Saturday 31 December 2022

Looking Back At 2022

It's been a busy year for us. A house move and a wedding to organise, they've taken up a lot of our time. Let's take a look at what else happened over the last twelve months.

The year got off to a good start with Daniel and Jasmine finally Coming Home. They'd been living down south for over five years and what with the distance and the pandemic during the previous two years, we hadn't seen much of them. They've been renting a flat very close to where we live but they're now looking to buy a house somewhere close by. It will be lovely to have them put down roots here.

We were Engaging With Nature at Lotherton in February. It's one of our favourite places to walk Archie and he loves it there too, so we visit throughout the year. You tend to really take notice of the changes in the seasons when you see the same place on a regular basis. Lotherton was just starting to wake up from its winter slumber, there were snowdrops to see and the promise of daffodils to come.

Mick took some time off work in March, and along with trips on the weekends, we got out and about. One of the places we visited was Worsbrough Mill And Country Park. It's a really interesting place, there's a working water mill which you're able to look round, along with 240 acres of parkland and a reservoir. The weather was gorgeous too.

In April, we were Moving House. We'd lived in our old house for over twenty eight years so it was a big decision to move, but we absolutely love our new house and we're glad we took the plunge. We're all settled in now and it feels as though we've lived here for years.

I took a bit of a break from blogging during May whilst we got sorted out in our new home, but we did go to see the Willow Sculptures At Lotherton. There are quite a few of these willow animals, and a willow archer too, dotted around the estate, though we still haven't come across the squirrels.

In June, I wrote about Eleanor getting Another New Job. She'd had a couple of jobs in quick succession after she finished her degree but she seems really settled where she is now and she's loving her job. She's been working weekends but in the new year she'll be starting shifts, which entails night work. I think her and Jacob will be like ships passing in the night as Jacob works shifts already. We'll have to see how that goes.

We had lots of lovely, sunny days this year with temperatures at one point breaking records. We don't always have such summery days so we have to make the most of them when we do. We visited Beck Wood in July, being beside water is perfect when the weather's so good, and though this particular day wasn't hot, it was pleasant.

Eleanor's Hen Weekend was held in August. I, along with some of the other oldies, was invited to afternoon tea at the Sky Lounge in Leeds, before the hens headed off for the weekend to Manchester. Everyone had a lovely time and it was the perfect start to the wedding celebrations.

In September, I celebrated My Birthday In Filey. Although we visit many seaside towns on the east coast, Filey is one that we've never really explored. We were actually pleasantly surprised, we really liked what we saw and we shall definitely go back to see more.

Eleanor and Jacob's Wedding Day wasn't just the highlight of October, it was the highlight of the year. It was a fantastic day from start to finish, everyone really enjoyed it and Eleanor and Jacob had huge smiles on their faces all day long. They've now settled down to married life together, though they both say that they don't really feel any different.

We went to see our small town's Christmas Lights switched on at the end of November. It's quite a big event for such a small place with roads closed, a market installed for the day and a stage set up for the entertainment. There was a fantastic firework display to watch too. We enjoyed it and might even go again next year.

Many things were cancelled in 2020 and 2021 owing to the pandemic and one of them was the show we'd booked to see at Leeds Grand Theatre. Les Miserables is Mick's, Eleanor's and my favourite musical so we booked right back in 2019 to see it in 2020 but it got postponed twice. We finally got to see it earlier this month after a three year wait, we all thoroughly enjoyed it.

So that's 2022 wrapped up in a nutshell. Of course, there's been much more to my year than is shown in this highlight post and you can take a look back through my previous posts if you'd like to read more. 

Thank you, as always, to everyone who visits my blog and especially those who leave a comment to let me know you've passed by, I appreciate this so very much. Wishing you all a healthy, happy and prosperous new year.

Wednesday 28 December 2022

Books Read In 2022

I haven't read anywhere near as many books as I usually do this year and there's two reasons for this, firstly, I did say at the end of last year that I was going to cut back on the amount of time I devote to reading to give me more time for other things. I've definitely achieved this. Secondly, I just haven't had as much time to read this year with a house move and all that entails, and to a lesser extent, a wedding to organise. I did still manage to read forty seven books though.

I decided this year that I was going to read some classics. Although I read plenty of books, it's usually contemporary fiction that I reach for so I thought it was about time that I had a go at some of the classics. I've read one a month and they've been a bit hit and miss, some I've thoroughly enjoyed and others haven't really been my thing. I think my favourite is Great Expectations, and I also enjoyed A Christmas Carol, so I definitely want to read more Dickens.

I've continued reading Miss Read books. I've now finished the Fairacre series and have embarked on the Thrush Green series. It's fun getting to know all the new characters and I'm still enjoying reading all about village life from yesteryear.

There have been new releases this year from some of my favourite authors, Alexander McCall Smith, Amanda Prowse, Dani Atkins to name a few. I've thoroughly enjoyed reading the two follow ups in The Thursday Murder Club series by Richard Osman.

The Man Who Died Twice - Richard Osman

The Great Gatsby - F. Scott Fitzgerald

Village Affairs - Miss Read

Robinson Crusoe - Daniel Defoe

The White Robin - Miss Read

The Memory Box - Kathryn Hughes

Little Women - Louisa May Alcott

The Little Teashop in Tokyo - Julie Caplin

Village Centenary - Miss Read

Summer at Fairacre - Miss Read

The Little Swiss Ski Chalet - Julie Caplin

Nineteen Eighty-Four - George Orwell

Persuasion - Jane Austen

Mrs Pringle - Miss Read

The Cosy Cottage in Ireland - Julie Caplin

Great Expectations - Charles Dickens

The Woolworths Saturday Girls - Elaine Everest

All My Mothers - Joanna Glen

These Wonderful Rumours - May Smith

Changes at Fairacre - Miss Read

Farewell to Fairacre - Miss Read

The Wedding Dress - Dani Atkins

Far From the Madding Crowd - Thomas Hardy

Six Days - Dani Atkins

A Daughter's Hope - Donna Douglas

A Peaceful Retirement - Miss Read

Agnes Grey - Anne Bronte

Northanger Abbey - Jane Austen

Tales From a Village School - Miss Read

The Foundling - Stacey Halls

To Love and Be Loved - Amanda Prowse

Tess of the D'Urbervilles - Thomas Hardy

Thrush Green - Miss Read

A Song of Comfortable Chairs - Alexander McCall Smith

A Room with a View - E.M. Forster

Winter in Thrush Green - Miss Read

Making Waves at Penvennan Cove - Linn B Halton

Our Missing Hearts - Celeste Ng

The Bullet That Missed - Richard Osman

The Christmas Castle in Scotland - Julie Caplin

Remember Me - Charity Norman

The Jane Austen Society - Natalie Jenner

News From Thrush Green - Miss Read

The Long Long Afternoon - Inga Vesper

Women at War - Jan Casey

Thinking on my Feet - Kate Humble

A Christmas Carol - Charles Dickens

I don't have an overall stand out book this year but a couple I really enjoyed were All My Mothers by Joanna Glen and Our Missing Hearts by Celeste Ng. Another one I thoroughly enjoyed was Remember Me by Charity Norman, she's such a fantastic author and there isn't one of her books which I haven't loved, this was one of her best in my opinion.

In 2023 I plan on finishing the Thrush Green series by Miss Read and I'm going to continue to read some classics. I've had a few more bought for me for Christmas and I shall pick up some more as I go along. I think I've got a nice balance now of reading what I want to read but also setting aside some time for other things so I'll be pleased if I can continue in this way.

Have you got any reading goals this year?

Saturday 24 December 2022

Merry Christmas 2022

It's our first Christmas in our new(ish) home this year (we've been here nearly eight months now) and the family will be spending it with us. It's also the first year that Daniel and Jasmine have lived close by since Daniel left to go to university over nine years ago, so no one has any travelling to do. It's also the first year for Eleanor and Jacob as a married couple. Lots of firsts for our family this year.

Wishing all my lovely blogging friends a happy and peaceful Christmas.

Wednesday 21 December 2022

Christmas Robin

You may remember that I bought a little Christmas Robin knitting kit when I went to Bakewell Wool Gathering back in October.

It's a lovely little kit, it includes everything you need to make a Christmas Robin to hang on the Christmas tree.

The kit includes a wooden bird template, wool, a little Christmas tree charm, hanging cord and full instructions.

It's such a simple project which I completed within a couple of hours and it looks lovely hanging on my Christmas tree. Isn't he cute!

Saturday 17 December 2022

A Christmas Carol

After reading, and loving, Great Expectations by Charles Dickens earlier this year, I've been looking forward to the book I was saving for December, A Christmas Carol, also by Dickens.

"A Christmas Carol is the most famous, heart-warming and chilling festive story of them all. In these pages we meet Ebenezer Scrooge, whose name is synonymous with greed and parsimony: 'Every idiot who goes about with "Merry Christmas" on his lips, should be boiled with his own pudding, and buried with a stake of holly through his heart'. This attitude is soon challenged when the ghost of his old partner, Jacob Marley, returns from the grave to haunt him on Christmas Eve. Scrooge is then visited in turn by three spirits of Christmas Past, Present and Future, each one revealing the error of his ways and gradually melting the frozen heart of this old miser, leading him towards his redemption. On the journey we take with Scrooge we encounter a rich array of Dickensian characters including the poor Cratchit family with the ailing Tiny Tim and the generous and jolly Fezziwig.

When Charles Dickens wrote A Christmas Carol in 1843 he fashioned an enduring gift to the world, capturing the essence of the love, kindness and generosity of the Christmas season. It is a timeless classic and the story's uplifting magic remains as potent today as when it was first published".

Of course, I already knew the story of A Christmas Carol, but I'm kicking myself now for not reading the book sooner. This is only the second book by Dickens that I've read but I'm really enjoying his writing style and the way he weaves a story peppering it with some fantastic characters. I loved this book, I know many people feel the same as they bring it out to reread each December and I may do the same myself in the years to come. I definitely want to read more by Dickens.

Tuesday 13 December 2022

Christmas At Lotherton

As you know, we're regular visitors at Lotherton and so Christmas just wouldn't be Christmas if we didn't visit their Christmas Experience event. It's grown and grown over the years and now in addition to the Festive Woodland Walk with the interactive Twelve Days of Christmas displays, and a visit to see the main man himself, there's also the opportunity to decorate gingerbread people with Mrs Claus or do some crafts with the elves.

If you look back through my blog archives during December of each year, you'll come across the posts I've previously written about our walks at Lotherton at this time of year.

Last year, I also wrote a post about The Fairy Dell, and we visited it again this year.

I decided that instead of taking you on a walk around the grounds this year, I'd take you inside Lotherton Hall itself so that you can see how it's decorated for the festive season. We passed the Lotherton Advent Calendar on the way.

The entrance looked inviting, decked out in red bows and twinkly lights. This is where Mick and I parted company as we had Archie with us. I went inside and Mick took Archie for his much anticipated walk.

The hallway looked pretty adorned with attractive swags, and garlands up the bannister. The upper floor is usually open to visitors but unfortunately, it's closed over the festive period so there's nowhere near as many rooms to view at present.

A beautifully decorated tree stands in the hallway too.

In fact, I think there's a tree in every room open to the public. This is the one in the drawing room, a different colour scheme in here.

The decorations in the drawing room represent Laura Gwendolen Gascoigne 1859-1949.  She married Frederick Richard Trench Gascoigne, they inherited Lotherton Hall from his aunt and they made it their family home. They were responsible for the modern extension which incorporates the drawing room.

I'm always drawn to the portraits whenever I visit any stately home or country house. This is Laura Gwendolen Gascoigne and her eldest child, Alvary. Sir Alvary went on to inherit Lotherton Hall when his father died in 1937. He lived in retirement at Lotherton Hall and in 1968, presented it, along with the grounds, to Leeds City Council.

Another room, another Christmas tree.

The dining room is all set for dinner.

I hope you've enjoyed seeing Lotherton Hall decorated for the festive season. We visit mainly because the grounds are so lovely to walk Archie but we love following the events throughout the year too. The Christmas Experience is especially lovely if you've got children, though tickets have to be bought in advance as it does get booked up.

Friday 9 December 2022

Les Miserables

It was about three years ago when we booked to go and see Les Miserables at Leeds Grand Theatre. It was some time since the show had last toured and I was looking forward to seeing it. We booked three tickets so that Eleanor could come with us and thought it would make a nice treat for Mick as our tickets were for the 13th of August 2020, the night before his birthday. 

We all know what happened in 2020, just about everything got cancelled owing to the pandemic. Our tickets were transferred to a date in 2021 and we just hoped that everything would go ahead without any further delays, but that was not to be. The show was cancelled again and a further date pencilled in. 

It's been quite a wait since we booked our tickets back in 2019 but it was worth it. We finally got to see it last night and it was a fantastic show. We had really good seats at the very front of the upper circle so we could see everything that was happening on the stage. It was a wonderful production with fantastic stage sets and scenery, and amazing performances from the cast.

We all had a brilliant night out and in the end, it turned out to be a lovely pre Christmas treat.

Monday 5 December 2022

Woody Woodpecker

I always used to feed the birds in our old garden. We had quite a selection which visited, sparrows, starlings, blue tits, coal tits, chaffinches, goldfinches and many more besides. There didn't seem to be many different birds other than sparrows which visited our garden here when we moved earlier this year but, as we did at our old house, we've offered a selection of different seed and we've seen a wider variety visiting over the months. There's now greenfinches, great tits and a little robin, amongst others.

Our new house is on the very edge of open countryside so I had a sneaky feeling that we might be able to lure some different birds to our garden from those we saw at our old house. The birds there weren't all that keen on peanuts but we've offered them here, along with mixed seed and sunflower hearts and it's definitely done the trick, we now have woodpeckers which visit regularly.

This is a great spotted woodpecker, I know it's female as it doesn't have a red patch on the nape of its neck, but we've seen a male on the feeder too. Just look at that beak. 

Of course, the other birds aren't keen on the woodpeckers visiting, they have to queue up and wait for their turn at the feeder.

I could watch the birds all day long, I love seeing them come and go. Do you feed the birds in your garden? 

Thursday 1 December 2022

Petunia Dursley's Socks

I'm on a roll. I've managed to double the number of pairs of socks I knit last year. Okay, I know I only managed one pair last year and these latest socks make the grand sum of two pairs knitted this year, but I do believe that my knitting mojo is returning.

Petunia Dursley's Doublet Eyelet Socks pattern by Erica Lueder is a favourite pattern of mine, I've used it a couple of times before and I like the effect the double eyelet pattern gives, it's so pretty. I deviated a little from the pattern, I made shortie socks, more akin to trainer socks, rather than socks with a longer leg, and I also substituted the heel the pattern called for and knit a Fish Lips Kiss Heel by Sox Therapist instead.

The yarn I used was some West Yorkshire Spinners I had left over in stash from another project in the Mojito colourway. I used Chocolate Lime for the heels.

I've been knitting up a few dishcloths, I much prefer knitted ones than any you can buy, and there's quite a few projects I'm ready to start in the new year. Yes, my knitting mojo has definitely made a comeback.