Friday, 16 September 2016

September's Selection

 Well, after a week of unseasonably hot temperatures - I live in what was one of the hottest areas earlier this week, Hunstanton which is a few miles away, reached 33 degrees on Tuesday, and it was 32 in our back garden. Way, way too hot for me so it was nice yesterday to wake up to misty conditions and lots of cloud, which lingered on and off for most of the day so luckily we didn't get near the 28 degrees forecasted, instead hovering several degrees lower. And this morning, it's struggling to reach 18 degrees, dull and overcast with rain coming in later. I saw from the news this morning that several places have been badly hit with torrential rain and spectacular lightning.  We seem to go from one extreme to another. Still, I'm not one complaining about the drop in temperatures, for as those of my friends who read this will know, I am not a lover of the heat.



I am, however, a lover of this book. It's Kate Eberlen's first novel and I am already anticipating the second. This is the story of Tess and Gus who meet very briefly as teenagers in Italy where she is having a last holiday before university life begins and he, a medical student, is trying to enjoy a holiday with his parents, who are grieving for the loss of their other son in an accident. Tess has her life changed when her mother dies and she is left in charge of her younger sister, Hope. This would present a challenge for any 18 year old girl whose just had her world turned upside down, but with Hope having 'issues' as they would say today, it's even harder. One thing she knows is that university is now out of the question so she settles into the world of work, finding work that will fit in with Hope's school hours until such time as she leaves school. There are relationships along the way for both her and Gus who eventually qualifies as a doctor, marries and when that doesn't work out goes back to Florence to a cookery school to follow his passion for food and cooking, and Tess is given a writing holiday at the same place, a gift from her best friend. a treat to cheer her up after a particularly eventful and painful period in her life. Here Gus and Tess meet, recognise each other and recognise IN each other, a soulmate, their one true love despite all that has gone before. This book is one to lose yourself in, once picked up I hated having to put it down, and I know it will be read again. The best book of the sixty I've read this year so far and highly recommended.

As usual, there has been some arty, painty, collage-y stuff going on lately....





And also some felty stuff, this picture is awaiting a steam press to rid the felt of its creases, before glueing to a piece of thin MDF, and hanging.



As for the rest of my world....well, we are still picking and eating two types of beans and tomatoes, fresh herbs, sweet peas get picked every other day, gorgeous posies of pastel shades of pinks and lilacs with white ones as well, the air filled with their sweet fragrance for a couple of days before it fades and its time to pick more. I have had so many flowers from just a dozen plants. Each year I say I won't bother with them again, and each year I give in when I see a pot of plantlets in my village nursery and am delighted with them all over again.

I am a lover of words, and so was pleased to discover the American writer, Christopher Poindexter, a poet living in Florida. There is no Wikipedia entry for him, but if you Google him, you'll find a lot of his writings, quotes and poems and just.... words. Wonderful words strung together beautifully. He also has an Etsy page where he says he is 'not a poet but an observer'. Well, we all observe don't we, intentionally or otherwise, but to be able to put down what we observe as he does... that's a different matter. However, some of us enjoy writing anyway, so I have been able to add a few thousand more words to my novel. However, heat taxes me and concentration is hard and the imagination sluggish to say the least, add to that a shinbone injury from a coming together of my right leg and a heavy, solid wooden footstool (which won, by the way) which has given me pain every day for two weeks now, and I haven't progressed much further this last fortnight.

Still, cooler days are not far off, autumn feel to the early mornings and late evenings now, and flu jabs next week. Now see what an exciting life I lead?

Hope this finds everyone who reads this well, I just wish all who do would comment, nicely preferably! Happy Autumn.

Tuesday, 23 August 2016

Back for a visit

Well, it's been a while, but it seems that in common with most of my regular-reading blogs, other things have taken over, or the interest just isn't the same any more. But I enjoy writing the occasional blogpost, and reading them too, so maybe that will be how it is from now on, a post now and then.

One of the reasons for my absence has been the heat, which I don't cope with physically at all well. Won't bore you with the messy details, but suffice to say shares in Andrex might be a worthy investment! So the period with temperatures in the high 20s/low 30s just didn't suit me at all, and I hibernated. Yes, I know that's something you usually do in winter, but I'm a winter person more than a summer one. Indoors with lots of windows open and blinds closed and even when it has been down to the low to mid 20s, I've not had the mental or physical energy for much really. And today is another hot one, but I'm sitting in my workroom, window in front of me open, desk fan on the go too, and I was just in the mood for a bit of mindless rambling. So here I am...

... and this is another reason for my absence, knocking out fireplaces, installing new, redecorating and so on, and this is the new look sitting room fireplace. We've just finished the summerhouse which has been turned into my meditation/writing space, but a bit too hot and bright out there just now. However a lovely spot for morning coffee and a chat, maybe a photo next time if I remember.




I was talking to a friend recently, also in her 60s, about how our tastes change as we get older. She used to love sewing, soft furnishings mainly, but now finds her hands make it difficult to do the finishing touches, and she hasn't the patience for the fiddly bits anyway. Another friend, like me, used to love gardening, but health issues mean all we can manage these days is a potter. But that's incredibly uplifting to the soul; in my case just fifteen minutes walking around the garden, picking off a dead head here, gathering fresh herbs for dinner, picking beans and tomatoes, radish and picking a pretty posy too, of pinks and lavender, with a sprig of fresh herb in there as well.

Another friend has more or less given up all the handicrafts she used to do and instead spends her time watercolouring and sketching. And has even had friends ask her to paint something for them, had them on show in a local cafe and art exhibition, something I suspect she would never have imagined thirty odd years ago when we first met.

For me too, art - or my version of it - has become a large part of my life. Oh I still knit for charity, crochet too, make felt cushions and pictures as well, but it's the working with acrylics, watercolours, fine tip marker pens, coloured pencils, watercolour pencils, pens and crayons. Glue sticks, double sided tape, Washi tapes, paper ephemera, coloured card, and paper. And a growing collection of books on collage and art journalling.

This is a book diary, a new exercise type book in which I shall record the books I am reading as my current one is just about full - started in 2000 it has over 1500 books listed! Anyway, I decided that the purply shiny cover was too boring, so made a collage cover for it.


My diary too, had a spare page. Normally I use a journal, no dates, so that I don't feel I have to write in them... my life is very quiet, lacking in society, so not much goes on, hence the sparse posts. I just write when I feel like it. However this year was an exception as I found this lovely diary from the makes of FLOW magazine, with a week on one side and blank, lined pages opposite. Some of them have been filled in, or almost filled in, with 'stuff' but a few pages are empty. Can't be having that, it's like having a spot in the garden where there isn't anything growing! So, a bit of acrylic paint to cover it, and then because it's opposite the last week in June, decided to make it flower-themed.




One of my favourite websites since I began messing about with paint etc., is CreativeBug and here you get lots of ideas and so on, not just for arty stuff, but other crafts as well. One of the things to try was putting your pen or pencil on the page, and not looking at what you were doing, just let the pen move, drawing lines randomly. First you do it with your normal writing hand, and then with the other. You can then paint them, fill them in with colour if you wish. Here are my two examples. The BE HAPPY, was just a bit of luck, seeing the almost perfect B shape.


So, there you have it for this month, maybe next month too, who knows. I hope this finds everyone well and enjoying summer. Thanks for visiting.




Tuesday, 24 May 2016

My Spring Garden blanket



This is my Spring Garden blanket, inspired by the colours of our garden in Springtime of course.

Quite often when I do a blanket, I don't bother to draw it out, plan it too much. I usually know what I want to do and apart from a few scribbled notes in the little journal I keep next to my chair, not much goes down on paper. However this time I was a little more thoughtful about the whole thing.



This was the basic idea, it got changed a little as new colours came to mind, new flowers inspired me.  The wool is Stylecraft Special, a wool much favoured by crafters for crochet especially as it is a joy to work with, the range of colours is quite spectacular and it's reasonably priced, which is important if you do big projects. And leftovers make great leftover blankets! Or stripey knitted scarves. Or tea cosies. Or bobble hats even!



The deep pink/white/pale pink/lavender represent the hyacinths. Cream/pale lemon/saffron represent the different varieties of daffodils. The two shades of blue with claret in between represent forget-me-nots, muscari and wallflowers. The purple/lime green/orange are some of the tulips. And each group is separated with green to represent the foliage.



The edging I made up. It's one I first used decades ago, made it up as I went along and I like the effect it gives. It's a simple chain 1, skip 1 on alternate rows, and the first and last row of the edging are half trebles.

It's a lovely colourful throw, and like most of those I make, destined for my favourite hospice charity shop. And on a grey, cold day like today, it's a real cheerer-up!

Thursday, 5 May 2016

Memories


The memory is an amazing tool. And not easy to describe how it works. Some of the best descriptions I've read have come from neuroscientist Dean Burnett, who describes short term memory as being like writing your name with a sparkler. It typically lasts between 15 and 30 seconds, any longer and it's long term memory.

Memories perhaps don't disappear, they're just lost, you can't dredge them up. They're in there somewhere, you know they are, but how frustrating is it when you need or want to recall something, and it just won't come out?

And why is it that as we get older we can remember past events from twenty, thirty, forty, even fifty or more years ago, yet struggle to remember what we had for tea yesterday?

The picture of me in my previous posting brought back memories of sixty years ago. The dress was pale blue and white, toile du joy material, with a tiered, frilled skirt and it came from Marks and Spencers. I know I loved wearing that dress and was sad when I no longer fitted into it.

I can remember my first day in my first job, fifty years ago, standing outside the carpet showroom waiting for my boss to arrive in his red E-type convertible. Oh I loved that car! I think that was the start of my love for fast, sporty cars - and their drivers, or one at least.

But what's brought about this trip down memory lane is tomorrow's date - the 6th May. It was on that day in 1972 that I married the love of my life, Keith Penfold. It was Cup Final Day and the owners of the hotel where we had our reception, family friends, put a television into a separate room so that the men could sneak in and have a look at what was going on.



Keith and I began as penfriends in late January of that year, had our first real meeting six weeks later, and married just three months after that. He was 25 and I was 21. He came into my life, turned it upside down, filled my heart with love and joy - and it was the same for him. We thought it would always be that way.

But life can be a bitch sometimes, because just four years later in August 1976, he collapsed and died suddenly from a brain haemorrhage. I found his body. It was a day that is imprinted on my brain as indelibly as the day we married. The day we parted. But he is with me still in spirit. Life moves on, new memories are made, but the memory of my short time with this gorgeous man will never fade.

Some memories make you laugh out loud, some make you weep inside. But all are a part of who we are now. And the sad thing is that in time, maybe even those memories that make us happy will fade. 

But that's life.....

Thursday, 21 April 2016

I love the seaside!




                                                 Me, aged about seven, Fleetwood beach    

I grew up in Lancashire, in a small coastal town, living across the road from the beach. As a small child I could sit on the huge window seat of the bay window in the front room and watch coach loads of visitors arriving, the colour and movement kept me occupied for hours. (Even now I love to watch the world go by from a window, I shall become known as 'that nosey old bag down the road' soon!)
In my twenties I married and moved inland, and it took me another twenty odd years to get near the sea.

Now the nearest bit of beach is a few miles down the road, not near enough really, but it will do. Hunstanton is a little further away, but still only fifteen minutes or so in the car - except in the holiday season when it can take longer - and I love driving along the Promenade, seeing all the visitors, all that colour and movement again. All the amusement arcades are open, there's the noise of music and laughter, the smell of fish and chips is almost inescapable, a real old fashioned holiday resort. Nothing fancy like a Big Wheel or permanent fairground attraction, and sadly no longer even a pier.


The original Hunstanton Pier was 830 feet long, and opened in 1870 and twelve years later a paddle steamer service came into operation sailing from the pier to that at good old Skeggie, Skegness, across the Wash. As the years went by, there was a pavilion, a skating rink, a small zoo and until the 1950s, and a miniature steam railway ran down the length of the pier. In January 1978 a storm destroyed a lot of the pier, leaving an amusement arcade and one set of piles, a reminder of what had been there. But then tragedy struck again in the 70s with a fire destroying what was left, and in its place what I consider an ugly monstrosity and which met with some local opposition. It went ahead though, and although it is on the same spot as the original pier, there is absolutely nothing left to show what had once been a very fine pier indeed. Sadly.


I remember these old promenade shelters from my childhood/youth. Not this one, this is on the cliff tops at Hunstanton. As a child, they were somewhere to sit with my mother, sheltering from the occasional showers or just sitting sheltered from the winds, the two of us watching the world go by I remember when she and I used to have picnics on the beach, she would light up one of her Balkan Sobranie cigarettes, 'just to keep the flies away darling' she'd say. She looked so glamorous with these cigarettes in their gorgeously coloured wrappers of deep jade green, blue and deep pink, and with gold tips I think. Of course,she would be frowned upon now for smoking in public and in front of a child, but she wasn't the only one back in the fifties. As a teenager these shelters were places groups of teenagers gathered to smoke illicit cigarettes, you could buy packs of five Players for pennies then. And if you didn't have the spends, then the cigarettes would have been taken stealthily from your parents packets while their backs were turned. Or the shelter was a place you went with your boyfriend, to be alone. After which many a teenage girl, myself included, would go home, lock herself in her room, put some vinyl on the Dansette, unlock the tiny padlock on her diary, and write down her most private, secret thoughts - in my case about a tall blonde-haired, suntanned boy called John, who told me I had 'lovely legs', who went away to be a farmer, never to be seen or heard of again after the first flurry of love letters, all signed SWALK of course, on the back!

See what memories a stroll along the seafront can evoke?

Some of my other favourite things this month have been ....


... this large heather on the edge of the terrace, it smells wonderfully of almonds when the sun shines.

And its always good to finish one crochet project, so you can plan the next. This is a change for me, monochrome, three shades of grey, black and white



And that's it for now.  except to say it was very sad news about Victoria Wood, one of the funniest women ever, if not the funniest. Her humour made us all laugh, and she will be sadly missed.

Tuesday, 12 April 2016

Back in blogland.




Not the best view to see on a Spring morning, but this is the weather scene in my corner of Norfolk this morning, misty, wet, grey. So I think I'll brighten up proceedings with a view of part of the garden on a sunny day over the weekend. Full of Spring colour which has inspired my next crochet blanket, but more of that another time. Out in the garden, we've planted the first of the broad beans, including some plants I grew on from seeds germinated in a plastic bag of compost on the kitchen windowsill. The raised beds have been prepped ready for seed planting, my cut flower beds. And this week we'll buy the large pots for my carrots - I grow them this way, in succession, small amounts as there are only two of us, in pots with herbs on the patio.


Another cheery picture....


... my new summer clogs, probably a bit daft for a woman of my age, but at my age, who cares?

I've been away from blogland for a while, got a bit fed up with it to be honest, sitting here writing and knowing that only a handful of folk would bother to read, made me wonder 'Why bother?' But then the urge to write about nothing much came upon me, and so here I am..... for now. Maybe if I read more blogs, I'd get more readers myself, do you think? But then, I don't seem to have much in common with so many bloggers, all of whom seem younger than me, with busy lives of family and children, work, outings and holidays, meeting up with friends and so on. Some blogs are inspirational like Attic 24, some are an interesting read like cozymadethings, and textiletreasury.blogspot.co.uk, but so many just don't relate to my age, my lifestyle, which is laidback, filled with crafts and books and gardening and cooking, afternoon snoozes, meditational moments, art journalling.... speaking of which......


... my latest page.

On the needles at the moment, a large knitted blanket in a pretty sage green, 144 stitches, knit 12, purl 12 for twelve rows, then change to purl 12, knit twelve, a large basket stitch pattern. I've done it before, in Stylecraft Special DK which I use for all my blanket knitting and crochet, and it is so easy to do while watching television, or listening to the Archers Omnibus on Sunday mornings. And on the hook, well, just finished recently in fact, my 'leftovers' blanket, using leftover balls of wool, just tossed in a basket and picked out at random. Worked out well I thought.



Books play a big part in my life, so occasionally I will maybe recommend one or two from the five plus that I read each month. Recently there has been some dross I have to admit. Everyone I knew was praising The Rosie Project, so I bought a secondhand copy. I tried to read it.... on the third attempt I actually finished, but it was with gritted teeth that I got to the end. I didn't enjoy it much at all but had to see what all the fuss was about. And I am still no wiser. So I turned to a writer whose books I always enjoy, Jenny Colgan and thoroughly enjoyed this one, as well as in contrast, the book by B.A. Paris


'Behind Closed Doors' is the debut novel of B.A.Paris, and is a story that is very topical at the moment as it's about domestic abuse, not necessarily of the physical kind, but the mental, controlling kind as has been the focus of The Archers this last week, with the dramatic turn of events in the Rob and Helen storyline. The novel was a real gripping read, you hoped the wife would be able to find a way out of the relationship, and that alone kept you reading to the end. Extremely well-written and well worth reading.

So, that's about it for this time, though I would just like to talk briefly about clothes and diet, two unusual subjects for me to want to discuss as I am not a woman obsessed with clothes, shopping, lunching with 'the girls' and so on. It all leaves me cold to be honest. Diet? A four letter word baned from this house - finally. Oh yes, in the past I've been one of these women who seem to constantly be about to start another diet, not faddy ones you understand, just portion/calorie control and all that. But not any more.*

For reasons I won't bore you with I have been on strong meds for most of my adult life, and two of them are notorious for gaining weight. I am a stone overweight, and at best I can control it. I am not going to lose it; I have now finally accepted that the only way that will happen is if I have another bout of serious ill-health, not a way to lose weight I'd recommend. So I take a size 22, but the manufacturers/designers of clothes for the larger (busted) woman, seem to assume that we are all about 5' 8". I am five foot and a whisper, and clothes I order tend to have sleeves at least eight inches longer than I need them, and whereas on a model they reach knees or just below in length, on me they can be maxi length. It is so very hard to find clothes that fit well on the top half, but also have sleeves and garment length appropriate for my height.

*As a side note, I was reading up about losing calories the other day, following a discussion with a like-minded friend (like-minded in that we have both given up hope of ever being sylph-like again), and I read that a fart can burn off 57 calories... can you imagine the slimming group meetings for that particular way of losing calories?!!!

And that really is all. I shall  be back next month, if I find anyone has dropped by to say 'Hello'.

Thanks for reading, and please do leave a comment if you are able, I like hearing from other bloggers.

Wednesday, 3 February 2016

January's Best Books


Well here we are in the New Year, already one month gone, for me,  lost to a mild dose of 'flu, which always hits me really badly, as I am immuno-suppressed and therefore a simple cold, to anyone else, ends up as a mild dose of the 'flu with me. That's why I have the jab, to try and minimise the effects of any viruses I may come into contact with accidentally. Sadly, although time spent in bed could have given me plenty of opportunities to read more, I was just too tired and unable to concentrate for very long, so I went a whole THREE days with no reading! Unheard of for me.

So, onto the books, a mix of old and new, fiction and non-fiction.

'The Lady in the Van' by Alan Bennett came to my attention because of the ads on television for the film, and the story intrigued me. A real life story about Mrs. S, a rather eccentric lady who resides in vans, parked, eventually in AB's garden. He tells the story with his usual humour, and also compassion.

Although I write short stories and have been lucky enough to see many in print, I am not actually that much of a fan when it comes to reading them, but when I saw a new collection by one of my favourite authors, Rachel Joyce (she of Harold Fry/Queenie Hennessy fame), I couldn't resist. And it didn't disppoint, all the stories being linked in some way, definitely worth a read if you are a fan of the genre.

'Some Kind of Fairy Tale' by Graham Joyce is a strange novel about Tara, who disppears aged 16 and turns up twenty years later, still aged 16. See what I mean about strange?  She claims to have been living with fairies, who don't like being called that and are in no way cute little things with wings.

'Too Close to Home' by Susan Lewis is a story of betrayal. Paige is bullied at school and her home life changes forever when her father falls in love with a younger woman and leaves the family home. He is also found to have committed fraud. Her mother is going to pieces and life is just too hard, so Paige runs away, makes a suicide last with another girl her he who she met via the Internet, having spent lots of time on suicide sites. But the girl doesn't turn up for their meeting and Paige spends two nights alone. Eventually she is found and gradually both she and her mother accept life has changed forever. But it can, and will, get better in time.

'Solace' by Nicci Gerard actually has a similar storyline to the previous book - a husband leaves his wife and children for a younger woman who then gets pregnant. Adrian is desperate to become an actor, not always successfully. When he takes the children to Australia on holiday with his new lady, his wife Irene goes to stay in France with her half brother to help with his wedding. There she falls in with a group of his friends who are going on a narrow boat holiday and persuade her to join them. During the holiday she has a brief fling with one of the members of the group, and when she returns home it is with a renewed zest for life, a changed perspective and life suddenly seems more hopeful. This was one of my 'old' reads, a second reading before being consigned to the charity shop bag.

'My Brilliant Friend' by Elena Ferrante, the first of four novels dubbed 'The Neopolitan Novels', which are based around the friendship between Elena, the stories' narrator, and Lila. Lila is the bad girl, the popular one, Elena the scholarly girl, the good girl, the less popular. This novel begins in 1950s Naples, in a poor neighbourhood with the two little girls forming a mutually reliant friendship, and sees them through to their teenage years, with Lila marrying and Elena continuing her studies.

'No Fixed Address' by Jackie Hartnell is a travel writing book. Jackie's husband dies unexpectedly after retiring, and before they had chance to do the travelling they always said they would do, and so she decides to travel alone, and this books tells the story of her various wanderings, in the Lakes and overseas too, of living out of a backpack and staying in hostels.

'The Girl in the Red Coat' by Kate Hamer is the story of Carmel, a little girl who's a bit different, who has certain 'powers'. Beth, her single mother, worries for and about her daughter, even more so when on a rare treat of a day out together,Carmel goes missing. She is taken by a strange man claiming to be her grandfather, who takes her to America where he intends making money out of her special powers. Will mother and daughter ever be reunited... it seems impossible. The pace really quickens towards the end, but if you want to find out what happens, you'll have to read it for yourself!

And there you have my reading for the last month, a nice mix and I'm looking forward to joining in with Laura and her YIB project once again.

Thanks for visiting, do call again!