Wool, Wiltshire and All Manner of Wonderful Things!

Archive for April, 2020

April books- 2020

So here we are in lockdown, library closed , charity shops closed, second hand paperback shop closed, nothing else for it I will have to read the books I already have………..

John Mortimer- Summer’s Lease- this had been put in our to go to the charity shop box. I decided to read it before we let it go. So glad I did, pure escapism- all the way to Tuscany. Molly hires a villa there for a three week holiday, dragging along her husband, three daughters and saddled with her old Pa- in his 70’s, but still going strong , nudge, nudge, know what I mean kind of way, on the prowl for old flames, and recalling the page boy/ tomboy girls he rogered in the 1950s and 60s. Along the way Molly falls in love and solves the problem of swimming pools which mysteriously empty themselves. It was turned into a TV series with John Gielgud and Lesley Phillips. Here’s a link to the series-

What really tickled me about our copy of the book is that we bought it second hand from a leather shop which also sold old books on the Greek island of Thassos, on one of our many holidays there.

A nice read.

Margaret Mitchell- Gone with the Wind- someone said that they would be reading some big sweeping epic of a book to get them through this time of Covid-19. This sounded like a good plan and as I have been intending for some while to re-read Gone with the Wind,  now seemed like the ideal time. Basically it is a love story set against a backdrop of the American civil war and the reconstruction of Atlanta , Georgia. Lauded still as a great novel it has been criticised for its treatment of black people. I was interested to see what I felt about a book I had enjoyed in my 20s.

It is a good book. It’s well written and the main larger than life characters are believeable.  It was written in the 1920s and published in the 1930s. It reflects the attitudes of the time in which it was written, and the minor characters are stereotypes from the black slaves- the Mammy figure- to poor whites, crackers, bootleggers, scallawags and carpet baggers.

Scarlett O’Hara seems to be based on Margaret herself with bits of her grandmother thrown in. Ashley Wilkes, Southern Gentleman , who is totally lost when the old way of life vanishes, may have been based on a early love of Margaret’s who was killed in WW1-and who can compete with memories of a young woman’s fallen hero. Margaret’s first husband sounds very like Rhett Butler ( who reminded me of a mixture of Heathcliff and the Great Gatsby). Margaret lost her own mother to Spanish flu in 1919, and may have been the inspiration for Ellen O’Hara- Scarlett’s mother.

It’s a jolly good read, I did enjoy it very much, I could empathise with the feelings around a lost way of life whilst acknowledging that the one lost in the novel was only nice  for a very few lucky families. It drew me in totally at times, and gave me food for thought as I contemplated how it reflected the values of the time in which it is set and in which it was written. It entertained me and distracted me from our current situation. Very glad I re- read it. I am going to add it into my top100 books. This one is a keeper- I may well re-read it again one day.

It is over 1000 pages, and so for one month only I have just read two books. Not quite sure what I shall pick off my book shelves next.

Have you read anything good this month, I’d love to know and had you ever read either of the two I have read this month?



Shinrin-Yoku: The Japanese Art and Science of Forest Bathing

Tierney kindly left me a link to her post on forest bathing, just in case you missed her comment I am re-bloging it here. Trees certainly help me.


A couple weeks ago I finished an amazing audiobook: Forest Bathing: How Trees Can Help You Find Health and Happiness (2018) by Dr. Qing Li.

9780525559856 image credit: penguin random house

This book discusses shinrin-yoku (“forest bathing”), the Japanese therapeutic practice of spending time in the forest/woods for healing and wellness.

A definition of shinrin-yoku according to the Timber Press blog is:

…shinrin-yoku is the practice of walking slowly through the woods, in no hurry, for a morning, an afternoon or a day.

I listened to this amazing audiobook each morning as I walked through the trees lines streets of surrounding neighborhoods.


I already love trees and this book made me love and appreciate trees even more. Dr. Li discusses their healing powers in depth and the science behind it.  Here is a review on amazon.com that provides a wonderful overview of this book:

This book by Dr. Qing Li, Chairman…

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Monday’s Magic

Forest bathing for the soul.

Silent Sunday



Lockdown Safari!

Mr E thinks I have lost the plot!

Friday Jottings #4

I can’t pretend that Lockdown suits me. Lockdown in the UK was extended for three more weeks , and as yet there is no plan in place for leaving it. We had an email from our removal company telling us there was no chance of us moving at all until sometime /maybe/ perhaps in May or….

I know some people are loving being stuck at home, using the time to be busy and creating things at full pelt. I like being at home, so that is not the issue for me. But I struggle…

Maybe what gets to me is the number of things I try to do just keeping us (husband and me) going, that keep on telling me things are out of kilter- time taken to do things by phone, empty shelves, businesses shut, queues, the news…

I tell myself I am being mean and nasty, people are doing their best, others have it worse. I count my blessings.

Yet the social scientist in me can’t help but ask, just what are we doing, are we rolling over too much, are we failing to question our loss of freedom, the elderly totally marginalised, told they must stay home, that we should give up cash, stop meeting friends, walk in single file round an entire mega store , live in fear of others…. and why are so many dying in care homes, and why have deaths from other causes gone up, and how will children/ pets feel when they have to go to school, owners go to work, what about the job losses, the increase in domestic violence, the sheer cost of all this. The possibilty that we will be compelled to carry phones with us, be monitored everywhere we go. No wonder I struggle.

I gave up yesterday trying to shop local for things, it was making me miserable. So far I have managed to use some smaller on-line outlets for things to help us through these times, for if we only go to one place where will we have choice in the future. Now I wait for sometime when deliveries will be made, left on the doorstep by someone who wishes they had been furlonged, who look at me as if I have the plague, and who knows maybe I do….

Distrust is in the air, and I hate it with a vengence.

On a positive note, my technical camera/compuer interface issue is ok again. The only thing, the only time I feel normal is when I am on a walk

Then I can see a bigger picture

Enjoy seeing animals- I loved that these cows are the same colour as the roof and the wire, it made me smile

the empty track, the space to breathe

the season moving into Spring in all her glory

and even the families we meet, from whom we move to one side for, who look at us and say “Stay safe , both of you”.

and when we return down the same track have left a message of love.

So stay safe and be well, all of you





Friday Jottings- #3

It will be alright in the end, and if it isn’t alright now, that’s because it’s not the end!

I do like a cliche- I recall reading once a cliche wouldn’t be a cliche if it weren’t so darned accurate!

Did everyone manage to enjoy a bit of the Easter break? I did my best, with the decorations, the food and the chocolate, thinking about the meaning of Easter, and loving seeing new life.

I missed my family so much- it was always a time when I would bring my sons North to stay with their Grandad, and when we moved here, they in turn would visit me. Last year it was Mr J and family, 2018 Mr and Mrs T and these tykes.

Gosh how little they look.

Mr J though did an amazing thing, he managed to get the whole extended family onto Zoom ( I was under the impression that this was something Buzz Lightyear did to infinity and beyond, but apparently not). He convinced Mr E to let it come onto my tablet (since deleted on grounds that Mr E doesn’t trust it), and we had a family quiz on Good Friday evening.

There we all are. Mr E was sorting out a wire or something Mrs M ( top left) is out of shot and both missed the group pic. Look how grown up Little Miss F looks now- 2nd to bottom row to the right. Participants ranged in age from 2 to 70 years. Mr J is top left with Pre-teen H. I can’t tell you how absolutely wonderful  it was to see everyone, to laugh and joke and be silly- he even had us do a scavenger hunt half way through whch saw Mr E in the garden picking leaves and herbs, and me fetching

Herbert to be the model animal we had to find. If  you want time out with your family I can heartily recommend a family quiz night.

My mood has perked up, can you tell? The front garden is weeded, and I sewed some wild flower seeds, who knows if they will come up. I have been few walks- having trouble getting photos off my camera at the moment or I would share some- nice project for the weekend, fettle camera/computer interface- well I won’t but Mr E might.

Mr T and I are doing some family history, he was so excited to see his Granny arrive into Southampton after the war on the passenger lists. He is concentrating on his grandparents, and I have to confess to not having researched them at all, as I know or think I know their back stories. If you have not researched your family history I can really recommend it as an activity that completely and totally absorbs one for hour upon hour. Sometimes it’s hard to stop to go and make food.

I’ve stopped fretting about all the things I can’t do because I packed them materials/ supplies away in house moving boxes, I’m trying instead to look at what I haven’t yet packed and work out what I can do.

I don’t think I am ever going to get used to the stress I feel in the supermarket, it’s horrible and it’s just something you have to get through, like period pain. Can I say that? One of the few advantages of getting old is the end of that.

We are still well, we have food and shelter, my family is alright ( they tell me that without commuting costs, stupid take-out coffees and lunches, outings with children they are saving money) and so far all can work from home. So right now , right this minute we are alright, and as to the moving/not moving, well to take a leaf from Scarlet O’Hara in Gone with the Wind which I am reading again, I’ll think about that situation tomorrow, because tomorrow is another day.

So how is everyone? Are you coping better or are things tougher? What is working well for you?

Please use the comments to pass on thoughts and tips, do take care,  and stay safe and well, you are all so precious to me.

Cathy, xx


Scrap Happy – April 2020

With all my threads, and glue packed away I am sharing today something that made me smile. Only a farmer would do this to a lovely old car.

Fortunately in Thornton Dale two miles away we have a vintage car auction- maybe you caught it on TV- who knows this car may one day be rescued from the heap.

Scrap to make you happy- for more normal Scrap Happy posts pop over to Kate’s

If lockdown goes on much longer I will have to start unpacking!

Stay safe and well. xx

Happy Easter 2020

Picture from 2017, but it looks pretty much the same today!

Today is a day for hope, Stay at home, stay safe and let us protect everyone. XX

Good Friday Jottings.

First of all Happy Easter, I hope you enjoyed your hot cross buns today. I was pleased to discover that the Easter Bunny is an essential worker, chocolate always helps the world go round. For those of us lucky enough to have a faith, this weekend signifies new hope, re-birth and a wonderful life to come. I do consider myself to be lucky in this regard.

So how has everyone coped during this last week? I’d like to say a great big thank you for all the wonderful comments you made in response to my first Friday jottings. I made a huge effort to be positive in the things I do, thanks to your encourgement.

I began with sorting out the magazine rack- do people have such things these days- ours was a wedding present from my B.I.L, and usually ends up full of random magazines and newspapers. I figured we probably wouldn’t want to move house with the contents. However two papers survived the cull, one with the announcement of my fathers’s death (2014) and one with youngest son’s passing of his accountancy exams (2016) or thereabouts. The rest of the rack were glossy mags I’d bought for my husband when he was recovering from radiotherapy. I had a very happy afternoon cutting out pictures, for when I get round to making a junk journal.

The following day I found my mindfull colouring journal, and spent a contented hour just colouring. Then I made it to the garden for a bit of Spring weeding. I’d not expected to be doing this in our current house, and for the first time ever I found myself enjoying gardening. The sun was just the right temperature for me , as I slowly pulled out the roots from couch grass.

Next day I managed a walk, and took my camera.

The secondary school’s playing field with a good view of the castle.

Down the side of the old quarry where violets bloomed. Into my favourite field known as the Rookers, and there was the hill I had come for.

So many happy memories of sledging as a child and egg rolling at Easter , as a child and with my children and grandchildren. There’ll be no egg rolling for us this year.

The views from the top

across the valley towads the North York Moors railway- strangely quiet in what is usually one of the busiest times of year. The hill was perfect for the Shout that Pauline aka the Contented Crafter advocated. I took a deep breath already to utter those words ” I f*****g hate this”, when I noticed I had company.

So I just told the cows very nicely that right now humans had made a complete mess of things, and we were very sorry for ourselves. They just ate grass and looked at me disapprovingly!

Gardening has continued to be the one thing I really really look forward to doing each day. When I used to do jobs outside I was always in a rush to get this or that done in the shortest possible time, always pushing on for something. Now I just plod along a tiny bit at a time, and the hours just pass, I don’t want to go too fast now in case I run out of weeds.

I picked up my knitting again too, again proceeding slowly, why the change of pace? A reaction to all the frenetic activity to 18 months of house hunting/ not moving? I know some have experienced a feeling of lethargy, I’m not lethargic, I’m just not in a rush anymore. Has anyone else felt a change of pace?

By Tuesday I was so laid back I was almost horizontal.  Then the phone rang from the estate agent, wanting a catch up, the chap whose house we are buying has lost his job, he is downsizing, he needs to proceed asap. Rude awakening for us. We must not forget that at some point we will have to resume packing boxes. At some point removers will be back at work. At some point shops will re-open, cafe make coffees again,  builders build again, hairdressers cut hair again, children go back to school. How will we all react to that? Will we be mentally prepared for the odd new normal?

There are a few things I need to sort out before we pack them away still. I began with three boxes full of things from Dad’s house- turned out I want everything in them- old photos in the main of his childhood, and of my lovely Granny. They will come with me not in a removal lorry.

I braved Lidl again yesterday. I don’t enjoy shopping at the best of times, I now dread it. I wake up at 5am unable to get back to sleep just at the thought of having to stand in a queue, anxious about what 2 metres looks like, what will they won’t they have in store, how to get food for 7 days- Mr E still has problems swallowing, and is limited in what he can eat, pasta was one of the easiest things for him, sometimes there is some, sometimes not. Unbelievably there was hand gel, alcohol based- I bought one bottle! Oddly I don’t worry I will get ill, I just take precautions seriously. When will shopping not feel like this? I’m glad to be home again, and can’t wait to find a patch of sunshine and some weeds.

It’s so sad to read of all the people who die each day from Covid-19, I have even found myself worried about Boris and his unborn baby, for all the babies and children who will have to live with the aftermath, for the health workers and other key workers who never wanted to be heroic but find themselves on a front line.

Anyway, that’s quite enough from me, I’m off outside to see if I can find some more couch grass. I’ll leave you with this years daffodils.

The catholic church is in the background, now closed of course, but it’s the bench I need you to look at. My brother and I and our two friends would sit  on the bench to eat our ice lollies in the summer. Picture us swinging our legs in our summer clothes  with red lolly juice running down our faces.

Made you smile!

Do join in the chatter in the comments. Enjoy Easter as best you can.

Stay well,



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