Wool, Wiltshire and All Manner of Wonderful Things!

Archive for January, 2020

Gonna Do- January!

So I made that Gonna do list – twenty things for 2020 and I am pleased to have got some under my belt. If I aim for two a month I should get there, and as January is a long month and February a short month, I got cracking and had a flying start.

Number 13 was Visit an Art Gallery

I went to the Woodend Gallery in Scarborough to see the Anne Bronte art project. It’s her 200th anniversary this year- she was born on the 17 January 2020, and sadly died here in Scarborough, where she is also buried.

Lindsey Tyson organised this project- 200 artists, 200 pages from the book The Tenant of Wildfell Hall. It was a tremendous undertaking and I loved so many of the contributions. Here’s a couple of my favourites.

This by Emily Gondal and

this by Lindsey Tyson herself.

Number 16- Go to the cinema– I have a bad habit of seeing trailers for films , think of going, but fail to act before the film leaves the cinemas. Writing this Gonna Do list and seeing the trailers for David Copperfield, made me realise that I needed to act straightaway and not just think about it. So I did, and we saw the film yesterday. I thoroughly enjoyed being in a cinema again and the film was good. It is hard to condense a Dickens novel into a 2 hour film, characters and scenes have to be changed or omitted. I think Dickens would have liked the film, if he had a part in it! I missed Barkis though, who married Peggerty, and did his wooing through Master Copperfield and his ” Barkiss is willing”. I still have fond memories of the BBC adaptation with Daniel Radcliffe as young Copperfield and Maggie Smith as his Aunt. I heard several members of the audience say they would now go and re- read the book, so that’s got to be a good thing. Mr E managed to stay awake through the whole film- just- there were moments! I don’t think I will get him to see Emma next month.

Number 20- Take part in the Great Garden Bird Count– This always happens during the last weekend in January. I did my count on Saturday 25 January. Totals of birds counted in the garden in my hour at any one time (11.30-12.30) were:-

Sparrows- 8- so hard to count


Wood Pigeons-6

Great Tit-1




Not showing up in my hour were blue tits, goldfinch or chaffinch.The last two only come occassionally, but the blue tits just didn’t show up.

I bought mealie worms to entice the robins and blackbirds, all I can say is mealie worms are gross and Mr E says I must never ever bring them into the house again- apparently they are essentially garage critters.  And that was just the dried ones, don’t thnk I could cope with live ones. Mind you the robins and blackbirds do devour them with great relish.

So that is three ticked off my list. I hope I shall get to more art galleries and movies during the year. It sounds odd to write a list of things to do that you enjoy but  I am so glad I did as it really has lifted me out of the rut I had got into last year.

Some of the Gonnas are quite big projects, so I have also made a start on Number 8- Make a Quilt for Harry. If you recall he asked for an Oxford United one which terrified the beejeebas out of me. Then I found an Oxford flag with the Ox motif, and subsequently had the bright idea of breaking it down into small steps and only tackling a few at a time instead of trying to do it all in a couple of days. So far the motif has been transfered to bondaweb. More next month I hope.

Number 19 was Start to write family history– a notebook has been purchased and I have written three pages so far. I decided against doing it on a computer as I’d spend the whole time trying to keep track of spellings and loosing the flow. I have since realised that the little tales I want to record come to mind in quite random places. So for example, I was on a walk last week when I remembered how excited Mum got if she spotted an owl pellet, and her joy in dissecting it back home. Cries of “Oh look a mouse skull”. I had to hang onto to that recollection all the way home till I got hold of a piece of paper to jot it down. It might not be the most entralling memory of one’s Mother but it does sum up her character quite well, and is the sort of thing that would have interested me about my grandparents.

I wonder does anyone have any odd memories of family members which don’t amount to anything world shattering but do sum up an aspect of their character quite nicely?

So that’s my progress with my Gonna do in 2020 list. How are you getting on with your plans for this year, I would love to hear. More I hope to tell you about in February.




January books- 2020

 A mixed bag of books for the start of the year. Have you read any of these, what did you think?

Bridget Collins- The Binding- I was keen to read this book as I thought it was a novel about book binding.Young farm worker given chance of apprenticeship to a book binder.  It’s not about book binding! At least not in the accepted sense of book binding. The plot unfolds in three parts through two narrators. I found Part One completely baffling. I couldn’t tell what period it was set in, 1800’s maybe with references to factories and grime, but then the crusades? The crusade part was never explained and I think it probably meant a moral crusade but who knows? Part two was much better, and part three brought things to a conclusion. It was quite enjoyable, and that’s the best I can say. And the book binding bit- painful memories bound into a book, either to be stored safely or sold onto “gentlemen”!



Elizabeth MacNeal- The Doll Factory- A most satisfying book! Set in Victorian London Louis Frost is an artist in the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood. Iris his model and pupil. Silas is obsessed with Iris and will not take No for an answer. A well written and enjoyable plot.

Neil Gaiman- Coraline- This was a suggestion for book bingo but took too long to arrive. What to say- seriously weird. Not sure what age grop it’s intended for. It’s simply told so could be an older child’s book. The library has classified it as Young Adults, which I would assume means 18-25 years, I suspect older teenager would be better-14-16. The style and content seems to be at odds. I would not be happy giving the book to a child as it is scary. In some ways like Roald Dahl, but lacking warmth. Not my cup of tea.

Claire Douglas- Last Alive- Top notch pyschological thriller, lots of twists, and I didn’t see them all coming.

Lorna Gray- In the shadow of Winter- Set in the hard winter of 1947 somewhere in the Cotswolds, Eleanor Phillips runs her own stables. One night her stable boy finds an injured and distressed man out in the felds. This is Matthew Croft her former beau in need of shelter as he flees the police who want him for murder. It has quite a slow pace for a romantic thriller, and I kept loosing the plot. Ok only.

Clover Stroud- The Wild Other- Clover , whose half sister is Emma Bridgewater, had an idyllic childhood, with her sister Nell, father Rick and mother Charlotte, in the small market town of Minety in Wiltshire. Think big kitchens, red wine, horses and freedom. This came to a crashing halt when her Mum was severally disabled in a riding accident, and spent 22 years in a nursing home, unable to properly respond to her family. Rick takes himself off to London to work and the treasured home is sold. Clover embraces her wild side with a gusto- gypsies in Ireland, cowgirl in Texas and amongst ex- soldiers in the Caucasus Mountains, before settling to a tamer existance in Wiltshire. All the time trying to cope with the loss but not loss of her mother. I’ll be honest I found the book a bit of a struggle, too many horses and I didn’t feel any rapport with Clover herself. Goodness knows how her children will cope with the revelations she makes. Anyway has anyone read this and what did you think?

As I said a mixed bag of books for the start of the year. I have a stock pile of books from the library, so have plenty to go at in February and probably into March, but I always like to know if you have read anything really good, and if you read any of my January books and if so what did you think about them?

Second walk of the year!

Hopefully I’ll loose count of the number of walks, but at the moment it’s still a novelty to count them. I mentioned in my Gonna list ( i.e. I am gonna do ….) that I was gonna do a 5 mile walk. Wild Daffodil suggested we did this as a virtual walk. Good Plan. Even better plan suggested and implemented by Wild Daffodil was to set up a walk together miles apart group on Facebook. Walking Together, Miles Apart

Anyone fancy a walk on Friday was the question this week. Well yes I did. Come this morning chores done ( be impressed- 4 kitchen cupbaords cleaned out, who needs Best before March 2013 blue food colouring, not me). Sun shining, I decided not to postpone a second longer. Wellies donned, off I went- past the post box- you know which one- and

past the lake at Keld Head

over the first of three bridges

along the beck

snowdrops ( I actually saw daffodils in full bloom last week in Dorset, certainly not here).

along the river bank

across bridge number two

view across the field to the village of Middleton

view from the top of the third bridge

mud , mud, glorious mud, all the way to the Millenium wood

and time for a moments reflection before taking the lane route home, where  I spoiled the exercise and healthy stuff by making a bacon sarnie, but by golly it was good, and the walk was pretty decent too.

4.5km- few more before we can tackle that 5 miles Wild Daffodil!

Anyone else got out and about this week?



Scrap Happy January-2020

So I have been wet felting paper, as you do, from scraps of mulberry paper,proper name Joomchi. I was doing this for the Stitchbook challenge and this piece didn’t make the pages.

And it is very pretty, so I did some stitching

added a button and backed it with more mulberry paper, and made a card

for Mr E, for you know what! Linking with Kate for Scrap Happy Day. Do pop over to see lots of super ways to use your scraps.


Onto my blog, the first finish of the year.

what a handsome chap

Pattern  and yarn by Deramores, actually he’s supposed to be a girl called Susie, but I think he’s a Boy called Sue!


Yarn Along, 2020

Not quite sure what has happened to the usual Yarn Along link up , but I thought I would share the book and the knitting I began the year with.

The Binding by Bridget Collins- young man becomes apprentice to a book binder, but not like any book binder I have thought of. Finding it a bit but muddly.

Now the knitting.

I have been knitting intarsia many many times (two or more colours, using small balls). I usually just wound small balls of yarn which eventually ended in a tangle. For some quite strange for me reason, I googled intarsia and found out via You Tube how to wind balls which don’t end in a tangle- i.e. you wind a butterfly shaped ball. Easy peasy. Sometimes I wonder why I make life so hard.

Now the big question is what do you think I am knitting? And the simply terrific and spiffing thing is I have had this pipeline in the Not Yet Started heap in the wardrobe for several years according to the receipt I found in the pack! Oh yes pack, there is more than one project in the bag.

And , and it is only a small project, I may have a finish soon, if only I can keep my nose out of a book and focused on the knitting.

As I mentioned previously the number of books I read last year was pretty big- 74 in total, and many more than 2018 Conversely the amount of yarn I used has gone down considerably. 2018 I used 5200 grams, 2019 it was down to 1875 grams. The numbers speak for themselves.

I wonder what you are knitting/ crocheting / reading at the moment. Do share, as bloggers tell me about the best books.

First walk of the year

I went to post a letter and just kept going.

down our little road, and I wondered which was the tree I could see from our lounge window, the one that has featured in many of my sunset pictures. There are lots of lovely trees, but which one can I see? Somewhere over this field.

I think it’s this one, is it a beech, don’t know. I shall have to wait till Spring. Letter posted I keep walking out of town.

Ah, sheep on a chilly day. “What are you doing, Missus?” Down a lane and head back to town.

with the sun going down already

Keld Head, where we used to collect frogs spawn as children to take to school for the Nature Table.

Time to go home for the nice cup of tea. Thoroughly enjoyed my first walk of the year. Wondered if everyone else has had their first walk of the year , and if so where did you venture?

To Goal or not to Goal

that is the question that one or two people have raised this year. I didn’t set any goals last year, so focused on (not) moving house, there didn’t seem any point. Consequently I spent far too long on my screen or with my nose in a book , just hanging around waiting for something to happen, like the perfect house to fall from the skies. It didn’t, oh we nearly bought two houses, one was a compromise and the other transpired to have structural issues, and Mr E’s health is such that no way could either of us project manage builders.

Anyway, I digress. I’m setting some goals this year, something to turn too, whilst I wait. I’m going for 20 to match the year, but not 20 for 20 as I did last time I set goals when it was 17 for 17, just too many. So here in no particular order except for the one I had when thinking of them, are my 20.

It’s more like a To Do List I think.

1 Read my way across Europe- I will almost certainly need some recomendations to help me choose books from European authors. Suggestions welcome. I rather fancy Colette for France. I know I said less reading, but at least this will be reading with focus.

2 Visit the Eden Project- I have been saying for many years I’d like to go, but saying doesn’t actually get me there.

3 Knit a scarecrow- I have the pattern and it has been on my to knit list for more years than I care to think.

4 Knit mice- again I have a lovely pattern for some Dickensian mice, why have I not done it?

5 Knit socks- have yarn and patterns- again why has this not been done?

6 Unspecified wildlfe project- maybe volunteer somewhere.

7 Make a junk journal- or get over fear of constructing one.

8 Make that football quilt for grandson H- have found a flag with an Oxford United ox on it, no excuses left.

9 Finish rail fence quilt

It has progressed a little since it last made an appearance on the blog, but not much. I mean really ..

10 Complete the stitchbook project- I am keeping up to date with this and really enjoying it, coming out of my comfort zone and learning new techniques. I write about it on my other blog https://avoicethroughstitch.wordpress.com

11 Complete any other UFO- no shortage of things to go at. Taking a leaf from Kate whose word this year is FINISH.

12 Make a piece of art…. mmm

13 Visit an art gallery

14 Visit Filey- we go to Scarborough or Whitby, and I can’t recall the last time I went to Filey, maybe 1974 to have an outfit altered.

15 Do a walk over five miles- getting a bit lazy in my old age.

16 Go to see a movie- think the last one I saw in the cinema was A Walk in the Woods- sheer idleness

17 Go to see a play- don’t think we went to the theatre at all last year, too much waiting for the phone call

18 Pick strawberries- I mean really, I didn’t even get to the  pick your own fruit farm last year.

19 Start to write up family history- I don’t mean the dry stuff, but the stories of my parents and brother, it’s the least I can do for the family. I have a notebook, I do prefer pen and paper.

This lot need to know  who they are..

– no didn’t even do that in 2019. That’s this month. Can’t really believe I didn’t do it last year.

So not what you’d call an impossible list. Full of things I used to do without too much thought and things from the Gonna list.

A gonna list you ask. One of the surveyors who surveyed our house( there were three, and very informative they were too). I told him the purchaser had said he might knock through the kitchen to the dining room. “Oh” said the surveyor “what we call a Gonna. Gonna do this and gonna do that , and when they sell the house and we go back haven’t done any of them!”

I don’t want to be a gonna this year! So I’ll report back from time to time!

Have you set any goals or have a To Do List for 2020? Love to hear those plans. And what is on your Gonna list?



Best books from 2019.

I try to round of my reading year with picking my five favourite book.  This year as I spent so much time escaping from life through reading I consumed more books than usual. 2018 I read 60 books, 2019 it was 74!

So here are my favourite eight books , in no particular order from 2019, all of which have made onto my top 100 list, which now stands at 56 books chosen.

Mary Prince- The History of Mary Prince- The story of a slave in the 1830s in her own words- a harrowing book of mans inhumanity to man.

Nella Last’s War- or Housewife 49, as Victoria Wood called her TV drama based on the diaires. Brilliant.

Markus Zusak- The Book Thief- really very good indeed. Liesel is taken to live with foster parents in Munich by her mother when he Dad is arrested for being a communist. She comes to love her new Mama and Papa especially her Papa, and the little boy next door, Rudy who becomes her best friend. Max the son of a Jewish friend of Papa’s is sheltered in the basement. Liesel finds and sometimes steals books and her Papa and Max teach her to read. An interesting perspective on the second world war from the viewpoint of those who did not wave the flag for Hitler.

Amor Towels- A Gentleman in Moscow- Count Rostov is put under house arrest in the Hotel Metropol. Free to mingle with staff and guests, he does, eventually becoming an employee and unofficially adopting a daughter. Just wonderful.

Betty Smith- A Tree Grows in Brooklyn- 1914-1917, Brooklyn, the story of the Nolan family living in extreme poverty. Johnie the father, a singing waiter and alcoholic, usually out of work. Katie the mother, a cleaner, who provides the money and struggles to produce meals, Francie and Neeley the children.Themes of pverty, love, education and hope. Semi auto-biographical and so full of great detail. Brilliant novel.

Heather Morris- The Tattooist of Auschwitz- the real story of Lale Sokolov and how he survived Auschwitz, marrying the young woman whose arm he tattooed. Well written and very moving. ( nb I have since heard conflicting opinions of this book- that it fudged too much).

Tracy Chevalier- Remarkable Creatures- based on the true story of Mary Anning and Elizabeth Philpot, fossil hunters and extremely knowledgeable  women   set in 1800’s  Lyme Regis, and a reminder of how inferior women were regarded at that tm and their limited life opportunities. A good read, and soon to be a film.

Sally Magnusson- The Sealwoman’s Gift- Olafur and Asta, three of their children and 395 other Icelanders are taken by pirates in 1627 and sold into slavery in Algiers. Heartbreaking and very very good indeed.

Have you read any of these? What were your favourite books that you read in 2019?

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