More fresh air!

Not so small daughter was back at college this week – well, for most of this week as there was another teachers’ strike and we spent Thursday morning sharing the kitchen table with our laptops.  She was listening to a lesson on Alexander the Great and I was doing accounts – we made an interesting pair!

We’ve had some sunshine this week too, which has been lovely; it has tended to only be for part of the day so you have to time what you’re doing if you’re trying to catch the sunshine.  Earlier in the week it tended to be earlier in the day and down at the canal, the swans are out and about on the water …

A white swan swimming in a canal near a bridge

Not just swans – there were lots and lots of ducks out on the canal bank too.  The dog likes the ducks, especially when they see him coming and take themselves off into the water.  I think he sees it as tidying up!

Can you see what I spotted here?

A view across a canal. Two white ducks are sleeping on the bank

Apart from those lovely reflections which look like an oil painting, that is!

Right in the middle of the photo are two white things on the far bank …

A closer view of two white ducks sleeping on a bank across a canal

They’re ducks as well (safely out of reach of the dog) – I haven’t seen a white pair on the canal before and their bright feathers caught my eye.  They were out on the water a bit later, they looked like miniature swans although they are just ducks.  I’m not an expert on duck varieties so can’t tell you what they are, but I hope I see them again.

Oh, I wanted to show you this too.  I spotted this tree stump on a walk this week – can you see anything unusual about this?

A silver birch tree stump in a wood with two holes in the stump

It was once a silver birch tree but let me brighten the photo and move in closer.  Now can you see?

A close up of a silver birch tree stump in a wood with two holes in the stump

I think those two holes at the top have been made by a woodpecker.  I’ve never seen them so close up before!  I think it will be the Greater Spotted Woodpecker which is the one that you can hear pecking at the trees if you’re out in the woods – this link has more photos of the birds, the holes they make and the sound so you can hear for yourself what it’s like.  I’ve heard them in a couple of the woods that we walk in this spring which is great – it’s definitely more than I used to hear them so that’s good news if their numbers are on the increase!


I’ve been to RHS Bridgewater this week; a friend and I took a picnic, had a stroll around the gardens and ate our sandwiches in the sunshine.  I haven’t been to the garden for a long time – certainly not since the autumn last year and maybe not even before that for a while … one thing I have realised this week is that if I don’t make time in the calendar to do something, it doesn’t get done and the downside of that is that I end up firefighting with jobs that seem to rush up on me and I don’t have time to do nice things like have picnics in the RHS garden!

RHS Bridgewater garden front entrance. It is built in cedar wood and glass, with large planters outside the door

It’s still reasonably early in spring and although there were plenty of shoots coming up in the borders, they looked very different to how they do over the summer …

Flower borders at RHS Bridgewater. As it is early in the season, there's not much to see

The garden felt as if it is still in that phase between winter sleeping and spring awakening, although the tulips were in full bloom and beautiful to see …

A garden border with a variety of flowering tulips in a range of colours from orange to pink to redA garden border next to a path filled with flowering tulips. The flowers nearest to the camera are redA red and yellow petalled tulip in a flower border

The bluebells were out too – here’s a proper English bluebell …

English Bluebell flowers in a garden border

and I spotted these beautiful blue Camassia flowers too.  I don’t think I’ve seen them before and found myself wondering how they would fare in my garden!

Spikes of unusual blue flowers in a garden border. In the background is a wide gravel path and a grey stone-built house with a circular pointed roofA plant label which reads Camassia leichtlinii

I’ve added the label because it seemed far easier than writing it out! 🙂

In the alpine house, there were some HUGE succulents – they looked similar to ones we have on our windowsill but several times the size …

A close up of large sempervivum plants. The nearest is deep red, the one behind is variegated white and green

Succulents are very popular houseplants these days, aren’t they?  I think it’s because they don’t always take a lot of looking after so can thrive on a bit of neglect!  My lovely friend Emma Varnam has written a book of crocheted succulents patterns which look amazingly lifelike; I think about her every time I see plants like this now.  Her “plants” certainly don’t suffer if the cats knock them off the windowsill!


Talking of cats, look at this butter-wouldn’t-melt-in-her-mouth kitty keeping cool in the raspberry canes.

A calico cat sits in some bushes. She's looking at the camera

Do you remember the other week I mentioned that I’d found dead furry things in the water butt and couldn’t work out how they had got in there?  Well, this week I worked it out.  This little madam has been using the hole in the top of the water butt as a post box and as I watched her drop feathers in there, I realised that probably everything that I suspected was in the sludge at the bottom has been “helped” in through the hole at the top!  Perhaps it’s her own way of tidying up (a bit like the dog encouraging the ducks into the water) … It doesn’t make the thought of having to clean it out it any more pleasant (no, I still haven’t done it) but it does explain it – and I’ll need to find some mesh to cover the hole sooner rather than later!

One last garden photo – the Hellebores are all fading now and the flowers are starting to go to seed.  I think they look just as beautiful as they did when they were in full bloom!

A close up of a hellebore flower which is fading and going to seed

Thanks for all your comments last week about the Fish Lips Kiss heel pattern.  I’ve downloaded the instructions (it’s a paid-for pattern from Ravelry) but I haven’t any knitting to show you this week.  I’ve got to the point where I need to create the heel, but my husband has been working away for a few days so I’ve not been able to make the cardboard template that the instructions tell you to make so his sock has ground to a halt.

Nothing else on the needles, you might ask?  Well, yes – WIPs of course (or PHDs – projects half done as Anne mentioned she calls hers in last week’s comments – that sounds far more sophisticated!) but this week I decided to leave them all to one side and give my hands a rest.  It wasn’t easy as I’m so used to having knitting in my hands, but I do so much of it that the tendons in my arms get tight despite exercising them, so I thought I’d give them a rest this week whilst I couldn’t get on any further with the heel.  My husband is back now so I can get on with the heel template and pick up my needles again – hooray!


On the sock subject – thank you so much for your continued support for not so small daughter’s trip to Japan this summer – we have so appreciated you buying the Don’t Be Koi socks pattern and your donations towards her trip as well – your generosity is so appreciated thank you! xx


Well, it’s another bank holiday weekend in the UK this weekend – we have a run of them coming up! – so whatever you’re up to, I hope you have a lovely weekend and enjoy Monday off!   I’ll be posting this month’s Monthly Musing tomorrow (squeezing it in there before the end of the month 🙂 ) and next Wednesday is the Winwick Mum Sockalong 8th birthday so there’ll be my annual count up and giveaway – there’ll be a post that day and an extra email if you’re on the email list to remind you to join in.  (If you’re not on the list and would like to be, you can sign up here – you get a free Kitchener stitch guide if you do!  It’s not compulsory, though, you can find the posts on the blog whenever you want to 🙂 )

See you soon! xx



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25 Responses

  1. Steph says:

    lovely post again. makes you feel so relaxed.

  2. SARAH MURRAY says:

    I feel like I’ve been out for a lovely walk and a bit of fresh air myself now! Happy 8th birthday to the Sockalong. I downloaded your Kitchener Stitch guide a long while ago (before the pandemic anyway!) and it is my go to when I need to use this technique. I will be refering to it again quite soon. Thank you Christine. Sarah X

    • winwickmum says:

      I’m glad you’re finding it helpful! 🙂 I think you’re the Sarah who has the sock group at Stitch Station, is that right? I hope it’s going well if it is you! xx

  3. Christine Knowler says:

    I’ve been to RHS Hyde Hall in Essex the last two years to see the tulips. I must make time to do it this year before they all go over. I photograph plant labels if they are there to remind myself of what a plant is. I’m in between knitting projects at the moment. Can’t make up my mind on what to do so I’ve been crocheting granny blankets for a local group. It’s all sticks and string lol!

    • winwickmum says:

      It’s an excellent use of your time and a good cause too if you’re going to pass the blankets on. I’m determined to make sure that I go to Bridgewater more often (not least because I’ve paid for membership!) and I’m looking forward to see what’s coming next as the season progresses! 🙂 xx

  4. Valerie Clark says:

    Those lovely dark red plants are aeoniums. We’ve just spent a week on holiday in Cornwall and they’re everywhere. They look so happy down there, but the lady in the shop at the Lost Gardens of Heligan said she brings hers in for the winter and they should do fine in Winwick if you do that.

    • winwickmum says:

      Oh wow, that’s great, thank you for letting me know! I’ve just looked them up and the common name is “tree houseleek” and I am a sucker for a houseleek … 🙂 xx

  5. Susan Rayner says:

    I think the ducks are Aylesbury Ducks – we have a pair here by the Mill and they are very faithful companions and always together in the midst of the dozens of Mallards and the odd Mandarin Duck and the Swans and Egyptian Geese.
    We have been to RHS Wisley twice in a week we are lucky that it is just down the road from us – and the first visit was for the Tulips – they planted 250,000 around the big glasshouse and another 20,000 elsewhere in the garden – Keukerhof eat your heart out – actually it is a like a miniature Keukerhof (Holland).
    I hope you can find someone else to clean out your water butt – I could not be doing that.
    Have a lovely weekend – we must not get used to all these long weekends – and the teacher’s strikes are extending them for so many.

    • winwickmum says:

      Wow, that’s an incredible number of tulip bulbs – I couldn’t begin to imagine planting that many – they certainly wouldn’t fit in my garden! I’ve just looked up Aylesbury ducks and they did look a bit like that – they looked like our ducks but I can’t imagine ours living in the wild! Ugh, the water butt … I’m ignoring it and hoping it goes away! 🙂 xx

  6. Jacqui says:

    Funny you should mention camassia because I was admiring them in my neighbour’s garden this morning. They should do ok for you too.
    just finished a pair of easy cable socks from your More Super Socks book. I’m getting more adventurous!

    • winwickmum says:

      I’m glad you think so as I’ve just ordered some Camassia bulbs! 🙂 I hope you enjoyed knitting the Easy Cable Socks … definitely more adventurous! 🙂 xx

  7. martha maloch says:

    Greetings from the UP of Michigan USA! I so enjoy seeing all of your pictures of your walks — I get to see England that way! I also enjoy your cat stories — we have 2 indoor fur babies. Thank you so much for the lovely stories, pictures and patterns. marti

    • winwickmum says:

      Hello Marti, thanks for your lovely message! I have seen so much of the world through other people’s blogs and photos – places, plants and animals that you would never see otherwise. The internet is brilliant for that, isn’t it? I’m glad to have been able to show you a bit of England! 🙂 xx

  8. Christie says:

    Hi y’all, from down south in Georgia (USA). I enjoy visiting England through your updates as well. The photos at the botanical gardens are so pretty. It’s that time of year here too, and everything is in bloom and yellow pollen is covering everything. Enjoy your Monday bank holidays. Those are ways nice. Thank you for sharing a part of your world with us along with some knitting too. Christie

    • winwickmum says:

      Hello Christie, thanks for your comment! Wow, I love it when I get to chat to people way across the world! 🙂 I’m really glad you’re enjoying the blog, thank you! xx

  9. Marilyn Brewster says:

    What a super garden you went to , great pictures again , can’t wait to see this heel finished !!!!!! flowers are beautiful , everything is bursting open now , I’m crocheting a dishcloth now , I like them they last so well , but in between I knit my socks they are coming along slowly,I’have done a rolled cuff , the wool I got years again in a fantastic wool shop in New York when our son lived there . Have a nice weekend, xx

    • winwickmum says:

      I really do need to get on and draw round my husband’s foot – I completely forgot to do it this weekend and I can’t carry on with the sock until I do! It sounds very glamorous to be using yarn bought in New York – and very glamorous for your son to have lived there too! 🙂 xx

  10. Liz says:

    Hi Christine, Bridgewater on our list for a visit, your pics are amazing. I recommend a visit to Yorkgate Gardens in Adel- North Leeds not far from the airport, it’s a small garden run by Perrenial, the aeoniums there are delicious! this week we headed north to Seahouses, lovely wander on the beach and a visit to Alnwick for Barter Books and the Yarn Company, nice ball of WYS sock yarn now in the to do box….
    Enjoy May, let’s hope the weather dries up a bit, ????

    • winwickmum says:

      I’ve just looked York Gate Garden up and it’s about as far from me as Skipton is so that would make it do-able for a day out – thanks for the recommendation! I hope you had a lovely time on the coast! 🙂 xx

  11. Chris says:

    Hello Christine! Thank you for another insightful posting! Oh the joy of spring colours and forms – tulips fascinate me with all their different shapes, styles and colours! I was thinking about the tension that you were experiencing with knitting. Arne, from Arne & Carlos on YouTube has a similar issue, and wears a form of strap – it might be useful to explore. Just a thought! X

    • winwickmum says:

      That’s interesting, I’ll have a look at what Arne is doing as I know he does a lot of knitting too, thank you! I have wondered about switching styles a bit more from English to continental – but Arne is a continental (Norwegian) knitter and if he is having the same problem, that might not be the answer! 🙂 xx

  12. Michelle says:

    Hello Christine, New sock knitting convert here. Started before Christmas last year and have only had a brief break to knit a couple of waistcoats for an elderly neighbour (first time for those as well!) I’m on pair No.11, only one of which does not use one of your sock patterns and that pair have holes in already. I have some circulation issues and needed socks that were loose but kept my feet warm, shop bought ones are too tight and/or too big. I couldn’t believe how well the first pair fitted and that was me hooked. I’ve also tried the easy cable and easy lace and on 2nd pair of easy lace. I love your weekly emails and photos as well – you live in a lovely part of the country. I have some photos of said socks but don’t know how to upload them – or whether you actually want me to!! Hope this isn’t too long a post.

    • winwickmum says:

      Hello Michelle, it’s lovely to hear from you, thank you for taking the time to write to me! I am so pleased that you’ve been able to make socks that fit you properly and delighted that I was able to help! I’d love to see your photos – you should be able to send me an email either through the box in the left hand side bar or reply to the newsletter email if you get one of those 🙂 xx

  13. Lynn Eaton says:

    I am just catching up as I have been moving house. Thank you for the picture of the lovely English bluebells, they are so hard to find here in Staffordshire. I do a bit of amateur natural dyeing and have tried to get that colour in a yarn but not really got close. Bridgewater looks really interesting.

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