I’ll get the sad news out of the way before I delve into this post. While I was putting the finishing touches to this blog our blue faced parrot finch, Leaf became ill. He declined pretty quickly and this morning 30th April, we found that he had gained his angel wings. We only had him for four years but he had a lasting impact on the aviary. He will be missed.
April 2021 may have been one of the driest on record but inside our home it was one of the chilliest! Half way through the month our boiler packed up, leaving us without heat and hot water for over two weeks. Finding the right type of boiler for our home was a difficult decision, and not to mention radiators and BTU’s! Thankfully after lots of research we found the right boiler and radiators for our home. I decided to replace four out of the seven radiators we have as some looked old and leaked. It’s amazing how adaptive we are, as we layered up against the chill, but I can now smile and say we have hot running water and warm radiators, much better than boiling a kettle every-time we wanted to wash the dishes!
On a more happier, less stressful note, Easter was a joyous occasion. David and I spent the long weekend by taking long walks with Riley. At the local park we went on an Easter Egg hunt and at Sefton Park we took in the gorgeous daffodil fields.
We’ve not watched any TV shows or films of note this month, but I have started watching the new series of Call the Midwife.
We’ve not had any days out this April, but many of our weekends have been filled with freshening up our décor. The front of the house got a new coat of paint during the Easter weekend and the last week of April we painted the guest room/study and bought new furniture. There’s a few more rooms I want to freshen up in the coming months.
As we are slowly coming out of lochdown my mind naturally turned to days out and holidays. As a ‘take two’ we decided to book again for the Trossach holiday we had planned, but sadly had to cancel last year. Hopefully, ‘fingers crossed’ we will make it to this gorgeous looking cabin for a few days of overdue R&R.
This month I discovered a new yummy recipe. I follow Sunday Brunch on Instagram and one of their posts was of a Moroccan Spiced Sea Bass. The combination of spices, sun dried tomatoes, lentils and chickpeas made for a surprisingly filling meal.
Method, serves 4: 1. Mix a Tbs each of cinnamon, cumin, coriander, smoked paprika, Tsp chilli flakes, Tsp garlic powder, Tsp ginger and a Tsp salt together. 2. Take approx. 1/3 and rub onto 4 x 150g sea bass fillets. 3. Fry the fish 3mins each side in oil, then finish with a knob of butter 4. Gently fry 4 chopped spring onions for 2mins 5. Then add 12 sliced sundried toms, Tin cooked, drained rinsed green lentils, Tin drained, rinsed chick peas and 1 finely diced carrot. 6. Add the 200ml of vegetable stock and the remaining spice mix, simmer 5-6mins 7. Finish with 50g butter and juice and zest of 1 lemon and and handful of chopped parsley
The wildlife highlight of the month was spotting a buzzard resting in a tree in the local park! Sadly I only had my camera phone with me, so it’s a blurry photo of a buzzard!
April has been a mixed bag for David and I, hows your April been? Have you any plans for after lockdown?
It’s been a while since I updated you all with a Sunday Sevens, a series devised by Natalie at Threads and Bobbins.
The Lake District:
Last Sunday David and I finally managed to get to the Lake District for a well earned short break. During our three days we did lots of walking. We took a six mile slog up Blencathra, but the relatively short 3.5 mile walk to Alcock Tarn and the views from Grey Crag were among my favourite. All these miles have added to my weekly total of 40, bringing my annual tally for the #walk1000miles challenge to 1,469. Do you think I’ll make 2000 miles by the end of the year?
View from walking Blencathra
Grasmere from Grey Crag
As you probably guessed I partook in a few wild swims during my short stay in the Lake District. I finally managed to tick off Windermere!
Gremlin the badger
During our break we finally got to RSPB Haweswater and participated in their weekly Monday badger watch. During the hour we saw two badgers, Porridge and Gremlin.
Once back home it was like we hadn’t been away as we found one of our blue-faced parrot finches, Forrest showing early signs of stargazing. We have had a finch with this illness before but it was no less saddening to see Forrest suffer with disorientation.
Forrest – blue-faced parrot finch
A New York Winter’s Tale
The Horse Dancer
Books I am reading:
I’m reading two boooks at present, A New York Winter’s Tale by Mark Helprin. I didn’t know this was a huge tome but it is keeping me company whilst travelling to work. The second book is The Horse Dancer by JoJo Moyes. This book I saw on the shelves of Asda and I swooped in to purchase it. I am half way through but not sure whether I am enjoying the story or not. I’ll let you know!
Walking the Dog:
What fabulous weather we have had this week here in the NW of England! It has felt like the last breath of summer before autumn really takes charge. It has been a perfect week off work! I spent my free time taking Riley on many walks to the park.
Since it’s back to normality after blogging everyday in June for The Wildlife Trusts’ 30 Days Wild, I thought I would write a Sunday Sevens.
Last weekend my friend from America visited us again. She is a big fan of Riley so David and I decided to take them both on a morning walk to Formby Beach.
Selfie on the beach
David and Sebastian
Then in the afternoon we visited Liverpool’s Cat Cafe.
The Aviary (part 1):
Set and Leaf
In a previous Sunday Sevens from 2017 (found here), you may recall that I wrote about having to separate an aggressive blue-faced parrot finch from the aviary as he attacked another finch.
In April this year, we decided that two years in the prison cage was enough time for the two blue-faced parrot finches, and so we paroled them to be reintegrated into the aviary.
However, this Tuesday David and I came home from work to murder in the aviary! The victim, poor Lady Gouldian, Set.
We found him with all his feathers plucked from his head and close to death. We put him in the hospital cage in the hope that he would pull through but he succumbed from his ordeal not long after. There was no need for an Agatha Christie detective, we already knew who the culprit was: blue-face parrot finch, Leaf who was seen the previous day chasing Set! It looked like he was back to his aggressive ways! Saddened and angry in equal measure we separated both blue-faced parrots from the aviary and now they reside in the prison cage for life! We buried Set under the Californian lilac, he was only two years old.
Book I am reading:
For the past few weeks I have been reading Kate Morton’s The Clockmaker’s Daughter. I am enjoying the narrative and the colourful cast of characters. Have you read this book? If so what did you think?
The Clockmaker’s Daughter
I hit my #walk1000miles target on 25th June 2019. Since then I have been continuing to clock up my miles in the hope of getting to 2000 miles come the end of the year! My weekly total has been 39, bringing my annual total to 1,073 miles. If you are participating in the challenge, how are you doing?
For the first time since I can recall we have not one, but two herring gull nests around our house. They have made nests on nearby chimney stacks. One nest had three chicks, whereas the other only two. On Friday we noticed that the nest with three chicks only had two. On further inspection David found a grim discovery. One of the chicks had fallen (or been thrown) from the nest. He was stranded on a roof and come Saturday morning his body was no longer there. Sad times.
This weekend, David made some more cupcakes. He made peanut butter ones and some Victoria sponges for me. Yummy!
The Aviary (part 2:)
On a happier note to end with, on Saturday David and I visited a pet shop in Warrington. We were looking for a mate for Star our star finch but they only sold pairs. So we opted for a male black head/purple chest Lady Gouldian. I named him Nero. He is a beauty! He has been trying to catch the eye of our resident female. I hope he is successful.
I think 2017 has been a wonderful year for David and I! What an adventure 2017 has truly been! I will think back at all the wonderful places and sights we have seen and feel blessed we were able to share them together! Here’s my twelve pictures that sum up our 2017!
2017 started with an eight mile walk around Coniston. We took a detour to visit Banishead Quarry.
Not everything was plain sailing in 2017. We suffered five deaths in our aviary. Poor Tarn, a Blue Faced Parrot Finch was one of the hardest to bare.
I treated mum to a special birthday afternoon tea at Liverpool’s Jam restaurant.
Riley enjoyed many walks with David and I in 2017. None more so than at the beach!
Which way should we go?
I embarked on my first wild swim of the season! Crummock Water, was choppy, chilly but exhilarating!
Swimming in Crummock Water
June was all about The Wildlife Trust’s 30 Days Wild. Part of the month long celebration we took a trip to Claremont Farm on the Wirral to pick our own strawberries!
July was a fun filled month. We went wildlife spotting at Mere Sand’s Wood, took a visit to Birmingham’s Big Sleuth and had a two nights stay in the Lakes. A ten mile walk around Beda Fell and Angle Tarn Pikes was exhausting!
Following in much the same vein as July, August seen many more days out. Partaking in my my first Welsh wild swim was simply outstanding!
Swimming in Llyn Cwellyn
The dawn of autumn saw David and I head towards Morecambe and Leighton Moss RSPB Nature Reserve in search of more wildlife.
I surprised myself by completing the #walk1000miles challenge some two months earlier than expected. I completed on the 8th October 2017. 1000 miles + has been walked to date!
Walk 1000 miles medal!
The only highlight of this dark, dreary month was a theatre visit to The Liverpool Empire to see the 10th Anniversary of War Horse.
December is again undoubtedly all about Christmas. This year David and I played host to family for Christmas dinner. I have to admit it’s been a very tiring month! Here’s to a more relaxing start to 2018!
I wish you all good health and happiness for the new year ahead! Let’s make 2018 a year to remember!
Well week three has been a much more enjoyable week. I think the sunshine and 25°+ temperatures have helped raise the mood.
With a bit of forward thinking I was also able to plan my posts and managed to gather enough photographs and subjects to hopefully make the post more informative. Let me know your thoughts.
Day Fifteen: Thursday.
Last year I didn’t have much luck with growing my own vegetables. I tried growing peppers, green beans, spring onions and tomatoes. All perished. The only success of the summer was the maris bard potatoes, and I got two harvests from them!
So this spring I decided to get the same variety in the hope of getting a bumper harvest of gorgeous new-potato-type earlies. However, ‘the best laid plans of mice and men often go awry’. I planted the chits in March/April and waited for the plants to grow and the flowers to appear. This year nothing happened, save the plants in the grow bag yellowed and some died. I watered them during the dry spell and decided on Thursday to rummage in the soil to see if there were any potatoes grown. There were, but they all looked like this!
I was so upset! What had happened to my lovely potatoes? After doing some reading online I found there could be a number of reasons my potatoes looked like they had acne.
The spots could be a nematode, or microscopic worm.
There was a lack of moisture in the soil during hot weather.
The spots could be early blight, a fungus spread by rain and hot temperatures.
I suppose you only learn as a gardener if you make an attempt at growing. Perhaps last years harvest was a fluke? I have centurion onions growing in a bag too. I wonder what they will look like come harvesting?
Have you had a diseased riddled harvest? Let me know your stories.
Day sixteen: Friday.
All week, our female blue-faced parrot finch (Forrest) has been laying tiny white eggs. This got me thinking, how is an egg actually made? So I did a little research.
The egg as we know it is assembled inside out! The yolk comes first and is released via the oviaries. Fertilisation (if applicable) occurs once the yolk is released. The yolk then passes along the oviduct where the albumen and membranes are created. Calcification occurs at the shell gland and this produces the egg shell. Shell production can take up to 20 hours and the whole process lasts around 24 hours!
If you are interested to know more, then follow this link here, and here, and here.
Since 2015, when I began participating in 30 Days Wild, I have grown borage for bees. This year has been no different. I harvested the seeds from last years plants and sowed them this spring. Right on cue for June the new plants have begun flowering. The bees love them and they are also my something blue for 2017!
Day Eighteen: Sunday.
Having never picked our own fruit before I was very excited to try! I found a local farm, Claremont, on the Wirral, who have a pick your own season. So David and I visited this weekend. On arrival we opted for two small punnets and headed towards the field where hundreds of strawberry plants were growing. The farm was very busy with families. We chose our row and began foraging among the strawberry plants. We found big juicy fruit, the smell was delicious!
Having filled our punnets to the brim we took them to the farmer who weighed the harvest and the cost was £6 for the two punnets. I thought it was reasonable, with the guarantee that the fruit is fresh having picked them straight from the plant. We will definitely visit again.
Have you picked your own? What fruit do you prefer?
Day Nineteen: Monday.
Nicky at Too Lazy to Weed wrote a wonderful blog about plant pots for pollinators an initiative by Butterfly Conservation. They offer a planting guide for beginners and ask for participants to log their pots on a map and state what plants you have for pollinators. I have numerous pots and plants for pollinators so it wasn’t difficult to participate in.
Here are a few pictures of some of the plants I have in the yarden for pollinators.
Bumblebee on Dahlia
Honey Bee and Passion Flower
Some pollinator friendly plants are:
Perhaps you can plant a pot for pollinators and help out our hungry insects?
Day Twenty: Tuesday.
I’ve decided to showcase two bees who have been seen visiting the yarden. 1. the leaf-cutter bee and 2. the honey bee.
The hive is structured with a queen, worker bees (females) and drones (males).
Prefer simple, open flowers.
Carry their pollen in baskets on their hind legs.
Day Twenty-one: Wednesday.
The Summer Solstice. Last year I got up at 4 am and listened to the dawn chorus. This year since having a long day at work, (and I mean a loooong day at work). I decided to look for alternative ways of celebrating the solstice.
Solstice is the Latin for ‘sun seems to stand still.’ Some see the solstice as the beginning of summer, whereas others see it as midsummer. The sun is at its most northerly position (and at winter it’s the most southerly). The solstice occurs due to the tilt of the Earth at 23.5°. In summer the Earth is tilting towards the sun and for the UK the summer solstice means approx. 16 hours of sunlight, the longest day. During the winter solstice the opposite occurs (approx. 8 hours of sunlight), meaning the shortest day.
Thought.co have some good ideas on how to celebrate the summer solstice.
I can’t remember where I saw it now, but I read that making a herbal brew was also a way of celebrating the solstice, so I decided on attempting a rosemary tea.
Rosemary is full of antioxidants (supports the immune system), has vitamins A and C and is helpful in boosting memory. Shakespeare in Hamlet, (act four, scene five,) has Ophelia saying (in her maddened state), ‘there’s rosemary, that’s for remembrance. Pray you, love, remember.’ It can also aid relaxation, ease anxiety and help digestion. So I thought I would give it a try.
Ingredients (makes one small mug):
I used two tablespoons of finely chopped fresh rosemary leaves (cut fresh from the yarden).
One cup of boiled water or 250ml.
Leave to steep for 5 to 10 minutes.
Strain and drink.
I decided to drink the infusion whilst listening to Mendelssohn’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream, based of the William Shakespeare play. I listened as a muggy day turned to a cooler evening.
The infusion created a green tea. Rosemary is a very aromatic herb and the tea was very florally. I think I preferred the music to the drink.
What is your favorite herbal drink?
What a diverse week, week three has been! From failed potato harvests to gorgeous strawberries! I have tried to share new experiences and facts I’ve learned.
What random acts of wildness have you enjoyed doing this week?
It is thanks once again to the lovely Sharon from Sunshine and Celandines for informing me of this Saturday’s #photoanhour challenge. I don’t use Instagram much, so here’s my photo an hour in blog form.
Photo and Hour – 18th February 2017
8am to 9am:
It always seems that these photo an hour challenges fall on days when I have nothing planned! My Saturday began like every other day, with me getting up to make my breakfast. Granola and black coffee, a perfect start to the day!
Granola and coffee for breakfast
9am to 10am:
We visited my mum (next door) and spotted a lone daffodil standing proudly in her back yarden.
The weekly shop
10am to 12 noon:
Saturday is usually grocery shopping day but once we had unpacked the day’s purchases, David and I headed for the M62 and for garden centres/pet shops around Widnes. One of the garden centres we frequent, White Moss stands opposite the imposing Fiddlers Ferry (coal) power station.
Fiddlers Ferry Power Station
12 noon to 1pm:
Clipsley Pets and Aquatics
Sadly we did not find what we were looking for in Widnes, so we drove to pet shops in Warrington, before stopping at Clipsley Pets and Aquatics, in Haydock. We have been visiting Clipsley for the past three years and have bought most of our aviary from them. We visited today with just the intention of looking!
1pm to 2pm:
Who’s in there?
Travelling home seemed to take ages, more so with excitable new friends sitting in these boxes! 😀
2pm to 4pm:
After a busy morning, the afternoon was much more relaxing. David and I watched on while our new friends settled into their new home. Welcome to the aviary, Set (Gouldian Finch), Leaf (Blue Faced Parrot Finch) and Paris (Owl Finch). How beautiful are they? After all the sadness of the past few weeks, they have made me so happy! 😀
Gouldian and Blue Faced Parrot Finch
4pm to 5pm:
With the sun trying to break through the clouds, David and I pottered about the yarden. I re-planted an Euonymus Japonicuswhich was looking sad at the front of the house.
Euonymus Japonicus Pierrolino
5pm to 6pm:
After doing some housework and before cooking the evening’s meal, I enjoyed a moment of calm by looking up at the clouds coloured by the setting sun.
6pm to 7:30pm:
This evenings dinner was a one pot stuffed pepper casserole. I just substituted the beef with bulgur wheat and topped David’s off with a chicken breast. It made for a wholesome meal.
One pan stuffed pepper casserole
7:30pm to 8pm:
I ended my photo an hour challenge by sitting in the living room and watched as the finches paired up and explored their new surroundings.
How have you spent your Saturday?
Thanks to Janey and Louisa for setting up the challenge.