Wool, Wiltshire and All Manner of Wonderful Things!

Blenheim Palace- a new walk

It’s raining and a bit chilly here today, the leaves are turning from green to yellow and I see some have fallen in the wind. I can’t pretend it’s late Summer anymore, but I can revisit some photos of a walk I took with my son Mr J and the family last month- August, and enjoy the warmth…

It’s a new to me route along this side of the lake, I usually go round the farside. This takes you down to the boathouse.

There is something a bit romantic I feel to boathouses, although I seem to recall Agatha Christie used one for a murder scene.

Then up the hill slightly to

Apparently Winston Churchill who was born in the Palace, chose this spot to propose to his wife.
And on past the rose garden, no longer at it’s best after a very hot spell of weather. See how brown the grass became.

Be worth a visit next year before it gets too hot. And then to

The cascade

Odd that in the ten years I lived close by and fully intended to come to this spot I never did. Again be worth returning too next year when the waterfall is in the full spate.

Looking down to the lake from the cascade.

There were a lot of dragonflies about which was rather lovely. After this we went to the playground and maze for Master J to run of excess energy and for a refuel on icecream.

Our final visit here this year will be to enjoy the Christmas decorations. Sorry I wrote the C word.

Meantime if you’d like to see more of Blenheim Palace, here’s the link to their webpage. https://www.blenheimpalace.com/

Hope you enjoyed my reminder of Summer. This weekend I shall be joining a new to me knitting group, and going to Miss F’s 9th birthday. Love to know your weekend plans, do tell.

UnRaveled Wednesday

Thanks to Kat who hosts us here- http://askatknits.com/2022/09/28/unraveled-wednesday-9-28-22/ to provide a space for us to share our love of knitting and reading. I have started the right front of the cardigan I am making but thought I would do an update on the doll I am knitting, this week instead.

As you can see I have made a start on Cinderella’s work dress. She is a topsy turvy doll so will have a ballgown too.

I have just finished watching the Suspect on ITV. It was very good indeed. Michael Robotham is having a good year with TV dramas of two of his books on UK TV. Early days with the book, but so far so good.

Do Pop over to Kat’s to see some lovely knitting and great books.

Books- September 22

Some enjoyable books this month, and I have discovered the joy of going to bed early to read.

Zoe Heller- Notes on a Scandal- winner of The Man Booker Prize-2003. This one comes from my TBR list, and was one I borrowed from the library to cart all the way to Yorkshire and back again. Plot briefly is as follows- Sheba Hart joins the staff of St George’s school as a pottery teacher. Barbara Cowley, history, is convinced that Sheba is a kindred spirit and slowly ingratiates herself into Sheba’s life. Sheba embarks on a sexual relationship with a pupil. Barbara becomes her sole defender, but not all is as it seems. Now the book is well written, the characters convincingly drawn, Barbara especially I thought. One of those slightly intimidating people with a rather ingratiating manner. I was drawn into the narrative and I suspect that when written twenty years ago was ground breaking as a psychological thriller. The problem is that it lacked the menace and twisty ending that subsequent novels have achieved. Have you read it? What did you think?

Rosamunde Pilcher- The Shell Seekers- Apparently this book was number 50 in the BBC Top 200 Big Read list . It was published in 1987 but set in 1980 and the 1940’s. It managed to pass me by until recently. I found the first four chapters disappointing, and then something changed. Maybe I did, or maybe the author did. The early part of the novel struck me as a bit trite, the language limited. At one point I wondered if a ghost writer had been employed, or whether possibly the book was abandoned by the author for a while and when she came back her skills had been honed. I enjoyed it, and were I given to rating a book I’d give it 3.5/5.

Brief description as follows. And by the way 65 is not old. Penelope Keeling has a health scare, and wishes to visit her childhood holiday and wartime home town in Cornwall. Gradually you learn of her bohemian childhood, and of her children’s lives. Don’t want to say more in case I spoil the plot for others.

Ann Cleeves-Raven Black- being the first book in the Shetland series. Wonderful .

Elizabeth Berg- The Art of Mending- this was a real page turner for which I went to bed early for more reading time and hence started a new nightly regime. The mending referred to in the title is that of mending family relationships. However one of the characters is a professional quilter, so there is fabric and a workroom to dream of. I don’t want to give away too much, so briefly… A family reunites every year to attend the State fair. This year the younger daughter wants to talk to her brother and sister about their childhood. She has recently started therapy , which has been upsetting. The problem is her recollections don’t tally with theirs. I loved the build up of all this, but felt the final scenes a bit disappointing. One of those books which left me wishing for more drama. Never the less an enjoyable read. Has anyone else read this and what did you think?

J. D. Vance-Hillbilly Elegy -A Memoir of a family and culture in crisis. I found this a totally riviting read. JD grew up in the Ohio rust belt. His grandparents left Kentucky in search of work in a steel plant. The populous of Kentucky is mainly White, Catholic and of Scots/Irish descent. His parents split very quickly and a stream of men took up with his Mum.The book is a mix of autobiography and a look at the current malaise in parts of the US where for some the American Dream does not exist. JD was saved by his Grandmother Mamaw, his Aunt Wee and his sister Lindsay who between them helped him to join the Marines, go to University and thence to Yale Law School. JD explains that fierce family loyalty and their belief in education and hard work enabled him to rise above his circumstances. The Independent provides a quote on the cover”Profound-a great insight into Trump and Brexit”. But don’t fret Trump and Brexit don’t get a mention , you just realise why some people vote the way they do.

I’ve obtained rather a lot of great sounding books from the library. I shall need lots of early nights in October.

Have you read any of these books? What did you think? Love to know what if anything you have been reading today?

Balance- September

The month began with the whole country being knocked off balance as the UK gained a new Prime minister and a new Monarch, with the passing of the Queen. Do you recall my knitting her?

Well in the course of accurate construction I spent quite a while looking at recent pictures and realised just how very frail she was, and that generally speaking people were behaving as if she was immortal and when she died they would be deeply shocked and moved. They were. For my part I was unsurprised yet was still very moved and watched a great deal of TV coverage.

Picture straight off the TV, from the BBC.

Realised that people were taking selfies etc as part of the crowd for posterity and their descendents, so that it would be entirely appropriate for me to take my view from the comfort of my sofa. Got a lot of knitting done too.

September has been a good month for me, not withstanding the above. The weather has been just right , sunshine and a lovely temperature. I have loved being outside, and that did me a lot of good. As did the visit I made to my cousin and Aunt (95years old), still living at home and mentally very alert. I showed her Mum’s photo albums from when they first met at teacher training college in Hereford. My Aunt married my Uncle Jim, Mum’s older brother. We both enjoyed that chat.

My Uncle also died in his 60’s , and my Aunt was able to talk to me about how I was feeling. I told her of the struggles I’d had with getting to grips with things, and how I was now one year on and rather surprised how well I’d coped. I also told her I felt guilty sometimes that Dad, Mum, my brother Pip and Mr E had all gone , and I was still well. Aunty Joy understood those feelings, yet explained how being well I should enjoy myself and live.

I have taken her wise words to heart. Now don’t go thinking that I have gone OTT this month, not after a Toyboy or behaving excessively inappropriately but I have made a big effort to get out and about and enjoy life to the full. So I have been to the theatre in Bath, to see Noises Off (the production is West End bound), and very funny it was too.

Finally got myself to the PYO farm

Some of the raspberries and runner beans are in the freezer for the dark Winter days.

I have gone out at weekends . Weekends are quite hard as people tend to do couply stuff, but its just plain daft to stop at home, because it’s just me. And truth be told I can’t help noticing that some couples when out together don’t actually look together, one looks anxious and one bored. Anxious one wondering if she/he wouldn’t have been enjoying things more if other half wasn’t there. No longer will I stay at home just because there’s only me to consider. So for the last two weekends I have been to Open Studios . Like the one here in an old barn

Stanton House Barn

I had a lovely walk after too.

I have joined a lot of groups, several things happening every week, with weekend activities to look forward as well.

Slowly realising the ways in which I have changed and become stronger. Changed one of the formally scary light bulbs yesterday with barely a second’s thought. Stopped feeling bad with completely altering the garden. Throwing away things that I haven’t needed all year and have no idea what they are for- three boxes of cables which my neighbour took to the tip when he went which he assured me were easily replaced should I need them , for pence! Written like this they sound silly, but are pretty big steps for me.

So September has been a really good month. I have been happy, and not felt too guilty about it. October is shaping up nicely, and November plans are underway. This coming week is a bit quieter, some dusting and hoovering may occur, time at home will keep me in Balance.

Thank you so much for reading, and for all the wonderful comments you have made on these posts. Thanks also to Carolyn for hosting One Word, link here https://youronewordblog.wordpress.com/2022/09/25/one-word-checking-in-september-

Emails on my tablet have stopped working, don’t ask me why, so I only get notifications of your posts on my laptop which I tend to read daily, and some of the comments I leave on blogs seem to disappear into the ether, hopefully it’s only a temporary blip, I will push the like button to let you know I have at least read a post even if my comment had vanished.

Be back next month to see how I’m doing. And once again, thanks for being here. You really have a difference. Xx

Unraveled Wednesday

Some Progress

I didn’t share my knitting and reading last week as I had barely knitted a stitch and was still reading The Shell Seekers. The Bank Holiday for the Queen’s funeral with wall to wall coverage on the TV gave me lots of knitting time. So I have now completed the back and left front of my newest creation for Little Miss P.

Shetland, the TV series having just finished with Jimmy Perez bowing out, seemed to be the right time for a re-read of the first book in which he made an appearance. I find I have forgotten a lot of his personal circumstances when we were first introduced to him in 2006. I know the TV series is set to continue, and I can’t help wondering which actor will take the lead, and will we like him/her?

Joining with Kat and other Unravelers sharing their books and knits here http://askatknits.com/2022/09/21/unraveled-wednesday-9-21-22/

Scrap Happy- September 22

Joining again with Kate and the others to celebrate putting our crafty scraps to good use. Link here-https://talltalesfromchiconia.wordpress.com/2022/09/15/scraphappy-september-6/

Today I am using leftover yarn to knit something I have wanted to knit for years and years- a Topsy Turvey Cinderella doll. Sorry she’s only in the early stages of creation, hopefully more to share next month.

Head, neck and bodice x 2

Needlefelting

I had the chance last month to attend another needlefelting workshop. This one run by the carers group. It was great fun as always and I came home with a pretty landscape.

which of course I set about stitching into.

And now I sit and look at it , the question is.

Whether it’s finished or not?

So I wondered what you think please.

Unraveled Wednesday#4

And I have new piece of knitting and a new book this week.

The blue is a light blue denim shade.

And that rib pattern is a swine, really hurt my fingers, purl three tog, leave sts on needle , wrap yarn round needle, purl three tog. Ouch ,but very effective, and not a big garment being another one for Baby P.

Lots of bloggers have been reading The Shell Seekers and loving it, and since it’s yet another one that past me by when it was published, -my third son, and hands full of children limited my reading at that time,- I felt it was time. Only 1/6th of the way through at present, 500 + pages to go. Reserving judgement.

So if I have a new project started it means I have finished the turquoise cardigan, in time to gift it this weekend.

And the 170 stitches for the border I had to pick up from fluffy yarn was really really really hard. Sore thumb was the result. Anyway I’m happy with the result.
Close up of buttons, I mean how cute are they?

Matching outfit from Next, I got pink leggings as well but couldn’t figure how to photo them.

Once again linking with Kat and other knitter readers here-http://askatknits.com/2022/09/07/unraveled-wednesday-9-7-22/ Do join them. Have your read The Shell Seekers?

Unraveled Wednesday#3

Well at least there’s a new book to look at!

This one came from my To Be Read list and was actually taken all the way to Yorkshire and back! So far it’s very good indeed, and I have my doubts always about Booker Prize Winners.

As to the cardigan well, it just needs the border doing and buttons adding and then tis done. Progress might be slow but without this link up from Kat there would have been no progress at all. Do check out Kat’s linky page here-http://askatknits.com/2022/08/31/unraveled-wednesday-8-31-22/

Books- August 22

When it gets hot outside in the middle of the day, I stay inside and read, before my eyes droop and I nod off. Some Good books this month, and some really good books too.

Hilary Mantel- Bring up the Bodies- Being the follow on from Wolf Hall. Wolf Hall was on the Big Jubilee Read list for 2009, but as I had read this I decided it was time for the second book in this triology. Now I thoroughly enjoyed reading of the intrigue and political machinations it took for Cromwell to dispose of Anne Boleyn, but I suspect you have to be quite a fan of all things Tudor to relish this book. Wolf Hall I loved for the feeling of menace that ran throughout . I didn’t get that in this book, which was a shame because it must have been quite terrifying to be around Henry VIII’s court. Never the less a Good read.

Dervla McTiernan- The Ruin- excellent murder mystery set in Ireland. Office politics in a police station! Most enjoyable.

Claire Fuller- Our Endless Numbered Days- I’d gone to the library for another of this authors books. I couldn’t find it, so borrowed this instead. Oh my goodness me, it is goooooooooood. So blurb on the back cover… Peggy is 8 years old when her Dad takes her to live in a remote cabin in a forest. He is a survivalist, and explains that her mother died alongside everyone else. Now they have to live off grid. How long though can they manage. The only other thing to add is that it won the Desmond Elliott prize in 2015, and is described as compulsive, dark, bewitching, scary and spellbinding. I read it over a weekend. Try it and let me know what you think.

C S Lewis- A Grief Observed- in which he analyses the grief he feels for the loss of his wife and how he views God. The thing about grief is that it’s personal, to those left behind , dependent on who they are grieving for, their personal belief system and what the circumstances were. All I know is that it hurts like crazy and that time doesn’t heal, you just have to find a new way to be and that requires effort. We all have our own singular experience. I could relate to somethings in the book, but not others, and some bits I plain didn’t understand.

Fredrik Backman- My Grandmother sends her Regards and aplogises- Going away from home for a holiday requires the packing of a great number of books. For a week less than 5 books induces panic. Which is ridiculous because I doubt I’d read more than three MAX. One and a half is more likely. So I go to the library armed with a list of authors I have liked. ( Life without lists also seems impossible , why clutter my brain with stuff that I can write down and refer to). Now I loved A Man called Ove, so funny, so this author was top of my list, and so I borrowed this book. Which I finally read at home between naps in our heatwave. Well I very nearly abandoned it, it tries very hard to be funny, and just wasn’t. Granny seemed to be a caricature and her granddaughter precocious and annoying. But… Elsa and her Granny are very close. Granny tells amazing fairy stories which tip into real life. Oh I really did not like that element either. But….Granny sends Elsa on a treasure hunt to deliver letters containing regards and apologies. And through these letters and subsequent events, you discover Granny’s past, and what was really irritating to me became in due course, something very moving. Glad I persevered. Love to know what others thought. Can’t tell you why I’m pleased I kept going because that would spoil the plot entirely. (The reason I did keep going was that I too adored my Granny).

Rachel Kadish- The Weight of Ink- my goodness me this is a marvellous book, and the first one this year I am adding to my 100 best book page . It won the National Jewish book award, and why it’s not won more awards I can’t understand. So there is a secret stash of 17th century documents found in an old house in what is now Kingston upon Thames, but at the time was way out in the countryside. These are poured over by two sets of academics, very much in competition with each other. Gradually we learn the story of who and why they were written and then hidden. Throw in religious debate, the plague, love, a kibbutz and failing health all meticulously researched and beautifully written and you have nearly 700 pages of total delight. I loved it, can you tell?

Sam Selvon- The Lonely Londoners- by total contrast, a perfect novel in 140 pages. This was featured by the BBC as one of their choices from the Big Jubilee Read. It was published in 1956 and is the story of some of the Young men who came to Britain from the Caribbean seeking their fortune in a city where the streets were reputedly paved with gold, but in reality were still a massive bomb site from WW2. The language is that of the Caribbean, standard English was ditched by the author as he couldn’t get the tone right, until he switched. The blurb on the back from the Guardian calls it ..”Unforgettable….a vernacular comedy of pathos” . What of course you have, is a group of lonely people in a strange city who come together to survive, yearning for the things they miss whilst making tbe best of the things they like. It’s a portrait of a city recovering from war, a people recovering from war, a change of culture rushing headlong to the swinging 60’s . There is racism, but an understanding also of the White working class people most effected by the changes around them. If you watch Call the Midwife you will have seen the appalling slums people were competing to live in at this time. Unforgettable are the wonderful characters that we encounter in the book. I was so reminded of John Steinbeck’s Cannery Row. The humour is the same too. I still prefer Steinbeck who is my favourite author..

Which begs me to ask Who is your favourite author and if you had to pick just one book which would it be?

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