Friday 30 June 2023

June 2023

I'm not often ill but I started off the month under the weather. I'd had a sore throat which progressed into a heavy head cold and as usual, that went on my chest. The accompanying cough hung around for ages as is often the case.

We've had some gorgeous weather in June, a little too hot for me and definitely too hot for Archie. He doesn't like going to the groomers but I think he was glad to get his coat taken off him this time. He enjoyed the shade on the patio in the mornings before the sun came round, the garden is in sun for the rest of the day so he avoided it at all costs then.

My roses have been brilliant this year, the best they've ever flowered. This one is Our John, bought two years ago in memory of my dad whose name was John. The blooms start off a vibrant yellow but fade to this creamy lemon with tinges of pink which I think is just beautiful. My roses always succumbed to black spot at my old house but they're doing much better here. Only one of my four rose bushes are showing signs of disease, and even that one isn't as bad as they were year after year previously.

It was three years on the 14th of June since my dad died, I just don't know where that time has gone. It seems like only yesterday since I last saw him in one way but then it also feels like the full three years in another. We took some flowers to the crematorium. As I've said before, we have a memorial stone for my dad, my mum and my sister there so we're able to plant a few flowers as well as lay floral tributes. The grounds are so tranquil, it's a good place to be with your thoughts. I like to visit on the days that they died as we had entries made in the book of remembrance which is open to view on those particular dates, so I like to go and see that.

I've read three books this month.

Finding Happiness at Penvennan Cove by Linn B Halton.

"Kerra Shaw's happiness should be complete when the love of her life moves into her cottage. But there is trouble in her beloved Penvennan Cove and Kerra knows she won't be able to enjoy her new start with Ross until she's put things right.

Two struggling businesses threaten to change the beach at Penvennan Cove forever. The Lark and Lantern, an inn at the heart of the community, is struggling and a corporate chain is trying to redevelop the site. Meanwhile, The Salvager's Yarn nearby is becoming an eyesore that brings down the area. 

Kerra knows she can find the perfect solution, but with her eyes on the community, will Kerra miss the tensions in her own life? Can Kerra find her own happy ending, or could putting others first cost her what she deserves most?"

This is the third book in a trilogy. It could be read as a standalone but I think you'd get the most from it having read the other two books first. I'm not sure what it was about this one, perhaps the story had run its course but I much preferred the first two. I wanted to find out how it all ended though so I'm glad I read it. The trilogy is rounded off nicely with all loose ends tied up. I've read other books by this author and I've enjoyed them all. Great for a bit of escapism, you don't have to think about the story, an entertaining read.

The School at Thrush Green by Miss Read.

"All day Thrush Green had been buffeted by a howling gale and lashing rain. It made life particularly exhausting for the two schoolteachers. Every time the classroom door opened, a score of papers fluttered to the floor pursued by delighted children.

For many years, Dorothy Watson and Agnes Fogerty have taught in the school at Thrush Green, so their imminent retirement provokes rumour and speculation. Who will take Miss Watson's place as headmistress? As for replacing Miss Fogerty, it seems impossible to imagine.

There are other issues too. The school house is to be sold, and Winnie Bailey's eccentric nephew thinks it might be the perfect place for his young family. And who is the strange young man lurking outside The Fuchsia Bush tea-room?"

A delightful story. Going by the title I thought this one would be concentrating mostly on the school but there's still lots of other happenings in the village. I'm enjoying the Miss Read books so much, I'm going to feel bereft when I come to the end of them. Still a few more to go yet though.

Les Miserables by Victor Hugo.

"Victor Hugo's tale of injustice, heroism and love follows the fortunes of Jean Valjean, an escaped convict determined to put his criminal past behind him. But his attempts to become a respected member of the community are constantly put under threat: by his own conscience, when, owing to a case of mistaken identity, another man is arrested in his place; and by the relentless investigations of the dogged Inspector Javert. It is not simply for himself that Valjean must stay free, however, for he has sworn to protect the baby daughter of Fantine, driven to prostitution by poverty."

Knowing that Les Miserables is my favourite musical, Daniel and Jasmine bought me this beautiful edition at Christmas. I'll admit, I was a little daunted at first, it's a huge novel which consists of five volumes which are divided up into forty eight books and three hundred and sixty five chapters. I've been reading it alongside the other books I've already read this year and have finally finished it this month. I can honestly say that I loved every minute I've spent reading it and I'm really sad that it's finished.

The author does veer off on lots of tangents, I'm now enlightened on everything from French political history to the workings of the Parisian sewer system, but the main story which I know and love from the musical is carried throughout the book. It's a book I'd definitely read again and one I'd heartily recommend. 

We had a day at the coast. This time we chose Fraisthorpe which is just south of Bridlington. It was a hot day and the benefit of Fraisthorpe is that you're able to park the car right at the side of the beach so there's not much walking involved to get onto the sand. Archie's getting old now so we have to consider his capabilities, especially in the heat we've had. Afterwards, we drove further along the coast to Hornsea where we shared a bag of chips, Archie too!

You will have seen in my last post that I finished my Happy Scrappy Blanket. I could have made it bigger than the 14 X 10 squares that it measures as I've got lots and lots of scraps and mini skeins left, but it's quite heavy already. Being knit in 4 Ply or fingering weight yarn, I think adding too many squares and increasing the weight will just pull it out of shape. So, I've been looking through my stash and pulling out more yarn to embark on scrappy blanket number two, or number three if you count the Scrappy Dog Blanket that I made.

We haven't got much planned for July but with our wedding anniversary and Eleanor's birthday on the horizon, we're sure to have a couple of celebrations if not much else. Let's hope the fine weather continues so that we're able to spend lots of time outdoors.

Wednesday 21 June 2023

Happy Scrappy Blanket

This scrappy blanket was started back in 2018. It's been picked up and put back down again many times since then but I've thoroughly enjoyed the times when I have been working on it.

It's made up entirely of hand dyed yarn. There's leftovers from other projects I've made, mini skeins I've bought, mini skeins from the advent calendars I've purchased at Christmastime and yarn I've swapped. There's one hundred and forty squares in total, ten by fourteen, which makes it a nice sized lap blanket.

I followed the Coziest Memory pattern by Kemper Ray for the squares. It's a free pattern on Ravelry. I've arranged the squares so that the mitre ridge running through the centre of each square radiates out from the centre of the blanket. The pattern of the ridges is something to consider right at the start of the project as it will affect the way that stitches are picked up for each square. I know many people who haven't given it a thought and then discovered that the ridges go off in all sorts of directions. 

The pattern I used doesn't mention the edges of the blanket but I decided to add an I-cord border, I think it just finishes it off.

It's nice to get a long term project off the needles but I'm feeling a little bereft now, I can see me casting on another in the not too distant future. Just look at all those colours, I think I shall call it my Happy Scrappy Blanket.

Tuesday 13 June 2023

Evening Walks

At this time of year, when the lighter nights are here once again and the weather has warmed up, evening walks become part of our routine. That's not to say we don't still walk during the day, we do, but there's something about being out after tea. It's more peaceful somehow, it's when we most often see wildlife about too, and there's definitely something magical about that. We occasionally see deer in the fields at the top of our street, there's always rabbits about in the evenings and sometimes even hares. It feels good to walk our evening meal off and it's also a time when we're able to really talk and listen to each other without other distractions. 

We like to vary the places we walk and we're very lucky to have so many lovely places we can go to do just that. I thought you might like to see some of the walks we've been on over the last few weeks.

Lotherton is a favourite, not only for us but for Archie too. A country house and estate, it's less than ten minutes away by car so it's really handy. We have annual membership and we definitely get our money's worth visiting at least a few times every week. It can be a bit busy during school holidays but even then, it's so peaceful on an evening. With woodland, formal gardens and a perimeter walk to choose from, we never get bored.

The Fly Line is where a private railway once ran serving the nearby collieries. It links Garforth to Aberford by way of a three and a half mile route through Parlington Woods and it's the route by which you can find Nellie's Tree which was voted Woodland Trust's Tree of the Year in 2018.

We usually walk at the Aberford end and double back rather than walk the whole route, it's much too far for Archie these days. The path starts out through farmland before opening out into woodland.

The woods at the back of Temple Newsam can be accessed from a road very near to the area where I grew up. I used to play in these woods as a child. There's so many different pathways to take through the woodland with a central path leading right through to Temple Newsam House. At the time we visited, preparations were underway for Live At Leeds In The Park, a music festival which was held at the end of May. You can just see the stages which have been set up in the distance.

The Aire and Calder Navigation is the canalised section of the Rivers Aire and Calder which was built to connect Leeds to the Humber and the North Sea. The part where we walk is about a ten minute drive away and it's a lovely destination on a sunny evening. I always think that walking by water is calming so it's a good place to walk if you want to relax. This part of the navigation is right before it comes together with the River Aire.

Beck Wood is another lovely walk when the sun is shining. A little further away from the places we usually visit, it takes about twenty minutes by car so it's not somewhere we go weekly or even monthly, but it's somewhere we visit when we fancy a change, and it's so worth the extra ten or fifteen minutes in the car on a summer's evening. There's walks through woodland at the side of the beck and it opens out to the banks of the River Wharfe with a riverside beach. We didn't see a single soul on this occasion until we returned to the car park and saw another family who had just arrived.

I recently wrote that The Azaleas Are Stealing The Show when we visited Temple Newsam and found that the rhododendrons weren't doing so well this year. I thought we might be a bit early so we returned the other evening but as you can see, there was just the odd shrub flowering at the start of the rhododendron walk, and the shrubs which line the pathway are usually a riot of colour at this time of year but they're well and truly green, hardly a flower to be seen. I expect they've had a hard prune at the expense of the blooms. It will be interesting to see how they recover next year. We walked down to the lake where quite a few people were enjoying the sunny evening.

The place we walk most frequently is at the top of our street. Not only is it convenient but it's a lovely place to walk. The lane runs alongside farmland with houses and stables lining the other side. It's not busy with traffic but there is the odd car so we keep Archie on his lead here but he's able to come off at the end of the lane as we enter a woodland track, still bordering farmland. 

This track takes you right through to the area where I grew up, though it's changed dramatically since then with a motorway, a retail park and a new housing development now occupying the fields where I played as a child. Isn't that sad. It's what they call progress. I just hope that progress doesn't spread as far as where we're living now.

Thank you for coming on our evening walks with us. I hope you enjoyed them just as much as we do.