Sunday Sevens #36

I think its time for a quick catch up, in the form of a Sunday Sevens devised by Natalie at Threads and bobbins! Though instead of just focusing on one week I have chosen pictures taken from the past few weeks.

The Yarden: The weather for the UK of late has been rather changeable. I have not enjoyed the cooler days and rain showers, but the plants in the yarden have been thriving! The wildflower seeds from the 30 days wild pack have started to flower. I am not 100% on the identification but think they are yarrow and viper’s-bugloss, do correct me if I’m wrong! I also bought a new plant to add to the perfect for pollinators collection, a vibrant rudbeckia! It definitely gives a flash of colour to the yarden!

Culture: Last weekend, David and I spent hours walking around the shops in Liverpool. A highlight was seeing The Umbrella Project. 200 umbrellas suspended over a street in the city centre, to aid awareness of ADHD.

#walk1000miles: My mileage this week has been a lowly 22 miles, though this year I’ve been making steady progress. I have now broken into 800 miles! My annual mileage is 829, just under 200 miles to go ’til I hit the target!

Wild Swimming: Much like my Lake District wild swimming map, I’ve purchased one of Northern Snowdonia and made a start on mapping my wild swims in North Wales. Llyn Cwellyn being my first!

map

Membership: I’ve been a member of the Facebook page, I Love the Lake District since I fell in love with wild swimming. This year, a group of members came together with an idea of creating a badge to help members connect with each other while raising much needed funds for Langdale and Ambleside Mountain Rescue. I just had to buy one and add it to my collection!

Collecting: After a drought of a few weeks regarding the Beatrix Potter 50p’s. This week I finally spotted my fourth, Mrs Tiggy Winkle! All I need is Jemima Puddle Duck and I will have the set!

The BBC Proms: For me this year has been particularly good. Many of my favorite composers, such as Elgar have been featured among the concerts. Last Sunday I enjoyed listening to a perfect concert of Rachmaninov’s Piano Concerto no.3 and his Symphony no. 2 performed by the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra. Gustav Mahler’s symphonies have featured heavily (surprisingly) this year! I have enjoyed the performances of his 2nd and 10th by the BBC SO and looking forward to my favourite of his symphonies, his 6th by the Vienna Philharmonic. Do you enjoy the Proms? Have you been luck enough to see one at the Royal Albert Hall?

doorDIY: This weekend I have assisted (can’t say I helped much,) with the creation of our new back door. The old one did not open properly and was starting to disintegrate! David planned the design, purchased the wood, sawed and screwed them all together into a cohesive whole! The project took just two days to complete and cost ¬£30! I think David is quietly impressed with his baby! I think it looks fab! ūüôā All we need now is to finish painting the yarden floor and walls and the outside of our home is refreshed!

And finally: Back to more culture! David and I topped off the weekend with a visit to Liverpool artist, Paul Curtis‘s For all Liverpool’s Liverbirds mural. I went for the angry liverbird look! ūüėÄ

liverbird

That was my week, how was yours?

Thanks for reading,

Christine x

My Father’s Daughter.

I didn’t enter the water gracefully. It was a precarious balance on slippery rocks, before I lost my footing, gasped as my whole body plunged under the waves. Though it was September and there was still warmth to the sun, the body of water that lay before me was chilling beneath the wind that whipped the surface into tiny white peaks. ‘Keep swimming,’ was the motto, and swim I did, even if the cold of the water numbed my fingers, made my skin tingle. 2 km¬†didn’t sound like much, but previously I hadn’t had much practice. I was rusty and my muscles let me know it!

As a child, my family would have weekly swimming evenings at the local pool, followed by a chippie tea and Doctor Who on the TV. I was lucky to be born when the old Victorian school buildings still stood, before modernisation bulldozed them for clinical, soulless buildings. My school, red bricked and full of ghost stories had a wonderful heated swimming pool alongside it. Even before entering the building, with towel rolled under an arm, the smell of chlorine always tickled the nose, cleared the senses.

The noise at poolside was often deafening! Children shrieked with nervous excitement, trying to stay afloat with giant orange inflatables around their arms. I would emerge from a blue curtained cubicle like a butterfly from its chrysalis, proudly wearing my red swimsuit. Always, my father would be in the pool first, beckoning me into the cradling waters, challenging me. In his youth he had been a finalist in the inter-city championships, had numerous certificates and badges. He still enthused about the sport and would encourage me to swim further than I could ever think possible. 100 metres was a long way for a young girl.

Where I swam now was¬†very¬†different to a pool and I was no longer ‘Daddy’s little champion.’ I was a woman of 40.¬†An infinite expanse of sky, pregnant with clouds arched¬†overhead.¬†Shingle beaches lined the shores and jagged mountains crowded around, like they were bringing me into their confidence. Crows shrieked their good morning. Day would soon arrive and with it the chance of rain.¬†As I pushed my body through the¬†water, soft like silk,¬†Nathan sat alongside me, paddling silently.

I met Nathan at a turning point in both our lives. I was chopping vegetables in the kitchen of a¬†hostel,¬†where I was holidaying¬†in Scotland. Onions sizzled in a pan while tears tore down my face. ‘Something smells good!’ I started and the knife I held clattered to the floor.

‘It’ll be a¬†chilli¬†once it’s cooked.’ I turned to face a larger than life man. He was still wearing his hiking gear and had trodden mud through into the kitchen. ‘Hungry?’

‘Famished!’¬†He grinned.

The evening sun dipped beyond the horizon, turning the clouds into a kind of pink blancmange. The air was still, sweetly scented. Spring in Scotland has its own beauty. Trees slowly unfurled their tender leaves and rivers¬†raged¬†with melt-water from the mountains. Nathan, freshly showered, and I sat on a bench eating our bowls of¬†chilli¬†in the hostel’s garden. A bottle of wine shared between us. ‘What brings you to Scotland?’ I asked.

‘Adventure,’ he shrugged,¬†then¬†looking up at me he said¬†shyly.¬†‘A broken heart.¬†You?’

‘I recently lost my father.’ I took a mouthful of bitter wine. ‘We had been estranged the last couple of years, so the news was pretty hard to take.’ I paused. Nathan sat silently, listening. ‘I just had to get away, escape. You know how it is?’ He nodded. ‘I just packed the car and headed up here.’

‘Planning on staying long?’

‘A day or two.¬†Depends if there’s anything to stay for.’¬†It was then that we shared one of those looks¬†and¬†the world suddenly¬†shifts. Two people, lonely and broken, found comfort in¬†each other‚Äôs¬†arms.

Two years later, I¬†found myself¬†immersed in nature, practicing for a charity swim. The northern shore of the lake loomed ahead, trees, tall and prickly stood¬†sentinel.¬†From the water‚Äôs surface¬†I¬†suddenly¬†noticed a familiar figure standing motionless¬†by¬†the lakeside, his arm raised in a wave.¬†I stopped kicking,¬†felt my body suspended¬†by the water, while minnows gently¬†swam between¬†my fingers. ‘Sarah!’ Nathan called. ‘Don’t stop!’

‘Do you see..?’ I shouted, treading water.

‘What?’ I looked back towards the shore, to where¬†only trees huddled around a burnt shell of a building. ‘It was probably a dog walker.’ Nathan encouraged. ‘You’re almost there! Don’t give up!’ I stretched my tired arms forward and pressed on for the last 50 metres¬†or so. Soon my legs hit rocks as I crawled out of the water. My muscles ached, my skin purple with bruises. ‘You made it!’ Nathan cried jumping out of the kayak, ‘and in under an hour!’ His feet splashed in the shallows before he draped a towel around my shivering body.

‘Maybe I am my father’s daughter after all,’ I panted.

‘And more,’ Nathan cupped my face in his hands. ‘He would¬†have been amazed at what you can achieve.’ Wells of tears unexpectedly flooded my eyes.

‘Really?’

‘Yes.¬†Sure, he would have been jealous. Swimming in a lake! That has to beat swimming in a pool any day!’

‘I suppose,’ I smiled through chattering teeth.

‘You’ve¬†swam further than you’ve ever done before. He would have been so proud of you!’ I felt Nathan’s lips, hot on mine as he wrapped his arms around me. I leant into his warm body.

‘I know it sounds silly but I could have sworn I saw him standing by the boathouse.’ Nathan looked to where the wooden¬†structure stood derelict. There was no other living soul,¬†save them¬†at the lake.

‘Perhaps he was, cheering you on as he used to.’

‘It’s a nice thought.’

‘Come, let’s get you warm. A strong,¬†celebratory coffee is in order. Perhaps I’ll buy us cake!’ We turned our backs to the lake laughing as we went, and the rain that was promised began to fall.

© 2016 Christine Lucas


I haven’t written anything of note in a while. The above story was written in response to an advert for submissions for an anthology on wild swimming. Needless to say I was not successfully chosen, so I’ve posted the piece for you, my lovely readers. It was written with a word count restriction, so forgive the fractured feel to the narrative.

Let me know your thoughts in the comments below.

Christine x

‘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 Wear,¬†and 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 #15

Phew! These past seven days have felt like a long week! I was thankful for the weekend!

TroyDavid and I have been worrying about our owl finch, Troy. He became ill on Sunday last, sitting on the floor twisting his head. The phenomena is called twirling. It is very upsetting to witness. All week I have felt helpless. We have put him on a course of anti-fungal medication in the hope that it is an ear canal infection. Troy seems to rally of a morning but come nighttime he relapses again. We have isolated him, in the hospital cage and will try anti-mite treatment next week. His mate, Tux has joined him in his cage for company. The picture featured is of Troy in good health.

I think I’ll get all the sad news out of the way first! One of the main events on the world stage this week, has been the attack on Bastille Day revellers in Nice. In Liverpool,¬†in¬†a recurrent display, the iconic St Georges Hall was sadly lit up with the colours of the tricolour in solidarity.

20160715_222805

41dd4ZhCx5L._SX310_BO1,204,203,200_I finished¬†the latest book I’ve been reading, Rachel Kelly’s Black Rainbow. I read it for an online book group. It was only 99p, which was a positive. The prose is about the author’s two bouts of depression and how ‘words healed’ her, though I think it was prescription drugs and support by health professionals and her family who contributed to her recovery. I was not enamored with the book. I drew nothing from the narration, indeed halfway through the book the author’s attitude really alienated me and I grew quite hostile! The many interjections of ‘supportive’ poems really didn’t call to me, highlighting that depression is an individual illness. My own mental state may have caused my severe reaction to the book, but on completion, I felt empty, devoid of any feelings, not even relief in finishing the book. Have you read the book? Perhaps you gained more insight than I did.

And now for the good stuff!

the-merchant-of-venice-at-shakespeares-globe-theatre-5e0447b96ab71c2145f4bdbf0c9f6eca

On Friday, David and I attended the Liverpool Playhouse,¬†to see the Globe Theatre’s touring production of The Merchant of Venice, starring Jonathan Pryce. I was amazed to have acquired tickets as the play was a sell out! It’s not a play that sits easy with me. I find the antisemitism hard to watch. The Globe’s production relies heavily on the play being classed as one of William Shakespeare’s comedies, as the comic scenes starkly juxtapose the heavy drama. From the outset the play is performed with gusto by the cast. The musicians and ensemble came onto the stage singing and dancing 10 minutes before the billed start. David and I had just found our seats when the music struck up! The actors encouraged audience participation, to the extent that Launcelot (Stefan Adegbola) even dragged up two willing members of the audience to grace the action on stage. It made me think of how very different Shakespeare’s audience was¬†to that of our own modern audience who silently watch¬†voyeuristically from¬†the darkness.

At times I felt I had travelled back in time as the stage design, lighting and costumes all gave the stage a kind of authenticity.¬†There was much gravitas to Jonathan Pryce’s Shylock. I liked the interchanges in Hebrew between his onstage (and off) daughter Jessica, (Phoebe Pryce.) Rachel Pickup’s Portia was another highlight for me, she graced the stage elegantly yet her diction commanded you take note of her character! She had many a wise word to say.

Overall it was an enjoyable two and a half hours. David even treated me to Cheshire Farm ice-cream during the interval, scrumptious!

Saturday, we arose early. I dragged a reluctant David to Sheffield, to tour the streets in search of their herd of colourful elephants. We visited the Crucible where I recited tales of when I visited in 2013 to see my favourite actor, Jonathan Firth. We took in sights such as the Winter Gardens, Cathedral and railway station. We saw 31 of the 58 elephants in the two hours we walked. Below we pose with our favourites!

Have you been to the theatre recently? Seen any interesting art installations?

I hope you have a joyous week ahead. See you next Sunday.

Christine x

Sunday Sevens was devised by Natalie at Threads and bobbins.

Catch-up!

It’s been a couple of weeks since my last post, so¬†here’s a little catch-up!

Being Lucky!

In July to mark¬†their new season, the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra held a week long competition on their Facebook page! I was lucky enough to be chosen for their Thursday competition!! The prize was for two tickets to see Psycho with music performed by the Philharmonic, (ideally on my birthday!), and also two tickets on-board the Ghost Bus run by Shiverpool tours! I have done many ghost walks while holidaying in Edinburgh but not in my own city. So I am very excited to see what the bus tour has to offer! ūüėÄ

Culture and Sightseeing!

During one Saturday, David and I took a short visit to Birmingham to see their street art of Owls. The Big Hoot it was called! In total we spotted 33 of the 89 owls on the streets, not bad for a few hours on the trail!

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While walking around the city, we enjoyed the many different types of architecture to be found!

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Last Thursday came the news I had been hoping for, for so long! The Tower of London Poppies were finally embarking on their UK tour! It was beyond my wildest dreams that Liverpool could be one of the first few to be chosen for this unique art installation but that is what exactly happened!

The instillation of¬†Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red by Paul Cummins Ceramics Limited,¬†that was first seen at the Tower of London in 2014, captured the imagination of the nation!¬†The Weeping Window will be coming to Liverpool’s St George’s Hall in November 2015 to January 2016 and the second part of the installation, The Wave will be housed at Yorkshire Sculpture Park this coming September to January 2016! I hope to get the opportunity to photograph both! You cannot imagine how excited I am at seeing them! ūüėÄ

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Wildlife:

Last week, our house was a B&B for a poorly pigeon whom we called Jack! David noticed the lethargic bird last Monday and after debate we made a box up for him (and later a cage) and brought him in of a night. He seemed generally fit, apart from green runny poop! The worrying thing was that he could not fly and even though he attempted too, he could not get any height! So for seven days we would leave him out in the garden for the day (Artie was not allowed to go outside!), and of a night he resided in our back bedroom!

Jack the pigeon

Jack the pigeon

We were going to take him to a vets to get checked out but over the weekend he seemed to be getting more strength and confidence.

This Monday while filling up the bird feeders, (we have many Goldfinch and House Sparrow fledglings visiting), Jack took to the air and landed on a nearby shed roof. He was not to be seen come the evening and we hoped that he had found his strength and flown off with some newly made friends!

On Tuesday morning we saw Jack back in the garden, this time¬†eating seed that had fallen from the feeders and integrating with a small flock of fellow pigeons! We hope he continues to visit the garden and hopefully Jack’s story has a happy ending.

The Garden:

At the weekend David and I spent six hours in the garden cleaning, re-potting and planting. I bought a Dahlia from Grosvenor Garden Centre, Chester. I fell in love with the black foliage and the flower heads attract bees! I also bought an Anemone to replace my blighted Michaelmas Daisy and some wall art!

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And finally I’ll end with one last picture. After two months growing from seed, my Borage has finally flowered!

Borage flower

Borage flower

What events are you looking forward to seeing?

Christine x

Happiness is for Everyone.

Friday was the beginning of the August long weekend and AT LAST I have something more interesting to write about than garden birds! David with car packed full with deck chairs took my Mum, brother Daniel, his friend Paul and myself to Sefton Park to see the opening of the Liverpool International Music Festival.

First on the bill was the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra and Vasily Petrenko. It was a must see and being free was not to be sniffed at! So sitting under a cloud laden sky we all eagerly awaited the beginning of the concert. The organisers said there were up to 10,000 people at the opening night and we were five of that 10,000!

The concert was presented by Jamie Crick of Classic FM fame and whom I thought was a little bit ditsy as he tripped over his words and also got the programme wrong on one occasion. The orchestra opened with the theme from James Bond and went on to Pirates of the Caribbean and the Ride of the Valkyries before culminating with Tchaikovsky’s 1812 Overture and at the crescendo a flurry of fireworks accompanied the rousing finale. The concert was enjoyed by all and we left the park feeling uplifted and happy.

On Saturday we left early for Manchester’s Trafford Centre where we spent 1.5 hours walking around the shopping mall. We were not shopping but talking pictures of the Elephant Parade, where there were 30 colourful painted elephants gracing the upper and lower levels of the mall. I loved all the varying artistic designs and also managed to purchase my own memento of the occasion though it knocked me back ¬£45!

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