Crafts · Cross Stitch · Knitting

Carry on Cowboy

Way back in September I posted about all my unfinished projects, my craft projects:

  • I have some cross stitch I have not picked up in months (if not over a year) and it has not that much to do on it but yet it remains untouched.
  • There is a bookmarker which I enjoy making which has yet to be finished. Trouble is I started another. I think I might need to sell these
  • An ornament I made just needs its ribbon re-stitching on there.
  • There  are some knitted hearts that I need to do something with
  • Knitted juggling balls just need finishing off and bells attached
  • A purse needs finishing off and the crochet by my mum needs attaching Cannot show a picture as it is a present for someone. 
  • A pom pom explosion has happened and I have had a fanciful idea of making a rug… it has waned somewhat.
  • Then I saw some entralac knitting and wanted to have a go….. The picture of this on my earlier post has been abandoned, it was my test piece. I have started another bit, but that is languishing. I might finish off the ball of wool and add it to my bag of test pieces! 
  • But I am in the middle of knitting a cowboy and here he is 

It started way back here


And then progressed to what you saw back in September

photo (35)

Luckily he is now able to speak and hear


Of course he cannot do much without the appropriate chaps!


It needs to be fixed on correctly all the way round


Although he will never be able to stay on his horse without arms

IMG_0597And to make him look like a rather sophisticated we need a scarf and hat to complete the ensemble


He is rather taller than other dolls that I have knitted, but apparently John Wayne did not wear hats like this!

I am pleased to have ticked some things of my ever-expanding list – so the list looks like this now

  • I have some cross stitch I have not picked up in months (if not over a year) and it has not that much to do on it but yet it remains untouched.
  • There  are some knitted hearts that I need to do something with
  • Knitted juggling balls just need finishing off and bells attached
  • A pom pom explosion has happened and I have had a fanciful idea of making a rug… it has waned somewhat.
  • Finish Entralac knitting square test piece
  • IMG_0625Finish the gloves which I started to  – A. to see if I can remember knitting on four needles and add a cable into the mix as well. B – to stop me snacking. Christmas present?IMG_0627
  • Of course I have a Christmas Decoration that needs finishing. A kit I bought when I went on my annual outing to the Knitting and Stitching Show at Alexandra Palace. IMG_0628
  • I did but some snap fasteners at the show and have actually used some material I bought from a previous year and made two little purses. Rather pleased with these as I am not really a machine sewer and only tend to do the basic things.IMG_0629


So plenty to keep me busy and I must get on with it really so if you will excuse me………


The Perfect Christmas – Kate Forster

When you are one of the most in demand actress in the world and there is nothing you can get, you would think that your life would be wonderful.

How wrong you can be. Maggie is that actress but behind closed doors she is fighting with her husband when he decides to take his son to Mexico, Maggie doesn’t want to be left at home on her own.

She books a trip to London, dragging along her overworked manager and friend Zoe, they turn up at The Dorchester Hotel.

There every need is catered for by the love struck Holly. It seems that if Maggie cannot get a happy Hollywood ending for herself she is going to give it a try for someone else.

You get a glimpse of an ideal Christmas(snow in  London!) and also how the rich can live in such sumptuous surroundings with anything but that basically all they want is something that no matter what money cannot buy – love and happiness.

This short story, by Kate Forster is just long enough to enjoy if you only have limited time to be reading during the festive break.

Thank you to netgalley for a copy of this book. 

This book as many short stories/novella’s do has an extract of the forthcoming novel from the author. These marketing aims are lost on me I am afraid. I really cannot start a book and then have to wait sometimes months and months for it to be published. So some of the book goes unread, but the forthcoming book is always added to my wish list. So in some ways the marketing has worked? 

My Christmas reading seems to have started a lot earlier this year. I apologise. However, I had forgotten how much I enjoyed Kate Forster’s The Perfect Location which I read at the beginning of the year. I am off to investigate which ones I have not read and perhaps indulge. 


A Christmas Feast and other stories – Katie Fforde

You know how you get a selection box at Christmas, with all those favourite chocolates or sweets in, that you can certainly polish off before new year? What if you could get one which was full of stories from one of your favourite authors? Well if Katie Fforde is one of your favourites then this is the book for you.

This book contains everything you need for the Christmas Feast. Of course you have fizz and small eats and you are delighted with four short stories, when I say short they are short, the sort that feature in a magazine. Of course they all have the lovely women that Katie Fforde creates and there is plenty of Christmas cheer to be had for all. It shows you there is no such thing as a perfect Christmas.

As you sit down for your starter, you are invited to read a longer short story – The Undercover Cook. It can be bought separately but you have it in this book too. Emily a journalist has gone undercover to find out what it is really like working with famous chef Theo Milton. She enjoys strangely the cooking but it could be perhaps that the chef is enjoying her – but does he know the real Emily?

Another of Fforde’s short stories, From Scotland with Love takes us into the mains. We need something warm and substantial if we are going out into the snow in Scotland with a grumpy author and a dog about to have puppies.

Staying Away at Christmas is the perfect palate cleanser with the cheeseboard course. Two families thrown together at Christmas because of a double booking. It looks like they are all going to have learned some new Christmas traditions.

Pudding is always one of my favourite course and this year it is with a new short story A Christmas Feast. Imogen moves into her new house just before Christmas and thinks that she will have a perfect quiet time on her own. However, it seems that the Village has other ideas and she ends up having to entertain the village ‘witch’, Miss Wentworth on Christmas Day. It also seems that Miss Wentworth’s nephew decides to spend Christmas with her. It is going to make an interesting Christmas.

If you have room for Coffee and Chocolates, and quite frankly who doesn’t at Christmas this book ends with some more of the magazine style short stories.

Yes this book is a compilation of a lot of Katie Fforde’s shorter stories, but so what. It does contain a sneak preview of her new novel out in 2015, but I have not taken the plunge and read any of that as I otherwise I would be wanting to read it all! This book with it’s contents is all packaged together and makes an excellent gift either to introduce someone to her work or as a gift for yourself. It is not exclusively on kindle either you can hold a real paperback copy too! And that can be wrapped up and placed under the tree.

Thank you to netgalley for a copy of this for review. 

Published 4th December in paperback and on kindle.


Christmas at the Crescent – Veronica Henry

Josie and baby Titus are on their own. Giles decided to walk out on his new-born son and his partner, the day Titus was born. Immediately we don’t feel any sympathy for him, but a lot for the way that Josie, is trying to keep everything together. It seems that having a small baby can be a burden.

Especially if that burden is making a lot of noise and disturbing the neighbours. Josie is at her wit’s end with it all, trying to make enough puddings to sell at a Christmas market whilst Titus plays with saucepan and spoon… then her neighbour Harry, knocks the door.

It now seems that nothing is simple and that it might be nice to feel like being Josie again. Harry seems to want to like Josie too.

Giles is trying to manage his mother, who has a dislike for Rebecca his high maintenance girlfriend and the way he has treated his son. As Christmas is round the corner, a time for families, guilt seems to have caught up with Giles.

This is a delightful little novella and is a great example of Veronica Henry’s writing. I wanted to know more about Harry and his scriptwriting and some of the other residents that perhaps lived in the same crescent. For that I can let my imagination run, and be comforted in the fact Josie is cooking up delightful Christmas puddings which I swear you could smell and taste from just reading about them!

If you want to read something over Christmas and sometimes cannot find the time – this is an ideal read.

I have read a lot of short stories this year and especially lately, I think this is due to the capacity my brain has to come with not much else currently. However the stories I am reading are great and a tonic which I need right now. 


The Bootlace Boys – Eric Collinson

This book was the choice of my book club, the author was a friend of one of our members. We had read some First World War fiction already this year and wanted to broaden our horizons a bit more, which is why we chose this book. There was probably a lot of expectation on our part and the worry that we did not want to upset our friend or the author who kindly joined us for the discussion.

Our fears were unfounded, this is a book which is based on the authors real relatives, although certain events have been changed to fit and characters slightly altered. However, it is fundamentally a fictional story, based on a lot of research and the author giving people a voice about a group of miners in Durham who enlist in the Durham Light Infantry and find themselves transported into the reality and bloodshed of one of the battles of the First World War.

You get to meet Ted a coal miner and you follow him through his childhood, into a marriage with Bertha and subsequently into battle. Of course you learn a lot about Ted but you also get to know the way the mining villages work, how the mines and the mine owners were treating their workers and the strength that was created from working with the same people, living in close proximity to them and then going off to fight with them as well. This was a community which was not going to let anything divide it.

I learnt a lot and I was thrilled to get a glimpse into these lives. All the time as I was reading, I knew what was coming. I had prior knowledge, they did not. War was coming. And very interestingly war comes in the last quarter of the book and even then it is if we are waiting for the horrors that Ted and his fellow soldiers, friends and colleagues are going to either witness or be apart of. The horrors came, and whilst the truth might not make pleasant reading I feel it is important that so many know what happened. We can only know through books like this.

It is rich in its descriptions and I did struggle a bit to begin with as it was leaving very little to my imagination, but actually once I got into the style of writing around about the same time Ted and Bertha had settled into marriage I was with the book right to the end.

A book that is the result of a lot of research and a great passion to tell a story which should be read by anyone interested in the First World War.

It was great to meet the author and also it inspired me to look at the records available for some of my relatives who were in the War as well. It reminded me why I loved my history degree and how research can take over. As of yet though I have not written a book. 

I am not sure if I can get the author to our book group for the next book in 2015. 


Reading Rememberance

Poppies at the Tower

In a week where we have remembered not just the fallen from World War One, but all subsequent wars and conflicts and for everyone who gave their life. It has made me think about the books that I have read that featured War as part of their background, plot or character. What a better way to have my own remembrance with some reading.

I have picked 11. It seemed fitting.

Anna Hope – Wake

The body of the Unknown Soldier is making its way from France to London, to be buried in Westminster Abbey and the city is awaiting this unique moment. The war is still raw in many people’s hearts and they have yet to move on or find the strength to see that this permanent monument is theirs forever.

Three women in London, have all experienced something very different by the war. They do not know each other, but they all have one thing in common – loss.

Elizabeth Speller – The Return of Captain John Emmett

For those that survived The First World War, coming home and readjusting was another battle that many were facing.

Ben Elton – The First Casualty

From the cover and the blurb, you know that this is a book about the First World War. You also know that Douglas Kingsley, our detective is being sent out to Ypres to investigate a murder.

Douglas Kingsley objects to war. Objects so vociferously that he ends up a prison.

Rosie Goodwin – Home Front Girls

It is always worth remembering that those left behind during the Second World War were fighting their own wars. Wars on the home front as well as personal wars……

Judith Kinghorn – The Last Summer

This is simply a love story. It is a story of a love between two people Clarissa and Tom, one a lady with all the privileges, the other a young man with ideas but no standing and no money. Their love others will frown upon. But not only is a class divided, there is something else which will divide them all – War. A division across the world.

Joanna Trollope – The Soldier’s Wife

On return from a six month deployment in Afghanistan Dan cannot seem to find what he is anymore. Being a soldier is the easiest for him than returning to family life, the army life gives him more structure, purpose and plenty of knowns. Families bring plenty of unknowns and no orders on how to deal with them.

Louisa Young – My Dear I Wanted to Tell You

This book is pitched at those who loved war stories with a romantic edge, and if you do then this is the book for you but be warned you might not like the outcome.

Heloise Goodley – An Officer and a Gentlewoman

Part of Sandhurst training is to keep a diary of your experiences whilst attending one of the most gruelling courses that can be found in the military around the world.

Richard Madeley – Some Day I’ll Find You

…..a good plot, believable characters and the seed that is planted that maybe these fictitious events around World War Two did actually happen. It has to be partly believable to work.

Alison Pick – Far to Go

It is 1939 and we are taken to Czechoslovakia where the Nazi threat is no longer becoming a threat it is becoming reality.

Jessica Francis – The Report

173 people killed, men, women and children. But no bombs fell and no shots were fired. So why did these people die? The siren had sounded but no raid was forthcoming? And could the truth be told during a war?

As I simply typed war into the search engine on my blog, I came up with far more books than these eleven. But it is them that I have chosen, they give so much and in differing ways about war and also about the people as well.


Mr Miracle – Debbie Macomber

I have said before and for fear of repeating myself, I say again. Christmas would not be Christmas without a Debbie Macomber book. This year we are treated to another ‘Angel’ story. In Mr Miracle get to meet the first male angel.

Harry is a ‘guardian’ angel and is sent to earth to help those find the right way, especially at Christmas which can be a tough time for many. Harry is here to help Addie.

Addie decides that she needs to come home and get her life moving. She decides to take an English Literature class, which is where she meets Harry.

Harry is the tutor and the book chosen to study is A Christmas Carol. There could not be a better book to show you what Christmas spirit is all about. Addie has to look after Erich after he has an accident. The history between these two starts way back in the past and it seems that even if Addie can move forward Erich is going to need a lot more convincing. What once was hate is soon turning into something else.

It is up to Harry to make sure the future for Addie is filled with love. However, he is having problems of his own as he tries to understand the emotions and problems about living on earth. He is trying to help everyone and seems to have lost his focus, perhaps he is not cut out to be a guardian angel?

But it is Christmas and miracles are bound to happen.

This is a light heart warming story, with characters who could all develop into future stories and all no doubt have their own stories to tell. Perhaps miracles will happen for them in the future. A great way to start off your Christmas reading.




A Place for Us (Part 4)- Harriet Evans

And so it has come to the final part of this story. The book continues in the vein of alternating between all the characters and telling their side of the story as they go. It is coming up for a year since the invitation was extended to the Winter family to that now infamous party. Now they are due to all gather again, with a few empty places at the table but no longer with some of the empty hearts and lives they had.

In this end of the story, all the loose ends are brought together And we see something of the beginning of the future for Florence, for Kat both who have avoided Winterfold in the past due to tragedies, but now it seems the place is calling them back and it can now be a place of happiness.

Interestingly we see how Martha and David came to meet, to be together and to create Winterfold, perhaps then do begin to understand the actions of their future, which we have seen through their children and grandchildren. As you read on, I still feel there are some secrets to be told. Not everyone knows the whole and true story, that no doubt will go with Martha to her grave.

Reflecting back on reading this novel in a four-part serialisation I now wonder whether I have missed some of the impact that reading the book as a whole would give. I have enjoyed it, but would probably not want all books to be like this.

Thank you to netgalley for the final part of this serialisation.

A Place for Us is published as a full novel in paperback 15 January 2015.

Can I combine my reviews to make one review for the whole book? I am not sure that would work so successfully. However you can revisit them all and experience my thoughts on the book following these links

A Place For Us – Part One

A Place For Us – Part Two

A Place for Us – Part Three



The Heart of Winter – Emma Hannigan

Huntersbrook has been owned by the Craig family for generations, however has time moves on it becomes increasingly difficult to maintain such a house. Therefore it needs to have a new life and new purpose for Huntersbrook to survive for future generations.

The future lies with Lainey, Joey and Pippa Craig. They are going to make Huntersbrook the place to hold an event in. They are going to make it the place where everyone will want to come to hold a party, get married or even just escape for a while.

However for these three Huntersbrook is not their only focus. Life seems to have a habit of not running smoothly.

Lainey leaves the nearest to Huntersbrook, in a farmhouse next door with her husband Matt and small son Ely. She has a dream of filling her home with more children, and creating a motherly role and life that she thinks she has never achieved with her own mother, Holly Craig. Dreams very rarely become the reality you want them to be.

Joey is an up and coming accountant in Dublin. He is being noticed and it looks like all the hard work he has put in is about to come to fruition and he is going to be made a partner. But it will involve more work, more time away from Huntersbrook and his girlfriend Skye, as well as involving himself in a lifestyle that perhaps does not fit with the image of being a partner in an accountancy firm. Can he really change and leave what he holds most dear behind?

Pippa, is the youngest and has a reputation for being flighty and not always there. When she becomes caught up with a lifestyle that does not suit her, it looks like it could all come crashing down for her, especially when that lifestyle starts to infiltrate the peace that is Huntersbrook.

And so the story is told from these three main characters, throughout the novel, alternating chapters. And once you have got used to this way of writing, as I appreciate it is not to everyone’s liking, the story goes along at a reasonable pace. I was drawn into watching Pippa seemingly hit the self destruct button and when I thought that it was all going to end horribly, it didn’t. Here I actually wanted more than the author gave me at this point. I felt it needed to have gone more badly, that Pippa needed to be caught to realise the effect she was having on her life. It seemed a too easy way of getting back on track.

Joey and Lainey were a bit lacklustre, and I was rather frustrated with Joey’s aim in trying to change the person he loved so she would fit into the world he was starting to favour over everyone else. Lainey’s obvious hatred for her mother, comes across and despite bridges being built through the story, I felt that this was always going to be eating away at Lainey forever. In the end she irritated me too much to feel for her.

I don’t deny that in the book, the characters all realise something and discover something about themselves, each other and what is really important to them. The message from the book is all about family but whilst I did pick this up I did not think it was strong enough to make this a standout novel for me.

Thank you to Headline for a copy of this novel. 

Now having written my review and in preparation for posting it on Amazon, I discover that there is a novel before this one which features the same characters I wonder if I had read that first I would have felt completely differently about this book. Reviews say that you get more of the background of them. 

I am interested in reading more by this author and I will certainly consider her books in the future. 



The Great Christmas Knit Off – Alexandra Brown

Sybil has found a saviour in her knitting. She has always done it, but when she finds herself at her wedding with no groom and no sister, she realises that perhaps it is safer to stick with the knitting and not to get all tangled up with love.

When in her boring job at the council office, something seems to go amiss, Sybil thinks that maybe she could have been the cause, and therefore fakes illness and sidled off to Tindledale to see her best friend, Cher.

Tindledale is a village, picturesque no doubt in the daylight but not on a main bus route and when Sybil arrives by train she has to get her and Basil, her dog through the snow to find her friend. It is from this moment on she starts to meet the village’s host of many characters.

They all take Sybil into their community, their homes and even their hearts. Sybil feels at home and when she suddenly finds Hettie’s House of Haberdashery she realises that she really is in a heavenly place. With her love of knitting, Sybil finds solace there and in return Hettie finds something of the future life the place could have.

When a demand for a novelty jumper starts Hettie and Sybil, knitting and nattering. When one order suddenly becomes a lot more it seems that Sybil and the villagers are going to have to all pull together and knit as if their lives and the village depended on it.

As the knitting soothes, it seems to repair Sybil in a way she did not realise and the love and warmth of the locals seep into her soul and all of a sudden she finds she might fit in, she might belong and she might have really found love!

This is the first in what is to be a series of tales from Tindledale and if they are as good and as heart warming as this one, then they are going to be a sure-fire hit!

Thank you to the publisher and netgalley. 

I have read Cupcakes at Carrington’s and have the others in this series to read. In fact I may well have to go and pull Christmas at Carrington’s off the shelf now to read!