Day Twenty-four: It’s Christmas Eve, my favourite time of the year! I still feel all the excitement for the day before Christmas as I did as a child.
There’s nothing better than to sing Carols around this time of year, which is why we attended the recent Carol Service at the local church. It was a bit different from services I remembered but still a nice way to celebrate the season.
With being unable to participate in July’s #photoanhour on Instagram, I made certain I would for Augusts’. Though, I didn’t have anything exciting planned, the day didn’t turn out too bad. Thanks to Louise at Ramblings of a Roachling, for informing me of the dates. Much appreciated! So here’s what I got up to during my 12 hours of day!
Photo an Hour – 18h August 2018
8am to 9am:
Just after 8am my alarm sounded. Time to get up! I started the day as usual with black coffee and granola. This time I added some blueberries and raspberries to the mix. It was a tasty and filling breakfast.
8am to 9am – breakfast
9am to 10am – housework
9am to 10am:
While David went out to get his hair cut. I made a start on the housework. I vacuumed all the floors and cleaned the bathroom before David came back.
10am to 11am:
Turning my hand at cleaning the dining room, I heard a raucous noise from the yarden. The bird feeders were inundated by starlings, sparrows and goldfinches! What a racket they all made!
10am to 11am – noisy eaters!
11am to 12 noon – Visiting a garden centre
11am to 12pm:
I had the idea that a blueberry bush would be a welcome addition to the yarden. I could grow my own fruit come next year. Growing vegetables has been a bit hit and miss, so maybe trying my hand at soft fruits would be better? (I’ll let you know next year). So with this plan in mind. David and I headed to Rivendell. Unfortunately they didn’t have any blueberry plants, but I ended up buying a raspberry and bramble.
12pm to 1pm:
A bit disappointed at not getting a blueberry plant, we headed to Lady Green Garden Centre. Here, there was a choice of blueberry plants, some at £17 and others for £25. My eyes widened at seeing the full berries on a £25 plant. The other plants were all fruitless. It was evident which plant I would come home with, even if it was a bit pricey! I also purchased a penstemon and verbena for the hungry pollinators.
12noon to 1pm – Lady Green Garden Centre
1pm to 2pm – Home to Artie
1pm to 2pm:
We came home laden with plants to a happy Artie. I don’t think he likes being left alone.
2pm to 3pm:
After lunch I embarked on potting the newcomers to the yarden.
2pm to 3pm – planting
3pm to 4pm – harvest of blueberries
3pm to 4pm:
I was still in the yarden, admiring my new purchases and enjoying the warm sunshine. I plucked the ripe berries off the blueberry plant and ended up with a bowl full!
4pm to 5pm:
Housework and gardening can be hard work. So I took a break with a cup of tea and a read of the newly arrived copy of the September edition of Country Walking Magazine.
4pm to 5pm – a Break with Country Walking Magazine
5pm to 6pm – admiring sunflowers
5pm to 6pm:
While dinner cooked I took time to admire the sunflowers in a vase of cut flowers.
6pm to 7pm:
With dinner I enjoyed this glass of bubbly cava.
6pm to 7pm – cava time
7pm to 8pm – ice cream with fresh berries
7pm to 8pm:
For pudding I mixed strawberry ice cream with a sprinkling of more blueberries (Violet Beauregarde from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory comes to mind) and raspberries.
8pm to 9pm:
A bonus hour, as it seems I can’t count! I joined David in the study/guest bedroom and planned a forthcoming trip to Scotland. I am so excited!
8pm to 9pm – planning a trip to Scotland
Thanks to Janey and Louisa for setting up the challenge.
Day 21: Today’s Throw Back Thursday is also the Summer Solstice, or longest day. I got up for 4.43am and listened to a muted dawn chorus. Later on I sat and enjoyed the 9.44pm sunset at the end of the day with a small glass of mead.
In 2015 I counted the visiting garden birds. 2016 saw me up early again for the dawn chorus and in 2017, I made rosemary tea.
While the sun set on the longest day, I sipped a small measure of mead. I have never tasted mead before. On first tasting, I could smell the scent of honey. The first mouthful was sweet and the burn of alcohol followed through before a flowery bouquet. I don’t know whether it is a taste I like, perhaps a bit too sweet for me.
The moon at sunset on Midsummer
What about you, do you like mead? Do you celebrate the summer solstice, if so how?
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.
I did not hold out much hope for the weather over the weekend. The forecast predicted rain and heavy cloud. Yet David and I decided to keep to the plan I had devised anyway. So, the following morning we left the B&B before sunrise and headed towards Keswick. We parked the car at the Theatre by the Lake, and walked towards the lakeside.
Sunrise at Derwentwater
NT Centenary Stones
A white dawn broke over Derwentwater. From Friar’s Crag we walked towards the National Trust Centenary Stones, though they looked rather underwhelming with the water having receded. From this bay I planned my first swim of the day. At 9am the water was cold and there was no one about save David and I, and the lake! It was magical, and I loved it!
Swimming at Derwentwater
As an early birthday present David had gifted me a waterproof camera (nick-named Wilson (I’ll explain why later!)) which I trialled at Derwentwater.
After my swim of about 10 minutes, with burning hands and numb skin, I attempted to get dry and dressed. With the sun breaking through the clouds we retraced our steps back towards the car before heading into Keswick for our walk towards Walla Crag.
Derwentwater from Walla Crag
The walk took us through some nice woodland and across a fell. The whole walk took about two hours. Parts of the ascent was steep, muddy and tiring. We touched the peak of Walla Crag at lunch time. I ate my fruit salad, buffeted by a chilling wind, while looking towards a blue Derwentwater below. We couldn’t have asked for better weather!
We arrived back at the car earlier than anticipated. So looking at the map, I chose Bassenthwaite Lake to visit, being only 15 minutes drive from Keswick.
We luckily managed to find free parking alongside the lake. Indeed the lake seemed almost deserted, much like early morning at Derwentwater! With having a spare swim suit in my rucksack (as you do). I made the impromptu decision to go for another swim!
I had intended to have a sunrise swim at Derwentwater and a sunset swim at Loweswater, but Bassenthwaite became my second swim of the day!
I was not in the water for long. I felt cold, probably because I had not fully warmed up from the swim that morning. After a cup of lukewarm coffee, we headed towards Loweswater for sunset. Much like the sunrise, the sunset did not really happen, but we enjoyed a pleasant autumn stroll along the lake, before I donned my bikini and waded out into the cold and very reedy water.
Loweswater was my shortest swim that day, more of a dip. I did not like the reeds catching at my ankles, so I cut short the swim to shiver on the pebbly bank as twilight fell.
We decided to risk driving the 30 minutes to Ennerdale, a designated dark sky area, in the hope that the clouds would break long enough for us to do some star gazing. We arrived tired and hungry around 7pm and waited for the night to darken. There were no other tourists, save us. We stood listening to eerie calls of birds roosting before the sky above became emblazoned with a multitude of stars. There were wisps of cloud but none could detract from the faint ribbon of the Milky Way. I loved gazing up at the sky and feeling the peace of the area. We will definitely have to visit again when the night is more clear, but what David captured is good for his first attempt.
We returned to the B&B exhausted yet feeling accomplished. It had been a tremendous day, though at times it did seem endless! We had achieved many firsts in the 14 hours of travelling! I had amazingly completed three swims/dips in one day! Loweswater and Bassenthwaite were new lakes to us, and it was the first time David had seen the Milky Way.
It will be hard to top such a day!
Have you visited any of the lakes mentioned? What were your memories of them? Have you been star gazing, seen the Milky Way?
Do continue to follow me as I write about my final day in the Lake District.
To coincide with David’s few days off work this week, I planned a nice little day out to (you guessed it,) the Lake District.
The day started all bleary eyed at 5am. We drove the two hours to Rydal’s, White Moss car park and arrived a little after 8am! Just in time for an early morning swim!
We took the path towards Rydal Caves, which meandered past Rydal Water that looked calm and magical.
The sun burned through the morning mist, promising a beautiful early autumn day. Rydal Water has become one of my favourite swims of the year! At 9am, not many dog walkers/tourists were about, at one point it was just the lake, myself, David and two swans! Bliss!!
After a good hour at the lake side, David and I headed on towards Rydal Caves.
From there we walked Loughrigg Terrace with beautiful views of Grasmere.
It took another hour of sweat and toil to ‘climb’ the steep pathway towards Loughrigg Fell. When we got to the top, sadly low lying cloud drifted over, obscuring the views, though Windermere glistened golden in the distance.
After a relaxing picnic we headed back down to Grasmere, where the clouds dispersed and the sun came out again!
Wearing a fresh swimsuit, I waded out into the waters for my second swim of the day! Grasmere is a busier lake than Rydal Water but it didn’t dispel from the enjoyment. Also, I wasn’t the only one splashing about the waters that day! It was nice to see so many people (and dogs) enjoying the lake.
I have desired to bag two swims in one day for a while now, and to achieve it was an amazing feeling! On leaving the shores of Grasmere, I had the biggest grin on my face! We took the riverside walk to the car park, that had a car-number recognition camera, £7 for the day. The path followed the River Rothay, which was dappled in golden afternoon light. The day couldn’t have been more perfect!
I think it will be difficult to better such a day, but we’ll see!
Most of my Saturday’s start with a trip to the shops. There is only two of us and Artie (the cat), living in the house, but every weekend the shopping bill nears or exceeds £100!! 😮
Today’s shopping consisted of buying lots of fruit and vegetables and cat treats! 🙂 People say I spoil Artie, but with a face like this, how can I not?! 😀
Usually by noon we are home, the shopping is put away and I have attempted some kind of flower display with a new bouquet I have bought!
Recent flower display
We occasionally have lunch in the living room. David lets the finches come out of their aviary to stretch their wings and fly around the room. Today, Chocolate and Romeo the Society Finches sat on the sofa with me!
Chocolate and Romeo the Society Finches
After lunch, it is all about cleaning the house. It can take up to two hours! If I am alone, it can take more! David helps by vaccuming while I do the dusting, dining room and bathroom.
If it is sunny outside then I forego doing the floors until Sunday and go out into the garden and enjoy the flowers, birds and insects.
Today though, it was cold and cloudy so after doing the chores I listened to Classic FM and noticed a House Sparrow visiting the feeders.
After 5pm I turn my attention to the kitchen. I listen to Saturday Night at the Movies while making a start on the evenings meal. Tonight’s meal was my version of a Mexican Bean and Vegetable Soup with home-made Wholemeal mini loaves. I got the recipe from the Change for Life website/recipe app, though I adapted it.
Recipe for Mexican Bean and Vegetable Soup:
Vegetable oil for pan
2-3 garlic cloves crushed/chopped
2 small onions chopped
1 chilli chopped
1 pepper chopped
2 celery ribs chopped
1/2 tsp chilli powder (I used medium)
1 can chopped tomatoes
850ml of vegetable stock
1 tbsp tomato puree
1 can mixed beans
1 can sweetcorn or frozen
Handful of red lentils (it was a last minute addition)
1 tbsp fresh coriander (I got ours from the garden!)
Pinch of ground black pepper and salt to taste
Heat the oil in a large saucepan and gently cook the onion until softened.
Then add the celery, pepper, chilli and garlic and cook for 5-10 minutes (use your discretion as to when to stop cooking.)
Add the chilli powder and the tomatoes and bring to the boil.
Pour in the stock and add the tomato puree, mixed beans, sweetcorn (drained if tinned) and lentils (if using). Heat and simmer, uncovered, for 20 minutes.
Add the coriander (if using) and season with some salt and pepper. Ladle into warm bowls and serve with a slice of wholemeal bread
Mexican Bean and Vegetable Soup with Wholemeal Mini Loaves
For the wholemeal mini loaves I followed the recipe I use for easy white bread. I just changed the strong white flour for Allinson Wholemeal Seed & Grain Bread Flour. It’s delicious, I don’t think I will ever go back to baking with just white flour again!
Saturday evenings tend to be a mixture of wine and music while David often plays on GTA5 with his brother and cousin. At the moment I am reminiscing about playing Final Fantasy VII in the 90’s. The story was engaging, had a baddie that you love to hate (Sephiroth) and the music written by Nobuo Uematsu was out of this world too! You can listen to Final Symphony on Spotify, though I actually bought the mp3 from Amazon!
I shall sign off now and enjoy the last remaining light of day.