Tuesday, 22 June 2021

Fly Away

It's a while ago now since Maggie from BlackCountry Wench blog sent me Fly Away by Kristin Hannah. She'd just finished reading it herself and thought that I might like it. She hadn't realised at the time that it was the sequel to another book, Firefly Lane, but she enjoyed it as a standalone book nevertheless. I decided that before I read Fly Away, I'd borrow Firefly Lane from the library and read that first but I had to order it and it's taken such a long time for my name to reach the front of the queue. It was worth the wait though.

"In the turbulent summer of 1974, Kate Mularkey has accepted her place at the bottom of the social food-chain at school. Then, to her amazement, the 'coolest girl in the world' moves in across the street and wants to be her friend. Tully Hart seems to have it all - beauty, brains, ambition. On the surface they are as opposite as two people can be, but they make a pact to be best friends forever: by summer's end they've become TullyandKate. Inseparable.

For thirty years Tully and Kate buoy each other through life, weathering the storms of friendship, jealousy, anger, hurt and resentment. Tully follows her ambition to find fame and success. Kate knows that all she wants is to fall in love and have a family but what she doesn't know is how being a wife and a mother will change her. They think they've survived it all until a single act of betrayal tears them apart and puts their courage and lifelong friendship to the ultimate test."


I loved this book, it's such a rollercoaster ride of friendship and you're carried along with the story of TullyandKate.

When I finished Firefly Lane I wanted to know what happened next and so the very next book I reached for was Fly Away.


"Celebrity news reporter and presenter Tully Hart has hit rock bottom. Kate Ryan had been her best friend for more than thirty years. They'd  lived, laughed, danced and cried together. Kate had been her anchor, and now Tully was cast adrift - not knowing how she was going to survive.

Kate's daughter, Marah, was only sixteen years old when her mother died. Consumed with guilt over the fights they'd had during the last months of Kate's life, Marah runs away and drops out of society - even withdrawing all contact with her family.

Tully's mother, Cloud, a child of the Sixties, has lived in a world of her own, dependent on drugs for most of her adult life. She now wants to prove that she can help her daughter. But what will it take for Tully to forgive?

And then something momentous happens which causes each one of them to realise what they've done, and what they have become."


Another fabulous book which answers a lot of questions left hanging from the first book and ties up all the loose ends.

To be honest, I wasn't sure I was going to enjoy Fly Away when I started it, it just seemed different to Firefly Lane, the dynamics of it were different somehow but as the story unravelled I enjoyed it more and more. There's some great characters in the book, I didn't always like them, but by the end I understood them.

I'd definitely recommend both books. Read them in order, they're great stories.

I thought I'd just mention that Firefly Lane has been turned into a drama series on Netflix. After enjoying both these books I thought I'd give it a go. I managed to get half an hour in to the first episode before I turned it off, it was awful. Perhaps I should have watched longer, perhaps it would have got better, but after enjoying the books so much I just couldn't stand another minute longer. Have you watched the series? What did you think?

Friday, 18 June 2021

Back To Fairburn Ings

We used to visit RSPB Fairburn Ings often when Daniel and Eleanor were small, they used to love feeding the ducks and it was the perfect place to take them where they were guaranteed to encounter some hungry birds. It's only about five miles away from where we live but we don't go so often these days so on Saturday we thought it was about time we paid another visit.

Unfortunately, we were a bit disappointed. Firstly, some of the pathways are one-way. I'm presuming that this is because of coronavirus restrictions, however, others are not, so what's the point? Secondly, we didn't even venture near the hides as they were choc-a-block with people. I'd have thought there'd have been a maximum number of people allowed in them at any one time at the moment with the times we find ourselves in. I may have had both my jabs now but I'm still taking precautions when I'm out and about and I wouldn't want to be in such close proximity to all those people.

The other thing I noticed was that various areas were blocked off, such as the pond dipping platform and the duck feeding platform, I'm not sure if this is down to coronavirus restrictions or something else, but there's no consistency when so many people are occupying the hides at one time.

So it turned out that we weren't to see any birds on our walk except for a crow and three ducks. Oh, there was a robin too which a crowd of people had gathered to see, all huddled together and blocking the path. There were quite a few damselflies about though, I had to be quick to get a photo as they don't hang around for long.

There were some lovely flowers to admire. 

I think the wildflowers have gone mad this year, perhaps it's down to all the rain we had in May.

There were probably some birds on this lake, though they were too far away for me to see.

Perhaps we'll leave it a while before we return, I'm not really in any hurry to visit again at the moment. We did have a good walk though and Archie was tired out when we got home, I think it was the distance we walked coupled with the heat, it was a scorcher.

Monday, 14 June 2021

A Year Without My Dad

It's a year today since my dad died. It seems like only yesterday in some ways but then I think of everything that has happened since then and it seems a long time. It's funny how the same amount of time can seem to pass at different speeds.

My dad's death has been a different experience from my mum's, mainly because after my mum died I was still taking care of my dad and so I couldn't slow down, take it easy, or even grieve properly, and I think I've done some of my grieving for my mum as well as my dad in the past year. I miss them both so very much.

We'll visit the memorial garden at the crematorium today and take some flowers to lay at the memorial stone we have for my mum, dad and sister.

I'd like to buy a rose bush in his memory like I did for my mum but I've only just hit on the one I'd like so I shall be ordering it soon, I'll tell you more about it when it arrives. 

Wednesday, 9 June 2021

The Yorkshire Dales

I've written about The Yorkshire Dales on my blog many times, it's a place we return to again and again as it's somewhere we love and it's close enough for a day trip. Mick took another day off work last Friday so as the nice weather was holding up we decided that a trip to The Dales was in order.

I never tire of scenery like this.

We started off in Leyburn where it was market day. Thankfully it wasn't very busy. It's not a huge market but there were a good mix of stalls.

Another place we often visit when we're in The Dales is the Wensleydale Creamery in Hawes. We can't resist bringing some of their cheese home with us, I'm very partial to Wensleydale. It was much quieter than it usually is, but they do have a queueing system in operation if it does get busy.

My main draw to The Dales is the scenery. Everywhere is looking so lush at the moment after all the rain we had during May. 

There's lots of lambs in the fields just now but this sheep looked very fat as though she still had to give birth. I don't know very much about sheep but I thought they'd have all had their lambs by now. Perhaps I'm wrong.

It was a lovely day. I'm never disappointed with my choice of destination when I choose The Dales for an outing, it's one of my favourite places.

And if you were wondering, Mick chose Wensleydale and Fountains Gold in the creamery, and of course doubled up as Eleanor is a cheese lover too. Now that she's got her own house it's costing us a fortune!

Saturday, 5 June 2021

Hardcastle Crags

With it being a bank holiday on Monday, Mick decided to tag a days holiday onto each end of the weekend. On the Friday we had a day out at Fraisthorpe and on Tuesday we decided to visit Hardcastle Crags. It wasn't the brightest idea really, not only was it one of the hottest days of the year but I've been suffering with sciatica and plantar fasciitis so I really didn't want to be walking far. Nevertheless, we did manage a walk.

Hardcastle Crags lies about two miles north of Hebden Bridge and ten miles west of Halifax. It's a wooded Pennine valley owned by the National Trust and there's over fifteen miles of footpaths to explore.

There's different walking trails, from gentle strolls to rugged hikes, and at this time of year the bluebells are covering the woodland floor.

It was a blisteringly hot day but the canopy of the trees kept us shaded, it was a welcome relief from the heat of the day.

There's wildlife to see along the way. This squirrel posed obligingly whilst I took his photo.

We passed sheep who seemed very interested in Archie, though he wasn't a bit interested in them! I felt very sorry for them in their woolly coats, they must have been red hot in the heat.

Archie found a way to cool off, he found a small spring so went for a paddle. He's feeling the heat at the moment too, he's ready to go to the groomers again, though it's not that long since he went last time. He's just so much more comfortable with a short coat during the summer months.

We could have stayed much longer had it not been for my painful back and foot but I'm sure we'll go back when I'm feeling more up to walking further.

Afterwards, we drove to Hebden Bridge where we ate our lunch.

I'd taken a salad with me but Mick bought a steak & ale pie from a local butchers. It was nice by the river.

It's really lovely to be getting out and about a bit now after all the time we've been under orders to stay at home. We're still being very careful when we're out and we're due to have our second vaccinations this afternoon. Let's hope that this is the first step to getting back to living normally again.

Tuesday, 1 June 2021

Fraisthorpe

Mick took a day off work on Friday and as some better weather had arrived we decided to head to the coast. We weren't bothered about the hustle and bustle of a seaside resort, just a nice beach where we could walk Archie so we thought that Fraisthorpe would fit the bill nicely.

Fraisthorpe is so convenient, this is the view from the car park. As you can see, the beach is a stones throw, literally, from where you park your car which means you don't have to carry picnics and other paraphernalia around with you.

How lovely is this. Just at the entrance to the beach is a box containing balls and other dog toys which you can borrow in memory of Fanny. Such a lovely thing. Thank you, Fanny, though Archie isn't one for chasing balls and toys, he much prefers spending his time in the many rock pools which can be found on this beach.

There's lots of concrete tank blocks and large rocks left on this beach and rock pools form around them, much to Archie's delight. He always makes a beeline straight for any standing water.

28000 pill boxes were built during WWII as a defence against German invasion, only 6000 remain today and along with the tank blocks, there are pill boxes on the beach too.

I always seem to find beach treasure wherever I go.

We stood for a while and watched the sand martins flying to and from their nests in the cliffs. I wasn't quick enough to get a photo of them, I definitely wouldn't make a nature photographer, I haven't got the patience.

Fraisthorpe is about four miles south of Bridlington, which you can just see in the distance in the photo above. You can see how quiet the beach was, most of the people there were walking dogs with just a few families with children. We'd have taken a walk along the beach into Bridlington but it's a bit far now for Archie.

This is a photo in the opposite direction. There wasn't any facilities at this beach when we first started coming here but there's now a dog friendly cafe and toilets. The car park is pay and display and at £1 for an hour, £3 for 3 hours or £5 all day, I think it's very reasonable. The cafe looks nice but as we always take a picnic with us we've never tried it but it's good that there's somewhere you can eat which is dog friendly after time spent on the beach. This beach is dog friendly all year round, whereas many beaches have restrictions in place during the summer months.

There may not have been many people enjoying the beach but the seagulls were having a paddle.

After a good walk we settled down in a couple of chairs like an old married couple. Oh, we are an old married couple. I took my lovely Moomins flask which was one of my gifts from Daniel and Jasmine for Christmas 2019, it hasn't had many outings since then as we haven't had that many trips out but hopefully, it will see some action this year.

Just time for Archie to have a play in the rock pools again before we head home. It was a lovely day, so much so that we returned again on Sunday with Eleanor and Jacob. I'm determined to make the most of the good weather while it lasts.

Friday, 28 May 2021

Too Good To Go

I first read about Too Good To Go on Jane's The Love Of Nostalgia Blog in her Food Too Good To Waste post. Then last week, I read Marlene's Bags of Savings post on her Poppy Patchwork blog. I thought I would give Too Good To Go a try for myself.

Too Good To Go is an app which connects customers to restaurants and shops that have unsold, surplus food. They sell this off at a much lower cost thus avoiding wasting the food. Once you've downloaded the app you can search for restaurants and shops which are close to where you live which are joined up to the scheme and when they have food available for you to buy it is indicated on the app.

At the time I downloaded the app there was only one shop close by which had food available and that was Greggs. You don't know what you'll get, it's whatever they've got left at the end of the day, but you do know the price you'll pay. The cost of a bag from Greggs was £2.59 and it's food they'd been selling that day so it wasn't going to go off straight away.

The above is what I received. I think it was an absolute bargain. Four sausage rolls, a ham and cheese baguette, a pack of cheese sandwiches, a doughnut and a jammy shortbread biscuit. I'm not a lover of glazed doughnuts so I took that round for Eleanor, the baguette was huge so I had half for my lunch on Saturday and half on Sunday, Mick took the cheese sandwiches with him to eat at cricket on Saturday and he ate the sausage rolls over the following days. We shared the shortbread biscuit.

Mick's got a day off work today so we're going to be heading off for a day out shortly. Knowing that we'd be eating out, I reserved another Greggs bag yesterday, however, this time it was from a different Greggs shop. Again, it cost £2.59 and the photo above shows what was included. A chicken mayo baguette, four sausage rolls, a beef and vegetable pasty, a croissant, six corn topped bread rolls, a jam doughnut, a caramel glazed doughnut, a triple chocolate muffin, a lemon muffin and a gingerbread person. Wow, we're going to be eating well on our picnic. I gave the caramel glazed doughnut to Eleanor as neither me nor Mick will eat that.

Eleanor decided to try Costa. Their bags cost £3 but I don't think they're a patch on Greggs, which are cheaper. There's two toastie sandwiches, one sausage & onion chutney and the other cheddar & roast tomato, and an egg, mushroom & spinach breakfast bap. I don't suppose it's bad at £1 per item but I prefer the selection of sandwiches, pastries and sweet items which you get at Greggs, though of course, as they're just things which are leftover at the end of the day, the contents of the bags are probably different each time you buy one. Both Eleanor and Jacob really enjoyed all three items.

I think it's a great scheme, shops and restaurants are able to still make some money on their surplus food without it going to waste, and customers are able to buy things a bit cheaper, it's win win for everyone.

Monday, 24 May 2021

All The Lonely People

Maggie from BlackCountry Wench blog mentioned a while ago that she'd been listening to the audio book of All the Lonely People by Mike Gayle and that she'd enjoyed it. I really enjoyed Half a World Away by the same author which I read last year so I thought I'd give this one a go.

"In phone calls to his daughter in Australia, widower Hubert Bird paints a picture of the perfect retirement, packed with fun and friendship.

But Hubert Bird is lying.

Something has made him turn his back on people, and he hardly sees a soul.

So when his daughter announces she's coming to visit, Hubert faces a race against time: to make his real life resemble his fake life before he's found out.

Along the way Hubert renews a cherished friendship, is given a second chance at love and even joins an audacious community scheme. But with the secret of his earlier isolation lurking in the shadows, is he destined to always be one of the lonely people?"

The book switches between present day and goes back in time to explore Hubert Bird's life right from the time he arrived in the UK from Jamaica back in the 1950s. The characters are very likeable and I love Mike Gayle's writing style. 

There's a huge twist which I never saw coming. I won't say any more as I'd hate to spoil it for anyone.

I've now read two books by Mike Gayle and enjoyed them both. I shall be seeking out more books by this author.

Thursday, 20 May 2021

Oops!...I Did It Again

It seems I can't walk past The Works without popping in and buying some new books. Their 3 for £5 offer is just too good to pass up, especially when I've found some really good books on this offer in the past.

This time I've bought books from three authors I've never heard of before. I'm trying to branch out a bit and read books which I wouldn't usually reach for, the books on this offer encourage me to do that, I've had some very good books from The Works.

Yesterday I had some flea and worm treatment to pick up from the vets for Archie (don't worry, only preventative, he hasn't got either fleas or worms) and there's a large charity shop nearby, one I've never been in before, so I thought I'd have a quick look seeing as I was passing. I came out with another three books. I've never read anything from these authors before either, though I do have a Kristin Hannah book waiting to be read which Maggie from BlackCountry Wench blog sent me a while ago. It's the sequel to another book so I've had that on order at the library for ages, I'm just waiting for it to come in. 

Then I went into another charity shop and found A Mother Forever by Elaine Everest. I've read all of her books except this one, which is her latest, so I was very pleased to find this on the shelf.

I do have other books waiting to be read first but I'm always pleased to have plenty of books waiting in the wings.

Sunday, 16 May 2021

Zoemini

I had a little splurge this week. I often get money for birthdays or Christmas and I usually save it until there's something I really want. I've been thinking of buying a mini printer and I finally decided on the Canon Zoemini.

I've kept some form of diary or journal nearly all my life and have done scrapbooking in the past. After receiving a Travelers Notebook for Christmas I've decided that I'd like to start a travel journal, not only of holidays we take but of days out too, it'll be something nice to look back on. I'd also like to make my everyday journals more creative, so a mini printer will aid me in this endeavour.

The Canon Zoemini prints photos direct from your phone and as it's pocket sized and connects wirelessly, it's portable so good for on the go too. The photos are 2 X 3 inch and the back can be peeled off to reveal a sticky surface, so no glue is needed if you want to stick them into an album.

I just need to get to grips with it now and get it set up, though if truth be told I'm no good at all where technology is concerned so it will be a case of getting someone else to set it up for me.

Wednesday, 12 May 2021

Newborn Vertebrae

After knitting the Twinkle Twinkle Blanket which I recently finished, I was left with 74g of Drops baby merino yarn, just enough to make a Newborn Vertebrae to go with the blanket.

The photo above shows the amount of yarn I had to play with, all the scrappy ends. The Baby Vertebrae is knit in a 4 ply, or fingering weight yarn, and requires about 200 metres, however, Drops baby merino is a heavier weight 4 ply yarn, more of a sport weight than a fingering, having only 175 metres per 50g. Also, as I didn't have the size of needles suggested, I decided to go up a size, so it was really touch and go whether or not I'd have enough yarn to complete this project.

This is a pattern by Kelly Van Niekerk and it can be downloaded free on Ravelry. It's a lovely little cardigan for a newborn baby as there are no fiddly buttons to bother with. More of a shrug, it's a frontless cardigan to keep baby's arms and back warm.

It's knit in the Light Beige colourway so it's neutral and perfect for a boy or girl.

The pattern is very easy to follow and it knits up in no time at all. The only problem I found, and this is nothing to do with the pattern, was the laddering on the arms. This happens when using double pointed needles at the place where you change from one needle to the next. It's quite a conundrum really as I knit socks on double pointed needles with no problem at all, however, no matter how hard I tried I couldn't prevent the ladders. I tried all different ways and I'm now convinced that it's down to the yarn being used. I shall definitely have to take a note in future when knitting in the round if ladders occur and what yarn I'm using. I don't think it looks too bad though and I doubt it will be noticeable when a baby's arm is in the sleeve.

All in all I'm quite happy with how it's turned out and I did manage to complete it without running out of yarn. Just!

I've decided to abandon my crafting rotation again for a while. It made a change starting a project and working on it exclusively until completion. It does take more time to get something finished when you're working on a number of things all at once, and though I enjoy doing that and it saves me from getting bored with a project, sometimes you just want to see a finish.

Saturday, 8 May 2021

Nearly Finished

You may remember me coming across this unfinished cross stitch again which I started in my early teens, it's definitely the the oldest unfinished project I've got. I was in two minds whether to finish it off or not, especially as it had a rust mark on it. Take a look at what I mean in my Rusty Cat post. I decided I'd give it a go and the stitching actually covered up the stain so it wasn't a problem in the end. All the cross stitching is now done.

This means there's just the back stitching to do now, my least favourite bit. I've been toying with the idea of leaving it as it is but you can see from the photo accompanying the kit that the back stitching just finishes it off, so I think I've come all this way to getting it finished, I'll just have to bite the bullet and continue on with it. What do you think?

I've been working on this for an hour each week as part of my crafting rotation and even though it's only a small wedge of time, it does mean that older projects get a little work put into them and get finished off eventually.

Tuesday, 4 May 2021

Twinkle Twinkle Blanket

It seems a long time since I've finished a crafting project, one of the downsides of splitting my time between a number of projects and working on them all at once, it means that no one project gets an awful lot of time spent on it. I have finally finished something though, the Twinkle Twinkle Baby Blanket by Helen Stewart. Not that there's any babies to knit for at the moment but I just fancied knitting this when I saw it. I enjoy knitting things for babies as they're so small and knit up in no time at all.

I used Drops baby merino in the light beige colourway and it took about 226g. It's lovely and soft and has a good drape to it too. I like the colour, it's neutral so it will be suitable for a boy or a girl.

It was an easy knit, I could watch TV whilst working on it as there were no complicated stitches or pattern to follow and I enjoyed knitting it, so much so that I'd quite happily knit another one. 

I'd be quite tempted to make it bigger next time, I ended up with 74g of yarn left over so I could have added a few extra rounds but I think a cot size blanket would be lovely.

I love the lace edging, it finishes it off beautifully and the detail was so easy to achieve.

Now that this is finished it leaves a space to add something else to my crafting rotation, I think it's time for a new cast on.