February gratitude

I’ve got a lot of things to be thankful for.  I try to remember to say thank you for them every day, and some days I am better at remembering than others, but then there are the days when it’s very easy.

The days when you wake up to this …

Pink clouds above dark trees as the sun rises

Oh, those glorious pink clouds, it was a wonder to see!  Within minutes, it was gone but how it made me feel in the moment will stay with me all day.

The walks I’ve taken with the dog this week have been lovely.  Spring is definitely on its way and whilst there may be all kinds of weather to come before the summer arrives, we’ve had those beautiful crisp mornings where the sun has some strength to it, and it’s been a joy to be outside.

The first snowdrops are appearing in the woods …

A group of white snowdrops growing wild in the woodsA clump of white snowdrops growing through fallen leaves in a wood

and we’re still getting frosty mornings – fortunately, they don’t seem to trouble the snowdrops.

Oh, the blue of that sky!

A frosty morning by a canal.  The trees and blue sky are reflected in the waterA gravel path near a canal on a frosty morning.  The grass is white with frost and the sky is blue and mostly cloudless

These are my favourite sorts of mornings, ones where you walk a bit faster to keep your blood pumping and yourself warm, and your breath steams out in front of you.

The ones where the canal water is smooth and dark and deep, and the only thing that breaks the reflections on the water is the graceful movement of the ducks and the swans gliding past.

Two swans swimming down a canal.  The sky is blue, the water looks black and there's a green verge to the left of the canalTwo swans swimming down a canal.  The sky is blue, the water looks black and there's a green verge to the left of the canal.  The swans are closer than in the previous photoA close up of a white swan on the canal.  There are reflections of trees in the water

It doesn’t matter how many times I see the swans, it always makes me catch my breath at how beautiful they are, especially when they glide so serenely along the canal.

I’m grateful that the dog has learnt to stay away from the swans (he’s been hissed at once too often), and instead prefers to admire the reflections in the pools like I do …

A pool of water (slightly orange in colour, hopefully from natural elements!) with trees around it, reflected in the water

Or maybe not.

Dark circles of mud where a dog has walked though the water and stirred up the sludge

Those dark circles you can see are where the dog has gone into that rather orange water (I’m really hoping it’s got a lot of iron in the water and not something I should be worrying about) and stirred up the mud.  “Ugh, that pond stinks, you’re going to have a right stinky dog,” a man told me as he passed by (with his dog that was staying well away) and he was right.  I did have a right stinky dog but he’d had a lovely time!

I do enjoy being out with the dog in the fresh air and watching the seasons change anyway, but recently I’ve started going to a six week course at our local gym hub called Mind, Movement and Menopause and that’s changed the way I’m looking at my walks and exercise in general.  I signed up to keep a friend company initially, but it’s been so interesting, I’m really glad I did and I’m grateful that she happened to mention that she was going.

Each class is on for an hour and a half – the first 45 minutes are exercise, and each week it’s been a different class that’s offered at the gym so that you get a chance to try them all out, but because it’s just the course participants and the instructor is very good at tailoring classes to participants’ needs, they are not beyond the capabilities of anyone – even those who haven’t exercised for a while.

Then it’s 45 minutes of education about perimenopause, nutrition and what you can do to help yourself through what can, quite honestly, be pretty sh*t times for some people, and that’s been fascinating.  I’ve done a fair bit of reading about the subject myself but there were still things that I didn’t know – about insulin spikes which cause us to carry weight around our middles, and insulin resistance which can cause skin tags and diabetes, for example – and I’m already making changes to how I am eating during the day to include more protein and be more thoughtful about carbs.

At the end of the six weeks, you get a free month’s membership of the gym and of course, because you’ve tried out all of the classes and you know which you liked and which you didn’t, you’re much more likely to go.  It’s a brilliant idea.

If you live in the Warrington area and you think this might be for you, I highly recommend that you look into it.  The website doesn’t give a great deal of detail but the classes are as I’ve described, and if you live outside of Warrington then do look to see if there’s anything like this in your area.  The days of women having to struggle on through these hormone changes are falling behind now, and I think that anything that can empower us in our decisions and choices is a good thing.


Elsewhere, I don’t have to go far to find things to be grateful for this month as the garden is starting to wake up now.  The catkins are out on the twisted hazel (Corylus avellana) …

Long green hazel catkins on a branch

and the Viburnum tinus is in flower.  There are masses of flowers this year, the bush is smothered with them and it looks glorious …

Clusters of white flowers against dark green leaves

The hellebores along the path are starting to come into flower now.  These are Helleborus orientalis, also called the oriental hellebore or Lenten rose, and I think the ones that I originally planted here were dark purple but over the years, the colours have changed as the bees have worked their way around the plants in the garden.

Tight pink hellebore buds against green leaves

It seems that I have all kinds of variations between purple and white now!

Pink hellebore flowers against green leaves

This one is a Helleborus niger or Christmas rose.  It’s a bit late for Christmas but it’s nice to see it now!

A close up of a white flower with yellow stamens in the centre

I do like hellebores very much, I’ve got a lot of them around the garden.


Finally – something definitely to be grateful for – the ginormous socks are finished!

A pair of socks in purple and white stripes with pink cuffs, heels and toes are on a pair of feet.  There's a red rug on the wooden floor and the person wearing the socks is sitting on a brown leather sofa

Big daughter and her boyfriend came over at the weekend, just as I’d finished the socks and taken photos for a Top Sock Tips blog post and they were straight on his feet!  He was so pleased with them, and with the colours he’d chosen (yes, I could have chosen a more photogenic rug for him to have his feet on but I didn’t 🙂 ), and you can see that they fit him very well in the leg – these were the socks that started off with 84sts – and then fit his feet very well after I’d reduced to 76sts too.  The gusset is a bit lower than you might find on other socks as I chose to keep top of the foot stitches at the bigger size (42, half of 84), but I could have moved the decreases over if I’d wanted to have it more central – don’t let changing the sizes if you need to put you off as nobody will notice that gusset now the socks are on his feet, and it’s still done the job.

The Top Sock Tips post that I’m planning to write will be about blocking socks without sock blockers – I do have a lot of sock blockers now but none that fit this particular size!  As you can see, socks block very nicely on feet but these have been blocked for photos and I’ll get that post written up to show you.  I’m also planning to write one on blocking socks with blockers – I know there are already lots of posts about that elsewhere on the internet but I like the idea of keeping the two options together 🙂


I hope you have a lovely weekend with plenty to be grateful for, and I’ll see you again soon! xx


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22 Responses

  1. Jill Muir says:

    Just to say thank you for writing your two books. Haven’t reached the second yet but do hope to get there eventually. The first Super socks book is heavily used as finding this so very useful. Now trying my fifth pair of socks these for my Husband. We celebrated 65 years of marriage this week. It has been a very exciting week for us and our family. Best wishes Christine. Jill

    • winwickmum says:

      Oh congratulations to you! What a wonderful celebration! I’m so glad that you’re finding the books useful (although the second one doesn’t sound like it’s earning it’s keep yet 🤣) and thank you for buying them 🙂 xx

  2. Muriel Gibbs says:

    Still got some winter to go yet but thank you for all of your lovely springish photos. We do live in an amazing country. I live in a city but a few bus stops and I can breathe in the beauty of the countryside. Thank you again and enjoy your gym.

    • winwickmum says:

      Yes, the winter definitely isn’t over, is it? There was talk of another “Beast from the East” the other day so who knows what we’ve got in store! 🙂 xx

  3. Jacqui says:

    I never tire of seeing your photos of Sankey Valley canal. I’ve walked those paths many times but you always find new perspectives and ways of describing them that is very particular to you. Thanks!
    By the way, did you watch Greg Wallace’s latest Inside the Factory on TV (Thursday)? He went round a sock factory and there was an interesting bit about Kitchener stitch 🙂

    • winwickmum says:

      Ah, thank you for your lovely words! I think it’s always interesting to see somewhere familiar from someone else’s perspective – we all see the same things but so differently sometimes! No, I didn’t see Gregg Wallace – I must see if I can find it on catch up 🙂 xx

  4. Susan Rayner says:

    Thank you for the beautiful photos! There is indeed so much to be gratful for!
    I love these cold mornings although Surrey has been a lot frostier at -5C some mornings and completely white! This sort of cold has affected the Snowdrops, Hellebores and early Daffodils which flop but then recover as it warms up during the day! We also have Aconites and early Anemone Blanda out as well as some crocuses! Just wonderful to see.
    Love the ginormous socks! So nice that big daughter has a boy friend who appreciates them.
    Your gym course sounds inspirational – wish there had been something like that 25 years ago around here!
    Have a lovely weekend –

    • winwickmum says:

      Minus 5! That’s a bit colder than it’s been here, I’m not surprised your flowers have flopped. They’re very resilient, though, aren’t they – they don’t let a bit of frost get them down! It’s a bit early for Anemone blanda in my garden (always assuming the mice haven’t eaten them over the winter) but I’m looking forward to seeing them again. Yes, you’re right, it’s a real shame for some people that the conversations for women are only really starting now xx

  5. Carol says:

    2023 will be The Year of the Sock I decided. I found you and Sockalong, brilliant! After a month of reading gathering, gauging and trying different needles (yes! you persuaded me to do tension and gauge swatches), yesterday I cast on my first Sock (basic 4ply) in Tootsie and got the ribbing done while wrangling my dpns like a herd of cats. Thank you, I think 😊
    I live in Marlborough, New Zealand. Our summertime is in full swing so I’m preparing for the frosts that will come. Lovely pics and post.

    • winwickmum says:

      Well, I am all in favour of The Year of the Sock and I do hope you have plenty of pairs ready for when the winter comes! Do let me know how you get on! 🙂 xx

  6. Cynthia says:

    Thx for your delightful post and beautiful pictures. I am in Queensland Australia. The temperature is 30-33 degrees every day and humidity 90% many days. I felt so refreshed by your pictures. However there are many other things I am grateful for. I am knitting my first sock ever in 4 ply cotton. Third try at getting the gusset right but I won’t give up! The pattern is fine but I keep forgetting where I am up to!

    • winwickmum says:

      Cotton socks sound like just what you need in the weather you’re having at the moment! Once you’ve got the hang of the gusset, there’ll be no stopping you 🙂 xx

  7. Liz Hirst says:

    Hi Christine, lovely to read your blog and admire your pictures, thank you. I wish there had been a mind, movement and menopause group 20 years ago when I was battling perimenopause – thankfully I had a sympathetic GP!
    Yes, spring is in the air, we walked on the East Yorkshire Wolds yesterday with friends and although it was a cold wind blowing up the Humber we saw signs of spring everywhere. I also got to wear my new socks!
    Good luck to Carol and her year of the sock, if she follows your instructions she won’t go far wrong, I thought I would never knit socks until a friend showed me your book and having got my own copy I am now suitably armed for sock knitting though am thankful we are a family of smaller feet so I won’t need to attempt any quits as ginormous as your daughter’s boyfriend’s – love the colours tho’
    Liz x

  8. Laura Miller says:

    Hi Christine – who cares about a smelly dog, as long as he gets that lovely doggie smile on his face! Your gym course sounds amazing. I’m just about to start Davina Mccall’s audiobook Menopausing which is supposed to be very good. I’m through the worst of it but thought I’d give it a go. Love all the flowers and plants you posted. Spring is definitely on her way. xxx

  9. Tina Adamson says:

    Beautiful scenery. It’s been so lovely to be out this week hasn’t it. I’m finding the gym and the swimming pool very helpful through. I had a surgical menopause so it was a steep learning curve. So glad things like this exist (and are becoming more readily available) to help with such a diff time. Have a lovely week.

  10. Lindsay says:

    Hi Christine, I’ve been having some problems with my laptop and losing the photos from your blogs. I was getting so cross but am now using my husband’s iPad and it’s all working out fine. Love the photos heralding Spring! My first socks were for my husband and they took me quite a while to do but watching your videos on YouTube helped a lot! However, somehow I miscalculated on the heel turn and the stripes on the foot of sock 2 look slightly different to those of sock 1. Hubby though is very pleased – as he says, the mistake is inside his shoe so no-one knows! Now on my second pair and noting all rows in a little book, hoping I’ll not make the same mistake again – never did find it!! Thanks for all your encouragement.

    • winwickmum says:

      Hi Lindsay, I’m glad you’re back here again! I do resize all of my photos to try to make them as small as possible for downloading but I know that some days, some broadband connections and some computers can catch you out! I am delighted that your husband loves his socks with their Unique Design Features – they are special socks indeed! 🙂 xx

  11. Geeha says:

    I don’t know if this is suitable for blog comment but thought this appropriate for counting our blessings http://www.dirtyglory.org/a-prayer-for-valentines-day

    • winwickmum says:

      I thought it was lovely, thank you. I think you could be of any faith and speak those words and they would work – there are days in our calendar that can isolate rather than bring people together and I think it is right that we should remember them too xx

  12. Rachel says:

    What perfect timing for your sock finish!! I love seeing your landscape photos and getting a little peek into your corner of the world – very different from my view here in rural Australia!

  13. Helen Dart says:

    Your dog sounds like he had a great day!

    I don’t know if you remember, back in November I mentioned mum was visiting and bringing her 7 pairs of socks for me to Kitchener. She’s a knitted if 70+ years and I began in April. She finally cracked it herself last month and now has 12 pairs of socks and has made a pair for her childhood bestie. All basic sock pattern 🙂 Helen x

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