Saturday, 1 November 2014

Autumn Has Arrived

Autumn has definitely arrived here in Yorkshire, we've gone from wonderful hot weather to gale force winds, torrential rain and cold spells. On the good side though it's wonderful running through the leaves with the kids and DH has got some amazing autumnal photos, I do love the colours in autumn.

October has been especially busy for us here, we've had swim assessments, Scouts, Rainbows, Taekwondo classes, gradings and competitions as well as the usual school and family commitments. Craft wise I've not done as much as usual due to being so tired some nights my eyes have drooped badly but needles have been put to fabric and/or wool so here we go...

Big cheer from DH as another page has been completed on Cruising the Information Highway, the cars radiator gave me the most trouble as it was mostly confetti stitches and drove me crazy LOL!
Cruising The Information Highway by Randal Spanger
Heaven & Earth Designs  Stitched on 25ct 1 over 1

close up of the radiator with the horrendous confetti stitches.

I also managed to get more a couple more of the Sheep Virtues by Little House Needleworks completed.

I've not done much on my Game of Thrones project as it's getting a bit too cold to stitch when Boo is in his taekwondo class so most of the time I read. I have worked on it a bit since the last update so here's where it's at.

I've done the front and back of my aran jumper. When I've got back home late from taekwondo and too tired to stitch pulling this out to knit whilst watching tv has worked a treat.

The kids have been active so here are a few of my favourite photos...

October was Breast Cancer Awareness month, instructors and students were invited to donate and wear their pink belt throughout October to show their support. (Darcy now has the belt!!)

Peter passed his grading for his blue belt in Taekwondo at Dragons Academy at the end of October. As presentation was held on halloween everyone dressed up for the occasion. Luke and Darcy joined in as well, Darcy had just finished her ballet class where she was a naughty ballerina.
My boys playing Jedi Knights in Clumber Park during October
Darcy taking her promise at Rainbows, she was so excited to be an official member of the Girl Guiding movement.
Finally one of my favourite photos that Tony took in Clumber Park this week, this little guy just sat and posed for him.

Here's hoping November is a little easier before we hit December running :-)

Friday, 12 September 2014

Kings and Queens - Henry II

Our new monarch is Henry II, at the bottom of the post there are some photos from Canterbury Cathedral that Tony took last time we were down in Kent.
Bothy Threads Kings and Queens
Henry II was born in NW France on 4th March 1133. His father was Count of Anjou and his mother Matilda, daughter of Henry I of England. Henry I had named his daughter as his successor to the throne but her cousin Stephen took over.  Henry was the first of the great Plantagenet dynasty and he had 5 sons including Richard I and John, 3 daughters and several illegitimate children.

Henry first became the ruler of Normandy and Anjou when his father died and in 1152 he married Eleanor of Aquitaine. Then in 1153 he crossed to England to begin his pursuit of the English throne, finally reaching an agreement with Stephen that on his death he would succeed to the throne.

In 1154 Henry became King of England and he began to restore order. Henry’s chancellor was Thomas Becket and using him he began to reorganise the judicial system.  Henry also expanded his empire in order to restore the lands of his grandfather Henry I. During his reign he re-established hegemony over Wales and gained control over lands in Anjou, Maine and Touraine in France. But this meant that Henry came into conflict with Louis VII and the two rulers fought over several decades.  By 1172 Henry controlled England, the Eastern half of Ireland, large parts of Wales and the western half of France which would become known as the Angevin Empire.

In 1164 Henry reasserted his ancestral rights over the church but Becket who was now the Archbishop of Canterbury refused to comply.  An attempted reconciliation failed and Becket punished any priests who had co-operated with Henry. This is when Henry uttered those famous words “Will no one rid me of this turbulent priest?”  And in December 1170 four knights took these words literally and murdered Becket in Canterbury Cathedral. This backfired on Henry as overnight Becket became a saint. Henry did reconcile himself with the church but the royal control changed very little.

It is during Henry’s reign that the English presence in Ireland is established. The King of Leinster in Ireland asks for Henry’s help in opposing a confederation of other Irish kings.  But Henry had problems within his own family and his sons both legitimate and illegitimate. His sons Henry, Geoffrey, Richard and John all mistrusted each other and didn’t like their father’s policy of dividing land between them. This led to serious disputes and in 1175 Henry’s sons Henry, Richard and Geoffrey all lead an unsuccessful rebellion against him.

It was during conflict with his sons; antagonised by the French Crown, that he fell sick whilst at Le Mans. His son Richard didn’t believe him and attacked the town. Henry was forced to accept Richard’s terms and his only request was that he was given the names of those who had rebelled against him. Henry retired to Chinon very sick and one of the names on the list was his son John, his beloved and the one he had fought for. Henry died July 1189 at Chinon Castle, Anjou. He was buried in the Abbey of Fontevraud near Anjou and succeeded by his eldest surviving son Richard I.

Friday, 29 August 2014

Kings and Queens - Stephen

Here's our next monarch all finished, this time it's Stephen...

Stephen was the son of the Count of Blois and Adela, daughter of William the Conqueror. He was sent to England to be raised at the court of his uncle, Henry I. After Henry I died in December 1135, the leading lords and bishops welcomed Stephen as the new king as they weren’t comfortable with Henry’s daughter Matilda being the ruler.  Stephen was not a natural leader.

In 1138 Robert, Earl of Gloucester, took up arms on Matilda’s behalf. Stephens early victories faded when he lost the support of the church and Matilda invaded England in September 1139.  The tussle for the throne continued until Stephen gained the upper hand and in 1148 Matilda left England.

Unfortunately Stephen didn’t have much control over most of the kingdom and couldn’t enforce the law or mediate between the warring nobles. He hoped to secure the succession for his son Eustace. But Matilda’s son Henry invaded England in 1153 to claim his inheritance, Eustace died in August and under the Treaty of Wallingford Stephen agreed that Henry should be his successor. Stephen died in October 1154 and Henry then ascended the throne to become Henry II.

Summer Fun is Over

Well the kids school holidays are done as well as the sun disappeared halfway through them :-(  We did get quite a bit of stuff done in the 6 weeks, though not all of it fun for the kids. New windows for the house, DH and I used quite a bit of his week off to do jobs around the house and garden much to the kids disgust but we'd been putting them off since winter.  We did go out and about so there are a few photos and I even managed to get some stitching done which resulted in a couple of finishes..yay!

Photos first... Peter spent a week in summer school at Westfield School (where fingers crossed he'll go to seniors in a years time). At the end of the week they had a day trip to Cleethorpes and I took the 2 youngest with us. Apparently it rained in Sheffield but it was hot at the coast and we had a great day on the beach...

Later in August Tony had a week off and we all went to Cleethorpes together...
Peter couldn't resist doing a bit of Taekwondo at the coast either 

Don't faint but I even managed to get a photo of Tony with the kids!

On our wedding anniversary we arranged to drop the boys off (after swimming lessons) at my mums for a few days and went off to Nostell Priory with Darcy. Darcy can't stay at mums as she has dogs and Darcy is scared of them. The weather was fantastic and we had a great time, there are loads more photos on Tony's website in the Castles and Houses gallery, it's an amazing house.

I took the boys to see the new Dreamworks Dragonriders Defenders of Burke movie whilst Tony took Darcy around Meadowhall to buy her some new shoes. A dress and matching shoes later....

Finally I have managed to get some stitching done inbetween new windows being fitted, stripping the stairs ready for decorating and the kids being off school. Finished 2 of the My Garden Journal months and one of the Sheep Virtues.
April - My Garden Journal
stitched on 28ct cream using DMC
February - My Garden Journal
stitched on 32ct purple passion using dmc

I've managed to stitch one of the Sheep Virtues from Little House Needleworks, this has been done on the odd afternoon where Darcy has curled up watching Netflix at the side of me and the boys playing.

I've started the next Sheep Virtue which is Courage, they're all going to be stitched on the same piece of fabric which is a beige one from my stash using normal DMC threads.

Kids are back in school in a week so fingers crossed when the house is back in order I'll be able to get back to my HAED on an evening.

Saturday, 26 July 2014

Kings and Queens - Henry I

Henry I is all finished on my project. Must admit that I groaned when I noticed this monarch had gold as I'm not a fan of metallic threads but the thread in this project stitched up beautifully...hurray!
Bothy Threads - Kings and Queens

Henry was born in England in 1068 or 1069, the fourth son of William the Conqueror. When Henry's elder brother became king another elder brother had died and left only Robert and Henry as the heirs. When William was killed in a hunting accident in August 1100 Henry had himself crowned a few days later, taking advantage of Robert's absence on crusade.

Robert invaded England in 1101 but relinquished his claim in return for Henry's territories in Normandy.  This peace didn't last long and Henry invaded Normandy and in 1106 he captured Robert and held him prisoner for life.

Henry's only legitimate son, William, died in a shipwreck in November 1120. This left Henry without another legitimate male heir despite remarrying in order to have another son. He eventually named his legitimate daughter Matilda his heir after summoning her back to England. He married her to Geoffrey Plantagenet, another member of the Angevin family.  Henry died in December 1135, there was a succession crisis which led to civil war as English barons did not want to be ruled by a woman and an Angevin.  Eventually his nephew Stephen succeeded to the throne.

Monday, 7 July 2014

The Left Hand of God - review

I've seen this book on and off for months now and when I saw it again in our local library decided to give it a go....I'm so glad I did!  It's not quite in the same league as Brandon Sanderson, Brent Weeks or Robert Jordan as this feels like its aimed more for late teens or early 20's but it's still a wonderful read.

This is what the blub says on the back - The Sanctuary of the Redeemers is a place where children endure brutal cruelty and violence in the name of the One True Faith. Lost in the Sanctuary's huge maze of corridors is a boy. He is strange witty and charming, and violent. But when he opens the wrong door at the wrong time he witnesses an act so horrible he must flee, or die.

What it doesn't say is that the book is a joy to read with adventures on nearly every page. I felt for the boy Cale from the first, who wouldn't reading about a young boy who goes through so much abuse. We follow Cale growing not only in body but in experiences and I found this was written well. I loved how his relationships with those around him stayed the same on one hand but changed as he matured.  I cheered and groaned throughout, really getting into the story.

Hated the ending of the book, not because it was bad but because I hadn't got book 2 (The Last Four Things) all ready beside me to continue!!  Now I've book 2 and book 3 (The Beating of His Wings) all set to go :-)

Tuesday, 1 July 2014

Joyful June

Why is June so joyful?  Because not only has the rain stopped but the sun has finally arrived in the UK..yippee LOL!

Here in Sheffield we've has a pretty packed month with the kids going from strength to strength not only in their activities but at school as well, obviously we have lots of photos ;-)

Peter (aka Boo) went on his school residential trip to Robin Hoods Bay from Monday to Friday, came home for 2 hours on Friday then went straight out again for his Scouts District Camp at Walesby.  Also in June Boo competed in a BTA (British Taekwondo Association) competition at Twin Tigers in Scunthorpe as part of the Dragons Academy Team. He entered into the patterns and sparring categories. Got Bronze in patterns and 1st in Sparring...I didn't watch as I don't like seeing my baby fighting LOL! More photos HERE! He's also moved onto his last level in swimming..yay! He seems to be doing well academically as well, came home last night with a certificate for his maths. Apparently he took a Y6 Maths SATs test a while ago and did well so hopefully that bodes well for when he's in Y6 next year.

Then in June the boys had their school sports day, bit nervous about this as it was Lukie's first sports day in Junior school and he was pretty nervous up to the day as there would be lots of people there. The weather was glorious and the event went off wonderfully, Lukie really enjoyed himself and both boys had lots of fun doing the different activities.

Luke is in Yellow for his house which is Clumber (his favourite place to visit)

Peter is in Green for his house Welbeck.

Luke is doing wonderfully at his piano lessons and from September will be having them 1 to 1 rather than shared as he is at the minute. I can actually tell what tune he's playing when he practises at home now!!  Academically Lukie seems to be doing amazing considering what he started off at in September last year. We can't praise and thank his school (Brook House Junior School) enough as his confidence in sitting to do his reading/writing and maths at home has grown so much.

While Boo was enjoying himself at Walesby we took Lukie and Darcy to Bolsover Castle in Derbyshire. They adored it and loved watching the horses (no photos of the horses as the show is in a small building and the horses are very sensitive to noise) It's a fantastic place to visit, very child friendly, Lukie loved the castle itself.

Darcy has her sports day in July but during June has been practising really hard for her ballet exam which is on 11th July. She's also been doing 2 swimming lessons for the past couple of weeks, her own level and the one above . Her teacher Claire says she's ready to move up and in the next week that will happen, she's over the moon as she loves swimming and wants to do synchronised swimming when she's passed all her levels.

Stitching Time...inbetween kids activities I have had time to put in the odd stitch here and there. Here's where I'm at with my projects including a new one I started...

page 8 is finished on my HAED :-)
Cruising The Information Highway
25ct 1 over 1
I've started a new project based on the Game of Thrones books, just click the book title to go to where I bought it from. I'm stitching it on 32ct Ink from Sparklies.

Anyone who follows regularly will have seen the 2 monarchs I've stitched so far on my Kings and Queens project. I've started Henry I so fingers crossed it won't be too long before he's up. I'm enjoying learning the history of each monarch as much as stitching them.

I've also started knitting myself an aran jumper for next winter. Not done much on it yet but here's the back so far...

Let's now see how much I can get completed in July as the kids all finish school on the 18th for the summer. Peter Boo is in summer school at Westfield School for a week where he'll have fun doing science experiments, art & sports. We've still got a sports day, review, dance exam and (fingers crossed) taekwondo grading to get through before I can put my feet up and relax for a month...whew!