Wool, Wiltshire and All Manner of Wonderful Things!

Author Archive

July books- 2021

Four out of five books read this month were wonderful. Let me know if you have read any of these.

JP Delaney- PlayingNice– One of the best psychological books I have ever read. I stayed up to 1am till my eyes were drooping , woke at 7am, wondering how the characters were, then finished it by 10am. So what hooked me? Two narrators, Pete and Maddie parents to Theo. Pete a freelance journalist and main carer, Maddie an advertising bod. One day Miles turns up and explains he is Theo’s father. He claims that Theo and his son David were mis- tagged in the hospital they were born in.That’s all I am saying.

Willa Cather- O Pioneers– beautiful book set in the early 20th Century about life in rural America. Thoroughly enjoyable.

Sarah Armstrong- The Starlings of Bucharest- Set in 1975, Ted Walker, aged 22, makes a big desicion to leave home and life as a fisherman to become a journalist. He gains work at a small and little known film magazine as International Film Reviewer and is sent to Bucharest to interview a film director and to Moscow to an International Film Festival. Here we see an Innocent Abroad encounter the murky world of the Cold War. At times funny, and at times slightly menacing, and always entertaining, a good read for sure.

Hilary Mantel- Fludd- Written in tthe 1980s but set in a Northern Mill village in 1956. Father Angwin, Roman Catholic Priest has lost his faith, but carries on. His Bishop thinks he needs modernising- out with the Latin and the Saints, and determines to send a curate. Enter Fludd- Bishops Curate, spy, practitioner of dark arts? On the plus side, it’s a short book and the scene setting is so so good you feel you are there. But no, not my cup of tea, I got to the end but had it been longer I’d have given up. Love to know if anyone has read it and what they thought.

Fredrik Backman- A Man called Ove. I totally loved this book. Ove is a Swedish man, very similar to the UK’s Victor Meldrew. Rather grumpy with very fixed opinions on how everything should be done, and repaired! It’s a love story, a sad story, it’s funny and weepy. I defy everyone not to have laughed and shed a tear by Page121, paperback edition or Chapter 15. I am rather attached to the Cat Annoyance. Have you read it, what did you think?

I write my reviews as I finish a book , or this post wouldn’t have been possible.

Reading has now really slowed down for me, as has blogging and crafting. Mr E is very poorly indeed, he started to get unwell in September. In the Spring he had some treatment and we were optimistic , however he failed to perk up as anticipated . The trip to the Weald and Downland was probably our last as a family. Since then it’s been hospitals, pharmacies, community nurses, endless phone calls etc. We are so glad we moved nearer the family, our sons, daughters in law ,and grandchildren are being amazing. I am having to get my head round things I never had to think about, from dripping overflow pipes to how to plant leeks to sounding just like Ove , -whoever thought that to charge a mobile phone you needed a lightning cable? For goodness sake!

My sense if humour appears to be lurking around somewhere which helps with feelings of panic, helplessness, frustration- Mr E is the messiest man on the planet, and when he needs some obscure piece of paper, well I could growl, and tears which come at the worst possible moment, often when satnav sends me down a single track road for fun, and it’s all too much. Next week is our wedding anniversary, 47 years. That’s a long time, and the worst is seeing him just vanishing before my eyes, the feelings of sympathy and loss are overwhelming at times.

This blog is my happy place, I have a huge capacity for feelings of positivity , making the most of life, but this, this is defeating even me. So I won’t be sharing much by way of Wiltshire explorations, or even wooly goodness. I hope to keep reading, crafting may come back in time, the forlorn patch needs me, poor thing, I may share my lamentable attempts …

Sorry to end this way. I am reading your blogs, leaving the odd comment, and I will click like to show I have been there. Thanks for reading.

Scrap Happy- July 2021

It’s just over six months that I joined in with Anne Brooke’s 52 tag challenge. Every Friday Anne posts a You Tube video with a new tag to embroider- see #52hannemadetags. You create a tag and on the back write something- maybe something that happened that week, or someone you wish to remember, whatever you like. I think since I am sharing my progress this month I may well dedicate this week’s tag to all the bloggers who keep me going with your wonderful posts.

There they are the first 27 tags, all made from scraps of fabric, lace, buttons from the button tin, etc.

I bought the tags and the ring binder- serious doubts that I will fit 52 onto one ring. Here are some of my favourites.

Faux chenille- fabric leftover from the stitchbook I made last year- love the tactile nature of this one.
Buttons galore- dedicated to my love of sewing and embroidery.
This tag was all about stitch- bullion and french knots.
A pocket with a treasure- in my case a badge I think belonged to a son- the smiley face made me think of how much I wanted to go strawberry picking, which I missed out on last year.
Two of my very favourites- couching and teeny tiny hexies, very fiddly the pair of them but most enjoyable.
The most recent ones- weaving and the medal to award ourselves with reaching number 26.

Slow stitching is the most wonderful way of practising mindfullness I know. The UK has made great strides with vaccines etc but we’re not out of the woods yet, and anyway life always throws a googly when you aren’t expecting one. It has.

I post my tags on my other blog, should you wish to see them all- https://avoicethroughstitch.wordpress.com/

And if you like lots of scrap happy things then do please visit https://talltalesfromchiconia.wordpress.com/

The Weald and Downland Museum

When we moved here last year to be close to family, one of the things we dreamed of was seeing more of them! With Lockdown easing finally we managed a family day out on Father’s Day to the Weald and Downland mseum in Sussex. It didn’t rain. Well maybe a drizzle, but mostly it was ok and the sun shone enough for an icecream and a picnic.

We have all been before and the wisest of us recalled that wellies and a coat would be a good idea. The W&D is a living history museum, full of houses and buildings rescued from demolition, road widenings etc and reconstructed piece by piece. Normally the buildings are full of volunteers putting on demos, but these days normality has not returned to that degree- but many of the buildings were manned by volunteers, outside, making sure it was one family group at at time inside, and many were doing something- there was one lady with her blackwork embroidery , and a chap making arrows. We were happy just being out again as a family.

Motley crew- picture by Mr E!

Great excitement though was provided by the building of a TV set for a comedy to be called The Witchfinder with Steve Coogan. You saw it here first… I’ll stop rabbiting on now.

Clearly there is going to be a market scene

Those are not real, but they really do look it.

There are ducks to be fed

Serious business duck dinner time.

And a lake not to fall into

Visitor centre over the way.

Old houses and gardens to explore- the gardens looked a bit sad, missing the volunteers.

Idyllic in many ways, but no hot and cold running water. Who’s old enough to recall hotels/ B&Bs that boasted hot and cold water to basins in all rooms?

And a new building since we were last here- a dairy

Fascinating to see the state it was in.

Love the blacksmiths which came from a Sussex village we used to live in

Can’t beat a good bit of rust.

And finally these flowers.

No-one could identify them, and I mean no-one.. and ideas?

If you’d like to see more this is the link to their webpage https://www.wealddown.co.uk/plan-your-visit/things-to-see-do/

June books- 2021

A mixed bag this month…

Jenny Blackhurst- How I Lost You– I read one of her books in May, so was keen to try another. This is her first novel and was shaping up to be good psychological thriller, but then it introduced a rather silly idea. The story would have worked without this , and been a much better read. Perfectly readable though.

Marina Lewycka- The Good, The Bad and the Little Bit Stupid. Absolutely loved this book. 79 Year old George is in a pickle. He voted Leave in the Brexit referendum, his wife Rosie Remain. He moves in with Brenda next door aka The Bitch, who calls Rosie the Mad Cow. Then George wins millions in a lottery he can’t recall entering. His son Sensible Sid says it’s a scam, but the money appears in his savings account and George duly changes the password as per Sid’s instructions. All very plausible so far, but them one thing leads to another, it gets ridiculous and silly but totally wonderful.

Kate Ellis- The Mechanical Devil– another murder mystery with archeology thrown in. Good.

Benjamin Markovits A Weekend In New York– so what to say about this book? Clever, well written but ever so slightly dull.Have you ever had a long weekend somewhere with your extended family, in which the older generation seems old, the next- their children revert a bit to sibling roles and rivalries, and their children just want to go home? This family all gather in three apartments for a long weekend to watch what will probably the last professional appearance by Paul at a tennis tournament. He expects to loose, only having attained moderate success in the past. Action such as it is has the family moving around, forming and reforming into small groups, having meals in and out, and catching up on various news, house plans, jobs and relationships, as you do… nothing happens, the conversations are very realistic, but a bit mundane, and nothing happens, I didn’t get the sense of anyone really changing. I made it to the end is all I can say, and I am quite happy to think this is my ignorance not to have enjoyed it much, except the quotes from the papers on the back cover are a bit mealy mouthed ” Elegant, absorbing…What a fine ear Markovits has for the way people talk” The Guardian. Have you read it, what did you think?

Evelyn Waugh- Brideshead Revisited- This was a re-read for me. Think I read it as a teenager then as a Young adult in my twenties. Amazing how your perceptions of a novel change as you get older. It was written by Waugh during the war as he saw the demise of the country manors. Later on what he feared didn’t happen as the National Trust stepped in. However of course many houses became schools, care homes or apartments. The character everyone recalls is Sebastian whom Charles meets as an undergraduate in Oxford in 1923. They lead a typical student life. Whilst the family is absent Sebastian takes Charles to Brideshead, which is said to be in Wiltshire, but is probably based on a house in Gloucestershire , certainly isn’t Castle Howard in North Yorkshire which was used for the TV series and the film. Charles very much loves the house. Over the book he marries, abandons his studies, becomes an artist and has an affair with Julia, which comes to naught as she can’t turn her back on Catholicism. Sebastian meanwhile is sent down for drunkeness etc, goes to Morocco before being taken in by a monastery. In some ways that wish I hadn’t re read it, I prefer the book I thought it was, which was rather romantic. Have you ever reread a book and been disappointed ?

Laura Purcell- Bone China- Read this quickly as its due back at the library on Friday. Maybe that’s why I can’t quite decide what I think about it. It came with great plaudits, likened to a Daphne du Maurier, but it’s no Rebecca. It begins with an unusual narrator- a lady’s maid on her way to a new employer in Cornwall. The story covers two time periods forty years apart sometime in the late 18th-19th century. Hester the maid gradually reveals that she isn’t a very nice person at all, crossing the boundary between employee and employer and behaving very badly when she falls out of favour. The new household in Cornwall is odd, gradually the past life of the house is told. Dubious medical practices, herbal medicines and folklore get into the mix, and to my mind it wasn’t the gothic psycholigical suspense I was hoping for, it was just silly. Quite early on the oddest character’s behaviour is explained so no way is the reader going to be drawn into her nonsense. It’s a real shame, the unpleasant lady’s maid had real potential to be another Mrs Danvers, the book just didn’t deliver. I wonder is anyone else a Rebecca fan, have you found a character to rival Mrs Danvers for devotion and malice ?

And as always I love to know if you have read any good books this month.

Friday Finish.

I just love finishing a project .

Matching Matinée Jacket and hat with

Flowers and buttons.

Few  more Broad beans and the First cucumber.

Have you finished something recently, and what are you currently working on? I am doing a tank top for Toddler J, the yarn colour is called Tomato Ketchup!! Also started a cross stitch book mark when we were away last weekend…..

Richard Jefferies Museum

I can’t begin to explain just how excited I was to discover a little local museum was finally open post Lockdown. My favourite museums by far are small, local ones. Richard Jefferies was a Victorian Nature writer , born and brought up in a small Wiltshire village now subsumed by the borough of Swindon. More info on him is here-https://www.richardjefferies.org/the-author

This idyillic cottage hides behind a wall – a dual carriageway runs from the hospital into town and the nearest neighbour is a pub and a petrol service station. Yet it is not hard to imagine what life was like when it was a farmhouse set amongst rolling countryside with a small stream close by.

Bust of the great man. He suffered ill health and moved first to Surrey and then to Brighton, but is buried in a cemetery in Worthing- I feel a road trip coming on , one day..

He had an attic bedroom, shared with the families supply of

I can’t imagine what that must have smelt like at night.

His writing desk.

The families kitchen table which was sold onto others before being gifted to the museum. Yes that is a canon ball, don’t all homes have one?

Outside is utterly charming. The museum is run by volunteers. They sell cream teas on a Sunday in the garden.

Loved the wagons

There’s definetly more to Swindon than the Magic Roundabout for which it is most famed-https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Magic_Roundabout_(Swindon)

I wonder if others have hidden gems or even not so nice claims to fame in their neck of the woods?

Scrap Happy Day- June 2021

Still playing with my scraps of yarn.

Twenty Five little hats for Age UK- fundraising through Innocent Smoothies.

And still most of the jar of small balls remaining. So onto the next appeal from a local care home for fish to put into an aquarium, who can resist?

Not me for sure!

Joining with Kate and others for Scrap Happy Day. Added bonus, Mr E putting in the runner beans. Did you spot him?

Damselfly Paradise

Several bloggers have written about the damselflies they have spotted this month in England as they get out and about again. I’m pleased to say that I too have noticed them even though I now live in rather a big town. We enjoyed a very pleasant walk to Moulden Hill Lake last week.

Canadian Geese in Motion!

One would never guess you were in a town.

I think these are called Flag Irises. They were certainly popular with the damselflies.

Not sure if this is merely a good place for them or if the weather has been just right for them. They are pretty for sure.

It was a weekday so no fishing today.

We crossed over this bridge and finished our walk with a stroll through the woods. Hope you enjoyed my wander, have you noticed that any particular insect is “doing well” this year?


I have been driving to Oxford quite frequently this year, taking Mr E for hospital appointments , and noticing a signpost to Buckland and Tadpole Bridge. Place names that sound like somewhere straight from Lord of the Rings. I needed to explore, which we did on Saturday. A bit of internet research revealed that Buckland was a village built to house the workers on a nearby Manor House. Need the staff nearby! The village was indeed very pretty, but I doubt that many could afford to live there now.

The roses on the cottage to the right had a wonderful heady perfume. The church at the end of the lane was amazing.

We sat a while on the bench and soaked up the sunshine before venturing inside for a quiet moment, and an explore. Oh my , this was not your average musty fusty smelling village church. State of the art alarm system on the roof apparently to deter lead theives. And…well have a look.

Note the size of the screen for zoom services. My local church use the vicar’s mobile phone.

The ceiling was blue with stars. My photo was too fuzzy to share. I think you can agree not your average village church. My favourite find was this Crusader’s Chest circa the 1200s.

We slowly walked back to the car which we’d left in the carpark by the village/ memorial hall. Joy of joy there was a phone box now used as a book exchange and a plant stall with honesty box. Not a Tupperware one but a metal job in the bus shelter firmly fixed to the wall. There is serious money in this bit of Middle Earth.

I bought the mint plant, and Mr E, not me, bought two books.

So glad we went. Drove then to the aforementioned Tadpole Bridge which crosses the Thames. Sadly the only place to stop was the pub the Trout, for which of course one needs to pre-book at the moment. Duly noted for another day.

I had packed a picnic. Where to go? I drove to the White Horse.

I find it hard to get a decent photo, but you can just about see it. We were very lucky to get the one and only picnic bench, and the views were wonderful.

I hope you enjoyed our little exploration. I wonder has anyone else visited somewhere just because they liked the place name?

The bit productive patch!

We did No Mow May for the bees, well I did!

Buttercups and daisies mostly, but some little purple flowers too, you can’t really see them.

I cut the grass this week, but you can’t keep a daisy down and I left some of the poppies.

Lurking amongst dock in the shelter of rhubarb.
Not quite sure what these are.An
Obligatory dandelion clock.
Remember the tiny twig I uncovered in last years forlorn patch and I identified as honeysuckle ? Isn’t it doing well?
Snap dragon, loved by bees.
Mr E has got the runner beans in.

And we now have food from the garden previously known as the forlorn patch. Not only rhubarb which we inherited but also herbs and drum roll

Broad beans.

If you have never eaten Broad beans in their pods then try them, in a vegetable stew. – onions, garlic, herbs , carrots, potatoes, tin of tomatoes, courgette and celery if you have them, peppers etc. Grated cheese to serve yum yum yum.

This was just a taster, I have since picked more. They need to be this small. Later on you can let the pods grow and have the beans from inside.

How is everyone’s garden growing at the moment?

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