30 Days Wild… Week Two

As I guessed rightly this week’s nature sightings were not as abundant as last week.

Monday and Tuesday were filled with travelling to and from work and the bit in-between. I am not enjoying work at present, I am feeling rather undervalued and the travelling tires me out. I really need a holiday!

While at home, I did manage to take some pictures of David’s rockery plants!

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Wednesday:

The weather changed for the better and it was a happy return to bright sunshine and warmth. After work, David, Artie and I sat in the back garden for an hour and soaked up the sun. The garden was filled with the sound of bees happily enjoying the ‘wild’ growing Siberian Bellflowers and Cat Mint. Even the small Golden Mint Moth made a glad return.

Siberian Bellflower

While potting some Poppy seedlings into bigger pots I noticed a Small White butterfly flutter by. That is the first butterfly I have seen in my area! We tend not to get too many butterflies with being terraced houses. I look forward to my Buddleia flowering and maybe will get to see more butterflies?

During the evening while calling at my Mum’s I noticed how calm the air was and looked up to wonder at the wispy Cirrus clouds drifting leisurely overhead. I read later from the Met Office website, that Cirrus are high level clouds, some 18,000 to 40,000ft. The name comes from the Latin for lock of hair. The clouds are part of a warm front, though looking at the Met Office’s prediction for the weekend, it looks like the warm spell is going to be (yet again) short lived. 😦

Example of Cirrus

Example of Cirrus taken from science-edu.larc.nasa.gov

At 10pm the results of the vote for Britain’s national bird were announced. It was not really much of a surprise as the gardener’s friend, the Robin took first place with 34% of the vote! The Barn Owl (12%) was second and my favourite the Blackbird (11%) came third. The Blue Tit came in at a lowly 8th position.

Britain’s National Bird results

  • Robin 34% (75,623)
  • Barn owl 12% (26,191)
  • Blackbird 11% (25,369)
  • Wren 9% (19,609)
  • Red kite 6% (14,057)
  • Kingfisher 6% (13,922)
  • Mute swan 6% (13,480)
  • Blue tit 6% (13,123)
  • Hen harrier 5% (12,390)
  • Puffin 5% (10,674)

Thursday:

It was yet another scorcher of a day in the NW of England. I rushed home from work to enjoy my garden. The garden is a bit of a sun trap so as I reclined under the sun’s rays I listened to the Goldfinches visiting my Mum’s garden and I smiled at the comical begging of their young. I have still yet to get good footage of the baby Goldfinches this year, so a clip from a previous year will have to do.

I was grateful to see that the Swallows were in full force today. I watched in awe as they swooped between the rows of houses chasing bees. They were that close you could see the blue sheen on the Swallow’s body. They are beautiful creatures and quickly becoming one of my favourites.

Later, David (who had been snapping pictures of bees) and I enjoyed our dinner al fresco! It was nice to relax with the setting sun and to feel the calmness of evening after a hectic day!

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For dinner I attempted to make a Turmeric and Lentil Soup as seen on Deliciously Ella’s webpage. I followed the recipe to the letter however it will not be a soup I will make again. I think it had too much mixed herbs in the recipe and ended up tasting very earthy. It was much like taking a mouthful of soil! However, I did enjoy the preparation of the cannellini beans and button mushrooms in spices such as turmeric, cumin and mustard seeds.

Turmeric and Lentil Soup

Turmeric and Lentil Soup

You can obtain the recipe and method here: http://deliciouslyella.com/turmeric-and-lentil-soup/?fb_ref=Default

Friday:

The morning started off brightly but the weather soon changed to a dreary, heavy day. Alas there was not much ‘wildness’ going on! Yesterday David brought home from work a play tunnel for Artie. It’s huge but Artie seems to like it! Here he is in his ‘cube’. 🙂

Artie in his play tunnel

Artie in his play tunnel

Saturday:

The rain that the Met Office predicted did not arrive. 😦 I was a bit peeved as I had wanted to (if the weather was fair) taken a drive to Lancashire to follow the Pendle Sculpture Trail, however, the day trip will have to do for another day. I ended up staying at home and after shopping, did some house work before spending two hours in the garden. The weather was overcast but the cloud broke occasionally and the sun briefly would peak through. The temperature was mild and so I planted my Foxglove seedlings into bigger pots (I hope they survive!) while keeping an eye on Artie as he stalked flies and enjoyed the outside space. I am quite blessed that he does not look to climb onto the wall.

Artie smelling the chives!

Artie smelling the chives!

I spent a good time trying to photograph the bees visiting the garden and noticed some Tree and Garden Bumblebees, (there were also many Red Mason Bees!) I also snapped a Cinnabar Moth resting on the Salvia and a Harlequin Ladybird, though they are an invasive species it was fun watching the little fella fly about the garden plants!

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As Artie and I were in the garden for a long time, the poor birds could not come in and taste the seed on offer. We have up to three House Sparrows visiting the feeders, (they have adapted to feed from the hanging feeders), though they were thwarted this afternoon! They sat on the roof and called angrily for me to leave the garden, as too did the numerous charms of Goldfinches! A poor confused baby Goldfinch even landed on the back door and chirruped before spotting me and flying away! Poor thing!

Every now and then the calls of the Swallows filled the air and they would dart acrobatically through the air! At one stage a Magpie swooped past the garden and beneath it the body of a Swallow! It energised me seeing their flight! 🙂

Around 4pm it grew cooler, the wind picked up and so I took myself and Artie back indoors. It was good timing as I had to prepare for the evenings dinner!

I planned to make a Roasted Vegetable and Pearl Barley Risotto. I wanted to make something ‘healthy,’ and pearl barley is a wonder food! It is helpful in lowering cholesterol, protecting against heart disease and diabetes! I couldn’t find one concise recipe for what I had imagined, so I made my own! Once cooked however it needed a few tweaks, which the recipe below has! I at first used sweet potato which in additional to the other ingredients seemed too much, so I have reduced the amounts!

Roasted Vegetables and Pearl Barley Risotto

Roasted Vegetables and Pearl Barley Risotto

Roasted Vegetables and Pearl Barley Risotto

Serves 4.

Risotto:

  • One onion chopped
  • Two cloves of garlic, crushed and chopped
  • 1 chilli, de-seeded and chopped (leave out if you don’t like heat)
  • 250g Pearl barley
  • 1.5 litre of reduced salt vegetable stock
  • Salt and pepper to season

Add the onion, chilli (if using) and garlic into a pan and sauté. (I put in the onion and then chilli and cooked for a couple of minutes before adding the garlic as it tends to burn easily.) Then add the barley and stock in increments until all soaked up! (I put in half a litre at a time until the barley was cooked!) Cooking could take up to 40 minutes so leave plenty of time, no need to rush! Salt and pepper to season.

Once the barley is cooking turn your interest to the vegetables.

Roasted Vegetables:

  • Two peppers (any colour), de-seeded and cut into strips
  • One small carrot, peeled and chopped
  • One small red onion, peeled and chopped
  • Cherry tomatoes halved
  • Pinch of cayenne pepper (leave out if you don’t like heat)
  • Salt to season
  • (You can chose your own type of vegetables to roast, the above is just a suggestion!)

Place the chopped vegetables in a roasting tray, drizzle some olive oil and season with a pinch of salt and cayenne (if using). (I got my hands in and covered the vegetables with the seasoning.)

Then on an oven, 200°/gas mark 6 setting, roast vegetables for 20 – 30 minutes.

Serve barley on a bed of wilted spinach and place the roasted vegetables on top! (I also quickly fried some chopped button mushrooms and added to the roasted vegetable topping.

Enjoy!

Sunday:

Another overcast day. A day that David say’s is a ‘headache’ kind of day! The usual suspects visited the garden feeders today and below is David’s footage of baby Goldfinches being fed by it’s parent!

I wonder what ‘wild’ things I will see or get up to in the following week? Bring on week three!

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Dry January – Week Four!

The end is in sight!

I must have been out of my mind when I decided to do Dry January 2015.

January is notoriously the most depressing month of the year. During this month, I have had to fight stress and depression. I then hurt my back and was out for a few days last week and then this Monday I had a death in the family to contend with.

Dee

Dee

I had to say farewell to one of our oldest cats. Dee! She had been with us since 1996 and looked fantastic for her age. Recently Mum had noticed that Dee was having trouble with her balance. I told her to monitor it but by Monday things had gone progressively worse, so much so that Dee could hardly stand up!

Mum and I took her to the vets. We waited ages to be seen in a reception area that was filled with other cat patients. Dee was very vocal and cried to be let out, and when another cat started crying the room was filled with meows!

We were introduced to a kind vet called Sarah, who on seeing Dee (trying to get out of the carry case) said, ‘oh little one, something has happened in your brain!’ We coaxed Dee out of the carrier and she stumbled around the table, with her head constantly shaking and a vacant look to her eyes. The vet subsequently said that Dee could have had a bleed or a tumour  in her brain which explained the loss of motor control. They at present don’t treat brain diseases in animals and with Dee’s age, it was ultimately humane to put her to sleep.

With many of my cats in their twilight years, this ‘last journey’ is becoming more frequent. Mum and I stayed with Dee as we said our goodbyes. The vet informed us that Dee probably didn’t know what was happening. I held Dee in my arms as the vet administered the drug and she quickly drifted away. The vet said that she had given Dee a dose of 500mg but she had gone by 200mg, she was that poorly!

It’s come as a shock actually. Dee was the most healthy looking out of the four that lived with Mum. It has to be a blessing that it was a short illness.

Back to Dry January and there is only three days left! I may have moaned and groaned my way through it, but I was up for the challenge! I knew I had the willpower to go without alcohol for a whole month, but I wanted other people to see that I could achieve this too! You can still donate to my Just Giving page.

Here’s to February and that long awaited glass of wine! 😀

Christine x

Dry January – Week Three!

Week three of Dry January has been a real struggle emotionally and physically.

On Sunday I bent down to pick up a toy of Artie’s and I ended up on my knees screaming in agony! I must have pulled a muscle or put strain on my vertebrae as it’s taken days to get better. It is still not fully healed, every now and then I twist awkwardly or I forget my back is weaker and it twinges.

I had to call work on Monday as I could hardly move without pain shooting around my hips. Luckily my boss and agency were understanding and I took two days off!

With not just my back to contend with, I have also been fending off the ‘black dog.’ All I did this weekend was cry! Poor David, he didn’t know what to do with me! During this time I have not thought about having a drink. I think my drinking was more due to habit rather than actual need! I will not go completely dry once January is over, but I will watch my intake. I have downloaded an app for my phone (AlcoDroid) to check on the units ingested per week.

I have already marked out the wine of choice for the 1st of February (which is a Sunday so moderation will be key). It will hopefully be JP Chenet’s Colombard Sauvignon. I can almost smell the pineapple notes! 😀

You can still sponsor me at my Just Giving page for Alcohol Concern. Or you can donate using your mobile. Text to 70070 with the message, JGAC and the £ amount. i.e. JGAC £5 to 70070. Thank you!

I found that keeping active was key to getting over the injured back. So on Tuesday I arranged a coffee morning with Mum at the Liverpool Anglican Cathedral. I went to see the World War One commemoration statue, All Together Now by Andy Edwards and also spent a nice two hours walking around the cathedral and its chapels.

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Here’s to the last ten days of Dry January 2015!

Dry January – Week Two.

It’s now the 15th day of Dry January, and I have not touched a drop of alcohol in that time. I have also had two very generous donations to my Alcohol Concern fundraising page and I am most thankful!10891791_424673811019833_5642098395591196061_nThis past week has been rather difficult. Not because I have needed a drink, (although on Friday I was thinking, ‘it would be nice to have a glass of wine to wind down into the weekend’), but because my depression has reared it’s ugly head again. I hate January/February (as do most)! My life always seems so much bleaker in the darker months of winter. I am really looking forward to March/April and the warmer months so I can enjoy the sun/warmth and my garden again!

There are some new signs of life sprouting in the garden at present. The bulbs I planted in September are now poking through the soil. Come March-May I will find out if they are Snow Drops or Bluebells! My Tulips are also growing, so hopefully soon my garden will be awash with colour again! My Hellebore or Christmas Rose has lots of buds on it but the flower heads seem too heavy for the stems so all are bowing down to the ground!

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Trying to overcome the negative thoughts, I keep reminding myself that I do have lots to look forward to in 2015! I have booked to see The Theory of Everything at the Liverpool Philharmonic as we had such a nice time on Monday watching The Imitation Game, we even had tickets for one of the boxes! The Philharmonic has an organist, Dave Nicholas who plays before the film and as the only working Walturdaw cinema screen in the world comes up from beneath the stage. It is quite a sight!

Film at the Philharmonic hall

Film at the Philharmonic hall

I have also booked for the Valentine’s day concert, Mahler’s 2nd in April and A Mid Summer Night’s Dream at the Everyman! During the summer, I also hope to have a day out to Birmingham to see the Big Hoot, visit Norwich to see Go Go Dragons, and Bristol to see Shaun in the City! Whether these day/nights away will come to fruition time will tell, but they are some events to look ahead too!

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So I am trying to shift my depression, look ahead with optimism and value what I have in my life.

Here’s to the next dry week!

Dry January – Week One.

It’s been the first full week of Dry January and one that I have managed to get through without much of a hiccup.

It has also been my first full week back in work. On Monday while sat on the bus on my long journey home, my thoughts did slip to the prospect of a nice glass of wine after dinner. But then my second thought was, ‘no, you can’t have wine, you are doing Dry January!‘ So that was that!

Instead of drinking the odd glass of wine after meals, or sipping a measure of brandy. I have been consuming fresh fruit juices and Shloer. I particularly like their Berry Punch and White Grape.

Along with looking after my liver and feeling much more educated in the effects of alcohol on all aspects of the body, I too am registered with Alcohol Concern as a fundraiser. Though at present no one has sponsored me. (Insert sad face here!)

Both Wednesday and Thursday I have been tired. Travelling three hours a day just to do work for three and a half hours is very tiring! My mind is also exhausted and add to the fact that I am feeling the effects of PMS, no wonder I have been feeling rather anxious! However tomorrow is Friday (yippie!) and I hope the working week will end on a positive note.

Today after feeling tearful on the bus home, I called forth the cheerful support of my Mum and my brother (both live next door to me!) We had a nice coffee and chat before David (my partner) came home to share in the lots of cuddles from our cat, Artie.

In reality I have very little to complain about.

Here’s to the next dry week!

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