Slow down Saturday (and Sunday) … ribbit!

Happy world frog day! No frog-y visitors today in the back porch, I expect they are busy putting up the water lily bunting and getting ready for an evening of partying … ribbit…

For me it has been a weekend of slowing down after a busy working week. Since the end of Covid lockdowns (fingers crossed) I enjoy sociable Saturdays, a chance to catch up with much missed friends and touch base with family. This week I was delighted my good friend KS could come over – with the beautiful elderly cocker spaniel that is Bagel – for plenty of chatting, food and crafting. Bliss.

Hi folks – remember me?

KS and her husband are spending this year – in addition to their day jobs – fundraising for Cumbria’s children’s hospice, Jigsaw. I am full of awe, they both have incredibly stressful jobs yet they are dedicated in their efforts to support this special charity.

On Friday 15 April KS is organising a coffee and cake morning at Melmerby village hall. Along with refreshments there are stalls including one with woolly makes. I am behind the curve here, I need to get cracking on my crochet baby boots, but KS is of course on this (as well as organising the whole event). She finished a gorgeous baby matinee jacket while she was here along with starting a second knitted baby bootee. So if you live in or are visiting the stunning Eden Valley and the village of Melmerby on Good Friday do drop in on KS at the village hall and bring plenty of cash!

Now a quick crafty round-up from me. I paired chatting, listening and cooking with Lucy at Attic 24’s crochet-along (CAL) Harbour Blanket. I am only just finishing Week 2 of the original CAL but no matter the easy rhythm of the ripple pattern make it the perfect accompaniment to being sociable. I might just get it finished for next Winter. Here’s how it looks today:

In other crafty news: my polar bear panel has now been joined by panda.

Think the bears are enjoying the company.

Counter Intuitively – because the weather is fabulous – I decided to carry Slow Down Saturday into Slow Down Some More Sunday and enjoy tea, leftovers and books. I don’t know about you but I always have a few books on the go. This suits my restless … I mean butterfly mind. Off the shelves this weekend are:

Ed Winters is often known as Earthling Ed and what I love about him is his gentle discursive way of talking to people about veganism. As this book shows he knows his stuff and references all the research he has used. Of course while Ed appears a gentle soul what he talks and writes about is often violent and brutal. I squeamishly read through the section on how meat, milk, eggs and fish get to our plates and confess I am actually relieved to be on the section devoted to the environment! Even though I don’t think that will be an easy ride either.

Pleased to have a little bit of light relief I smiled at the book mark I am using. A much treasured reminder of my friends’ wonderful bookshop, Fireside Bookshop, that has recently relocated to Stroud in Gloucestershire. This is my favourite of favourite bookshops please have look see either online or in person. The selection is superb and contains specialist rarities, many of my books on archaeology and ancient history are from Fireside.

Ooh I hear the gentle whisper of a fritillary’s wings. Book number two:

I have loved Kate Atkinson since reading ‘Behind the Scenes at the Museum’ years ago. She has the rare gift of conveying how life changing events occur in a heartbeat. She has certainly given me a few ‘I didn’t see that coming’ moments. Book three:

Inspired by our recent visit to the Quaker Tapestry here in Kendal and sadly by the way of the world – in Ukraine and the many other war-torn parts of the globe – I thought I would again re-visit the ‘religion’ of my English grandmother, Quakerism. This famously pacifist community seemed to me the antidote to the violence of how we humans often speak and act.

It is very difficult to pin down what a Quaker is. I recently heard that if you ask four Quakers what a Quaker is, you will get five different answers. Love a group with a sense of humour! I am agnostic, I just don’t know what (if anything) is ‘out there’. But I do love the idea of a kind way of life where there is good (God if that is your belief) in everyone. I will keep on reading but while I read I must eat, so to my last books;

These two well thumbed cookbooks will help me use up everything in my veg box. It’s looking like that remaining Savoy Cabbage will be roasted with peppercorns … yum.

Please keep safe and be kind,

Mx

Toddling into town

Hello all,

I hope your New Year is getting off to a good start. For me it is back to the normal run of things. This no criticism it is the mundane that allows some occasions to be cherished as special and there is also comfort to be had in the routine. I am happy to be ‘bored’ it gives me chance to reflect, look ahead or just switch off.

Off course not all reflections are helpful. Yesterday as I toddled into town to get some chores done I pondered: how come I am Cumbrian yet I hate walking up hills? Who said that?! I will have you know I am r-e-l-a-t-i-v-e-l-y fit and only just on the cuddly side.

My walk starts with a short uphill section, puff wheeze:

I am half way up here

Followed by a quick stroll across a field with a long (dare I say it dull) walk UP the next road …. can….n’t….sp…ea…ck …gasp:

Mmmm, not looking that much of an uphill struggle

Obviously to my Cumbrian kith and kin I don’t know a steep road when I climb one:

Anyhoo after pondering the imponderable (you at the back again! I said ‘cuddly’), and feeling much warmer than when I set off, I arrived in town. Food shopping out of the way I wended my way to my favourite store, Reticule.

Cosy, snug and full of crafty promise

I am about to embark on a new quilt which I am sewing for granddaughter Peanut for … wait for it … next Christmas! Do I get a prize for being the first person you know to mention the C word this year?!

Peanut is the only one of my three granddaughters not to have a quilt. Here are Munchkin and Shrub’s:

I had not embraced my inner quilter when Peanut was born. I am making up for lost time. Peanut is a keen supporter of Animals Asia so I decided her quilt should be dedicated to bears. As there are 8 species of bear to which I can add a few sub-species I am going to create twelve panels each devoted to a different type of bear. Ursus Ianuarii is the polar bear.

I had made a small sketch:

How do you spell ‘grey’ Moke?

I had then checked my fabric stash but came up with only one useful piece … erm dark grey/gray. But with this visit to Reticule, a chat with the super helpful owner Jane, I am polar bear fabric ready.

The loveliness of a walk into the ‘Auld grey (flippin’ heck not that word again!) town’ of Kendal – hills not withstanding – did not end there. Friend ACk had given me the gift of a book token for Christmas and it was burning a hole in my imagination, what new book would be joining the shelves, tables or other flat surfaces at Casa Moke?

Missing our independent bookshops though I am, it is still enjoyable to visit Waterstones (the UK’s ubiquitous seller of tomes) and browse their two floors of stock. Having cried at the beauty of Madeline Miller’s love story ‘Song of Achilles’ last year and loving Natalie Haynes BBC radio classical comedy ‘Natalie Haynes Stands up for the Classics’ I went for a Natalie Haynes’ novel “The Children of Jocasta” which was recommended by Madeline Miller. Win win.

Adding a 2022 diary to my purchases rounded off my sortie onto the high street. Bearing two bags of veg and other essentials I walked home to enjoy a relaxing read and contemplative updating of the new diary… but with arms at least a few inches longer, blast those hills!

Keep safe and well in 2022,

Moke x

Knitting up the Past

Hello All

It’s been a whirlwind weekend. Plenty of laughter with friends and family and wonderful food. PF that was a meal to die for. Thank you.

Meanwhile back at Casa Moke I have another sample ready. Trouble is I got the pattern for these fingerless mittens from a magazine some years ago and have lost the original instructions so each time I make a new pair I improvise. Well at least I can say every pair is unique! Luckily they started out alright.

And I managed a pair that look mighty similar.

Did I sew up the space between the thumb and main section the same?

Think so. More or less ….

It seems I may have been crocheting in the right colour range. Military khaki tones could prove useful to future projects. I have been right royally spoiled of late with a special birthday and now as I prepare to move to pastures new at work. MB off on hols and not back until I have left gave me the most thoughtful gift and one that meant I struggled working – but I managed to keep going … I did …. honest – as I so wanted to have time to look through its pages. That pleasure had to wait but it was worth it.

Packed with photos, information and even patterns this is truly a celebration of yarn crafts in adversity and heartwarmingly has a chapter on craftivism. It is a revelation to both the ardent knitter and crocheter as well as the armchair crafter.

Thank you MB for such a welcome addition to my wool craft library and archive.

I would love to hear your recommendations for books on the history of knitting and other yarn crafts.

Until next we meet,

Moke xxx

Bags are packed

Hello All

All packed and ready to go

I have been on one of my regular jaunts to Yorkshire to see No 1 Daughter and little granddaughter Peanut.

I have configured what for me is the perfect route. Now this is not for those that want to get anywhere fast. In fact it is definitely one for the proponents of slow living and those that enjoy the journey more than the destination. All aboard.

As with most of my journeys this one starts with a bus. On this occasion the 555 traveling towards Lancaster easily caught from the end of the road. Apologies if you get travel sickness but here is a snippet of what I can see atop the double decker as it bumps its way between Milnethorpe and Holme crossing the River Bela. GCW grab your paper bag.

I show you this particular section of my trip because in a way this is where all my journeys start. See those low buildings just before we cross the river? They are on the site of a World War Two prisoner of war camp. This is were my father spent his first weeks in Britain.

And while we are traveling memory lane, anyone a fan of ‘Brief Encounter’? Here is it’s iconic location and the next stage in my travels, Carnforth Station.

Which comes complete – thanks to the magic of movies – with its own heritage centre.

It certainly feels like going back to a time when travel was a more leisurely affair. While there are high speed trains that pass through the station they do so at such speed that they almost whip your eyebrows off. Our transport is a two carriage rickety sort of affair which hopefully will get me to Leeds in time to meet No 1 for lunch.

Fast(ish) forward a couple of hours. Hey not so presto and here we are in Leeds basking in the city sunshine and enjoying an al fresco lunch at Bill’s.

Complete with complimentary Pimms.

Well while I am out of my normal comfort zone I might as well go all the way. Thanks to a gift from a friend – GCW got your head out of that bucket yet? – No 1 and I were off to enjoy a hand and arm massage at the freshly fragranced Jo Malone emporium of scented delights. All kinds of ungents were laid before us.

What to choose? Hanging on just about to my old hippy credentials I went for something earthy ‘Oud and Bergamot ‘. Oud ? I hear you ask. Or at least I hope you do because I did. Oud – I was reliably informed by the helpful assistant – is a resin that forms in trees. On further research (wonderful thing this interweb) I discovered that this type of resin is particular to the tropical agar tree. Well you learn something new ….

Funny how you often meet woolly people isn’t it? Turned out the young lady expertly lathering our arms with all kinds of wonderfulness

is about to become a fashion student in London and she creates artwork using yarn. Hopefully she is reading this and will be soon letting us know all about her Etsy shop. Good luck with your studies and your modern twist on wool craft. Can’t wait to see it.

Gloriously perfumed we made a quick dash to Leeds station and boarded the 5 o’clock commuter train to No1’s village. No 1 frequently averted her eyes/exclaimed/pretended she wasn’t with me as I swung my new backbag over my shoulders with such gusto that I should really travel with a Government Health Warning. But we couldn’t be late.

This little bundle of impish joy was waiting to see us.

Doesn’t she just wear the look that says “Get me. I have just graduated from the Baby Room. I am officially a toddler. Watch out world”?

It’s great being a Grandma (Omi) and even better when despite a few weeks apart your granddaughter immediately recognises you with cries of “Ommmmmeeeeee “, hugs, kisses and an introduction to all the toys in nursery.

Back home No 1 gets little one safely strapped into her carrier and we are off for an early evening walk to the river with their two hounds G (the Chihuahua) and B (a rescued Pooley cross). Now that’s what I call getting a wiggle on.

Oh the wonders of modern technology. Anyone else remember the delights of the Box Brownie?

Turns out this was quite a doggy weekend. No 1 was off first thing to help set up the village dog show while Peanut and I enjoyed a gentle start to the day watching the Jungle Book … amazing how you remember all the songs. If I say so myself I do a mean impression of Balloo the bear … I was never destined to be cool nor glamorous… you guessed? however did you do that?

After a lie down to recover from an over energetic rendition of “I want to be like you” we took the newest of No1’s doggy additions with us to spend the afternoon at the Dog Show. So many marvellous dogs so many waggy tails and what dog show would be complete without terrier racing?! The idea is that the terriers race to the end of the course and through the hole in the centre of the hay bales. Some of them had other ideas and the chaos at the end. Hilarious.

B was an absolute star. Despite a rough start in life he was as good as gold enjoying meeting new friends and even having a go at sausage bobbing. Well done to the new pup on the block.

Too soon the time came to return home. Armed with a new book to read – very promising – thanks to No1’s partner RP I was again packed and ready to leave.

One quick look at the roundel I made for Peanut’s door as bright and jolly as ever.

Then back home for work and next weekend’s crafting to build up a range of samples…more on that then.

And that was where I was going to end today’s post but life is full of little surprises. I had just said my goodbyes to No 1 Daughter and Peanut and walked to my platform at Skipton. I was thinking that there were a lot of folk awaiting the Morecombe train when this reminder of another era chugged into the station.

And revealed itself to be the world famous.

Who’d have thunk?!

Now unless anything else happens ….

Until next we meet,

Moke xxx

Book not on a train – ‘Lamentation’ by C J Sansom

Hi All Gosh how I have missed you. But in case you have not missed me I am starting small … a book review. No more train journeys now but buses instead and I am sorry but the bumps and corners mean there is no chance of any “Book on the Bus”…. baarf alert. Anyhoo in case you are eating back to the book. I have been a fan of C.J. Sansom’s Tudor lawyer Shardlake since … well since ‘Dissolution’ the first novel in the series (there are now 6). So no way would I be skipping the latest Shardlake offering from this accomplished writer. Set in the Summer of 1546 and the last months of Henry VIII’s life “Lamentation” re-unites the reader with Lincoln’s Inn lawyer Matthew Shardlake.

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Drawn into the deadly intrigues of the Court in order to protect Queen Katherine Parr Shardlake soon puts his life and those of his friends and household in peril. Matthew seeks the stolen ‘Lamentations of a Sinner’ a confessional tract written by the Queen. Shardlake knows he must find ‘Lamentations’ before it is revealed to the King and the Queen is arrested for treason or even heresy. The gruesome punishment for heresy opens the book when the tortured ‘heretic’ Anne Askew suffers a grisly death by burning. Sansom leaves us in no doubt about the dangers facing our reluctant hero. A tale of religious extremism and intolerance – sadly some things never change – in which the author brings to life terrifying times of intrigue and betrayal. However … I confess there was a lot of to-ing and fro-ing as Matthew relays information to the Parrs. A bit of judicious editing would have helped the flow of the narrative I feel. Nonetheless a good read that leaves me awaiting the next in the series. Until next we meet, Moke.

Book on a train – ‘The Time Keeper’ by Mitch Albom

Hello All

A short post for a short read with great depth: “The Time Keeper” by Mitch Albom (2012, Sphere, London. ISBN 9781847442253). DSCI0171

This is the story of Dor the man who invented the measurement of time and thereby condemned mankind to clock-watching and himself to thousands of years as a hermit doomed to hear the pleas of humanity to give them more time, make time pass….

It is also the story of two of those that cried out to him, awkward teenager Sarah Lemon and terminally ill business man Victor Delamonte. Dor is finally released from his cave because only he can make them understand the fundamental truth about existence.

This unusually constructed novel is both gripping and thought provoking. I couldn’t put it down. It questions our modern obsession with time and contrasts it with an era when people were more concerned with survival in the moment. Exquisite.

Happy reading.

Until next we meet. Moke x

Book on a train – “The Lady’s Slipper” by Deborah Swift

Hello All

Time for a book review methinks. So if thou wilt follow me let me introduce thee to the wonderful debut novel of Deborah Swift “The Lady’s Slipper” (2010, Macmillan New writing, London. ISBN 9780230746879).

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In 1660 Alice Ibbotson of Westmorland risks everything to collect for propagation the rarest of British orchids the Lady’s Slipper. By stealing onto the property of ex-soldier turned Quaker Richard Wheeler to lift the plant Alice sets herself on a path from which there is no going back.

Through this one act Alice is estranged from Thomas her husband, becomes disenchanted with her botanical patron Sir Geoffrey Fisk and through the machinations of housemaid Ella could forfeit her life for the murder of herbalist and wise woman Margaret Poulter.

The story is largely set in Westmorland against the backdrop of a country struggling to heal the wounds of civil war. It is an era of suspicion, fear and intolerance.

I never met either of my grandmothers they both died when my parents were young. My mother’s mum had been a Quaker and I have always been interested in this thoughtful and peaceful religion. Deborah captures the early days of Quakerism when this radical pacifist movement was considered a dangerous hotbed of dissent needing to be stamped out and ridiculed. In times of political and religious violence a belief in peaceful resolution is a brave stance, where fear is coupled with bigotry it is a dangerous one.

It’s exciting to read a story set in your home county. Even more so when that county is called by its old name of Westmorland – rather than the bland Cumbria by which it is known today. Deborah has an incredible eye for detail enabling the reader to visualise, smell, hear and touch, the heady mix that was turbulent seventeenth century life.

Eager to follow the adventures of Alice and Richard through this atmospheric and cracking tale the pages turned all too quickly. With relief I am glad to see that Swift has published more books so it won’t be long before I immerse myself in “The Gilded Lily” and then “A Divided Inheritance”.

Happy reading.

Until next we meet, Moke x

PS To read Deborah Swift’s blog follow this link https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/3297217.Deborah_Swift/blog

The power of the word

I know that I should be heavily into ‘crochet on a train’ by now especially as THE Season is not far off in terms of home makes as pressies but JG was right ‘Alex’ was a gripping read. Remember it? 7193K7hq1wL._SL1000_

While not for those of a delicate disposition – some of the descriptive passages had me wincing (and getting odd looks to boot) – you are constantly consumed by the need to read on. This book is not so much a ‘Who Dunnit?’ but more a ‘Why did they do it?’ (not as catchy I know). Excellent.

Now sometimes I am tempted away from the borrower’s path and read books that are not from the library. In the case of the title I am reading at the moment its a good job my daughter’s boyfriend leant it to me. Emblazoned on the front cover of Anne Holt‘s “1222” is a Daily Mirror quote “Like a mash-up of Stieg Larsson, Jeffery Deaver and Agatha Christie” . If I’d seen that on a library (or book shop) shelf I would be dropping the book and running for the hills! I’m showing my age but a “mash-up” in relation to a novel?! Surely never a good thing….but in this case…… apparently it is.

Holt’s novel features an irascible ex-detective trapped in a Norwegian hotel with a killer on the loose. Sounds familiar territory? Yes but that makes it a perfect autumn evening read and there are enough twists in both characterisation and plot to make it a worth dipping into the first few pages and becoming absorbed. Unfortunately for me it opens with a train crash. Not brilliant when sitting on the early morning Pendolino to Glasgow Central! In any event I’d recommend it. After all as The Times tells us this is “An homage to Miss Marple – or Miss Marple as a badass paralysed Norwegian lesbian detective”, what can be wrong with that? (psssst….are these newspaper critics on something? bad-ass? Good grief!). Here’s the cover to look out for: 519DdwzBbLL

Lest you think that crochet has exited my life forever never fear. Yesterday afternoon the urge to get hooking overcame me and I began working on a new real string bag. The pattern was designed by Ruth Shepherd and I found it on Talking Crochet at Crochet-World.com. Here ’tis (well as far as I’ve got):

I have now two projects on the go, the string bag and my owl tea cosy, but I’ve run out of yarn and string for both! Can you believe it. Like everyone I know I have a huge stash of wools, acrylics  and strings but nothing suitable to finish these little enterprises. Ain’t it always the way? Lucky that I’ve got a few days off soon and will be able to take a trip to The Wool Clip at Caldbeck to replenish my stock of Herdwick using the voucher my wonderful friends at the library got me (especially thanks to FT who went up there to buy it!). DSCN0586

Now there is something to look forward to. As to the string, a toddle to the local ironmongers should see me right.

Finally….Words are important and names say a lot about us. Guess what? weeks after ceasing to officially be a ‘Library Lady’ I’ve discovered how to change the blog title! I’m slow but determined…But what to call my hotch potch of scribblings? Any ideas? I had thought ‘Making Ends Meet’ but now may go with ‘Eclectic Moke’, as the ad goes ‘it does what it says on the label’ or Queen of the Spiders (don’t ask). Your thoughts would be much appreciated. HEEEEEEELLLLLPPPPPPPPPPP…..