Wool, Wiltshire and All Manner of Wonderful Things!

Archive for March, 2023

Books- March 2023

Just three books this month, but all very enjoyable.

Ben Macintyre- A Spy among Friends- Very well researched and written. Starting in the 1930’s when Kim Philby was recruited by Russia as a spy, to his final defection from Beirut to the USSR in the 1960’s .The account takes you through the machinations of the murky world of espionage in WW2 and the Cold War. I found it pretty shocking..in particular that with the right background and connections doors are opened and you are beyond suspicion. Not only did he betray his country and indirectly was responsible for 100s of deaths, he betrayed friends whom he completely hoodwinked and humiliated. A Good read, highly delighted with photographs aplenty which always gets a thumbs up from me. There is an ITV television drama currently available on ITVX of the same name.

Tara Westover- Educated- a memoir of childhood. Gripping but with harrowing scenes. Tara grew up in Mormon family in rural Idaho . Not a typical Mormon family though. Dad has undiagnosed mental ill health. He runs a scrapyard and is preparing for the End of Times. The children don’t attend school. They are supposedly home schooled, but all are put to work at a young age. Tara is the youngest of seven, helps her mother with her herbalist enterprise and as an untrained midwife and with stripping radiators etc into different metals for her father. Dad aims for total self sufficiency. Tara eventually leaves, but at a cost, and finally attends Cambridge and Harvard , becoming Educated. I found it hard to put this one down.

Pat Conroy- South of Broad. Set in Charleston and San Francisco . The opening introduces us quickly to a group of misfit teenagers in the 1960’s. They marry each other. At this point I was confused as to who was who and had to write myself a cast of characters. I also found it hard to picture Charleston and had to consult Google . Then the action fast forwarded twenty plus years to San Francisco, and I was much happier having spent two wonderful holidays there, and I could picture them all, as they hunted for their friend in the Tenderloin. Action returns to Charleston and we’re back twenty years getting the backstory to the romances and friendships which sustained them all. Then back to the 80’s to conclude the story. It’s described on the back cover as a sweeping novel of friendship and marriage… A perfect holiday read. And there is a big shock right at the end. An enjoyable read.

Ending the month by reading books from my own bookcase. I’ll be back at the library soon I reckon, can’t keep away.

Have you read any of these? What did you think?


Unraveled Wednesday

How the weeks are flying by. The end of March already. Time to join Kat and other unravelers here for some yarny updates,


Some progress with the second sock and the crochet blanket is nearly all done. And a new book to end the month on. It’s non-fiction and was lent to be by my son over a year ago. It concerns the little or in my case totally unknown quest by a deserting British soldier who changed his name to Charles Masson ,to avoid capture, to find the lost cities built by Alexander the Great after he crossed the Himalayas to Afghanistan. Totally gripping and quite an eye opener to me.

Finally not reading a library book, but one from home. Just what I need as it’s raining, again!

Divest- March

Divest is my one word inspiration for 2023. I have too much stuff which makes me unhappy. Some of it is mine I confess, clothes I no longer wear, books I’ll never read again or those which I’ve not started yet, craft materials which are unloved and surplus to my current interests or for projects I’ve not started. Some of the stuff came from my parent’s homes or belonged to my husband.. I don’t need a photo enlarger which I spotted last week in the garage for example. It all gets me down.

The other thing that I would love to divest is procrastination, panic and stress.

I review how I’ve done each month, join other one worders through Caroline who hosts us all, link here https://youronewordblog.wordpress.com/2023/03/27/checking-in-3-23/

and make a plan for the following month in a follow on post.

So how did I do in March? Simply – better in some areas than others.


1 The focus was on my wardrobe. Oh dear! I managed to part with one dress I wore to a wedding 15 years ago and didn’t much like, and it’s still waiting to go to the charity shop. But I also have a small box of other things and some spare bed linen, also still waiting to go. Could do better.

2 Give away more of my surplus craft materials. I was going to visit a destash sale to see what people liked or didn’t like, in the end I had the offer of a day out with my family, more on that later, upshot was no destash sale. It occurs to me I should just book a table and go next time. I mean if I paid out good money for a table I might actually do some serious destashing.

3 To my shame I have a lot of projects I want to actually do, so the aim in March was to do one.

Hurrah, one embroidery pouch started and finished, perfect for my embroidery scissors.

4 Instead of borrowing novels ( nb note change to plan from generic books) Read at least one novel from my own shelves. Part success- I have started a novel my son lent me a year ago, and I’ve only borrowed non fiction books. But I did buy two non fiction from the withdrawn books at the library yesterday. Could have been worse, I was actually allowed to fill a bag for £1.00 , so only two wasn’t bad. Besides which books are good for the soul.Of course I am supposed to be doing one in, one out, so maybe I could part with two books, sure I must have some I don’t really need.

Divest myself of negative behaviours which cause stress. I have had more success here.

This month has been really full of nice things to do in addition to the regular craft and poetry appreciation groups, I have been to a family history group meeting, and talks on the archaeology digs on the site of Wolf Hall, home of the Seymour family, and one given on the digs that took place in Salisbury on brown field building sites, revealing the old medieval town by Time Team’s Phil Harding, now working for Wessex Archaeology.

Phil Harding

Not my photo, copied from the U3A Facebook page.

1 All were lovely things to do, and although I forgot to record daily gratitude I was certainly really grateful for having the chance to do these things.

2 I have stayed proactive on household maintenance too. Checked the smoke alarm, and cleared away dead leaves and debris from the outside walls. There has been a lot of wind and rain this month so I am still waiting for the lawn to be fettled.

3 I have stayed off caffeine. I can’t believe how much better I am sleeping for it.

4 The weather put me off walking with awe this month, not good but I did have a big blast of awe on Saturday when my son, two grandchildren and I visited Cheddar Gorge and went deep underground.

Stalactites and

Stalagmites and

Cheddar Cheese, maturing in the caves for a year. Very delicious, flavoursome but not over powering.

Yes I bought some, of course I did.

And an exact replica of Cheddar Man, from the mesolithic time, found during excavation of the caves. Original in the British museum.

So I had a month with no procrastination, and lots of positives to promote Good mental health. Yet, I found myself in a stressful situation on one occasion towards the end of the month and on the brink of giving myself unnecessary heart ache. I am so proud I spotted the problem thinking and dealt with it using the tools I’ve been reading about.

Briefly , I had just paid the balance on a three day craft holiday to be taken in May. I was really looking forward to two days of knitting and an all day outing to a Woollen Mill in Wales. The day after I paid I was phoned to say the holiday was cancelled due to lack of numbers. I was offered an alternative date which I declined as I had other plans for that particular month, and asked for a refund which I was told would be made in 2-3working days. Nothing to get het up about. Indeed I was busy sorting out the purchase of a new bra… A bra fitting at M&S which I actually dislike doing completely unrationally… And I suppose having bought three new bras, only divesting myself of only one old one, does not go with my one in, one out plan.

I digress. About 8pm that night, I check emails, nothing from the holiday company, my account with them just says Holiday cancelled, shows that I paid in full, nothing about a refund. I read the terms and conditions, which I had actually read when I booked it, I checked which trade bodies they belonged too, I read reviews online…. People complaining about refunds. Panic set in. Well I filled in an online form in which I said I’d had a phone call, but nothing showed on my account, please could I have a confirmation email. Now it was 9pm , and customer services were closed, obviously .

I recognised I needed to do something and fast to stop my downward spiral. I turned to the notebook I am using this year for my one word. On the first page I’ve written on a scale of one to ten, what’s the worst thing that can happen?

I gave not getting a refund a score of four.

The score for the hassle of getting a refund went up to six.

So the hassle and self induced anxiety was greater than a negative outcome. How silly is that?

Which took me to the quote I’ve been thinking about all month from the Buddha” The secret of health for both mind and body is not to mourn the past, worry about the future or anticipate troubles, but to live in the present moment wisely and earnestly “.

And here I was anticipating troubles. The only thing I could do ; I’d done in requesting confirmation of a refund .

So what to do about this ” distorted and corrupt thinking” . So I tried the 54321 method. 5 things I can see, 4 I can hear, 3 I can touch, 2 I can smell and 1 I can taste. I thought about going in my mind to my happy place, which was Greece, none of this worked. I had a bath, I went to bed and there had an idea which actually worked. I read my morning pages from a year ago to see what I was doing then as a new widow adjusting to life. I saw myself taking financial decisions, making choices, organising work in the garden, getting out and about, joining new things. I saw myself being OK, coping, doing things.. it reminded me of good times, of being a proper grown up standing on my own two feet. I read for an hour. I slept like a log.

The following day at approximately 3 pm I had an email confirming that a refund was coming my way. I’ll know if it has in a few days time.

Whether it has or hasn’t I learned a very good lesson from the experience . Those morning pages held the answers.. They are proof that I do cope. There was a positive from this negative experience. It was worth learning. And I am wondering where I can go on holiday instead.. Won’t be with that company for sure.

So my Divest journey continues. More later this week when I draw up my plan for April.

If you made it to the end, thank you for reading .

Take care,


Unraveled Wednesday

The last ten days or so have been really busy, wonderfully busy, but busy. I’m flagging a bit today, but not so much I could miss joining with Kat for a catch up on all things yarny.

Let me start with a Tahdah, for my First sock, which now resembles a sock!

And it fits! Well I never. I had a lot of trouble in the workshop over the toe. Mostly my own fault. I was tired when I left home, decided after two workshops I knew how to get there, didn’t set the satnav, overshot the roundabout I needed , five miles to get turned round, came at the next roundabout from a different exit, lost my bearings, totally, set the sat nav and got there. So I was flustered to say the least. Why did I say my toe problems were mostly my fault, they were totally my fault. The end was a Kitchener stitch, all perfectly straightforward. Insert a needle purl wise…my brain went totally blank. For goodness sake! Fortunately after a demo which made no sense, I consulted the diagram on the pattern , and I only had to restart it once.

So then I mentioned I’d forgotten the long tail cast on. Chris showed me again, but my brain couldn’t do it. Thank goodness for YouTube which I consulted later and easily managed to cast on the next sock.

This last Sunday was Mothering Sunday in the UK. And I had a wonderfully full weekend. On Saturday I went to Cirencester with my oldest son and his two children. We went round the museum, all things Roman, then visited a fabulous food market, followed by lunch. Sunday saw me going to London to see middle son and family. We went to Wimbledon Village for lunch and an amazing Sunday Market. Monday was spent with youngest son and granddaughter and another lunch.

Now Monday was the perfect chance to give my granddaughter her Easter Rabbit. So when I wasn’t off gadding about and feeding my face I knuckled down and finished the rabbit.

I wrapped her up, so she can unwrap her at Easter.

So there we are. I’d love to get the second sock done before Easter, but I’ll wait till my brain is fully engaged.

As to reading, I’m now 2/3rds through South of Broad. I loved the part in San Francisco, as I could picture where everything was as I had spent two super holidays there. The plot has now gone back in time to get the back story to all those complicated relationships, and again I am enjoying this part too, even if the characters are all a bit weird. But then again, to quote “All the world’s a bit weird save thee and me, and even thee is a bit weird”. Think I may still be tired.

Take care,


Here’s the link for Unraveled Wednesday. http://askatknits.com/2023/03/22/unraveled-wednesday-3-22-23/

ScrapHappy Unraveled

Sometimes the 15th of the month happens to be a Wednesday, thus posing a bit of a problem for me . I can either write my Scrap Happy Post it being the 15th, or an Unraveled Wednesday post it being Wednesday, or one of them. This month I am able to combine the two.

Because, I have made great strides with the blue and yellow yarn from the Big Knit. I now have 40 blocks ready to join.

I have now done the first three strips, re-arranging them a bit as I go. Hard to get balance when you are using scraps. But the outcome will be one more blanket for someone in need.

Meantime I attended the second sock knitting workshop and successfully turned the heel.

Which as everyone predicted was not too hard if you just followed the instructions. There was a bit of unravelling after I did too much talking and not enough counting, but all was well. Homework for tomorrow’s final workshop was to knit to the toe end. So now I am here.

Not only does it look like a sock but it fits like one too. The chopsticks are slowly behaving themselves a bit better, unless by some chance I have improved my skill of knitting with five sticks at once.

I think I must be a slow reader compared to others as I’m only just about 1/3rd of the way through this now. I am enjoying it, but I found that too many characters were introduced at once, then the plot moves on ten plus years and they are all married to each other. I had to go back and write my own list of people and who they married. Never had to do that before. Maybe I am getting old.

If you would like to read about more scrappy projects, which can be about leftover anything, then the link is this one-https://talltalesfromchiconia.wordpress.com/2023/03/15/scraphappy-march-6/

And if you would like to read about just yarn- fibre and books, then here’s that link, http://askatknits.com/2023/03/15/unraveled-wednesday-3-15-23/

Thanks so much for reading.

PS This afternoon I have a real treat in store- a talk from the team that undertook the archeology dig at Wolf Hall. Oh my.

Unraveled Wednesday

I loved the sock knitting worshop I attended last week. There were supposed to be two of us but the other lady couldn’t come so I had one to one tuition. After the first session I was here:-

Cast on with a long tail- never even heard of such a thing, but hey I managed it. The weeks’ homework was to be ready to attempt the turning of the heel, which everyone seems to imply will be hard. Frankly learning to knit with chopsticks has been hard enough. But I am nearly ready for the next session.

The yarn is hand dyed by the tutor. I love the colour I chose.

This morning I woke up to this

Look at the poor little crocus, and the solitary daffodil , what has happened?

Poor little garden! I only need to go outside to take the dustbin and recycling down the drive, so am hoping it might stop snowing this afternoon. Meantime I have started my last library book before I turn to my own bookshelves.

Turns out Pat is a man, well I never, I had just assumed Pat was a female author. Anyway so far so good, it’s an easy read and engaging. So this afternoon I shall be snuggly down with book and knitting. Life is good !

Joining with Kat and the Unravelers, that sounds like a 60’s pop group! Link here-http://askatknits.com/2023/03/08/unraveled-wednesday-3-8-23/

Great Rollright

After my visit to the Rollright Stones I had lunch at a nearby garden centre (Homemade winter vegetable soup and granary bread), a wonderfully thick vegetable broth, hearty and warming. Then I had fun walking round the plants and choose a goodly selection including snowdrops in the green and a climbing rose for my pergola.

Then I journeyed on to Great Rollright, the tiny village where my husband’s grandfather was born. His family originally came from Dorset before ending up here via London and Suffolk. Grandfather was called Percy. His Dad was the village schoolmaster in the 1880’s.

The village is a typical Cotswold village with lovely stone houses, teeny tiny roads and modern houses and far too many cars making it hard to drive. I eventually found a layby near the church and school… Which was why I’d come, and parked up.

St Andrew’s Church. It was that day full of coincidences.. Area I live in St Andrews, school I went to St Andrews, Road I lived in when I met Mr E.. You guessed it St Andrews.

Lovely font I am guessing Percy was christened in.

Peaceful but in need of TLC..

Bank of snowdrops in the churchyard. None of the family died in the village as they moved to Northamptonshire within ten years, according to the Census information.

The school near the church had modern buildings but also an old building. Now schoolteachers back in the day were provided with a house to live in. So I took a guess that there might be a school house close by. And there was, right next door to the school and helpfully named The Old School House.

I love exploring , and when there is even a tentative connection to family history, well just blissful.

Would you agree?

More on Great Rollright can be found here-https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Great_Rollright

Unraveled Wednesday

On the right day this week..

Currently about 2/3rds of the way through the book- it’s about one of the big scandals that occured in my chidlhood, but began in pre-war Cambridge university when idealistic young men were recruited to spy for Russia, and continued to do so throughout the WW2 and the Cold War. I recall hushed conversations by my parents and their shocked faces. I saw this account first as TV drama over Christmas and was thrilled to discover the programmes were based on this book. Frankly the whole matter is really shocking, the old boys network that let the traitors get away it for so long. It’s a riveting read if you enjoy having your eyes open to how the estalishment works!

Knitting wise. Slight progress on the rabbit. I keep sidetracking myself with granny squares. 35/40 now completed, soon be time to crochet them together to make a blanket.

Meantime I made 10 more poppies for the church display in November.

Tomorrow I am attending a workshop, 1 out of 3 to help me overcome my fear of sock knitting. I’m rather excited to be finally taking the plunge. Especially as I already own yarn for three pairs of socks.

Joining with Kat and other unravelers for some yarn chatter here-http://askatknits.com/2023/03/01/unraveled-wednesday-3-1-23/

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