Friday 21 December 2012

December Solstice


Well, we’ve made it so far.  Things can only get better as the days start to lengthen again.  At the moment it’s pouring down and flood warnings are out for some areas of Britain.  I shall move on to something less depressing.


The advantage of going to parties with different sets of guests is that you can wear the same outfit for all.

My grandson shared a football party with his friend for their 7th birthday.  The kids, dressed in football kit, were organised into teams by a coach at the local gym.  Everyone joined in and enjoyed pizza for tea.  A good time was had by all.
The Birthday Boys
Football party

 Birthday tea at Grandma's

Then came the party with a twist; the online Writers’ Office Christmas Party hosted by Sally Quilford on Facebook.  All the usual elements of the party were there, only virtually.  It was attended by loads of people from all over the globe and lasted all day.  It was a really good do and not a hangover in sight.  This led to the spin off The Writers Office set up by Val Bonney, which promises to be equally successful.
Today I attended a party at my gardening club and won a prize for the Quiz!
Watched:  Silver Linings Playbook at the cinema; well acted and a good story.
Just got news that the Yorkshire Film Archive may be including a few seconds of my 89 year old Uncle Jack's old cinefilms from the 60s, which will be used in part of a documentary all about Blackpool in its heyday - to be aired at 8:00/8:30 p.m. on Boxing Day (next Wednesday) on BBC2
That’s one in the eye for his two great nephew film makers!
For those of you who are interested in old footage on all subjects, but mainly social history, go on to the Yorkshire film Archive website and you will not be disappointed.  A good source site for writers.
Reading:  The House on the Shore by Victoria Howard; a good light read.
Written:    A few pieces for local radio and a short story.
Best wishes
I would like to wish all my readers a happy holiday and a peaceful and succesful new year

Wednesday 12 December 2012

Crafts, curiosities and candles

Completed a year’s course in flower arrangement with this festive decoration


and, to my utter astonishment, I was presented with this beautiful silver cup for best newcomer!  I was really chuffed as this is the first trophy I have won in my life.


John Hobson gave a fascinating, illustrated talk entitled Curious Yorkshire.  I thought I was pretty clued up on this part of Yorkshire, but he proved me wrong.

From coast to moors and inland towns, he told us tales from the area, some to be taken with a pinch of salt.  If you are local and have the opportunity to hear John speak or visit the area, you will be enthralled.  Here is just a taster.

The talk began with the birthplace of Captain Cook, Staithes, where the women wore special padded bonnets to protect the head when carrying baskets full of mussels for fishing bait. Each day they would make up the bait with the mussels and attached them to a fishing line for the fishermen. The bonnet, gathered at the neck with a frill to allow the water to run away, differed according to the age and marital status of the person who wore it.
At nearby Port Mulgrave where the cobles (pronounced cobbles), replicas of the Viking boats, are still used for fishing.

The ancient Mulgrave Castle was once inhabited by the Maharajah Duleep Singh who was a great favourite with Queen Victoria. This much is true, but the well known story of how the Indian prince built a road so he and his entourage could travel from Sandsend to Whitby on the backs of his elephants without the animals getting sand between their toes could well be a tall tale.
And on to Whitby, home of Bram Stoker's famous story, which is steeped in history.  If you can climb to 199 steps, the church, its graveyard with a pirate's grave and the jade stone at the foot of the three tiered pulpit for adulteresses (as opposed to adulterers!)to sit during the service, is absolutely fascinating.
And the talk continued with the abbeys of the region:  Fountains Abbey claims the oldest flush toilets in the country, Jervaulx with its ancient embalming stones, Bolton Abbey for the carving of the dog which inspired nursery rhyme Hey Diddle Diddle and Grace Priory where the monks took the vow of silence and lived pretty much as hermits and their vegetarian food was delivered to their cells through a right angled tunnel so no interaction occurred.  That has a certain appeal for short periods of time if a laptop was included in the deal.
 As I said, this is only a taster.

On television I am enjoying the Last Tango in Halifax written by Sally Wainwright with main parts played by Anne Reid, Derek Jacobi, Sarah Lancashire and Nicola Walker and I am intrigued by a new drama The Town.
Maybe I should be exercising while watching!


Celebrating Chanukah with family and friends.  Made my best potato latkes yet.
 First night of Chanukah 2012

My gifts included an everyday watch and some pieces of wood for a project I have in mind.  

 second night




Sunday 2 December 2012

Shorter Days and Longer Nights

  Waterloo Lake, Roundhay Park


Long hours of rain, the sun setting by 4pm and waking up to the cold and dark are all signs of winter which usually brings on the winter blues.  We have fared better than many parts of the UK who have been hit by floods and not for the first time this year.   The weather remains cold but bright with blue skies and I have even spotted the odd poppy and rose daring to put on a display.  I planted Iris Sunrise bulbs; some in a pot for a payback scheme to my gardening club and some in my garden.

The Good, Bad and the Ugly

I attended the Bar mitzvah of my friend’s grandson.  A lovely celebration and Sam sang his piece beautifully.  
Unfortunately, I have been to a few funerals lately, and this week was the consecration of the gravestone of my late brother-in-law who died very suddenly in January.  I feel he would have appreciated the large numbers of family and friends who attended and even the congenial atmosphere at the gathering afterwards.
My laptop developed a horrific virus which took the form of a police notice with my photo, taken through my webcam, demanding a fine to be paid by PayPal to be able to use it.  I felt as if someone had invaded my personal space, never mind the cost of having it removed.
Out and About
A trip to Harlow Carr Gardens at Harrogate reminded us of the contrast of the seasons,

 The grasses still add interest

 The Winter Walk

Listened to an interesting talk on Cedric Morris (1889-1982) Sir Cedric Lockwood Morris, 9th Baronet was a British artist, art teacher and plantsman. He was born in Swansea but worked mainly in East Anglia. As an artist he is best known for his portraits, flower paintings and landscapes. Wikipedia

Had a run out to Ripon,  where I had a bowl of  Beetroot and Parsnip Soup for lunch at Booth’s.  The soup was raspberry coloured and tasted delicious.  Just the job for a cold, miserable day.

 The Town Hall, Ripon

I had a meeting at Cannon Hall in Barnsley and have made a mental note to return here next year when the gardens can be fully appreciated.   The Hall, which is also a museum, stands in 70 acres of rolling parkland and gardens.   There are splendid original features in the hall and an exhibition of Moorcroft pottery. 

A school party were cooking in the Victorian kitchen. You can also visit the Farm, the Farm shop and Garden Centre. Admission is free to all venues except for the farm, but parking fees must be paid.

 You can get versions for children too
As I arrived early, I had a cup of tea at the Pavilion Cafe, next to the car park.   The waitress was friendly and knew everyone by name.  The decor was interesting and the tablecloths were maps of world. 
After the meeting, I had the opportunity to see more of the grounds


 The view from the Hall

For almost 300 years Cannon Hall was home to the Spencer-Stanhope family who made their fortune in the local iron industry. In the 1790’s the architect John Carr of York enlarged the hall and redesigned the interior. The hall also houses ‘Charge’, the Regimental Museum of the 13th/18th Royal Hussars, Queen Mary’s Own and the Light Dragoons, it illustrates the part played by the regiment in many major battles such as the Charge of the Light Brigade and includes memorabilia dedicated to Lord Baden Powell.

 Part of the walled garden

 View from the walled garden

The historic walled garden dates from the 1760s and an annual event in September celebrates the pear trees, which were first grown here in the early eighteenth century.The Pear Tree collection is one of the most extensive in the North of England and has over 40 varieties.  One of the greenhouses is home to the 200 year old Cannon Hall vine, which was grown from a seed brought back by John Spencer-Stanhope from the continent in 1802. A cutting of the vine was exported to Australia, cultivated, and its descendants produce today’s fine Australian wines.

Watched:  Woody Allen’s Midnight in Paris at the local Arts Centre; had me smiling throughout.  On TV I’m a huge fan The Killing III (Danish  version) and The Hour.

Written:  A short dialogue The Birthday Party for local radio and a short story which is, as yet, unfinished.  I can proudly wear my badge for achieving the Write1Sub1 challenge for November!  Another month will complete the year.  I am considering upping my production rate for 2013.
Thanks to all of you who advised me on whether, when writing, you can mix 1st person with 3rd person.  The jury is still out.
Reading:  Just finished Painting by Numbers by Sally Patricia Gardner and can recommend it.

Healthy Writers Group

Ashamed to report that apart from my weekly Pilates session I have not managed any sort of exercise regime – and it’s showing.



Sunday 11 November 2012

Nippy November

 Canal Gardens, Roundhay Park

It is becoming increasingly tempting to stay at home and cosy up.  However the downside is that I am more aware of what needs doing in the house.  I am already missing the garden and the coast.

Falling Leaves

Kept warm by raking the leaves up, both in my garden and at the gardening club. Don’t you find it easier doing someone else’s garden or even cleaning someone else’s home?  I think it’s because you don’t get distracted.

Local Radio

I went along to a meeting where they were planning and producing a programme for next week with the theme Fire.  I have presented pieces on this media from my writing group;  listen to it on your PC at  

Healthy Writers Group

I think vigorous gardening will count, as will a brisk walk and a session of Pilates.  I am trying to develop a more regular regime.


I’ve had a travel article published about my picnic in a cemetery

I’m in a rut with my WIP as I started in the 3rd person, then changed to 1st person and I’m wondering whether I can mix and match.  Comments appreciated.

Saturday 3 November 2012

Ghouls, Gardening, Goodbyes and Good intentions


Our usual Quiz night had a Halloween theme and the whole place was decorated with skeletons, bats etc.   No quips about not needing a mask! 

We had lots of trick or treaters, with some children preferring fruits to sweets. 


I offered to help out some adults with special needs with their new allotment.  It’s a great space with a large shed and even a compost toilet.


This month’s flower arrangement task was a single flower, the gerbera, and green foliage from the garden.

My gardening club held a Bring and Buy sale, from which I purchased some more plants, plus a World Fruit and Veg quiz where exotic species were placed on a map where they grew for us to name, or guess in may case,

The next session was a talk by David Aldred on the Washburn Valley, an area of Yorkshire where I have taken many a ramble from being a child.  David’s presentation was really interesting and entertaining, all the more so by his use of superb photographs which he had taken himself.  The talk covered the geography, history and wildlife of the area, including many interesting facts that were new to me.  I have listed and illustrated several for those readers who are familiar with the area.


The river Washburn and the numerous reservoirs gave rise to much industry, as well as agriculture.

Some think that the village of Blubberhouses is so called because children as young as 6 were brought here from orphanages and workhouses and set to work in the mills for more than 60 hours per week and could be heard to blubber (cry).  Others say, and indulge me here, it is from the blueberries which grew there or from the former inn, the Blue Boar.  However, early spellings include "Bluburgh", from the Anglo-Saxon word burh for fort or from the word berg for mountain.  Other early spellings include "Bluborrow", "Bluburhouse", (1172) "Bluberhusum". These may come from the Anglo-Saxon bluberhūs = "the house(s) which is/are at the bubbling stream", with a later regularised plural; the -um form came from the Anglo-Saxon dative plural case æt bluberhūsum = "at the houses which ...".

Old boundary stones for estates and parishes are still found here.

Bronze age tree of life stones

There are the remains of an old Roman road.

Old buildings such as farm houses and hunting lodges are in evidence and most have now been redeveloped into superior residences, such as Scow Hall and Swinsty Hall built between 15 - 1600s

At the graveyard at Fewston church, one old tombstone records the date of death as February 30th.  

Thrusscross reservoir was formed by flooding the village of West End with its mills and cottages. 

In the novel In a Dry Season by the English-born, Canadian-based crime writer Peter Robinson, the fictional village of Hobb's End is the scene of a murder and the old buildings are exposed during a drought, which does actually happen.

 Swinsty Reservoir


All too soon it is the end of the season at the coast  for this year, but we have had some good fun . 

 The last bus

 The ladder from the cliff to the beach has been taken up

 and even the tide has gone out

The annual Scooter Rally was held in Bridlington; the mods are now pensioners!

More Goodbyes

I have also attended a couple of funerals in the past weeks of people, both of whom were  gregarious and big-hearted.  Listening to the tributes which enumerated their many qualities, I wondered what words would be spoken about me; not that I would be there to hear them.

I submitted a travel article to the Telegraph Just Back competition, without success.  The pieces I produced at my writers group should be read out on local radio shortly. This means I have earned my badge for this month.
To date I have had 1207 hits on my blog.

Reading: Just started Escape to the Country by fellow blogger Patsy Collins.  Loving the pace of it.

Good Intentions
Healthy Writers Club                          Managed to be more active by doing some aggressive
                                                             gardening and moving about to an exercise DVD to amuse
                                                             the grandchildren during half term.

 Now that that Winter is fast approaching and we have turned the clocks back,I am going to make a determined effort not to hibernate but to embrace the season.


“The sea is their grave but this Memorial sculpture is, in many ways, a headstone for the lost trawlermen”

I have always been impressed by the architecture in the centre of the maritime city of Hull, especially the old buildings with their carving...