home and have a takeaway instead so Eleanor and Jacob came round after work and joined us. Daniel and Jasmine called from Essex to wish me a happy birthday.

I got lots of lovely presents, I'm always so lucky, my family and friends know just the things I'd like and they're always very generous. Maggie from BlackCountry Wench blog sent me a lovely card and this wonderful gift. The 'Sunflowers in Summer' chart is so pretty, I shall enjoy stitching that, and Maggie has been so kind to even include all the thread I need too. Not only that but I also received these three pretty notebooks , I do love my stationery. There was also a box of Toffifee but you know what it's like once the box is open, you just can't resist, or maybe that's just me. Anyway, they're all gone now but they were delicious. Thank you, Maggie, I'm thrilled to bits with this gift.

So that's me at fifty three, I do wish these years would stop whizzing by so quickly.

Thursday, 2 September 2021

My Sister's Keeper

I've never read anything by Jodi Picoult before but Marlene from Poppy Patchwork mentioned My Sister's Keeper on her blog and it sounded right up my street. I was thrilled when she asked if I'd like her to send me the book. Thank you, Marlene.

"Sara Fitzgerald's daughter Kate is just two years old when she is diagnosed with a rare form of leukaemia. Reeling with the helpless shock of it, Sara knows she will do anything - whatever it takes - to save her child.

Then the test results come back time and again to show that no one in their family is a match for Kate. If they are to find a donor for the crucial bone marrow transplant she needs, there is only one option: creating another baby, specifically designed to save her sister. For Sara, it seems the ideal solution. Not only does Kate live, but she gets a beautiful new daughter, Anna, too.

Until the moment Anna hands Sara the papers that will rock her whole world. Because, aged thirteen, Anna has decide that she doesn't want to help Kate live any more. She is suing her parents for the rights to her own body."

I really enjoyed this book, though you have to be prepared for a lot of medical and legal jargon. That didn't bother me though. I thought the subject was very interesting and as a parent, it makes you think about the decisions you'd make yourself in a similar situation. 

The ending was totally unexpected, I didn't see it coming at all. I thought it could go in a couple of ways but I have to admit that what did happen hadn't crossed my mind and if I'm honest, I think it's a bit of a cop out and a lazy way of tying thing up. 

My Sister's Keeper was made into a movie starring Cameron Diaz. I found it on Netflix and decided to watch it. Again, the ending was a surprise as it was totally different to the book, and in my opinion, much better. I won't say anymore in case you decide to read it for yourself, which I'd definitely recommend you do if you like this sort of book.

Sunday, 29 August 2021

To Have And To Hold

It was my niece's wedding on Tuesday. I call her my niece but she isn't really, she's my sister's stepdaughter. My sister died twenty two years ago but we've always kept in touch with her and her brother and it's just the same as her being my proper niece. She was supposed to get married last September but the wedding had to be postponed due to the coronavirus restrictions. It was moved to around Easter time this year but again, had to be postponed, so it was third time lucky.

We had a lovely day, the wedding was held in a converted barn and it was a fabulous venue surrounded by beautiful scenery. The bride and groom didn't want gifts, they said it was enough that we were helping them celebrate their marriage, but we gave them some money and I couldn't resist giving them a little token in the form of this cross stitch.

This is To Have and To Hold from Country Cottage Needleworks stitched on 28 count Brittney Lugana. I really enjoyed stitching it and though I started it at the beginning of 2020, I held off finishing it completely until I was sure the wedding was going ahead as the date had to be added. 

Talking of the date, what a numpty I was. Can you see what I did? The numbers were all charted up for me, I just had to choose the right ones and make sure I centred it in the design, but I couldn't even do that right. I put the year as 01 instead of 21 so I had to unpick it and start again. I added the names to the design so I had to chart some of the letters myself but I think it looks okay.

The bride's hair was supposed to be blonde but my niece has brown hair so I changed that, and the date is actually charted in pink but as I was adding their names I decided to continue in the same colour as the rest of the writing.

I snapped a photo of it in the frame before the glass was added to prevent the glare. I'm pleased with how it turned out. It was a lovely design to stitch.

I think the next wedding on the cards will be Eleanor's, though they still haven't chosen a date, venue or anything else, so I don't think it will be for some time yet. It gives me time to stitch another wedding sampler if I choose to do so.

Wednesday, 25 August 2021

Mixed Fortunes

I only planted two containers of potatoes up this year, one was in a purpose made potato bag and the other was in a large plastic pot. I've used both very successfully in the past. Unfortunately, potatoes only grew in one container, the potato bag, there wasn't any growth at all in the plastic pot and exactly the same thing happened with Eleanor's potatoes too. I can only assume that the seed potatoes in the plastic pots rotted when we had the bout of very wet weather earlier in the year, but it does go to show that the bags which are made specifically to grow potatoes in have definitely worked better this year.

Having all my eggs in one basket so to speak, or rather all my potatoes in one container, I was hoping for good results. When the bag was tipped out it looked promising.

All told, there were just over eight pounds of potatoes in the one bag. The 50p is on the photo for scale, there were some really quite large spuds harvested. These are Charlotte, a second early potato which Eleanor chose as she fancied the waxy texture that this potato offers. I grew Charlotte last year too, it was the first time I'd grown them in containers and I got quite a poor yield. They can vary considerably from year to year.

I'm more than happy with what I've harvested this year, you can't beat the taste of home grown!

Saturday, 21 August 2021

My Own Surprise Book

I've made lots of friends in Blogland. I'm always amazed by the connections people make even when they've never met in real life. One of my best friends is Maggie from BlackCountry Wench blog. I was drawn to her blog when I came across all the fabulous cross stitching she does, and I always enjoy her varied posts. We seemed to hit it off from the start and though we've still never met, she's a very good friend.

Maggie and I share a love of reading, among other things, and in her recent post about Monday's Outing, she mentioned a book she'd picked up in a National Trust shop. It's a wrapped book so she doesn't know what it is, a surprise. It does have a tag on the parcel with a clue about what the book is about, so I'm sure it will be a lot of fun finding out if her guesses are correct. I commented saying how I thought it was a great idea and yesterday my friendly Hermes delivery man brought me an unexpected package. Maggie had sent me my own surprise book.

There was a lovely card with it too. Maggie said that she thought the book would be something I would enjoy and I'm sure it will be, it sounds right up my street:-

TWOPENCE TO CROSS THE MERSEY

When Helen Forester's father went bankrupt in 1930, she and her six siblings were forced from comfortable middle-class life in southern England to utmost poverty in the Depression-ridden North. Twelve-year-old Helen becomes responsible for the running of the household with little food to feed the younger children. Written without self-pity, this account is both heartwarmingly funny and shockingly moving.

LIVERPOOL MISS

The Forrester family are beginning to win their fight for survival and, now fourteen, Helen's personal struggle is in persuading her parents to allow her to earn her own living and lead her own life, after years of putting her family first, forgetting her own need for care and education. Struggling against illness caused by severe malnutrition and dirt, Helen also has to contend with her parents' selfish demands.

Thank you, Maggie. I know this is a book I'm going to really enjoy.

Do pop across to Maggie's blog if you don't know it already, it's a very good read.

Tuesday, 17 August 2021

All Good Things Must Come To An End

We had a lovely time last week while Daniel and Jasmine were here with us. They stayed from the previous Friday night until Sunday so they were with us for quite a while this time but I'm always sad when their time with us comes to an end.

We had a good mix of days out and time spent together at home, and they went off and did their own thing for some of the time too. It was a shame that Eleanor and Jacob were working but they came round most evenings and we chatted, played games and enjoyed the time all together.

As Jasmine comes from Colorado, a land locked state in the US, she hasn't had many holidays by the sea so trips to the seaside were requested. We spent a day in Whitby with a detour to Sandsend, and a day in Bridlington. I'm really enjoying my days out at the coast this year, we've been quite a few times now after only a couple of visits last year owing to the coronavirus restrictions.

I think the next time we'll see Daniel and Jasmine will be Christmas, though we've had some good news, they're hoping to move back up north at the beginning of next year so they will be flat hunting when they come next time. They'll take a short-term rental while they look for a house to buy. I will be so pleased to have all my family close by again.

Friday, 13 August 2021

Bookcrossing

When we visited Matlock Bath at the end of June, I popped into a couple of charity shops. In one of them I picked up Ruth Jones', of Gavin and Stacey, debut novel, Never Greener. I paid my pound for it and when I got home I noticed that it had a Bookcrossing sticker on it.

I've heard of Bookcrossing but have never signed up. 

Inside the cover is a label...

"I am not lost!

This book was left here to find a new reader!

Who left the book?

Who will read it after you?

Who liked it and who hated it?

You now have the possibility to find out. This book is registered at BookCrossing.com, a world-wide community of voluntary and non-commercial book sharing, where its previous reader already looks forward to a message about its whereabouts."

I was intrigued so I went onto the Bookcrossing site and entered the ID number written on the label. It turns out that this book was set on its travels just under a year ago and nothing has been registered since. Someone must have picked it up as it was left in a public place eight miles away from the charity shop where I bought it.

You can leave an entry on Bookcrossing to say that you've found a book without having to register but it looks like a good site so I'm going to do so. I might even release some books into the wild and watch to see if anyone records that they find them.

What a fun scheme.

Monday, 9 August 2021

The Light At The End Of The Tunnel

At last, all the family have had their two doses of Covid vaccine. We've been very careful with Jasmine being vulnerable but now we've all had two jabs we feel easier about meeting up again, there's light at the end of the tunnel. It's been hard with Daniel and Jasmine living down in Essex and us up here in Yorkshire, it's not as though we've been able to just pop round and have a chat in the garden as other families have been able to do while there's been restrictions in place but now that everything's opened up again and we've taken precautions, we've decided to have a get together.

Daniel and Jasmine finished work last week and are now on a week's annual leave, so they came up after work on Friday and they're staying until Sunday. It's such a long time since we've seen them and it's especially nice them coming this week as it's Mick's birthday on Saturday so they'll be here to celebrate with us.

We're hoping to have a few trips out but that's dependent on the weather. The storms which have been forecast every day since Thursday haven't materialised but we've had a few showers. We've still managed to get out for some walks but really, just spending time together is what we've all been waiting for. It's wonderful having the family together again, even though it's only for a short time.

Thursday, 5 August 2021

Where The Crawdads Sing

I'll be honest, I only picked up a copy of Where The Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens to see what all the hoo-ha was about, I probably wouldn't have reached for it otherwise, but I'm so pleased that I did. This book seems to be on so many people's reading lists, and rightly so.

"For years, rumours of the 'Marsh Girl' have haunted Barkley Cove, a quiet town on the North Carolina coast. So in late 1969, when handsome Chase Andrews is found dead, the locals immediately suspect Kya Clark, the so-called Marsh Girl. But Kya is not what they say. Sensitive and intelligent, she has survived for years alone in the marsh that she calls home, finding friends in the gulls and lessons in the sand. Then the time comes when she yearns to be loved. When two young men from town become intrigued by her wild beauty, Kya opens herself to a new life - until the unthinkable happens."

A story about prejudice, intolerance and acceptance. I thought this book was beautifully written with wonderful descriptions of the marshes and their fauna and flora. Delia Owens' background as a zoologist and nature writer really stands out in her writing which transported me to the North Carolina coast. There are some wonderful characters in the book who seem to jump off the pages and come to life.

Often, I find books can be overhyped, but not in this case. I loved Where The Crawdads Sing and wouldn't hesitate to recommend it.

Sunday, 1 August 2021

Our John

After my mum died I decided that I'd like to plant a rose in her memory. I looked for one with a meaning and eventually came up with Sheila's Perfume which I thought fitted the bill nicely as my mum was called Sheila. I wanted to do something similar for my dad.

Our John is the perfect rose. A floribunda with masses of vibrant yellow blooms and a delicate fragrance. John was my dad's name and many Northerners, especially in Yorkshire, add Our before a name when speaking to, or about, a family member.

It came planted up in a pot but wasn't very big, I didn't expect to get any flowers this year so it was a nice surprise when I found a bud. I think yellow roses are my favourite of all and this one hasn't disappointed. 

As the flowers fade they take on a much more subdued hue which I love. You really wouldn't think that this is the same flower.

I've left it in the pot it arrived in until it settles but I shall get it a shiny new pot where it will live, and it can stand side by side with Sheila's Perfume in memory of my dad.

Wednesday, 28 July 2021

Settle Flowerpot Festival

Following on from my last post, while we were in Settle having lunch on our day out, we came across a number of flowerpot characters...

...we didn't know what they were all about at first but we soon discovered a sign taped to a lamppost. The Settle Flowerpot Festival. If I'd known about this before our trip I'd have devoted more time to it, I do enjoy a trail to follow.

Here are a selection of a few flowerpot characters that I snapped.

Some are better than others.

I've seen scarecrow trails before but never a flowerpot festival.

I think it's brilliant when a community comes together to put on this type of event.

There's some really creative people out there.

They were all over the town.

This one was in the car park and I think it was my favourite from the ones I took photos of.

Settle Flowerpot Festival runs throughout July and August, the last day being Sunday the 5th of September 2021. There are over 150 flowerpot creations on display throughout the town, three different flowerpot trails and a quiz available.

Kettlewell is another Dales village. It usually put on a scarecrow festival in August but it's unfortunately cancelled this year, as it was last year, because of coronavirus. If you'd like to see some scarecrows from years past you can take a look at my Kettlewell Scarecrow Festival and More From Kettlewell posts from back in 2014. We've visited this festival quite a few times.

There's always something new to see or do each time we visit the Yorkshire Dales, no wonder we return again and again.

Saturday, 24 July 2021

Malham

The weather was gorgeous last Friday so Mick decided to take a day off work and we headed off into the Yorkshire Dales. We started off in Malham, a small village in the Pennines. Most visitors pass through on their way to Malham Cove, a cliff formation of limestone rock. On the top is a large area of limestone pavement where scenes in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows were filmed. We didn't visit Malham Cove this time, we last visited back in 2012, I didn't realise it had been all that long ago, and you can read about it in my Back To The Dales post.

There isn't much in Malham itself but it's a lovely quaint village to wander round.

At the entrance to the village is a carved limestone boulder with a quote from Shakespeare's Merchant of Venice.

Here you can see the road which leads to Malham Cove. It's about a mile from the village and then there's over four hundred steps to climb. It's a little too much to ask of Archie these days.

The Malham Smithy is the workshop of blacksmith Annabelle Bradley, she's been in residence since 2007. Bill Wild was Blacksmith here from about 1946 until his death in 1985. He bequeathed the Malham Smithy to St Michaels Church and they now lease it out, the rent providing income for the church.

How cute are all these birdboxes hung on the Beck Hall Hotel. I wonder if any of them are occupied.

The Yorkshire Dales are known for their dry stone walls. I love to see them covered in moss like this.

A stream runs through the centre of Malham and there's a woodland walk which runs right by it. It was the perfect place to let Archie off his lead for a breather as the small wood is enclosed by walls and is gated.

It was a hot day and Archie enjoyed being able to cool off in the stream.

These mushrooms were growing on a tree. The photo doesn't show how huge they were.

It was nice to be able to cool off in the shade of the tree canopy. This day out was at the start of the heatwave and it got incredibly hot that day.

After a stroll around the village we decided to drive to Settle, a market town about six and a half miles from Malham. I never tire of seeing all the animals in the fields and by the side of the road. 

It gets a bit much when they block your way though, haha. They don't move out of your way either, we had to manoeuvre our way around these cows but it didn't end there because there was another small herd further along the road. I do love to see animals roaming free though.

Our lunch in Settle consisted of a hot steak and ale pie from Drake & Macefield butchers. If you're ever in the area I can heartily recommend them. It's not the first time we've sampled their wares and it won't be the last. We also purchased some cold pies to bring home with us, they're so good. Afterwards we set off for Hawes, passing the impressive Ribbleshead Viaduct on the way. 

We had a lovely day out and I'm sure it won't be long until we feel the draw of the Dales again.