Wool, Wiltshire and All Manner of Wonderful Things!

Archive for November, 2020

November Books- 2020

Only three read this month, but all good ones!

Peter Hoeg- Miss Smilla’s Feeling for Snow– set in Denmark, a small boy falls from a roof, presumed an accident by the police but his neighbour Smilla disagrees as she can tell by his footprints in the snow that he was chased- but why and by whom? I loved the first part of the book as it was filled with ironic humour. The second part set on board a ship was less enjoyable- the humour had gone and it was one fight scene after another in which Smilla seemed to inflict a great deal of damage whilst getting hurt herself. Wish the humour had continued, and there were less tussles. A good book with a heroine to make you proud.

Elizabeth Gilbert- Big Magic- Thank you to whoever suggested this book to go alongside the Artist’s Way retirement book. It is full of encouragement to just get on with your creativity, finish what you are doing, release it to the world and move onto the next project- somethings will be good, some won’t, keep going long enough and one project will be filled with Big Magic- but don’t expect the next one to be necessarily! I think I recognised relatively recently that I make things because I enjoy the process, and if someone else likes what I make that is a bonus. This book helps me to understand that this is what matters. Far too easy to beat oneself up by comparing yourself to others! If this might be you too, I highly recommend this book.

Thomas Hughes- Tom Brown’s Schooldays. Back in September I think it was we climbed the White Horse iron age fort at Uffington on the Berkshire Downs. As drove away from there towards a pub for lunch we passed a funny little building which proclaimed itself to be Tom Brown’s School museum. Now this confused me because I knew the book to be about a public school called Rugby. (Brief explanation of the education system in England- State schools are free for all and for the ordinary people. Private Schools of which there are few are owned and run by a private individual for profit. Independent Schools are run by board of governors, public schools are charitable schools. All three charge fees at very high prices. Don’t ask me about academies and free schools which are new fangled things and confuse me).

So what on earth was this tiny building doing in calling itself Tom Brown’s school museum? According to t’internet the author lived in these parts and the school featured in the novel . I’d have to read the book to find out more, so I did.

The book is set in the 1830s, and the first part covers Tom’s early childhood. The son of the local Squire Tom was first educated at home and then had a year in a private school before being sent to Rugby School. He is allowed a lot of freedom as a young boy and mixes with the village boys who attend the local school. This part of the book paints an idyllic picture of childhood, freedom to roam, knowledge of nature, fun and games. Oddly recognisable from my own childhood in Yorkshire, and of some of the things we enjoyed when we lived in the next door county of Oxfordshire when our sons were little. I think here of a village custom of a Feast day- in which a fair comes to the village and fun and games happen. The Oxfordshire village we lived in was called Combe, and if you have never seen a a big dipper on a tiny village green etc you probably can’t imagine it. I loved this section of the book.

The novel is meant to be read by boys about to go to their public school, to prepare them to get the most out of the experience. I doubt any boy could read such a book these days- all perfectly accessible to read and not childish in any way- it simply wouldn’t appeal, so far is it removed from ordinary childhood today. Most of the lessons seem to be about translating Latin and Greek , and sport- Rugby football, and cricket, and a lot of religion. All good character building stuff, preparing the boys for life as Army Officers or clergymen and lawyers. It is of its time and thoroughly enjoyable, and maybe does throw a fascinating insight into the scchools enjoyed by the wealthy today.

Now I feel prepared to visit the museum as soon as it re-opens – next year I hope.

Have your read any good books this month? Although I have a nice big pile of library books to take me to the end of the year, ok end of January, I’m always looking for recommendations.

Happy reading, x


Knit and Natter Sunday

I was looking through my photo albums this week for one of my sons, and realised my knitting and crochet has not changed much over the years.

Colourful multi coloured back then- spot my beloved cat in this one too.

The pattern was in a Prima magazine, and I really really wish I had kept it.

My first ever crochet blanket- long since departed.
We still have this one- now in use as the picnic blanket, but it did make a great den!

I still knit in multi colours and crochet granny square blankets- long may I continue.

Current knitting
Current crochet!

Does anyone else have photos of their old work, which reflects their current makes? Love to hear what you think.

Stay safe


Swan Lake

A couple of weeks ago whilst exploring the neighbourhood, I drove about five minutes from our house to follow a sign to somewhere called Mouldon Hill, which was a short way down a track. I was really happy to find my very own Swan Lake.

Swan Lake
So peaceful
Not such an ugly duckling.
I’m a swan.
It’s actually a fishing lake for which you have to pay to use, these platforms are all round the lake for the fishermen.
I am begining to think that poor old Swindon is a maligned town, not so ugly after all.

And the excellent news is that from December we are allowed to go on family walks again. I have continued to go for mid week walks with my son in which we set the world to rights, and these have been a real boon, but I do miss the children.

Obligatory sky and tree picture. I do hope everyone knows the Danny Kaye song, or the references will mean nothing- showing my age for sure. And why do I automatically say fishermen, they could be women, should I be saying fisher people?

Have a great weekend, stay safe,



A lot of us are still enduring the Covid restrictions in some way or another. I was reading my book the Artist’s Way for retirement, and one of the sections deals with touchstones. It occured to me that nearly all of us have lost our normal routines and daily touchstones, especially people whose working (paid and unpaid)life has been impacted- the chats around the water dispenser or coffee mchine, the daily journey to work, the shops we pop into to while away some time, the libraries, maybe your church. All these things change when you retire but also now, and maybe the task my book suggested can help, or maybe is just a bit of fun.

We are asked to list 25 things that bring us joy- ordinary things, and maybe you can find one of them that you can do today which will bring happiness.

We are dividing them between the five senses, and off I go,

1 Taste- Cinnamon, mulled apple juice, ginger, carrot cake and bacon sandwiches.

2 Touch- Stroking a dog, hugs, clean sheets, rain when you get really really soaked or when there is a gentle rain on your face and that heat you feel when you go on holiday and climb down the airplane steps.

3 Smell- Line dried washing, bacon, the earthy smell in a wood, real Christmas trees and heather.

4 Sound- a brass band outside, crickets, the hum of bees, lawn mowers, and family chatter.

5 Sight- Sunsets, Greek seaside vilages, city/town lights, heather moors, old photographs.

Now some of those I can do nothing about experiencing at the moment- but I reckon I can have a bacon sandwich for lunch and make an apple crumble with lots of cinnamon tonight. Longer term there is the Christmas tree to think about- we currently have a very big artificial tree, and I really did want to go smaller this year, and I think I have the stand for a real one somewhere, probably in the garage somewhere….

Please do tell me some of your favourite things, and is there one something you could do today?

Heather Moors- old photo 2017- two of my favourite things in one.

Monday Notebooks

I have finally got round to taking pictures of most of the rest of my notebooks, should you be interested!

The event book.

This is the one I use for recording the birthday and Christmas lists, cards and presents, given and received,and in which I make plans for the parties I organise. They are lovely to look back on.

Dad’s 90th Birthday

Happy days.

These are A4 size, and the top one is my journal which is now nearly full, the one underneath is for the New Year. I started this way back in 2013, it began as a record of things I was making, but gradually became a journal- it may go months without an entry, then followed by weeks of daily entries.

The first page!
This is the book in which I simply note the books I read.
Started in 2003.

I had the brilliant wheeze in 2003 of reading the books on my home book shelves and deciding whether I would ever read them again, and if not give them away. It was short lived, but I kept on writing down the books I read, I have an on going project to compile a list of 100 books that everyone should read- I’m still only half way there! A tick indicates that it was a good book- they need a star to be in the top 100 list!

And finally the latest additions to my notebooks.

are these.

The top plain one is for my morning pages, which I have kept up and am now on day 34. I used to think it made no odds if I wrote it at night, but it does. Things that have annoyed me during the day if written up at night seem to stoke the fury ( think hours on the phone listening to musack waste of time annoyance), whereas if I wait till morning I have mostly forgotten it.More importantly whilst feeling cross, knowing I am going to write it all down in the morning helps take the sting out of the source.

Also morning pages help me plan the day rather better- I still have to do lists, but writing in the morning helps clarify the thinking that goes into each item. Does this make sense?

The blue one underneath is the book I am using for the tasks mentioned in the Artist’s way in retirement- I have just started week four- a week can be quite flexible , which is why it’s bit adrift from the morning pages tally. I’m glad I started this, it’s giving me some useful insights, and the thoughts coming from it has produced some strange things I put on my Christmas wish list- for example I added chop sticks- I can’t use them, and on the rare occasions I go to a restaurant where they are used I am stuck! And embarrased by grand children who can. Time I learned. I’ve also suggested a kite!

I wonder has anyone else suggested unexpected gifts when asked for a wish list, or is it just me? I’m also on the look out for bubble mix and a ball. I found bubble mix in a GINORMOUS pot but I only want a little pot, and balls, where have all the balls gone? Second childhood here I come.

So that’s more or less it- there are of course more notebooks, but none that are used very regularly- if I get more then i will tell you!

I wonder has anyone else suggested slightly strange gifts, or is it just me? Last night husband said “why do want a bike now?” Well because there seem to be lots of cycle paths round here and it sounds fun- I don’t want to go 100s of miles!

Knit and Natter- Sunday

It’s ages and ages and ages since I did a knit and natter post- they used to be on a Friday, but here we are it’s a Sunday, maybe a new norm for me, we’ll see. In the UK we have locked down again, and today’s joyous news is that it will continue after the predicted end of December 2nd, region by region and in tiers according to risk. I just feel so sorry for everyone who’s livelihood is effected by it all. Hard to shop local when local is shut, the big boys must be thrilled to bits by it all.

Moving on swiftly, here’s what’s on my knitting needles at the moment, a glorious rainbow of colours, by special request from Master T for the V neck jumper in his favourite of all my multi coloured knits. The yarn is called Partytime, by James Brett and is chunky weight.

We worked out last weekend that people from two different households could meet up on a one to one basis outside- suddenly occured to me that I could meet up with my son for a walk during the week, when he is working from home and the children are in school, and we have done so twice. And it does feel like exercise and not a stroll, we go at a fair lick I can tell you- no time for photos, he’s on his lunch break, but so far from his house we have walked along an old canal and the route of an old railway line, now a footpath and a cycle route, and we can go further than when we have children with us, and I am seeing even more of my new town.

Amazing what you can do when you set your mind to it.

An added bonus this week is that the sun sets earlier and earlier and as the sun has moved in the sky I have sunsets I can see from the house. If you could only have the sun setting near you at certain times of the year, wouldn’t the end of autumn and Winter be the best time of all.

View from just outside the house.

Knitting, walks with my son and sunsets have kept me going this week- how about you ,what everyday joy has kept you going? Do please join in, we all need to chat….

Exploring the neighbourhood

So here we are in Lockdown the Second, exercise is permitted, andstaying local is encouraged. So I am exploring my neighbourhood, and enjoying the last days of Autumn.

The leaves are falling rapidly now and you can just about glimpse our house through the wood.
Still seems incredible to me that we have views like this in a massive and not very attractive large town.
just off the footpath there are pockets of trees, love the light that streams through.
Lady Lane

I have always walked up this road before, time to go down. On the right hand side was a mobile home site for the over 50s set in the grounds of an old Abbey.

To the left, the field wherein there are the roman ruins- houses at the bottom and the lane took me through this estate to a large road at the bottom which joins an even bigger road that goes all the way to Cirencester.

On my way home as the sun went down.

Scrap Happy- November 2020

Once again it’s a scrap happy day hosted by https://talltalesfromchiconia.wordpress.com/2020/11/15/scraphappy-november-5/

So please do pop over there to read lots of posts with ideas on how to use up scraps. I am revisiting ideas for scraps which I have used before, so it may seem a bit familiar.

constructing a fabric box

And being on familiar territory this should have been a synch. However what you see before you is version two. Version one used much smaller fabric pieces in all sorts of odd shapes and sizes and drove me potty. I went back to my fabric boxes and had a moment thinking, then I needed a lie down- too much thinking-just kidding.

When we were tidying our last house prior to putting it on the market I did part with some tiny pieces of fabric, and again when we packed up I sort of rationalised the stash- probably just pushed it down in the box a bit more. It was only when I unpacked everything that I realised just how many projects I had in the pipeline with fabric all assigned that the full extent of the fabric supply became apparent. And the huge quantity of fabric scraps too. So what on earth was I doing trying to squeeze that which could not be squeezed from such tiny amounts of very odd shaped scraps, and making myself miserable into the bargain.

I binned all the tiny bits and started again, and as you can see what I actually used can hardly be called big bits of fabric, can they?

Fabric box for a pal for Christmas

I love the top of the box and the section I used for the front.

I have used scraps of this before and I love the fabric.
this will be her favourite side I think, as she has a little dog just like this.

As you may know I have started to write Morning Pages and to work my way slowly through Julia Cameron’s book on the artist’s way in retirement. De-cluttering has come up many times- letting go of your past- I divested myself of my working life sometime ago- my “office clothes” have gone, certificates for strange workshops/courses that you get sent on- gone- but what of craft supplies? What about the vast array of them? The horror, especially in Lockdown that I may run out of things to do. I mean, REALLY? Is that remotely likely?

Can I actually bear to go through my fabric and throw away the bits that really are too small to be usable, can I give myself permission to use bigger scraps- do I have to start with the smallest piece and have a fight? How does everyone else cope, can you throw away the smallest piece of leftover fabric or anything come to think of it?

Meantime whilst hunting through the supplies I found

leftover hexies from the unfinished hexie quilt

And I as I did get in a panic over not having enough to do in Lockdown the Second, I went to Hobbycraft stocked up with more stuff and two fabric bags.

Pretty shopping bags for me

I made some like these last year as presents and always meant to make myself some, and now I have.

They will be perfect for returning and collecting library books.

Now what shall I make for next month’s scrap happy day and will I sort out the fabric box? Place your bets.

Notes from the forlorn patch

I had thought I had written my last post for this year about our attempts to improve the rather forlorn patch of ground that pretends to be a garden, but things move on , oh so slowly.

The last of the tomatoes from our single plant are ripening by the window.

There are now three of these cloches in the deep bed, under which are signs of life in the form of broad beans.

The fat pigeons took too much interest in the deep beds- Mr E had a cunning plan- not sure about it myself.

That is a bird scarer- it flashes lights and makes a racket when I hang washing on the line- makes me jump everytime- doesn’t bother the birds though. The battery will wear out one day I suppose.

And that really is it I think for this year in the garden- the leaves are falling like crazy and we will need to collect them up- no bonfires- but mutterings of leaf mould! Oh Joy.

But the bulbs are poking out the tips of their leaves, Spring can’t be too far away. How is your garden looking- flush with gorgeousness or limping down towards Winter?

Solo Lockdown Stroll

We are in lockdown again in England- walks can be with your own household or just one other person- which rules out family walks now, and sadly Mr E isn’t always up for a walk these days. Not to be daunted I am exploring my immediate suuroundings, and my first excursion took me down the Ridge from home to where the Romans once built a temple, probably on the site of an even older sacred place- that magical place- a Spring.

Roman site

There’s not a great deal to see, but a helpful board came in handy.

so that’s what is under the grass, wish I could have seen it.
wow it was quite something.
just a few lumps and bumps now.
back up the hill to home.

Behind the trees to the left is our house. If the Romans hadn’t got here first then there would be more houses on the hillside and we would not have chosen to move here. Now there’s a thought!

Absolutely had to take this picture of the gorgeous red berries.

Wonder what else I will discover on local lockdown outings? I wonder how well everyone knows their own immediate surroundings- maybe others will find new things on their doorstep- would love to know.

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