Sunday 30 April 2023

April 2023

Spring finally sprung this month. We had some lovely weather amongst some storms, wind and rain. It was a typical April.

April got off to a good start with a trip to Spring Into Wool at the Grammar School in Leeds. I wasn't sure whether I'd go or not, I really don't need any more yarn, but having a yarn show on your doorstep is just too tempting. I came home with purchases from Blue Fern Yarns, The Crafty Bird and Snuggly Stars Yarns, none of which I've bought before so it will be nice to try something new. I also picked up some cute little teddy bear buttons.

That first Sunday of the month was glorious so while Mick painted the shed, I set to and got some seeds sown. I'm growing my favourite cherry tomatoes, Maskotka, and a variety of flowers. I want to get my border planted up and thought that some echinacea, nemesia and cosmos would fill any spaces left while the shrubs and flowers fill out. I also bought some bulbs and tubers from Wilko which I've started off in large pots. Once I know what else I'm planting in the border I can slot these in but they'll have a head start as they've already started into growth.

I've read three books this month.

The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde.

"A story of evil, debauchery and scandal, Oscar Wilde's only novel tells of Dorian Gray, a beautiful yet corrupt man. When he wishes that a perfect portrait of himself would bear the signs of aging in his place, the picture becomes his hideous secret, as it follows Dorian's own downward spiral into cruelty and depravity. The Picture of Dorian Gray is a masterpiece of the evil in men's hearts, and is controversial and alluring as Wilde himself."

I knew nothing of the story other than that of the picture growing older instead of Dorian himself. I found it quite a sad story, how such an innocent young man as we first meet should grow into the character he does. I really disliked Lord Henry Wotton who manipulates Dorian for his own amusement and was annoyed at Dorian for falling completely under his spell. It was quite an abrupt ending but I guessed it early on, for what other ending could there be?

Mrs England by Stacey Halls.

"West Yorkshire, 1904. When newly graduated nurse Ruby May takes a position looking after the children of Charles and Lilian England, a wealthy couple from a powerful dynasty of mill owners, she hopes it will be the fresh start she needs. But as she adapts to life at the isolated Hardcastle House, it becomes clear there's something not quite right about the beautiful, mysterious Mrs England.

Distant and withdrawn, Lilian shows little interest in her children or charming husband, and is far from the 'angel of the house' Ruby was expecting. As the warm, vivacious Charles welcomes Ruby into the family, a series of strange events forces her to question everything she thought she knew. Ostracised by the servants and feeling increasingly uneasy, Ruby must face her demons in order to prevent history from repeating itself. After all, there's no such thing as the perfect family - and she should know."

This is Stacey Halls third novel, I've enjoyed every one of them but this is my favourite. It's set near Hardcastle Crags, Hebden Bridge in West Yorkshire which is an area I'm familiar with so I had a very good feel for the atmosphere which was set in the story. I found it to be a page turner, I wanted to read on and find out what happens as the story progressed. It's definitely one I'd recommend.

Affairs at Thrush Green by Miss Read.

"Charles Henstock, rector of Thrush Green, has difficulty living up to his glamorous predecessor when he moves to the parish of Lulling.

His Wife and friends remain loyal, but there is opposition from the fearsome Mrs Thurgood and her arty daughter Janet. Everyone in the district seems to be having their share of problems, not least stubborn Albert Piggott, who dreads the return of Nelly, his gargantuan wife. Meanwhile, more than one heart is stirred by the reappearance of the eligible Kit Armitage, who, it is rumoured, may not only be looking for a house, Could it be wedding bells for Miss Violet after all these years?

All the well-love figures of Thrush Green are to be found once again in their familiar rural setting."

We say farewell to one character in this book and hello to another. A character returns to the village and it was heartening to read that two much loved characters were still there after being left at the end of the last book not knowing whether they'd be retiring to the coast or not. Such is the comings and goings of village life. Another lovely read.

With the weather warming up a bit we've had some lovely trips away from home. Days Out At The Weekend included Haworth and the Yorkshire Dales, but we also had other days out here and there. The photo above shows the Knaresborough Viaduct which carries the Harrogate line over the River Nidd.

I haven't been watching much TV just lately but I did get round to watching Inventing Anna on Netflix. Have you seen it? I knew nothing of the story beforehand but I do enjoy true crime so I thought I'd give it a go. I ended up watching the whole nine episodes over two days. The story is inspired by Anna Sorokin and an article in New York Magazine titled "How Anna Delvey Tricked New York's Party People" by Jessica Pressler.

The true story of a Russian born socialite who posed as a German heiress. She successfully conned friends and associates as well as banks and other institutions out of hundreds of thousands of dollars with the goal of opening an exclusive art-themed club.

Although the basis of the story is true, this is a dramatisation and every episode reiterates that "This story is completely true. Except for the parts which are completely made up", but I suppose this is true of any drama series which is "based" on truth.

I thoroughly enjoyed it and would definitely recommend it.

We had an evening out last night watching Eleanor perform with her amateur dramatics group in A Night at the Musicals. It was a little different this time, instead of being seated in rows it was cabaret seating which gave it a less formal feel, and there was a bar too. The cast gave us various musical renditions from the stage shows. Eleanor performed a solo, She Used To Be Mine from Waitress, a duet, What is this Feeling? from Wicked, and a group performance in which she took the part of Catherine Howard in Six which is from Six the Musical. She also performed other numbers as a group. It was a brilliant night out.

I'm hoping that we're going to get some nice weather in May. With three bank holidays and a coronation, not to mention Mick taking a bit of time off work, it would be nice to see some sunshine.

Monday 17 April 2023

Days Out At The Weekend

We've had some thoroughly nasty weather thrown at us just lately, storms, wind and rain, so we decided to make the most of the warm sunny spell we got at the weekend. 

On Saturday we headed off to Haworth, home of the famous Bronte Sisters. We visit here a few times each year, it's a lovely stroll up and down Main Street, and you really wouldn't want to take it at much more than a stroll for it's very steep.

There's lots of little independent shops to browse, mostly geared up for tourists, selling gifts and treats. They're very old fashioned, olde worlde in style.

As you'd expect, there's plenty of interest here for fans of the Brontes. The parsonage where they lived, which can be seen behind the graveyard in the above photo, is open for tours and contains the largest and most important Bronte collections in the world. We didn't go inside as we had Archie with us. The Brontes aren't buried in the graveyard, all except Anne, who is buried at Scarborough, are at rest in the family vault in Haworth Parish Church where Patrick Bronte was perpetual curate.

Sunday was another lovely day so this time we headed further north to the Yorkshire Dales. We started off in Grassington where a food market is held on the third Sunday of the month.

Grassington is a little busier than many Dales villages, it has quite a few shops and is a popular tourist destination. It's also where the latest series of All Creatures Great and Small is filmed.

Though many people flock to this small village, it hasn't lost any of it's beauty. The little snickets are charming.

It's a delight to take a walk around the quiet streets away from the main tourist area.

As always when we visit the Yorkshire Dales, we didn't limit ourselves to one village, we did have a drive around and stopped off here and there. Actually, my favourite part of any visit here are the times when we're driving and we get to see the splendid beauty, the scenery is just stunning.

Of course, spring is always a favourite time to visit the Dales as there's lambs everywhere you look. So cute!

It was good to have some fine weather and get out to a couple of places we love. Fingers crossed that this weather holds.

Tuesday 11 April 2023

Mick's Black Coffee Socks

I've finished the socks I had on the needles for Mick and he's very pleased with them, they fit really well.

I used the Vanilla Latte sock pattern by Virginia Rose-Jeanes which is free on Ravelry. It's a ribbed pattern which I think grips the foot a little giving a nicer fit.

The yarn has been in my stash for a while, it's Bergere de France Goomy 50 in the Imprim Gris colourway which I think translates to Grey Print. It's a rustic feeling yarn, certainly not soft like merino, but I think it will be good for Mick as he's rather heavy on socks and soon wears holes in them. It's sold in 50g balls so I used two and unfortunately, found a huge knot in one ball where two ends had been tied together, and the other ball was in two completely separate pieces, they hadn't even bothered to tie a knot in that one. I find it really annoying not to have one complete length of yarn.

I know they don't match, it's a bit annoying to tell you the truth but I've used this yarn before and you'd have to wind off a lot of yarn to get to the beginning of the colour repeat. I didn't really want to do that and Mick isn't bothered by the socks being sisters rather than twins anyway so I'm letting it go. After finding the joins, they wouldn't have matched anyway so I'm glad I saved myself the effort.

And why have I named them Mick's Black Coffee Socks? Well, the pattern may be called Vanilla Latte but in all the time I've known Mick, and it's a lot of years now, I've never ever known him to drink a cup of coffee with milk in it, he always drinks it black, hence Mick's Black Coffee Socks.