Well, no doubt about it, it’s been a rum old year, and yet by making the most of what one could do, I for one have some wonderful memories.
January- began with early snowdrops
and Winter Walks.
We also put in an offer on our new home, and began for the third attempt, a house purchase- would this be the one that went through?
I optimistically compiled a list of 20 things I planned to do in 2020, and got off to a flying start with a visit to the Scarborough Art Gallery to an exhibition of embroideries/ art works to celebrtae the 200th Anniversary for Anne Bronte.
February- all was going well with the proposed house move
March- Covid 19 and the threat of Lockdown looms- our house move progresses and we start to fill boxes left by the removal firm.
April- Move on hold, caught between exchange of contracts and completion. Our life is in boxes.
May- and the move is on again.
June- Lockdown eases further and unpacking continues.
July- Getting to know the new area
August- finding a wider community
September -Settling down
October- Autumn Colours
November- Lockdown 2
December- Christmas as we have never know it.
2020 has been a year like no other- a year to appreciate what you have and making the most of life, and learning to adapt. Maybe we will be nicer people and the world a better place.
I have read far fewer books this year- mostly due to Covid which closed the library for months, and we moved house. I had set myself the challenge to read my way across Europe, and whilst I did read some new authors and some very good books, I could have done better. Here’s what I managed.
Dostoevsky- Russian- Crime and Punishment- very hard going.
Edith Eger- Hungarian- The Choice- Surviving the holocaust, coming to terms with what happened and choosing to be free from the past and live life to the full. A truly wonderful book, which made it into my top 100- the first this year.
Henning Mankell- After the fire- my Swedish writer- themes of old age, loss of friends, career, health, home, but new life and birth.
Louise Phillips- The Doll’s House–Ireland- satisfyng murder mystery story, very well plotted.
Peter Hoeg- Miss Smilla’s Feeling for Snow-Denmark– Isaac falls from a roof to his death- Miss Smilla can tell by his footprints in the snow that it was no accident, he had been chased, but why and by whom? First part a delight because of the humour- second part set on a ship was one fight after another and rather dull.
Tove Jansson- Sculptor’s Daughter-Finland- depictions told through short stories based on the authors childhood in a bohemain household with a sculptor father and artist mother. Didn’t warm to the format.
In total I read 47 books. My favourite five of this year were:-
Edith Eger- The Choice- see above, and I have added it to my Top 100 ( see pages )
John Fowles- The Collector- good psychological thriller, Fred collects butterflies, and lacks social skills to make friends, so when he wins the pools he buys a house, coverts the cellar and collects the girl – Miranda-of his dreams, but she doesn’t like being collected and keeps trying to escape. First part and ending written by Fred, middle section the same ground from Miranda’s perspective.
Sarah J Harris- The Colour of Bee Markham’s Murder- a who dun it with a twist as the only witness is Jasper who can’t recognise faces except by the colours he sees. Well written and plotted with humour that stays the right side of laughing with and not at the condition.
Kate Morton- The House at Riverton- Grace a former housemaid, now retired archeologist, tells the story of the family that lived at Riverton from the first world war to the tragedy of a poet’s death by the lake in the 1920s. A wonderfully enjoyable read, that has made my top 100 list for its evoction of the period.
Beth Underdown- The Witch Finder’s Sister- The imagined life of Alice Hopkins- sister to the notorious Matthew Hopkins- witch finder in Essex in the 1640s. Full of growing menace and horror- well plotted and written.
I am currently reading another Kate Morton, and have a good big stack of library books to last me a while, with more on the way. I’d like to keep reading Europen Authors, but my challenge in 2021 is all to do with a TV programme which I watched over Christmas on Channel 5- the 30 best British Books as voted for by viewers from a list compiled from the best sellers list by Channel Five. I’d read 20 of them, so that’s 10 I’d not read. So sometime in the Spring of 2021 I will start on these, and will share the full list here, that’s if I can find the notebook I wrote them all down in by then.
Have you read any of the books I mention here- what did you think?
Only three books this month, mainly because I abandoned a book on page 187 with another 600 to go because after a promising beginning it became utter tosh and life is too short for 8oo pages of tosh, so I cut my losses.
Min Jin Lee- Pachinko- 6 generations of a Korean family in Japan- themes of poverty, racism and love. A fascinating novel inspired by real life into two nations in the 20th Century of which I knew very little. The book has an interesting and unusual writing style which lends itself to the feeling of other. The characters are believable and I cared what became of them. It has made it into my Top 100 books- which I have now been compiling for over ten years- the criteria being that each book has something new for me. And I think into one of my top five for the year. Highly recommend this one to you.
Ann Cleeves- Blue Lightning- The third in the Shetland series with the the wonderful Jimmy Perez- Fair isle- and a murder mystery- perfect December reading.
Sofie Laguna- The Eye of the Sheep- Jimmy Flick- a 6 year old boy like no other- he’s either too fast or too slow, he sees too much and yet too little, and only his Mother can fully connect with him. Until one day when everything changes, and he has to find new ways to cope with the world and the adults and chidren in it. Oh boy, what a story- it made me cry at the end. Loved it.
And these three will be all I have time to finish reading this year. I have just started Kate Morton’s The Secret Keeper, so please excuse me, whilst I settle down with my mug of tea and my book.
I’ll do a yearly round up of the books I read this year soon. I challenged myself in January to read my way across Europe in 2020- did I succeed and I will pick out my favourite five books that I read this year.
So I had this wheeze, this Christmas may not have been up to the norm, so let’s recall Christmasses past – do join in by leaving comments, but even better- write your own post and leave a link to it in the comments… go on, you know you want too, as much or as little as you like. 12 Questions for the 12 days…
1 Favourite/ funny memory or both of Christmas as a child.
My Mum made a huge effort at Christmas. I am a child of the 1950s, and it may be hard for younger people to appreciate but some things were still on ration after the war, and a lot of treats were expensive. Mum made our Christmasses very special indeed- stockings were made from wrapping paper, all the food from mince pies, to cake to stuffing was homemade, decorations were paper chains- homemade, table centre pieces were homemade- not as today from choice but because that was just the way things were done. By Christmas Eve the excitement would be a fever pitch- oh boy did that day seem loooong- it went on forever. The one day of the year you were glad to go to bed early. I recall the year that my little brother Pip woke me up- it must have been about 4am- bouncing on the bed- telling me HE had BEEN, and here was my stocking, which he promptly tipped out onto the bed. Two minutes later a rather cross Mother appeared, sent him back to bed, repacked the stocking, and told us to Go Back to Sleep till Morning OR ELSE! We did!
2 Favourite/funny memory of your children’s Christmass- you can swap this for nephew/ niece/ grandchild/neighbour etc.
Ah this time I was playing Father/Mother Christmas. Two eldest sons still had stockings and were sworn to keeping the identity of Santa Claus secret from their little brother OR ELSE. I had just come back from Midnight Mass, having put Toddler B to bed around 6pm. Panic stations from the oldest two- Master B had woken up and no power on earth could get him back to sleep. His stocking was at the end of his bed, out of his line of vision, but worse still In the Middle’s stocking was also at the end of HIS bed, at the far end of a long shared bedroom with Toddler B. It was late we were tired, a cunning plan was needed- so whilst In the Middle chatted to Toddler B I crawled like a commando over the bedroom floor to retrieve two stockings. Duly filled they were left by the bedroom door!
3 Biggest Disaster/Fail on Christmas Day
I gather a lot of people this year found their turkeys were not very nice and were not fit to eat- if that was you, I am very sorry indeed. I was very lucky, I was able to spend Christmas Day with my son and grand children and the turkey he cooked was delicious.
However we did have one disastrous Christmas. Mum had come to stay for the duration-dinner was cooked to perfection, the crackers were pulled, paper hats on heads, awful jokes told, glasses chinked and the electricty went off… just ours. Neighbours had electricty, the whole village had electricty- just us, no lights, no hot water, no heating…. Very long story cut short. Don’t believe 24 hour/7 days a week/365 days of the year electricians mean it they don’t. We eventually isolated one circuit in the house, heating and water back on, but not all lights. We survived the night. Next day hung over electrician comes, in the dog house with his wife… he should have been spending the day with his in-laws, further locates problem to bathroom, and makes sure house and our Heath Robinson lighting is safe. Three days later real electrician comes- transpires that when the bathroom was re- done, before our time, a loose live cable had been left under the bath, the flat roof had let in water, and well no electricity.
4 Best Christmas present received/ given to you as a child.
This took a lot of thought- I received in my time a rather splendid doll and a doll’s house, both of which I have still got, but I reckon the best presents have to be
the gift of reading. I see from the inscriptions in the books I was 8 when I was gifted these. The bottom two from my parents- can you imagine a child being happy these days with a book from their parents at Christmas as their sole present? The top one was from my Godmother, and I credit this book with being the one that finally got me reading for pleasure, and 60 years on I still do read for pleasure. Now that was a gift for sure.
5 Best/favourite Christmas tradition – As a child I loved making paper chains and decorating the house. I loved the smell in the house of delicious food- that mix of spices, cinnamon, nutmeg, but I think what I really really valued the most was Mum and Dad finally running out of chores to get on with , and sitting down to play board games with us. After tea on Christmas day, yes we ate tea, a proper sit down tea,- the green card table would come out and the fire would be lit, in the best room, we children were allowed a thimble full of ginger wine, and we played monopoly, cluedo, totopoly, Pit, and it was magical.
6 Favourite Christmas food– Christmas pudding- the only time of year you get to eat that fabulous fruity sticky concoction, love it, love it, love it. Yes we did have some yesterday, nom, nom, nom.
7 To Sprout or not to Sprout on your dinner plate– oh yuk, I eat my token 1 or 2 to be a Good Example.
8 When to open presents? Now normally after breakfast on Christmas morning- but yesterday we were so late getting up, we opened most in the evening, and I rather liked it- time to look at each one properly- it may become the norm, but I doubt children would accept the delay.
9 Artificial or real tree? I much prefer a real tree, but feel so guilty chopping down a tree for my gratification, so we have an artificial one, which must surely be ten years old by now.
10 Children’s Nativity plays- funny story or proud moment?
I love children’s nativity plays, always make me cry. Except the year when I only had two boys . The oldest had a prime part, suitably proud Mum, and what does In the Middle do- gets bored- pulls down his trousers and waves his rear end in the air. Mortified I beat a hasty retreat, and we went home……
11 Christmas Jumpers or Christmas Eve PJs
This is a relatively new custom, and I love that it’s here. I don’t have either, but I did buy myself a nice red blouse with snowflakes on it, in honour of the occasion. I have been commisioned to knit Master T a Christmas jumper for next year- apparently they should wear them at school over the last week of term, but he wouldn’t unless Nana knitted him one.
12 Best part of a Covid Christmas?
There has to be something that we liked this year, that wouldn’t have happened in previous years. I think I really valued the time with my family more, such a special few hours.
Nativity plays in school couldn’t happen and my grand children’s school made videos of them singing a Christmas song- it was filmed outside, in small groups, each group given a verse to sing- the teacher shot the video and sent to parents. I also think we all took more care with our gift choices, I know I had some corkers, lots of things for me to make and do….you’ll hear more of these next year.
I finished the jumper I made my grandson, in all its rainbow colours and was rather thrilled with the result- I think he would have prefered Lego!
I hope you enjoyed my trip down memory lane- love to hear your memories. Enjoy the rest of the 12 days of Christmas,
If you want to give God a good laugh it’s said, tell him your plans- well mine have gone- upside down! Just been to post some cards to go abroad- yes late late late- and now we can’t because you can’t if you live in the UK- sorry Claire. I know they should have gone earlier, but as I said life is topsy turvy right now. So sorry I have barely been reading blogs, let alone posting, let alone doing anything except chasing my tail, but life is what it is and you make of what you can.
So I would like to wish you all the best Christmas you can make given that the world has gone mad. Love the people you are with, and phone the rest!
Sometimes life gets in the way, so not only am I a day late, but I’ve not done that which I set out to do. I am in the process of making two Christmas coasters. They involved getting out scary cutting mat and rotary cutter, which I had totally forgotten how to use. Needless to say I re-learnt the meaning of “measure twice and cut once”. Two hours later I was mentally shattered, but ready for some hand sewing, and I now have from scraps two prepared Christmas coasters.
Not very complicated if you are not a nin-com- poop. Double negative is deliberate!
Of course whilst I was putting off doing scary cutting I totally way laid myself which didn’t help.. I stumbled across a piece of red felt and the template for a leaf- which I hadn’t got round to making-so I thought , just get on with this instead, so I did. One bookmark- also totally from scraps of felt and embroidery floss.
Three Sundays on the trot- nearly getting to be a regular occurance, these knit and natter posts. Please do join in the comments and tell me what you may be knitting, crocheting or crafting at the moment.
The back of grandson’s jumper is coming on apace now with the raglan sleeves taking shape.
This is the crochet blanket- single bed size I am making for a care home. It started life on a Scrap Happy project as I was using up leftover yarn- trouble is I need so many blocks and I was running out of different colours, so I have actually paid out some hard cash for some acryllic yarn- I’m using the left over bits of yarn to join four blocks at a time- the idea was that no two rows or blocks of four were the same , just to add some interest. Think I may deal with some ends too before it becomes too big a task. It’s a nice project for those evenings when I am too tired to concentrate on anything.
How are your Christmas plans going? I have started to write cards but every year it takes me longer than I expect, as I do like to write a little note or letter with each one. I received some too, way back in mid- November, which is most efficient of some people. And I have given in to internet shopping- can’t face the crowds and they must be bigger than ever this year as we were locked down for a month. I would much sooner do it in a proper shop, but what can you do?
Sometimes I just feel I might be getting a bit old, tired and crotchety- a grumpy old woman perchance.
Hard to believe that this is the last Yarn Along for 2020, but there we are.
I have completed the front of the wonderful jumper of many colours for my grandson.
And it is on with the back now. I just love this yarn so much- bright and cheerful and sure to lift the spirits in the dark nights of Winter. The book is very good indeed- an epic tale of a poor Korean family living in Japan during the 20th Century- I’m very grateful to everyone who recommended it to me.
I realise you can’t see how far I have progressed on the back of the jumper in this picture, so here is another.
It grows much faster without the cables, but the stripes are impossible to fully match to the front- I shall do my best with the back and the sleeves.