Thursday, 26 February 2015


Grandparents are the bastions of childhood. To them you are ever young, ever the snotty child with food on your face, ever in need of spoiling, although the means of achieving that may alter over time. They always have time, time that they probably didn't have when your parents were young, time to talk, time to play, time to enjoy childhood that precious second time around.

My Nana passed away on Saturday, peacefully and with her two daughters by her side. She was much loved and will be much missed, and we all have happy memories of time spent with her. For that we are lucky and grateful, She was a wonderful grandmother, she loved children and was always willing to play tiddly winks, read the same stories over and over, and bake cherry buns. She made the best stew - my brother had my poor mum trying to emulate it for years! (I think she got there with it) As I grew older we developed our own relationship, I always asked her about her life during the war and as a young woman, about her own family, her own parents and grandparents. We looked at the old family photos together and she'd share anecdotes - I wish I could remember more of them now. We'd have a naughty glass of sherry and I'd crochet while we sat together and chatted. She had a great sense of humour, a dry wit and always a twinkle in her eye when she was teased. She lived in her own home until October, which she had shared with my Grandpa, and was always determined to do so. She wanted to live, and live she did. She was still going on outings with various clubs, went on holiday in September, and played cards regularly. I hope I have inherited her determination and zest for life.

I'm grateful to have known my Nana, to have had that special time. I've visited her on my own since I was a little girl and always enjoyed our time together. She was ill and suffering, and now she is at rest, reunited with Grandpa and probably still watching and sighing with exasperation when I don't put butter on my potatoes ("how can you eat them like that, they're so dry!") We will carry on, just as she would have wanted, and we will remember her always.

Saturday, 21 February 2015

Inbetween Crochet

I've now got two forms of crochet, blanket crochet, and 'inbetween' crochet. Basically as long as I make four squares of Bonnie's blanket a day I'm allowed to indulge my whims and make other little projects too :) I used the wool I bought in York, and made some simple wrist-warmers. The light is rubbish at this time of year, but if I waited for good light I'd never post anything so here we are ;)

It's quite a high wool content yarn - rather course but very warm. I used a new stitch - the crochet book calls it 'leaf stitch', essentially it's chain a multiple of 2 +1, and then 2DC (treble in US terms) into the third chain from the hook, miss the next stitch, 2DC in the next stitch, miss a stitch and continue. I love the effect, simple but quite dense and therefore very warm.

They are oh so warm and I'm very pleased with them. I do love crochet, it's so quick - Bonnie's blanket is now 14 squares by 12, and I'm hoping it won't be too much longer before there is a big 'ta dah' post!

Hope you're having a happy and peaceful weekend where-ever you may be :)

Wednesday, 18 February 2015

Checking In: February

Making : Mostly my Bonnie Blanket still, it's taking a while but I'm starting to enjoy the slow pace
Cooking : Jambalaya - fry up onions and veg, add rice, tinned tomatoes and stock and then simmer until rice is cooked. We season with some spicy BBQ flavouring :) 
Drinking : Tea. Always Tea.
Reading: 'The Constant Princess' by Philippa Gregory 
Wanting: To be outside walking in the sun
Deciding: On new deadlines, new timetables
Enjoying: The longer days
Waiting: For the bluebells to come in the Spring
Wondering: When our next Bonnie trip might be
Loving: Being at home after temping in Leicester
Pondering: Whether to carry on with my chapter once I've written this or just go and enjoy the sun
Considering: Baking tonight - it has been a while!
Buying: Surprisingly, still nothing! I'm on a crafting detox until I've finished something
Watching: Call the Midwife - I haven't seen it yet so started from the beginning. Amazing!! It's definitely not something C would watch so I wait for the occasional stolen moment when I can curl up and watch it with my crochet
Marvelling: At the spring flowers popping up
Needing: Some time in which to do nothing
Wearing: My honeymoon cowl 
Knowing: I am loved
Thinking: About happy memories and special times
Sorting: Out a massive pile of notes that seems to have miraculously developed on my desk
Coveting: Time for crafting
Giggling: I haven't giggled for a wee while, I hope I will again soon
Feeling: Ponderous. 
Snacking: Snackajacks. Still
Comforting: Wishing I was able to comfort but with a few things at the moment being more in need of comfort
Wishing: For peace for someone dear to me
Hearing: The sound of the 'Pointless' theme tune... I think that means C has finished work for the day!

picture taken walking to work in Leicester after a dusting of snow the night before :)

Friday, 13 February 2015

Five On Friday

From the midst of a dreary February day in England I thought I'd share 5 of my favourite cities I've visited for this week's 'Five on Friday'. Travelling is one of my favourite things, but it's a love I'm not currently able to indulge with Thesisville. So sat at my desk, dreaming of places afar old and new, I thought I'd indulge myself and share some quick snapshots of places I love with you today. 

1. Berlin

Yes - I'm highly predictable! Many apologies to all of you who have read numerous witterings on Berlin in my little internet space. Berlin is the city I feel most at home in. I think a bit of my heart permanently resides there. It's relaxed, exciting, old, new and million other juxtapositions all in one

2. Budapest

For some reason my PhD has taken me to this magnificent city a few times now, a summer school in July 2012 for 2 weeks when it was 40 degrees and over, and then a conference in Winter 2012 when it was -10 degrees. Both times it was beautiful, again like Berlin it's packed full of history and yet going under development, the architecture is stunning and it's just a wonderful place to be. It's getting a bit touristy I think, I noticed the difference between January 2008 when I first visited, but I'd still highly recommend a visit.

3. Dresden

Dresden is getting quite a bad reputation at the moment with all of the anti-immigration marches and Pegida and all the rest, and this Saxon city certainly has its issues. It was my closest city on my year abroad and I fell in love with it. There's a nice relaxed student culture and the history is fascinating, I very much condemn the bombings that killed so many people and destroyed the original city (they were still finding cellars full of bodies when I was there that had been buried for 60 years), but the old town of Dresden today feels largely peaceful (well it did in 2011 when I was last there). It's a lovely city in the summer to just meander, eat ice cream and cake and drink beer. There's some amazing surrounding countryside to explore as well.

4. Edinburgh

I've only ever been to Edinburgh during the Fringe so it was full of life, loud and exciting. I imagine it's equally beautiful when the Fringe isn't on - I want to go back and see. The city's great, lots going on, lovely buildings and last time I went I nearly made it to the top of Arthur's Seat before my fear of heights overcame me (it was extremely windy in my defence). C and I both agree that we could see ourselves living here, who knows, maybe life might take us that way.

5. Melbourne

I loved all three of the Australian cities we were lucky enough to visit last Christmas: Sydney, Melbourne and Adelaide, but I particularly enjoyed Melbourne.We had a wonderful few days in the city centre, exploring the smaller winding streets with their little shops, as well as taking a boat trip and going out to the Mornington Peninsula for some wine tasting. We were lucky enough to go to Philip Island where we saw the penguins as well as visited a koala sanctuary. The wonderful Australian wildlife was definitely a highlight :)

I am joining in Five on Friday, taking five minutes from our day to enjoy five things.  Please go and visit the other people who are also blogging about Five on Friday this week.

Helen from Woollybluebells
Gina from Fan My Flame
Joanne from A Whole Plot of Love 
Debbie from Saylor Street Cottage 

Saturday, 7 February 2015

The Year in Books - February

This month I haven't managed to read as much as I would have liked, but I did manage to read the two books I intended to.

My first book was 'Necessary Lies' by Diane Chamberlain. Now I'm not quite sure how I feel about this one. It engages with an incredibly important, and shocking, subject - the state-mandated sterilisation programme implemented in North Carolina which existed between the late 1920s and 1970s. The programme focussed predominantly on people deemed 'feeble minded', and was disproportionately applied to poor and black communities, inside and outside institutions. The main protagonists are Jane Forrester, a young newly married affluent social worker, and Ivy Hart a 15 year old girl tasked with the care of her sister, nephew and grandmother as poor tenants on a tobacco farm. Grace is appointed the Hart's social worker and the novel charts the developing relationship between Ivy and Grace. The more involved Grace becomes in Ivy's life, the darker secrets she discovers. I won't reveal any more here in case you want to read it :)

I found it a very interesting read, on a dark element of American history I knew nothing about. The book also has some interesting story lines regarding gender roles and relations at that time, looking at the relationship with Jane and her husband as well as Ivy's circumstances. However, I felt the characters were rather two dimensional and formulaic at times - Jane's actions bordered on the unbelievable at points - and the ending was a bit too predictable yet unbelievable for me. I thought with such a powerful subject Chamberlain could have done a bit more. But I'd love to know what other people think if they've read it - I've seen lots of excellent reviews for this book and maybe I am being a bit too picky. There were a couple of good twists, and it seems the social history was probably very well researched. Overall I'd give it 3 out of 5 I think.

The second book I read was part of the 'challenge' I'm vaguely following (you can read about it here), and fulfilled the category 'a book your mum loves'. My Mum's all-time favourite book is Jane Eyre by Emily Bronte, so I thought I'd better read that! I've read it once before, but I think I was only 12 or 13, so a long time ago, and having read it again I don't think I appreciated it when I did read it. What a beautiful novel. It's such a wonderful plot, and masterfully written. Whilst I'm a bit of a skim-reader I had to slow down a bit here because there were a fair few complicated sentences that I had to read slowly to digest! But it was worth it, the story of a young orphan girl, cast out by her Uncle's wife to a charitable school, who later becomes a governess to the ward of the striking, dark and intense Mr Rochester is definitely worth a read. It's written in the first person, and I really warmed to the character of 'Jane', the authorial voice is very realistic and entertaining. The tension between her an Mr Rochester is wonderful, it rivals the courtship between Elizabeth and Darcy in my opinion. The book's full of suspense as well, I won't give too much away just in case people haven't read it. I was pleasantly surprised with how engaging it was though, and I couldn't put it down. I'm still glad I wasn't born a Victorian though ;) Definitely 4.75 stars out of 5

So for next month..... I'm going to aim just to read one book as I'm a little bit snowed under (not literally!) I've got several contenders lined up, but seeing as I keep seeing it all over the blogosphere I'm going to read Jessie Burton's 'The Miniaturist'. I might also include a review of a book I'm studying for my thesis just to mix things up ;)

What are you reading? Do tell :) Linking up with Laura's 'The Year in Books' on her blog The Circle of Pines, here.

Sunday, 1 February 2015

A serial unfinisher

Now I really think that to unfinish should be a word, fail to finish, inability to finish, they're just too lengthy. Unfinished is an actual word, so surely the transformation from adjective to verb must be a legitimate one :) I am a serial unfinisher - I procrastinate in every possible way imaginable as soon as I have something to do. I will stop drying up half way through to take out the rubbish, in the middle of hanging up the washing I'll decide I really need to feed the cats, and so on and so forth. It's really rather a problem sometimes! As soon as I have a deadline of course whatever it is will be done, but without limitation or boundary I procrastinate the day away.

And now I move on to my point.... My crafting habits of late have taken on the characteristics of an unfinisher. I love the fact that I can refer to my unfinished craft projects as 'works in progress' :) I have 3 long-term projects on the go, one of which I really wanted to try and finish before too long but I've realised the finish line is a bit further than I thought. I'm talking about my blanket for Bonnie, our campervan. It's been seeming so big and nearly complete as I sit on the sofa at night, but I took it upstairs to try it on the bed and it looked so.... small!

I don't necessarily want it to be as big as a double bed, but at least wide enough to drape over the bottom during the winter. I've decided I'm just going to use up all of the wool that I have left and see how big it gets, fingers crossed it will be fairly sizeable. But my decision means that it will be a WIP for a wee while longer unfortunately!

My favourite WIP, and one that there is no pressure to finish (maybe making it my favourite...) is my hexagonalong, here are the 31 hexies for January!

And finally for today here's a little card I made for my wonderful Dad, who's a little under the weather at the moment with a chest infection. I hope the cheeky dolphin makes him smile :)

Thank you for the such lovely wishes regarding my unfinished thesis, I really really appreciate all the lovely comments. Having moaned that my life was full of thesis it is now on the back burner again as I've just been offered some temping at the University of Leicester again until next Tuesday. I'm working on the thesis in the evenings and weekends but a little anxious about having so much time away from it. Nevertheless it's a nice change and I enjoy the routine.

Have a lovely week where ever you are

Until next time.....