Sunday Sevens #21

Since I’ve managed to snap a few photos this week, I thought I would participate in another Sunday Sevens, devised by Natalie at Threads and bobbins.

Last Sunday was a hectic one! Not only did we visit Warrington looking for Christmas presents, we also managed to acquire four new friends for the aviary! Welcome to the Connor-Evans family, Forrest and Tarn, the Blue- faced Parrot Finches and Bill and Silvie, the Chocolate Silverbills.

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White Poinsettia

On our travels we also popped into Bents to purchase a Poinsettia. I have been after a white Poinsettia since David gifted me one last Christmas. All the shops we visited had red ones, but at Bents they had a selection of red and white! Poinsettia’s can be poisonous to pets, so I’ve kept Artie away from mine.

Taking about Artie, he has been enjoying his Advent Calendar this month, as can be seen in the video below. 🙂

Keeping with the theme of Christmas, Friday 16th December was Christmas Jumper Day. As I don’t have a Christmas jumper, I wore my winter themed t-shirt to work! I also managed to (finally) purchase a Christmas wreath for the front door. It’s festooned with pine cones and even has festive lights! I think it looks quite fetching on the door!

Earlier in the week the yarden was visited by a pair of Great Tits. I managed to film one on the feeder.

Mid-week, while out walking the family dog, Riley I counted:

  • 2 Blue Tits
  • 1 Robin
  • 1 Dunnock
  • Numerous Goldfinches and Pigeons
  • 1 Sparrow
  • 1 Grey Wagtail!

To fill the dark, cosy nights I have returned to a book I started reading last year! The Night Falling by Katherine Webb. It’s a pretty grim read but I will persevere.

On Saturday, David invited his family around for a curry night. He served his signature dish with naan and sides.

To finish off this post, I will share with you a snap I have taken of some home made mince pies. They have just come out of the oven! I will sample one later with some cream. 🙂

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Mince Pies

Have you been doing any cooking for Christmas? What are your favourite traditions at this time of year?

Thanks for reading,

Christine xx

 

‘Wild’ in Art!

WARNING! This post will be a COLOUR overload!

I was inspired to write this post after visiting Sheffield’s herd of elephants and writing about it in my Sunday Sevens #15. Mark at worldwarzoogardener1939 commented that Paignton Zoo are doing a trail with rhinos and Marwell Zoo have Zany Zebras gracing the streets of Southampton this summer! I would love to visit them all but 2016 seems to be the busiest year regarding animal street art in the UK! One of the biggest promoters of these events is Wild in Art, check out their website for past and future events.

Over the past eight years David and I have been lucky enough to visit a fair amount of trails, stretching as far north as Aberdeen, to Norwich in the east! My first encounter with these colourful animals was the Manchester Cow Parade in 2004. Since then there has been an explosion of animals gracing the cities and towns of the UK. From lions in Bournemouth to horses in Hamilton. Below is a selection of the trails we have seen. Enjoy!

2008 was the year of Liverpool’s Capital of Culture. During the summer, 120 6ft lambananas graced the city’s streets. I have fond memories of seeking each and every one of them out, there was even one atop Moel Famau in North Wales!

The winter of 2009 saw 135 5ft penguins bring cheer to the cold streets of Liverpool, St Helens and the Wirral. I don’t think they were as successful as the lambananas the previous year, even David seemed jaded in seeing them all. However I managed to capture them all on camera and even a few months after the auction date, acquired one for myself. A hint of madness but our home wouldn’t be the same without Snowy standing sentinel under the stairs!

Staying in the North West, Chester in 2010 had a herd of rhinos career through their streets.

Also in 2010, Skipton found they had a flock of sheep bringing cheer to their town…

..and we visited Newport for the first of their two Super Dragon trails.

2011 saw two very diverse trails. The first was in Congleton where a sleuth of bears had taken up residence.

The second was in Edinburgh, where the city was transformed into a jungle for the summer.

In 2012 it looked like David and I never visited any art trails, though in fairness we did buy our first house!

2013, looked more promising! My appetite was reawakened when I saw some of the Lindt Easter eggs. You can read my post here.

The summer of 2013 saw us visiting a spate of trails. We visited Manchester for the national tour of the Elephant Parade. Read my post here.

We then visited Norwich and Colchester to see both Go Go Gorillas and Stand Tall trails.

2014 saw David and I take a tour to Aberdeen, Scotland to see their pod of dolphins in torrential rain! Read my post here.

2015 saw us returning to Norwich to see their Go Go Dragons trail. I am always impressed with the quality of art from this city! I look forward to seeing what their hares look like in 2017!

Also in 2015 Liverpool had their celebration of ducks which commemorated the history of the city.

While Birmingham witnessed a parliament of owls in their Big Hoot!

As I’ve said previously 2016 will see more trails than ever before. There are pigs in Ipswich, snowdogs in Brighton and Hove and Newcastle and Tyne and Wearand lions in Paisley. That is just to name a few! Sheffield’s herd of elephants are on the streets until 5th October when they will be auctioned off for charity like most of the above. They are a great way of getting the public behind a charitable cause and can raise hundreds of pounds!

Have you seen/followed any animal sculpture trail? What do you think of the initiative? What kind of animal would you like turned into art next?

Christine x

Sunday Sevens #12

I’ve begun compiling this week’s Sunday Sevens (devised by Threads and bobbins) early. It’s Thursday and I am eagerly dipping into my loaned library copy of Kate Rew’s Wild Swim. I am particularly interested in the section featuring lakes and tarns. I am looking for suggestions on where to do my next swim. My first being in Derwentwater on Sunday!

Monday saw David having a day off work. So we headed to our local park, Sefton Park to walk the family dog Riley. I think by the look on his face, Riley enjoyed himself!

This week has been National Vegetarian Week, which has been all about ‘celebrating the stories and the traditions behind the food we eat.’ David joked that it is vegetarian week in our house all of the time! Of the dishes I have made this week, this Italian flavoured Quiona and Bean Soup was healthy and surprisingly filling.

Ingredients (serves 2):

  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 can of beans, rinsed, I used Pinto, but you can use any
  • 1/2 white onion, chopped
  • 1/2 pepper, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed and chopped,
  • 1 chilli, chopped
  • 1 tbsp oregano, fresh, chopped
  • 1 can of tomatoes and juice
  • 500 ml of vegetable stock (I used one stock cube)
  • 50g of quinoa
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Method:

  1. Heat oil in a medium saucepan, over medium heat. Add the onions, pepper and chilli and sauté until barely tender, about 5 minutes.
  2. Add the beans and garlic and stir for 2 minutes.
  3. Stir in the tomatoes and their juices, and vegetable stock.
  4. Add the quinoa, oregano and bay leaf. Cover and simmer until quinoa is cooked, 12 to 15 minutes.
  5. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Remove bay leaf and serve.

Earlier in the week mum showed me the ‘wild’ flowers that had seeded themselves in the alleyway behind our houses. Among them was a yellow poppy, which I later researched and found out was a Welsh Poppy. Also the yarden seems to be blooming, even if the weather has been grimy this week. Everything has suddenly become green and lush. The maris bard potatoes are huge and I’ve discovered that the clematis David’s mum had given us, has flowered!

This Saturday has been a busy one! After the weekly shop, David and I headed to Harefield Water Gardens, a family run business in Widnes. We visited in a ‘monsoon!’ At least we tested out our new waterproof coats! Harefield Water Gardens have a farm shop and cafe where you can look out towards their herd of alpacas. Unfortunately they were all huddled together by their barn when we visited. We manged to purchase some pond plants and then headed towards Dobbies to get some alpines.

In the past week, we (or should I more truthfully say David), have been constructing a small pond in an area of the yarden that had once been a rockery but the plants had all died and was looking a bit sorry for itself. I suggested creating a small pond. We followed the tips on the RSPB site, used a washing up bowl and placed soil around it. We are both proud of the new instillation and hope that the plants survive and maybe one day small insects will make it their home. What do you think?

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It looks like Sunday is going to be a lazy, rainy kind of day. I’m watching David play on his PS4 while planning the evenings dinner and dreaming of warmer, sunnier weather!

I hope you have a good week ahead,

Christine x

Sunday Sevens #11

I wasn’t going to do a Sunday Sevens (devised by Threads and bobbins), this week, but after coming home from a lovely day out to Derwentwater, the Lake District (again), I decided to make a quick post.

20160513_130745Let’s begin with a Great British obsession, the weather. Once again it has been glorious this week in the NW of England. I have spent many afternoons doing a bit of sunbathing. I noticed that I have many allium bulbs growing this year, (left) is just one flowering.

I managed to finish Dan Brown’s Inferno. It wasn’t his best novel. I felt at times he broke the narrative to give the reader a history lesson or lecture. It did however make me think of past holidays to Florence, Italy and Istanbul, Turkey.

On Wednesday, David and I visited his brother, sister-in-law and nephew for a curry night. I forgot to take a picture but did take one of my curried red lentils which I made for lunch.

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The recipe is as follows for 3 people:

Ingredients:

  • 1 white onion, chopped
  • 1 – 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 1 tsp of turmeric
  • 1 tsp of curry powder
  • 150g of red lentils
  • 600ml of vegetable stock

Method:

  • Heat oil in pan and gently fry the onions
  • Add the garlic and spices and stir
  • Add the lentils and stock and bring to the boil
  • Simmer for 20-30 minutes or until the lentils soften
  • Pour into bowls and enjoy!

This week saw the return of the second series of The Hollow Crown. I am enjoying the BBC’s lush productions of the Shakespeare history plays.

Also this week we have been worried about the family dog, Riley. He was subjected to a three hour ordeal last Sunday, of hair cut and bath. It seems that he was not happy with the service, as all week he has been quiet, not his normal ‘mad’ self and been rather listless. We all thought he was ill, but he has bucked up and now seems more like his normal self. Animals do make us worry so!

My last picture comes from today, taken while walking towards Catbells, overlooking the enchanting Derwentwater. I have simply fallen in love with this lake and the area. Look out for a following post on the day’s adventures!

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How have you spent your weekend? Been on any nice country walks recently?

Have a nice week ahead,

Christine x

Sunday Sevens #10

One word springs to mind when I think back to this past week and that is… SUNSHINE! Most of the UK has been blessed with unseasonably warm weather. I am not complaining, I have been enjoying most of the weather by sitting out in the yarden with Artie. We have spent many a long afternoon, dining al fresco and soaking up the rays! Artie looks like he has recovered from his little tumble down the stairs on Sunday!

The beginning of the week saw David and I heading off to wander around the red squirrel walk at Formby Point. Come the end of the week we had ventured to Chester Zoo to see the new Aye-aye exhibit (which was the highlight of the day for me!) Of course no visit to Chester Zoo would be complete without visiting Islands and going on their Lazy Boat Ride (another firm favourite of mine!)

On Friday we welcomed guests to no. 49! Joining us at our dining table was David’s brother, sister-in-law and nephew. David served his signature Rogan Josh for the adults. All had a good time, there was not even a morsel of rice left!

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This Sunday, David and I spent a good part of the afternoon, cutting, grooming and washing the family dog, border collie, Riley. Here he is just after his bath!

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How have you been spending your weekend? Enjoying the sun (if you have had it!)?

Have a good week ahead,

Christine x

Sunday Sevens was devised by Threads and bobbins.

Diamonds, Cava and Insidious!!

Oh well Christmas 2013 has come and gone!

I was all excited for Christmas this year. It was my last under my mum’s roof before David and I made the move into the new house next door!!

For Christmas Eve, I listened to Classic FM all day. There were four hours of Christmas carol requests, while I made fat cakes for the wild birds. Then there was the narration of ‘The Snowman’ by Aled Jones, the story gave me memories of when I was a carefree ‘happy’ child!

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Christmas day was a quiet affair were I drank a bottle of cava (as no one else liked it!) and I sat watching ‘Insidious 2’ with mum and brother Daniel. In the morning we all opened our Christmas presents together, Riley was funny taking his gifts and ripping the wrapping paper off them!

Riley

I seemed to have an endless supply of gifts from the family!! I even grew quite bored opening them all!!! Mum got me a bottle of brandy. Daniel got me a crystal nail file and David got me amongst others, diamond earings and a bucket of actual poo from Colchester Zoo!!! At least the flowers will grow next year!!

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Boxing Day was all about visiting family and in-laws. In the morning we visited my brother Stephen and my two nephews Nathan and Aaron and in the afternoon we visited David’s family where we had salmon salad for dinner and played ‘Pictionary’ on the Wii ’til 1am!!Aaron and Nathan

My two brothers, Daniel, Stephen and David.

A Weekend of Pottering About.

Friday was my day off! It was also my nephew Aaron’s 3rd birthday. I had planned to go to visit my brother with my mum to celebrate my nephew’s birthday, however in the morning I called to wake my mum up and found that she was bent over in agony. She had muscle spasms in her back and could not move for the pain! So that plan was abolished much to our disappointment.

For my day off then, though it wasn’t much of a day of relaxation as I was looking after mum, doing the house work, feeding laundry constantly into the washing machine and then walking the dog and cleaning up cat poop! I managed, in the downtime to make a loaf of bread. I just mixed the below ingredients together and then worked it until it was silky smooth. I left it for one hour to rise and then knocked it back to rest for another hour and double in size! I cooked it on gas mark 7 for 25 minutes and it was perfect! The best loaf I have made yet!

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  • 500g strong white flour, plus extra for dusting
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 7g sachet fast-action yeast
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 300ml water

On Saturday David went to Aintree with his work colleagues to the races, while I stayed snuggled in bed, listened to Hans Zimmer and dreamed of my ‘happy place’. In the afternoon I helped mum make yet more mince pies!

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My orchid which I bought last December and which I thought was dead has faced all the odds and has bloomed into a second life! How beautiful is it?

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On Sunday we have planned more work on the house. I will probably end up painting a door, but I don’t want to paint. I am sick of painting!!!

Paralysis!

I’m sorry that I’ve not written my blog for nearly a month. I’ve been rather preoccupied with my own insane thoughts of late. 😦 I don’t know why but Mr. Jonathan Firth (an old crush from years ago!), popped into my head over the summer and I have not been able to shift him!

Then amongst all this mania I have gone and booked a one nights stay in ‘my beautiful’ Edinburgh to see the said actor in a play called ‘Good Grief‘. Then for the next day we hope to see the Giant Pandas at Edinburgh Zoo! I do hope all this money has not been wasted? Maybe it would have been best spent on the house?

Regarding the house, work has been rather intermittent on the main bedroom front but since Sunday, A LAST we finished the decorating! It has taken about two months from moving the stud wall to its completion. The painting of the ceiling was a real soul breaker as we painted it at least six times to get rid of water stains 😦 However, now you would not know by looking at it that we went through so much toil! The paper is up, thanks to the help of my Mum, the walls painted Antique Cream and the window is dressed by voiles and curtains from Dunelm Mill. The carpet was the last to be laid and sets the room off perfectly. What do you think?

We are also still awaiting a date for when the new £900 front door will be installed, hopefully it will be soon, so David can crack on with the demolishing of the shed and the moving of the back door. I am so impatient to move in, it is untrue, though my patience has been tried so much over these past 5 months! The winter is fast approaching and I am unsure whether we will be installed in the new house by Christmas. Fingers crossed we will be. 🙂

For those wanting an update on Riley. He is fine, the  Buster collar is off and when he went for his checkup the vet said all was healing well! He is back to his mad self again! 😀 I am glad he got microchipped as he does have a tendency to ignore us! Naughty Riley!

On the wild bird front, I have just purchased £50 worth of Nyjer Seed and Sunflower Hearts! I can’t keep this amount of feeding up once we are in the new home. We have over 20 Goldfinches, the faithful Blue Tit couple, a hoard of noisy Starlings and very fat Pigeons visiting daily! Mr. Dunnock has been spied in our new yard next door, and I believe Mum’s yard has become too popular for the little guy! I am glad that he has continued to visit though. 😀

What a Day!

Last Thursday was the day my dog Riley, was booked in for his neutering and micro-chipping at Vets4Pets, as they partake in the Dog Trust neutering scheme. He had to be there at 10.30am to see the vet and get his relaxant injection. We arrived, Mum, David, Riley and I, and proceeded to wait over half an hour to be seen. There were lots of people with dogs, it must have been a dog day!

We were at last called in by the vet! He checked Riley over and informed us of the procedure. The vet said Riley was healthy though a bit stressed, he is like his owner stressed at social situations. We were then put into a ‘quiet’ room and waited for the sedative to work on Riley. He was left lying on the cold floor for half an hour, I was not very happy with the service we received! At last we got the attention of a vet and they came to take Riley to the kennels. I was sad to leave him. I hoped they would look after my Riley!

The rest of the day was torture for me! I hate waiting for anything and waiting to phone up for Riley was excruciating! Nothing could stop me thinking of how Riley was getting on in his operation, not even visiting my brother Stephen and his kids!

David and I bought Riley lots of toys from B&M and we put them in a plastic bag for him to find when he came home. 🙂

After 4.30pm we went to pick Riley up. He was micro-chipped and neutered! We were called into the vets room and there was Riley all in his buster collar standing at the open doorway waiting for us! We all greeted Riley who looked so sorry for himself!  At one stage Riley tried to go back to the kennels lol. 😮

After the short drive home, Riley, still slightly doped, found his bag full of toys and brightened up a little. He slept off the effects of the anaesthetic and after 10pm that night, Riley had eaten all his dinner and had a big long drink! He even had energy to play with his new toys!

On Monday afternoon we have another appointment with the vet to see how his wound is healing. I’ll update you on the results!