Friday 31 March 2023

March 2023

Well March wasn't quite the action packed month that I was hoping for. Mick took a week off work from the 6th to the 10th and he'd booked this past week off too. The weather has certainly been hit and miss curtailing our adventures so in the end he's cancelled these last two days holiday and is working them instead. It gives him a couple of extra days to carry over and take off in April when the weather might be a little better. On the plus side, we did manage a few days out here and there and we also got a few jobs around the house crossed off the list so the holiday he has taken has been worthwhile.

On the first Sunday in March we visited the Yorkshire coast. We thought it was going to be much colder than it was, it was actually very mild. We started off in Filey which is a seaside town we've rarely visited over our many years of trips to the east coast. Archie loved spending time on the beach, though he really is slowing down now. He'll be thirteen in a couple of months and it's definitely showing. Afterwards, we drove up the coast to Scarborough. The sea was in and it was very rough but the surfers that were there didn't mind, they were enjoying the waves.

We had a few days away in The Lake District during Mick's first week off. We were hoping to have some more days out on our return but the view above was on our way home on the Thursday, it had started to snow and on the Friday morning it was quite deep. We had a relaxing day at home instead. It's extremely rare that we both sit down for the best part of a day together so it was rather lovely. We watched a film while the snow fell outside.

As is usually the case, Mick bought me an amaryllis for Christmas and it finally flowered this month. I love the darker varieties, though it's a bit disappointing that I only got one flower spike this year, I usually get two, in fact one year I even had three.

I've read three books this month.

The Jungle Book by Rudyard Kipling.

"For the strength of the Pack is the Wolf, and the strength of the Wolf is the Pack. 

First published in 1894, Rudyard Kipling's beloved short story collection has entertained both young and old readers with the story of the young boy Mowgli who's raised by wolves. In the seven stories, each one accompanied by a poem, we meet many classic characters, like Baloo the bear, Bagheera the black panther as well as the tiger Shere Khan and the young mongoose Rikki-Tikki-Tavi."

My previous experience of The Jungle Book has been limited to the Disney animated film and this book is actually nothing like it. A collection of short stories and poems, it tells the stories of a number of different animals and some aren't jungle related at all.

I really enjoyed the book, though references are made to practices which are upsetting, remembering that this book was written over a hundred years ago when animal welfare wasn't what it is today. 

Gossip from Thrush Green by Miss Read.

"In the growing warmth of early summer Thrush Green shakes out its leaves and flowers.

The inhabitants are delighted, farmers survey their promising hay fields, gardeners bustle with packets of seeds as birds flash to and fro. Activity is everywhere...

Yet all is not as idyllic as it seems in the unsuspecting village, for a change is never far away..."

Another lovely read about the Cotswold village of Thrush Green. Miss Read certainly brings the characters to life and reading each book is like catching up with news from old friends.

There's change ahead for a number of people in this book and I can't wait to catch up with the next instalment to see how everything turns out.

The Woolworths Girl's Promise by Elaine Everest.

"After losing her beloved fiance at Ypres in 1917, seventeen-year-old Elizabeth Billington faces a lonely future estranged from her upper-class parents due to her association with Charlie Sayers and his working-class family. No longer able to live under her parent's roof she is taken in by Charlie's father, escaping the suffocating demands of her parents.

Betty soon learns all too well about the realities of life after an accident at the Woolwich Arsenal munitions works. Spotting an advertisement for a nearby job at Woolworths, Betty starts on a new and thrilling journey starting at the bottom of the employment ladder in the well-known store.

Her work journey leads her to Ramsgate in Kent to work in a newly built store and with it the chance of marriage, but can she ever forget Charlie and the promise she made to him...?"

I've read all the books in this series and Betty Billington is a much loved character who has been there from the start. This book follows her early life before her time at the Erith store where she meets The Woolworths Girls.

Another entertaining read and I believe that Elaine Everest has another book out in this series later on this year so I'm looking forward to reading that.

It was Mother's Day in the UK on the 19th of March and I had a lovely day with my family. Eleanor cooked a roast beef dinner with all the trimmings and she'd even baked a couple of delicious cakes for dessert. After dinner we did what we usually do when we're all together, we played some games, we had lots of laughs. I received some beautiful cards, gifts and flowers and was thoroughly spoilt.

We visited the local food bank to make a donation of food and toiletries. We always pop extra items in our trolley when we do any shopping and it soon mounts up. We just make sure that whatever we buy has long use by dates as we know we'll be storing it for a while. The volunteers at the food bank are always so grateful to receive donations. We're living in hard times at the moment with many people struggling to make ends meet and any one of us could have to rely on food banks as circumstances change.

There were Three Quick Knits this month, and contrary to my plans of getting my older projects off the needles, I'm still casting on new things. Mick's got a couple of pairs of hand knit socks, he only wears them occasionally, but I thought he could do with another pair. I find it really hard to just sit and do nothing with my hands, and socks are great TV knitting, they don't require much concentration.

We haven't got much planned for April but there's the Easter long weekend approaching and Mick's now got an extra couple of days holiday to take, so we might get some days out.

Friday 17 March 2023

Three Quick Knits

My knitting mojo has returned with a vengeance. I really want to get all my languishing projects finished but it's so hard not to cast on any new things so I thought I'd start something which would be a quick knit and would be off my needles in no time.

So I started with a little baby cardigan and it turned into three.

This is the Fuss Free Baby Cardigan by Louise Tilbrook. If I knit this one again I would omit a couple of rows from the neck, it just seems a little too high.

My favourite of the three is Oh Baby! Cardi by Roberta Rich. It's a simple pattern and gives a nice finish.

Jasmine Baby Jacket by Marianna Mel is more like the old fashioned matinee jackets which most babies of a certain generation wore for the first few months of their lives.

All these patterns are free on Ravelry and were knit using Sirdar Snuggly DK. Unfortunately, my idea of having a quick cast on and then getting back to the projects I've already got on the go hasn't quite worked out as I'd hoped as I now want to cast on more new things.

And no, there are no babies on the way here but I do love to knit baby garments as they're instant gratification, quick and easy, on and off the needles in no time at all. They're ready and waiting for the first baby that comes along.

Friday 10 March 2023

The Lake District

Mick's been using up some of his holiday from work before it expires at the end of this month. He's had all week off so we decided we'd have a little break away from home in the Lake District, somewhere neither of us have ever visited before, even though it's not all that far away from where we live.

We set off on Tuesday morning, not too early, and arrived in Windermere around lunch time. Our first view of Lake Windermere, stunning. The scenery in the Lake District is just beautiful.

We parked the car and set off to walk down by the lake. It's 10.5 miles long, a mile wide and 220 feet deep making it the largest natural lake in England. We were lucky with the weather for although it was rather chilly, it was a beautifully sunny day. We'd wondered about taking a boat trip but it was still a little too cold for that.

Afterwards we went into Ambleside, one of the Lake District's small towns, to have a wander round. I was glad that we stumbled upon Bridge House, a two roomed building originally used to store apples for nearby Ambleside Hall, as I have a Lilliput Lane ornament of this building. It's said that at one time, a family with six children lived here. It was built over Stock Beck to avoid land tax and is now owned by the National Trust.

The time was now getting on so we drove to our quaint sixteenth century inn where we'd booked to stay for two nights. In all honesty, it wasn't the best place we've ever stayed but it was comfortable enough. The room was on the small side but the food was adequate, the cooked breakfast was included and we also had a meal there on that first night.

Wednesday was another lovely day, still cold but bright. We decided on a trip to Grasmere, a  pretty village popular with tourists, and the home of William Wordsworth.

Grasmere is surrounded by spectacular fells and we saw lots of walkers passing through the village.

There's plenty for tourists here, shops, pubs and cafes, and I expected it to be much busier than it was, in fact, I expected the Lake District in general to be far busier than we saw it and can only imagine that it wasn't so because we were there midweek, out of season. I'm sure it gets far more crowded during the summer months.

William Wordsworth (7 April 1770 - 23 April 1850) was an English Romantic poet who, with Samuel Taylor Coleridge, helped to launch the Romantic Age in English Literature. He lived in Grasmere and is buried in the churchyard of St Oswald's Church in Grasmere.

He's buried alongside his wife Mary, their children, Dora, Catherine and Thomas, his sister Dorothy, and other family members.

By the side of St Oswald's Church is the Wordsworth Daffodil Garden.

I wandered lonely as a cloud
That floats on high o'er vales and hills,
When all at once I saw a crowd,
A host of golden daffodils;
Beside the lake, beneath the trees,
Fluttering and dancing in the breeze.

This piece of land had become neglected and overgrown but now, through sponsorship, it provides much needed funds for the ongoing maintenance of the church.

The path is made up of 3000 engraved stones which have been sponsored by the public. It was amazing when we realised what we were walking on, Mick looked down and immediately saw a stone engraved with the names of a family who live near us, though we don't know them.

It's a lovely garden, very tranquil and perfect for quiet contemplation.

Of course, it was perfect that we were visiting when the daffodils were blooming, it made it all the more special somehow.

No visit to Grasmere would be complete if we didn't pop into Sarah Nelson's Grasmere Gingerbread shop. 

"No-one knows when exactly but sometime in the winter of 1854 Sarah perfected a recipe for a new spice-sweet sensation that she named simply Grasmere Gingerbread.

Neither a biscuit nor a cake, but somewhere in between, no-one had ever tasted anything quite like it before! Sarah began selling slices of Grasmere Gingerbread wrapped in parchment to villagers and tourists outside her neat home."

I'd been told not to miss out so we did queue and buy some gingerbread to taste for ourselves and I can confirm that it's quite delicious. We brought some home with us.

We'd spent quite a bit of time in Grasmere so we called into a cafe for refreshments. Archie caught up with forty winks underneath the table, he's such a good boy. We do have to be careful how far we walk Archie and how long we keep him out for these days as he tires easily, he'll be thirteen in a couple of months, though he still does very well for his age.

Snow had been forecast for Thursday in various parts of the country but we woke again to a bright day. We'd hoped to spend some more time exploring before we set off home but the Met Office had put Leeds on an amber warning and the forecast showed heavy snow from 9am on Thursday through to 9am today so we thought we'd better head off straight after breakfast. Well, just look at the roads as we headed into Leeds, hardly anything there, and they call this heavy snow. In hindsight, we could have stayed all day as the little snow that was falling actually stopped and the roads were still clear when I went to bed last night. More snow has fallen overnight though and we now have a decent coverage. I'm not sure how long it will last as it's stopped snowing now and the forecast is for a sunny afternoon with temperatures rising to twelve degrees on Sunday.

Apart from a night spent in a hotel when Eleanor got married last October, this is our first time away from home since 2018 for one reason or another. It was a lovely getaway, even if it was just for a couple of days.