Wool, Wiltshire and All Manner of Wonderful Things!

Archive for August, 2020

August Books- 2020

Hurrah the library opened here, and all by myself I enrolled online and requested some books, and collected them. No help from the Tech wizard required, but first is the book loaned to me by my son.

Tombland- C.J.Sansom- A good read- well written with pace, a who dun-it, a peasant uprising in Norwich in Edward V1’s reign ( son of Henry 8th), skullduggery, spies, betrayal etc. Thoroughly enjoyable and told me about a period in history I knew little about. Thanks son.

M.J. Arlidge- The Doll’s House- romped through this who dun it, set in Southampton (U.K.) A young woman is kidnapped  and kept in a cellar (reported missing) and a dead female is found buried in a beach. I don’t think I need to say more. It’s the third book in a series featuring DI Helen Grace- I’d not read the other two but that didn’t matter. I would read other books by the author, but I already have a lot of other books in the to be read list!

John Fowles- The Collector- I tried to see who might have recommended this book to me as I really enjoyed it, and very oddly indeed the plot was quite similiar to the last book. It’s Fowles’ first novel and was written and set in the 1960s. Fred takes up the story first. He lives with his Aunt and disabled cousin and works for the local council as a clerk. His attitudes are very old fashioned, more from the 1950s than from the 60s. His hobby is collecting butterflies and his whole life really revolves around that, until he notices a local girl who has won a scholorship to the Slade Art school. He becomes obsessed with her beauty but lacks the social skills to make an approach. Then he win the Pools. He pays for his Aunt and cousin to go to Australia to visit relatives, and hatches a careful plan to collect Miranda. He buys a remote Sussex farmhouse, converts the cellar, fills it with everything he thinks Miranda will need- clothes, art books etc, and kidnaps her. He wants her to love him, but she keeps trying to escape and things don’t go to plan.The next part of the book tells the same story in diary form from Miranda’s view point. I won’t spoil the ending.

I found it to be very well written, and thoroughly enjoyed it, reading over a couple of hot days when I didn’t want to do anything but melt. Highly recommend this one.

Lucy Mangan- Bookworm- A Memoir of childhood reading. The author is younger than me but older than my sons. She learned to read at a very early age and never looked back. Starting with early picture books , she takes us on a reading journey through to young adult books. The earliest books she wrote about were ones that I read to my sons, and are still very popular now- The Tiger who came to tea, Where the wild things are, the Hungry Caterpillar etc. The next ones are ones I read myself- I was a late reader- I say I was 8 before I was reading independently- Enid Blyton was the reason I learned. Anyway it’s a super book, reminding me of books I have loved- I didn’t agree with all her thoughts- I like the Cat in the hat for example but she doesn’t- I just love the flow of the rhymes. A book for anyone to enjoy who loved reading as a child. And just like me she got told off for disappearing with a book- my Mum called it “ sloping off!” She thought I was disappearing to get out of helping her, but really I just wanted to read.

Graeme Simsion- The Rosie Project- I loved this book. It’s funny, poignant and baically wonderful. Professor Don Tillman is nearing 40 years of age and decides he would like to be married and share his life. So he begins the Wife Project with a questionnaire for potential spouses. Just read it, unless you have already.

At this point the library click and collect system went a bit awry. I was told by email that I had some books to collect and having requested a further six I was very excited. I took the above books back, collected my bundle and removed myself as quickly as I could  re covid and facemasks and came home. They had only given me all these books again, not one new one amongst them-RATS. Fortunately I had two left from the previous trip.

Claire Douglas- Do Not Disturb- Pyschological thriller, set I swear in the village in Wales my Mum lived in- Crickhowell the nearest town, Pen y fan and Sugarloaf, bridge over the River Usk all get a mention, along with the Rectory turned into a B&B. That aside it is a good read, the final twists were forseeable but enjoyable over a couple of hot days.

Tania Carver- The Doll’s House- well what can I say- a well constructed who dun it, but not one for the faint hearted. Read it if you must. I won’t be reading other books by this husband and wife team writing under the name of Tania Carver.

So now I was without a library book and took one from my to be read pile- it was a birthday present a couple of years ago.

Kate Morton- The Clockmaker’s Daughter- after a month of good books  I was thrilled with this one, which was better than all these others. I LOVED IT. It’s the story of a house told through an interconnection of people who spent time living in it, an artist’s model, a school girl from when it became a school, a recovering soldier who came to recuperate, a grieving widow and her children in WW2, a man on a treasure hunt and a young archivist. If you don’t fall in love with the house , well I don’t know what to think. AND- the setting is not far from where I live and the two houses which inspired the house- Avebury Manor and Kelmscott ( William Morris) are also not far but closed because of you know what. It is not often that I read a book slowly because I don’t want it to end, but that happened with this one. About half way through I hoped the ending would not be a disappointment, 3/4 of the way through I realised I didn’t care if the ending was less than perfect for I had enjoyed it so much, and I can happily report that the ending is very satisfacory indeed. I shall be requesting more books by this auther for sure.

Meantime the library contacted me and I have three library books already for me. Goodo.

Have you read any of these books- did you enjoy them? And what are you reading right now?

Till next month- may all your books be good ones.



Exploring Swindon-2

Town Gardens are  formal gardens built at the time of Queen Victoria and located in an old quarry. More info here On a wet weekend we went to explore guided by the family.

Ideal paths for pushchairs, scooters and wheelchairs with plenty of shade and things of interest.

Like an aviary

with budgies and

pond with fish and fountain- just missed the dog who dived straight in to rescue his ball.

Bandstand- no bands this year because of you know flippin’ what.

No light refreshments either for the same reason. I loved that this building used to belong to the railway and was taken round for exhibitions.

Finally- Spot the Grandchildren. I think we will be back….

Hope you all have a good weekend- extra long for us as it’s a bank holiday on Monday- not that it makes any difference when you are retired. Hope you have something nice lined up, and please tell me your plans.

Farm Visit

Mrs T said would I like to go on a farm visit with her and chidren and I said “Yes Please.” Destination Roves Farm

Pigs and

my favourite -donkeys ( all pics by Mrs T)

cuddles with guinea pigs

and their favourites- the baby goats. Spot the Nana. Drrrr Nana, not Nanny!

Lovely day out despite the drizzle. I wondered if others enjoy farm visits and the chance to feed a goat or two?


Little bit of cooking

Chocolate cake for Mr B and Mrs G

Cooking apples from Mrs T’s Nans’ garden

Rhubarb from Tessa’s small holing because I said I found it hard to pick the rhubarb in this garden because it didn’t feel like mine- I know I am being ridiculous.

All stewed and going in the freezer for winter- beans for dinner also from Tessa.- She’s a star.

Blimey, look who’s back! I have been bowled over this week with how kind and generous people are with sharing their produce. I used to share our plums in our old house, now it’s nice to be given fruit and pop it in the freezer for Winter.

Fettling the forlorn patch # 1

I know we thought it a good idea to wait a while to see what came up , but when all we got was three flowers in as many  months,

It was time to call in the pros in the form of Wannabe smallholders

Meet Tessa and dog

and partner who took a birds eye view

with a drone of said forlorn patch, and the work began

No more apology of a rockery- under which was found, an electric cable, a mysterious

green pipe- water feature maybe- a black plastic sheet under which I kid you not , decking, yes wooden decking, all no doubt buried when the extension was built.

Conifers gone

Tree stumps gone

And the start of foundations for a greenhouse… more to come next week.

I wondered what things others may have found buried in their gardens. i wonder what else will be found here.



Bird Identification

Anyone any good at  identifying birds- this one was on the bird table last week.

Nope don’t know this one.

If I didn’t know better I’d say it was a cat bird.

If so it may have been responsible for the pile of white feathers near the neighbours car, which may explain why I’ve not see the magpies recently!  What do you think?

Exploring Swindon- #1

I was fascinated by a programme on TV about the old Swindon railway village connected to the railway works. Mr T took us on a guided tour.

The houses were built for the railway workers and can be found near the train station. The streets are named after the train destinations- such as Bristol Street. The nicest houses were built nearest the station so that would be workers and their families saw these first on arrival, to say nothing of any dignitaries arriving by rail.

In this terrace of houses each entrance serves two houses with front doors set at an angle.

Not content with just building houses

education and welfare were deemed important. This is the institute building for education , the current owner would like to convert it to flats I understand. Elsewhere there is swimming pool and what was a hospital- in fact the NHS in 1945 was based on the health service provided for the railway workers and their families in Swindon. Well who knew that?

This village is very similiar to other model villages built by Captains of Industry for their workers, such as Port Sunlight. I wondered if there were any near you, love to hear about them.

Been Busy!

It’s been a wonderful week- lot’s going on, so not much blogging. I’ll be in catch up mode for a while now. I was asked by Mrs T (DIL) if I’d like to go with her and the children for a pottery session at her Mum’s pottery studio- Eastcott Studios.

Of course I said yes please and thank you very much.

Miss F explaining to Nana how to make the wheel go round! All pictures are by Mrs T.

Wondering how on earth you make a pyramid shape from a round blob of clay.

Once achieved, you flatten it and start to form a dip.

It may be resembling a pot.

J is a wonderful teacher- step by step, and with such patience.

Miss F even made a rim to hers, and as for

Master T- he’s a pro.

Then we made leaf shaped bowls- mine front right, little leaves on the board are mine- hopefully pendents ( more likely dust) and coasters by Mrs T.

I had the most marvellous time- got coated in clay, and was totally shattered at the end of the day. Children of course had bags of energy to chase round after J’s dog!

Scrap Happy Day- August 2020

My DIL Mrs M posted on you know what a lovely photo of Toddler J and herself at a lavender farm. I was consumed with envy, our forlorn patch, massive lavender bushes in neighbours gardens with unpicked lavender, missing the lavender farm in Yorkshire etc etc.

Other DIL Mrs T told me of the Cotswold lavender farm. I googled it- only one week before it closed for harvesting- couldn’t face the crowds- so decided to do the next best thing- online shopping.

Had a rummage

Fabric-yes, ribbon-yes ( the fabric is scraps that came from goodness knows where but does include some of the fabric I used for Mr J and Mrs M’s wedding bunting, and the ribbon was rescued by Mr E from a skip- he worked once for a chap who just couldn’t stop trying new ventures- the ribbon belonged to the era when he fancied making swimwear, until he discovered software, as you do…well he did, I don’t).

I’d not tried scary sewing machine since the move when the removal men had left the box wrong end up- so I gave myself a talking too, and tested it- perfectly ok!

And bingo

Lots of lavender bags for the wardrobes- inheriting built in wardrobes when you move is all well and good but they don’t smell right- especially if shoes have been in them…

Aside… a relative proudly once showed me her built in wardrobe- it stank of her husband’s trainers and was perfectly horrid… just saying, don’t keep old shoes in wardrobes.

I had enough lavender left over to fill the two ceramic pomanders my Mum had given me many moons ago. Now she is no longer with us, the gifts she gave mean so much. they still had lavender in them, so I emptied that into a bowl which I put on the cloakroom window sill- waste not, want not…

I also bought edible lavender

Oh yum!- the flour, butter eggs etc were all leftover from previous cooking, so you could argue that these are scrap happy biscuits!

The grandchildren loved them.

Let me know if you go and sniff inside your wardrobes now, just to check!

Joining with Kate  for Scrap Happy Day, do pop over for lots of other ideas of what to do with your scraps, doesn’t have to be fabric or wool, can be wood, or paper or flour and eggs….


Learning to adapt.

The older you get the harder it gets to change plans, adapt to circumstances, be flexible. My Gonna do list  included pick strawberries- having to decide in advance and book a slot, proved too much for me. I adapted the goal- there are brambles in the woods near me- so I ‘ve picked

Blackberries and now I’m on a promise for some cooking apples to go with them. I may have missed the joy of warm strawberries this summer fresh from the plant, but oh the delight of blackberry and apple crumble in Winter, maybe I can adapt after all. Wondered how everyone else was coping with adapting?

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