Jottings · Witterings

Parish Notices

I thought it was about time for some notices, it seems that it has been near on four months since I have produced any and you might think this parish had disappeared. It hasn’t but it has certainly been in hibernation.

As spring has sprung and I have been able to go swimming again, it feels like a huge fog or fug has lifted and there has been a little more lightness in many ways. So I dust off this parish notice to let you know about some bits and pieces.

I shared a year of jigsaws with you and I have since finished another one and share that now, just in case you think you have to wait another year! It was a great way of consolidating all I have done and also putting theme somewhere so they were not taking space up on my iPad!

I have of course been creating and perhaps I need to share more of this on my blog too, so here is a sneak peak of something you will see come to life very soon…..

Of course in the main this is a book blog so what about some books – here are a few that might have passed you by and I think are worth a look.

This is a delightful debut novel from Sarah Steele who clearly has a flair for dressmaking, the details that have gone into using this as a means to tell a story is insightful and thoughtful. It really added to the depth of the story for me as these stories ran concurrently and then were all swept and stitched together.

My Review – 11 Jan 2021

This is the debut novel from this author and when I picked it up, I knew little of the subject matter and the history of Champagne. And if truth be known I am not a big fan of it – the drink not the book.

My Review – 3 Mar 2021

This book drew me straight in, I have been fortunate to visit Bletchley Park (and so want to go back) that I really did feel like I was walking through those gates, hunkering down in a hut with nothing but a jumble of letters and paper and pencils to crack something unknowable. What an experience it must have been and Kate Quinn brings that experience so much to life in this book.

My Review – 29 Mar 2021

I hope things are good in your parish? I appreciate everyone who pops by and says hello and also those who just pop by. I hope you find your time here enjoyable and of course pick up a book recommendation or two!

Books · Crafts · Jottings · Witterings

Parish Notices

It has been a while since I have posted any notices around here. I want to say it is because I have been too busy doing all sorts of wonderful things. But it is 2020 and doing all sorts of things are very limited and look like they will remain so for a little while yet.

How are you getting on around your parish?

So what has been happening…

Well reading of course, this is a book blog after all! Here are a couple of recommendations for you, just in case you need more books to read!

There is only one Queen of Crime (Agatha Christie if you don’t know) but what if the Queen was involved in solving crime. Well she needs to fill her days somehow between all the papers, visits and family battles surely?

This really is an exuberant take on the cosy mystery genre and has some good research done on it, to understand the workings of the the Royal Family and also the descriptions of Windsor Castle. There are some humorous moments and it had me laughing out loud and what seems like the absurdity of it all but then do we really know what goes on behind palace walls?

There is something reassuring about Heidi Swain’s novels. They take you to places that you just don’t want to visit, but also live and the beauty is you get to go back again and again.

One of my most favourite books of the year and is an example of escapism reading at it’s best as are all of this author’s novels. Be transported to the wonderful people of Nightingale Square and all that it offers and if you spot a place for sale- let me know, I have my bags packed and I am moving in.

Other than work and swimming (in between lockdowns) I have been busy with crafts. I have made quite a lot this year and I will not bore you with it all. However, I finished a blanket I started in 2019…

Dune Blanket from Attic24 pattern

The only trouble I found starting something in April 2019 and not finishing until November 2020 is that your tension changes quite considerably! Good job it is only a blanket – but it keeps me lovely and warm and that really is a blanket’s purpose in life.

I got into Toft crochet quite considerably through the lockdown and have enjoyed the creative challenges it brings, even if I have a fear of missing out and what all the new things now! One of these challenges was Rohit the Peacock.

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I was not sure about making him, as I have picked up the superstition that anything peacock in the house can bring you bad luck. I think I am safe with this crochet version.

This is an old superstition and an even earlier version claims that having peacock feathers in the house not only brings bad luck but destines any unmarried female to become an old maid.

Many actors will not allow peacock feathers to be brought onto the stage either as a prop or part of a costume and veteran actors and directors have recounted tales of sets falling down during performances that involve peacock feathers.

It is thought the superstition originated in the Mediterranean where the evil eye markings are said to represent the eye of he she-devil Lilith who is responsible for the unexplained deaths of children. By keeping peacock feathers in the house she is ever present and able to watch over your home.

However, in India, China and Japan bringing peacock feathers indoors is actually supposed to increase good luck by providing extra eyes around the house to protect the occupants from danger.

Taken from 7 Bird Superstitions @ Birdspot.co.uk

Perhaps I will share some more creating journey’s again on Parish Notices in the future?

So that is some news and highlights from my parish? How is it in yours?

Books

The Garden of Forgotten Wishes – Trisha Ashley

Marnie Ellwood has been running away for the last five years, from garden to chateaux and back again in France, Marnie feels that it is probably the right time to settle somewhere more permanent with a future.

When a job comes up in Jericho’s end as a gardener with accommodation thrown in too, it seems to good opportunity to miss. Apart from one thing, it is a place where her mother says she never should go to. It has too much history for Marnie’s late mum, but she does not really know why. She takes the job anyway, what possible harm could it do?

Settled into a lovely little place she can put down roots and with Elf and Myfy looking out for her as well as a rather dominant cat called Caspar. Marnie gets to work not just only her landlady’s gardens, filled with lavender bushes and rambling roses but also the river walk and waterfalls where some mysterious sightings have been in seen in the past and a place which an rather ethereal sense of calm over it.

Add to this Marnie is also to work next door in the ‘big house’ and it turns out the owner and renovator of the garden and house is a fellow student of Marnie’s from a long time ago, Ned Mars. There is a mystery to the rose garden and the whole place and Marnie throws herself into her gardening role and suddenly finds the peace she was perhaps searching for those years she was away in France.

With her friendship with Ned very much established, embracing life in Jericho’s End seems a given and Marnie finds she is in a place to stay. She is near her sister, she can enjoy the quiz night in the local pub and most of all she can enjoy gardening.

However it seems the ghost of many pasts are still lurking around Jericho’s End and they have an uncanny way of finding Marnie and making life rather interesting for a while.

Will Marnie restore more than a garden in Jericho’s End?

This is a wonderful delightful descriptive book from Trisha Ashley, she just gets better and better with each book. Whilst I was a bit lost with all the relatives from long ago and how they all fitted together with Ned and Marnie I was soon swept away with the restoration of the garden. It is the sort of place I would want to visit and secretly the sort of project I would love to be involved in. I could easily transport myself as someone who is looked after by a whole village as Marnie is.

If you are familiar with Trisha Ashley books then you will recognise familiar characters on the outskirts of the plot and Jericho’s End, it makes you feel as if you are part of that wonderful storytelling Trisha family.

Perfect for those who want to garden without getting your hands dirty and perfect for those who just want to escape – blissful reading awaits you.

Thank you to the publisher via netgalley for the opportunity to read this book. 

The Garden of Forgotten Wishes is published on 23rd July. 

Books

Kate and Clara’s Curious Cornish Craft Shop – Ali McNamara

As an avid lover of all things craft myself this book was meant to be read by me!

Kate leaves behind a difficult life in London and follows her dream to open a craft shop in Cornwall with her daughter. The shop sells a bit of everything but when a new shop opens up dedicated to art supplies, Kate feels that her idyllic dream is about to come to an end.

What she doesn’t know is she is the middle of another dream.

Jack, new owner of the art supplies shop is a force to be reckoned with, you need to look past the arrogant defence to see the kind-hearted man he can be. But still Kate is worried about what this shop will do to her business.

Kate and Jack are drawn together when it turns out some ramshackle old painting easels and an old vintage sewing machine from a house clearance appear to be telling a story of their own.

Back to the 1950s and we watch the original owner of the craft shop that Kate owns – Clara and how her and her daughter, Maggie have ended up in Cornwall. We meet Freddie and Arty and somehow this story as it plays out is related to the present day and it seems that some lives are running in parallel to the modern day story.

Will Kate and Jack solve the mystery?

Will the truth finally be told?

Added into this is minor characters, Ben, Sebastian, Anita and Julian who all pull the strands of this story together to make it a wonderful read to curl up with. Humour and love in abundance.

The mystery was sublime and whilst perhaps not really possible added to the story and swept me away to the past and kept me very much in the present. You will need to read the book to find out what it is!

Without a doubt these Cornish tales that Ali McNamara weaves are some of her best and I look forward to returning there soon.

Thank you to the publisher via netgalley for the opportunity to read this book. 

Kate and Clara’s Curious Craft Shop is published 23rd July. 

Crafts

A Suffragette Saviour

These strange times mean that some people are finding their hobbies are a great distraction. That has always been the case for me, it is just I have not shared much of it on this blog in the last few years or so.

However in a change from books I thought I would share what has been keeping me occupied (one of the many things) in recent weeks.

Please let me introduce you piece by piece to Emmeline Pankhurst – in the form of a slide show (I hope it works on whatever device you are using)

 

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Full Disclaimer – I simply followed a pattern, not that clever to make something up such as this. But forever grateful to Kerry Lord of Toft who creates such things.

In honour of International Women’s day we are launching a brand-new club!

This club is all about celebrating the remarkable women who changed our world for the better. Once every four months, a new crochet pattern and yarn bundle will be released to make the next inspirational female in this series. Based on the doll standard form in Kerry Lord’s best-selling crochet book Edward’s Doll Emporium, these amigurumi creations will become an heirloom collection for you to treasure. Along the way you’ll meet some of the world’s most influential women – some who you’ll have heard of, and others that will be new to you. The perfect gift for the great women in your life.

I am really pleased with how it has turned out and I did follow the pattern with some slight adjustments to hook size for the dress and I missed the bun off the hair as I felt the hat and the hair were just perfect for me.

It took me roughly four weeks, but that is with me making other things as well. I look forward to seeing what remarkable woman is next in the series – and I might just share it with you too!

Witterings

Parish Notices

 

Well it is three weeks since I lasted posted a little notice and how our lives have changed since then. At that point it was the day before we were told, this is it. Everything is to close and we are not to go far from our homes unless really necessary. My normal routines have been thrown into disarray and I am now finding others, like a lot of others probably have yet to find one that works.

I have still gone to work, I have reduced my hours considerably and I am now on leave. I needed a rest, my heads was full and I was starting to suffer from it. I recognise the signs. But of course when I go back everything will still be up in the air. I there again need to find another work routine.

The reading as I might have mentioned before took a bit of a dive, it has picked up, I think because of the books I chose. Agatha Christie, Poirot and some Katie Fforde have been wonderful places to escape into. Also reading without thinking about reviewing can be a blessing. I am so glad that I made the decision not to review every book I read anymore.

Keeping busy is of course important (as is not eating your body weight in food every day). I go out for my prescribed exercise, I have a rather steep hill (it probably isn’t that steep) to climb where I can look across the Solent and can see the formation of Portsmouth Harbour and beyond if it is clear. It has become my nemesis and I am determined to walk up there without getting out of breath!

I needed something to listen to on these walks, and whilst music can be great, I have the radio on most days for most of the day. I wanted to be educated so I have got into Something Rhymes with Purple Podcast with Susie Dent and Gyles Brandreth. Great fun, interesting and I am learning as I am pounding the pavements, looking out for rainbows and signs in windows. I have come across some knitting on a lamppost, books being offered in boxes outside houses and a general sense of we are all in this together.

As keeping the hands occupied (and away from the chocolate) I can turn to my knitting, crocheting, sewing and anything else in between, I present to you a selection of some of the last few days efforts.

It has been a while since I have shared so much of my craft stuff on this blog. There was a lot more in the early days of the blog and I am also still looking back through 2012 posts so I can do a review of that year soon. That could be my project for next week?

How are you all managing? What are you up to?

Books · Crafts · Jottings · Witterings

Ten Years of Lists and Reviews – 2010

This year marks 10 years in August since I started this blog and posting out into the unknown. And as it is a new decade as well, I thought it might be good to reflect back at the last ten years of posting and see how much has changed.

To be honest when I have gone back and looked at some of the posts I have wanted to cringe – did I really say that, did I share that nonsense? I did share a lot more about my crafts in the early posts, which I do not seem to now. Mainly I think because I no longer have a laptop and the only access for a computer (other than work) is when I visit my mum and dad – I have yet to master WordPress on my iPad successfully enough to warrant using it all the time. Perhaps I should endeavour to do more of that in 2020?

The first post I want to link back to is from August 2010 and funnily enough does feature some craft. These were also the days when I had a digital camera and photos were uploaded that way – then along come iPads and iPhones and it all seemed a bit more easier and less of a faff. So much has changed in 10 years.

These are some of the finished projects from that post –

As for the books I read in 2010 – an eclectic mix for sure. Not all of them were reviewed on this blog as I did not start it until three quarters of the way through the year – some of the reviews were originally on Amazon. That said I have looked back and randomly picked out two books (click on the book covers to be taken to the review)

Definitely a different sort of crime novel, not your average detective novel – no goody and baddy with the other one the victim. A novel with many layers, and not necessarily ones where the truth is going to be made clear to all, including the reader.

This is the story of Julie Jacobs who upon the death of her Aunt, her guardian since her mother and father died in a tragic car accident, learns the truth about her name, her place in life, her background and her history. History which goes back to the 14th Century and involves a familiar story to Julie, in fact her favourite – William Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet.

If you are a fan of Shakespeare, Romeo and Juliet and theories about where Shakespeare got his stories from and where they fit into today literature then this is the book for you.

So that is a look back from the posts of 2010 and if anything I have picked up a reminder of the lovely stitching designers I liked and have patterns of galore in my home. The books I read were very varied and I picked up an author I have not read anymore of since 2010 – Deanna Raybourn so I think I might have to rectify that and also share the reviews of the first three novels that I read.

I am going to look at 2011 next, so please pop back at some point over the coming weeks and months to see what I have rediscovered.

 

Crafts · Jottings · Knitting

Parish Notices

Hello all – what’s been happening round your own little parishes?

April has been a month of reading, resting, Ragdale Hall and spring cleaning. Two weeks off can do that for a girl you know!

I have all these great ideas of blogging about other things and I even hinted as such in my last Parish Notices post – that has yet to come to fruition. I think maybe the lack of access to proper computer and not quite there with blogging on my iPad means I only use the computer blog when I am home with my parents or if I can sneak a few minutes at work to knock up a review or something and then email myself for editing later on.

The other thing that could be stopping me writing these posts is the reading – do check out these recent reviews and recently published books

I found this book such a joyous and uplifting read and showed you that you can diversify when you need to and keep those around you as close as you can – they will love you the most. A great read and if you like your stories, full of cake and countryside then this is a must. Think Countryfile and Mary Berry mixed together!

 

An enjoyable read which has everything you want from women’s fiction – to take you away on holiday, for romance, for laughs and for some wonderful food.

Phillipa Ashley has done it again and she is fast becoming an author you can rely on for great reads.

Then there is the wonder that is Ragdale Hall – one day from the return of one of my visits I will write all about it.

After a lot of clearing out and dusting, I made space again for the jigsaw and also found that the spare room is much better than the living room in terms of light. Many an hour has been lost….

Then there is wool, colour, crochet, knitting and blankets galore!

What has been keeping you occupied in your part of the parish?

 

Books

The Woolly Hat Knitting Club – Poppy Dolan

Dee Blackthorn is ruthless when it comes to the corporate business world and she strives for one hundred percent success. She works hard and that is all she does, there is no stop, there is no pause. Dee lives for her work.

That is until one day she finds herself without a job and back living with her brother, JP. Suddenly working all the time is not the priority.

Which is not necessarily a bad thing because JP has managed to break both his wrists. JP becomes Dee’s priority but also in some ways her project as she wants to help him get on better. JP is not any normal brother though.

JP runs the local haberdashery and has found peace and pleasure in his knitting. He is popular online and regularly helps anyone that he can. But how can he now when he can’t even hold a knitting needle. Dee has to help him but there is a problem…..Dee cannot knit….

When she bumps into an old school friend, Becky in the supermarket who has just given birth to beautiful boy prematurely, she persuades JP that knitting little hats for premature babies would be a great way of just not helping Becky but lots of people in the same situation.

When Ben turns up looking for Dee, he becomes involved in the whole knitting furor and becomes friendly with JP. Trouble is Dee remembers what Ben was like to work with and thinks that there must be some ulterior motive. Ben becomes a surprise natural with the knitting, much to Dee’s irritation but he does embrace the whole idea of expanding the premature baby hat campaign.

Dee’s skills from her work life are in their element and what she can do is organise and make something small and successful, huge and mega successful. Is that what everyone and JP wants especially when it begins to hurt the people Dee loves. Dee cannot always see the real meaning sometimes of something so small and the pleasure that can be gained from a small number of people working for a bigger cause.

I loved this book, certainly one of my favourite of the year. Without a doubt because of the story but also because as a fellow knitter I can relate to all the yarn stories and the varieties of yarn, the difficulty in learning a new technique and being able to find someone to help you when needed.

This is a book which refocuses on the small little things in life because they are the most important and that sometimes having a big impact does not leave a lasting one. It is a great read and if you are a knitter as well, then this book is certainly a great read. Perhaps it might inspire you to pick up a pair of needles and knitting for someone.

Thank you to the publisher via netgalley for the opportunity to read this book. 

The Woolly Hat Knitting Club is out now. 

As you may (or may not) know I am a knitter as one of the many crafts I like to try my hand at. I already knit for the premature babies at my local maternity hospital. My mum always did long before she had me and continues to do so, I have just simply followed tradition. So here are a couple of hats and a selection of the cardigans as well. 

 

 

Books

Paper Hearts and Summer Kisses – Carole Matthews

I am still fairly new to Carole Matthews books and what I have read so far have been good reads. This book was no exception.

Christie Chapman, single mother who commutes two hours each way to London to work as a legal secretary is simply living but not necessarily alive. Everything she does is for her and her son Finn. She has the love and support of her parents who are near by. But life for Christie seems to be one long commute.

When not at work, thanks to her mother she has developed a rather obsessive interest in papercrafts. She makes cards and little gifts for friends and for people at work. She sometimes sells some, but she is really just a good hobbyist whose dreams of doing such a thing as a real job are firmly locked away because of the reality of the life she has.

When her mother entered her designs into a competition and she wins the chance to turn a hobby perhaps into something more. Part of the prize is to go to America to learn more about crafting.

Christie comes back from America with crafting ideas in abundance but also the possibility of love. However reality bites and her son is not very well and she needs to devote her time to him as much as she can.

Can she do this, commute, work, craft and have the possibility of romance? Surely something has to left behind?

Is the decision Christie makes the right one? Is the right decision her happy ending?

This is a joyful novel in parts and sad in others, but through that emotional depth, Carole Matthews has created a story which shows you how people support each other, stick together for a common goal and have faith that the decision you make is the right one for you. Do not let the fact that the novel is about crafting put you off, that is merely the vehicle that is used for expanding Christie’s world.  I was drawn into the story even if perhaps I knew how it was going to all turn out. But who cares! Not me!

A good read.

Thank you to the publisher and netgalley for the opportunity to read this novel 

Paper Hearts and Summer Kisses is out now.