animals/gardens/Random and interesting items

February into March – The Season Changes

As February draws to a close and March begins, the March wind do blow – we see the tops of the trees sway and branches fall but the birds are busy twittering away and lining up nesting  materials.

There is also a squirrel in our garden – maybe one of the baffled ones? (see photo) who is tearing at the piece of netting lodged in the tree at the back of the garden – nest materials for her also perhaps?

squirrel1 - February into March - The Season Changes squirrel2 - February into March - The Season Changes

The primroses are in flower and the bulbs are beginning, dwarf irises and early dwarf narcissi as well as cyclamen coum flower. Symphitum of all varieties including Ibericum; tuberosum; ibiriceum; flower ready for the early solitary bee with the long proboscis that feeds on their colourful tubes. Also beginning are the Pulmonaria we have ‘raspberry splash’; ‘Beth chatto’; ‘frehling shimmmel’; and various blues – all with spotted leaves of many shades, that give them their name as they were beloved to help cure lung disease. And the buds on our magnolias are ripening.

Now is the time to mulch the plants. Organic mulch from your compost heap or manure if your garden needs it, mixed with soil, will feed for the season and help prevent dryness in the height of the summer. Weeds will grow but mulch helps smother them -unless your compost heap was not hot enough to kill the weed seeds of course!

It is also the time to complete any pruning not yet finished – by Easter you should be finished. Once the sap starts rising it can damage the plants to be pruned and watch out for pruning fig trees once the sap is rising – it is very sticky and unpleasant.

If you have had hyacinths or spring bulbs in your house over the winter – plant them out to flower for next year in your main garden. You may find that over time the hyacinths change back to blue but…or put them in pots and out of sight for a patio display next spring. Now is the time to look at other people’s gardens to see what bulbs they have planted for the spring. Have they got a different daffodil? Or a new iris or? But the tulips are yet to come so keep some space for them… and whatever you do, don’t remove the leaves from your daffodils until at least six weeks or longer if you can, have passed. Remove the dead heads but let the leaves soak up the feed to increase the bulb size and start offsets. Feed your bulbs while still in flower or as they start to poke through the sol. Leaving it until they are finished flowering is rather late.

If you are growing early annuals such as poppies or marigolds, you can start to sow in prepared seed beds or trays but beware the rain if in trays – don’t let it wash all the seeds out as has happened to me in the past – or foxes upset the trays. So put them somewhere safe and well drained.

In January to February the foxes are bold in our garden and we find they play with toys they drag in from everywhere. Keep a look out as they rather indiscriminate with what they play – we have had soiled nappies, tins, plastic bag and the detritus from our cat’s litter tray pulled around the garden. Some of this we believe is the hormones from females  that are found in heir excrement and urine that attract the males regardless of them not being foxes… and their curiosity as to where this smell is coming from leads them to carry stuff around and pull it apart to check there isn’t a female fox smell hidden somewhere…

fox1 - February into March - The Season Changes fox2 - February into March - The Season Changes



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knitting/Philosophy/meaning of life/Older women

Emily knows a thing or two

That it will never come again

Is what makes life so sweet.

As written by Emily Dickinson.

I do so agree with Stephanie Pearl-McPhee when she says that she will resist hoarding that very special wool for that very special project – until they are just right and the project is ‘worthy’. She comments that if she knits the wool, she doesn’t have it any more and thus cannot look at it and think about it and the potential it holds within the ball.  Once knitted all that potential has gone, it is just a garment now. Whilst un-knitted it has all the possibilities of the future. I am like that sometimes myself. I have some lovely wool my daughter gave me and it sits in the yarn stash drawers and every now and then I look at it and feel it but never knit it. Perhaps as the new year starts I will gain the courage to knit it up.

And then there is Bo Derek:

Whoever said money can’t buy happiness simply didn’t know where to go shopping

or as Stephanie says about her yarn stash (and it applies to our wardrobes too) ‘Just why did I buy that?!’ So Bo Derek is wrong?

The colour isn’t right. The texture is wrong. For that weight you will need more wool than you have for that project. The wool is old (I rescued it from my mother-in-law’s drawers) and falls apart and you really don’t want a garment that is all knots. And yes that wool was really too much of a bargain, the colour runs or it is rough on your fingers to knit and even rougher to wear!

No matter the discount,  not everything is a bargain.





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Books/book review/fiction/law enforcement/crime fiction/net galley

Hunting Down the Moon

A Review of Huntress Moon by Alexandra Sokoloff

A Netgalley book

I found this quite a sinister book.

I also thought it an interesting device to write the story over one week.

I do know about the BAU from many years of watching Criminal Minds on TV and the 2 types of female serial killers: the Black Widow and the Angel of Death, but there are more types it seems.

This female serial killer does have one signature though – when she kills with a razor – which is her preferred method – she first slashes the right of the neck and then the left. Forensic pathology can determine this. Assuming that they manage to put together all her kills and identify them as hers. – so they should look for the method of killing rather than the black sleeveless  turtle neck.angel of death - Hunting Down the Moon

Checking out female serial killers on the Internet, I found that they tended to kill for 3 major reasons: money, revenge and / or insanity. That said listed 8 reasons why females kill in order of occurrence.

  1. Angel of Death;
  2. Black Widow;
  3. Sexual Predator;
  4. Avenger;
  5. Partner in Crime;
  6. Profit motive or Crime;
  7. Insane possibility;
  8. Unknown – as unexpected or random.

I give this book 4 stars and have started reading the next book in the series.

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Books/book review/fiction/Romance/travel

Who’ll Take New York? Me please…

I feel quite bad about my reading at the moment as I have not read many of my Netgalley requests but have been reading other books.

The one I have just finished is I’ll take New York by Miranda Dickinson and I have started on the second book about the Azuri Fae which is a follow-on to one I have read in a compilation of 10 Fae stories -. So basically I have read around 12 or more books without touching the Netgalley offers and as a result several have been archived. This doesn’t mean that they are gone as such, but just that I haven’t made a publication date and they can’t now be downloaded from Netgalley.

So I must make myself a new promise and read some of the above books – I have 12 waiting for me! Even so, I recently reached the 80% feedback to book ratio and am a Trusted Reviewer as publishers have published my reviews alongside their books.

So back to the story of Dickinson’s book and why I read it.

We were staying at our daughter’s and decided to go to Harrogate Spa for a couple of hours. Now Harrogate Spa is in the Turkish style ( and thus us somewhat different from ‘normal’ spas. It is a Victorian 1897 recreation of a Turkish bath-house and only seven remain which date back to the 19th Century. None of them is as historically complete or as in full working order as is Harrogate’s Turkish Baths.

“The Baths’ Moorish design with great vaults and arches soar to a high arabesque ceiling ornately decorated with colourful stencilled design. The walls are of expertly rendered vibrant glazed brickwork, while underfoot the picture is completed with elaborately assembled mosaic and marble terrazzo floors, all adding to its historic fantasy qualities. For the interior fittings, Victorian dark wood blends with Islamic designs in a beautiful embodiment of Orientalist fusion.”

spa1 - Who'll Take New York? Me please... spa2 - Who'll Take New York? Me please...

Looking at the photos you can see that the showers for instance are far from private – yes, you shower in your bathing costume after the treatments and you use changing rooms with curtains rather than doors.

The whole area is on the wet side and the floors are mosaics and after using the plunge pool – yes I managed after each ‘hot’ room – my feet got very sensitive and I realised I needed flip flops or something as the tiles were rough and my nerves were jangling on the soles of my feet. The plunge pool is long enough to swim a short length if you wish or you could duck yourself if you preferred. The temperature varies slightly as the water comes externally but always very very cold. I think I prefer ice caves though which I have used before.

Now of course the spa is wet and thus whilst relaxing around in the various rooms you need a physical book so my daughter gave me this one to read. It was appropriate as we are going to New York later this year.

So what did I learn about NY from the book?

The book had 3 main characters:

  1. The British heroine who has fallen in love with New York and runs a bookshop there, but fallen out of love with her long term boyfriend;
  2. The native New Yorker who is being divorced wife and has returned to his roots and set up his psychology/therapy practice anew.
  3. New York the town. The one that I’m really reading about to get information for my forthcoming tip and to start to get me in the mood…

So what were the tourist places visited in the book?

  1. Central Park Pond;
  2. Grand Central station and Junior’s Cheesecake establishment;
  3. Specialist shops – eg stationery, crafts, cheese;
  4. SoHo;
  5. Coney Island;
  6. Empire State Building;
  7. Times

Unfortunately, having finished reading the book, I then read the author’s blog, only to find out that she didn’t visit New York and took all her places and descriptions from the Internet! Shame…

Anyway, did I enjoy the book? Yes. Will I read more by the author? Only in similar circumstances, or if I am sick. The book was somewhat contrived in places and over long as a result.  As chicklit goes it is a good example but I tend want more edge to my reading. 3*

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health/knitting/Philosophy/meaning of life/Random and interesting items

Knit yourself Sane and Well: Stress and Illness

Knitting benefits an individual’s emotional and physical health.

Knitting can reduce stress in an individual who is trying to manage the severity of their chronic illness.

It can also help reduce stress in individuals who lead very hectic lifestyles.

knitting women - Knit yourself Sane and Well: Stress and Illness

Gary Scholar: American Hospital Association

  1. The Harvard Medical School has found that when an individual knits their heart rate can drop 11 beats per minute and their blood pressure also drops.
  2. Knitting for charity gives ‘Helper’s High’
  3. Knitting can conquer addiction – it occupies the mind and hands.
  4. Knitting activates the pre-frontal cortex of the brain – thus strengthening hand-eye coordination as well as keeping the brain active.
  5. Knitting teaches patience.
  6. knitting teaches anger management, goal setting, and pride.
  7. Knitting teaches concentration.
  8. Knitting helps those who are chronically bored to have something to do – always- you can take it anywhere .

women knitting1 - Knit yourself Sane and Well: Stress and Illness

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