Wool, Wiltshire and All Manner of Wonderful Things!

Archive for July, 2019

Books- July 2019

After all last months psychological thrillers and Who dun its , time for a change.

Elizabeth Von Arnim- The Enchanted April- written in the 1920s , by a new to me author, from the Penguin modern classics book range. Four women answer an advert  to rent a medieval castle on the Italian Riveria. They make an odd group, but gradually each succombs to the magic of “Wisteria and Sunshine”,  and blossom until they change in unexpected ways. I loved the language and sentence structure of the book. It was a delight, so gentle, so elegant and leisurely. Really enjoyed this book.

Muriel Spark- The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie- this was a re-read for me, and I can’t decide what I make of it. Miss Jean Brodie lost her sweetheart in the first world war and is now a school teacher, with dubious morals and political leanings. She selects a small group of her pupils to be the creme de la crème. They enjoy special treats- trips to the theatre , afternoon tea, and her approach to education is odd. They do well and pass their exams, but they are only 10 when they come under her wing. She falls in love with a married art teacher and sets about grooming one of the girls to be his lover. Meanwhile she starts an affair with the single music teacher. Certainly complex. Have you read it, what did you think?

Marian Keyes- The Break- I think someone recommended this one to me. It wasn’t what I expected, the plain white cover made me think it would be more challenging. In fact it was the perfect holiday read when we had a few days in  Weymouth. Hugh decides he needs to take a break from his marriage following the deaths of his father and brother, and off he goes on a six month vacation, feeling totally free to make new relationships. His wife Amy is first distraught at his departure, until she realises that she too is therefore on a break. family life for the children falls to bits. And when Hugh comes home,  will they reunite? As I said a good holiday read. The only thing I do wonder is do people really lead lives like this? All the characters seem to have jobs in journalism, PR, media, all are high flying or pretend to be, is that really what the world of work is like?

Jean Rhys-Voyage in the Dark- I had read her Wild Sargasso Sea, which tells the story of the first Mrs Rochester in Jane Eyre. I had found that very moving so was keen to read Voyage  in the Dark, which covers similar themes. Anna is the daughter of a white plantation owner and a white creole mother. She has a lovely childhood in the Caribbean, but returns to Edwardian England with her step mother when her father dies. Anna becomes a chorus girl, yearning for her childhood home. She is a friendless innocent, so the inevitable happens. The style is wonderful, simply told, so you feel as if you are living her life. I found it very poignant. Jean Rhys herself came from a similar background, and I am going to try to track down her biography.

Erin Kelly- The ties that bind- just couldn’t keep away from the thrillers!  Really enjoyed this one set in Brighton, covering the shady world of the 1960s, and the long shadow cast over the present day. I first went to Brighton in the 1970s, I recall the Lanes and surrounding streets as being quite hippy like, full of wholefood shops, the original Body Shop and lots and lots of fabric shops and not at all shady.

Denise Mina- Exile- the second book in the Garnethill  trilogy. You really do need to have read the first one, and even then I struggled to pick up the characters and threads , memory not what it was. It was an ok read, too many characters for me to hang onto. Will I read the third, maybe now I have got this far!

Libby Page- The Lido- the perfect book for this last week of July , which in the UK has been hot! The plot is the battle to save a Lido in London which is threatened with closure by the council and being turned into a private tennis court by an upmarket property developer. It has a wonderful feel good factor, which reminded me of Maeve Binchy’s books. There is the love story of Rosemary and George. There is grief and how it is experienced through place. I loved the line “George is in the way the mist sits on the water in the morning.” When you loose someone very dear to you, they are everywhere still. Above all there is the importance of community and identity. I am not sure I buy into parts of London being like villages, it always seems to be full of people pushing and shoving and not caring a d**n about anyone but themselves. But I do agree about the importance of keeping places open and available to the public. Rosemary used to work in a library and regrets not doing more when it was closed. As you know our library was threatened with closure and enough people came forward to keep it open and volunteer there. I am amazed at the number of people who do just come in for a coffee and a chat. The children’s reading scheme has started for the school holidays, we have to sign up at least 300 children. The council closed the local tourist information centre, so now the library volunteers provide their local knowledge instead, We have the only photocopier in town. We give computer lessons, host other events from holocaust remembrance days, to sing songs for the elderly, science days for children, Moorsbag sewing sessions, drumming lessons etc etc.. Biggest cheek of all is that the County Council who wanted to close the library now directs people to the library for help applying for their bus passes. So I am with the characters in this novel , if you value somewhere, use it or lose it.

Ok off my soapbox for now. Have you read  any of these books , what did you think ? Have you read anything good this month? I love the recommendations you all make, four of this month’s books came from your ideas. Thank you.


Doves on the roof!

Maybe this is getting ridiculous and maybe it shows I go around with my head in the clouds, but I just can’t help myself. We went out for the day on Tuesday to Bolton Abbey. It was hot. very hot indeed. We sat on a bench and my eye was drawn to the roof of the house  opposite.

And there hiding in the only bit of shade were three doves! Clever doves.

The Portland Museum, Dorset

I love museums, the smaller and more local they are to a place the more I love them. And this one is an absolute gem.

Inside two dinky little cottages, there resides the most eclectic mix of things . Assembled in part by locals but also by Dr Marie Stopes, more usually known to the world for birth control, than her knowledge of paleobotany (fossils). She had an impressive education for a woman born in 1880, gaining degress from UCL and Munich. Dr Stopes  bought the Higher Lighthouse on Portland Bill as a retreat from her academic life, and so came to know local people and customs, eventually deciding to found this museum to house everything.

So this is what caught my eye.

Shoes and boots found in local cottages to ward off evil spirits. I’ve spared you the mummified cats also found in houses to deter evil spirits.

Victorian wedding dress, isn’t it pretty, what must it have looked like in its full glory?

Two dolls which may have spent most of their life in the box as the backs of their dresses were apparently a pretty pink colour.

See these bonnets,

Here’s one in closer detail. I reckon the back is that shape to prevent sunstroke. Just look at the needlcraft.

Couldn’t leave this post without sharing some of the fossil collection.

Giant Fossil. Now that’s what I call a fossil!

And if this isn’t enough Dr Stopes was friendly with Thomas Hardy whom she tried to recruit as a patron of the museum. He turned her down as he felt he was too old for a new venture. However he used one of the cottages as a setting in his novel The Well-Beloved,

My kind of museum. I wonder do you like museums, do you like little local ones as I do or prefer ones with national collections?



Silent Sunday

Portland, Dorset , through the arch and

along the coastal path or

down to the bay or

up to the castle? No that is out of bounds. So back up the hill and off to a museum. More of that another day.


That hat!

So here is the hat!

Making its first appearance back in 2009, and again

in 2019! And gosh what a difference ten years makes. Baby H learned to walk at the wedding in 2009- he left junior school this year! Mr B hadn’t started uni 10 years ago, in 2019 it was his turn to wed.

All these photos were taken by the official wedding photographer and are not my own. We were marshalled by the photographer for family pictures.  No-one marshalls me!

No more wedding hat dilemmas for me.



Gull on a roof!

Not so impressive as the peacock, but it is on a caravan where it made its nest.

and it’s mate stopped by to feed her several times a day, so there will be some baby gulls.


Scrap Happy-July 2019

Linking with Kate for Scrap Happy Day

Made from leftover yarn are a pair of fingerless gloves and a pair of leg warmers

which will go off with the blanket to a homeless charity.


Chicken and mushroom pie made from leftover roast chicken!

Do pop over to Kate’s site to follow the links to some quite wonderful projects made of scraps of this and that.

Silent Sunday

Lyme Regis, July 2019

Peacock on the roof!

When you live in a small market town , gateway to the North York Moors, in a street, near a school and fields, you do not expect to hear a peacock.

But that is indeed a peacock on the neighbours roof! He stayed for an hour and then left. Where he came from and where he went I do not know!

So what do you think of that?

Rhayader, Wales

I thought I would share some photos of the little town we stayed near, and a riverside walk we took.

That’s the clock tower in the centre of Rhayader. In conversation with a local I was asked if I realised it wasn’t a roundabout. Of course I said it’s a crossroads. He replied he wished someone hade told the HGV lorry which tried to turn his enormous lorry round it.

I loved the white houses on this turning.

Down to the river then.

Is that bench not the perfect place to rest a while. Fortunately there were several benches on our side too.

Look at that view.

Can’t beat a rusty gate and  some undergrowth.

Unless it’s foxgloves. I must grow some next year, they are just stunning.

The weather this weekend looks set to be lovely again in the UK, hopefully the sun will shine on us all everywhere, at least for some of the time. Do you have plans for going outside? Guess what- we have another wedding. Getting to be like buses!

Be Happy,



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