Fresh air

I’ve known for a very long time that being out in the fresh air is the best thing for you – it’s good for your physical health and your mental health, you meet people to say hello to, see things outside your own four walls – fresh air really is magic.  Having said that, on those days of endless rain it can sometimes feel like too much of an effort to drag yourself away from whatever you’re doing to experience the weather … but this week, it was easy!

Oh, look at the sky!

A footpath stretching into the distance between trees and bushes.  A black dog is on the path

I think I say, “Look at that sky!” quite a lot in my blog posts, but as we seem to go for days with nothing but grey clouds sometimes, I get a bit overexcited when it turns blue!

Looking upwards at a sunlit blue sky through tree branches Pale green young horse chestnut leaves against a blue sky

It’s so lovely to see everywhere springing into life – there’s a fuzz of green wherever you walk; there are early crops in the farmers’ fields (the oilseed rape is flowering, vast yellow swathes of it across the landscape around Winwick), the bumble bees have come out of hibernation and have started buzzing around the borders, and we’re waking to the sound of birdsong which we missed all over the winter.

I saw my first bluebells this week when we were out.  I couldn’t actually get close to the blue ones, so here are some pink ones … I am sure that it won’t be long before I’m showing you blue flowers too!

Pink bluebells in a woodland

On one of the walks that the dog and I did this week around a familiar path (which, strangely, felt unfamiliar because the shadows were on the other side as we walked later in the day), we passed an apple tree that was bursting with blossom.  This tree was out in a field and that always surprises me as I expect fruit trees to be cultivated in gardens or orchards.

White apple blossom flowers on a tree

The blossom was really low to the ground which made me wonder how many apples would manage to grow to a decent size without being knocked off – I’ll have to go back later in the year to see!

I also took this photo of one of the dog’s favourite ponds (oh, he does love a pond!) because it makes me laugh every time we go past it.  Yes, it has got an orange tinge to it.  Yes, you can see muddy trails blooming across the water as the dog walks through it.  Yes, it is stinky (and so is my car) … but the dog loves it so much!  His joy at seeing it makes me smile every time, even though I know I’m going to regret it on the drive home 🙂

A pond surrounded by trees.  The pond water has an orange tinge to it

I went up to see my friend Lucy in Skipton this week.  It’s been a while since I’ve had photos to show you from my visits to Skipton, mostly because over the winter we’ve sat chatting in coffee shops rather than going out and about anywhere.  The closest “out and about” for us once I get over to Skipton is Bolton Abbey – there had been a few incidents on the motorways on the way so I was later getting there than I’d expected and I was really ready to get out of the car and stretch my legs.  If you’re a regular reader of Lucy’s blog, you’ll know that she’s got worries about her Dad’s health so she was also glad to get outside into the sunshine for a few hours.

We did a loop that took us up high through the trees to look down on the River Wharfe …

A view from a hill across the River Wharfe between trees

There was a bench at this viewpoint and we sat for a while looking at the river.  Lucy had been there with her husband a few days earlier and said the water level had dropped considerably since then – funny how a few days can make such a difference to what you see.

From that high point, the path drops back down through the trees towards the ruins of Bolton Abbey and there’s a point where it’s beautifully framed by the trees …

A view down a hill to the ruins of Bolton Abbey

It doesn’t look particularly sunny in these photos but the sun was in and out of the clouds which were scudding past at high speed as the wind had got up. The path we took went up this side of the Abbey between the building and the river, and then round to the right before going down some steps and across another field where the wind made our hair stand on end so that we looked like we’d both been dragged through a hedge backwards by the time we got back to the cafe.  Ah, the magic of fresh air!

Before we did that, though, we sat on the pebbly river beach – you can see it in front of the abbey next to the grass – listening to the water rippling past and watching the ducks.  The ducks aren’t shy at all; Lucy said they have often sat here and the ducks will come right up to you in case you need any help with any sandwiches you might be eating (I wonder if they’re related to my dog, he likes to do that too!) and sure enough, it wasn’t long before we had a visitor.

A collage of four photos showing a mallard duck getting closer to where two people are sitting

Mallards are very handsome ducks, particularly Mr Mallards who have beautiful shiny greeny-purple heads.  I like the way they have the little curly feathers on their tails, too.

A close up of a male mallard duck

We didn’t have any sandwiches so Mr Mallard made a show of checking through the pebbles just in case another kind visitor had remembered to bring food for him and dropped some of it somewhere, and then he wandered off.

We wandered off too, back along the path towards the abbey and then up and round for a brew.  It was lovely, a walk and a brew, just what we needed!


Thank you for all your comments on last week’s post about sayings that we have inherited.  I thought it was really interesting that lots of you have heard of Betty Martin (as opposed to my late mother-in-law’s saying about Peggy Martin), and I did wonder if they were the same person … and then I ended up musing about “Peggy” being short for “Margaret” and “Betty” being short for “Elizabeth” and maybe they weren’t anything to do with each other after all.  Caz wrote in the comments that she had discovered that “Peggy Martin” is a knitting stitch which is a funny thing, isn’t it – although I turned the TV on the other day and the programme that came on was a quiz show: the question was all about knitting stitches and I hadn’t heard of any of them!

I did enjoy reading about the other sayings that you have in your families; I think we tend to think that sayings we might use regularly are something that everybody uses but in fact they are something that is very peculiar to our own (sometimes very  peculiar!) families.  We call the TV remote control the “oofer doofer”, for example – I used to think that everybody did that but apparently not! 🙂

One thing I definitely don’t have any peculiar names for is my sock knitting.  I’ve got a new sock on the needles … what’s that you say?  I’ve got lots of WIPs that I should finish off first?  I can’t hear you, I’ve still got the wind in my ears from Bolton Abbey … and it’s a sort of WIP because it’s a pair of socks for my husband using the rest of the yarn from a skein of Marine Rainbow that I bought from The Yarn Badger ages and ages ago.  Anyway, that’s my excuse and I’m sticking to it!

A partly knitted sock in rainbow shades broken up by bands of blue

This is the last pair that I made – they look completely different with the blue cuff and with the rainbow stripes starting at a different colour …

I’m thinking I might try out a Fish Lips Kiss heel with this new pair of socks.  I’ve never actually used it before – if I’ve been designing, I’ve kept to the heel flap and gusset so that anyone wanting help can use the Sockalong tutorials, and the only other time I’d use this sort of heel would be for my husband’s socks.  I’ve been quite happy with the no wrap, no gap short row heel I’ve been using for years – but I’m often telling people that it never hurts to learn a new technique so I’m going to give FLK a go!

If you’ve never heard of it before, it’s a paid-for pattern available from Ravelry which produces a heel that looks like the one in the photo above but created in a different way.  It’s a hugely popular heel style and I think it’s time I had a proper look at how it works.  I will keep you posted! 🙂


Before I go, a heads up about something exciting that is coming along very soon … the Winwick Mum Sockalong’s 8th birthday!  Wow, 8 years, isn’t that amazing?  It’s on 3 May so there’ll be a mid-week post that week and if you’re on the email list, you’ll be getting an email about it on the day too.There’s going to be a giveaway as always, and I’ll be asking you to count up the number of pairs of Basic 4ply Socks you’ve knitted since May last year for our annual today – we’re on 17,235 pairs of socks so far* and it will be great to see how many more pairs we can add this year.


OK, I think that’s all my news for this weekend so I’ll leave you to get on with yours, and hope that you have a lovely one.  See you next week! xx



*  This can only ever be an estimate based on who’s reading the blog at the time, but isn’t a fab number? 🙂


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36 Responses

  1. Sara Smith says:

    That brought back memories. My dad was vicar of Addingham when I was a little girl and the vicarage stood on the banks of the river Wharfe. strangely noone ever told me that you could get down to it from the house! I only found out many years later. it’s a beautiful area of the world.
    Thank you for the memories.

    • winwickmum says:

      I expect that nobody wanted a little girl exploring the banks of a fast-flowing river so that’s why they never told you! It is a beautiful area of world, you are absolutely right – I always enjoy having the opportunity to walk there 🙂 xx

  2. Jillian Gange says:

    Hello Christine. Let me tell you how I found you and how much I am enjoying your sockalong tutorials and weekly emails. I have been a knitter all my life but decided that I wanted a new challenge. Also, it was my friend’s birthday (also a knitter) so I found your lovely blog, bought us both the wool, needles, etc and printed off your instructions. My friend was delighted with her birthday gift. We live in Melbourne, Australia so we are in autumn now – coming into cosy sock weather! I decided to knit a test sock before getting stuck into my first pair. Finished that one today, read your lovely email so am now ready to go. Thank you so much for your instructions, encouragement and lovely emails. Best wishes Jillian

    • winwickmum says:

      Hello Jillian, it’s lovely to hear from you all the way across the world! What a lovely birthday gift for your friend, and if you’re able to knit socks together, that makes the gift last even longer. I’m so pleased I’ve been able to help you get started, and here’s to many pairs of socks in your future 🙂 xx

  3. Audrey says:

    love your pictures. Oh my the bluebells reminded me of my childhood. My father used to take us through a bluebell wood .Love your socks and colours

    • winwickmum says:

      Oh, I bet the smell was wonderful! There’s nothing like a sea of bluebells and the scent to go with it … what a lovely memory of your Dad! xx

      • Lynn says:

        Hello Christine, I love your blog and the way sock knitting is linked to your lovely outdoor lifestyle and pictures is inspiring. However, I had to comment on the picture of the Spanish bluebells as these make me very sad. They are thugs from cultivated gardens which people mistakenly allow to grow in the wild and threaten the existence of our native bluebells by competition and hybridisation. It would be wonderful to see pictures of English native bluebells, which lean over and have flowers only on one side of the stem. They are a deeper blue than the Spanish ones.

        • winwickmum says:

          These ones were pink, Lynn, so probably not true bluebells at all. We have Spanish ones in our garden that we inherited but just where I took the photo there are “proper” ones but they weren’t out yet. I’ll show you some English bluebells soon, I promise! 🙂 xx

  4. Kay Foster says:

    My dad (92) says ‘all my eye and Betty Martin’ and he’s from Portsmouth so that suggests it’s not just a northern expression. All his family were from the south coast.

  5. Fran Slack says:

    I didn’t know any of the stitches on the quiz show either!

    • winwickmum says:

      That makes me feel better … I don’t usually watch that show but it came on and I thought, “Oh yes, I’m bound to know this” – and then didn’t! 🙂 xx

  6. Helen Dart says:

    Oh that yarn is beautiful. I have her neon stripes – I need more time in my life!

  7. Hazel W. says:

    I just bought the Fish Lips Kiss Heel too to have a go at! Need to get the current socks off the needle first, but am at the second toe, so next socks are not far away. Seeing the sun this week has been excellent ????

  8. Susan Geary says:

    Love Fish Lips Kiss heel. Only one I use after many gusset ones. Highly recommend it !!! You will love it. Happy knitting…

    • Julie Kelshaw says:

      We always call the TV remote the “doofer”. But as we’ve got an older TV where the remote doesn’t sync with others, and we have a Freeview and a Freesat box with this TV (I’m too mean to pay for Sky, I’d rather buy yarn!), we have 3 remotes – Big Doofer, Little Doofer and Shiney Doofer!

      • winwickmum says:

        Oh, that really made me laugh! We’ve got more than one “doofer” too but they’re all referred to as the “oofer doofer” and then you have to guess which one someone wants! 🙂 xx

    • winwickmum says:

      I’m looking forward to trying something new! 🙂 xx

  9. Susan Rayner says:

    I love the blue sky photos – epsecially the ones with the gorgeous Black Labrador in them.
    We spent a couple of nights at The Devonshire Arms in Bolton Abbey some years ago for a very special birthday and loved every minute of exploring that beautiful part of the world. Including Skipton and the castle there.
    Do you have a link for your no wrap no gap short row heels? They appeal to me and I like the way they look.
    Love the Yarn Badger wool.
    Have a lovely weekend everyone.

    • winwickmum says:

      Ooh, that’s a lovely place to have stayed, we drive past that hotel on the way in to the Abbey. If you’ve got my first Winwick Mum collection pattern book, my short row no gap heel is at the back of that with the Mix n Match socks pattern. It’s similar to this version if you can’t find it 🙂 xx

  10. Marilyn Brewster says:

    I love your welcome emails , still knitting socks , I sent away for 12 inch circular needles from Laughing Hens , I love them and I wear clothes by Layercake , all her garments have big pockets so I tuck my sock knitting in them , first found her at knitting n stitching at Ali Pali in London , I live on the Norfolk Broads , you said your Rape fields are that beautiful yellow , ours are not yet , our daughter is a Bee ???? keeper and loves seeing the rape out , bees love it , she produces lots of honey, three sorts , candles , soaps , lip balm and polish for saddles , all products with honey. I have got a pattern from Arne n Carlos a no heel , it spiral !!!!!! Mmmmm maybe one day I might knit , interesting pattern. Thank you for your wonderful pictures .

    • winwickmum says:

      I haven’t heard of Layercake before so I’ve just googled and you can’t go wrong with those big pockets, can you?! Fabulous for keeping all sorts of things in, not just knitting! I’m surprised our rape is out before yours but I am sure it won’t be long! 🙂 xx

  11. Anne Mulvany says:

    We have another name for WIPs – PHDs ( projects have done). Cheers, Anne

  12. Lenore says:

    What a lovely day out Christine with Lucy. Nola and I visited there when we were over in 2018, it is a beautiful place. I love the blue in the socks you are knitting., so vibrant and fresh. The spring flowers you shared are so pretty. As we progress through Autumn the leaves on our trees are changing to an all the beautiful Autumn colours and beginning to fall. So pretty. ❤️❤️????

    • winwickmum says:

      I can’t believe it was so long ago that you were here! The time just flies, doesn’t it? You and Nola did a grand tour, I remember I don’t think there were many places that you didn’t get to see! 🙂 I hope she’s keeping well too xx

  13. Caz Abbinett says:

    I was sat here reading going ‘I’ve been there, I recognise that view’ !????????
    Beautiful place for a holiday and lucky you for living so close that you can visit often!
    Didn’t I tell you this week that I needed to try out more heel types for the sock group so you know what heel type will be on my next socks…after I’ve knitted the pattern I’ve just bought that is – Deceptively Knotty Socks with the Autumn Leaves wool for Lewis ????…..I’ll check in with him how many new pairs of socks I’ve given him for the count-up…
    Rape is not out round here yet thank goodness as it makes my eyes stream and nose run!☹️
    Can’t wait for warmer weather so we can sit out in the garden and knit…tried it today but my hands got too cold even in bright sunshine!????

    • Caz says:

      Sorry for all the ??? My iPad has been doing strange things just lately….????

      • winwickmum says:

        I don’t think it’s just you, there have been few comments lately with extra question marks. It could be the blog software, I wondered if it was to do with emojis as they aren’t always recognised.

    • winwickmum says:

      I will let you know how I get on with the new heel! 🙂 I’m glad you can still get hold of a copy of Deceptively Knotty as The Yarn Cafe closed for a while – I could do with updating the link on the blog if you could drop me a message about it, please? Rape flowers have allll the pollen, I think – lovely for the bees but not those with allergies! xx

  14. Liz says:

    hi Christine, Bolton Abbey a favourite of ours too, often stop at the tea room opposite the Devonshire Arms on our way to the Lakes. This week we’re in Norfolk looking after youngest granddaughter, we visited Blickling Hall on Thursday where there are lots of bluebells out in the woods, blue sky too and some rapefields in flower. My knitting is on pause at the moment whilst I crochet a scarf though I really need to do a pair of your trainer socks before holiday in June! our TV remote is the ‘diddler’!!

    • winwickmum says:

      The diddler! Another perfect name for a TV remote 🙂 I hope you’ve having a lovely week in Norfolk, the bluebells should be much further on there than up here in the north west. You’ve got plenty of time to knit trainer socks before June 🙂 xx

  15. Jennifer Goodman says:

    Love love love FLK heel. used it for my socks fit sooo good and easy to do a contrast heel. Now I can use up my bits and bobs of leftover sock yarn. Now if I can get DH to hold still long enough to trace his size 11 foot I can finish up his socks lol. Love your blog and tutorials. Keep smiling ????

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