Thursday 29 February 2024

February 2024

February is the month I look forward to the least, though it's passed quite quickly this year, even though we've had an extra day because of the leap year. We've only had one day of snow this month but it's been very wet with plenty of rain. The cold weather hasn't been as prolonged as it is some years, and though we did get a dip where it was freezing, we've also had many mild periods where the mercury has hit double figures at various points throughout the month.

We've had some lovely days out this month. We've wrapped up well against the cold on some of our outings but other days we've been lucky and had some glorious sunshine. The photo above shows the market square in Masham which is lined with independent shops. Unfortunately, the wool shop was closed when we visited.

I saw that an old friend who I haven't seen for a number of years was having an art exhibition so we travelled to North Yorkshire to see that. Unfortunately, she wasn't there at the time, it would have been nice to catch up with her, but her artwork is stunning. Many of her paintings are inspired by Yorkshire's coast and countryside.

My reading mojo has returned and I read three books in February, two of those were over 600 pages each in length.

The Seven Sisters by Lucinda Riley.

"Maia D'Aplièse and her five sisters gather together at their childhood home - a fabulous, secluded castle situated on the shores of Lake Geneva - having been told that their beloved adoptive father, the elusive billionaire they call Pa Salt, has died. Each of them is handed a tantalising clue to their true heritage - a clue which takes Maia across the world to a crumbling mansion in Rio de Janeiro in Brazil...

Eighty years earlier, in the Belle Époque of Rio, 1927, Izabela Bonifacio's father has aspirations for his daughter to marry into aristocracy. But Izabela longs for adventure, and convinces him to allow her to accompany the family of a renowned architect on a trip to Paris. In the heady, vibrant streets of Montparnasse, she meets ambitious young sculptor Laurent Brouilly, and knows at once that her life will never be the same again."

I'd read some fantastic reviews of the Seven Sisters series and these are what made me want to read these books, but I got off to a slow start with this one and wasn't sure that it was for me. I could have easily given up on it, but I'm so pleased that I persevered because once I got into it properly, I absolutely loved it.

The story takes us from Switzerland in the present day to Brazil back in the 1920s where Maia, the eldest of the Seven Sisters, discovers her ancestry. I really enjoyed the history in the book and as is so often the case when reading about periods of history, it sent me off to Google to learn more about certain aspects. 

I'm really looking forward to reading the second book in the series now, in fact, it took all my willpower to not reach for it straight away but I shall spread them out a little and prolong the enjoyment.

Queen of Our Times by Robert Hardman.

"The definitive new biography of Her Majesty the Queen by one of Britain's leading royal authorities.

With original insights from family, friends and staff, new interviews with world leaders, new photographs and papers, including diaries and letters from the Royal Archives, bestselling author Robert Hardman explores the full, astonishing life of our longest-reigning monarch in this compellingly authoritative yet intimate biography.

Elizabeth II was not born to be Queen. Yet from her accession as a young mother of two in 1952 to the era of Covid-19, she has proved an astute, pragmatic and quietly determined stateswoman, leading her people through seventy years of unprecedented social change. She has faced constitutional crises, confronted threats against her life, rescued the Commonwealth, charmed (and chastened) fellow heads of state, been criticized as well as feted by the media, and steered her family through the turbulence of life in the public eye.

Queen of Our Times is a must-read study of dynastic survival and renewal, spanning abdication, war, romance, danger, tragedy and triumph. It is an enthralling portrait of a leader who remains as intriguing today as the day she came to the throne aged twenty-five."

Mick bought me this book for Christmas 2022 and I've only just got round to reading it. It was written prior to the Queen dying in September of that year.

An interesting read which starts from the Queen's birth and ends just months before her death. As you would expect, there's a lot of politics included which some may find quite boring, I didn't, and it's definitely written as one may expect a royalist to write about a member of the royal family, quite a one sided view in my opinion with little criticism, but I thoroughly enjoyed it. I've definitely learnt things about the Queen and the royal family which I didn't know before and it was an entertaining read.

Fresh from the Country by Miss Read.

"'All behind chairs! Quickly now! I want to introduce you to your new teacher.'

'Miss Read' in this humorous and charming story draws us magically into the world of the primary school. Anna Lacey, a young country girl, is given her first job in Greater London, and as she learns to cope with the challenges of her new life, we share with her the delights and pleasures of teaching 'those dear, devilish, delicious, disarming, infuriating and exhausting creatures' which are her young pupils."

After finishing the Fairacre and Thrush Green series it's been a delight to return to this author and read another of her standalone stories. This story takes us away from the countryside to a new housing development where a teacher fresh out of training college is struggling with huge class numbers. Quite different from the two Miss Read series mentioned but just as enjoyable. As always, the book is littered with references to the seasons and nature which brings the story to life, and there are some very memorable characters.

I've been filling my vases with daffodils this month. At just £1 a bunch, they're a cheap way to bring some sunshine indoors during the drab days of winter. I did a little research whilst shopping, you get ten stems in Marks & Spencer, nine in Sainsbury's and just eight in Tesco, and they all charge the same, £1. 

It was Daniel's birthday on the 19th. One of the things I love about having my children living close by is that I get to see them on these important dates. It wouldn't be for another few days though that all six of us were free on an evening to help him celebrate. We got a takeaway, burgers for some and pizza for others, games were played and a good time was had by all.

I read One Day ten years ago and prior to that I'd caught bits of the film as Eleanor used to watch it almost on a loop, alternating it with Friends, they were on so often in the background that I could recite them word for word, haha. One Day begins on the date of Dexter and Emma's graduation, the 15th of July 1988, and then shows a snapshot of their lives on that same date over the next twenty years. I think part of the charm for Eleanor was that the 15th of July is her birthday. Netflix has made a series of One Day and it's had such good reviews that I thought I'd watch it. I found it quite hard going at first and almost switched off but I kept going and I enjoyed it. It's not something I'd rave about but that's just my opinion, apparently people have been taking time off sick from work just to binge watch it. Netflix are now in discussions with the author, David Nicholls, to dramatise his new book, You Are Here, which is another tearjerker.

We're now at the end of February so we're able to look forward and welcome Spring in the not too distant future. I long for this time all winter and it's finally arrived, though I'm sure we've still got some wintery weather to contend with before we can say that Spring is truly here. Mick's got some time booked off work at the end of the month so I'm looking forward to that. It would be nice if we got a little sunshine then.


  1. Masham looks a pretty place. Interesting research on daffodils - who would have thought M&S would be the most generous? Having said that, I do find M&S very reasonable for many things and Tesco surprisingly expensive.

  2. I read the first book and then had to buy the rest. The last one about Pa Salt was very interesting. You will enjoy them.

  3. Ah, I beg to differ! Tesco bunches gave varied bewteen eight and fifteen. I haven't researched the others though. I've just enjoyed them all.

  4. I recognised the church in your photo immediately - my daughter got married there in 2008 and then we all walked round to the Town Hall and had a lovely old fashioned home made wedding reception followed by a lively Ceilidh. It was November and a cold but sunny day and our photographer took some lovely shots of the wedding party all around Masham.
    I love the Miss Read books and every so often go back and re-read them.

  5. Having just read One Day for the first time, I tried Us which again I have really enjoyed, I did say I was going to watch One Day on Netflix, but I'm not sure if I will. Being so poorly in the last 6 weeks, means I have read plenty of books, I just wish the rain would stop, so I can get outside. Happy birthday to Daniel.

  6. We've enjoyed a few bright days here and there, but much like yourself, I'm looking forward to some warm spring sunshine.
    Those daffodils are gorgeous. I get mine from M&S as well :)

  7. I always dread February as its usually the coldest month and this year it has rained and rained here in S Wales. I tried the film One Day but it didn't hold my interest.. so I don't think the book would either, I'm presently reading The Women by Kristin Hannah and it is wow, I can't get anything done, just want to read it all the time! I want to buy that pattern Habitation Throw but dithering because my arm injury aches with knitting, I like the edging!

  8. You've been busy! Glad you've been able to enjoy some sunshine, because February is typically such a blah month with little to no color and sometimes you feel like winter will never end. Yeah for pretty bright Daffodils. We need the color and beauty of flowers inside to help our spirits. 7 Sisters might get added to my to read list. Though I've been reading lots of stuff lately that I didn't have on my list, so my list hasn't gotten any smaller, lol.
    Sandy's Space

  9. Happy Birthday to Daniel! Quite a nice celebration with burgers, pizza, and games!
    The new biography of the Queen, sounds like a Must-read!
    The vase with the yellow daffodils is amazing!

  10. Happy Leap Day! Do you have 'el nino' in the UK? It's a weather system that brings warm and wet winters to the West Coast. I don't really understand the science!

    1. It isn't something I'm aware of but I've just Googled it and it says it affects weather all over the world, so apparently we do.

  11. Such a nice read and looking at all the enjoyable pictures. Our weather hasn’t been too bad this month either, but it turned bitterly cold today. Hope that won't last long. Glad you were able to make the most of the good weather. Thanks for sharing your books. I am always on the lookout for new ones. Your daffodils look lovely. They are what we always gave Mum on Mother’s Day, so there’s a touch of nostalgia for me there. Happy Birthday to your son. Sounds like you had a great get together. Happy March to you all!

  12. Sounds like you made the most of February. We got out quite a bit as well, in between the snow storms. LOL

    Hope your March is just perfectly springy.

  13. Let's hope we get some more sun in time for your outings, It's been so miserable. I've been buying daffodils too and I've had the best results from the Sainsburys bunch, other shops have had different varieties which haven't opened up as well. I've read One Day but not seen the new series although Ambika Mod is such a talent and so funny.

  14. I'm not surprised, especially this year with it being so unsettled and wet. Good to see that you enjoyed some days out and about, and that you've got your reading mojo back.
    Let's hope that March sees better weather for all of us. xx

  15. Bright yellow daffodils are always cheery to have in the house, especially when it is wet and miserable outside. Seven Sisters looks like an interesting series of books, I hope you enjoy reading them all. Belated Happy birthday to Daniel, hope he enjoyed his special day. Have a good weekend x

  16. February seemed to pass by as quickly as January did!
    It's not the best time of the year though is it, and we've had so much rain.

    Happy birthday wishes to Daniel.
    Those daffodils are lovely, our M&S have had some lovely bunches too, and they brighten up a room so well.

    Have a happy month of March.

    All the best Jan

  17. Good to hear you've managed some days out. It's great seeing the occasional bright day. Some interesting books there, glad you have your reading mojo back. Birthday wishes to