Wool, Wiltshire and All Manner of Wonderful Things!

Archive for December, 2022

Favourite reads in 2022

I read 57 books this year, lots of them were very good books indeed.. Here in alphabetical order are my favourites.

John Boyne- The Echo Chamber-I really enjoyed this funny, cleverly observed satire of modern day cancel culture. The Cleverley’s lead a wonderful perfect life, until it all goes wrong in full public gaze. A book of our times.

Louis de Berniers- The Autumn of the Ace– Daniel Pitt, former Ace pilot in both world wars, is in the Autumn of his years. He travels to France and South Africa to lay his brothers to rest before embarking on one last epic journey and ventures in Canada. Returning to the England he rebuilds his relationship with his son, and discovers the joys if being a grandparent. Beautifully written, and really resonated with me. Just to say it’s the third in a trilogy of equally enjoyable books. This one went on my top 100 books list which I have been compiling for a very very long time.

Tana French – In the Woods Such a terrifically good book. A pyschological/ murder mystery novel. 600 pages long which slowly takes you through the case. What was truly excellent was seeing how the relationship between the two detectives developed, and the discriptions of a wonderful idyllic summer for three children. So good it made me cry for my own childhood and friends.

Claire Fuller- Our Endless Numbered Days-Eight year old Peggy is taken by her father to live off grid in a remote hut in Bavaria following the death of her mother and the end of the world as we know it.They eke out an horrendous existance, for nine years before the mysterious Reubin enters their lives. Thoroughly good, dark tale. Read over just two days.

Rachel Kadis-The Weight of Ink-added to my Top 100 book page. A wonderful book and winner of the National Jewish book awards. A secret stash of 17th century documents is found in an old Manor house. Two sets of academics compete to translate and interpret them from Latin and Portugese. Gradually the identity of the writer is revealed. Nothing is as it first seems. There is Religious debate, love, intrigue, persecution, the plague, a kibbutz. Layer upon layer upon layer. Brilliantly researched and so well written. Best book of the year. Loved it.

Carolyn Kirby- The Conviction of Cora Burns- very good book, described as Victorian Gothic. Cora was born in a prison, grew up in a workhouse, went to goal, worked in an asylum, then as a servant in the home of a criminologist interested in examing tne nature, nurture debate. Thoroughly enjoyable in a slightly macabre way.

Jessica Moor-Young Women– Set in the present day, examines, female friendship, power dynamics, gender roles, #metoo, societal norms, values and activism. Gave me food for thought.

Kate Sawyer- The Strandng– Really very good indeed. Told by Ruth alternating chapters of her life in London, unsatisfactory teaching job, relationships etc, and after in New Zealand with Nik, in totally different circumstnaces. On my top 100 list.

Sam Selvon- The Lonely Londoners– A story of tbe Windrush generation finding their feet in London. Reminded me a lot of John Steinbeck’s Cannery Row, with a cast of characters struggling to get by , happiest when they get together for oldtalking of the country they left behind. One for my top 100.

Tom Rob Smith- The Farm Excellent read. Daniel’s father says his Mother is crazy, accusing him and the neighbours of all sorts. His mother says his Father is a liar and in cahoots with a group of bad men. She tells Daniel a strange tale with trolls, elks and a missing girl. The plot is skilfull. The characters believable, despite the trolls. Loved it,read it in pretty much one go over a cold grey weekend.

So there we are, some terrific books. I have quite a pile of library books that I doubt I’ll finish in January, and |I thought I ‘d read them all over Christmas too. And I really want to read some of the books I actually paid good money for, or borrowed from family, who keep asking me if I have read them yet. Oh dear.

And that’s a wrap for 2022. Back next year.

Happy New Year,


Now where’s my book….



My last monthly book post for 2022. It’s been a good month for reading again.

I have been meaning to read the first two books for ages; Indeed they are my books and High time I got one with them.

George Simenon- A Maigret Christmas and other stories-Published originally in 1951 when Simenon was living in America, leading me to think that the stories are set earlier than 1951. There are three short stories, one with Maigret tracking a burglar disguised as Father Christmas, one with a missing ten year old boy, and the final concerning an innocent young woman in Paris on Christmas Eve. We loved the very short series Rowan Atkinson made for ITV with him as Maigret, and this led to the purchase of this book. I have been saving it to read at Christmas. The stories are gentle yet compelling. Paris itself is almost one of the characters, with is glamorous facade of theatres, cinemas, restaurants, bars and nightclubs, and its seedy underbelly of rented rooms and down at heel forgotten people. There’s reference to Eastern Europeans, Russians and one hundred thousand North Africans in a shanty town on the banks of the Seine. I have been lucky enough to have visited Paris a couple of times. I have but a fleeting knowledge of the city, but can picture Montmartre, the Bois de Bologna, the Seine etc. I enjoyed the book for its evocation of people and place.

Fannie Flagg-A Redbird Christmas- I found this book a couple of years ago in a charity shop. The author wrote Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe, which I love. Oswald Campbell is a sick and sad man living in Chicago with only months to live. He’s advised to move South for his health, and so finds himself in Lost River , Alabama. Here he is gradually drawn into the local community. This has to be a quintessential feel good Christmas book. The writing is fine, the plot just about plausible , and by page two I’d had a laugh out loud moment. Perfect read for December.

Both these books will be donated to a charity shop now. Next it’s onto the pile of books I requested from the library , all from my to be read list. Hoping for some excellent reads.

Carolyn Kirby- The Conviction of Cora Burns. Birmingham 1885,Born in a gaol, grew up in a workhouse, convicted of a terrible crime for which she goes to gaol. On her release she gains a servant’s role to a scientist, interested in criminology, in particular the nature, nurture debate. Who is the little girl Violet, and why is she in the house too. The book is described asVictorian Gothic, it’s full of detail, has a gripping plot and is well written. If you are easily upset, it may not be for you, it was almost a bit much for me.

Robert Barnard- Emily Bronte- An excellent biography. There’s not much for any biographer to go on as Emily was a very private person and destroyed a lot of written material. I loved Wuthering Heights from the time I read an abridged version for children , and Mum took me to Howarth Parsonage as my birthday treat. I have struggled with her poetry and next year I hope my suggestion we study her at the poetry group will be taken up , and will aid my understanding. I might also go to West Yorkshire and explore the moors she loved.

Elizabeth Taylor- Mrs Palfrey at the Claremont- Not the actress BTW. This book was featured on a Good Read on BBC Radio 4, otherwise I wouldn’t have known of its existence. Beautifully written and very poignant, set in approx 1970 in London. Mrs Palfrey, recently widowed and with limited funds goes to live at the Claremont Hotel. Did you watch Fawlty Towers, think of the permanent residents in that hotel, two fluffy old ladies and the Major? Well the Claremont has similar guests. Mrs Palfrey befriends a young writer Ludo, whose interests in her are the material she provides for his stuttering novel, and when she has fulfilled her use , is gradually dropped. Very evocative in its description of the period, I thoroughly enjoyed it. And I can say that I am making a better fist of being a widow that she does.

So that’s a wrap. I’ll write a post about my favourite reads this year over the weekend. And the library opens up again next week after it’s Christmad holiday.Yippee!

Unraveled Wednesday

Last one of these posts this year sharing books, knitting and crochet with Kat and others- link here-http://askatknits.com/2022/12/28/an-unraveled-review-12-28-22/

I enjoy going to a poetry appreciation group every fortnight on a Tuesday. We choose a theme , poet or style, everyone chooses a poem, reads it to the group with as much skill as they can muster, and then we have a lively discussion. It’s the best workout my brain gets on a regular basis. Our last theme for 2022 was Winter. My choice of poem nearly always involves a description and response to landscape or place. My choice this month came from this book which I borrowed from the library. It’s called London Snow by Robert Bridges. Here’s a link https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poems/45977/london-snow.

As for knitting, I am busy on a warm hat for a yarn bombing next month. The ribbing took ages.

Hopefully this will be done by next week- it needs to be ready by 16 January- definitely do-able.

I’ll be back tomorrow to write about the books I read in December, followed by an attempt to pick my favourites from this year.


So here I am with my final one word review for 2022, in which I tried and mostly succeeded to find Balance in my life as a new widow who had been married for 47 years, and had only three months experience of living and coping with life by myself before I met Mr E as a student!

When I look back on this year I am quite surprised with everything that was thrown at me, from dodgy smoke alarms and electric light issues to commissioning the building of an enormous pergola, choosing a new computer and printer, to say nothing of taking major financial decisions regarding pensions, by myself. And since I drafted this I can add frozen pipes and learning to reset the boiler.

I’m getting better at eating well, choosing meals and preparing them and not living on rubbish. Below for example,Hunter’s chicken, not sure why Hunter’s but there we are.

I have realised that as I’m getting older, I am more tired than I used to be. I am learning the need for both company, fun, activity, and solitude and rest.

Feeling useful was something I identified early on, but came to realise that being left in charge of spreadsheets was not for me. I bowed out of that element of a Safeguarding role I had voluntered for, and now just advise on issues. More importantly I have joined a local community group the Big Knit, which meets in person approximately four times a year. I have nearly completed my first blanket to pass to the local council to join others blankets from which people in need can select their favourite. Hoping my choice of red and white for the local football team will be appreciated.

The only area in which I would like to have done better is regular exercise. I’m not too hard on myself, because just keeping life going involves quite a bit of movement. Especially things like leaf sweeping, grass cutting, hedge trimming, gutter clearing… Somedays my body wonders what on earth is going on.

A huge thank you goes to Carolyn for hosting the One Word posts, and to everyone who has read my posts and left a comment. I can’t begin to tell you how much you have helped me through this year. Balance is still a work in progress, but I’m doing ok.

Thank you for reading, and I’ll be back to talk about my New Word for 2023 at New Year. Meantime do visit Carolyn and other one worders, maybe you will think of a theme for yourslves and join is. Link here-https://youronewordblog.wordpress.com


Merry Christmas

Wishing you all a very Happy Christmas. Thank you for being here.

Last year’s Christmas knit! Have fun,

Be happy,


Unraveled Wednesday

So today is the day for Cinders to go from this {who even now she is fully resplendent in her best cleaning frock , still has the grumps about the ball}

via a box of Fairy Godmother magic, i.e. me


a bit of smug looking beautiful girl, just back from the ball.

Now the story goes she stayed marginally too late and lost her glass slipper, but the truth is

Champagne, and too much of it, and being slighty tipsy,lost the shoe. That and having ridiculously high heels.

We can identify with that one, maybe the champagne bit too…

Anyway, there she is, now all covered in Christmas wrapping paper, and I dread to think what she will feel about that, ready to meet Toddler P.

Meantime lots of reading going on, amongst the central heaing issues which carried on through Thursday and Friday. Adding to my skill set. Then the rain came with a leaky porch, now I am learning about pointing problems and how to choose a builder.

I very much enjoyed this biography, she really was a very intelligent and clever woman. And that pink yarn will be a hat. The Big Knit group is doing a yarn bombing of hats, cut off day for completion is 16 January, so I need to get knitting.

Joining again with Kat and others sharing our projects and books here http://askatknits.com/2022/12/21/unraveled-wednesday-12-21-22/

Scrap Happy-December 22

Apologies for the late posting today. I have been dealing with a malfunctioning boiler and frozen pipes. Fortunately I got hold of a jolly nice plumber without too much catastrophising, and now know more about said issues than I ever wished. Hopefully all OK . Meantime, it’s Scrap Happy Day, and time to link up with Kate and others here. https://talltalesfromchiconia.wordpress.com/2022/12/15/scraphappy-december-6/

First up is this lovely pile of crochet blocks for the blanket I’m making for the Swindon Big Knit.

Only three more needed then onto joining them all up.

AND… My lovely daughter in law, Mrs T asked if I had any old unwanted LP records. Well yes I did, and this is what she made

Clocks ! I bought one for my kitchen and the others she made have all sold. Genius hey.

Unraveled Wednesday

Time to join Kat and other unravelers for some yarny updates. Link here-http://askatknits.com/2022/12/14/unraveled-wednesday-12-14-22/

So, topsy turvy Cinderella is slowly getting there, with 11 days before gifting day to go.

I’m afraid that she has forgotten she’s meant to be sweetness and light. Decidedly having a fit of the grumps today.

Not only has she been told that she is most certainly not going to the ball, but her creator thought that since she had a duster now she could do some work for a change, whilst it appears that she hasn’t even got her bodice done properly. Sorry Cinders..too busy reading this excellent book.

Described as Victorian gothic, and that it is. It may be fictious but it certainly could have happened. A first rate book, perfect for dark December days.

Back tomorrow for Scrap Happy.

Take care,


Books- November 22

Oh my goodness , three very good books this month, and one merely ok. They begin with two with Autumn in the title as displayed in the library.

Ali Smith- Autumn- Well I liked the book cover! Basically nothing happens. Written in the aftermath of Brexit- clearly the author was a remainer,so she was in shock. The plot is pretty much non existent, two narrators, Daniel aged 101 in a care home and dreaming weird dreams, Elizabeth his one time neighbour who enjoyed walks with him as a child when he was in his 80’s, nothing suspect going on, visits him regularly and reads to him and recalls their conversations often about a British Pop artist called Pauline Boty. She is real , died young, largely forgotten now. And that’s about it. I skim read the last few chapters, curious to see what might happen. It was short listed for the Booker Prize. So has anyone read it, just what don’t I get about this book? But it does have a nice Autumnal cover.

Louis de Bernieres- The Autumn of the Ace-I chose this purely for the title from the library’s Autumn book display, not appreciating that it is the third book in a triology. The earlier books are, So much life leftover, and The Dust that falls from dreams, which fortunately I had read a few years back. There is no mention anywhere on the book’s cover that this is the case. Indeed it easily reads as a stand alone novel. The Ace in the title is Daniel Pitt, First and second world war hero. When we meet him he is intent on one final adventure in the Autumn of his years, which takes him to France and South Africa, and finally to Canada, before returning to England. There are multiple narrators, sometimes moving the plot along through letters, personal reflections,etc. I loved the book, I mean really loved the book. Being in the Autumn of my own years so much resonated with me, although my life has not been particularly exciting, I have made a better fist of personal relationships. I love his use of language, and some ofvthe quirky characters he interacts with. This book will be included in my top 100 books, the highest accolade I can give it. Love to know if you’ve read any of the books in this triology.

Jessica Moor- Keeper. Oh my days this is a grab you in book , read in 24 hours. A detective story, examing the apparent suicide of a young woman Katie Straw. She worked in woman’s refuge, and if you ever wondered why women stay with their abusers, this book tells it how it is. I managed a housing scheme for vulnerable women, and worked closely with women’s aid.Fabulous twist too, which I so nearly saw but didn’t.

Kate Sawyer- The Stranding- I think this must have been recommended by someone, so thank you. It is incredible, and I really enjoyed it. So I don’t spoil it for anyone I shall quote from the back cover. ” Ruth is ignoring the news. Like most people she has relationship problems, job stress, friends and family who need her. Ruth has a life. …. But the news catches up with her, her problems are swept away… Only with her old existence gone, does she realise how to live a full life”. Told by Ruth, her life before in London, and alternatively after in New Zealand. Unique and brilliant! Oh and there was swimming in the pond on Hampstead Heath!

December now. I have a stack of library books to snuggle down with , but first I shall read two books from my very own books with Christmas in the title.

Have you read any of these? What have you lined up for December, warm and snuggly for those of us shivering in Winter(freezing fog for me today), or the perfect Summer book for shade on the beach or in your garden?

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