Wool, Wiltshire and All Manner of Wonderful Things!

Archive for December, 2021

December books- 2021

I went to the library in search of happy books and there on the stand labelled New Titles at the entrance I spotted this book.

A. J. Pearce- Yours Cheerfully. Well it was meant. It’s the follow on from Dear Mrs Bird. Emmeline Lake continues her career at Woman’s Friend, taking up the challenge to encourage women into war work. It was perfect and just the book I needed. I’m not going to say anything about the plot as it would be very easy to spoil it. The author gets the tone just right, reflecting how people thought and spoke during WW2. Not that I have first hand experience, but my parents did for sure. If you enjoyed Mrs Bird then you will like this, and if you’ve not read Dear Mrs Bird, why ever not? It certainly puts life into perspective, well mine anyway.

Gervase Phinn- Secrets at the Little Village School– This one was on the Christmas Display Stand at the library, I suspect because it depicts a snowy scene on the cover, it’s actually set in the January to April school term, but snow does feature. Anyway… This is the epitome of a cosy novel, reminds me of Maeve Binchey or Lilian Beckwith. Gervase Phinn was a school inspector in North Yorkshire for many years. I often wonder if he ever inspected my Mum when she taught in a tiny village school. His earliest books were very much reminisces of his time as an inspector. This book is more fiction and set in more modern times, but the odd little story rings true. I especially love the names he gives his characters, like Dickens they are used as short hand to tell you something of the characters. How about Major C.J. Neville-Gravitas, chair of the school governors, Lady Helen Wadsworth, local big wig, or Mr Nettles, pedantic education advisor with a downer on every idea. Some of his local characters speak in the North Yorkshire dialect , it could be patronising but he spells the words in such a way the pronunciation is true to life. There is not a lot of this, so don’t let it put you off. Anyway if you a need a cosier than cosy read this is perfect.

I won’t finish my current book this year, but it’s a smashing one, which I have been saving and saving for the right time…. Kate Morton The Lake House.

I have read 54 book this year, and some really really good ones. It’s going to be hard to pick my five best ones in my year end review.

Love to know if you have a favourite cosy read.


#12 Wild Days of Christmas

On Monday the sun came out, so I pootled off to the church to have a little explore.

You may have heard of bug hotels, but did you ever see a bug church before?

I fell to wondering if bugs do actually use them, and then to wonder if anyone had built one, did you make your own or buy one ready made? This I gather was made by a member of the congregation.

I optimistically looked for signs of snowdrops but there weren’t any. But I did notice

Two very splendid compost bins.

When I downloaded these pictures I wondered about compost, as you do. We had two green ones which Mr E Had put behind the summerhouse, and which I found very hard to use, and then when I spotted a rat nearby last January I refused to go anywhere near them again. Richard rat man kindly looked in them and pronounced them rat free, but that set me wondering about how to have rat free compost. Any hints please?

My son whom I spent Christmas with has tested positive for covid. I have been negative every day since Christmas Eve when I started testing just to be sure, but have today been imagining I was a bit coughy and a bit sneezy, so who knows. But the upshot has been that I have stayed away from people since my walk on Monday, and done thinking instead.

Today’s topic is electric cars and more importantly chargers. Apparently there is a grant you can get which is about to stop( This is in the UK). So I looked them up, and immediately my mind got tied in knots. I mean how do I know what I might want/ need further down the line. Has anyone got an electric car or charge point at home, how can you get one, how do you find someone who knows how to do it safely. I had a conversation with the electrician who did an electrical survey on our last house for our purchaser, he was full of the “cowboys” who install them dangerously. I’m not in the market yet for an electric car, I love my little red car which is only 5 years old and done less than 20,000, why would I replace it yet, but if I have too…..

I would love to know your thoughts please on bug hotels, compost bins that rats don’t go near and electric chargers/cars please.

#12 Days Wild of Christmas- day 2

I recently came across a new to me magazine.

This is the December edition. The February one is now available.

Various crafty projects are shown, some with full instructions and some just ideas. It also has some delicious looking recipes.

One idea shown was for a table decoration, and although this had no instructions , it looked simple enough.

I assembled

Illustration in magazine shows the idea.

Three tins, I used tomato tins, no time to rust them so mine were shiny silver colour. Three candles, two I had , one I bought on Thursday from a garden centre, some red ribbon, left over from card making, and more greenery from the overgrown hedge.

The candles would need anchoring so I used some dry oasis also from garden centre.

You can tell which candles had made an appearance before.
Table Decoration from the garden.

I actually might prefer my shiny tins to the rusty ones. The Good thing about this is that everything can either be composted or used again next year. Zero waste.

I wondered if you made table decorations, are they zero waste? Love to know. Happy Boxing Day.

#12 Wild Days of Christmas

Merry Christmas Everyone. I hope you have a wonderful day. I will be with my family later , but for now let me tell you about 12 Wild Days of Christmas. In the UK , June is the month in which you try to do something connected to the natural world. 12 Days Wild at Christmas is organised by the Wildlife Trust, and as you might guess the idea is similiar ; either to go out and about in nature for the 12 days of Christmas, or do something for the environment. I have drawn up some ideas, and whilst I very much hope to go for a nice post Christmas Dinner walk this afternoon, I thought I would begin today with looking back at 2021 and my encounters with the natural world.

The idea for this post was inspired by Shazza who blogs here https://sunshineandcelandines.wordpress.com/ and Christine who blogs here https://redpanda08.wordpress.com/2021/12/20/my-wildlife-moments-of-2021/

Both of whom had some terrific experiences this year. Due to my personal circumstances I knew I wouldn’t have much to write about, but who says the every day can’t be wonderful too.

January snow, at home in Swindon.
February snowdrops at Lydiard Park
March, the ugly ducklings are nearly beautiful swans.
April blossom at Royal Wootton Bassett.
May Bluebells at Badbury Hill.
June Yellow Flag Irises at my favourite lake- Moulden Hill Swindon
July , an unwelcome visitor. If only he didn’t look so sweet. I tried very hard not to think evil thoughts about him, my nature books told me that he was doing a great job tidying up after humans, when actually he was eating my tulip bulbs. Richard the Ratman had to help.
August, my own little bit of the natural world . Baby P
September-Using the bounty from the garden for chutney
October- visiting the butterfly house at Blenheim Palace
Novemmber- Autumn Colours
December sunset, the view from my home

I can’t wait to go out and about over the 12 Wild Days of Christmas. More info here-https://www.wildlifetrusts.org/12dayswild

Back at some point with an update or two. Have a wonderful day, and if you go for a walk today I’d love to know about it, and what you may see.

Cathy x

Knit and Natter

First of all, a big thank you for all the wonderful kind messages I had in response to my last Knit and Natter. They helped me get through all the domestic maintenance issues. I have to give shout out to Facebook which has a lot of bad press, but gave a platform for my local community, to recommend good trades people. The recommendations provided me with a plumber who fixed a dripping tap, bled the radiators,diagnosed the problem with the shower and talked me through the Nest system, again; a handyman who put new covers over the air bricks to deter rodents, and an electrician who charged me nothing over a flickering light ( Mr E had assured me that the bulbs would last forever and any issues would be down to the fitting). It was a duff light bulb. Josh the electrician then went onto say if I was ever worried about something to do with the house or even just needed something from the attic to just ring him. Now that is being a good neighbour. He then went onto check that I wouldn’t be alone at Christmas. I cried after he left, such kindness. I am lucky, I will be with my family.

Once again Covid has reared its head, will we , won’t we, enter a kind of lockdown? At the moment Christmas family gatherings are on. Hurrah! I have a real Christmas tree this year. I took myself to a farm shop, with the help of the tree lady we got it in the car, back home I hefted it into the porch all by myself and with the help of son Mr T got it in the house in a stand, and decorated it.

Father Christmas is 47 years old and has witnessed all my married Christmases’. Still has pride of place.

So onto the knitting. I have to say that the cardigan I am now knitting Baby P is the prettiest yarn I have ever used.

Hayfield Blossom.

The back and fronts are knitted in one piece, bottom to top.

The pattern is pretty too.

I am loving this project.

In case of lockdown and non essential shops shutting I have ensured that crafting wise I will be ok. Hopefully we all have a healthy stash! It’s not hoarding, it’s pre-planning!

I heard this Carol on the radio, it makes me cry. It’s just beautiful, and there are many recordings, but this one by Burl Ives is unexpected. His voice was the voice of my childhood, with songs such as There was an Old Lady, and his version of “I wonder as I wander is magical.” Life is mysterious, I could have heard it at any time in my life, but it was saved for me until now. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZH2JzZOKEWU

I would like to wish you all a very Merry Christmas, and to say thank you for being out there, from Australia to Canada, South Africa to Ireland, France to England, Germany to Wales. You are all Fab U Lous, to quote a certain judge on Strictly Come Dancing.

Be Happy,


December Scrap Happy- 2021.

Two for the price of one today, Bargain!

I had rather a lot of blue yarn left over from the Father Christmas jumper, which I am pleased to say was a hit and worn to Christmas Jumper day. Anyway it occured to me that the blue was just the right colour for a stocking, and it so happens there is a babe in need of her own Christmas bits and bobs, and it so happened I had time enough to make one and that I was seeing her before the day! Result!

One stocking.
One mini Santa

So then I needed something to go in it and it so happened I had been to a needlefelting workshop to make a mini polar bear.

This is a mini polar bear.

For a long time he looked like a snow coloured well, let’s say something a bit smelly and rude.

And there was still space for more. And it so happened that I had been gifted some ceramic blanks, and that I had been to a craft fair and met a nice lady who talked me through the art of decorating them. You Tube had already shown me that I could paint them with acrylic paint and of course it so happens that I had some leftover.

Not too shabby for first attempt.

Now I also went to a workshop to make a Christmas wreath. I have been to such things before, but hey they are a fun and get one into the mood. The only thing that surprised me was no oasis ring for the base, instead we used newspaper. This will be rubbish I thought, it won’t last. But it has.

The one I madeat the workshop, after a week, looking ok still.

So I thought, make another, to fix it in my brain. Things need fixing in my brain. Winnie the Pooh and I have quite a lot in common. And it so happens that although I don’t actually get a newspaper these days, a neigbour a couple of weeks ago had offered her newspapers to the community before she recycled them and I had by now realised that newspaper is very useful for painting ceramic ornaments on and not getting paint everywhere, so I had taken some.

Plaited newspaper ring, made from 6 concertina folded pieces of red top shaped newspaper. This is the Swindon Advertiser, other tabloid sized newspapers are available. Two plaits held together with selotape, other sticky backed tapes …

Then take a black bin liner. Now it so happened that Mr E had bought some rather large and very flimsy ones last year for the making of leaf compost, it didn’t work and so I have been left with some unwanted bin liners. Anyway cut them into long strips about 2 inches wide and wrap round the ring.

I can hear you thinking now that this will never work, but it does, trust me.

Next plunder your overgrown hedge for greenery. Hedge cutting is on the to do list, quite near the bottom, so plenty to plunder. Then just wedge the cuttings between the liner and the newspaper. Surprisingly easy, add fir cones, cinamon sticks, baubles. These are all from leftover projects, even the florist wire I needed. (Too many crafts, maybe?)

So there we are, one wreath made from scraps.

For more Scrap Happy posts go here. http://Kate, Gun, Eva, Sue, Lynn, Lynda, Birthe, Turid, Susan, Cathy, Tracy, Jill, Claire, Jan, Moira, Sandra, Chris, Alys, Claire, Jean, Jon, Dawn, Jule, Gwen, Bekki, Sunny, Kjerstin, Sue L, Vera, Nanette, Ann, Dawn 2, Bear, Carol, Preeti, Edith, Debbierose

Hopefully that worked.

Thanks for reading my scrap happy post, the last for this year.

Knit and Natter.

It seems ages since I did a Knit and Natter post, and indeed it probably is. First of all I have a finish.

The Christmas Jumper.

Big problem getting a halfway decent nose I can tell you. This is the third and final version.

I have taken it to Master T. Well his home, he was at school. But will he wear it, that is the question.

So there was quite a lot of blue yarn leftover. Enough to start a project for the December Scrap Happy Post. I may even finish it in time too, but what could it be? It’s Christmas related.

The High wind last weekend unnerved me quite a lot. I feel dreadfully sorry for everyone still waiting for their power supply to be up and running again. For myself I spent three hours in the middle if the night fretting about roof tiles. As it turns out the roof was fine. But then there was an awful smell in the ensuite. I googled it. Problem stemmed from the shower, apparently if you don’t use plumbing bits they dry out, and you need a bit of water to stop the gases coming up. So then I tried the shower, no water came out. So I cured that problem with a bucket of water.

And that’s when I really started to struggle a bit. Because I have been ignoring quite a few issues to do with the house. I expect its all part of the grieving process plus the moving to a new area and needing to find trustworthy trades people. Logically I knew I would have to do something, ignoring things doesn’t work and I know all about a stitch in time.

Well after a few days of panic, fear and general dithering I wrote a list of everything that was bothering me. It’s got 28 items on it. Strangely naming the fears helped a lot. All of them are solvable. It just needs me to stay calm and work through them one at a time. I have found a plumber. He has fixed a dripping tap , bled radiators and a pump, and diagnosed a broken pump for the shower which is why I could never get cold water out of it.

I am now waiting in for someone to repair the covers over some air bricks. Then I shall do something about the TV aerial.

My family has been terrific in helping me, but I have to learn to organise things by myself. It means not ignoring stuff, and having to council myself too. That is in some ways one of the hardest things about loosing a partner, no-one to chunter on too, there’s companionship, love etc too of course, but the day to day decision making and acting on is my job, and mine alone. And its all very new.

Anyway there we are. I have a nice weekend coming up. Watching Miss F dancing tomorrow afternoon, and going with Mr B, Mrs G and Baby P to see Santa on Sunday.What more could I want?

Hope you all have a nice weekend. Tell me something good in your life please.

Be Happy,

Cathy x

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