Catching up

You know when someone’s been away from blogging for ages and they say they really don’t know what to write, but then just start and it’s okay in the end? I feel a bit like that today, although it’s only been a few weeks. I’m starting with this opening, random photos and seeing where it goes.

The lack of craft content is a big factor. It’s so frustrating that many times I’ve thought about just putting this on hold, without a big announcement or anything, but then I pop online and read a few of other peoples’ posts and enjoy just catching up with their news. Seeing what’s around in their gardens or neighbourhoods, what the weather’s like, what they’re eating, let alone what they’re making that I don’t really think it matters. It’s just natter without the knit, isn’t it?

The thing is I’m still being contacted by PR people for yarn companies and magazines. This week it was for a prominent High Street magazine who wanted me to do a How to Crochet series of pictures and instructional posts for their website. I love the compliments about my blog and that they really love the content, but it makes me wonder how recently they looked because I don’t think crochet has featured since last year. I shall look forward to seeing which blogger gets the gig!

This morning I’ve also had a dodgy looking email about some blogger awards. If I thought it was kosher I wouldn’t jump on my own chances by writing this here, but you know when the grammar is so odd and the website and email address are iffy looking that you just think ‘Ha ha, probably not?’

Do you know by the way that I always dictate my posts on my iPad now? So if there’s any very strange looking mistakes it’s Apple technology, not Rachel technology! Although I do keep being told off for not proofreading my messages. I sent the most bizarre instructions for baking sourdough this morning which included putting the sprinting on the third gravestone from the top…

I went to see the Hand Therapist last week. I’ve had to do a lot more lifting and carrying recently and it is she said: “A soup of ickyness and not anenomes.” Not quite the way I would’ve put it, although that description did make me laugh, but I get the message. I’ve got to go back to see the Hand and Wrist Consultant. I am resistant to anything invasive, but it does look probable as it’s not improving.

Beautiful Valentines Day flowers. Just gorgeous aren’t they, but unfortunately we kind of missed them, more about that later.

Snowdrops have appeared everywhere. Beautiful, but you do have to lift up the flowers to see how pretty they are on the inside, there are so many varieties, the variations are amazing.

Hyacinths from last year in one of my favourite blue pots. I know that second year bulbs don’t necessarily come back in flower very well, but I took the lazy approach and thought I would suck it and see. Probably not the best expression I use, picked up from an Australian. But I do like it!

Tulips. I have no idea what colour these were last year, maybe purple? Queen of the night variety? I could look in my notebook; but I quite like the idea that I’m going to get a surprise. Fingers crossed. What’s been nibbling them?

I think these are going to be Paperwhite narcissi.

I think I’ll never apologise, content-wise, for my sourdough pictures. If they annoy you then just imagine I’m smirking at you! Having said that I’m not sure I’m going to post anymore for quite a few weeks. Right now they’re flatter looking, because neither of us can lift up the cast-iron pot I bake them in. They tend to flatten out more when tipped out of the Banneton onto a baking sheet. Still taste good, but not so photogenic.

Have you heard that we had the hottest February on record? We had temperatures of 15° – 16°. T-shirt weather. I even saw a few people in shorts and sandals. It has been amazing, though ever so slightly bizarre for this time of year.

The spring flowers are out in force and it’s really lovely spotting croci, snowdrops, daffodils, grape hyacinths, blossom on trees and flowers on heather. I love the close-up I took of Mum’s little pink heather flowers.

And the reason we kind of missed my Valentine’s Day flowers: they drooped and dried out as the underfloor heating was still going on without us breezing in and out of the room or moving them to a cooler spot while we were away…

I’ve always fancied a ride in an ambulance; thought the flashing lights on while speeding past the traffic in a swift ride would be kind of cool. Yes I know, I’m a moron! Don’t think I’d really thought it through properly. Not so fun have to call it for a loved one at 2 AM, who is in pain, with all the worry and scary thoughts alongside that.

There were some funny moments, in retrospect. It is not a comfortable ride; it is noisy, the suspension is awful and both of us said they haven’t *even* put the lights and siren on! No need as at that time on a Monday morning there is nothing to slow down the journey. I find it interesting that having been woken from a deep sleep of only two hours that the things that I grabbed were his two phones, my iphone, my charger, my mascara (!) and I hid the whisky bottle in the cereal cupboard! We’d had a couple of drinks that evening, after a nice Sunday with family. There is no deep-seated problem or associated guilt, but for some reason I popped it behind the pack of Fruit and Fibre.

This was my view for several days and I did the thing of buying some lovely refreshing fruit (grapes are traditional, I went for melon and mango) for any time Someone felt like nibbling something. Of course those times were rare, it was all about lots of liquid morphine, codeine and paracetamol via IV. Incidentally I did ask the nurse if I could have a bit of that, because I had a cracking headache on the Tuesday after being up the previous night and the following day. She laughed and said “Absolutely not, do you realise how expensive it is given this way?!” Apparently it’s incredible, in a matter of minutes it’s taken effect.

I also was rushing about like a headless chicken and hadn’t had breakfast one day so did the classic thing of having to apologise when he did feel hungry for the first time, because I’d eaten all the melon! Oops.

There is a real club that forms when you’re part of a situation in a ward where everybody’s been rushed in without warning and are awaiting diagnosis or emergency operations. The patients are usually too unwell, sleepy and high on painkillers, but the families are really supportive of each other. I ended up chatting and waving to people all along the ward and in the lift, every time I popped out to get something. There is such a camaraderie and fast track relationships, albeit brief, are formed. I still wonder how some of them are and what happened. Maybe we’ll bump into each other in a cafe or shop one day. Fingers crossed all works out for them.

I know this is a horrendous picture of my hand but for me it sums up the black humour you can find in situations. There is a triage part of the ward and so at the end is a waiting room for about 10 people. There are clearly very unwell people waiting to be seen; they all had dark circles around their eyes, faces so pale it looked like stage make-up and nobody ever picked up a magazine. Some were there for hours and hours and I really felt for them. It’s not somewhere people chat. I think they’re just focusing on getting through so they can see a doctor. Then they get antibiotics to take home, or are admitted to the hospital.

Why a picture of a water bottle? This water machine was one of a kind. I kept on going down past the bays of beds to keep my legs moving and to keep myself hydrated. Can you see the tiny trickle going into my bottle? I’m actually sitting down to fill that water bottle. Honestly it took so long (about 10 minutes to fill 500ml) that at one point in a full waiting room I could feel 10 pairs of eyes on me and suppressed mirth. Far too much in pain and poorly to actually laugh out loud, but the atmosphere certainly lifted.

I want to give huge thanks and appreciation to the paramedics who came when I called 999 at 2 AM, the A&E team, ESU ward staff and the surgical team, anaesthetists and all the others who looked after my husband. NHS staff are AMAZING.

Home again now, taking it easy, he is well on the way to recovery.

I loved being outside for a walk again, enjoying the surprise sunshine after the trauma of the last week. I can’t leave without telling you what I’m reading. I’m listening to this audiobook and really enjoying it. Read by Juliet Stevenson it’s such a good story, the only downside is her voice is so soothing I can’t listen to it lying down; because I’m asleep in 10 minutes.

Yesterday I finished two books: The Moon’s a Balloon by David Niven and Tin Man by Sarah Winman. Both very good.

If this is natter, without the knit then this definitely needs your comments! How have your last few weeks been, what have you been doing, has it been sunny where you are and what are you reading?

In the last ten days

We finally got the promised snow, the Friday before last. These few photos were on the Saturday when my Snow Face was all go. (Manic grinning and crazy happy eyes.)

I do like snow a lot, I’m just not so keen on falling over when it’s icy. I definitely need to buy some new walking boots; because although they are still smart and comfy, my leather Timberlands are a bit worn and shiny on the soles. It makes me very wary walking the day after snowfall, when everything’s frozen solid. Last year I ended up making the shape of a capital A, with my hands flat on the pavement in front of me and my bottom in the air, when I slipped on the ice! No one needs to see that again.

At the beginning of the week I’d driven Mum around to four shops to try to buy a couple of small brown loaves, as I wasn’t planning on baking any sourdough for a couple of days. The snow had been forecast and it seemed sensible to make sure she had some. We found they were all sold out nearly everywhere. In the event it was a wet kind of snow and so didn’t hang around. By Sunday, when we went for another walk, it was beginning to melt at the edges.

Snow days means soup days. I made a new recipe from Olive: Creamy Tomato Soup. It’s a delicate blend of flavours and went down well with the others, though personally I’d halve the quantity of cream, it was a little rich for me.

I don’t have the same comments about the chocolate in the cake I had last Monday, courtesy of John Lewis rewards on my app. Get the app if you ever go anywhere near a JL. The free cake and hot drink can be perfect, when you’re shopping and in need of a pitstop. What I love about it is the free cake includes pastries, which means you can have a rather nice cheese scone! This was a rare time when I actually had the cake and a cappuccino, rather than peppermint tea and a cheese scone for lunch.

Now I know daffodils, snowdrops and hellebore are winter flowers, croci too, but just seeing flowers popping out and nodding their little heads can’t help but make you think of spring.

By Wednesday it was hard to believe we’d ever had any snow at all. Did you spot the foraging ducks amongst the fallen beech leaves? They were too busy to turn around to chat to me even, though I did try to start up a conversation.

Look at that handsome strutting boy heading back to the pond, he was all wiggling hips and attitude as he knew I’d snap him.

Thursday it was time to cook a warming curry. Another Olive magazine recipe to try. We really liked their version of Chicken Saag. It’s a good blend of spices, filling lentils, chicken and shiny spinach. It was declared “A Winner!”

Friday morning and I made cheese scones for lunch. Oops I forgot to start the timer, so they were rather more crispy than usual, which actually went down really well. Good!

Then lasagne for dinner. This one. Absolutely yummy, a proper Winter Warmer with bells on. A robust Malbec to sip and the promise of some chocolate after.

If you’re not going anywhere Friday nights are made for a tasty meal, which has to fit within the criteria of a Friday Night Tea, there are rules about what constitutes a Friday Night Tea and definite no-nos. Do you know what I mean? I was delighted to find out a friend thinks exactly the same way, that made me realise how in sync we were when we started to get to know each other. You also need a good film, or tv which makes you laugh, nothing serious, and the evening has to include a little something sweet for later. No dessert or chocolate to hand is very, very bad.

It’s not all food, drink and chocolate cake, as lovely as that is. My weekly tally, added to my accumulative total showed I’ve completed over a tenth of my walking target now. I’m aiming to walk 1,000 miles this year, without pressure or in competition with anyone else. Over 100 miles walked already. Go me and my shiny bottomed Timberlands!

What about you? What are you doing, cooking or making in your spare time? Have you read any good books lately? I am absolutely stuck into Last Letter Home by Rachel Hore. It’s going to be a quick read for me as I can’t put it down.

Taking Stock – January

Making : piles of things to take to the charity shop

Cooking : Thai Red Curry Butternut Squash Soup from Olive magazine’s website – recipe here. It’s delicious. I doubled up the onion, garlic and red Thai curry paste. And used 1 kilo of (frozen) BNS cubes. If you like thicker soups definitely don’t use all the stock

Drinking : a mug of soup

Reading: The Clockmaker’s Daughter by Kate Morton

Wanting: to find out who’s who now. I’m up to 94% read on my ebook, the app estimates it will take 25 minutes to finish

Playing: Kermode & Mayo’s Film review podcast (they’re talking about the Bohemian Rhapsody film)

Deciding: what to read next

Wishing: for a smart Boden bag

Enjoying: cooking lots of new recipes

Not a new recipe, just a colourful tray of veg for roasting: carrots, yellow and red pepper and fennel with sprigs of rosemary

Waiting: for SNOW

Liking: snowdrops and croci appearing

This verge will be full of a host of golden daffodils soon

Wondering: when I’ll meet a rather lovely friend for lunch, we need to find a date that doesn’t clash with anything else. We’ll get there

Loving: ebooks – from the library! All without going to the library. Choose what you fancy on the library app, place a hold for a popular book, an email comes when it’s available and I use the Libby app to download and read it. They are FREE! ❤️

Pondering: posh coats, bags and leather gloves

Considering: a new foundation – do you use liquid/double powder or nothing?

Buying: I got a rolled eyes reaction when I got home from the dentist and a quick visit to one of my favourite yarn shops. Yes, I know I can’t actually use it at the mo, but you don’t pass up Rowan when it’s £2 in the sale! Sheesh!

Watching: Cold Feet, our old friends are back

Hoping: that varying the strength exercises will progress the healing of my hand

A cheeky G&T on Thursday night

Marvelling: at the slowly slow progress of my hand but it’s definitely improving. Had another Physio Hand Therapy appointment yesterday

Cringing: at how reconciliation, communication skills and empathic behaviour seem to be missing from some people’s emotional intelligence

Needing: chocolate

Questioning: whether I can keep thinking, typing and listening. Nope. See you later Wittertainment

Such a fun girl’s weekend away: so much chatter, laughter, tasty food, gin, prosecco and a large Baileys too

Smelling: my perfume

Wearing: a tunic with big front pockets, leggings, chunky red cardie

Following: so many things on TV, Netflix and Prime that I’ve written a list! We’ve stuck to the trad viewing habits of tending to watch an episode, or two at most, a week despite the constant availability of complete series

Knowing: binge watching can spoil the impact and enjoyment of programmes

Thinking: I sound like the forty something I am!

The fridge has spoken again

Admiring: bright colour wearers

Sorting: socks, I’m putting pairs together, then folding and folding them again, rather than pairing them into a lump. I wondered if it stretches the ribbing otherwise. I think my sock drawer looks pretty cool, (if that’s not a total contradiction of the definition of what’s cool….) with all sets in order and like colours together

Frozen single gloves seem to be in abundance on fence posts this month

Getting: nerdier by the year

Bookmarking: recipes, Guardian article and helpful quotes which I rarely go back to read

Coveting: a book of labels

Disliking: the book of labels and stickers I ordered online, they didn’t show many pages online

Opening: the book, wondering why I need a huge Bon Voyage or an Ex Libris sticker which take up half a page

Still going strong

Giggling: at The Navy Lark despite it not being very funny

Feeling: full of soup

Snacking: not necessary right now

Helping: Mum find the BBC World Service so she can record The Beatles Last Concert on Freeview tv (BBC R4 play a selection overnight of The WS programmes. It’s on tonight on The WS if you’re keen to hear it live)

Hearing: Someone saying “I thought you were going to put the heating on!”

Mixing: radio stations. I’ve tried Chris Evans on Virgin, Zoe Ball on BBC R2 and Lauren Laverne on BBC 6 during the early mornings

Mixing II: spices for curry powder

Worrying: it’s pointless, I try not to

Slicing: cucumber. It’s been in the fridge for weeks now

Celebrating: blue skies and sunny days

Forgetting: to put the heating on. Oops, but it’s an hour or more since I said I would, so it can’t be that cold in there!

Winning: nothing since a raffle at Christmas

Pretending: this time next year Rodney, we’ll be millionaires!

Sneaking: marshmallows

Embracing: birdwatching, though our RSPB Big Garden Birdwatch results on Monday included just the usual garden birds, no woodpecker like I ordered and which came one year, during the hour!!!!!!!

You? Tell me two things, three if you’re feeling particularly chatty

Serendipity

A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step

Lao Tzu

Today I had a rather nice thing happen. While walking at Blenheim, lamenting that my usual six mile loop is still not able to be accessed, I paused to ask a couple who passed through the same gateway if they knew of a circular route in the direction we were headed. It’s always nicer not to retrace your steps. Also familiar with the loop I walk, they were trying another one by using a map app. I ended up joining them, after saying a few times that I was happy to drop back and follow at a distance so I didn’t intrude, but instead she asked me if I bake and had I heard of Bundt cakes? Well, you know me….I LOVE talking about baking, cake recipes and eating cake is one of my favourite pastimes, and so we were off!

While we walked we covered topics like bundt cake recipes (I’ve never actually made or eaten one in England, though I have in Australia and USA as they’re not that common here, but I do fancy a cherry and coconut version I said) walking 1,000 miles in a year, backpacking, living in the countryside, NT membership and much more.

It was a really lovely 5 mile circular walk with good conversation. At the end we swapped numbers saying we could maybe meet up and walk together again, but I knew that even if I never heard from, or saw them again, I’d had a really lovely time.

However by the time I got home I found I had a text from L with a Fitbit map of our route so I could do it again, if I wanted. How thoughtful. I said they’d got me looking up bundt cakes…! They’re based on European cakes, but actually bundt tins were invented in the 1950s by an American guy who’d bought an Aluminum Company in Minnesota to make Scandinavian items. I could tell you more facts, or you can Google them too. I love finding out random information. I know I’ll have forgotten it all in a few weeks time, as my brain is custard, but I like the short-term knowledge!

We exchanged a few cake based messages and I went to the dentists for my annual checkup and came out absolutely starving hungry. I don’t know about you but I don’t eat too near to an appointment. I’d had another message to say R was making a coffee and chocolate fudge cake as he thought that was suitably American. Aww!

I received an email from Ramblers this afternoon about Time to Talk Day. This will be on February 7th and aims to get people together to walk and talk about mental health issues, with an aim to reduce the stigma around talking about it. This seems like a very good thing indeed.

Mental health problems affect one in four of us, yet many people are still afraid to talk about it. Walking is a perfect way to start having a conversation with others and opening up. Being physically active, connecting with nature and other people – the ingredients of a Ramblers group walk – are all things which have been shown to have a positive impact on mental health and wellbeing.

From the Ramblers website

I’m recording my pedometer mileage as usual every week, but this year am totting up the miles to see how close to a thousand I walk during the year. I’m not putting any pressure upon myself, especially as I have a tendency to knee problems. So, if it’s half that amount then so be it, but it’s cool to have a goal to keep in mind. I can then aim to beat this year’s total next year.

How are you doing? (I always, always hear Joey from Friends when I say that! Do you read it in his voice?!)

Yarn Along – January

Today it’s a dark afternoon and steadily growing colder. I made spicy lentil and coconut vegetable soup for lunch and read some Yarn Along blog posts while it cooked. After taking this photo I swapped the peppermint tea for hot chocolate with mini marshmallows. That’s my treat.

I don’t know about you, but after Christmas I always want to eat more veggie food than usual. I think it’s an intuitive thing to find more of a balance after quite a few meals with turkey, sausage meat and ham. If you can recommend any recipes, please do. Hugh is off my bookshelf ready and waiting too.

I’m desperately trying to ignore the fact that I have Hotel Chocolat goodies calling me. Today is Day One post-Christmas and epiphany (which is when we take down all the decs.) Monday and Tuesday were also Day One but ended with less success than planned chocolate.

Ignoring the total craft ban I optimistically tried again for 10 minutes of crochet during the Crimbo Limbo week, that gorgeously lazy time between Christmas and New Year. Of course it turned into 30 minutes, because I’m desperate to be making again after months of nothing, so I had to admit to stupidity and run for an ice pack. I won’t tell the Hand Therapist when I see her at the end of the month. My hand is definitely improving, but it’s a painfully slow process. Still, the upside is I have a legitimate photo to share for Ginny’s monthly Yarn Along. Hurrah!

The Clockmaker’s Daughter by Kate Morton was ready to be collected from the library a few days ago. It’s an absolute brick of a hardback. Actually, hang on while I go and weigh it….blimey, it’s nearly a kilo, at 982g! This is not going to be a book to read in bed. I won’t be able to hold it. I’ll rest it on a cushion on my lap and read it downstairs instead.

I know, the plant above (a goose foot?) needs some R&R after being popped down somewhere inappropriate to make room for the tree at Christmas. Luckily it’s always very forgiving and seems to bounce back with glossy leaves and a perky demeanour. This poinsettia’s much happier…

What are you making and reading?

Happy New Year!

2018

Today is my blog’s seventh birthday!

Here’s my very first post on New Year’s Eve 2011. My blog content hasn’t really changed at all from what I proposed on that very first post. I still enjoy writing it and sharing my photos, thank you for reading. It would be like pointlessly talking to myself, if not for you.

Hello and Welcome to new readers. I’ve felt surprised, and frankly delighted, that so many of you have started following this blog during the last year, even with the minimal craft content. Thank you also to my regular readers, I know some of you have been coming here for years now. I love hearing from you.

This year I haven’t been able to make much, as you know. I injured my hand in April and I am (not) enjoying a period of enforced rest from all craft. Of course it’s also affected other aspects of day to day life. I’ve had to learn to ask for help, and accept that there are just things that I cannot/should not do. Things are definitely improving, but it’s very gradual.

Reading last year’s round up post I see I did tempt fate by confidently stating I’d have at least one finished sock to show at the end of this year. Has this year been all about the curse of the sock….?

If you fancy seeing my previous annual round ups, they’re all here:

2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017

Has anybody been with me from the beginning?

 

I hope 2019 is a fabulous year for you, that you are happy, healthy and content.

Happy New Year!

 

 

Taking Stock – December

Making : oat cakes to go with the cheese mountain

Cooking : marzipan fruit cake

Drinking : Taittinger

Reading: One Day in December by Josie Silver

Wanting: another long walk, after an extended lunch with family yesterday

Taken at Upton house, a National Trust property

Playing: with my new iPad!

Deciding: To eat lots of fruit and veg today

Wishing: that you all have a lovely Crimbo limbo

Enjoying: time with family

Waiting: for a few new series to start on Netflix and Prime: Grace & Frankie, The Grand Tour

Liking: Our Christmassy house; lots of twinkly white lights

Wondering: which case to buy for my iPad (it’s 6th generation 2018, any recommendations?)

Loving: the Corinne Lapierre felt embroidery kits which I’ve been given for Christmas

Pondering: whether to try a little crochet (I know, it’s banned)

Considering: feeding my sourdough starter. I think I’ve made three loaves in four days, but it has been appreciated

Buying: nothing at the moment, after all the Christmas shopping – presents and food – if we haven’t got it, we can’t have it!

Watching: The last episode of The Kominsky Method on Netflix. Alan Arkin and Michael Douglas are funny together

Hoping: they commission a second series, there’s only six episodes

Marvelling: how I have lost my capacity to drink anything other than a couple of glasses; having done dry October and then nothing alcoholic again since the last weekend in November, until Christmas Eve

Cringing: at loud drunken people

Needing: a tissue, I’ve got the sneezes

Questioning: my mind is a relaxed blank

Smelling: Nothing, see above!

Wearing: sleepwear as I’m dictating this to my iPhone first thing in the morning, still in bed

Following: nothing particularly, screen time has been minimal this week

Knowing: I think about going back to a text-only phone then remember I’ve just been given a lovely new iPad!

Blenheim Palace at Christmas

Thinking: about putting an audiobook on next

Admiring: this father

Sorting: things to go to the charity shops

Getting: rounder! That’s the power of Christmas

Bookmarking: actual books

Coveting: some Simple facial wipes, used my last one

Opening: kitchen cupboards and finding chocolate and nuts everywhere

Giggling: at Albert Finney in Scrooge

Feeling: happy

Snacking: “Please take it away, I’ve eaten enough!”

Helping: with the washing up

Hearing: birds tweeting

Mixing: socially

Worrying: –

Slicing: vegetables, later, for a stir fry

Celebrating: Christmas, with family

Forgetting: nothing, I think I covered it all

Winning: at Christmas, It’s been a really lovely relaxed week

Pretending: I did cool auntie dancing yesterday

Sneaking: Rocky Road last night while watching TV

Embracing: my nieces, even though they were aghast at my auntie dancing

~

I hope you’ve had a really nice Christmas and things are going well with you

~

And that’s a year of Taking Stock:

January

February

March

April

May

June

July

August

September

October

November

Christmas at Upton House

Another Sunday, another day out to see a National Trust property decorated for Christmas: Upton House and Gardens, Warwickshire

‘If you’re looking for something a little different this Christmas, Upton House has the answer with a festive calendar of events and the chance to see first hand how the new owners in the 1920s created a Christmas family home perfectly in keeping with the arrival of the jazz era.

It’s 90 years since Lord and Lady Bearsted purchased Upton House near Banbury and set about turning it into a comfortable and desirable country home. This Christmas, you can follow the renovations they made and witness the before and after transformation as they set about creating a ‘made to measure’ Christmas.

Visitors to the house will be able to draw inspiration from 1920s house and garden experts with hints and tips cards placed in four of the main rooms. The partitions in the long gallery have also been removed to show how it would have looked once Lord and Lady Bearsted had settled in.’

From the NT website

I wrote about when I went to see a special war-time exhibition in 2016 if you’d like to see how the house looks from the outside and see a few photos taken during Summertime.

Upton house is looking particularly lovely with the 1920s and 30s style decorations. There’s always such a nice atmosphere there. It’s a house you can imagine living in; unlike some of the more palatial NT properties which can often be filled with too much ostentatious bling. Because of their vast size too, they often seem to have strange ghostly vibes in the echoing corridors and back staircases. Upton doesn’t feel like that at all. It exudes a cosy vibe, not a ghostly one, and still feels very much like a family home.

All along the paths were little clippings where people had been foraging for greenery to make this and other wreaths and decorations for the house. This one on Butler’s Cottage, which is adjacent to the main house, would have been awarded my prize for Best in Show, Christmas 2018. I really like the dried orange slices and bundles of cinnamon sticks with the gold ribbon and miniature baubles.

Those holly leaves look as if it they’ve been polished.

A couple came walking along the path when I was singing ‘The Holly and the Ivy’. She started laughing, which of course made me sing it a little more loudly. Join in! We’ll start a choir!

The Mirror Pool from right to left, with a final photo to illustrate why it has been given its name. See the clouds reflected? The terraces above will be full of kitchen garden plants, both fruits and vegetables, and it also has long beds of flowers come the  warmer weather. Upton holds the National Collection of Asters, it’s well worth a visit in early autumn to see these late flowering beauties.

I love winters like this, where it’s sunny and bright but with a really crisp feel to the air. Because Upton is on a hill when the wind blows, oh! You definitely find yourself wrapping your coat more tightly around you. In the midst of a cold winter, you would need a constantly refilled pot of tea and a stack of good books.

The wreath on the door to the cafe had such a variety of items that I photographed it in sections. Should I ever learn how to make my own, I thought I could return to these pictures for inspiration. (Now I’m dithering over the page up button as perhaps the Butler’s Cottage wreath isn’t my favourite? Could I award both joint First Place?)

Apparently the gingerbread men smelt gorgeously spicy. I feel the Entrance Hall tree was probably lucky to be left intact, but that was only because “They were all tied on!”

The golden tree at the end of the Long Gallery. This is very much a rich man’s country home, filled with an extensive private art collection, bought with some of the fortune made from Shell Oil. If you concentrated on looking at each painting you would need several days to spend on those alone. We spotted paintings by Hogarth, Gainsborough and Canaletto to name a few. If you are interested, you can read about the art here.There was lot more besides: more trees, more decorated rooms both upstairs and downstairs, but I make a conscious effort not to take hundreds of photos There has to be a balance between wandering and enjoying the atmosphere and not seeing it all through a screen. I’ve captured the look of the house and gardens, which hopefully gives you a flavour of the property.

Last night I bought my first Christmas fiction of the season. It’s lovely. I’m already half a dozen chapters in, the Kindle version is only 99p if you also want a cosy warming read. (No affiliate links here, just a nice book recommendation.) Of course it’s also worth checking out your local library catalogue, that way you can read it for free!

Have you visited anywhere that made you feel all Christmassy, cosy and warm, without lots of commercial hype and those ubiquitous Bratwurst Stalls? Upton House just won that award too.

Stowe at Christmas

On Sunday we went to Stowe, a National Trust property, to have a good walk, where we followed a Christmas trail. This was after listening to a mixture of traditional carols and modern Christmas music by Winslow concert band, in the courtyard. The mince pies were successfully avoided till nearer Christmas, go us! Impressive self control I think.

A long walk is always first (at least 5 miles and you should try to get quite hot and out of breath marching up any hills*) which then earns a visit to the cafe for drinks, a ham salad sandwich and a bag of crisps. A mooch around the main shop, and this time the Christmas craft stalls, only at the end. That’s the usual order of the day at a National Trust property. Do you do the same?

The scale and beauty of Stowe have attracted visitors for over 300 years. Picture-perfect views, winding paths, lakeside walks and temples create a timeless landscape, reflecting the changing seasons. Full of hidden meaning, the gardens were created as an earthly paradise and still cast their spell today. Your visit starts at the New Inn visitor centre outside the gardens. This fusion of modern and restored eighteenth-century buildings was where visitors of the past were welcomed to Stowe.

(From The NT app)

A glimpse of Stowe House as we began our walk. It is now a private boarding school. The pupils were out and playing fun games outside in one area by the Queen’s Temple.

I didn’t photograph everything we saw, but these give you a flavour of the Christmas Trail and just a very few of the many landmarks you see as you walk around the Capability Brown designed parkland.

The Palladian bridge

Look beyond the iron railings and this was once the drive which led to the house.

This is the other side of the Palladian Bridge, once you’ve walked through it. The wellies were amusingly titled ‘Step into Christmas’ and a label describes how the head Gardener Barry is going to do a long walk from here to Bath to raise funds for Stowe in the New Year.

It always fascinates me that you can rent the Gothic Temple as a holiday let. What a spooky place it would be at night.

MK Jets

Milton Keynes Jets junior embroidery and textile students have created tapestry decorations using the colours of the Women’s Suffrage Movement in honour of the centenary of the first women getting the right to vote in 1918. They also represent the threads that bind communities together. From the textile industry to sewing for pleasure, the desire to stitch and create is woven through the fabric of time.

The grotto. Look at the pebbled floor, it must have been done by hand.

You enter through dark, low and narrow tunnels and I’m not sure that Someone thought there was anything much on the other side, so when we entered into the main room with a high roof, the fountain trickling with beautifully clean water and the arch looking out I heard him say “Ohh!” It is a bit special, I felt a magical vibe.

What you can’t see is that in cracks and crevices of the walls were laid little red baubles and greenery.

Men in Sheds were originally set up by Age Concern and the local group have made two xylophones for Stowe. They are, as you can see, things of natural beauty. Plus they sound good too. I swear I inadvertently played a Christmas carol really well, but this wasn’t universally acknowledged – #bahhumbug – and now I can’t even remember which one. It’s a secret me and the robin will share.

*I realise that I sound a little like a Sergeant major in the army! It is actually good fun and you feel very energised afterwards.

Yearning Along

Now don’t get all excited; this is something I started crocheting after the hot water bottle cosy, then my hand therapist told me I was forbidden to do any craft, as it is too intense for my injured hand.

I think I must be an addict because, even bringing it out to photograph today, I couldn’t help doing a row as they are very short. It couldn’t really hurt, surely? By the time I would have finished one teeny row my hand would barely even recognise that I’ve done anything, would it? Stupid! So I’ve got to put it back in the craft box and not even look at it. My post title is apt isn’t it? On the positive side my hand is definitely improving, it’s a really slow process but I’m gradually using it more, without lasting pain. Apparently it can take six months to one year to settle, so I’m now expecting to be able to crochet again next Easter…woohoo, bunnies and chicks here we come!

Ohh, but isn’t aran yarn great? That and a chunky hook and a project literally flies away, finished in about five minutes!

I had a look at the secondhand book area during our visit to Stowe on Sunday (I’ll do a separate post about this) where they had put together a seasonal shelf. They weren’t necessarily all Christmas themed books, but any with December, winter or snow in the title, or an appropriate cover. I love this type of thing, it’s just so thoughtful and creative. The shelf looked really appealing. I wish I’d taken some photos, but to be honest I was too busy browsing the books!

The Snow Rose is the book I chose, despite knowing nothing about the author, but I seem to have picked a goodie. A woman is running away from someone or somewhere, with her young daughter in tow. She has become the guardian of a very large dilapidated old country house in the middle of nowhere. Instantly you are alert as to why. Is she a reliable narrator, I keep wondering? Plus the house may hold some mysterious secrets of its own, and what about the two elderly sisters who live in a cottage nearby. What is their connection to the house? I’ve only read seven and a half chapters and I’m gripped!

Another crochet lover addict and I enjoy similar books, we often post pics of them on Instagram. The other day we both looked up each other’s current read, and commented that they looked good, so I suggested we do a book swap. She agreed, so I already have one of my next reads lined up. Isn’t that nice?

A good book, hot chocolate with as many mini pink and white mini marshmallows as I can sprinkle on top and there’s a pretty perfect winter evening.

Are you reading anything good at the moment? Anything you would recommend?

Joining in with Ginny’s December Yarn Along.

Ps: Are you watching / recording Kirsties Homemade Kitchen on C4? There are 15 sparkly episodes to enjoy, featuring some familiar crafty faces

Taking Stock – November

You might have to look at these for a minute to work out what they are. Clever eh? Saw in an Antiques Centre

Making : nothing. Sigh. Not a little fed up about it. Total craft ban enforced by Hand Therapist as it’s “too intense”. I can’t tell you how much I want to knit or crochet some winter woollies

Cooking : lentils, quite a bit lately. Spicy lentil soup. Cheesy lentil loaf. Chicken, BNS & Green Lentil stew

Drinking : little alcohol since Dry October. None until Christmas Eve

Reading: just finished The Seduction of Water by Carol Goodman. A book I picked up from a pile at a booky meet up and didn’t have any expectation of; I just thought I’d give it a try. Realised I’d read another of hers: The Drowning Tree, ages ago. I’ll keep an eye out for more. I like her style

Two perfect creations, thanks Delia

Wanting: to make something else woolly, I did ahem…begin another thing a few weeks ago, which I want to wear, but it was stupid and made my hand hurt. I grumbled and packed it away. (Confession: I did get it out again yesterday and considered rebelling again. But good sense prevailed)

Playing: Coldplay: A Sky Full Of Stars – loudly, it makes me spin around in a circle, fast

Deciding: to carry on blogging when I feel like it and not worry about no craft content. Still getting new followers, despite no wool! Hello newbies, welcome to the waffle

Wishing: for more sunny days like this. It’s lovely and crisp

Enjoying: twinkly lights everywhere. November is one of my favourite of the darker months

Waiting: for deliveries. Christmas comes in a van, aka Margo Leadbetter (tried to find a clip of that on You Tube, I expect one’s there somewhere, if you can find it…)

Liking: The Kominsky Method on Netflix with Michael Douglas and Alan Arkin. Love his work: dry wit and perfect timing

Wondering: when, how much longer

Loving: The Haunting of Hill House, also on Netflix. So gripping and made me wave my hummus bowl in the air last night in fear!

Pondering: family Christmas wish lists

Considering: mini sparkly things

Buying: the above for one who is developing has developed into a sarcastic, but funny with it, nearly-twelve year old

Watching: a group of Red Kites (Info here) circling and diving at each other above the nearby woodland

Hoping: it stays dry Sunday for walking

Marvelling: at my own organisation. There’s bound to be something vital I forget!

Well, it wouldn’t be a fully-rounded blog post without a pic of my sourdough, would it?

A homemade crocheted pot-holder I made ages ago for my friend’s canal boat and some starter for her to make her own loaf

When you’re hungry and it’s well past lunchtime and then the rain pours down, so you decide to shelter in a cafe. Cake & cappuccino is a balanced meal, isn’t it?

Cringing: at the news of 2 hour queues getting out of some supermarket car parks. Online groceries, folks!

Needing: hot chocolate with mini pink & white marshmallows

Questioning: how I’m going to cut down on sugar in January!

Smelling: orange blossom perfume

Wearing: scruffs

Following: well, this just changed as I went running downstairs because apparently a group of juvenile long-tailed tits were queuing up to use the dining room mealworm window feeder. I counted 5, it was marvellous seeing them swoop from feeder to feeder in the trees too (as long as they haven’t pooed on my pjs which are on the washing line!)

Knowing: I will crochet again one day, but April to …. is now months

Thinking: of all the things I have been enjoying: visits to The V&A, reading, baking sourdough bread for my loved ones, seeing friends who make me laugh, dancing to Coldplay, loving my nieces antics and humour, admiring all the Christmas lights

Admiring: my neighbours’ new and improved house, they’ve been living elsewhere since Easter while it’s added to and completely renovated. The first thing put on the new fancy kitchen shelves was a jar of Marmite! I like their style

Often get an ‘I’ve cut the new loaf’ lunchtime pic and this pinged in as I was walking past this new artisan bakery on Baker Street, London

Mid-November and London was all a twinkle. The Regent Street angels swoop the length of the road

I was lucky enough to get to go into The RSA for a meet up at the end of a Street Wisdom session. Isn’t this a great door-knocker?

The Royal Festival Hall, on the South Bank from Hungerford Bridge. Popped in and caught a steel band and dancers performing for a while

Sorting: receipts

Getting: sellotape and wrap ready, knowing my grand plans to wrap early always, always go astray and I’ll probably do it on 23rd…

Bookmarking: podcasts. Discovering some goodies. Btw: have you heard Simon Mayo’s Books of the Year podcast? Pick an episode with an author you know, to try first. There are lots to choose from now. (Link for Android users here)

Coveting: a new bit of expensive technology

Disliking: the way Apple slow down iPads at a certain age, it’s wrong

Opening: new loose leaf lemongrass tea my friend Phil gave me. I liked the spearmint one a lot too

Giggling: at I’m a Celebrity Get me Out of Here. I prefer it presented by Holly and Dec

Feeling: happy

Snacking: on a Cox apple. So juicy it’s running down my hand, right now

Helping: buy presents on someone else’s behalf this week

Hearing: a bird chirrup

Mixing: socially

Worrying: there’s no point. What will be, will be 🎶

Waddesdon Manor, National Trust, Christmas House, Market & Light Trail

Want to visit too?

Sparkly and sumptuous, Waddesdon Manor always looks beautifully dressed at Christmas. The garden light trails and the Christmas fair were the best ever this year too

Slicing: carrots, cucumber, red pepper and radishes for hummus

Celebrating: family time on Sunday, all enjoying spending time together. Playing a Kids’ Charades game was really fun. We all seem to have a thing for starting a scene with opening and closing a door. Neat framing or pedantic weirdry?!

Forgetting: what?! What?!

Winning: something with an order I placed this morning, it’s random but I can’t tell you what as I’m going to pass it on…

Pretending: to consider what to read next, but knowing it’s likely to be Bleak House. Dickens is perfect reading this time of year. Last year it was The Old Curiosity Shop and Great Expectations. A Christmas Carol the year before.

Sneaking: nothing. Honest Guv’

Embracing: sugar! Hurrah!

How are you? Was your November a good one too? I hope so – you’re too nice to have a rotten time. But if it’s not been the greatest, let’s cross our fingers December’s better.

Is that a drum roll I hear?

A finished thing? Yes!!!!

Making:

I used Emma’s pattern (thank you, clever you) for the linen stitch stripy inspiration and shaping, but then diverged because I needed to make it slightly wider to fit my bottle. So, I crocheted twice around each piece. I double crocheted around the sides once, doing only single crochet at the top and bottom as I didn’t need to add to the overall length. Then all around once more with half treble stitches on both sides and double crochet at the top and bottom. After double crocheting the pieces together along the sides I worked 8 or so rows of DC back and forth along the bottom of the back piece to make a flap. I didn’t want to stitch the hot water bottle into the cosy by crocheting it all together. I know what I’m like; I could easily spill some hot chocolate on it and have to cut it all apart to wash the cover! The flap is tucked up inside. That might be enough without any fastenings, since the bottle’s unlikely to work itself out of the cover and you tend to carry it holding onto the neck.

I made the collar long enough to come 1/2” / 1.5cm above the top of the top of the bottle. I prefer the look of the right side of the crochet on the outside so didn’t make the collar long enough to fold over.

I’ve got to confess that I don’t think I’ve used a hot water bottle in bed since I was a child. I think I might have when I lived in Australia in winter though. The houses were ideal for staying cool in the summer, but were often really cold in the winter.

I did use my HWB in the spring when my hand needed heat treatment initially as it felt really stiff and sore, then alternated it with a cold pack to aid healing and relief.

It would be nice to snuggle up with on a very cold day, when I’m snuggled on the sofa. It’s just been a pleasure making something again, albeit in short bursts. It’s my first finished item since July when I blocked my Edenvale cowl.

The cosy is really warm and lovely with the yarn’s wool content. I much prefer the feel of Stylecraft’s Life Aran with its 25% wool blend, compared to the 100% acrylic version. I’m going to look for something else to make with the remnants I have from the slouchy beanies I made for a friend. Here’s the first. And the second, I really like the maroon yarn.

Reading:

This week I’m reading Moonfleet by J. Mead Falkner and listening to I Found You by Lisa Jewell. They’re completely different books, but both are equally as compelling as the other.

Moonfleet was published in 1898. The story begins in a Dorset village in 1757. It’s the tale of young John Trenchard who becomes involved in the smuggling trade.

I Found You concerns a man found on a beach, by Alice who lives nearby. He has no memory of who he is, or where he has come from. Another man (or is it the same?) has not returned home from work to Lily, his brand new wife. This is an audiobook I’m finding it hard to turn off. I’m actually pleased when I wake very early in the morning, so I can listen to some more! I love it when you can’t put your book down, either reading or listening to it.

Made anything from start to finish lately, or have you bigger things on the go? What are you reading? Do you like audio books?

Joining in with Ginny’s November Yarn Along

A great day out


Yesterday I went into London to spend a day doing some of my favourite things. I found myself taking lots of photos and decided to share them with you.

Now, before I begin I have to say that I’ve done Stoptober and someone has just offered me a surprise cider and some dry roasted peanuts, as he’s about to drink a beer and munch said nuts while he watches the second half of Wales against Scotland rugby match. I’ve taken the tiniest of sips and already my head is spinning, so forgive me if this disintegrates into utter nonsense by the end! **

My sourdough loaf had not long been out of the oven before I set off and so I didn’t try some until this morning. Breakfast of Queens. It makes such good toast. (Every blog post must mention sourdough.)

I met my brother for a light lunch in our favourite Itsu on Baker Street and topics of conversation included: casseroles, eating fish, physio and the benefits of setting an alarm so you remember to do them (that was me, doing my bossy slightly-older sis thing excellently) meeting up with old friends, buying a car, plans for the weekend and Blenheim’s hidden bridge rooms (See here.)

It was such a sunny and crisp autumn day yesterday that I decided to walk along to Marble Arch, duck into Hyde Park and walk to The V&A. There seems to be a trend for roadworks at the moment; everywhere I went I came across them.

The contractors were really busy: starting to set up for Winter Wonderland. It’s basically a fairground, with massively overpriced food and drink like bratwurst, burgers, chips, candy floss and mulled wine. I’ve quite enjoyed the festive atmosphere when we’ve visited, but at points it’s so crowded that I’m hyperaware of tucking my bag and purse under my arm, with my hand on the zip. Going bagless with your ‘phone stuffed into one side of your bra and your purse into the other might be a solution?

While I walked my WhatsApp pinged with an ‘I’ve cut the bread’ pic. The No-knead Stretch and Fold technique is one I adopted in the summer. I’m sticking with it: it’s so easy and you can make a loaf one-handed. Perfect for me at the moment.

Walking past Harrods after coming out of the park

I love the V&A so much, I’m so grateful to have my membership, plus a guest pass, renewed every Christmas. It’s one of my special places in London.

I wanted to see this exhibition before it ends on Sunday (tomorrow.) I feel regretful that I didn’t visit before so I could recommend it to you sooner, as I know some of you read about my visits and then go. I went mostly because a friend had been and was describing it last weekend when I saw her in Birmingham.

Rather than go on and on about it I’ll leave it to my photos of the signs to give you an idea. The V&A is excellent at provoking thought, entertaining and amusing. This ticked every one of those particular boxes. I think the section that made me reflect most was the digital footprint many of us will leave, what we might want to happen to our bodies (think cryogenics or saving a complete digital imprint of our DNA) and the impact technology has had on community and where we live.

I’ve got to know so many people now through sharing hobbies on social media, taking part in online groups and, of course, blogging, which often results in meeting up in real life. I believe technology can and does enable greater connection, if you’re willing to take a chance and meet up in person. There are some I’ve chatted to for years and might never see, but there’s definitely value and concrete positives in the sharing of opinions, giving advice and encouragement.

It was rather disquieting to reflect upon how much has already become the norm; many of us use technology everyday to show us how far we’ve walked, how we slept, what we’ve eaten and record where we went. We post instant photos online, send messages throughout the day, set alarms which we jump to respond to (or not, in the case of my exercise alerts!), have devices like Alexa listening in on our conversations, are beginning to get devices which can be controlled by Smart ‘phones to record a programme, alter the heating temperature, boil a kettle or toast bread….


There was a 10 question multi-choice quiz to take about how you see technology impacting upon the future and what this might look like in 20 years. My result was I am an All-round Optimist. This was the same as the greatest number of participants outside and within the exhibition. Hurray! I like being one of the crowd, especially when it’s a positive result.

A poor photo but did you know? I certainly didn’t.

Oh! My eyes teared up at this one.

I thought of Teresa Kasner making and wearing her pussy hat and writing her protest posts at the time.

Walking back at 4pm I noticed how low the sun had already become. Just look at that golden light highlighting Harrods and the buildings further along the road. Beautiful!

Harrods windows are blacked out, which must mean their Christmas window displays are in progress.

A swan with attitude and their posse on the Serpentine in Hyde Park, with the golden sun setting behind autumnal trees. What a lovely photo to end what was a great day out.

** How did I do?

Taking Stock – October

Making : a hot water bottle cosy. One half done. I started the other yesterday, but you really don’t get very far along in a 10m session, and I’m not up to everyday yet either. Try setting a 10m timer for the fun of it. It goes so fast. Then make yourself stop. It’s really hard!

I did feel like whooping yesterday when I posted this pic on Instagram. It was fab to have something to show and join in with the buzz of all the Autumn making 

Cooking : sourdough pizza last night, on a Sunday night. I hadn’t made any since August, it was time

Drinking : peppermint tea, Stoptober still going ahead here

Reading: The Music shop by Rachel Joyce and Never Greener by Ruth Jones, I’ve got a bit caught up in both

Wanting: a positive outcome to my appointment with the Hand and Wrist Consultant and Hand Therapist this week (i.e. no nasty injection or talk of surgery again)

Playing: some of The Music Shop book’s playlist

Deciding: not to try anymore crochet for several days now, as hand is sore 

Wishing: for a car to fall in my lap, I can pay but I just want someone else to find, test and choose!

Enjoying:  sunny blue skies and crisp weather. Driving to Birmingham, on Saturday morning, I noticed an orange snowflake appear on the dashboard to indicate the outside temperature. It had dropped down to 4°. It’s 7° today, crisp and bright – basically my favourite type of autumn day

It’s Christmas in Selfridges, Birmingham. I know it’s really early but actually I got swept into the joyful atmosphere

Waiting: for a telephone call from a company

Liking: thinking about which soup to make next

Wondering: what to have for dinner

How pretty are these Lola’s cupcakes? (Also in Selfridges, Brum)

Loving: seeing everyone’s colder weather makes on Instagram (I know some of you are in the southern hemisphere and I do like seeing your flowers and garden pictures too!)

Loved having a legitimate colder day to wear my Mock Cable mitts last week. You can knit some too

Pondering: natural ways to keep those limescale and splash marks off the shower doors, without resorting to nasty chemical sprays that you’re not meant to wash off. Any suggestions? I’m thinking of something like you rub on half a lemon and a bit of white vinegar in a half-hearted kind of way. I’m not sure if either would be effective Considering: going for a walk in the sunshine

Buying: frozen butternut squash, it’s a great standby for soup making

How white is this dog? She was eye catchingly pretty. Her owner said she’d just come from the groomers; she’s a perfect ad for their services! I had to ask if I could take her photo for my blog. She’s called Molly and posed like a true professional. My friends know I’m much more of a cat than a dog person, but she’s clearly gorgeous

Watching: I’m still working my way through Stella. I’ve just finished Series 4. So far series 3 has been my absolute favourite; it was so funny. She and ‘Michael Jackson’ were brilliant together. 

Hoping: no one tells me what happens at the end of series 6

Marvelling: at the range of items we can borrow from our libraries. I’m working my way through all the library’s Stella DVDs after getting hooked on the first two or three episodes for nothing on Amazon Prime, but then they wanted a lot of money to rent or buy the series. No way! I can reserve a DVD for £1.20 and borrow it for a week for another £1.20, then it’s 30p per every additional day afterwards

Cringing: at how bad you can feel during your period some months. It’s awful and you can’t really explain how fluctuating hormones can make you feel and react so emotionally to what you’d normally shrug off, or suggest discussing sometime over a burger and a milkshake. I think it can sound like an excuse to anyone who doesn’t experience it, but it’s very real. Afterwards you hardly recognise the emotional mess you became for a while

Not your usual charity shop find is it? No, I didn’t buy them!

Needing: to water my plants

Questioning: why the boiler keeps making that odd noise despite a recent service

Smelling: rose perfume oil, mmmmm

Wearing: jeans and a t-shirt with three-quarter length sleeves, it’s warm behind glass in the sun

Crossing the bridge over the lake, looking back towards the obelisk, Blenheim Palace in the autumn sunshine

Following: some incredible new designers that seem to have suddenly snuck up during the time that I haven’t been knitting and crocheting

Knowing: designing is probably never going to be my special talent, but I do love writing

Thinking: about my rumbling tummy, I always seem to be either hungry or thirsty when I write these posts

Admiring: some crochet jumpers and cardies

Nala the cockapoo, one of the salon dogs relaxing on the hair-wash chair. She’s either resting her head on your knee asking for love, or curled up on a chair. It’s clearly a hard life. Cora her Goldendoodle half-sister is often asleep by the front door, waiting for the postman who always brings treats. They are probably part of the reason why I’m so much more comfortable around dogs. I like my hairdressers a lot, so it wasn’t a difficult choice between leaving because of the dogs, or staying and getting used to them. This year I’ve patted them both once. This might not seem impressive, but believe me it is!

Sorting: my shredding and coming across all sorts of funny notes, including one I wrote to Someone who was on a conference call: ‘We have a situation in a k cupboard, I think it’s contained…. but I’ve left the bin outside the front door.’ 

Getting: a new mini sieve at Birmingham’s Rag Market, to try to make even better poached eggs

Bookmarking: articles about psychology and friendship

Coveting: new clothes 

Disliking: shopping for ‘em!

Opening: the veg drawers and finding a half rotten cucumber I’d forgotten about

Giggling: at Celebrity Goggle Box in aid of Stand-up for Cancer on Friday night. Danny Dyer and his daughter were hilarious

Sewing with my Mum. Just like old times: “You don’t need to stand over me, go and find something to do.” At least she didn’t tell me to “Go and have a run around the garden!”

Feeling: relaxed

Snacking: on nothing at the moment

Helping: my friend enjoy her holiday without guilt for having fish and chips etc. Life is too short, have some family fun and healthier eating can wait for a few days 

Hearing: bugs ding into the window outside

Mixing: lemon, ginger and honey later for a warming drink

Worrying: about something it seems I can do nothing to resolve. It takes two to tango/ talk 

Favourite lunch: toasted crumpets, avocado mashed with a little salt, poached eggs and homegrown cherry tomatoes

Slicing: that rotten cucumber, I’ve salvaged half. Hate throwing food away 

Celebrating: autumn 

Roses & orchids, amazing. Yes, spoilt

Forgetting: lots! It’s my age dear

Winning: £8:60 on the lottery a few weeks ago

Pretending: I’m a calm, wise and mature woman, not an emotional soggy mess on occasion

Sneaking: M&S Butter Mints from the car 

Embracing: my beloved in his new cashmere jumper 

~~~~

Hope all’s well in your world. What are you up to?

“I hope you haven’t done too much!”

I know, me too, but I had to try.

I saw Emma’s Hot Water Bottle Cosy earlier and thought it might be a good thing to try testing my hand out again. I’ve noticed a *slight* improvement this week, so I galloped upstairs to my stash of yarn and dug out my 5.5 mm hook. If I’m going to be honest I tried six places before I found it. I’m usually ‘a place for everything, everything in its place’ type, so when I couldn’t immediately lay my hand on the hook I could feel myself getting almost frantic, tempted to throw everything over my shoulder. Never the wisest choice, is it? Who’s got to pick it all up again at the end?! Deep breaths. And guess what? It was at the bottom of the first bag I looked in. Typical.

I planned to do only 10 minutes crochet, as advised before things got very painful. And so I did. I set an alarm actually, in the style of a sensible adult. It went off and I thought I’d just finish the next row, which I also timed. And then I wiggled my wrist, flexed my elbow and thought I could probably get away with a little bit more…always a risky strategy, isn’t it? Like deciding you’ll read one more chapter before lights out, and finding yourself finishing the whole book at 3 AM.

As you know this is the first craft of any kind I’ve done in weeks and weeks, and before that it was only a few times from April onwards. I’ve felt bereft at times, but I have perfected my Sourdough bread as I can make it one handed!

Last night I was looking for some bits for my sewing machine, as I’ve lent it to someone, and opened up a box full of various crafty things: pom-pom makers, Tunisian crochet hook, DPNs, vintage patterns, the lace tatting shuttle I bought in the sale at John Lewis a long time ago and have never even taken out of the packet, darning needles, stitch holders, spare crochet hooks etc and honestly it was like opening someone else’s kit. It feels like another life now.

I’m going back to see the Hand and Wrist Consultant and a Hand Therapist next week. It’s been so weird being one-handed. Now I’m trying things like picking up fairly lightweight items, opening door handles and taking small items, going carefully testing how it feels.

Anyway, I really enjoyed crocheting with this wool blend aran and a 5.5mm hook. It’s soft and cosy. Because the starting chain is only 20 and it’s aran yarn, it grows exponentially. That’s perfect if you’re limited time-wise or just want to see something grow quickly.

Next week I’ll be back with my monthly Taking Stock post and hopefully after that I can show you a crochet update. That’s almost a magical sentence. A Crochet Update!

Cross fingers and toes for me please.

Oh, the book has a playlist on Spotify if you want to play some of the music featured in the story. That’s pretty cool, huh.

Joining in with Ginny’s October Yarn Along.

Autumn days

We are having some cracking October weather, as you can see. Lovely sunny days with blue skies and sweet little fluffy clouds. I love it when it’s like this; it feels like it’s a bonus when we get t-shirt days in autumn. I went for a good wander around at Blenheim Palace the other day and it seemed I wasn’t the only one chuffed about the warm temps. I heard lots of tourists say they didn’t expect it to be so warm! They actually said this in tones of awe and wonder. I soon gave up with the idea of wearing my hoodie and tied it round my waist instead

There’s a major two year lake dredging and Grand Bridge restoration project beginning. More details here. Someone will be interested enough to read all about it. I know it might seem odd to feature the water pipes, but there was something really appealing about the shiny blue paint and newness of the connectors. Do you think that piece of 2 by 4 is vital? I was so tempted to give it a tug and see what happened. Naughty! If I added sound to this photo, you would hear the water rushing through, as the engineers gradually lower the water level. Apparently all the fish are going to be netted and moved from the Queen’s Pool to the Great Lake. I’m not sure what the birds are going to make of it all. There are hundreds (thousands, when its breeding time) of grey lag, canada and snow geese, plus coots, herons, moorhens, swans and ducks. Others that I can’t name too.

I would have loved a ride in the little inflatable boat, but as it was tethered both ends I imagine you need a rowing boat to reach it. The boat house was some way away. And they don’t just let anyone random grab ‘em. Shame isn’t it? I contented myself with taking lots of leaf pictures instead. The autumn colour isn’t just in New Hampshire in the USA, you know!

It’s been so warm that we sat outside in the pub garden the other evening, for a cheeky drink and pre-dinner snack. This is not necessarily something we’re still doing in October. Later in the season they light the fire and it’s a race to get to the nearest tables because it’s so lovely and cosy. When the ‘Beast from the East’ Siberian weather came earlier in the year we sat at the table almost on top of the fire and literally thawed out, as we’d walked in minus temperatures.

It‘s just been Apple Weekend at Waterperry Garden. In the supermarket there are generally half a dozen varieties that you can buy year round including: Pink Lady, Braeburn, Cox, Granny Smiths etc. Then you go to an apple weekend and there are allsorts of local varieties which you’ve never heard of. After tasting everything on offer, we bought bags of Old Fred, Red Pippin and Egremont Russet. Plus a bag of Comice pears. There are Apple days happening all over the country at the moment and it’s such a good idea to go. You can taste apples with such different flavours (apples which taste like pears, anyone?) various textures (very dry and crisp, sweet and juicy or tough skinned varieties; ideal for peeling and crunching with strong Cheddar cheese.) This always makes me realise that supermarket apples are mostly bland and boring, especially when they are all the choice we’re given year round. We have a spare fridge, usually referred to as the wine fridge, the sourdough starters live there too. You get no prizes for guessing what it’s chock full of at the moment…

Another exciting aspect of Apple weekend was finding a new farm shop has opened on part of the grounds. Waterperry Farm Shop is stocked with produce from the nearby farm. It was such a lovely surprise to find freshly baked cakes and savouries, their own meat and products from the local area including cheeses, rapeseed oil and preserves. Even yarn!

We bought 3 red peppers, 2 sausage rolls (gone before we even got into the car for the journey home) and a lardy cake which we popped in and shared with my Mum over cups of tea. 

I really love autumn.

Taking Stock – September

Making : sourdough pizza, because Friday night was made for it

Cooking : spicy lentil soup, the first of the new season

Drinking : red wine, it’s particularly fine for autumn

Reading: My Name is Lucy Barton by Elizabeth Strout (only just; sort of as I got halfway through the first chapter last night and woke up a couple of hours later with the light on in the early hours…)

Plymouth Hoe

Wanting: to crochet again

Playing: The Police, Greatest Hits

Polperro, with a boat ready and waiting outside the house

It still has an active fishing port

Deciding: whether to have a dry October or not, what do you think?

Wishing: for these lovely warm sunny days to continue

Porth Ledden Bay near Capewall

Walking some of the SW coast path from Cape Cornwall to Levant

Enjoying: my new Sony Bluetoooth speaker. Saw it on someone’s Instagram, mentioned it and had one for a birthday surprise!

Waiting: for Invisible Sun to play next

Trengwainton garden, always a must-see

Liking: Apple picking socialising while sharing recipe ideas: pork and apple, apple crumble, apple jam, chilli & apple jelly, apple cake….

Wondering: about trying baking baguettes. Have you ever ?

Loving: my audio book. Only an hour left now, then into the new Robert Galbraith Lethal White

Some of the many Trengwainton Scarecrows, made with local primary school children. The theme this year is Inspirational Women

Emmeline Pankhurst and Frida Kahlo

Pondering: nothing high powered

Considering: going to the V&A soon

Buying: birthday wish list gifts

Watching: The BBC’s Repair Shop (S2:8) for the first time, it won’t be the last episode I watch. So good to see skilled people at work

Saffron Chelsea buns, we shared one. Delicious

Fantastic little bakery in St Ives, must buy another SCB next time

Hoping: my right hand sorts itself out by my next appointment (4 weeks time)

Marvelling: at how many people have talked about the Bodyguard series

Cringing: that I saw a major spoiler on the cover of the Radio Times magazine, which put me off watching any episodes. Viewers no longer watch programmes as they are screened and this was only a few days later

Needing: to drink something soon

Barbara Hepworth Museum & Sculpture Garden, St Ives

Questioning: what am I currently questioning? Anything?

Smelling: orangey perfume

Wearing: comfy house clothes, actually I always call them ‘dags’ like my Aussie friends when I was living in Australia

Nicest bookshop in Cornwall? The World? In Penzance. So many signed copies too as many authors live nearby, including John le Carre and Patrick Gale

Following: my own instincts

Knowing: these things come and go

Thinking: fluffy thoughts

Admiring: the way everyone’s taken to autumn clothing

Cornish Cheese Tea: cheese scones with cream cheese and a spicy tomato chutney

Cornish Cream Tea: one plain and one fruity scone with Cornish clotted cream and strawberry jam

The cafe at Trengwainton is always a must-visit too

Penzance harbour, our week away was mixed weatherwise but we walked every day regardless

Waking to Marazion watching the kite surfers pass St Michaels Mount; which is only accessible by the causeway when the tide is out, or by boat

Sorting: summer clothes to put away

Getting: used to team cooking, one-handed doesn’t work *that* well. But no washing up (always so much despite having a dishwasher.) One. Good. Result

Bookmarking: articles about personal power

Back to Plymouth for a night, arriving at lunchtime in torrential rain. Finding the lounges of the hotel full of people having a drink to hide from the weather, so decided if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em

Coveting: more local gins

Disliking: wrist pain / hating that sock knitting. Ride in a Time Machine please? (Which reminds me; new Dr Who on Sunday)

Opening: multiple webpages and crashing my middle aged iPad

Giggling: at Life in Pieces. I’m on S3 now

Dyrham Park National Trust, Gloucestershire, it’s an impressive filming location for movies and tv (Poldark, Far from the Madding Crowd and Sense and Sensibility, to name a few)

Feeling: chilled

Snacking: no carrots!!!!! Argh!!!! Hate running out

Helping: increase family’s carb intake by baking them sourbread. I bake much more than I eat

Hearing: the fizz of tonic and the chink of ice, my G&T has arrived (yes, spoilt)

Mixing: in red wine later with dinner

Two rye sourdough loaves I baked this morning

Worrying: I’m a sourdough bore now (but you’re lovely. I know you don’t really mind)

Slicing: and peeling a few cooking apples then completely stopping as OUCH! Not the working definition of Do Not Use Your Hand for Three Weeks

Celebrating: Autumn produce; Barty’s Bramley apples, the picking of which he was closely supervising, sitting by the asters! Trengwainton squash and blackberries all along the SW coast path in Cornwall

Forgetting: where I left my watch on 12/9

Pretending: I’ll find it, but it’s looking more and more unlikely. So hard not to keep looking at my wrist, like it’s going to magically appear there

Hello Autumn. I’m ready. It’s been a lovely summer but I always like to see you

Sneaking: M&S buttermints and blaming Mr Scrappy (remember him?)

Embracing: walking, reading and good tv

Hoping you’re fully functioning in a two-handed healthy fashion, cross your fingers / pray / send out vibes (or some chocolate) for my right hand please. I’m chipper, but concerned. Who wants a stupid third of a sock, needles and yarn??!?!

Six

1: Many, actually all, ends darned in on my patchwork blanket strips. Bouncy linen / moss stitch is very satisfying to darn into because the stitches are so bouncy. It was just doing it with one knee bent, so I didn’t hold the fabric with my right hand, that was tricky. I had to stop and move around frequently to stop getting pins and needles ‘elsewhere’ in my body!

2: An act of masochism visiting my favourite wool shop when I can’t craft? It felt a little like that last Saturday, but I did enjoy looking at and feeling all the new yarns and admiring some of the new colours. Things move on so quickly, don’t they?

3: This was taken in the waiting room before I saw the Hand and Wrist consultant on Thursday. I liked the way everything coordinates!

But as I told it then: “Don’t think for a minute you’re getting knitted sock. I’ve only brought you to show the consultant how I held the yarn, using tiny fixed circular needles and the repetitive movements which wrecked my hand in April!

I’ve had a hand x-ray and also a scan. He freaked me out saying it may be arthritis. I almost screamed, and did actually wail that I’m too young! Raised eyebrows and “Plenty of twenty and thirty year olds experience it you know…” the x-ray didn’t show signs of any though. Phew.

The consultant reckoned beginning 10 minutes of crochet once a week and increasing the time by 10% will lead to an hour eventually “And by that time – doing it for an hour – you’ll be bored of doing it anyway!” My turn for raised eyebrows. How little some people know, eh?!

Oh, when I said I’d have to give up on the idea of knitting my own socks and buy them from M&S instead, he did say: “But they won’t be so pretty.”

There will be no crochet or knitting for a while yet. This splint has a metal bar up the palm and has to be worn 24/7, apart from showering. I’ll go back for a follow up appointment in six weeks time. I really hope it does the trick, because the invasive treatment options do not appeal! (Huge understatement, typical of the English.) There’s no permanent damage to the tendons, thankfully, but it seems getting the issue to settle down could be tricky.

I can’t say this enough; if you’re knitting on tiny fixed circulars, or doing any craft at all, take frequent breaks. Maybe set a timer, so you don’t do too much in one sitting? This is *no fun* and no real crafting for five months (and counting) is the least of the general day to day soreness and discomfort I’m experiencing. But I know that it’s the kind of sensible warning that’s easy to ignore when you’re caught up in making. I did!

4: I saw Cathy had posted about making bookmarks on her blog and admired them, saying I’d have to make my own at some point. A few days later I received one in the post! It was the day of my initial appointment and x-ray, nice timing. It’s holding my place in Dewey: the Small-Town Library Cat who Touched the World by Bret Witter and Vicki Myron, one of my current reads. It’s a cute dip-in and out of story. Spencer, the small town, is in Iowa. The best aspect of the story is learning about the farming history of the area.

5: One of the salon dogs at my hairdressers. A cockapoo with a cat-like temperament, apart from when the postman comes every morning with a treat for her, and her golden doodle sister, in his pocket. She’s very stressed as you can see, it’s a hard life. This is one of the chairs in front of the hair wash station. Often when you sit on a chair they’re warm….!

6: A friend is moving back to Australia after living overseas for nearly 2 decades. In the process of emptying out her pantry she found five cans of chickpeas! So to use one can up she put together a chickpea and butternut curry. As these things go, she posted a picture of it on Facebook and inspired lots of us to make the same for our dinner the next day. It was just the perfect grey, cool day for a curry. I made mine with onion, garlic, root ginger, spices (ground cumin, ground coriander, chilli flakes, a pinch of ground cardamon, pinch of salt and grind of black pepper), coconut milk (light), about 100ml of stock, a 400g can of chick peas 400g of butternut squash and served it on on a bed of spinach. It was delicious!

Tell us your news, what you’re making, cooking or reading at the mo? Or anything else you want to share.

September Yarn Along

Although still lovely and warm in the early 20s, it’s definitely feeling like we’re on the cusp of autumn now. The horse chestnut leaves are mostly brown and I found a pocketful of shiny new conkers at the weekend. My thoughts are starting to turn to soup and stews, rather than salads and lighter meals; these are always signifiers of the change of season. It’s also time to work on blanket making, as has become traditional this time of year.

I’ve dug out the strips of my linen stitch crochet and found there are now enough for a good sized baby blanket, or a lap blanket for an adult. I’ve sent several parcels of woolly things Knit for Peace and I imagine this will be destined for them too, unless I know anybody who needs this blanket.

I’ll start to darn the numerous ends this week and then decide on the joining method. I might try a whatchamacallit braid, I’m not sure. Originally I wanted an invisible join, so it looked truly patchworky. This is why I left the ends long, but now I realise there will be weaker joins if I change colours all along the edge of each colour block. I’ve got the darning time to consider the matter. What do you think?

I’m reading The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel by Deborah Moggach, the book that inspired the film(s). When I saw it in the library I pounced upon it, then realised after the first few chapters that I’d already listened to the audio version in 2012. It’s well written and the characters are distinctive, so I’m sticking with it.

I’m still listening to The Mermaid and Mrs Hancock by Imogen Hermes Gowar. It’s one of my best audio books this year due to the original story and Juliet Stevenson’s lively narration.

If you like book talk and enjoy hearing interviews with authors then I recommend Simon Mayo’s Books of the Year podcast. It’s free on iTunes and Acast. Ahem…someone has had her emails read out on the last two episodes *cough cough* as she is an avid listener. Kate Atkinson is to be featured soon and I cannot wait. I love her writing. Human Croquet is my favourite.

 

Joining in with Ginny’s Yarn Along.

Taking Stock – August

Making: my first sourdough loaf in over a month today, it’s a baking morning

Countryfile Live at the beginning of August

Cooking: chicken something later, for dinner

Drinking: jasmine tea, it’s cooler now (high teens to 20 degrees) so the kettle’s on more

Reading: Paris for One and Other Stories by Jojo Moyes. Paris for One is a lovely novella

Wanting: to make cheese scones for Someone, but no butter and only just enough cheese!

Playing: the radio, good music on a Friday morning to bake to

An evening dinner and cruise trip from Stratford Upon Avon. This was my first time going through locks. It was great fun. I can’t persuade anyone to do a short narrow boat holiday however. When we met up this month I informed Patch and Mr P that they need to buy their own sharpish!

Deciding: to buy more new / old music soon

Wishing: the heating could just be on for a sneaky hour, but it doesn’t work like that with underfloor gadgetry

Enjoying: summer fruits still, especially for breakfast

Waiting: for the next series of The Marvellous Mrs Maisel

Liking: this year’s nectarines and peaches

Wondering: when my Whirl yarn will change colour

Loving: that I crocheted NINE rows the other day !!!!!!

Pondering: if it was wise to continue after two, but it was so good (ouch!) My appointment is next week

West Wycombe Park, National Trust a few weeks ago

The Music Temple on the island

Green walnuts

Music on Summer Sunday’s are such a nice idea. West Wycombe brass band sounded very good

Considering: listening to another film review Wittertainment podcast

Buying: tissues ready for autumn sniffles

Watching: Mamma Mia 2 for the fourth time (yesterday.) That has to stop also!

Hoping: my adaption of a milk bread sourdough recipe works. It uses discarded starter as I’m still looking for good ways to use it, which isn’t pancakes! I tried an overnight proof too and it’s worked out ok, I think, I hope. The loaves are cooling at the moment

Marvelling: at how happy some films can make you feel (MM2)

Cringing: at French & Saunders on Netflix, they were funny back in the day….

Needing: the guy opposite (I call him ‘the plonker’) to go with flow and put his wheelie bin out the night before, not at 05:55

Questioning: matters of inequality – News stories

It’s a bit further on now but I’ll show you again when the yarn has changed colour!

Smelling: freshly baked bread

Wearing: my dressing gown

Following: food trends

Knowing: food is food is food, whatever is fashionable

Thinking: I should fold my salt into my sourdough soon

Admiring: articulate people who express their emotions beautifully

Meeting nice people for cake, pots of tea and to share some books in Birmingham. Look at the bull all decked out for summer! Chest hair too…

Sorting: birthday cards

Getting: keen to make soup

Bookmarking: inspirational articles, then forgetting to read them

Coveting: beautiful hands and nails

Disliking: mine!

Opening: mail, it’s always official and boring these days

Giggling: at 1949 Ealing comedy Passport to Pimlico. It was partly filmed a mile away in Lambeth by a real WW2 bomb site. It was good rainy Sunday viewing (Free on Amazon Prime)

The 13th annual Festival of Transport at Blenheim Palace. The mod and his Vespa was my favourite, I hope he won a Best of category

Feeling: bakey! (If that’s a real word, if not I’ve invented it)

Snacking: carrots! Always carrots

Helping: buy a buddleia plant

Hearing: traffic

Mixing: my homemade curry powder blend, mayo and mango chutney for coronation chicken salads this summer, it’s been my latest fad

Worrying: at an annoying knot in my Scheepjes Whirl with a darning needle. I think I made it unravelling a row

Slicing: bread, later

Celebrating: the end of August, I’m ready for a new month and I like autumn, although September weather is looking good and sunny. Hurray!

The blackberries are over already and the horse chestnuts are losing their leaves earlier than usual

Forgetting: nothing, hopefully

Winning: £2:60 on the Euromillion draw last Friday

Pretending: tonight will be my so far elusive £22 + million win

Sneaking: cherries

Embracing: my own foibles

If you’re in the EU and would like win a ball of Scheepjes Whirl, see this post. You have until noon BST today!

All good things

I have a small stack of good books to read, and have found what turns out to be a really gripping audio book. You know when you enjoy reading, but sometimes you really love reading? That’s what’s happening to me at the moment. I’m never without a book and an audiobook on the go, but sometimes feel like they’re particularly ‘flowing’ and can’t wait to get to bed to read and find myself inventing reasons to take a long bus or train trip.

I popped into the library the other day and quickly grabbed a selection of books to share with Mum. Lately I’ve bought about five 99p Kindle Daily Deals and my favourite charity shop (remember my red treasure pot?) has an offer on. So I found myself picking up two books and searching for a third, as they’re currently three for £1. This is dangerous! I dislike having too many books stacked up to read. For me it can turn reading into a chore. If I have books too long it can take the sparkle out of what attracted me to them in the first place. I’m a pretty spontaneous person and while I like a little planning, I also love going with the flow; choosing what appeals to me at the time. So I put the two paperbacks down before I was tempted. I can always pop back there anytime.

I’ve had The Lost Art of Letter Writing on my bedside cabinet for a few weeks, but wanted to finish other books before I started it. I’d seen, or heard, about it somewhere and the title instantly grabbed me. When I was young I used to write letters all the time. I remember keeping a record one year and by Christmastime discovered I’d sent over 350 to friends and pen-friends! I miss getting handwritten letters, there was something really nice about the surprise of hearing the flap of the letter box ding and settling down somewhere comfy to read. You don’t get that joy with an email, or instant messages. It’s just not the same at all.

Anyway, if you fancy reading this then I have to warn you that the first chapter is really syrupy. I wasn’t sure if I could stomach the whole book if it was all going to be like that; but from the second chapter onwards it’s compelling. I’m enjoying the writing, there are magical elements and interesting characters.

The audio book is a delight. Juliet Stevenson is a superb actress, she brings books to life. The writing’s richly descriptive: you can see and hear the silk of the gown swishing on the floor, hair powder puffing over the room and settling over the furniture and the howls of the children as they are confronted by the mermaid (I laughed. I know I shouldn’t.) The late 18th century setting and original characters feel fresh after my recent reads set around WW1. These were The Dust that Falls from Dreams by Louis de Bernieres and The Alice Network by Kate Quinn.

Recently I’ve also read The Sewing Machine by Natalie Fergie, which was a decent enough story, but not brilliant. If you like interlinking stories with bits and pieces from multiple characters’ perspectives, then it’s maybe one for you. I was tempted to get my sewing machine out again, after a long time. I have not threaded it this year at all. Also I must talk to Mum about the family Singer Sewing Machines, she has a couple: one was my grandmother’s and the other my great grandmother’s. I want to know if I can do any research on where and exactly when they were made.

I’ve managed to do only a couple more rows of my Palmyra Diamond Wrap. Instead of procrastinating any longer, wishing to avoid the hassle of a hospital visit and resulting treatment, hoping for a magically non-sore hand, I have finally made myself call to make that referral hospital appointment with the wrist and hand consultant. It took all of 3 minutes and I’ll be going in early September, at the ridiculously late time of 17:50. Of course it might magically be better by then, mightn’t it?

If you are within the EU and you fancy the chance to win a ball of Scheepjes Whirl Slice O Cherry Pie colourway, like I’m using for my wrap, then feel free to enter my giveaway here.

I’m joining in with Ginny’s August Yarn Along.

Crochet & Scheepjes Whirl Giveaway!

A few weeks ago a representative of Rito Yarn and Hobby contacted me to ask if I would like to try any of their products. Rito Yarn and Hobby is a Danish online retailer, which recently opened in the UK. They sell over 15,000 products, so in theory I had my work cut out choosing what to try; except in my last post I had just mentioned

Coveting: one of those big colour change balls, you know; by that company that no one can spell or properly pronounce…..?

Ooh, do they stock Scheepjes yarns?

YES, THEY DO!

Sometimes things just feel serendipitous, don’t they?

I think Kasper from Rito was probably quite taken aback by the speed of my reply! I looked at the available shades and asked for Scheepjes Whirl Yarn Print 753 Slice O’ Cherry Pie, plus how about another one so that I could offer a giveaway to my readers?

I’d spotted this gorgeous diamond patterned crochet by Bella’s Crochet Corner on IG a while back, so when I received my Whirl I bought The Palmyra Diamond Wrap pattern by Daisy Boo Creations.

This was the first new crochet I’d done in over four months, since I injured my hand. Stupidly instead of setting my 10 minute timer on Friday, I got carried away. By the end of a thoroughly enjoyable time, getting to grips with the new pattern, I’d crocheted for over an hour. My hand is very sore…

I’m going to have to take it very gently, so don’t expect to see a finished wrap any time soon. But on the bright side; it’s going to be really good making something exciting and new while whenever I can pick up my hook again.

Scheepjes Whirl is a cotton and acrylic blend 4 ply yarn and I’ve found it very pleasant to crochet with, especially in our current warm summer weather. I love the colours and can’t wait for the change from pastry to the pinky cherry juice of the pie!

Rito Yarn and Hobby are offering a free ball of Scheepjes Whirl, Slice O’Cherry Pie to a lucky reader within an EU country.  I’m really sorry this cannot be an international giveaway, but apparently they can only ship to EU countries.

So, for a chance to win please leave a comment below telling me what you’re currently crocheting or knitting.

For an extra *bonus entry* go to my  The Little Room of Rachell Facebook page and leave a comment under the post about this giveaway and ‘like’ the page (the overall Facebook page, not the post.) For a *second bonus chance at winning*, follow my Instagram account and comment on my crochet pic.

I’ll use a random number generator to pick the winner and will contact them to pass on their details to Rito Yarn and Hobby. By taking part in this giveaway you agree to being contacted by me via your email address. I will not use it for any other purpose or share it with anyone. If efforts to contact the winner have been unsuccessful after a week, an alternative winner will be randomly selected.

The giveaway is open now until Friday 31st August at noon (GMT.)

None of the links in this post are affiliate links and it has not been sponsored by Rito Yarn and Hobby, although they did send me a free ball of yarn.

**31/08/18 14:40 CONGRATULATIONS: Nana Cathy YOU ARE THE WINNER!**

I used this random number generator website and it picked number 1. Thank you to all who took part.

Taking Stock – July

Making : smoked salmon pate – recipe here

Cooking : all things sourdough, still. Flatbreads and pizza happened this weekend. Hobbs House Bakery sourdough recipes are excellent. I’ve tried crumpets, flatbreads, pizza, no-knead sourdough and have a few more things bookmarked to try. The HH boys are from a long line of English professional family bakers, and their recipes are A1

I left the dough an hour while I faffed around, before shaping, it made really light and holey pizza. The rectangular pizza was much thinner and crispy. I like both thin crust and deep pan

Adoring: no-knead sourdough cooked in my charity shop treasure. The moisture in the bread means it cooks in its own steam. You then take the lid off for the last bit to burnish the top. It needs to be just this side of burnt for the flavour and crustiness.

Look at the texture! All the folding and stretching every 30-40 minutes was well worth it

Drinking: too much cider. Lots at the Mock Mayor celebrations while we watched the Abingdon Morris Men, heard the speeches and sang along to the excellent Indie Band. Head not so good in the morning, but sometimes it’s worth it…

Reading: The Eve Network and The Dust that Falls from Dreams still, the first is set in WW1, the other WW2. It’s tricky at times not to get mixed up

Wanting: another pint of jasmine tea

Playing: with dough every few days

Deciding: not to for a bit

Wishing: bread wasn’t so calorific, it’s so good

Enjoying: Victoria Wood as seen on TV – on Netflix

Waiting: to remember what I wrote the first time, before my iPhone lost my draft …argh! You just know the first draft was wittier and more interesting. Soz, you’re stuck with this one

Liking: my photos from Saturday’s meet up with a good friend at Cliveden. The hotel is where Meghan Markle spent the night before she married Prince Harry

Wondering: whether I can go for a walk again today. I’ve been having double physio as my knee has been painful for a few months too. Craft and walking longer distances have both been banned, it’s been slightly tedious to say the least, but happily I think I’m coming out the other side now

Loving: Unforgotten on Netflix. I’ve only seen the first 2 episodes of series 1 and it’s so good, really quality TV. I’m behind as usual – series 3 is on tv at the mo

Considering: a clothes shopping trip

Buying: tomatoes. I have a row of bowls with tomatoes at various stages of ripening. It’s a very good summer thing

Watching: Poldark, I’m 3 episodes behind the current series and it ended on Sunday night. I don’t want to hear any end of series spoilers, so need to catch up soon
Hoping: for more rain, the animals, farmers and gardens need it

Marvelling: how full the water butt is after a day of sporadic rain on Sunday, but it’s just a drop in the ocean

Cringing: –

Needing: another car

Questioning: lots

Smelling: the roses

Wearing: linen trousers, rolled up at a jaunty angle and a stripy tee which I feel emphasises the rolls of a sourdough loving body rather too much!

Look at the dryness of that grass, can you see how little rain we’ve had in the last few months?

Pondering: when I’ll be able to knit again. I have tried but it’s just too painful, crocheting in short bursts seems okay though. I now have a referral with an orthopaedic consultant pending

Following: The News

Knowing: that song ‘Enjoy yourself, it’s later than you think’ is apt

Thinking: I must get my reading back up to speed

Admiring: how I always used to read a book a week without fail

Sorting: my crochet; I unravelled my pineapple crochet last night. I can never see a time when I will actually use a string crochet pineapple bag. I’d rather be seen dead than carrying one in real life!

Getting: keen to find some interesting crochet patterns. Even if it’s restricted to 10 minutes every now and then, I’d like to be making something I love

Bookmarking: any exciting looking patterns

Coveting: one of those big colour change balls, you know; by that company that no one can spell or properly pronounce beginning with Schj? Maybe with that song in mind, I’ll just buy one!

Disliking: wildly fast drivers who assume that no one else is on the road, crossing the road, living by the road

Opening: my Ravelry library

Giggling: at Mamma Mia 2 although the change of timeline was perplexing

Feeling: amused about the above, whenever I make bold statements like that things usually change… Look out for me and my re-crocheted pineapple string bag in the near future

Snacking: on the usual – no prize for guessing

Helping: a friend with local dinner recommendations

Hearing: an aeroplane

Mixing: courgette tzatziki

Worrying: that I haven’t eaten enough fruit and vegetables in the last few days, this is unusual. More carrots!!!

Grabbing: a stitch holder for my hair, it did the job keeping it up! Sign of a true crafter?!

Slicing: cucumber & carrots to go with homemade hummus later for lunch, maybe

Celebrating: summertime

Forgetting: at least three things, no doubt

Winning: tonight’s EuroMillions lottery draw?

Sneaking: around at night watching for the hedgehog(s)

Embracing: the lovely people around me

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Thank you for sticking with a craft blog which hasn’t been able to feature any craft for several months now!

How are you doing?

10 from this week

1. We can put our food recycling waste in any kind of plastic bag now, rather than having to buy the compostable ones. I know in other areas you can simply put it straight into the recycling bin, but sadly we can’t. This is at least a good way to use some of the plastic packaging that comes with everything. At least it’s being reused for something, rather than going straight to the rubbish bin.

2. My sourdough bread baking fever continues, albeit with fewer larger holes then I would like, but I’m going to go back to trying the second prove in the fridge overnight, and maybe doing a no-knead version, folding and stretching the dough instead. I asked Kat Goldin (sourdough baker extraordinare) about the secret to good holey SD and she said that you don’t want it too holey or the butter gets out! She’s my kind of girl.