Mind Matters and Knitting and Hats

Voltaire says:

Think for yourself and let others enjoy the privilege of doing so too.

I will respect  that not everybody needs to be perfect. Sometime just knitting is enough.

See Knitting Meditations


Also Erma Bombeck says:

I have a hat. It is graceful and feminine and gives me a certain dignity, as if I were attending a funeral or something…

So there are 5 reasons to knit a hat:

  1. They are a small project;
  2. A great deal of body heat is lost through the head;
  3. A great hat makes up for a bad hair day;
  4. They knit up very quickly;
  5. Even timid dressers will wear a hat.



There’s a technicality to designing and wearing hats. A hat is balancing the proportions of your face; it’s like architecture or mathematics.

I have different hats; I’m a mother, I’m a woman, I’m a human being, I’m an artist and hopefully I’m an advocate. All of those plates are things I spin all the time.

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A period of recreation and rest is here:

For those who engaged in gardening for recreation not profit, according to the Gardener’s Almanac. Certainly we are beginning to wind our efforts in my garden, but still our Yellow book (National Garden /scheme) doesn’t happen until mid July, so we need to keep up our efforts and maintain the peak of perfection (!) we have achieved.

According to St Phocas, a gardener from the 3rd century AD the so-called dog days are 3rd July to 11th August and are the hottest of the year. So clearly we need to keep a wary eye on our plants and ensure they are well watered. there is an argument raging about whether you water in the evening or  the early morning – ie about 6am or even 5am if you can get up. I guess it all depends on whether or not you can get a mildew over-night. Just how susceptible are your plants?

When we open again for visits we have decided to open in late May or early June as our garden is really beautiful now. so here are some of our flowers –

White clematis and Bleeding Heart (Dicentra)

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Anemone Blanda
Phormium and artwork

begonia and nettle

Flowering pear and crab apple
Red perennial wallflower
Elayne Coakes urban garden in North Lonodn featuring clematis integrifolia herbaceous
Elayne Coakes’ urban garden in North London

hellebore double yellow speckled

Freckles: winter flowering


Clematis Wessleton
Black Tulip magnolia
Orange tulips and Euphorbia









and the roses are coming out too….


you can see more of our flowers on our Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/gardening4bees

and come and see our garden if you are in London on July 5th in the afternoon.

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Soldiers, romance and heroines: Regency stories

The Major’s Faux Fiancée

Oh my – another story about a soldier and a Georgette Heyer heroine. I just adored Heyer when I was younger and read every one of her books.  Now I’m reading a new author: Erica Ridley. She’s interesting indeed if even half of what she says in her bio is true!

Erica Ridley is a USA Today best-selling author of historical romance novels. Her latest series, The Dukes of War, features roguish peers and dashing war heroes who return from battle only to be thrust into the splendor and madness of Regency England.


When not reading or writing romances, Erica can be found riding camels in Africa, zip-lining through rainforests in Costa Rica, or getting hopelessly lost in the middle of Budapest.

Website: http://www.EricaRidley.com

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/EricaRidley

Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/EricaRidley

Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/EricaRidley

Pinterest: http://www.pinterest.com/Erica_Ridley

YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/user/ericaridley

Street Team: http://www.ericaridley.com/street-team

Here are some trivia about her. Does this count as an author interview? I guess it does, but I will try and get more from her another time.

Born: Indiana
From: Florida
Lives: Costa Rica
Dogs or cats? Dogs
Beer or wine? Tequila
If there were no tequila: India Pale Ale
Beach or mountains? Mountains
Football or soccer? Da Bears
Favorite movie genres: Action/Adventure, Comedy
Favorite book genres: Suspense, Thriller, Romance
Favorite pastime: Traveling
States visited: 26
Countries visited: 30
Morning or night person? Morning
Walk or run? Rollerblade
Plotter or Pantser: Storyboard + Scrivener
Apple or Android: Apple
Tea or Coffee: Coffee
Chocolate, light or dark: Yes, please
Meat or veggies? Vegetarian
Favorite foods: Indian, Thai, Italian
Favorite music: All of it
Instruments played: Piano, guitar, violin
Biggest fear: Snow


So here is some info about her latest book due out in June, plus a teaser or two from the book. Sounds quite saucy…

A full review will come out later too.

When Major Bartholomew Blackpool learns the girl-next-door from his childhood will be forced into an unwanted marriage, he returns home to play her pretend beau. He figures now that he’s missing a leg, a faux fiancée is the best an ex-soldier can get. He admires her pluck, but the lady deserves a whole man—and he’ll ensure she gets one.

Miss Daphne Vaughan hates that crying off will destroy Major Blackpool’s chances of finding a real bride. She plots to make him jilt her first. Who cares if it ruins her? She never wanted a husband anyway. But the major is equally determined that she break the engagement. With both of them on their worst behavior, neither expects their fake betrothal to lead to love…

The Major’s Faux Fiancée  is a standalone story in the Dukes of War  regency romance series, featuring roguish peers and dashing war heroes who return from battle only to be thrust into the splendor and madness of Regency England.

Release Date:                                                June 2015

Publisher:                                                       Intrepid Reads

Genre:                                                             Historical Romance

The Dukes of War romance books in Series Order:

#1         The Viscount’s Christmas Temptation                 Nov. 2014

#2         The Earl’s Defiant Wallflower                                Dec. 2014

#3         The Captain’s Bluestocking Mistress                   Mar. 2015

#4         The Major’s Faux Fiancée                                     Jun. 2015

#5         The Brigadier’s Runaway Bride                            Sept. 2015

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Can you read and write? I can.

Redemption Road

by Lisa Ballatyne

A NetGalley Review

A small baby – Margaret aka Molly – is adopted, and is loved and happy. But she has a real father who didn’t know what had happened to her – he was also in prison – but he knows her name is Peggy and has it tattooed on his chest.

George has not had a happy life and one major issue has been his illiteracy. The origins of this illiteracy began at school where the nuns who taught him believed that being left-handed was a sign of the devil –  the Devil is normally portrayed as being left-handed in pictures and other images –  and forced him to write with his right hand. This was a very common belief up until not very long ago – see below for other beliefs about being left-handed:

  • In the seventeenth century it was thought that the Devil baptised his followers with his left-hand and there are many references in superstitions to the “left-hand side” being associated with evil. As an example, in France it was held that witches greet Satan “avec le bras gauche” or with the left hand. It is also considered that we can only see ghosts if we look over our left shoulder and that the Devil watches us over the left shoulder. Evil spirits lurk over the left shoulder – throw salt over this shoulder to ward them off. In Roman times, salt was a very valuable commodity, giving rise to the word “salary” and was considered a form of money at the time. If salt was spilled, that was considered very bad luck, that could only be avoided by throwing some of the spilled salt over your left shoulder to placate the devil. Joan of Arc (burned at the stake in 1431 for being a heretic and a witch) was not necessarily left-handed, she may have been depicted in this way to make her seem evil.
  • Getting out of bed with the left foot first means that you will have a bad day and be bad tempered . i.e. getting out of bed the wrong side.
  • A ringing in the right ear means that someone is praising you. In the left ear it means that someone is cursing or maligning you.
  • An itchy right palm means that you will receive money. An itchy left palm means you will have to give money.
  • Wedding rings worn on the third finger of the left hand originated with the Greeks and Romans, who wore them to fend of evil associated with the left-hand The Romans originally considered the left to be the lucky side and used for augury. However, they later changed back to the Greek methods and favoured the right-hand side.
  • The right hand often symbolises ‘male’ while the left hand is ‘female’.
  • If you hear the sound of a cuckoo from the right it will be a lucky year. If the sound comes from the left it will be unlucky.
  • The Meru people of Kenya believed that the left-hand of their holy man has such evil power that he had to keep it hidden for the safety of others.
  • If your right eye twitches you will see a friend, if it’s your left eye that twitches you’ll see an enemy.
  • When dressmaking it’s believed to be bad luck to sew the left-hand sleeve onto a garment before the right sleeve.
  • When leaving to go on a journey, if your right foot itches you’re bound to have a good journey. If your left foot itches it will end in sorrow.
  • It is thought to be bad luck to pass a drink to another person with your left-hand or anti-clockwise around a table. -( See more at: http://www.anythinglefthanded.co.uk/being-lh/lh-info/myths.html#sthash.aTTIzUJF.dpuf)

Additionally, most pens and other common utensils are intended for right-handed people and the type of writing that can be undertaken by left-handed people is not as neat. Western writing runs from left to right. A left-handed person has to ‘crab’ their hand in order to write without smudging the ink.

Left-handed children learning to write often write back to front (‘mirror’ writing). This is a natural inclination, not a sign of dyslexia, and will resolve given time, practice and encouragement. (http://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/bhcv2/bhcarticles.nsf/pages/Left-handedness?OpenDocument)

Yet many right-handed people don’t write neatly either – I remember having my knuckles rapped by a ruler because my writing wasn’t neat so imagine being left handed in these situations.

But for the father no such encouragement was given at school. He remains unable to read and write and believes he has a learning difficulty and is not very bright. This has led him to life of crime as he couldn’t get employment otherwise.

It is still very poorly understood why some 10% of the population is left-handed but it does seem to run in families and thus is could be inherited. It is more common in males than females.

So in this book, the father comes out of prison and wants to meet his child and to learn about her and perhaps be involved in her life. But this is where everything goes wrong.

As she grows up Margaret doesn’t remember her real father and her meeting with him, and the events that followed. She suffered from traumatic amnesia (psychogenic or dissasociative) and bad nightmares. The event clearly affected her badly – but why?

The father finds Molly – as he knows her – and attempts to talk to her but ends up taking her on a journey.

This is a significant journey for both of them but for a small child traumatic and it is very slowly that Margaret remembers about being Molly and integrates her life experiences.

I thought this was an interesting story and enjoyed reading it. 4 stars.

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Bibury is trouts and tourists

Elsker Saga: the Prophesy of Ragnarok by ST Bende

Well ST Bende may well have lived in Norway but I’m not at all sure she actually visited England – especially Bibury and London.

Now I can speak from real life experience as I have visited and stayed in Bibury, the Cotswolds and surrounds many times, and live in London, so here goes with the errors in the book – which irritated.

Bibury is in the Cotswolds near Cirencester. It isn’t a town, not even a village. Just a few weavers’ cottages from the 17th century, some pubs and one being particularly nice we have stopped at a time or two, and a mill which is also a tea room and shop. It is basically a tourist stop.

There is no pond but the River Colne runs through it and alongside the road which has a nice pavement and sitting areas where you sit to watch the brown trout swimming in amazingly clear water. There is also a trout farm by the way. But the river is clear and you can see the gravel bottom. You then walk around the river across the bridges and through a water meadow path. You can also visit the weavers’ cottages if one is open. The cottages were built with a very large loft space for weaving in good light. Wool of course as this was the source of the wealth originally of this area – now it is tourists! These cottages are made of cobblestone, but cobblestone is not a common building material in England, look rather to brick and flint. There is no pond. 23 Bibury, UK Arlington_Row_Bibury

Oh and a cobblestone patio would be very uneven to sit on and rather uncomfortable – tables would rock – we do still have cobbles in many places, even London alleys and small streets.

Yew – well I have never heard of a yew hedge being called a dale – a dale is a valley as in Swaledale, but a hundred years for a yew hedge is young. They can live for 4-600 hundred years on average but some are dated to the 10th Century and the Fortingall Yew – which again I have visited – in Perthshire, is thought to be approximately 2000(!) years old. They are frequently clipped into fantastical shapes – or used to delineate gardens within gardens. They don’t like to be waterlogged, so Bibury would not be a good place for one.Yew Loggia a

And then there is London. She has clearly been watching old films. New York is grey and grimy, London is clean! It may not be white  – I doubt if Cardiff is white either – but it has been cleaned up since the Victorian era and no, we don’t have smog anymore – that was caused by coal fires and we don’t have them anymore either in London.City_of_London_skyline

Then we come to discussions about Cardiff University. Here I am not sure whether she used US terminology to help her readers or just was unfamiliar with the UK university system. So here goes with reality – from a university lecturer…

There are 3 years to a UK UG degree. Not 4. It would be only in the second semester of year one or during year two that an exchange student could attend from abroad. There is no such thing as a sophomore, underclass/upperclassman, senior. Just year 1, 2 or 3 students. Nor do they take term papers. They may well have to take an end of semester exam or to write an end of semester essay. 2 semesters per year unless you are in Oxford or Cambridge.

And does moss smell? Well some moss smells of cannabis! Yes that’s true, but mainly it just smells earthy and not much at that unless you have a whole lawn of it…

So having got my irritation out of the way, what about the book? Well I did look up Nehalem also as it was such a strange name and it is a real place. on the river Nehalem in Tillamook County, Oregan by Nehalem Bay. Established in 1889 it now has (2013) a population of 267 people…nehalem

In this book we have a fairly traditional base story – see Barbara Cartland where the mousy heroine scoops the hottie who was never before seen to be interested in any girl. the naive 18/19 who is from the backwoods interests a person who is several hundreds of years old. hmmm.

But the heroine has a secret. And we find that despite her naivety and her age she will play a crucial part – that she has been born to do – in the future of our worlds.

Despite this it was not high drama or the best style of writing but fairly much the traditional Mills and Boon style. With so many mistakes in it about the UK it was also aiming at a US audience who wouldn’t know better. Hint to US authors – use the internet better if you are going to use real place names. There were just too many pre or mis-conceptions of how the world works in the UK.

It would also take around 2 hours plus to drive to Bibury from Cardiff – through terrible traffic on the M4 – a notorious traffic jam of a road especially in this part of the world. Everyone goes to the Cotswolds if the weather is good… And as for the Slaughters… yes there are really villages with these names and pretty they are too wit a stream running through the middle where kids paddle.

Oh – I forgot – 2.5 stars for this book.

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