Monday 31 July 2023

July 2023

We had some hot weather again at the beginning of  July, and the resulting thunder storms too. Unfortunately, summer seemed to leave for much of the month, we've had quite a bit of rainfall and lower temperatures, let's hope it returns before autumn arrives.

I enjoy looking around Sunday markets and we visited a couple in July. The one in the photo above is the farmers market which is held on the first Sunday of each month in Thirsk. There's a good variety of stalls but it's such a shame that the shops in this North Yorkshire market town don't make an effort to open on Sundays, even if it was just on the Sundays when the farmers markets are scheduled. It wasn't very busy but having shops to visit too might make it more of a draw.

We also visited the artisan market in Wetherby, about a quarter of an hour drive from home and held every second Sunday in the month. This market was full of life, very well attended and had some fantastic stalls selling a wide variety of products. 

It was our thirty third wedding anniversary on the 7th of July. Mick was working during the day so we celebrated with an evening meal at our local Italian restaurant. It was a scorching hot day and as we walked to the restaurant, our small town was buzzing. We have a vibrant high street with some wonderful bars, cafes and restaurants and it comes alive on a weekend.

I've read four books this month.

The Road Trip by Beth O'Leary.

"Addie and her sister are on an epic road trip to a friend's wedding in rural Scotland. But, not long after setting off, a car slams into theirs. The driver is none other than Addie's ex, who she hasn't seen since their traumatic break-up two years earlier.

Dylan and his best mate are heading to the wedding too, so Addie has no choice but to offer them a ride. And with four hundred miles to go, they can't avoid confronting the very messy history of their relationship...

Will they make it to the wedding? And, more importantly, is this really the end of the road for Addie and Dylan?"

I liked how the story started, it got going straight away, but I wasn't sure it was for me. My first impressions of the characters weren't favourable and it seemed as though it was going to be one very long road trip, not just for them but for me too.

Thankfully, it did get better and I enjoyed it, though my first thoughts on some of the characters were spot on, there were only a couple I actually liked, but it didn't spoil the story for me. An easy going read, it kept me entertained. I've read a book by this author before and I'd definitely read more.

Friends at Thrush Green by Miss Read.

"It's spring in Thrush Green and the new season brings change and excitement to the village...

When retired schoolteachers Dorothy Watson and Agnes Fogerty return to visit their many friends at Thrush Green they find the small community abuzz with gossip. The old schoolhouse has just been sold and everyone is eager to welcome the new owners, the Lesters. Alan Lester is cautiously approved, but rumours abound about his wife Margaret. Equal cause for speculation is the odd behaviour of Bertha Lovelock. And what of farmer Percy Hodge - can he really be so foolish as to contemplate matrimony with the wayward Doreen Lilly?

These affairs and more occupy the thoughts of old friends and new in this welcome addition to Miss Read's delightful chronicles of life in Thrush Green."

I keep saying how much I'm enjoying these books, they're such a lovely read about village life from yesteryear. The characters are larger than life and it's like each book brings you up to date with all the village gossip. If you haven't read these books I'd heartily recommend them.

Treasure Island and The Ebb-Tide by Robert Louis Stevenson.

"A thrilling coming-of-age novel about bravery, adventure, good and evil, Treasure Island is the story of young Jim Hawkins, who discovers a treasure map marked with an X. But Jim has no way of knowing that Long John Silver, his friendly new crew-mate on the quest for the buried hoard, is determined to keep the treasure for himself, at any cost.

Treasure Island is paired here with Stevenson's extraordinary, savage late novella The Ebb-Tide, which features a tropical island and a ship with a very different crew."

Treasure Island is one of those books which everyone's heard about and I would guess that many people read in their younger days. It completely passed me by so I thought it was about time that I rectified that.

I'd heard mention of the characters, Jim Hawkins, Long John Silver, Ben Gunn, knew they were searching for buried treasure on an island, but that's about it. In fact, that's a good summary of the story as the plot didn't deviate from this. The beginning caught my interest and introduced some memorable characters and I liked how the tale was told with Jim Hawkins narrating. All in all, an entertaining story and a book worth reading.

As Treasure Island was paired in this book with The Ebb-Tide, I decided that I'd read that too. Another sea adventure but in my opinion, not a patch on Treasure Island. There's no doubt that Robert Louis Stevenson was a great story teller, and I believe this is the reason why I wanted to finish the book and discover what happened to the characters, not because I was bothered what their outcome would be as I really didn't care for any of them. This isn't a book I'd read again and I doubt it's one I'll give a second thought to now that I've finished it.

Daniel and Jasmine finally became home owners this month. They've been living in rented accommodation since they returned to Leeds at the beginning of last year. They had one house sale fall through and quite a few delays on this sale but they're finally in and settling in their new home.

It was Eleanor's birthday on the 15th of July. She spent the day being a bridesmaid at her sister-in-law's wedding. It was the day when thunder storms and high winds were forecast, and the wedding was being held in a marquee! Although it did turn out windy, the showers were on and off and no sign of any thunder and lightening, so they did manage some outdoor photos. We had a family meal the following Tuesday to celebrate Eleanor's birthday.

I've had a yarny advent calendar to open in the run up to Christmas each year since 2019. I wasn't sure if I was going to buy one or not this year but when I saw Josie at Beaches & Birdsong advertising hers, I couldn't resist. My 2020 yarny advent calendar was bought from Josie, I loved the colours in that and the yarn was beautiful and soft. The calendars I've had in the past have all contained 10g mini skeins but this year I've gone for one with 20g mini skeins. It will give me more options of what I'm able to use the yarn for.

It's a long time since I've picked up my English paper piecing. I started this project nearly two years ago and though I'd never done any kind of hand sewing before, I really enjoyed the time I spent working on it. Now that I've finished The Twelve Days Of Christmas cross stitch I had on the go, I've decided to get a few more hexagons stitched in place. The fabric is the Botanic Garden range from Lewis and Irene and it's so pretty. I'm not sure what this is going to be as yet, I'm just enjoying the process.

Mick's hoping to take a week off work in August, though we'll see what the weather's like first, lots of rain is in the forecast. We haven't planned any outings but I'm sure we'll make the most of his holiday if it happens.

Friday 21 July 2023

The Twelve Days Of Christmas

It's taken me nearly three years but I've finally finished my Twelve Days of Christmas cross stitch. My blog post back in 2020, Who Fancies A Bit Of Stitching? asked if anyone wanted to stitch along with me. I had two takers and both ladies finished their projects much quicker than I have, but I'm finally at the finish line. Obviously, I haven't been working on it for the whole three years, it's been picked up and put back down again numerous times, but I've thoroughly enjoyed the times when I have been working on it.

It's a design by Paulette Stewart, she has the Plum Street Samplers blog and this was the Sunday Mystery Sampler back in 2015. I used 32 count Murano Lugana in Vintage Country Mocha to stitch on and colours 310, 367, 498 and 782 in DMC to stitch with. I really enjoyed the limited colours used and in the future I would love to stitch a one-colour design.

Here it is framed. I took the picture before the glass was put in to avoid the glare but it is framed behind glass. I would have considered having it framed professionally but as it will only be brought out and displayed at Christmastime, it wasn't really worth the cost so Mick turned his hand to a bit of framing and he's done a great job.

That's another long-term project finished. I'm steadily working my way through the things I've had on the go for a while and it feels good to see them completed.

Tuesday 11 July 2023

Winnie The Pooh Socks

It's a while now since I bought some mini skeins from Giddy Yarns. They were in the Winnie the Pooh collection and I just couldn't resist them. I knew from the start that I'd like to make socks from them and I've finally got round to knitting them up.

The colourways from the cuff at the top of the sock working downwards are Kanga and Roo, Rabbit, Eeyore, Winnie The Pooh and Piglet. They're all such lovely colours, I'd be very happy to have full skeins of each.

I knit a plain sock without any pattern in order to show off the yarn. The stripes are each nine rounds and I put in a Fish Lips Kiss heel, the pattern for which can be found on Ravelry. It's a good heel to use as it doesn't interrupt the stripes at all.

I made sure that I sewed in the ends as I went along and I'm glad that I did. Every stripe produces two ends of yarn, that's one of the drawbacks of knitting stripy socks. Of course, you can now buy self-striping yarn and the benefit of this is that the yarn produces the stripes itself with minimum ends to sew in at the end.

The socks took 54g of yarn, I'm left with 46g, a little of each colourway. I shall endeavour to use this up in another project, after all, it's far too pretty to just discard and I do like to make use of every little scrap.