Monday, 18 September 2017

The Constant Princess

I'm quite late to the party with Philippa Gregory books, I'd heard good things about them but wasn't sure they were for me. I've come to enjoy history more and more as I've got older but I didn't know if I'd like the mix of fiction and facts, though I've read a few books like this just recently, so when I saw The Constant Princess reduced to 99p for Kindle, I thought it was worth a go.

Although The Constant Princess isn't the first book that Philippa Gregory wrote in The Tudor Court series, it's the first in chronological order so I thought this would be a good one to start with. I've struggled with a few books just lately finding it hard to get into them, I'd already resigned myself to the fact that this would be the same but it wasn't like that at all, I was absolutely hooked from the very first page.

This novel tells the life of Catherine of Aragon, Henry VIII's first wife, right from her childhood in Spain, through to her marriage to Henry's older brother, Arthur, and finally to her life as Queen of England. It's a real page turner and I found myself unable to put it down. I enjoyed the author's style of writing, I found it easy to read, and I enjoyed how the book is written from Catherine's point of view.

This is another book I'd recommend and I shall definitely be reading the next in the series.

If you want to know what else I've been reading lately, you can find a list in the sidebar. This shows all the books I've read this year and there's also lists of the books I've read right back to 2012.

Friday, 15 September 2017


Nearly thirty years ago, I adopted a beautiful white pony called Polly from Redwings Horse Sanctuary in Norfolk. I always said that if I visited Norfolk I would visit the sanctuary and go and see her. Unfortunately, Polly had to be put to sleep in 2006 after living at Redwings for twenty two years and I never got the chance to meet her.

On the Sunday of our holiday, which happened to be my birthday, we decided to visit Redwings. They now have five centres situated around the UK with two of them in their home county of Norfolk. The Aylsham centre was the closest to where we were staying so that's the one we decided to visit.

The first thing that struck me was how big the sanctuary is. The lucky horses which are rescued and come to live at Redwings must live out their days very happy. They've got a great amount of space, company from other horses and are most obviously well looked after. What more could a horse want.

Apples were being thrown into this paddock and it didn't take long for the horses to notice, they all came running hoping to grab a tasty snack.

This is Ronnie, a miniature Shetland. He shares his paddock with Reggie and Baby Face Nelson, and they're known affectionately as The Gangsters. They came to Redwings after their owner died.

I'm not sure why Taz was in his stable rather than out in the fields. He's such a beautiful boy, happy to come to the front of the stable for a cuddle. I'm going to whisper this so that the other horses don't get jealous but he was my favourite if I'm being honest.

The horse on the left is Maya, a black Friesian mare who came to Redwings with six other horses after being found at a site in Essex in a terrible state of neglect. Their owner was found guilty of causing suffering.

Cookie reminds me of a spotty Dalmation dog. She must have a problem with her eyes as she's wearing a hood to keep the flies out of her way.

There's donkeys at Redwings too. These gorgeous animals need company and both Wiggins and Wacko had suffered from loneliness before arriving at the sanctuary. They're now the best of friends.

These Horse Facts, and lots more like them, are fastened to the fences around the paddocks.

You didn't think I'd been to Redwings and not adopted a horse did you? This gorgeous boy is Gulliver. He was rescued by the RSPCA at just a few days old, along with his mother, Cinders. They'd both been abandoned and left to fend for themselves. Cinders became severely malnourished as she was using the little food that she could find to provide milk for Gulliver. They were both given a home at Redwings and as Gulliver is such a friendly chap, he was an ideal candidate for the Adoption Club.

Adopt an animal for charity is number 43 on my 50 before 50 list so that one can now be crossed off.

All in all, Redwings cares for over 1500 horses, ponies, donkeys and mules every single day at one of their sanctuary sites around the UK, with the Aylsham site having 50 residents.

Do take a look at the Redwings website, it's very interesting and informative and if you feel inclined, you're able to adopt a horse online there too.

It was a lovely day out and I was really pleased that I'd chosen to spend my birthday with these beautiful horses.

Wednesday, 13 September 2017

Apple Day

I've been wanting to visit the Apple Day at Lotherton Hall for the last few years but for one reason or another I've always managed to miss it. Not so this year. It was held on Sunday and we got there nice and early.

The orchard was already filled with people picking the apples off the trees.

Armed with a book, which told us which tree was which variety, and a grabber, which enabled us to pick the uppermost apples, we set off to see which apples took our fancy.

The first ones we picked were Malster, a dual-purpose apple which originated in England and was known to exist in 1830. It's briskly acid when fresh, well adapted for cooking and sometimes used as a dessert apple when matured.

I chose five of these as I decided I'd make them into a crumble.

The next one was picked from a tree which didn't have much fruit on it. I'm not sure if it hadn't produced much or if it had already been stripped by others before us.

This is Edward VII, another dual-purpose apple which was first recorded in 1902, the year of the king's coronation. I only picked one of these, but I made sure that I kept it separate from the five I'd already picked from the other tree as it looked very similar.

The next tree was literally covered in fruit, I think perhaps because the apples don't look quite as attractive as some others.

Ashmead's Kernel is a dessert apple, developed in the 1700s by Dr Ashmead of Gloucester, England and is supposed to have a unique pear drop flavour.

My own Gloster apple tree has produced very well this year, the branches are literally bent by the weight of the fruit.

The apples are a deep red, very attractive to look at. I picked these four to take for my mum and dad but I picked an extra one for myself so that I could taste it and compare it to those I'd picked at Lotherton.

Now the proof is in the pudding, so to speak, so what did they taste like?

Well, the Edward VII was very tart, though it can be used as a cooker too so that's not really surprising. I don't mind a tart apple though. The Ashmead's Kernel was rather tart too, even though it's considered a dessert apple. None of us detected the unique pear drop flavour though. We tried a Gloster from my little tree in the garden alongside the ones we brought home from Lotherton, this was a much sweeter apple, a little like a Golden Delicious at first but with more of a tart aftertaste.

Both Mick and I agreed that we liked the Gloster best, followed by the Ashmead's Kernel and then the Edward VII. Eleanor totally disagreed with us, preferring the Edward VII followed by the Ashmead's Kernel and the Gloster came in last place for her. Another thing to note is that the apples from Lotherton started turning brown almost as soon as they were cut into, the Gloster held it's crisp, white colour, I'm not sure why this would be.

As for the Malster, I bought these with the intention of making a crumble but I haven't got round to that yet. Eleanor wasn't at home for tea on Monday, last night we went out for a meal with Eleanor, her boyfriend and his parents before they both return to uni, and Mick's working in Basingstoke today so he's decided to make the most of being just forty minutes away from where Daniel's now living and he's staying overnight so that he can spend the evening with him.

I'm sure the crumble will get made soon.

Monday, 11 September 2017

Seventh Blog Anniversary Giveaway Winner

It's that time of year again when I choose, at random, a winner for my blog anniversary giveaway. Many thanks to everyone who entered, I don't think I've ever had so many people enter any of my giveaways before, and thank you for all your lovely comments too, they were all very much appreciated.

Without further ado, let me tell you that the name drawn at random from all the entrants is Knitty Nutter from A Little Bit Of This And A Little Bit Of That blog. Can you please let me have your name and address details so that I can get the prize sent out to you. You can find my email address by clicking on my name at the top of the sidebar.

Thanks again to everyone who reads my blog and a special thank you to everyone who comments regularly. I do enjoy writing the posts but it makes it all the more enjoyable when I'm able to connect and make friends with people through the comments. It's been lovely to make so many friends though this little blog.

Saturday, 9 September 2017

Norfolk 2017

Thank you for all your lovely comments and good wishes on my last two posts. We're back from our holiday in Norfolk having had a lovely time.

The weather has been mixed but, fortunately, there hasn't been much rain. We arrived on the Friday and the best day of the week by far was Saturday. I'm glad that we decided to make the most of the sunshine that day and spend a good amount of time on the beach.

Our cottage was just a stones throw away from the beach so it was in a perfect location for a seaside holiday, though the village where it was situated was very quiet and didn't have many amenities. That didn't bother us at all though as we enjoyed the peace and quiet.

There's a pathway along the beach which is nice for a walk and the beach itself is divided up by groynes to keep the sand in place. This has the effect of creating lots of little beaches.

We were on our own for most of the day with just the odd dog walker passing by, much to Archie's delight. He does like to make friends.

Mick and Eleanor usually enjoy trying their hands at fishing whilst on holiday and this holiday was no exception, though it was rather different to what they're used to. They usually fish in rivers and lakes so sea fishing was something new. They didn't manage to catch a thing between them, except for seaweed.

I always enjoy watching the wildlife, though I'm not very good at identifying seabirds. I think this may be a sandpiper. Please correct me if I'm wrong.

The beach was lovely and sandy, dotted here and there with a few pebbles. I set a challenge right at the start of the holiday to find a pebble with a hole right the way through it and I even promised a little prize to the winner. I've got my eye on a skein of yarn I'd quite like which I'm sure I could have justified buying had a won this competition.

Sadly, the weather went downhill from here, though it wasn't so bad to stop us doing anything. We got the odd shower and it was rather windy but overall it was quite dull. It was nice when there was a break in the clouds though and the sun put in an appearance.

We did some lovely things during our week in Norfolk which I'll tell you about in later posts.

Unfortunately, on our return home, we discovered that my mum has been in hospital and had just arrived home about the same time as we had. She'd had a fall in her bedroom on Tuesday morning and my dad discovered her in a pool of blood, she didn't remember anything about the fall. Fortunately, she hasn't broken anything but she looks as though she's been badly beaten about the face. She was kept in hospital for observation.

Don't forget, if you haven't already entered my giveaway, you've got until midday on Sunday the 10th of September 2017 to do so, just leave a comment on my Seventh Blog Anniversary Giveaway And Another Holiday post.

Sunday, 3 September 2017

50 Before 50 - Update 2

I started my 50 Before 50 list on my 48th birthday, you can see the list and read about it in my 50 Before 50 - Part One and 50 Before 50 - Part Two posts. After six months I wrote my 50 Before 50 - Update 1 post and as today is my 49th birthday, it's exactly a year since I started the list so it's time for another update.

I don't take very much exercise, walking is really my limit so I thought it important to add something a little more energetic to the list. Start swimming regularly is number 2 on the list and I made a start back in April, I wrote my Swimming post about it. It all went slightly awry at the end of May and beginning of June when I was ill, I stopped swimming altogether but I'm back to it again now, though not quite as regularly. Still, it's more exercise than I was getting before I started swimming and I'm hoping to get back into a regular habit.

Number 6 on the list is Visit Wales and that's what we did back in March. We only stayed for a couple of nights but we had a fabulous time and it's somewhere I'd definitely like to visit again. You can read all about it in my Weekending In Wales post.

I've been wanting to read Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte for years now and I finally got round to it. You can read what I thought of it, along with a few facts about the book, in my Wuthering Heights post. That's number 9 crossed off the list.

Number 11 on the list is Fly a kite. We had a lot of fun with this one, trying to get it up in the air, which we finally managed. You can read all about it in my Let's Go Fly A Kite post.

Whilst in Wales I was able to cross number 18 off the list, Try a food I've never tried before. The hotel where we stayed provided a lovely full Welsh breakfast each morning and though I asked for mine without the black pudding, it was still on my plate when the waitress brought it out. I decided I'd give it a go and though I managed about half of it, it's not something I'll be in a hurry to eat again.

I also tried scallops for the first time and wrote about that in my These Are Not Just Yellow Stickers post. So that's two things I've never tried before and number 18 is well and truly ticked off.

More recently, I visited the White Horse of Kilburn and though I didn't manage to touch it, I got pretty close so I'm counting that as number 22 done. You can read about that in my Horsing Around post.

Visit a craft show is number 47 on the list. I've visited Yarndale in the past and again just after I started this list but I wanted to try out some other shows too. Spring Into Wool is a new show which has popped up this year and is held close to home at The Grammar School at Leeds. I visited in April and you can read all about it in my Spring Into Wool 2017 post.

So I'm half way through now, yet I've still got way more than half of the list to complete. Time to get a move on methinks.

Don't forget, if you haven't already entered my giveaway, you've got until midday on Sunday the 10th of September 2017 to do so, just leave a comment on my Seventh Blog Anniversay Giveaway And Another Holiday post.

Thursday, 31 August 2017

Seventh Blog Anniversary Giveaway And Another Holiday

We go away tomorrow for the second of our summer holidays. This time we're heading to Norfolk and hoping for better weather than we got earlier this month in Lincolnshire.

We're staying in a cottage by the sea so some good weather would be very welcome so that we can spend some days on the beach. The forecast is looking good at the moment but I know that can all change at the drop of a hat.

There's wi-fi in the cottage but I do prefer my holidays to be technology free so I won't be blogging until I'm back, however, I have a post scheduled for Sunday so watch out for that.

It's my seventh blog anniversary tomorrow so, as usual on my blog anniversaries, I thought I'd have a little giveaway. I'll tell you about it now and then I'll be able to pick a winner when I return home from holiday.

I've noticed how the nights are starting to draw in now, it's getting darker so much earlier than it has been, so I thought I'd put a little parcel together ready for the evenings when the curtains are drawn, the fire is lit and it's time to hunker down.

First up is a couple of balls of sock yarn. I like nothing more than sitting with my knitting on an evening and sock knitting is so addictive. This is Drops Fabel in the Pink Dream colourway.

When I think of hunkering down, an image comes into my mind of sitting by the fireside reading a book so I had to include some reading material in the giveaway. I missed holidaying in Cornwall this year so the title of this book jumped out at me, The Cornish House by Liz Fenwick.

Letter writing is something else I enjoy doing when the dark evenings strike. I don't write as many letters as I used to, but it's always nice to have some pretty notepaper at the ready.

Hot drinks are always welcome when the colder weather arrives so there'll be a selection included in the giveaway, tea and hot chocolate, along with some yummy treats. I don't know about you but I can never resist a Tunnock's Teacake.

The giveaway is open to all readers of this blog, old and new, near and far. You don't have to be a follower but it would be lovely if you would click on the link in the sidebar or follow on Bloglovin'. Please leave a comment on this post by midday on Sunday the 10th of September 2017, after which, a winner will be drawn at random.

It doesn't seem two minutes since I started this blog back in September 2010 but I've thoroughly enjoyed writing the posts and reading every comment which has been left. Most of all, I've enjoyed making so many new friends, the blogging community really is the best. Thank you all for visiting and leaving such lovely comments, I really do appreciate it.

See you soon.

Monday, 28 August 2017

Raindrops On Roses - August

These are a few of my favourite things.

Old photos. How I love looking back at photos taken long ago. My mum's memory is deteriorating rapidly, she's been diagnosed with dementia and both long and short term memory is affected. I've pulled out all my boxes of old photos and I've been taking an album with me as I visit each day and though she often doesn't remember who's who in the photos, she's been enjoying looking at them, and so have my dad and I. We may live in the digital age but I still print off favourite photos and store them in albums, I don't think you get the same feel for a photo when you're looking at it on a computer as you do when turning the pages of an album.

Days at the beach. We had the first of our summer holidays at the beginning of the month, though we only managed to get on the beach once because of the weather. We had a lovely day at Whitby and Sandsend in the middle of the month whilst Mick was still off work though. There's nothing more restorative than sitting on the sand listening to the waves crash on the shore.

Third Vault Yarns. I bought this skein from Spring Into Wool back in April, it's the Dragon Scales colourway in 100% Superwash Merino. It's such a beautiful colour, you can't really see it here in the photo, but there's green and greys, blues and purples. It's iridescent too so the colours seem to change when you look at the knitting from different angles. I'm thoroughly enjoying using this yarn, it's beautiful to knit with and it's got a great stitch definition.

Homegrown tomatoes. I started my seeds off quite late this year and the plants have never really caught up. They're not very good at all actually, but I'm still managing to harvest some fruit which I'm very pleased about as shop bought tomatoes just don't compare with homegrown. I've only grown one tomato variety this year, Maskotka, which is a cherry tomato with a beautiful, sweet flavour.

Ebay. It's a while since I've used Ebay to sell anything but there was an offer on last week where you only paid a maximum £1 final value fee whatever amount the item sells for, the usual charge is 10%. I had a couple of things to list and they sold for a total price of £60, I paid just £2 in fees instead of the usual £6. That's an extra £60 to add to the savings.

What favourites do you have this month? How about joining me and writing a post about them?

Friday, 25 August 2017

Winding Down

The garden has definitely started to wind down ready for autumn now. It hasn't done particularly well this year, I cut down on my veggie growing and just had four containers of potatoes and four tomato plants but even they haven't done so well. I was late sowing the tomato seeds and though I've had some ripe fruit, the plants have never really got going and aren't the best.

One thing which has done well is my little apple tree. This is Gloster, red skinned, as you can see, with a crisp flesh. It had lots of blossom in the spring and it's gone on to produce a bumper harvest. This is only part of the tree, the other branches are laden too.

My beautiful Golden Wings rose doesn't look quite so beautiful once the flowers are spent. There are some new buds though so I should get some more blooms.

Geraniums, or pelargoniums to give them their correct name, are plants which flower on and on all summer. I bought three of this unknown variety earlier this year and they're still going strong. I love the scarlet red ones best.

I've got three blueberry bushes which I grow in containers. They're all different varieties so they ripen at different stages to extend the harvest but only one of the plants have really done their thing this year, one produced just a handful of fruit and the other had a year off. They're all now showing their autumnal colour, a little early really. I wonder if they've been tricked into thinking that summer was in May and June when we had a spell of hot weather.

This unnamed rose was a present from Daniel one Mother's Day, it's never really thrived but it does give me a few blooms each year so I'm loath to pull it out. I'm a bit sentimental like that.

The promise of things to come. It won't be long now until the sedum bursts into bloom. I'm hoping that it encourages lots of honey bees and butterflies into the garden, like it usually does, as I've seen very few of either around this year.

One thing which never looks sad, my little stone spaniel hiding amongst the plants.

I have lots of garden ornaments. Do you?