Wool, Wiltshire and All Manner of Wonderful Things!

Archive for September, 2020

September Books- 2020

Since the library re-opened my reading has gone back to previous levels- something to do with deadlines for returning books, except the loans are now being issued well into December.

This month I have read

Sarah J Harris- The Colour of Bee Markham’s Murder- Jasper lives with his Dad as his Mum died, and he still grieves for her as she was the only one who fully realised how life was when you don’t recognise faces, and instead see and hear things as colours. There is a murder and a mystery to be solved, but only Jasper knows the answers, and somehow has to find the truth with the help of his Dad, neighbours, police and social workers. There is humour in the book and the author treads the right side of the line between laughing with and not at Jasper’s difficulties. It did give me a better understanding of the condition, and was well written and plotted.

Adele Brand- The Hidden World of the Fox- a well written book that informs and appreciates the fox. Enjoyable, but wish the picture quality was better.

Beth Underdown- The Witch Finder’s Sister- based on the true story of Matthew Hopkin’s hunt for witches in Essex in the 1640’s. It is known that he was one of five children, four of whom were male, so it is probable that the remaining sibling was a girl. It’s a well written novel that gradually builds the menace of these times. And since it sent me to the internet to read more, passes one of my tests for saying something is a good read. Perfect for your Autumn reading.

Peter May- I’ll Keep you Safe- a really enjoyable muder mystery, set in the Hebrides, Paris and New York. A young couple have a weaving business and seem very happy, until Ruairdh ( pronounced Rory) is killed in an explosion. The back story gradually unfolds as a list of suspects grows… some twists I saw coming, some I didn’t.  Very satisfying and not at all gruesome. I shall read more from this author for sure.

A J Pearce- Dear Mrs Bird- Emmeline goes to work for a women’s magazine during WW2, typing the answers to letters to the Agony Aunt, Mrs Bird who does not like any letters with UNPLEASANTNESS and won’t answer them. Emmeline takes it upon herself to write back behind Mrs Bird’s back. Themes are love, friendship, the war, women’s role in society, and the book is utterly charming- a lovely gentle read for a Winter’s eve. Enjoy.

And that’s it for this month- I have 8 book in my to be read pile from the library- I top it up when I have three books to return by requesting three more. It’s a system and seems to work for me. How do you manage your library books now? What are you reading today and is it any good?


Avebury Manor

I really enjoyed The Clockmakers’s Daughter by Kate Morton and was thrilled to discover that Avebury Manor had been part of the inspiration behind the novel. So having seen  Avebury Ring and enjoyed a coffee we went to see the Manor House- sadly it’s closed for you know what, but we did have a good walk round the outside.

Spot the twin gables!

From the side

Keep going

And the back

Someone is going in!

The dove cote

Just see how many doves there are spaces for

No wonder local people objected to such dove houses- just to feed the Nobilty whilst the doves ate the locals crops.

Finally this lovely row of cottages which must once if not now have been for the estate workers

Hope you liked the tour round the outside- maybe next year I will be able to go inside.


Monday notebooks#4

Unbelievably two more notebooks that sit within easy reach of me in our lounge. These two are purely about Fun and things that really interest me.

The one underneath is the one I am using to write about my childhood and the family- trying to set down what life was like in the 50s and 60s- very much the post war years when things were in short supply and therefore expensive- homemade was a necessity not a hobby. I’ve not written much in this recently- very much something to do on a cold Winter’s day , with the fire lit and a nice mug of tea.

The top one was a gift to me and is the one I have used to record my walks in nature.

Three years ago- June 2017- I wrote down the things I saw during the Go Wild month- just in an ordinary notebook. In 2018 I made a junk journal during June , which was great fun but rather time consuming.

When I was gifted this book Christmas 2018 I decided to write down my walks throughout the year. I have been a bit haphazard about it- many walks I take with friends and family are not conducive to observations- too much setting the world to rights or playing silly wotsits with children, as you do, so it’s only when I set off alone that I take the time to look about me. Then I come home and scribble notes before writing them up a bit better. I have to say I really enjoy doing this, it makes me look more, research what I see back , humbles me over my ignorance of the natural world and it’s huge variety and marvel at the beauty everywhere one looks.

The colouring is fun to do too- excellent mindfullness and helps keep me calm when I have to sit waiting for things and people, mentioining no names!

I love both these notebooks which are purely about enjoyment!

As always a nod to the Cozy Burrow who shares her notebooks each week.

I loved the notebook posts which some people wrote last week- do you have notebooks? Do you write about your childhood or keep a nature diary- do tell please. Feel free to leave links in the comments if you like.

PS My new diary for next year has arrived, with a donkey on the front this time! I do love a new diar- all that promise of a New Year.

Monday Notebook #3

Inspired by the Cozy Burrow I am sharing the multitude of notebooks I use to stay on track, being a bit of a scatterbrain I have a lot of them.

Today’s is not the prettiest of notebooks to look at, but very useful- it’s quite long in shape, bigger than A4 but narrower, and is one of many notebooks I found at Dad’s house when I cleared it. The writing at the top is his- he was a Lawyer , a Coroner and a Commisioner for Oaths- hence the title Evidence Book. Not as Mr E says the place where I record his bad behaviour for later reference. No book would be big enough for that.I like it for its size and that it has perforated edges for easy removal of pages. It’s where I write important stuff! Here’s what’s in it.

Page 1- From our old house- plumbers I got to quote for a new basin in the cloakroom, and the boiler firms for the boiler replacement.

Page 2- people who might fix the old drive

Page 3- list of jobs in the old garden- people who might fix the fence/ chop trees

Page 4- possible electricians to re- wire the old house- not followed up on.

Page 5- trying to figure out my financial situation before retirement

Page 6- same for Mr E

Page 7- some of you may recall we saw our old kitchen in a museum , labelled 1980s kitchen- here I have written everything in the kitchen- page is headed Kitchen re-visited- we never did agree on what to do!

Page 8- more on my financial situation taking into account the things Dad left me in his will.

Page 9- record of an important meeting I attended on behalf of my brother when he was looking at a building plot and getting planning permission with the town clerk and mayor. All to do with trees in a cemetery.

Page10-14- trying to sort out and untangle some things with my brother

Page 15-Long list of jobs to do in the garden and garage, for which we eventually got help

Page 16- Long list of jobs to do in the house before putting it on the market- mostly de cluttering

Page 17- 21 Research on a topic I presented to the U3A psychology group on boredom- which turned out to be very interesting

Page 22- the same group- research on hoarding ( rather on my mind with all the de-cluttering going on!)

Page 23- notes on addresses in Wiltshire for various things like banks

Page 24- long list of peple to tell we have moved

Page 25-27- notes taken on Stitchbook video about fabric dyeing- I need written instructions!

Page 28- refering to the house we didn’t buy in December- all about drains surveys- turned out to be quite interesting but then I do love TV programmes about drains, as well as hoarding.

Page 29-30 Stitchbook notes on Joomchi

Page 31- Trying to sort out  buildings insurance on this house which you have to do when you exchange contracts but still live in your current house- that was a nightmare once we got stuck in lockdown.

Page 32- 34- notes from phone calls to tell businesses we had moved- total nightmare waiting to get through in May- brings it all back.

Page 35- carpenters to fix the summer house here that broke in the wind- one too pricey, one said not worth it, one said could do, quoted reasonable price then failed to come when he said he would….grrr

Page 36- list of photos from last year to print for albums- never have there been so few as in the last 12 months when we were either house hunting or stuck in lockdown

And that’s it  but there are lots of nice empty pages left in this notebook for very important things.

I find it interesting to look back like this, to be reminded of plans, what happened to them, to the things that I researched for pleasure , to see what went well and to remember the sheer frustration of life in lockdown when everything took 10 times longer than it should, and we are still not through it all.

Love to know if you have a notebook for really important things when you need to make a decision. Does writing things down help you?  Do you write notes when you phone someone- do you keep them?

Do tell- more notebooks next week…

Fettling the Forlorn Patch#3

Progress is slow and steady

More stones out of the garden- no wonder nothing could grow.

First deep  bed built- more stones in the wheelbarrow

These stepping stones unearthed from the grass- we think there are more to come and will be useful as a path between the deep beds- they depict a squirrel or a fox.

We got in some manure and some compost- something had to be done about the soil- very few worms, not a good sign.

I planted some cyclamens and some bulbs- that’s a honeysuckle to the right by the fence I am hoping it will do better now- it did nothing this Spring stuck behind weeds and grotty shrubs.

Our lovely gardener who did all the digging gave us a tomato plant and we have had quite a few to eat fresh from the garden. Can’t really say we grew them so much as supervised their ripening.

Now of course we are left with that mound of earth in the corner covered in turf which is dying. I suggested we just had a hill and put a wishing well on top- Mr E’s suggestion was much better – he said we should make a hill fort!

The pile of weeds you could see in the last picture has gone, now we have an area of dead grass to fettle.

Out front I have put two old plant containers and filled them with pansies which do kind of cheer up the place a bit, if only twere not artificial grass out there.

So that’s where are now- the summer house is still sporting a broken door- no-one seems interested in being paid good money to fix it

The fettling continues.. how is your garden this week, does it have an areas in need of tlc?



Avebury Ring

Sunshine and warmth have returned to the UK, for one final blast of Summer before Autumn proper arrives. We had been talking last week about the things we missed most this year- because we moved closer to family we have actually spent more time with them than we have in a long time, for that we are blessed. I have missed doing things on the spur of the moment, museums ( the smaller and quirkier the better) and visiting churches. Mr E has missed car boot sales and visiting gardens and having a drink in a pretty cafe. Our sons btw have missed going to football matches!

Anyway Monday dawned bright and beautiful and after a little research realised we could do something on the spur of moment and take in a cafe!

So eveyone has heard of Stonehenge, Avebury Ring also in Wiltshire  is also a henge. It’s a question of come early because once the car park is full you are asked not to visit. We were there soon after the carpark opened at 11am. We have been before when visiting our son , but over the February half term break when frankly it is cold. Monday was perfect.

Now as you can see some artistic recreation has happened, but even so it is still a very special place.

The remaining standing stones are huge.

And the sweep of the ditches impressive. Having spent time this summer trying to dig through our garden built on similiar terrain all I can say is they must have been pretty strong to hack through the ground, which is solid chalk and flint.

From the top of the bank looking back to the centre- the people give you a sense of the scale.

The view looking over the rolling hills of Wiltshire. the henge is now cut into two by a road. We crossed over and went round the smaller section. I was amused by this tree- it’s an old pollarded ash tree and is in a fragile state, the notice said Keep Out on the fence- no-one told the sheep though.

After our walk, we went to the cafe for coffee and flapjacks- so we had a lovely morning doing some of the things we had missed. I’ll write about what we did after coffee in another post.

Meantime aside from family, friends, hugs etc, what have you missed this year, and have you found a way of doing them at all?





Scrap Happy- September 2020

Once again joining with Kate and others to share the things you can make with your scraps of all kinds. I am still working through my leftover yarn stash to create a single bed sized blanket for a care home. Progress has been slow but I’ll get there in the end.

I’ve decided to join the squares in blocks of four to avoid having to do them all at the end. I’m going for the width first and then just keep going down. But I was only using a limited number of colours to begin with which would have meant several the same colour in one row- couldn’t have that, so had another rummage and found some yarn to add variety.

I made some celery and stilton soup last week as the weather turned a bit Autumnal , and having all the ingredients in opened packets, including left over milk from the soup I made a plate of cheese scones.

They are so good, and to my mind the perfect addition to have with soup!

Do pop over to Kate to see other scrap happy posts, and maybe join in with one of your own. Love to know what you have made recently.

Monday Notebooks#2

Still from the coffee table come two more notebooks.

Possibly the most useful of all my notebooks. The one with the train is a pocket diary. I used to put important things on the family calender , but during lockdown there was a lot of scribbling out and then months of blankness, we nearly didn’t bother rehanging it when we moved. So my diary came into use for the odd things we needed to remember. The next seven days are blank apart from Sunday when we hope to have a family walk and pub meal- who knows if it will happen.

One good thing about being retired is that there are days that are blank- no more meetings or things to attend for work. Health appointments creep in and maybe some volunteering is possible, but lots of days are just there, so you might ask why on earth I need a diary. Firstly, habit I guess. Then it is handy to have one when you need it, you never know, saves bits of paper from hair dresser etc. At the moment I am writing down the shops I pop into , like my own personal track and trace, just in case.

But the thing I like most is being able to look back at the old ones- the family discussions it resolves, like how long ago did we see so and so, what was the name of that restaurant etc.

Mum and Dad both kept diairies- Dad’s were the week to a view and he had appalling handwriting, so reading them is tough-he was obsessed by the weather each day, and where he took his dogs for a walk, and who he met each day. He led a pretty full life until the end.

Mum’s on the other hand were full of the clubs she had joined, where they went, what they did, reminders to pay coach trips, theatre visits, who she saw at the Hay on Wye book festival, who she went with and meetings to help organise her social life.

I have kept but a small selection of these- my favourite has to be Dad’s from the year I was born, there I make my first appearance in the world!

And some diairies are a mine of useful information- yes I know the internet can help, but having it in a ready accessible diary is so much better than worryng about signals and wifi codes or whatever. Page 3 in my diary has Notable dates- you know Easter etc. At some point I must have had enough as I have written at the bottom of the page Year of Covid 19- Lockdown.

Page 4 is International dialing codes- no not needed these yet.

Page 5- Imperial to metric coversion- surprisngly useful when buying curtain rails and I’d measured everything in proper measurements of feet and inches.

Page 6 – World Times- not needed this- my step mum could have used this chart as she used to annoy my step brother by calling him in the middle of the night- she kept forgetting 24 hour clocks, and whether she was going backwards or forwards. I remember her telling me Steve’s news and then that he was cross when she phoned at  5 am!

My favourite pages are the ones at the back, the notes section. These pages really tell the story of a year, because it’s where I jot down things that are Really Important when I am out and about.

So for this year I have phone numbers of our estate agent, the solicitor, the removal firm , skip hire, a cleaning company to get this house Covid free before we moved in, details of the internet password, details of new chemist and GP, and the new library.

My favourite entries are two email addresses of old school friends I met up with in a group when we are allowed, one of whom I had not seen since we were 16.

I wonder does anyone else have a pocket diary and do you use it? I love mine and one of the best things is choosing my own each year. I have my eye on one with a donkey on for 2021!

The other notebook is a shopping list booklet which was a gift and yes I do use it for shopping lists. I do a weekly supermarket shop each week, and I tend to keep a running list , which frequently begins within an hour of the last shop. This weeks list has tartare sauce on it already.  However it is often the notebook most readily accessible when I really need to write something down. So page 1- details of where I think my Grandmother is buried in Liverpool, the name of some local gardens a neighbour mentioned to me, the numbers of some photos to put in my blog media library and the phone number of a handyman.

Page 2- carpenters phone numer, and a to do list half crossed through now

Page 3 list of errands to run in a nearby town and four places of interest to visit -next year maybe if they open.

Page 4- hastily written verbal quote from the  carpenter, list of things needed for the house and two birthday reminders, phone number of the pub for Sunday.

Page 5&6 notes on family history research

Page 7- names of two villages with family connections

Page 8- the shopping list

Page 9- Lots of ideas for my birthday for when Mr E asks for it sometime next month.. Always good to be ready with ideas!

The best thing about this notebook is that the pages tear out when no longer needed.

Does anyone else have really useful notebooks? Love to hear if you write shopping lists or carry a pocket diary.

The idea for this post came from the Cozt Burrow blog.


Quenington- forward to the past.

Last week’s exploration took us into Gloucestershire- it still is a novelty to me to cross all these county boundaries after the huge expanse of North Yorkshire- I expect I will stop banging on about it one day!

So welcome into this rather gorgeous and little known village- shame about the grit bin, but tells me there will be ice come Winter.

I love looking back into my family history and one branch of my maternal line brings me here. I have a wonderfully named Athaliah in the family who was born in Fairford. Her Mother Hannah was born in Quenington as was her mother Hannah and her father John. Athaliah’s father Anthony married her mother Hannah in this village. By my reckoning I have at least four ancestors buried in the church yard.

The parish church records are available online through Ancestry, and as original documents I can see that all signed their names with a X, none were able to read and write. I wonder what they would make of me gaily typing this on a computer on my knee. I think they would be pleased that education was available for us all in the West now.

Most of the surviving gravestones have been moved to a side wall and are illegible so I don’t know where under the grass my family lie, but they are here, In all probability they may never had gravestones which would have been beyond their means. Anthony and John were both agricultural labourer. John lived to the ripe old age of 82! Poor Hannah his wife to just 39.

I love these hens and the cockerill, that were rootling around this gravestone, a scene that might have been from the 1700-1800s when my family lived here.

The church was largely rebuilt in Victorian times after my family had moved on, but there remain original features, and it is quite special to think that what I can see and touch were seen and touched by Hannah, Hannah , John and Anthony.

This 12th Century door frame with its intricate stone carvings perhaps?

This gargoyle, one of many now inside the church, or was it a Saint’s head that survived the Reformation?

Or ths splendid porch? Apparently it depicts hell! The church was originally dedicated to St Mary, but post reformation became St Saviour.

Now churches by and large are still closed due to you know what, so I was totally thrilled that it was OPEN when we went as a lady and her daughter were decorating the church for the daughter’s wedding the following day, and they were happy to allow me in for a look round as they worked.

I was excited to read the date on the font.

1662- this was then the font at which John and the two Hannahs were baptised. I couldn’t explore much of the church as the flower ladies needed the space so we left but not till Mr E had draw my attention to

this tile on the floor. Humph!

We had a little walk round the village- golly it is pretty, lovely Cotswold stone , but mostly post date my connection to the village.

This is clearly one of the two mills mentioned in village history- one was for flour the other for paper making.

A bonny village to have connections too. I feel blessed to be able to come here, and think of where the family came from. From here Hannah and Anthony’s daughter went to live in Fairford and thence to Liverpool via London. I have come a complete circle, almost…

Monday Notebooks

Kate who blogs as The Cozy Burrow writes a post every Monday sharing her notebook. Every Monday I enjoy her post and comment on the number of notebooks I have and promising to share them. The time has come to do so.

I have a number of notebooks which live somewhere around the sofa and coffee table. I need notebooks here as this is where I read blogs and jot down useful things. This is my newest book and was gifted to me at Christmas by Miss F, who knows I need notebooks and was sure to love this one- she is right.

Page one- instructions on how to microwave poached eggs- husband’s brilliant idea- disaster- I bought a new egg poacher for the induction cooker we inherited. On the same page- five titles of sewing books to borrow from the library.

Page two- your useful suggestions for my read round Europe books- rather lost the enthusiasm for that after Crime and Punishment!

Page 3-Six book titles- two have been crossed out as I requested them

Page 4- ideas for fabric boxes

Page 5- carefully worked out plan for Master H’s football quilt- time I finished it

Page 6- words for photo challenge for August- didn’t follow up on it

Page 7-9 How to do Transfer Printing notes from video for stitchbook collection- did this

Page 10-15- knitting patterns taken from Warm Baby Project. Remind self to do some more for this project

Page 16- 17 Notes on Tyvek for Stitchbook- done

Page 18- Plan for buffet style picnic in the garden for Mr E’s birthday in July- was good.

Page 19- idea for scrappy project- still to do

Page 20-21 Twinchie instructions from Wild Daffodil

22- blank

Page 23-24 Fireplace bunting- Attic 24 free pattern for crochet- do I really want to crochet bunting before I finish the knitted one I started?

Page 25-27 Kunin felt instructions from video for stitchbook- my learning style requires copious amounts of written notes! Done

28 blank

Page 29-30 Kate’s instructions for Lumberjack cake which sounds delicious, but where on earth do I buy shredded coconut?

Page 31 -web page noted for sweetpeas, more words for a photo challenge in September and more recomended books- nine here

Page32-33 Apple day in October noted, family history research-more on this in another post

Page 34- feeble attempt at drawing a tree for the next stitchbook page, must improve and stop finding excuses not to do this.

Page 35- Garden ideas- list of possible plants, tasks to turn summer house into she shed, list of garden centres in area as recommended on Facebook gardening page

Page 36- Pattern for easy knit ball- why I have a better one somewhere?

Page 37 – Knitting wool order- placed an hour ago!

Page 38- list of garden jobs  for me- clean and paint fence, clean stepping stones, plant bulbs- a breeze! Who am I kidding?

Well I think my notebook tells you I am a dreamer who likes notebooks and lists. I wonder who else has notebooks. I’ll share more next week! Dare you share yours?





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