My March

I don’t know about you, but March 2021 has seemed a long month to me. Though the evenings have been getting lighter there has still been a chilling nip in the air during the day. March however, is a great month to witness the start of spring, from the birds beginning to sing, to the garden finally waking up. Here are a few pictures of the unfurling plants in my yarden.

March is our anniversary month, and this year was our 15th year anniversary together. David and I celebrated it by sharing a tasty curry.

March is also the birthday month of both my mum and brother Daniel.

The 23rd of March this year was also a National Day of Remembrance. I took the time to remember my dad, Graham who we said goodbye too nine years ago on 28th March 2012.

David had a few days off work in March and we spent many of his days off by walking around Sefton Park. On one occasion, I spied a little grebe on the lake and Riley enjoyed the warm springlike sunshine.

Sadly, I’ve not done any reading this month at all!

Since I am back at work two days a week, I’ve spent the days in between by catching up on some series. I’ve been enjoying Netflix’s The Queens Gambit, ITV’s Unforgotten and David and I have both been having a laugh to SyFy’s Resident Alien.

Having been living together in our home now for the past eight years, some of the paintwork in the rooms are looking a little tired. So to make a start on the project of sprucing up the interiors we decided to paint the easiest room in the house, the bathroom. We decided on a medium grey to replace the purple we had on firstly. It only took us a few hours to do two coats of paint and the result is a fresh, cleaner, more modern looking style. What do you think?

I celebrated Earth Hour by switching off my lights for an hour on the 27th. This WWF campaign is to spread awareness of our carbon footprints. By using less light and energy this reduces harmful Co2 emissions.

I’m not sure what prompted Liverpool City Council to install 11 light art fixtures as part of their River of Light during lockdown, but in need of some stimulation, David and I with a nervous Riley in tow, spent a couple of hours walking around Liverpool’s waterfront.

It’s been a year since the UK was plunged into the first lockdown. How have you coped? It has been a struggle for many. From having too much time on your hands and the boredom and frustration that brings, to working from home and all the pressures it adds to the mental state. Finances have been hit hard and businesses have suffered. Not being able to travel and every day melding into one. It has been a long, dark year but hopefully we can recover and regain some semblance of normality in the coming months ahead.

How have you spent March? What are you most looking forward to getting back to doing?

Take care,

Christine x

Hawthorn’s Scavenger Hunt: Spring Edition – March 2021

I’m a bit late to the party, (and missed the link up) but I’ve wanted to write another post for some time but haven’t had the material to do so. So, Hawthorn’s scavenger hunt for spring is perfect. I’ve spent the weekend doing some maintenance in the yarden and have noticed lots of signs that spring is on its way.

Here’s a collage of the gorgeous blooms that are signalling the arrival of the best of seasons.

What are you looking forward to most in spring?

Thanks for reading,

Christine x

My February

Following on from my January post, I thought I would continue the monthly update theme as a new series for 2021. February can sometimes be the coldest and darkest of months. This year’s February began cold and frosty with frigid days and bone chilling nights but the month ended with mild winds and the scent of spring on the air. 🙂

David had a well earned few days off work in February. Whilst still in lock-down we stayed local and took a walk to Liverpool’s Sefton Park with an excitable Riley. David managed to feed a few squirrels and crows with the monkey nuts we had brought with us, while I had a captive audience of geese, coots and gulls enjoying the bird seed I offered them. I love feeding the birds on the lake, it makes me feel such a child again!

In January’s post I commented that I had seen the first, brief visit from the chiffchaff. Well he/she visited again, enjoying the insects on the laurel bush! David didn’t grab his camera quite quick enough, so I had to make do with a grainy photo I managed to get off my phone. Isn’t he so cute? The harbinger of spring?

Even though the mornings and evenings are getting lighter, these February nights seem cold and dark for some reason. This month I’ve been snuggling up in bed most nights and have managed to rekindle my reading. I’ve just finished Cilka’s Journey (a semi-fictional account of a survivor of Auschwitz who was imprisoned in a Russian gulag) and have begun The Glass House a mystery by Eve Chase.

I’m still only working one day a week, so using my free time to watch some series I’ve not seen before. I know I am very late to the party but I’ve been enjoying watching the 90’s American sitcom Friends. I’ve also caught up with the second series of The Bay and the Netflix sensation, Bridgerton.

I know Valentine’s Day is very commercial but I still like to celebrate it none the less. When I was single I would buy myself something nice as an act of self love, and now I’m in a long standing relationship, I celebrate the day by ordering a nice curry so we can both enjoy it. As a little token I bought David this cute little bumblebee (or did I buy her for myself?) She’s so sweet! 🙂

I got my first dose of the Covid-19 vaccine the end of February and I had a few side effects, like shaking and sweating and aches and pains. Thankfully these were short lived and I’m feeling much better now.

To end the month, we got a new patient, Elliott a feral pigeon, who we spotted sitting in someone’s front yard while on a walk with Riley. On our way back from the park, the pigeon was still vulnerable so David caught him and brought him home with us. He’s being treated for canker and coccidiosis, let’s hope he gets better soon!

How have you spent February? Do you like the long, dark nights or looking forward to spring?

Take care,

Christine x

Signs of Spring in the Yarden

With the weather warming up this week (and the days finally getting longer), I took the opportunity to have a wander around the yarden to see how the plants had fared over the cold winter. Sadly my fuschia isn’t looking it’s best, but hopefully it will pull through, as it’s a great autumn flower.

Throughout winter the herb rosemary has flowered it’s delicate blue flowers and I noticed its colour was joined by flashes of purple and yellow from the crocus and the green leaves of perfumed hyacinths, which I thought had been overshadowed by an azalea. I even spotted the leafy promise of bluebells that will hopefully flower in April/May. I’ve two hellebores, one I thought was being swamped by a dwarf rhododendron and cotoneaster, but I noticed it’s purple and white flowers bending in the breeze. There are also an abundance of buds on the star magnolia and camellia.

The pond also seems to have braved the frosts and the oxygenating plant within, is still vibrant. Hopefully we will have lots of aquatic life enjoying our tiny pond this year.

Calls from the visiting birds has also changed in recent weeks. The goldfinches have moved on from the winter chatter to their now playful chirp and waggle of their tails in the hope of attracting a mate.

What signs of spring have you noticed recently?

Thanks for reading,

Christine x

Wild Swimming with Christine – My Top 10

Since we are still in the grasp of a third lockdown and I am far from the Lakes, I have been musing on making a top 10 video of my favourite wild swims. It’s taken me a while to finish the video, and it has gone through a few revisions since its inception, but here it is!

I thought I would write a little paragraph about each swim and why it made it into my top 10!

10. Blea Water

Blea Water, the deepest tarn in the Lake District, at 63 metres deep, had to make an appearance in this list due to the quality of the swim. It takes just about an hours walk to the shore from the Mardale Head car park, Haweswater. There is only a small beach area in which to access the water but the peacefulness of the area is astounding. Blea Water is on the route towards High Street and is a perfect stopping place to rest and recharge.

9. Llyn Dinas

Llyn Dinas is another llyn that could very well be further up the list. Though not our first choice for a swim on a very hot August day, it quickly dispelled any disappointment with the quietude of the surroundings and the 20° waters! It was another body of water I’d swam in with lots of tiny minnows in the shallows.

8. Loch Lomond

My first Scottish wild swim! I’d planned a short break to the Scottish Highlands in 2018, with wild swimming at the core of the itinerary. The weather wasn’t kind to us, deciding to unleash a tropical storm our way, but Loch Lomond was the least wild of the swims and was a joy. With easy access from the A82, the beach I entered the loch was lovely and soft with an easy incline into the water. I would definitely recommend a visit if you are in the area.

7. Derwentwater

One of my loves in the Lake District. Derwentater was the first lake I swam, and I have been back several times over the years. The footage in the video is from my second swim at Derwentwater, when at 9am, it was just David and I and a cool sun rising. It’s a beautiful lake to visit for a walk or swim and we will probably revisit again in the future.

6. Loch Etive

One of the best swims during a brief holiday to the Scottish Highlands. Loch Etive is a sea loch and was shrouded in low lying mist on a drizzly morning the day we visited. We hadn’t been favoured with good weather but the mist and rain added to the atmosphere of this beautiful loch.

5. Llyn Idwal

Idwal was the llyn where all this wild swimming malarkey began in 2016. On that cold winters day I stood at the shoreline and wondered what it would be like to swim there. Fast forward three years and I visited Llyn Idwal again in 2019 with a swim buddy in tow to finally swim in its mythical waters. It was a fun swim and the llyn is very popular with day trippers due to its accessibility.

4. Alcock Tarn

I have many happy memories of our visit to Alcock Tarn, that is almost made it into the top three! Two friendly ducks and a beautiful early autumn day made this swim so memorable. Nestled in beautiful, peaceful scenery above Grasmere, Alcock Tarn was one of those perfect swims. I’d definitely recommend a visit for swimmers and walkers alike.

3. Rydal Water

Rydal Water is a lake I want to return to so desperately. It may be one of the smaller lakes of the Lake District but its atmospheric charm and quaintness makes it so unique. This was the only lake where I shared the water with swans, (at a distance of course) and have visited several times with Riley. Not far from a car park and with a wonderful walk into the fells or around Grasmere, it’s a place I would definitely recommend to other swimmers and walkers.

2. Buttermere

Buttermere has always been a lake close to my heart, and it was a tough decision to put this in second place. My final swim of 2020 was at Buttermere, and it was a spectacular day! The sun was out and for an early October it was pleasantly warm. There was no wind, creating a mirror sheen on the lake that reflected the rugged mountain tops. The water was silky smooth, and the view from the water was breathtaking. It will be a swim I won’t forget in a hurry!

1. Glaslyn

Of my many swims, the beauty of Glaslyn has been unparalleled. On first sight, Glaslyn took my breath away. There was the imposing peak of Snowdon mirrored in water so turquoise I’d never seen anything like it! To have this beautiful llyn all to myself while I swam in its soft waters was pure joy. All other walkers seemed to prefer the Pyg Track to the Miners that day and David and I enjoyed the peaceful tranquility.

Do you agree with my selection? What is your favourite swim of mine, or indeed your own? Let me know in the comments below.

Thanks for reading,

Christine x

My Bird Count for RSPB’s Big Garden Birdwatch 2021!

This weekend was the highly anticipated RSPB Big Garden Birdwatch. I have been participating in this annual event for the past nine years and 2021 was no different. During the last weekend in January, you are encouraged to sit with a hot cup of coffee and count the visiting birds for this all important citizen science project. This year I had David alongside me, taking fantastic photos of the wonderful array of feathered friends we have visiting our yarden.

I suppose not many people can say a herring gull was part of their count, but Steven saw me sitting by the window and he flew to our wall looking for kitchen scraps, so obviously he had to be the first bird to be counted. We did our count on Saturday, 30th January 2021, 11 am to 12 noon. The weather was windy and drizzly, with a temperature of around 5°. It was a very damp, grey, overcast day which made for counting birds pretty easy. Through the hour, (and all day in fact) the feeders were visited frequently by swathes of hungry birds.

Steven wasn’t the only celebrity that featured during our one hour count. Hoppy the pigeon who, five years ago we rehabilitated after having string wrapped around her feet, decided to help herself to the feeders and frightened the goldfinches away in the process.

RSPB Big Garden Birdwatch Results 2021

During the hour we counted 11 goldfinches, (a smaller charm than usual), a brave blue tit, four squabbling starlings, an unassuming dunnock (my favourite garden bird) and of course 10+ pigeons gobbling up the food dropped by the others. Six species in total. Perhaps not as many species for other gardens but for an inner city walled yard, I’d say that was a good tally.

The RSPB’s Big Garden Birdwatch 2021 has now ended but it doesn’t stop me looking ahead to next year. Who knows what 2022’s count will look like, it could have the likes of such feathered visitors as the sparrowhawk, chaffinch, robin, house sparrow, chiffchaff, yellow wagtail and blackbird, all species who have visited the yarden in the past.

How did your RSPB Big Garden Birdwatch 2021 go? What birds did you see?

Thanks for popping by,

Christine xx

My January

Taking inspiration from Sharon’s blog post Januarying, I thought I would write my own version. After all the lights and nervous excitement of December and Christmas, January can be a depressing month. The nights are long and dark, the pavements treacherous, coated with ice and the parks are waterlogged. Though spring is around the corner it seems far away in a bleak January. Then add lock-down three and there seems very little to be cheerful about.

This January, the weather in Liverpool has been a mix of frosty mornings, with a sprinkling of ice and snow and then a deluge of rain and mud. I’ve tried to make the most of my limited time out and about and walks with Riley are a treat most days. However his walks have been curtailed somewhat with his diagnosis of arthritis and having to take medication for the rest of his life.

In December I returned to work for only two days of the week at the office. Once lock-down three was announced my hours were cut to one day a week. During the days I am not in work I am busy binging on The Crown. They have been mostly good episodes with the odd boring one.

Looking back at the films we have watched this January, there seems to be an evident theme; that of superheroes.

  • Avengers: Infinity War
  • Avengers: End Game
  • Superman: Homecoming

The internet during the lock-downs has been a lifeline for most people, keeping families connected. For my family is hasn’t been any different. Via a downloadable programme on the computer, we have been able to join other family members remotely in game nights and quizzes. It has been most entertaining!

Watching the visiting garden birds this winter has been very therapeutic. The last weekend of January is traditionally reserved for the RSPB’s Big Garden Birdwatch. For the past eight years I have looked forward to spending an hour watching the birds visit my yarden. I find it a most peaceful and enjoyable experience. 2021 won’t be any different and I am hoping the usual suspects will visit, like Steven the ‘sea’ gull and the charms of goldfinches. I even spotted the annual visitation of the chiffchaff on Saturday, I wonder if he will make an appearance in this years count?

How have you spent January? Kept warm in doors or ventured out in the snow?

Take care,

Christine x

A Year in Books 2020 – October to December

the-year-in-books

A Year in Books

I’ve finally managed to finalise my last post in my Year in Books challenge. I never set a target to read this year and I’m glad I didn’t as the last two quarters of 2020 were abysmal for reading. I’ve just not been inclined to read and when I have I’ve been easily distracted. I’ve a kindle chock full of books that I’ve bought but not attempted to read. Maybe 2021 I’ll be able to rekindle my reading passion? My total books read in 2020 has been 19. I hang my head in shame. 

The Sight of You – Holly Miller ✩✩

This was a very strange book. It had a good premise, if you knew the ending of a relationship would you still go ahead with it? But halfway through the novel, when the realisation had occurred, it just became a depression fest. For the reader, knowing the end of a novel half way through just doesn’t keep the attention. Only read this book if you want to be depressed. 

The Forgotten Letters of Esther Durrant – Kayte Nunn ✩✩✩

I quite like the prose of Kayte Nunn and she is a new author I have discovered this year. I found the narrative easy to follow and the ending was satisfying. I’d read more books by this author. 

So there you have it, my tally of just two books read in the last quarter of 2020. I am currently still getting through The Giver of Stars – Jojo Moyes but my reading is sporadic. I’ll finish it eventually sometime in 2021. 

Have you read any good books lately, any recommendations?

Thanks for dropping by and stay safe!

Christine x

A Year in Film: December 2020

The final post in my Year in Film series. I’m not sure whether to continue into 2021. What do you think? Should I continue reviewing films on here or find another challenge? Let me know your thoughts below.

Even though I blogged daily for 24 days with my Christmas film advent calendar, David and I still had time to watch a further 16 films. Here’s what I thought about what I watched.

Christmas with the Kranks ✩✩✩

The Kranks scandalise everyone when they declare that they won’t be celebrating Christmas. But, when their daughter decides to visit home, they get off on a mad rush to organise a spanking Christmas.

David’s hairdresser suggested this Christmas film to us. So on a quiet weekday we snuggled up and gave it a watch. I enjoyed it more than David but it got us in a more festive mood.

Oceans 13 ✩✩✩

Danny and his gang of thieves have to pull off their most risky heist to defend one of their own. However, they are going to need more than luck to break the ruthless Willy and his casino.

A sequel to Oceans 12 but with a more star studded cast. Was an enjoyable heist and less confusing than the first movie.

Honest Thief ✩✩✩

Hoping to cut a deal, a professional bank robber agrees to return all the money he stole in exchange for a reduced sentence. But when two FBI agents set him up for murder, he must now go on the run to clear his name and bring them to justice.

Liam Neeson is back terrorising criminals in this revenge movie. Watchable.

Four Christmases ✩✩

Lovers Brad and Kate plan to go on a vacation to Fiji to spend the holidays. However, when their vacation plan is foiled, they are forced to visit all four of their divorced parents for Christmas.

David and I saw this film when it was released in 2008, when we where holidaying in Louth, Lincolnshire. I recall there being an interval and the cinema selling ice creams. The film was less memorable.

Ant-man ✩✩✩

Armed with a super-suit with the astonishing ability to shrink in scale but increase in strength, cat burglar Scott Lang must embrace his inner hero and help his mentor, Dr. Hank Pym, plan and pull off a heist that will save the world.

A watchable super-hero film. We only tuned in because Cinema Therapy on YouTube reviewed the movie. If you’ve not seen their channel, give them a go. They review films from the standpoint of a film maker and a therapist, look out for lots of emotion.

Zootopia ✩✩✩

When Judy Hopps, a rookie officer in the Zootopia Police Department, sniffs out a sinister plot, she enlists the help of a con artist to solve the case in order to prove her abilities to Chief Bogo.

Another Cinema Therapy review, this time with the implicit bias that is in Zootopia. I hadn’t heard of this movie before, but I thoroughly enjoyed it.

Carry on Camping ✩✩✩

A pair of likely lads trick their girlfriends into accompanying them to a nudist colony, but it turns out to be a family campsite. After they are persuaded to stay, the boys manage to find more mischief to occupy themselves when a coachload of teenage schoolgirls arrives at the site.

David suggested this film, I think it was in response to the passing of Barbara Windsor whose iconic bra bursting scene is so memorable. It was one of the better Carry On films.

The Great Outdoors ✩

It’s vacation time for an outdoorsy Chicago man and his family. But a serene weekend of fishing at a Wisconsin lakeside cabin gets crashed by his obnoxious brother-in-law.

David said that Kevin Hart was starring in a remake of this 1980’s John Hughes film, so we ended up watching the original. It wasn’t as funny as hoped. Perhaps the remake will be better?

The Holiday ✩✩✩✩

Two girls from different countries swap homes for the holidays to get away from their relationship issues. However, their lives change unexpectedly when they meet and fall in love with two local guys.

At the core of this film is the theme of love, in all it’s guises. I enjoyed the movie more than David and with a funky score by Hans Zimmer, it couldn’t possibly fail to entertain.

Runaway Train ✩✩

Two escaped convicts head full-steam for their freedom and inadvertently jump aboard a freight train. To their dismay, they discover that the train is barreling out of control without an engineer.

This film could have been so much better if the acting was any good, but it wasn’t. Forgettable.

The Switch ✩✩✩

An unmarried woman uses a sperm donor to conceive a child, much to the dismay of her best friend Wally. She remains in the dark for many years unaware that Wally had replaced her sample with his own.

How many films has Jennifer Aniston and Jason Bateman done together? Maybe five? Either way, you can see the friendship and respect they both have for one another. The Switch may not have been the greatest movie, but it was fun to watch.

Get a Job ✩✩

After college, Will is having problems getting a good, lasting job, as are his roomies, his girlfriend and his just fired dad.

This film irked me somewhat. I like Anna Kendrick but this film didn’t really showcase her talents. Perhaps one to miss?

Wonder Woman 84 ✩✩✩

Rewind to the 1980s as Wonder Woman’s next big screen adventure finds her facing two all-new foes: Max Lord and The Cheetah.

A bit of a confession to make. In the 1980’s I wanted to be Wonder Woman! As a six or seven year old, I watched reruns of Lynda Carter battling criminals! I used to prance about the house in shorts and boob-tube, wearing a paper tiara and bracelets. A skipping rope acted as my lasso of truth. The world stretched as far as my imagination, and I could be anything I chose to be.

Watching the new Wonder Woman films sadly to me are not the same. I preferred the 2017 film to this 2020 release but not by much.

Soul ✩✩

Joe is a middle-school band teacher whose life hasn’t quite gone the way he expected. His true passion is jazz — and he’s good. But when he travels to another realm to help someone find their passion, he soon discovers what it means to have soul.

In the run up to Christmas I saw billboards advertising Soul. I like my Pixar films so managed to get to see the movie. Again, I enjoyed it more than David. I liked the message of the film, life is worth living, even just for the small things!

Circle ✩✩✩

Fifty strangers facing execution have to pick one person among them to live.

My brother suggested this film for us to watch. Circle is a study of human psychology, for better or for worse. I enjoyed the experience and wasn’t really surprised at the finale.

The Platform ✩✩✩

In the future, prisoners housed in vertical cells watch as inmates in the upper cells are fed while those below starve.

Another film my brother suggested. This Spanish sci-fi, subtitled film really made me feel sad for the protagonists. The premise; in this vertical prison, there is enough food for everyone. However the greed of those on the above levels means that the ones further below have less and less to eat. Another film on the human condition. I enjoyed it none the less.

Have you seen any films recently that you have enjoyed or disliked? Any recommendations?

Thanks for reading!

Christine x

#walk1000miles 2020

Welcome to my fourth and final #walk1000miles post!

2020 has been the fourth year I’ve participated in the initiative by Country Walking Magazine. For the past 12 months, I’ve been busy counting my miles daily and tallying my weekly totals. I’ve counted workouts on the cross-trainer, walks to work (they’ve not been many this year!), exercising the family dog, Riley and of course holidays and days out with David!

Though 2020 has been a challenging year in itself, my overall mileage for 2020 has been 1,495 miles, only five miles from the 1,500 milestone, but some 484 miles from 2019’s total. However, I’m pleased with my tally for 2020, what with lock-downs, not working for eight months and not going on many holidays, I’m amazed I walked as much as I did!

This year I’ve also been counting the miles Riley has walked with me. My daily Riley walks have kept me sane. His grand total for 2020 is: 792! Well done Riley!

As in previous posts, I’ve split the year into seasons: spring, summer, autumn and winter, and give the miles for each of the three months. It will be good to see how different my mileage accumulates over the year and how it differs per season and against previous years totals.

So without further ado, let’s begin with my favourite season of all, spring!

Spring: (March, April and May)

Before the chaos that was Covid-19 and of people stock pilling the likes of toilet paper! David and I managed to go on a few day trips: the first to Grasmere, the Lake District, the second to Snowdonia, Wales. Then lock-down, part one was initiated and I was (eventually) furloughed. I made the most of the days off work and walked Riley every day.

Total miles for spring = 379. 2

Previous year totals: 2017 – 332, 2018 – 481, and 2019 – 495.

Summer: (June, July and August)

Thankfully lock-down was phased out and it felt like life was getting back to some semblance of how it used to be. The Wildlife Trusts’ 30 Days Wild eased David and I back out walking at local nature reserves and in July we took a day trip to the Lake District to tick off some wild swims. My swim tally this year has been abysmal! We took our one and only weekend break in August to the Lake District once again, and chose walks/lakes that I knew would be less crowded.

Total miles for summer = 384.5

Previous year totals: 2017 – 382, 2018 – 442 and 2019 – 461.

Autumn: (September, October and November)

Sadly there was talk on the wind of a second lock-down and the country was put into tiers which limited travel. David and I kept local, save for a perfect swim/walk to Buttermere with 500 miler (Proclaimer), Riley in tow. A cancelled birthday trip to Scotland was replaced with a laughter filled walk to Formby Beach.

Total miles for autumn = 348.1

Previous year totals: 2017 – 321, 2018 – 479 and 2019 – 457.

Winter: (December, January and February)

The beginning of 2020 was a bit slow adventure wise, a broken toe did little to aid walking. Daily Riley walks were the only highlight of this dark, damp season.

Total miles for winter = 383.2

Previous year totals: 2017 – 281, 2018 – 469  and 2019 – 566.

Grand Total for 2020 – 1,495 miles.

Previous years totals: 2017 – 1,316, 2018 – 1,871 and 2019 – 1,979.

Achieving #walk1000miles in a year is greatly satisfying and addictive, why not give the challenge a go yourself?

#walk1000miles also has a fun, supportive Facebook group. Through participation in this group my name was among the many others on the We Did 1000 Miles page of the January 2021 edition of Country walking Magazine.

I’ve not signed up to 2021’s challenge, however I am continuing my walking but just not counting my miles as religiously as I have in the past. Walking is such an easy, free activity, much underrated if you ask me. I will continue walking the miles I do and see how I go. How about you? Do you feel inspired to give the challenge a go?

If you fancy signing up, click the link below and join thousands more, walking that little bit more than they did last year!

https://www.walk1000miles.co.uk

Thanks for reading, Christine x