Friday 31 December 2021

Looking Back At 2021

Well, what a year it's been again. I didn't think we could have another year like 2020 but with Coronavirus still in our midst and further lockdowns and restrictions throughout this year, it's been another turbulent year. Still, life goes on so let's take a look back at the things I've been up to these past twelve months.

I started the year off with some sad news, one of my mum's older sisters died just before the new year. Here is my Auntie Beryl on the right of the photo, sitting next to my mum. Only one of the six sisters are still living. For the last three years I've hoped for a happier year than the previous one following the deaths of my mum and dad, but yet again there was sadness at the very start of the year and reading my post back now I can see how much this affected me.

In February I wrote about Eleanor and Jacob becoming First Time Buyers. They've done so well and worked so hard to afford their own home at such a young age and we're very proud of them. They're currently doing a few renovations, they've had new windows fitted and are decorating various rooms.

The big news in March was that I was Jabbed when I got the first of my coronavirus vaccinations. I had the second one a short time later and I had my booster earlier this month. I'm pleased to report that I only had very mild side effects with the first one and nothing at all with the second. I did feel rather poorly the day after I'd had my booster but it was short lived and it's a small price to pay in the grand scheme of things.

It had been over a year since we'd visited the seaside but in April I got a dose of Vitamin Sea when we visited Scarborough on the Yorkshire coast. I think Archie enjoyed it just as much as we did, it was a beautiful day.

I've finished quite a few craft projects this year, in May the Twinkle Twinkle Blanket finally made it off the needles. I didn't make this with a recipient in mind, there haven't been any babies in the family for a long long time, but sometimes I see a pattern and just want to make it, so that's what I did. I enjoyed knitting this so much that I've got plans to make another one, still with no baby to knit for, but who knows, one may come along soon.

Mick had a week off work in June so we had a staycation, taking days out here and there throughout the week. One of our days out was to Bridlington. Archie, at eleven years old, is starting to slow down, but he always shows his pleasure when he's taken to the seaside, you'd think he was a puppy again. We couldn't have chosen a better day, the sun was shining and it was lovely and warm, we had such a wonderful day.

In July I wrote about Eleanor's journey to become a biomedical scientist. She'd worked so hard for it so we were so proud when she finally Qualified. I wrote in that post that she now had to find a job but wasn't keen to change hospitals. Well, in the end she decided that she did want a complete change, she applied for three jobs away from the hospital she was working at and got offered two of them, one of them being in the department she really wanted. She had a three month notice period at her current job but left on Christmas Eve and is starting her new job in the new year. Jacob has also now qualified and is working as a biomedical scientist too.

Daniel and Jasmine spent more than a week with us in August but I was lamenting that All Good Things Must Come To An End. We had a lovely time while they were here, enjoying days out as well as time together at home. They came to stay again a week before Christmas and they're still here, they're going home on Sunday or Monday, they haven't decided yet, but I won't be as sad this time as they're coming back to live in Leeds at the end of January. It will be lovely having them living close by again.

In September I finally finished the Little White Cat cross stitch which I started more than forty years ago. Don't worry, I wasn't working on it continually during that time, I started it as a child and came across it again recently. I didn't enjoy finishing it off but I do like the fact that I've still got the very first cross stitch I ever started.

I took you on a visit to Halloween At Ledston in October. The whole village had made an effort to decorate and it was a fun trip out to somewhere close to home.

In November there were some Colder Days after a mild start to autumn. Towards the end of the month we had Storm Arwen blow through causing death and destruction but earlier in the month we had some lovely weather.

We visited The Fairy Dell at Lotherton in December, just part of the Christmas Experience there. We visit each year and it was nice to see that they'd changed things up a bit this year. It's a lovely place to visit at any time throughout the year but especially so at Christmas and especially if you have children.

A massive thank you, as always, to everyone who visits my blog and reads along, especially those who leave comments, it wouldn't be half as fun if I felt I was rambling on to myself. I've always said that the friendships we make through blogging can be so rewarding, so thank you. It's been another tough year for many and it does help sometimes to post about how we're feeling and know that there's always someone who is there with an ear to lend. Let's hope that 2022 is a good year. Wishing you all happiness, health and prosperity as we head into a brand new year.

Tuesday 28 December 2021

Books Read In 2021

I thought my reading was down on last year, there have been a few periods when I just haven't felt like reading and the number of books I read during December always drops off because I'm so busy, I think I've only read three books this month, but I'm completely on par with last year. I've read seventy five books this year, exactly the same as last year.

Last year, I finished my challenge of reading all of Agatha Christie's murder mystery books in chronological order so I was looking for a new challenge. I decided I'd start reading Miss Read's books, starting with the Fairacre series. I've read one each month, twelve in total, and there's more to go so that will take me well into 2022.

Again, I've found some new authors to read, along with some old favourites, and this year I seem to have had a bit of a chick lit fest. I think that has come about from picking books up in The Works, they have a 3 for £5 deal and many of the books they offer are from this genre. I have to say that I've enjoyed some lighter reading.

The Bermondsey Bookshop - Mary Gibson

Village School - Miss Read

Sheltering Rain - Jojo Moyes

Cilka's Journey - Heather Morris

The Man in Black - Dylan Rhys Jones

The Dinner Party - RJ Parker

Village Diary - Miss Read

A Watermelon, A Fish and A Bible - Christy Lefteri

The Giver of Stars - Jojo Moyes

Rendez-Vous in Cannes - Jennifer Bohnet

Storm in the Village - Miss Read

The Mother-In-Law - Sally Hepworth

The Boy Between - Amanda Prowse and Josiah Hartley

Wedding Bells for Woolworths - Elaine Everest

How to Raise and Elephant - Alexander McCall Smith

Miss Clare Remembers - Miss Read

A Sky Full of Stars - Dani Atkins

The Familiars - Stacey Halls

Secrets and Seashells at Rainbow Bay - Ali McNamara

The Teashop Girls - Elaine Everest

Christmas With the Teashop Girls - Elaine Everest

Over the Gate - Miss Read

All the Lonely People - Mike Gayle

A Sister's Wish - Donna Douglas

An Ordinary Life - Amanda Prowse

Firefly Lane - Kristin Hannah

Fly Away - Kristin Hannah

Mrs Miniver - Jan Struther

The Butlins Girls - Elaine Everest

Village Christmas - Miss Read

Mine - Susi Fox

Mine - Clare Empson

Fairacre Festival - Miss Read

The Love Square - Laura Jane Williams

Together - Julie Cohen

Letters From the Past - Erica James

The Salt Path - Raynor Winn

The Secrets You Keep - Kate White

The Last Charm - Ella Allbright

Where The Crawdads Sing - Delia Owens

Emily Davis - Miss Read

Between Sisters - Kristin Hannah

A Mother Forever - Elaine Everest

Escape to the Art Cafe - Sue McDonagh

The Switch - Beth O'Leary

My Sister's Keeper - Jodi Picoult

The Christmas Mouse - Miss Read

Miss Benson's Beetle - Rachel Joyce

Coming Home to Penvennan Cove - Linn B Halton

The Little Paris Patisserie - Julie Caplin

The Phone Box at the Edge of the World - Laura Imai Messina

A Cottage in the Country - Linn B Halton

The Little Cafe in Copenhagen - Julie Caplin

A Little Sugar, A Lot of Love - Linn B Halton

The Little Brooklyn Bakery - Julie Caplin

The Thursday Murder Club - Richard Osman

Tyler's Row - Miss Read

The Northern Lights Lodge - Julie Caplin

The Secrets of Villa Rosso - Linn B Halton

Twopence to Cross The Mersey - Helen Forrester

Liverpool Miss - Helen Forrester

By the Waters of Liverpool - Helen Forrester

Lime Street at Two - Helen Forrester

Christmas at Bay Tree Cottage - Linn B Halton

The Joy and Light Bus Company - Alexander McCall Smith

A Village Affair - Julie Houston

All the Light We Cannot See - Anthony Doerr

A Greek Affair - Linn B Halton

The Patchwork Girls - Elaine Everest

Farther Afield - Miss Read

The Secret Cove in Croatia - Julie Caplin

Waiting to Begin - Amanda Prowse

No Holly for Miss Quinn - Miss Read

Never Greener - Ruth Jones

The Canal Boat Cafe Christmas - Cressida Mclaughlin

My stand out book of the year is Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens. I nearly didn't bother with this but I'd heard about it in so many places and from so many people that I thought I'd give it a go. It's had some rave reviews and, in my opinion, rightly so. I absolutely loved all the descriptive writing and it does make you think about prejudice, intolerance and acceptance. I read a couple of other books which had won various awards and which people were raving about, The Salt Path and All the Light We Cannot See, but they didn't really do it for me. I did enjoy the latter but wouldn't give it more than a six out of ten, but I didn't get on with The Salt Path at all. I found it badly written, boring and couldn't get over the fact that someone who had just been made homeless, and at the same point in time their husband had been diagnosed with a terminal illness, would take themselves off to walk 630 miles along the South West Coast Path. Nor did I enjoy reading about them creeping into campsites after dark to use the facilities and then leaving without paying. Surely it would have made more sense to sort out their lives and arrange their benefits before embarking on a journey where they had to resort to petty crime. That's just my way of thinking, I know lots of people enjoyed this book.

In 2022 I'm going to continue to read Miss Read books. I've still got some of the Fairacre series to read and then I shall move onto the Thrush Green series. I've also decided that I'm going to start reading some classics. In preparation for this I added a few different book ranges to my wish list, though didn't specify any particular title. I've had a good few books bought for me as gifts throughout the past year and I'm looking forward to getting started on them. I've also decided to consciously cut back on my reading this year. There was a time when I only read in bed, and though I don't want to go back to doing just that, I do want to give myself extra time during the day for other things. I did say the same thing last year so I'm going to have to make myself put down my books more in order to achieve this.

Have you set yourself any reading challenges this year?

Thursday 23 December 2021

Merry Christmas 2021

There have been many changes for us over the last few Christmases, firstly back in 2018 when Daniel spent Christmas with Jasmine's family over in America. It was the first time one of our children hadn't been with us over the festive period. 2019 was the first Christmas without my mum and then in 2020 my dad was no longer with us either. That was the Christmas we had the lockdowns and restrictions because of Coronavirus too.

This year will be another change for us as Eleanor has moved into her own house with Jacob, though they don't live far away so she'll be here to celebrate with us. Jacob is working a night shift on Christmas Eve so he'll spend a portion of Christmas Day sleeping. Daniel and Jasmine came up from Essex last Thursday and they're staying until the new year so it's lovely that the family is all together. Hopefully, in the new year, they'll be moving back to Leeds so that's something to look forward to.

Thank you to all my bloggy friends who have sent me Christmas cards, I know many people don't send so many these days, or else they've cut right back, but it is lovely when a card drops through the door and greetings are received in this way.

Wishing you all a happy and peaceful Christmas.

Saturday 18 December 2021

Year Of Dishcloths 2021

I wrote about the Year Of Dishcloths back in January. Hosted by The Kitchen Sink Shop on Instagram, a dishcloth pattern was released each month of this year and I decided that I would knit along. I kept updated with the patterns through a newsletter but they have all been released as free patterns on Ravelry.

It's been fun to join in, a dishcloth doesn't take long to knit, and most of them could easily be completed by a beginner knitter. I like the textured patterns best, just a mix of knit and purl stitches, they work up to make lovely designs.

I've got all different colours and all different sizes, it's handy having a range of cloths for different requirements and purposes.

My least favourite is the colourwork one above. Colourwork isn't my favourite knitting technique. The three below are my favourites from the twelve I've knit. The textured patterns combined with the yarn I chose worked well.

I think this many be running again next year but I shall leave it here, I'm well stocked up with cloths now.

Tuesday 14 December 2021

The Fairy Dell

When we visited the Festive Woodland Walk at Lotherton last week, we also popped in to the Fairy Dell, Lotherton's own secret fairy hideaway.

There's so many different styles of houses.

The Fairy Liquid Off License.

There's even a strange character or two.

The cinema. Well, Fairies apparently like to watch films too.

What's a fairy to do with a broken wing? Go to the Wing Menders of course.

Listen carefully as you pass through, you may be able to hear the fairies chatting to each other or, if you're really lucky, you might catch them granting wishes.

It's really magical, a wonderful day out if you've got little ones.

Friday 10 December 2021

Festive Woodland Walk

As you know if you've visited my blog before, we often visit Lotherton Hall, a country house and grounds which is situated just a ten minute drive from where we live. They put various events on throughout the year and there's always something happening there in the run up to Christmas. I've posted about The Christmas Experience before but this year they announced a new and exciting woodland walk.

We always walk through the woodland when we visit Lotherton as it's Archie's favourite walk. The last few years has seen a Twelve Days of Christmas themed walk but it's all change this year, the Festive Woodland Walk seems to have more exhibits which are 'hands on' for the little ones.

The Christmas tree lined tunnel tells us it's This way to the Gingerbread house!

The Gingerbread House was all locked up today, I'm not sure if they do open it up or not, but you can look through the windows and see a lovely festive scene.

The carol singers will sing and spin around if you turn the handle.

I've never seen such huge presents. I wonder what's inside.

Pull the ropes at the ends of the cracker and you'll hear a joke. I like how there's a little bit of information about each exhibit too, educational as well as fun.

Awww, what a shame, there was no one to take a photo of  Mick and I kissing under the mistletoe in this picture frame. I did try to persuade Mick to take Archie in there but he was having none of it, Mick that is, not Archie, haha.

However, Archie does appear in Lotherton's advent calendar, much to his disgust.

Poor Archie looks thoroughly fed up, though he's used to us making him join in. He'd rather be continuing on his walk.

This little robin redbreast found a friend to perch on while we passed by.

We had a short walk around the formal gardens where there are more hands on exhibits. Press the buttons on the organ to hear a Christmas tune.

Tickets can be booked to visit Santa and there's an elf village where children can take part in some elf crafts, though I believe additional costs apply to these extra attractions.

I have to say that we always enjoy our visits to Lotherton, and so must many other people as there has been a steep rise in visitor numbers, so much so that Leeds City Council has recently announced that they're to spend £250,000 on expanding the car park. I just hope that they also improve the parking space which is already there as in busy periods it's like a mud bath, especially during the winter months. They've improved the paths around the estate but the current car parking arrangements leave a lot to be desired.

Monday 6 December 2021

Never Greener

I picked up Never Greener by Ruth Jones in a charity shop when we visited Derbyshire earlier this year and wrote about the Bookcrossing scheme that it's a part of. I've finally got round to reading it.

"The past has a habit of tracking us down. And tripping us up.

When Kate was twenty-two, she had an intense and passionate affair with a married man, Callum, which ended in heartbreak. Kate thought she'd never get over it.

Seventeen years later, life has moved on - Kate, now a successful actress, is living in London, married to Matt and mother to little Tallulah. Meanwhile Callum and his wife Belinda are happy together, living in Edinburgh and watching their kids grow up. The past, it would seem, is well and truly behind them all.

But then Kate meets Callum again.

And they are faced with a choice: to walk away from each other...or to risk finding out what might have been.

Second chances are a rare gift in life. But that doesn't mean they should always be taken..."

It took me a while after buying this book from a charity shop to actually pick it up and read it, but once I did I couldn't put it down. I didn't always like the characters, and it was a simple storyline, but it held my interest as I wanted to find out how it all played out in the end, and I suppose this is what keeps us reading any book.

I wouldn't say this is at the top of  my list of favourite books read this year, but it's certainly made me want to read more from Ruth Jones.

I can now pass the book along in the Bookcrossing scheme. I wonder who will read it next.