Wool, Wiltshire and All Manner of Wonderful Things!

Archive for February, 2021

Books- February 2021

Apart from the first one I read this month, it has been a good month for books. Here’s what I have read .

Thomas Mann- Death in Venice- My German author , and not quite the book I had been expecting- no murder mystery this. It’s a collection of short stories plus the novella Death in Venice. The short stories struck me as being the same plot re-worked each time. Artistic type of chap, who may just dabble or be reasonably successful as a writer, is attracted to a young woman with whom he becomes infatuated before being spurned- the end. Death in Venice, is somewhat the same- middle aged successful author leaves his home town of Munich for a summer holiday in Venice. Here he spots a beautiful young polish boy (14 years old) who is there with his family, He becomes infatuated, starts following him around, makes himself ridiculous dyeing his hair and wearing make up to look younger. Allows himself to imagine his love is returned- fortunately he does nothing but look and stalks the child. Eventually he becomes aware that Venice is not a healthy city- cholera is rampant and the city authorities have ordered the inhabitants not to alarm the tourists. The inevitable happens as the young boy and his family depart. What I found most interesting was when I researched the book online I found that Mann and his wife had a holiday in Venice, on which they encountered a Polish family, and Mann was drawn towards the son. The son only recognised himself in the story when it was brought to his attention as an adult. He said the descriptions of himself was accurate down to the clothes he wore, and that adults did find him attractive- older women were given to kissing him! He was totally unaware of Mann’s fascination for him. I lived briefly in Munich back in the 1970 but apart from the English Gardens, there was nothing I recognised. Venice- I have passed through here briefly- and you do get the impression of a tourist trap in the story- sadly nothing of the art and the beauty. I didn’t get much from this collection and it was a bit of a struggle to get through with it’s rather unhealthy obsession for a child in the tale from which this collection gets its name.

Zadie Smith- White Teeth– I’m hard pushed to say what this book is about- it won the James Tait Black Memorial Prize for Fiction- it’s a debut novel, and appears as number 29 on the Channel five list of the top thirty British novels. It is also very good indeed- complex, well plotted, brilliant characterisation, absolutely engaging and funny in places- to quote from the blurb on back” dealing with friendship, love, war, three cultures, three families over three generations, oh and a brown mouse.” Read it, tell me what you think. I’ll be adding it to my 100 list of books, still room for lots more books on that list.

Joanna TrollopeAn Unsuitable Match. So the library, my branch was closing for 8 weeks and I paniced, I requested books from the Channel five list- but not enough were available, so then I thought lets see if some of my favourite authors have had any books published. First choice for me was Joanna Trollope- who writes well of the well – heeled middle classes- agas, an acre of garden, mews houses in London- doctors, IT consultants, media types- pure escapism, except she writes of very real yet ordinary scenarios- so we have a divorced woman in her 60s- a translator in her nice mews London house, who falls in love with an American widower, who adores her- but they both have children, who feel left out, and is there something not quite right? A super read for a freezing cold weekend.

Claire Douglas- Then She Vanishes– another loved author, chosen to while away some difficult hours for me this month. Not going to spoil it for anyone- it’s good, and the title says all you need to know.

D.H. Lawrence- Lady Chatterley’s Lover- This is number 30 in the list of 30 best British novels. I’d not read this before, although I have read his The Rainbow, Women in Love and Sons and Lovers and enjoyed all three. As you most likely know the book was written almost 100 years ago, but not published until 1960 when it was the subject of an obscenity trial. It’s not obscene, but it does cover sex, and did scandalise some. These scenes seem quite tame these days. The book is of its time and as such I found it fascinating especially having read Death in Venice earlier this month. That book was published approximately 20 years before Lawrence penned his novel, he was living in Germany and would have been aware of that book and I could see some similarites- the early part of Lady C has lots of young men talking about art, literature, all slightly effete to my mind. Then Lawrence moves onto politics ,industrialisation, the mining industry (already failing in the 1920s), the love of money by the masses- wanting to have a good time, riding their motor bikes, commercialisation ( shades of the arts and crafts movement), feminism, class, the economy- almost forseeing the depression of the 1930s and the pursuit of success or the bitch goddess as he called it. There is a lot more in this novel than its notorious subject matter. It was worth reading, and was in its day a major shift in subject matter, but what I liked about it the most was the picture it painted of life in the 1920s, a time of enormous change after WW1, and one that foretold some of our future.

Susan Hill- The Benefit of Hindsight- Susan Hill ia another favourite of mine, and who knew she had a whole detective series to go at. Fortunately this one stood up nicely by itself so I could pick up the back stories without any difficulty. A robbery gone wrong, a dead woman and her injured husband are the crimes to be solved. The detective is helpfully related to a GP who has her own story running alongside which is very like the novellas I am used to from this author and very poignant it was too. A thoroughly enjoyable read for the end of this month.

Some really good books this month- love to know if anyone has read any of the above, and if you have read an especially good book recently.

Back next month for some more book chat- the library has now extended the return date on all my books to 17 May. MAY!!! I have requested more books and am going to brave the central library and the scary one way system into town in March.


Some more of this and that

The problem when you do too much at once is that nothing gets finished or rates a post of its own, however, there has been quite a bit of this

filling the house with Spring flowers, and then there was

nearly finishing Miss F’s waistcoat- I just need a button shop to open its doors.

the back is simpler- I like the honeycomb effect, but this pattern was so riddled with errors I’m not going to give it blog room.

then there was another pizza made from scratch- mushrooms and peppers. I can’t eat a whole one though.

I have stitched another four tags- they are such good fun to make.

And finally there is that

enormous quilt that I abandoned two years ago when the going got tough.

It shall be done!

Do you have lots going on? Any finishes in sight? As to the needlefelted hare- it looks more like a T Rex at the moment.

Lydiard Park

I searched the internet for the best place locally to see snowdrops and Lydiard Park came highly recommended. I have visited in the past, when we used to come down to visit our son- indeed we have even stayed in the hotel in the house here, and brought my Mum from Wales to see the family, and youngest son to help when we were left in charge of grandchildren. So this walk held many special memories for me, even though I strolled by myself I felt I had company.

You can see why we needed help back then.

https://www.lydiardpark.org.uk/ link for more history of the park.

A wonderful house as you can see, open to the public… one day.

Rather nice lake- once upon a time there was a mill under there, now gone in the interests of beauty.

I was quite taken with this structure which was a cold bath , once much the rage, like sea bathing.

Don’t think I would fancy this myself- couldn’t have a decent swim for a start and I bet it was none too hygenic.

Rather nice views- somewhere in the distance is our house.

The snowdrops didn’t disappoint.
nor did the corcuses which I hadn’t expected.
The little church is within walking distance of the house- now that’s power for you. Sadly the gate was padlocked so I couldn’t explore the churchyard.
Nice chat with the wildlife.
A thoroughly nice outing- I noted that the two cafes were open for takeaway refreshment- next time I shall take my pennies.

Where is the best place for you to see the first flowers of Spring?

Scrap Happy _ February 2021

I am very, very pleased with myself for this little project. Not because it is fantastically novel , but because for once I am really proud of the final outcome. Go back to 2019 when I enrolled on a quilting course and was thrown in at the deep end with a full sized quilt over three 6 hour sessions which totally exhausted and confused me. I ended up with a quilt and embarked on quilt two, but couldn’t attend the last workshop as youngest son got married on that day. Since then I have made two smaller quilts for grandchildren, but they have been a bit of a cobbled together botched job. The truth is I still didn’t really know what I was about, and the second big quilt lingers on the to be finished pile.

This month I took the sensible decision and decided to go back to basics- start with something really small and do it properly. Find a book and some fabric scraps which don’t scare me, and breathe.

Something nice and small and manageable.

Ok so I have made coasters before, cobbled together botched jobs. These I will do slowly, properly and neatly. Breathe.

Small squares, carefully measured and stitched together- press open the seams and breathe..

Looking good

As it happens I have always fancied using strawberry fabric for a garden project, but then I used the fabric for other things but there was enough left over.

Loving the seams meeting.
And then some proper quilting, taking my time, breathing
so nearly perfect

I am so pleased with myself. I can’t wait to use these for the first garden mug of coffee. And the moral of the story is start small, oh and don’t forget to breathe.

I shall tackle the unfinished quilt- it will be far from perfect, but I shall also try somthing a bit bigger than coasters and learn slowly.

Joining with Kate and others for more Scrap Happy Projects here-

Kate (me!)Gun,EvaSue,Lynn,Lynda,
Birthe,Turid,Susan,Cathy, Tracy,Jill,
Claire,Jan, Moira,Sandra, Chris, Alys,
Kerry, Claire, Jean, Jon,HayleyDawn,
Gwen,Bekki,Sue L,Sunny,Kjerstin,
Vera,Nanette, Ann,Dawn 2 and Noreen

The Channel Five Top 30 British Books

I watched a programme on Channel Five which had compiled a list of the top thirty British novels. From what I recall Waterstones the book shop had provided a list of their best selling 50 British novels and people voted for their favourite. I love a nice list of books so I was hooked. I am pleased to say that I have read 20 of them, and even more pleased that this gave me 10 good books to read this year, especially handy to have when all but the central library in town closed for 8 weeks to redeploy library staff. Here is the list- the ones in bold are the ones I haven’t read yet, but hope to do so this year.

30 Lady Chatterley’s LoverD H Lawrence

29 White Teeth- Zadie Smith

28 Casino Royale- Ian Fleming

27 Bridget Jones Diary- Helen Fielding

26 Small Island- Andrea Levy

25 Knots and Crosses- Ian Rankin

24 Howards End- E M Forster

23 Lord of the Flies William Golding

22 Vanity Fair William Makepeace Thackery

21 Atonement- Ian McEwan

20 Dracula- Bram Stoker

19 The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes- Conan Doyle

18 Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy- John le Carre

17 The Day of the Triffids- John Wyndham

16 The Remains of the Day- Kazuo Ishiguro

15 The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night- Mark Haddon

14 Captain Corelli’s Mandolin-Louis de Bernieres

13 Far from the Madding CrowdThomas Hardy

12 And then there were none- Agatha Christie

11 Wolf Hall- Hilary Mantel

10 Middlemarch- George Elliot

9 Birdsong- Sebastian Faulks

8 David Copperfield- Charles Dickens

7 Hitchhiker’s guide to life in the galaxy- Douglas Adams

6 Rebecca- Daphne du Maurier

5 Wuthering Heights- Emily Bronte

4 1984 – George Orwell

3 Jane Eyre- Charlotte Bronte

2 Lord of the Rings- Tolkien

1 Pride and Prejudice- Jane Austin

How many of these have you read? Is your favourite here? Since I watched this programme I have found the Independent newspaper had compiled a list of 40 books, some are here, some I have read, but all in all lots of excellent reading ahead for me, plus of course all the recommendations that you give me.

The weather in the UK is cold for us, so a weekend under the crochet blanket with a good book seems like a plan for me. Will you be reading over the weekend?

Snowdrops keep falling

Well of course they don’t but when I looked at my photos from my Saturday walk all I could think of was the song from Butch Cassidy- you know “Raindrops keep falling on my head”- it works nicely with snowdrops, except it makes no sense.

Anyway it’s finally snowdrop season here , and after weeks of hunting for them locally I was rewarded for my efforts.

Along the top of St Andrew’s Ridge, with the birds singing and dogs enjoying their outings- two cocker spaniels and a springer spaniel all chasing, well whatever, nice chats to the owners, smiles on everyone’s faces, children on bikes, parents relaxed, nothing like knowing you are wearing the children out. Amazing what sunshine will do for the mood- Spring may not yet be here but it’s in the air, even the birds know it, singing and cawing ( the crows or rooks). And to the church where there surely must be snowdrops- it’s the rule in England- churchyards have snowdrops.

and indeed it did.

One day I will go inside here, one day it will be open again.

snowdrops over the wall.

snowdrops nestling in moss

Just gorgeous

There is a reason for this quest- several people suggested I should try wet felting- well confession I have tried wet felting in the past, and I still have lots of well roving and equipment, so in due course I will try wet felting and it occured to me that snowdrops would be a perfect subject- probably be March before I am ready to begin, but I just had to check the real things before making plans.

Has anyone tried wet felting? Like snow drops? Or what about a guilty pleasure- that would be the film Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid- after all these years I still love it.

This and that.

I may have seemed a bit quiet recently, the truth is I’m doing lots of this and that, and when you do lots of this and that, nothing is ever finished., and then everything is.

So, first there is this

I decided to have another go at needlefelting.

This is apparently suitable for beginners.

Nice clear instructions.. beautiful packaging, what could go wrong..
well that’s supposed to be the body and head- I know what I think it looks like..

then there is this

I can never resist little pots of pretties in the supermarket- I have daffodils and snowdrops too, and they all need looking after.

And then there are

walks to be taken, and catkins to ooh and aagh about.

and then the library said my branch was closing for 8 weeks, but I could still use the central branch- well they don’t catch me out, so just in case it’s all a cunning ruse to close them foreverrr, I ordered lots of books.

should keep me out of mischief.

And then of course there is the knitting- no up to date picture of it, but it’s this

Sleeveless cardigan- fronts and back done, neckband done, arm bands done which just leaves the buttonhole bands up the fronts.

There is also the crochet blanket- this one- for the care home

Actually that’s grown quite a bit since this old picture which first appeared last year.

So although nothing is done, lots is being done- this and that in fact.

Love to know about everyone’s this and that projects- anything nearing completion?

Tag Cloud