Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Monkey business

I finished my Monkey socks last week, I think it was Friday.

Pattern: Monkey by Cookie A
Yarn: Wendy Happy sock yarn
Needles: 2.5mm Addi Lace circs using magic loop

I think the pattern was a bit lost in the busy-ness of the yarn. The yarn was nice and soft but a bit splitty and very thin. I think these may stretch in the wash, my Tofutsies socks have gone quite baggy since they were washed.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Becca will be proud.........

...........because I am going to read Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austin!

Well no, that isn't strictly true. I just know I would never get through it and the thought of watching any of the film or TV versions doesn't appeal. So I am going to let a very nice actress by the name of Lynsay Duncan read it to me. I have bought and downloaded the audiobook from iTunes and put it onto my new iPhone! I don't think I have ever listened to an audiobook before so I looked at several versions and the reviews all seemed to suggest that this was the best one.

It is unabridged at 12+ hours long. That suggests that you could actually sit down at 8 o'clock in the morning and read the book without a break and have it finished by 8 o'clock in the evening. Somehow that doesn't seem like long enough for a whole book.

Anyway, I shall be listening while I walk the dog, in the car and also I can listen while I knit which is a bonus!

The Rose of Sebastopol by Katherine McMahon

I read this book as part of a bookgroup on

The Rose of Sebastopol The Rose of Sebastopol by Katharine McMahon

My review

rating: 4 of 5 stars
I wasn't expecting to enjoy this book. It is not something I would normally even pick up if I saw it in a bookshop. However, it is worth trying something new sometimes and I was not disappointed.

The book is the story of two cousins Rosa and Mariella at the time of the Crimean War, two very different personalities. Rosa is quite headstrong and defiant while Mariella is timid and anxious. They meet as children and become best friends immediately. Rosa takes Mariella on adventures around her home, a large country estate in Derbyshire.

When Rosa's stepfather dies about 10 years later, she and her mother come to London to live with Mariella's family. Mariella is being courted by her cousin by marriage, Henry Thewell, who is fast becoming an eminent doctor and surgeon.

When the Crimean War begins, Henry goes off to help set up facilities for the wounded soldiers, and Rosa decides she wants to join the nurses who are working for Miss Florence Nightingale. Mariella stays at home, living with her parents and losing herself in her sewing. When she receives a letter that Henry is ill she decides to go to him in Italy where he is convalescing. She finds him in a state of delirium, and he begs her to find Rosa who has gone missing in the Crimea. Against her nature she goes.

Mariella finds herself enduring all kinds of horrible conditions which at first she finds repulsive and sickening, but as time goes on she becomes somewhat desensitized to her surroundings and ends up mucking in with the nurses and helping the wounded and dying soldiers. She learns that Henry and Rosa met up here and some kind of liaison took place between them before Rosa disappeared, but no-one seems to know the true extent of this. Although heartbroken at their betrayal, she vows to find her cousin, and is helped by Rosa's step-brother Max Stukeley, a captain in the English Army, and her maid Nora.

Although this book is historical fiction, it is written in a modern style, so the language is not too flowery and it was an easy read. Both Rosa and Mariella can be frustrating at times, but they are both good people. There is a love-triangle element to the story (almost a love-square at one point) with Mariella being a bit naive as to her position in this.

It was interesting to see parallels between that time and modern times. Henry tries to change medical practices to slow the spread of infections in hospitals, and realises that cleanliness is the key. Rosa is an objector to the War and I would have thought in modern times she would be an anti-war protester on marches and in the 80's she would have been a Greenham Common woman.

There is a conclusion to the story which I won't give away but there are also some loose ends which I would have liked followed up, to see what became of some of the characters after the War, but I guess there is a bit of fun in deciding that for oneself.

View all my reviews.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

We ARE going out!

Colin just booked tickets to see Lee Mack next March. I'm a bit worried I might actually pee myself laughing, not the thing to do when you are in the third row!

An anniversary present to myself!

Becca and I eventually got to meet up for a chat today. She was on a late and didn't need to start work until 12 so we met in town in Starbucks at 9 o'clock for a coffee and a natter - mostly about knitting. Then we decided to go off to Stash and have another natter with Anne. Of course it would be rude to go in there and natter for over an hour and not buy so I found this cute pattern in the new Rowan Studio 15. It is called Serenity (but I can't see it on ravelry yet!). It will be ideal for over the top I got in Zara which is sleeveless!

The top is red so the cardi has to be red! I didn't really like the Rowan Summer Tweed, it feels a bit rough so I bought 6 balls of Debbie Bliss Pure Cotton for £1.99 a ball. I'm a bit wary of cotton after my disaster with the jumper for Colin but this should be okay as it is short and won't be all heavy and shapeless (fingers crossed). Of course now I want to start it straight away!

I haven't got too far to go on the second Monkey sock so if I finish that tonight I'll start the cardi tomorrow.

Even though it is our wedding anniversary - 15 years- today we are going to go out tomorrow night.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

If you are wondering where the knitting content has gone..........

.........I've been a bit distracted.

Firstly by reading. Since I joined GoodReads I have renewed my interest in reading - not that I ever lost it, I always have a book on the go, but I am more enthusiastic about getting through books quicker. Just the fact that you read a book and write a review for other people to read, seems to make it more urgent that you get a book finished. There is also a "progress update" bar where you put in which page you are currently on, so you can see how far into the book you are. I have also joined a couple of groups, one of which has a reading group where you can nominate a category and then when the category is decided you nominate a book and then everyone votes and that is the "book of the month". I suggested crime/thriller - well I would wouldn't I? - but the category voted winner was "a book with the name of a flower in the title". I suggested The Red Dahlia - a crime/thriller (2 birds with one stone and all that) but the winner was "The Rose of Sebastopol". Now I wouldn't touch this book with a bargepole normally but I am going to be open minded and give it a go. I've ordered a copy from GreenMetropolis because I had a bit of credit from when I sold a book through them. This is a great site for secondhand books, all books are £3.75, and postage is generally free on normal sized paperbacks.

My other distraction has been my new iPhone! Colin has a contract with O2 and was due for an upgrade so he decided to go for an iPhone. The minute it was in the house (last Thursday) I wanted one. I have been very happy on Pay as you Go with Orange for donkeys years, and probably would have stayed with them, but the iPhone is only on O2 so I have had to go over to them. And go on a contract which I've never had either. So on Saturday I got my lovely shiny iPhone. I've been surfing the web, and downloading apps and generally just staring at it a lot!

It was a bit naughty of me to get it on Saturday because it was actually Colin's birthday that day, not mine! We had a pub lunch and then in the evening we asked Paul & Kate and their girls round and we ordered Domino's pizzas. And I made a cheescake - no photos, it was eaten too quickly - which was delicious. I'll be making that again.

Tonight we are probably going to have something with mushrooms in it!

I have TWO fully grown mushrooms now. There are loads of tiny ones too but I'm wondering if they will come on better once these two aren't sucking up all the goodness in the soil.

As for knitting, I am plodding on with my Monkey socks, just passed the second heel last night so they should be finished off fairly quickly, and then I am going to go back to the Tweedy Waistcoat which went in the naughty corner. It shouldn't take too much to get it sorted out and finished, and it is just the right time of year now to be wearing it.

Finally, Colin is very excited because his 365challenge has been featured on the JustGiving website's blog. You can read it here.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Getting bigger

These are growing really fast now, just the two - all the others are there but still really tiny - but they seem to double in size every 24 hours. They are probably about 2cm tall now and about 1.5cm wide. I reckon we'll be eating them very soon.

Friday, April 17, 2009

To Kill a Mockingbird and Tales of Beedle the Bard- review

To Kill A Mockingbird To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee

My review

rating: 5 of 5 stars

I remember at school when we had to choose our options for O levels, I didn't take English Lit. I am sure this was one of the books some of my friends read in that class. I now feel that I missed out on this book for 25 years!

It was very well written from the viewpoint of the girl, life seems so simple to a child. It is a shame that we have to change our thinking as we get older and exposed to the more difficult things in life. Children use the word "why" much more than adults.

Thank goodness for the handful of adults in this story who thought differently to the others. Atticus was a great character, and a wonderful example to his children.

Thank you to Molly for recommending this book to me, I probably wouldn't have ever read it otherwise and I would have missed a great book.

The Tales of Beedle the Bard The Tales of Beedle the Bard by J.K. Rowling

My review

rating: 2 of 5 stars
I read this in about an hour. It was okay I guess but nothing to write home about really.

View all my reviews.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

What a difference a day makes.......

.....24 little hours. Look how much my mushies have grown in exactly 24 hours, they must have really needed that drink!

And here is a little drowned blackbird on the roof of our garage, taken with my sooper dooper zoom lens. If you click to make it larger you can see the water drops on his feathers.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009


So last Saturday we went to the Chester Food & Drink Festival. It didn't seem like there were as many exhibitors this year but it was spread out more and easier to see everything.
We bought a big mixed tub of olives from this stall,

and various other things like ciabatta, cheeses, smoked garlic bulbs, and some rudely named beers for our friend's birthday. We have also signed up to have an organic veggie box delivered. We did this last year with a different company but we kept getting broccoli which I love but my tummy doesn't, and they weren't very good at substituting it, so we cancelled it. The company we chose this time, BoxFresh, said all the right things so we'll see what turns up on Friday.

Of course, soon we won't be needing to buy mushrooms, once these little fellas grow a bit more. They weren't doing too well but it turned out they were too dry. When I gave them a big drink they suddenly starting coming on better. Still only about 3mm across on the biggest one though.

We had quite a busy weekend all in all. It started last Thursday night when we went out to Tilston to a friend's 50th birthday at the Carden Arms pub.

Then after the food fest we went to our neighbours for a meal on Saturday evening. Paul has a birthday 9 days before Colin so it was a double birthday meal really. Afterwards we watched Quantum of Solace on DVD. It was a good action film, but as Becca said last night, it's not cheesy Bond anymore! I don't think we did much on Sunday, then Eastham park on Monday.

I did do a bit of knitting, and finished the first of a pair of Monkey socks which have been waiting around for a while. Then last night, eagle eyed Anne at knit group noticed I'd dropped a stitch at the beginning of my toe decreases. so we grabbed it and I'll just sew it in. I remember it happening but thought I'd rescued it at the time, I guess I didn't!

I actually joined a sock yarn club. I knew about the Wild Fire Fibres sock club when it started in January but didn't sign up. Then when I started seeing the yarns people were getting on the ravelry group, I wished I'd joined. As it turned out someone had signed up for 3 months and not renewed so lovely Vikki said I could have that slot for the following 3 months. I think I'm due my first skein later this month. The great thing is, it is not the same colour that everyone gets, there is a theme but my skein may be a different colour mix to someone else. I have had some of her yarns before and they are lovely.

It was really good to see Becca at knit group last night, I haven't seen her since the end of January which is shocking, but she has been mad busy at work trying to keep her job (she works in the head office of one of the big banks). We have arranged to meet up after work next Wednesday and get something to eat in town and have a proper catch-up. It's difficult at knit group because there are lots of other people to chat to. It was good though, because I haven't been for a month because of my ear infection, so there was lots of knitting and "knattering" to be done. Karen has finally succumbed to the lure of the socks and brought along some lovely sock yarns that she had bought. (Must not got to Woolly Workshop's website! Must not, must not!)

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Eastham Country Park

We made a discovery yesterday. We were wondering where we could go to take Susie for a walk, and we were going to go to the beach but it is more or less at the top of the Wirral to West Kirby beach, a bit of a trek. We had a look on google maps to see if there were any beaches nearer and found not a beach but a lovely country park called Eastham Country Park, and it is only about 10 miles away. So off we went.

Firstly this gate was amusing, if you click on the photo you'll see why! Apparently this was the original gateway to the old Victorian park

which used to have a zoo in it. This was the original bearpit which had two bears (not these two!). Look at the awful cramped conditions.

I'm not sure what would have lived in this dark little hole.

There were some lovely new green leaves on the beech trees

And these mushrooms seem to be doing a lot better than my meagre efforts!

The park is directly in the flight path for Liverpool airport and about every 5 minutes there would be a roar as one of these passed overhead. I don't know how that airport would survive if EasyJet went bust!

This was a huge felled tree that we found - I positioned the models to show the scale

and this photo I like because she looks so puppyish.

We'll be going there again now that we have found it.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Don't know why I bothered.

Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea by Jules Verne

rating: 2 of 5 stars
I have just spent the best part of the last 2 weeks reading this, and I'm wondering why I bothered. I had completely the wrong impression of what this book was about, not having heard the story or seen any of the films (apart from Captain Nemo turning up in League of Extraordinary Gentlemen!). I thought that the 20,000 leagues under the sea meant that they literally went down vertically to 20,000 leagues below the surface and there found a land full of fantastical creatures a la Journey to the Centre of the Earth (which I also haven't read). But it was basically a fictional travel guide to the world's oceans written in the 1860s and therefore now out of date. The language (which I understand is a translation) was flowery and at some points consisted of paragraphs of lists of names of various sea plants and animals. The one exciting bit of the book, which I had anticipated for 221 pages before I finally got to it, lasted for approximately one and a third pages!

I remember now why I don't read fiction that was written more than 50 years ago.

And I think Hollywood has a lot to answer for.

View all my reviews.

Thursday, April 09, 2009

Meandering Vines

I was getting a bit agitated by the fact that I had so many UFOs on my needles, so I decided to finish these socks that were sent to me by my assassin in Day of the Dead. It turned out I only needed to do 8 pattern rows and the toe on each sock, so I did them last evening while the footie was on the telly.

Pattern : Meandering Vines
Yarn: Tofutsies
Needles: 2.5mm circs - magic loop.

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Whoops, I did it again........

....bought more sock yarn! Two skeins of Araucania Solid, but it was in the sale!

Tuesday, April 07, 2009


The postman has just been and look what he brought!! Cookie's book!

I had a panic last week because I had pre-ordered this book from The Book Depository. I had an email to say that they now had them in stock and my order had gone to packing. The next day I had another email saying they cancelled my order so I emailed back to ask why and they said they had underestimated the demand and had to cancel some orders cos they didn't have enough. Amazon didn't have any either so I went on the message boards in ravelry and Terri PM'ed me to say that Socktopus had 7 copies left when she last looked. By the time I got that message another 6 hours had passed so when I went to look they had 2 left. I snaffled one quick and now it is here! I'm too exited to look at it now! (BTW they are waiting on more, to arrive 3rd week of April if you want to pre-order.)

We went to the beach at Thurstaton on Sunday morning and we lost a tennis ball but gained a punctured football! The beach wasn't a great one, a bit stony, so I think we'll go back to West Kirby next time. We did stop in Church Farm Organics though and got a few tasty treats.

Speaking of which, the Chester Food & Drink Festival is on over Easter weekend. Mmmmmmm, hog roast for lunch, slurp!

Thursday, April 02, 2009

Can you tell what it is yet - clue 2

Any ideas? It's a tricky one isn't it?

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Spring yarn

From seller The Bear Necessities. Both sock yarns - like I need any more sock yarns.