Trying to Keep the Black Dog at Bay!

I have been rather depressed this week with one thing and another. It has left me feeling rather headachey and stressed out about money. Work at the University finished on Friday, nice for a three week break but I don’t know whether I have any hours after that. I really need to find another job to cover me for over the summer, otherwise the trip to Scotland, Aberdeen’s Wild Dolphins and The Kelipes, with a quick visit to Edinburgh will not go ahead and I will be bereft. 😦

This weekend has all been about keeping the Black Dog at bay. If you feel down, ‘do something that you are good at’ I say, ‘something you enjoy.’ So on Saturday after shopping, cleaning the house, and exercising for 30 minutes I cooked David and I a meal of honey glazed mustard trout, (called Jack) with salad, vegetables and new potatoes.

For the glaze I mixed two tablespoons of lemon juice with two teaspoons of mustard and a tablespoon of honey. Then I smeared it over two fillets of Trout. Cooked it in a 180 degrees oven for 15 minutes. Boiled the potatoes and made the salad.

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I ordained the table with napkins in the shape of peacocks, (well what I tried to look like peacocks anyway), had a nice glass of wine and poured David a cool glass of Pepsi.

I even dressed up! I bought the dress from Jane Norman years ago and had it taken up, (as I am short) but thought it was taken up too much. I found that it fitted me well. I felt very glamorous and sexy!

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Sunday and it was the birthday of my favourite actor 🙂 David went to help his brother with his house and I relaxed home alone. I had a nice soak in the bath, with Classic FM playing and a glass of wine in hand. Afterwards I made a loaf of bread. My finest yet! Then chopped up many vegetables and made Blind Scouse! It was very filling!

 

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Re: Gardening. I was distressed to see a black ‘plague’ on my newly bought poppy. All the heads were eaten from it! Flowers are very expensive, especially if they die within weeks of purchase! But I am happy to see the Magnolia tree I bought has started to bloom. I just hope the weather changes for the better and we get some nice warm weather, and a bit of sun. So the flowers and myself can feel more ‘alive’ again!

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Christine xx

Longer Days are Coming…

The nights are drawing out and the clocks have not gone back yet! However we have had a few ‘spring like’ days in the NW of England recently and whilst on my walk to work I have smelt the promise of warmer weather and longer days. Even the birds are getting ready for the new season, as whilst I was standing at the bus stop on Friday a Magpie flew overhead with nesting material! Spring is such an exciting time as the world slowly awakens from the cold grasp of winter.

This weekend I have been busy hunting for more ‘spring’ flowers for the garden with insects in mind.

David took me to my favourite garden centre Lady Green in Ince Blundell and I spent over £50 on plants! In my defence half of that was on a Magnolia, ‘water-lily’ tree, I just hope it grows. I have had two other Magnolias before and they have both died. 😦 Third time lucky I say!

Amongst the purchases I bought an Erysimim which I found out was a Wallflower and an Anemone which is a kind of Poppy! I went shopping with a list and came away with everything other than what was on the list! I just followed the RHS sign of ‘Perfect for Pollinators’

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The weather forecast for the UK this weekend was supposed to be warm with sunny spells. It did not feel like that on Saturday, it was cold, grey and miserable. So I have planned to plant my purchases tomorrow. Hopefully Sunday will be a brighter day?

Whilst pottering about the garden today I noticed my Sedum has sprung back to life! That was a plant which was covered with bees and butterflies last year so I hope it will be the same this year!! My Cat Mint and Oregano has ‘spawned’ again as has my Aquilegia, which is such a prolific plant! This will be the second spring it has reseeded itself!

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Amongst others, David’s Acer has started to re-bud and my Hellebore has grown, I have high hopes for that next winter. My Jasmine, though it looks a bit twee seems to have survived the wet winter and my Passion Flower has grown astronomical! I hope there are flowers this summer, it will look beautiful!!

Things are slowly awakening and hopefully once the warmer days are upon us, the garden will start to have the buzzing of insects and the chinking of wine glasses! I can’t wait to sit and enjoy my outside space. I have been stuck inside for way too long! Fingers crossed there will be at least as good if not better summer than last year ahead! We can but pray!

Christine xx

David’s Finch Aviary.

After draft upon draft of plans, months of research, creating a water feature and stripping bark off tree branches. David has finally finished his aviary and the two Bengalese finches, Chocolate and Romeo have moved in.

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Doesn’t it look lovely? It really is a feature in the living room and the finches have settled in nicely. 

 

Lazy Sunday.

It’s been a day of doing absolutely nothing!

Struck by the monthly blues and feeling sorry for myself 😦 I surfaced from my bedroom around 5pm.

David spent all day at his brother’s dismantling a bathroom while I was home alone feeling gloomy and morose. At least I was warm and kept out of the violent wind that howled angrily outside.

The only up side of today was that my Hellebore, which I planted in the Summer has two flowers on it! Its grown, as have a few other plants in the garden. I didn’t even know that plants grew of a winter?!

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One for Sorrow…

Well the news on David’s car just kept getting better and better!!

Thursday evening, David faced a garage bill of over £1000!! It was not only something to do with the car’s exhaust but the flange that joins both parts of the exhaust together???? Meaning having to replace the whole exhaust system!! My advice never buy a Fiat!

I had had a really nice day on Thursday at work with my student Rachel, revising for her exam on Friday. However coming home to David’s news and a letter from the University of Liverpool saying the course I had enrolled on to become Excel proficient was cancelled, really ‘ground my gears!’ (Line from Family Guy!) How am I to get ahead in the workplace when I can’t even get on an academic course is beyond me? The only good thing is that they are refunding me… Looks likely I’ll be teaching myself!

*sigh*

I only need one more bad thing to happen and that makes three!!

Friday, however was a much better day. David took the car from Quick Fit (why he took it there I don’t know!) and took it to the mechanic he usually goes to (though on Thursday he thought that he was closed!).

The car will remain at the garage over the weekend as the mechanic tries to bring it back to life!

Shopping was a funny affair on Saturday, as David for years has been saying we should walk to the shops as the supermarket is just down the road! However I think he now realises that lugging loads of bags back home is another matter. Burning biceps and cut fingers from where the plastic bags have dug into the skin is no fun!

This weekend was the RSPB’s ‘Big Garden Watch’ 2014. I went into mum’s house next door (as she still has all the feeders) and sat for an hour and counted the birds. Before my count there were lots of Starlings visiting the fat balls, but when I sat for the hour not a single Starling came. All I saw was 9 Goldfinches, 12 Pigeons and 2 Blue Tits. Very sparse this year!

To cheer myself up after all the upset over the car. I decided to cook a salmon teriyaki and vegetable rice for dinner on Saturday. (Thanks to my student Rachel for making me think of this recipe!) I was surprised at how easy it was to make. Boil the rice and then add vegetables, marinate the salmon with the teriyaki sauce and cook for 20 minutes! Voilà! 🙂

teriyaki salmon and rice

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!!!

Baking for the Birds.

Saturday after a long morning of endless shopping. David went into the new house to fiddle with the bathroom floorboards while I cooked up a mess in the kitchen!

I melted down a block of lard in the microwave and then added chopped peanuts, dried fruit, mixed bird seed, oats and flour. I then popped the mixture into three small plastic cups with string drawn through the bottom (for hanging on branches) and waited for the fat to solidify again.

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This morning I was watching with glee as 10 House Sparrows, yes 10! Were in the garden eating the fat balls. No wonder I am having to buy a box load each week!! The Sparrows really did have a bumper brood this year!!

For this evening the family have planned to order a nice Saffron curry. I can’t wait!! 😀

Mourning the Loss of Summer…

Is it just me or has this week been extra long….??

On the great British subject of the weather, it has been rather changeable this week.

My day off last Friday was a blur, as I was rather incapacitated with a migraine. Whether it was through hormones or alcohol who knows?

I have done a full 30 hour week at work this week and with this Friday being my day off (as I only work four days) I accompanied my mum to my brother’s house to visit his family. I loved playing with my two nephews Nathan and Aaron. I conversed with them as they played on the computer and for lunch I shared my tomato soup with Aaron who in turn shared his strawberry yoghurt with me. It was fun! 😀

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I have been going through 50 fat balls a week recently as lots of Starling families have been visiting. There were at one count 15 Goldfinches. I am wondering whether this winter we will break the record of 20 Goldfinches visiting the feeders??

There were at least four House Sparrows in the yard the other day and walking to work on Monday I walked down a road and there were about 20 Sparrows all in the road foraging for food…

I know the seasons have changed as the afternoon sunlight through my bedroom window has changed direction. I just hope we get a breeze of an ‘Indian summer’ come the end of August just in time for the Liverpool Philharmonic to perform in Sefton Park, next Friday!

The concert includes:

Bizet Prelude to Carmen
John Williams Jurassic Park Theme
Klaus Badelt Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl
Wagner The Ride of the Valkyries
Holst Mars from The Planets
Verdi Triumphal March from Aida
Prokofiev Montagues and Capulets from Romeo and Juliet
Tchaikovsky 1812 Overture
and much more great music…

Vasily Petrenko conductor 
Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra
Hosted by Jamie Crick, presenter of the weekday afternoon show Classic FM Requests. 

I simply can’t wait!!

This weekend I have nothing planned. David will probably want to complete the bathroom floorboards, while I, probably will enjoy a nice Costa coffee from my Tassimo machine 😀

Progress in the Garden.

Over the past weekend, David and I worked on finishing one half of the garden. Saturday was a pleasant day and we spent the afternoon putting soil into the designed walled garden and then planting the flowers and herbs.

Sunday was a very different affair. Whereas Saturday was nice and gentle the Sunday was hard work (on David’s part) and long for me. With finding woodworm in the bathroom, David had to take up the infected floorboards and then replace them with brand new ones ready for Rentokil to come out and spray the house. It looks better now!

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The beginning of August has seen a flurry of activity at the wild bird feeders. We have been inundated with young and adult Starlings and the Goldfinches have been bringing their hungry fledglings to the sunflower seeds. The video below is of a baby House Sparrow. The Sparrow is one of the many British birds that are in decline yet this year I have seen up to five Sparrows at one time on the feeders. The hot weather must have benefited them. I hope they continue to visit my yard as last year they only passed by on their way to more greener pastures.

Birthday Cheer and Gardening.

Today was David’s 39th birthday!! We celebrated by going to garden centres near Chester with his mum, dad and sister.

We have purchased lots of wildlife friendly plants for the garden. I am very happy with my small collection of herbs, amongst which I bought, Marjoram, Basil and Oregano. Today I came away from the garden centres with a Jasmine and a passion fruit! David got some plants for his alpine rockery.

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Amongst the plants I photographed a Peacock Butterfly, looking beautiful on a Buddleia and also spotted a Silver Y Moth!

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On the way back home we crossed the Runcorn Bridge and I had to get my camera out to film the footage!