Wool, Wiltshire and All Manner of Wonderful Things!

Christmas Past- a quiz

So I had this wheeze, this Christmas may not have been up to the norm, so let’s recall Christmasses past – do join in by leaving comments, but even better- write your own post and leave a link to it in the comments… go on, you know you want too, as much or as little as you like. 12 Questions for the 12 days…

1 Favourite/ funny memory or both of Christmas as a child.

My Mum made a huge effort at Christmas. I am a child of the 1950s, and it may be hard for younger people to appreciate but some things were still on ration after the war, and a lot of treats were expensive. Mum made our Christmasses very special indeed- stockings were made from wrapping paper, all the food from mince pies, to cake to stuffing was homemade, decorations were paper chains- homemade, table centre pieces were homemade- not as today from choice but because that was just the way things were done. By Christmas Eve the excitement would be a fever pitch- oh boy did that day seem loooong- it went on forever. The one day of the year you were glad to go to bed early. I recall the year that my little brother Pip woke me up- it must have been about 4am- bouncing on the bed- telling me HE had BEEN, and here was my stocking, which he promptly tipped out onto the bed. Two minutes later a rather cross Mother appeared, sent him back to bed, repacked the stocking, and told us to Go Back to Sleep till Morning OR ELSE! We did!

2 Favourite/funny memory of your children’s Christmass- you can swap this for nephew/ niece/ grandchild/neighbour etc.

Ah this time I was playing Father/Mother Christmas. Two eldest sons still had stockings and were sworn to keeping the identity of Santa Claus secret from their little brother OR ELSE. I had just come back from Midnight Mass, having put Toddler B to bed around 6pm. Panic stations from the oldest two- Master B had woken up and no power on earth could get him back to sleep. His stocking was at the end of his bed, out of his line of vision, but worse still In the Middle’s stocking was also at the end of HIS bed, at the far end of a long shared bedroom with Toddler B. It was late we were tired, a cunning plan was needed- so whilst In the Middle chatted to Toddler B I crawled like a commando over the bedroom floor to retrieve two stockings. Duly filled they were left by the bedroom door!

3 Biggest Disaster/Fail on Christmas Day

I gather a lot of people this year found their turkeys were not very nice and were not fit to eat- if that was you, I am very sorry indeed. I was very lucky, I was able to spend Christmas Day with my son and grand children and the turkey he cooked was delicious.

However we did have one disastrous Christmas. Mum had come to stay for the duration-dinner was cooked to perfection, the crackers were pulled, paper hats on heads, awful jokes told, glasses chinked and the electricty went off… just ours. Neighbours had electricty, the whole village had electricty- just us, no lights, no hot water, no heating…. Very long story cut short. Don’t believe 24 hour/7 days a week/365 days of the year electricians mean it they don’t. We eventually isolated one circuit in the house, heating and water back on, but not all lights. We survived the night. Next day hung over electrician comes, in the dog house with his wife… he should have been spending the day with his in-laws, further locates problem to bathroom, and makes sure house and our Heath Robinson lighting is safe. Three days later real electrician comes- transpires that when the bathroom was re- done, before our time, a loose live cable had been left under the bath, the flat roof had let in water, and well no electricity.

4 Best Christmas present received/ given to you as a child.

This took a lot of thought- I received in my time a rather splendid doll and a doll’s house, both of which I have still got, but I reckon the best presents have to be

the gift of reading. I see from the inscriptions in the books I was 8 when I was gifted these. The bottom two from my parents- can you imagine a child being happy these days with a book from their parents at Christmas as their sole present? The top one was from my Godmother, and I credit this book with being the one that finally got me reading for pleasure, and 60 years on I still do read for pleasure. Now that was a gift for sure.

5 Best/favourite Christmas tradition – As a child I loved making paper chains and decorating the house. I loved the smell in the house of delicious food- that mix of spices, cinnamon, nutmeg, but I think what I really really valued the most was Mum and Dad finally running out of chores to get on with , and sitting down to play board games with us. After tea on Christmas day, yes we ate tea, a proper sit down tea,- the green card table would come out and the fire would be lit, in the best room, we children were allowed a thimble full of ginger wine, and we played monopoly, cluedo, totopoly, Pit, and it was magical.

6 Favourite Christmas food– Christmas pudding- the only time of year you get to eat that fabulous fruity sticky concoction, love it, love it, love it. Yes we did have some yesterday, nom, nom, nom.

7 To Sprout or not to Sprout on your dinner plate– oh yuk, I eat my token 1 or 2 to be a Good Example.

8 When to open presents? Now normally after breakfast on Christmas morning- but yesterday we were so late getting up, we opened most in the evening, and I rather liked it- time to look at each one properly- it may become the norm, but I doubt children would accept the delay.

9 Artificial or real tree? I much prefer a real tree, but feel so guilty chopping down a tree for my gratification, so we have an artificial one, which must surely be ten years old by now.

10 Children’s Nativity plays- funny story or proud moment?

I love children’s nativity plays, always make me cry. Except the year when I only had two boys . The oldest had a prime part, suitably proud Mum, and what does In the Middle do- gets bored- pulls down his trousers and waves his rear end in the air. Mortified I beat a hasty retreat, and we went home……

11 Christmas Jumpers or Christmas Eve PJs

This is a relatively new custom, and I love that it’s here. I don’t have either, but I did buy myself a nice red blouse with snowflakes on it, in honour of the occasion. I have been commisioned to knit Master T a Christmas jumper for next year- apparently they should wear them at school over the last week of term, but he wouldn’t unless Nana knitted him one.

12 Best part of a Covid Christmas?

There has to be something that we liked this year, that wouldn’t have happened in previous years. I think I really valued the time with my family more, such a special few hours.

Nativity plays in school couldn’t happen and my grand children’s school made videos of them singing a Christmas song- it was filmed outside, in small groups, each group given a verse to sing- the teacher shot the video and sent to parents. I also think we all took more care with our gift choices, I know I had some corkers, lots of things for me to make and do….you’ll hear more of these next year.

I finished the jumper I made my grandson, in all its rainbow colours and was rather thrilled with the result- I think he would have prefered Lego!

I hope you enjoyed my trip down memory lane- love to hear your memories. Enjoy the rest of the 12 days of Christmas,

Stay safe,

Cathyx

Happy Christmas Everybody

If you want to give God a good laugh it’s said, tell him your plans- well mine have gone- upside down! Just been to post some cards to go abroad- yes late late late- and now we can’t because you can’t if you live in the UK- sorry Claire. I know they should have gone earlier, but as I said life is topsy turvy right now. So sorry I have barely been reading blogs, let alone posting, let alone doing anything except chasing my tail, but life is what it is and you make of what you can.

So I would like to wish you all the best Christmas you can make given that the world has gone mad. Love the people you are with, and phone the rest!

Take Care,

Cathy x

Scrap Happy- December 2020

Sometimes life gets in the way, so not only am I a day late, but I’ve not done that which I set out to do. I am in the process of making two Christmas coasters. They involved getting out scary cutting mat and rotary cutter, which I had totally forgotten how to use. Needless to say I re-learnt the meaning of “measure twice and cut once”. Two hours later I was mentally shattered, but ready for some hand sewing, and I now have from scraps two prepared Christmas coasters.

Not very complicated if you are not a nin-com- poop. Double negative is deliberate!

Of course whilst I was putting off doing scary cutting I totally way laid myself which didn’t help.. I stumbled across a piece of red felt and the template for a leaf- which I hadn’t got round to making-so I thought , just get on with this instead, so I did. One bookmark- also totally from scraps of felt and embroidery floss.

So there we go- one and a half scrap happy projects. Linking as always with Kate for Scrap Happy days –https://talltalesfromchiconia.wordpress.com/

Knit and Natter Sunday#3

Three Sundays on the trot- nearly getting to be a regular occurance, these knit and natter posts. Please do join in the comments and tell me what you may be knitting, crocheting or crafting at the moment.

The back of grandson’s jumper is coming on apace now with the raglan sleeves taking shape.

This is the crochet blanket- single bed size I am making for a care home. It started life on a Scrap Happy project as I was using up leftover yarn- trouble is I need so many blocks and I was running out of different colours, so I have actually paid out some hard cash for some acryllic yarn- I’m using the left over bits of yarn to join four blocks at a time- the idea was that no two rows or blocks of four were the same , just to add some interest. Think I may deal with some ends too before it becomes too big a task. It’s a nice project for those evenings when I am too tired to concentrate on anything.

How are your Christmas plans going? I have started to write cards but every year it takes me longer than I expect, as I do like to write a little note or letter with each one. I received some too, way back in mid- November, which is most efficient of some people. And I have given in to internet shopping- can’t face the crowds and they must be bigger than ever this year as we were locked down for a month. I would much sooner do it in a proper shop, but what can you do?

Sometimes I just feel I might be getting a bit old, tired and crotchety- a grumpy old woman perchance.

Anyway have a good week and stay safe,

Cathy x

Yarn Along- December 2020

Hard to believe that this is the last Yarn Along for 2020, but there we are.

I have completed the front of the wonderful jumper of many colours for my grandson.

And it is on with the back now. I just love this yarn so much- bright and cheerful and sure to lift the spirits in the dark nights of Winter. The book is very good indeed- an epic tale of a poor Korean family living in Japan during the 20th Century- I’m very grateful to everyone who recommended it to me.

I realise you can’t see how far I have progressed on the back of the jumper in this picture, so here is another.

It grows much faster without the cables, but the stripes are impossible to fully match to the front- I shall do my best with the back and the sleeves.

Once again joining with Yarn Along where you can find lots of yarning- https://www.gsheller.com/2020/12/yarn-along-december-2.html

November Books- 2020

Only three read this month, but all good ones!

Peter Hoeg- Miss Smilla’s Feeling for Snow– set in Denmark, a small boy falls from a roof, presumed an accident by the police but his neighbour Smilla disagrees as she can tell by his footprints in the snow that he was chased- but why and by whom? I loved the first part of the book as it was filled with ironic humour. The second part set on board a ship was less enjoyable- the humour had gone and it was one fight scene after another in which Smilla seemed to inflict a great deal of damage whilst getting hurt herself. Wish the humour had continued, and there were less tussles. A good book with a heroine to make you proud.

Elizabeth Gilbert- Big Magic- Thank you to whoever suggested this book to go alongside the Artist’s Way retirement book. It is full of encouragement to just get on with your creativity, finish what you are doing, release it to the world and move onto the next project- somethings will be good, some won’t, keep going long enough and one project will be filled with Big Magic- but don’t expect the next one to be necessarily! I think I recognised relatively recently that I make things because I enjoy the process, and if someone else likes what I make that is a bonus. This book helps me to understand that this is what matters. Far too easy to beat oneself up by comparing yourself to others! If this might be you too, I highly recommend this book.

Thomas Hughes- Tom Brown’s Schooldays. Back in September I think it was we climbed the White Horse iron age fort at Uffington on the Berkshire Downs. As drove away from there towards a pub for lunch we passed a funny little building which proclaimed itself to be Tom Brown’s School museum. Now this confused me because I knew the book to be about a public school called Rugby. (Brief explanation of the education system in England- State schools are free for all and for the ordinary people. Private Schools of which there are few are owned and run by a private individual for profit. Independent Schools are run by board of governors, public schools are charitable schools. All three charge fees at very high prices. Don’t ask me about academies and free schools which are new fangled things and confuse me).

So what on earth was this tiny building doing in calling itself Tom Brown’s school museum? According to t’internet the author lived in these parts and the school featured in the novel . I’d have to read the book to find out more, so I did.

The book is set in the 1830s, and the first part covers Tom’s early childhood. The son of the local Squire Tom was first educated at home and then had a year in a private school before being sent to Rugby School. He is allowed a lot of freedom as a young boy and mixes with the village boys who attend the local school. This part of the book paints an idyllic picture of childhood, freedom to roam, knowledge of nature, fun and games. Oddly recognisable from my own childhood in Yorkshire, and of some of the things we enjoyed when we lived in the next door county of Oxfordshire when our sons were little. I think here of a village custom of a Feast day- in which a fair comes to the village and fun and games happen. The Oxfordshire village we lived in was called Combe, and if you have never seen a a big dipper on a tiny village green etc you probably can’t imagine it. I loved this section of the book.

The novel is meant to be read by boys about to go to their public school, to prepare them to get the most out of the experience. I doubt any boy could read such a book these days- all perfectly accessible to read and not childish in any way- it simply wouldn’t appeal, so far is it removed from ordinary childhood today. Most of the lessons seem to be about translating Latin and Greek , and sport- Rugby football, and cricket, and a lot of religion. All good character building stuff, preparing the boys for life as Army Officers or clergymen and lawyers. It is of its time and thoroughly enjoyable, and maybe does throw a fascinating insight into the scchools enjoyed by the wealthy today.

Now I feel prepared to visit the museum as soon as it re-opens – next year I hope.

Have your read any good books this month? Although I have a nice big pile of library books to take me to the end of the year, ok end of January, I’m always looking for recommendations.

Happy reading, x

Knit and Natter Sunday

I was looking through my photo albums this week for one of my sons, and realised my knitting and crochet has not changed much over the years.

Colourful multi coloured back then- spot my beloved cat in this one too.

The pattern was in a Prima magazine, and I really really wish I had kept it.

My first ever crochet blanket- long since departed.
We still have this one- now in use as the picnic blanket, but it did make a great den!

I still knit in multi colours and crochet granny square blankets- long may I continue.

Current knitting
Current crochet!

Does anyone else have photos of their old work, which reflects their current makes? Love to hear what you think.

Stay safe

Cathyx

Swan Lake

A couple of weeks ago whilst exploring the neighbourhood, I drove about five minutes from our house to follow a sign to somewhere called Mouldon Hill, which was a short way down a track. I was really happy to find my very own Swan Lake.

Swan Lake
So peaceful
Not such an ugly duckling.
I’m a swan.
It’s actually a fishing lake for which you have to pay to use, these platforms are all round the lake for the fishermen.
I am begining to think that poor old Swindon is a maligned town, not so ugly after all.

And the excellent news is that from December we are allowed to go on family walks again. I have continued to go for mid week walks with my son in which we set the world to rights, and these have been a real boon, but I do miss the children.

Obligatory sky and tree picture. I do hope everyone knows the Danny Kaye song, or the references will mean nothing- showing my age for sure. And why do I automatically say fishermen, they could be women, should I be saying fisher people?

Have a great weekend, stay safe,

Cathyx

Touchstones

A lot of us are still enduring the Covid restrictions in some way or another. I was reading my book the Artist’s Way for retirement, and one of the sections deals with touchstones. It occured to me that nearly all of us have lost our normal routines and daily touchstones, especially people whose working (paid and unpaid)life has been impacted- the chats around the water dispenser or coffee mchine, the daily journey to work, the shops we pop into to while away some time, the libraries, maybe your church. All these things change when you retire but also now, and maybe the task my book suggested can help, or maybe is just a bit of fun.

We are asked to list 25 things that bring us joy- ordinary things, and maybe you can find one of them that you can do today which will bring happiness.

We are dividing them between the five senses, and off I go,

1 Taste- Cinnamon, mulled apple juice, ginger, carrot cake and bacon sandwiches.

2 Touch- Stroking a dog, hugs, clean sheets, rain when you get really really soaked or when there is a gentle rain on your face and that heat you feel when you go on holiday and climb down the airplane steps.

3 Smell- Line dried washing, bacon, the earthy smell in a wood, real Christmas trees and heather.

4 Sound- a brass band outside, crickets, the hum of bees, lawn mowers, and family chatter.

5 Sight- Sunsets, Greek seaside vilages, city/town lights, heather moors, old photographs.

Now some of those I can do nothing about experiencing at the moment- but I reckon I can have a bacon sandwich for lunch and make an apple crumble with lots of cinnamon tonight. Longer term there is the Christmas tree to think about- we currently have a very big artificial tree, and I really did want to go smaller this year, and I think I have the stand for a real one somewhere, probably in the garage somewhere….

Please do tell me some of your favourite things, and is there one something you could do today?

Heather Moors- old photo 2017- two of my favourite things in one.

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