Tuesday, 12 October 2021

The Earthshot Prize: Repairing Our Planet


If you get the chance, watch this BBC programme about repairing our planet. 

It's introduced by David Attenborough & Prince William and it's a wonderful series about the damage we have done across the world but it's also an uplifting programme too looking at ways to repair the damage caused by nature and by greedy people and companies.

Tonight Shakira spoke about what the ocean means to her and some of the issues and solutions available today. Fishing or rather overfishing is just one of the problems and how technology can help to manage the monitoring and protection of the seas. 

Monday, 11 October 2021

A Sunday Morning Autumn Walk

My daughter asked us to look after her dog Esther this morning. It was such a glorious morning we decided to take her for a walk. Can't believe how sunny and warm it was for October, hardly a cloud in the sky.

These are just some random photos I took along the riverside walk. My camera is still on the blink so I used the phone although its camera isn't brilliant. I must remember to remove the Nokia watermark from the phone and ask Santa Claus for a new camera!

My main worry would be what if the river floods! 

The houses on the opposite side are nice too but there's a road in front of them.

There's a lovely park and lake nearby but today we were just following the river as we've never walked this far along the riverside.


It felt like being in The Lord of the Rings scenery. The trees were amazing. They would have looked better if I had stood still to take the photos instead of trying to keep up with my husband and the dog.

These roots were totally weird but I would have loved to hide in their when I was little.

Apparently that viaduct was built in the 19th century for the main London to Newcastle railway. I wanted to take a close up photo as the blocks of stone were absolutely huge but the trees were blocking the view when you got near it. 

Maybe we can get a better photo next time from the opposite bank of the river. Don't think we'll get such good weather again until next year.

Friday, 1 October 2021

It's Knitting Time & Time to Learn Something New!

Well now the nights are cutting in seems like time to start knitting again.

A few months ago I went a bit doo-lally and bought loads of wool in a website sale. I still say wool, can't get out of the habit & call it yarn which shows my age!

Last week I thought it was a good time to get that big box of wool out of the bedroom & get cracking! 

I saw the free digital pattern when I bought the wool and have started knitting it. Might get it finished if I can keep going with the back & fronts that I decided to knit in one piece up to the armholes so that I didn't have to stitch up the side seams. Not the best of ideas as I don't like knitting on circular needles so in Double Knitting the stitches (over 240) are squashed tight which makes it hard to see if I make a mistake. I do make them because I am usually watching telly when I knit. 

The second problem I had was joining the new balls of wool as there are no side seams and no joins at the the front ribs. So this is where I learned something new! After 70 years of knitting there's always something to learn. I did a bit of research on the "tinterweb" and found some good videos showing you how to spit or split splice. They work best on pure wool but after trying a couple of methods I liked this one by Suzanne Bryan best and have used it three times on acylic now & you can't see the joins which is amazing. It did take a fair bit of rubbing in your palms to get the friction as I have cold hands but the result was good.

Only 4" to go now! I'm making it a bit shorter than the pattern as I'm not very tall. I think I'll be making the sleeves shorter than in the picture too.

I can't find the pattern in Ravelry so I've used the link to it HERE on the Deramores website where I bought the wool. They have quite a lot of free patterns for knitting & crochet and some great Christmas patterns if you haven't already seen this site.

I'm not on commission by the way!

Sunday, 26 September 2021

The Cruise

Port of Tyne

Well we did get on the cruise after all, Scotland lifted their restrictions to cruise ships entering their ports a few days before we sailed. I should have posted this earlier but have only just managed to download the photos!

I don't have many as we couldn't get off the ship in Shetland and it was a bit misty so the photographs from the ship there were poor. 

Well we haven't sailed from the Port of Tyne since the 'eighties when we took the car & sailed on the DFDS ferry to Sweden for a log cabin holiday which was great. Now the ferries only go to Amsterdam so we haven't bothered but maybe we should try a trip next year. but without the car. It's a really small port which is nice to sail from, no horrendous traffic jams or huge queues!

It was an easy car trip to the port about 45 minutes, should have been 30 but the roadworks struck again as they always do on main roads in the UK in summer. There was an absolutely huge marquee set up in the ferry terminal car park to do the Covid testing which was fairly quick and very efficiently completed.

We boarded and went to our cabin which was smaller than ones I've had before but it was clean with a small balcony, adequate storage, a big shower & the essential kettle, tea & coffee! This was a Tui ship with primarily UK passengers so they know our habits of needing kettles! 

It was good sailing out of the port, a lot of new houses and offices have been built along the river. Wish my photos were better!

I've never sailed with Tui or Marella cruises as they are called now and I'm not doing a cruise review here as there are lots of them around on the cruise sites. What I will comment on are the things that struck me sailing in a time of a pandemic.

There were numerous regulations which had to be adhered to and the ship was only half full as they weren't booking the inside cabins. Not sure I could hack one of these at the best of times we like a bit of fresh air especially in the morning and we hate air conditioning. 

You had to wear a mask walking around the ship, in the shops, theatre and only four people at a time were allowed in the lifts. You could take your mask off once you were seated in a restaurant or cafe but had to put them on if you got up to get food. All food, drinks & cutlery had to be served by staff to you even in the buffet and cafes. This seems a great idea & one that they should continue with to reduce the problems of the common Norovirus on some cruise ships.

They were not allowing people off the ships in the ports we were sailig to unless you were booked on a ship's excursion. I suppose this was to minimise the risk of bringing infection back to the ship and we knew this before we booked. The only ports we were visiting were all Scottish, Invergordon, Dundee and Lerwick and to be truthful we weren't bothered about going on the ship's excursions. It was great just to be on holiday with no shopping, cooking or housework and watching the sea from the balcony.

We did an excursion to Glamis Castle in Dundee which is the home of the Earl of Strathmore and it was the home of the Queen Mother before she married King George VI and Princess Margaret was born there.

Glamis Castle

It was the inspiration for Macbeth as King Malcolm II was murdered on the site of the present castle & Macbeth became king in 1040. The building of the castle as we know it today began in 1400.

It's not a huge place but it is rather sweet and it was really good to see the rooms which are exquisitely decorated and furnished.

I loved the ceiling in this sitting room, sorry the photo isn't very good. Think my camera is on its last legs.

Not sure how they kept it warm, the room was huge.

The little chairs in the fireplace belonged to the Queen & Princess Margaret.

Early sketch of Queen Elizabeth, the Queen's mother.

Another smaller sitting room.

This was the Queen Mother's bedroom. The cot to the right of the bed was the Queen's & Princess Margaret's as babies, the rocking horse too.


This was King George Vl's bedroom.

As the visit was during Covid there were no guided tours, we had to use an app to self guide. When it worked it was really good but it kept losing the information and you had to keep reloading so that was time consuming. 

There were lots of parts of the castle we didn't have time to see. You can book lunch there and it seemed reasonable, £16 for two courses, not bad for eating in a castle. 

There was quite a good shop and what looked like a great children's playground. 

I would have liked to see the gardens, they looked lovely and the estate is extensive but we only had about two & a half hours which really isn't enough.

The North Sea was amazingly calm for the six days of the cruise. On the way back to North Shields the ship was moving so slowly that I was sure I could have swum faster!

Just hope Marella operate more cruises from Newcastle next year.

Sunrise, Port of Tyne, North Shields

Wednesday, 25 August 2021

Tokyo Paralympics 2021

Anyone else enjoying watching the Paralympics?

Stayed up last night or rather this morning to watch the swimming and have to say they're absolutely incredible. 

Some of the levels of impairment are really high and you just wonder how on earth they manage to swim at all. They are so inspiring. 

The TV presenters are really good at explaining how the disabilities are categorised and the issues that the particular swimmers have completing their stroke.

The back stories are great too hearing from their families at home and how they've fought to overcome their disabilities using sport. It's sad the families are not able to be in Tokyo supporting them but wonderful to watch.

It's amazing that there are any British swimmers competing after all the swimming pools here have been closed to everyone for over a year. T
here are very few outdoor pools so they have had precious little opportunities to train until recently. Few of us in the UK have our own swimming pools and let's face it the climate doesn't lend itself to outdoor swimming in lakes or the sea. 

The only problem I have is that the broadcasts are not on the BBC so you have to suffer advertising. The breaks are annoying but never mind I'll just have to make drinks or go to the loo more often!

Anyway I'm just going to enjoy them, they're amazing to watch. 

Source: International Paralympic Committee, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

Wednesday, 21 July 2021

Shetland Here We Come!

                                            Jarlshof, Shetland

Photograph courtesy of Tom Parnellfrom Scottish Borders, Scotland - Creative Commons licence 

A few weeks ago when our Covid rates were really low & I was feeling a bit low so I decided to book a short UK cruise up to Shetland. Well we'd had our vaccinations, all the rates were pretty low in the UK so it seemed like a good idea at the time!

Well now I'm not so sure but at least everyone on the ship has to be vaccinated and tested at the port and it's an adult only cruise so we'll see.

A few days ago we found out that Scotland wasn't accepting cruise ships from England even though everyone is vaccinated & a recent cruise has had its Scottish ports cancelled.

It seemed daft as you can drive into Scotland, get a train or bus over the border whether you've been vaccinated or not and nobody checks anything. We have been expecting the cruise itinerary to be changed to English ports & have been waiting to hear what's happened to our cruise but have heard nothing from the cruise company.

Well I checked the Lerwick Port Authority website which is where the ship would dock & surprise, surprise, from 19th July they are accepting cruise ships!

So come Saturday if all goes well we'll be on our way to Sheltland. I'd better get the thermal underwear & the waterproofs out, it's never very warm there and they do get more than their fair share of rain! It will be some respite from this heat which we aren't used to.

I lost all my photographs of my trip to Shetland in 2015 courtesy of Windows 10 & my BT Cloud backup. They may be there somewhere in the ether but I can't find them so thanks to Wiki Commons I found a similar photograph by Tom Parnell to one I had taken on a visit to Jarlshof. I think it's better than mine!

Thursday, 10 June 2021

A Good Kick up the Behind!

Well that's what I really needed but I knew I needed more exercise which would help my health as well as my mood. My ankles were swelling a lot and even the walking I forced myself to do wasn't really helping. I can't stand gyms and I knew I couldn't face the risk of going to the pool for a 30 minute swim so I found a great set of videos on Youtube.

The exercises were reasonably easy (there's often an easy version), the trainer Lucy Wyndham-Read is really experienced, very nice, not a total fitness freak and they are very short, 7 minutes! You don't have to lie on the floor (I tried Yoga but can't manage lying down) and you don't need any equipment. 

There's lots to choose from at different levels and different lengths.

Here's my favourite video, a run/walk in the mountains 

I've been doing them for a week. I have to say I feel a bit more positive & have more energy plus my ankles are not so swollen!

Let's hope I can keep up the momentum doing these exercises!

The Earthshot Prize: Repairing Our Planet

  If you get the chance, watch this BBC programme about repairing our planet.  It's introduced by David Attenborough & Prince Willia...