A Lady of Leisure.

Costa treat

Costa treat

Monday was the beginning of my ‘much needed’ week off work. I started it by going for¬†a coffee with my mum! We braved the drizzle and took the bus to Allerton and our favourite Costa! It was a nice indulgent treat but the indulgence didn’t end there! The next day Mum and I went to Liverpool One’s Odeon and went to see Jurassic World! It was an enjoyable romp and it was nice to just switch off for a change! There were some nail biting moments which had mum and I squealing like children! ūüėÄ

I spent the ‘hump’ with Artie who seemed to enjoy the company.

2015-07-14 22.29.24In the garden:

There has been a flurry of activity at the feeders this week. Visiting were lots of baby Starlings all greedily helping themselves to the fat balls. Amongst all the flapping of wings were four House Sparrows, two males and two females. They happily explored the garden. I saw them under the Honeysuckle and at one stage all sitting in the branches of the small Buddleia I have in a pot! However they do not stay still for long and we believe we have more Sparrows visiting than first thought. I am hopeful they will continue to visit the feeders, they have such lovely sweet characters.

There were also the many Goldfinch ‘charms’ visiting. One family must have been successful at rearing their young as they brought about four babies to the feeders. All are welcome! ūüėÄ

I had to dig up my Michaelmas Daisy as the mildew was spreading to other flowers. The vinegar spray did not help I am afraid! Looks like I’ll be heading¬†to Lady Green Garden Centre¬†in the near future!

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The rest of the week:

David had Thursday and Friday off. So on the first day, we went to Trentham Gardens, Stoke on Trent to see their art instillation of fairies, by local artist Robin Wright.¬†We got in for the 2 for 1 offer via Stoke on Trent’s tourist website. Saved us nearly ¬£10! The next four hours was spent walking along the mile long lake, viewing the many art displays in-situ¬†and enjoying¬†their gardens.

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While walking we came across a flash of colour! It was a small part of the lakeside given over to wild flowers. The sight was stunning!

Wild flowers

Wild flowers

One of the attractions at Trentham was their Bare Foot Walk. I had decided the night before that if I had the chance I would try it. So in anticipation I packed with our lunch a small towel to wipe my feet! ūüôā David thought I was mad, but I threw off my shoes and socks and¬†jumped on the wooden stepping stones.

Bare Foot Walk at Trentham Gardens

Bare Foot Walk at Trentham Gardens

The wood was presently warm and comfortable unlike some other surfaces I encountered. Small stones, wood chips and coals were the hardest and most difficult to walk on. I made very slow progress!

The excitement of the day really knocked us out! So come the evening we relaxed and watched Maleficent.

Friday dawned cloudy and cool, We decided to make the most of the day and headed towards Lancashire to see the Pendle Sculpture Trail¬†at Aitken Wood. I don’t know if it was due to still being¬†tired from the day before or the fact that we seemed to get hounded by horrid flies for the two hours we were walking¬†(one even tried to bite me!),¬†I didn’t enjoy the day as much as I thought I would! The weather didn’t play ball either as it was rather windy on the hills and the sun rarely showed!

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The wood was good for wildlife spotting and we bemoaned the fact that we should have brought our ‘bigger’ cameras instead of our phones! We really were not equipped for taking any decent nature sightings. Another visit will be on the cards in the future!

On the walk we spotted:

  1. A Linnet, but not 100% certain.
  2. Tuffted Ducks though again I am not certain. I really wished I’d brought my bird ID book!
  3. Great or Lesser Spotted Woodpecker
  4. Blue, Great and Coal Tits, I recognised them! ūüôā
  5. Goldfinches
  6. Three rabbits
  7. Seven butterflies, two were Red Admirals and two Gatekeepers!
  8. A few moths
  9. A hawk hunting, could have been a Merlin, though not certain! ūüė¶

My identification skills are decent enough for when it comes to garden birds, but when I am faced with birds I don’t see regularly then I find them difficult to ID! I think many more days out in the country are needed to hone my skills!

Saturday¬†turned out at be a busy affair as we had family around for a curry and film night! We ordered from my favourite takeaway, Saffron¬†and the film we snuggled up to watch was The Kingsman, it had it’s funny moments!

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Now Sunday has arrived and I’m feeling blue, work looms gloomily on the horizon! I’ve enjoyed my time off work so much! Maybe too much! It’s been lovely. I have spent time with family and seen and experienced new things. I’ve spent today at¬†home with David and Artie and tried to get my nervous finches to feed from the hand. Two already have the courage, Chocolate (Bengalese) and Rainbow (Gouldian) but poor Romeo (Bengalese) is still hesitant!

Romeo, Rainbow, Chocolate

Romeo, Rainbow, Chocolate

Here’s to the next week off ūüôā

One Magnificent City!

This bank holiday weekend¬†coincided with Cunard’s 175 year celebrations here in Liverpool. The city witnessed a three day spectacle as Cunard’s three Queen passenger ships visited the River Mersey.

On Sunday the Queen Mary 2 docked at port and in the evening there was a laser display projected onto the three Graces followed by fireworks.

Monday was the main event! The Queen Mary 2 was to leave Liverpool to meet and greet her sister ships, Queen Elizabeth and Queen Victoria. So, David and I decided to go to Crosby Marina in anticipation of seeing the ships. I am afraid I got carried away with all the excitement around this event.

Crosby Beach

Crosby Beach

So on a cloudy, cold Monday morning (25th May 2015), we headed to Crosby. We arrived¬†just after¬†9am. We managed to find a street to park the car and walked towards the beach. Other sightseers were walking the coastal path, laden with chairs and binoculars, both of which David and I could have brought with us if we had thought on. However, we had to be content¬†with standing as we overlooked the beach dotted with Sir Antony Gormley’s Another Place statues and brave the relentless onslaught of the chilling wind. It felt more like winter than late spring!

We stood in total for three hours during the spectacle. I could not feel my fingers they were that cold! Other spectators also shivered as we all waited for the Queen Mary 2 to leave her berth and make her way to the mouth of the Mersey to greet her two sisters. The crowed swelled. Many even went out towards the edge of the tide (that was going out) to get a better viewpoint. Where David and I stood was good enough, over looking the coast but high enough so no one could be in the way!

In the Irish Sea out in the distance we could see the Queen Elizabeth and Queen Victoria as they made their joyous approach to the city. Seeing them draw ever closer gave us something to distract from the cold. The sun briefly made an appearance before being blanketed by a thick bank of cloud that did not shift. I was afraid that none of my pictures of the event would come out due to shivering too much!

Then from around the headland the top of the Queen Mary 2 could be seen, she looked so close! She had left Liverpool at 10.45am. The crowd seemed to buzz with excitement. Cameras started clicking and I juggled with three!

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The Queen Mary 2 lead by the mighty Mersey Ferry stopped opposite where David and I stood. She sounded her horns to her sisters. The horns sounded so forlornly to me. The crowed cheered in response! As Queens Elizabeth and Victoria came closer along the coast, Queen Mary 2 pivoted and faced her bow back towards Liverpool. Queen Elizabeth was the first to pass Queen¬†Mary 2¬†heading along¬†the river, followed by¬†Queen Victoria.¬†Queen¬†Mary 2¬†brought up¬†the rear as they both followed Queen Elizabeth¬†in a cavalcade towards more awaiting crowds in the city! With the¬†Queens’¬†departure the spectacle at Crosby was at an end!

While David and I returned home, the Queens paraded up the Mersey and turned 360¬į before lining up side by side in front of the Cunard building, one of the three Graces. The ships seemed to dwarf the city’s skyline! There was even the obligatory fly over by the Red Arrows en-route to Blackpool! Their flight path took them over our house. A¬†thundering sound¬†announced their approach but it was over too quickly for me to get my camera out. I saw nine red jets flying in arrow formation from my living room window!

I watched the remaining festivities at the Pier Head via webcams. After the three Queens had lined up before the Cunard building the city said its farewell to Queen Mary 2. Queen Victoria docked and Queen Elizabeth anchored in the middle of the river, but she too would leave the city after the second showing of the laser show and fireworks. Queen Victoria would leave the city on Tuesday.

I thoroughly enjoyed¬†witnessing the three Queens from Crosby beach, even though I was frozen to the bone. Spectacles like these truly show what a magnificent city Liverpool is. It’s street cred is definitely on the increase and quite¬†rightly¬†too! ūüėÄ

© 2015 Christine Lucas

‘Our Day Out!’ by Christine Lucas.

[The bedroom of number 49. Early morning sun lights the bedroom. The strain of music from Classic FM stream into the chill morning from the radio. The sunlight highlights a woman sitting at her dressing table, applying foundation to her face. A mobile phone beeps.]

Christine: Who is that?

David [lying in bed.] It’s Keith, he will be with us in ten minutes.

Christine: What time is it?

David: Just gone eight.

Christine: He said he’d be here at eight thirty. I am not ready! I will be ready for eight thirty, but not eight fifteen!

David [climbing out of bed]: I’ll tell them they can come in or wait.

 

[Outside, in the road, before a Citroen DS3. Keith and David pack lunch bags and a silver foiled package into the boot of the car. Christine welcome’s Bilgen and Gary. Bilgen holds the door as they all climb into the car. Christine, David (in the middle) and Gary all sit in the back seat.¬†Keith¬†is at the wheel.]

David: Is everyone ready?

Keith: The only postcode for the Angel I could find began with NE?

Christine: I couldn’t find one either.¬†[The satnav calculates the route.]

Keith: It say’s we’ll be there at 11am!

Christine: Only takes two and a half hours from Liverpool.

 

[They set off on their journey. The M62 from Liverpool, then the M60 (around Manchester) then back onto the M62. Bilgen falls asleep. Gary tries to take her picture. Christine cheers when they get to the highest point of any UK motorway, some 372m! The roads are pleasantly quiet. David jokes to Bilgen that it is because after a certain point in England, like the film ’28 Days Later,’ parts of the North are barricaded as a¬†hoard¬†of zombies roam the northern wilds. They leave the M62 and join the A1 (M). Christine looks out of the window and gets excited. They are drawing near to their first destination.]

Keith: We should be getting close now.

Christine [looking at her phone]: It says after the Washington Service Station continue on the A1 (M) until the main roundabout and take the A167 turn off. The Angel site is on your left and parking available nearby. [Looking up] There she is!

 

[They pull into the parking bay beside the A167 and excitedly get out of the car. Christine leaves her jacket in the boot of the car, though there are rain clouds overhead. They all have cameras and mobile phones in hand as they walk the short path towards, Sir Antony Gormely’s ‘The Angel of the North.’]

Christine [taking a different path from the others.] Isn’t it wonderful! [David follows after her.]

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[After a quick bite to eat in the car at the Angel car park. The five-some travel on towards Middlesbrough to visit friends Paul and Gemma. On arrival at their house, Christine hands Paul the silver foiled package.]

Christine: You asked for bread?

Paul: Thank you!

 

[Some four hours of chatting goes by and many pictures taken of Paul and Gemma’s¬†King Charles¬†Spaniels, Kash and Ruby]

Kash

Christine [to David]: What time is it?

David: Half five.

Christine: We can’t stay here all evening, it’s not fair on Paul and Gemma!

Bilgen: I’m getting hungry.

Christine: We have to go home and have dinner.

[They say their goodbyes.]

Paul: Thanks for coming.

Christine: It was nice to meet you!

Gemma: Have a safe journey home.

 

[In the car, they seat belt up.]

David: So what do we do next?

Christine [deflatedly]: Go home. [Cheerful.] Or go to Whitby like Gemma suggested.

Keith: We could go to Maggies?

Christine [corrects]: Magpies in Whitby. [She looks at her phone and finds the postcode for Magpies.] YO21 [Keith programmes the satnav.]

David: What happen’s if it is busy like Gemma said it would be? It being a Saturday and all!

Christine: Then we look for food elsewhere, or go hungry!

 

[They travel for 40 minutes, mainly in silence. Everyone is hungry and tired. Christine looks out of the window at the heathland around them.]

Bilgen [to Gary]: Do you have pain killers? I will have a headache if we do not eat soon!

David [to Christine]: What time is it?

Christine: Six o clock.

David [to Keith]: Put Classic FM on, Saturday Night at the Movies. 

 

[Music from the film The Prestige plays. As they near Whitby they see the ruined Abbey on the headland. Christine think’s Anne Bronte is¬†buried¬†in St Mary’s Church, but [looking at her phone] finds it is in St Mary’s of Scarborough. They look for the Magpie Cafe and¬†have to turn back as they travel too far. They end up parked in a makeshift car park by the harbour. Keith and Gary go to the paying machine and an Asian man hands them a ticket. They return to the car as a rain shower beings.]

Keith: The Indian man gave me a ticket. It looks like he paid for 24 hours not 4!

Christine: Did you give him any money for it?

Keith: No, he didn’t want it!

 

[They leave the car and walk down the main street of Whitby. They look at¬†the harbour arched in a rainbow. They pass many groups of¬†rowdy¬†men and women dressed in 1950’s clothes. They take pictures of the town and on finding the Magpie Cafe. They look at the menu.]

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David: Do you want to eat in our get a takeaway? It looks busy.

Christine [resigned]: I don’t mind.

David: Shall I look for the takeaway menu?

Christine [sighing to David]: I don’t mind want we do. [David and Keith walk further up the road. Christine turns to Bilgen and Gary]. He never takes me out to restaurants. I would like to go to a restaurant once in a while.

Bilgen [to Christine]: I want to go and get a table inside. I want to eat a proper meal. [Christine shrugs. David and Keith come back.]

Keith: The takeaway menu is on the other side.

Christine: I’ll do whatever you all want to do.

Bilgen: I want to go inside.

David [To Christine]: We’ll do whatever you want?

Christine [To Bilgen]: Go inside and ask if there is a table for five.

Bilgen: Come with me! [They all walk up the steps to the entrance.] 

Ma√ģtre d’: A table for two?

Bilgen: No five.

Ma√ģtre d’: The table in the corner over there is available. [Bilgen looks around at Christine and they share a smile.]

Bilgen: A nice table. [The view is over the harbour and towards the abbey. The waitress Joanne comes and takes their order.]

Bilgen: I’ll have grilled Salmon and vegetables.

Gary: The same but no vegetables.

Keith: The Cod and Chips.

David: Grilled Salmon and chips please.

Christine: I’ll have the poached Lemon Sole and vegetables, lots of them! [They order drinks. Christine orders two small glasses of the pinot grigio, for herself and Bilgen. Gary tries to order Bilgen a lemonade. Christine corrects him and laughs with the waitress and the others.]

Christine: I’ve not ordered two glasses for myself. I’m not that bad!

 

[As dusk¬†descends¬†on the fishing village and they tuck into their food. They laugh and enjoy each other’s company.]

 

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[After 9 pm thoroughly fuelled they head from Whitby back along the A1 (m), and M62 to Liverpool in pouring rain. The journey takes just over 2 hours. Christine enjoys listening to the 80’s songs on the radio and watches the cats eyes light their way. She¬†marvels¬†at the cities they¬†pass sparkling with lights.¬†

On disembarking Keith’s car. Christine thanks them for inviting her, she had had a nice time and gives Bilgen a hug and another silver foiled gift.]

Christine: For Jeanette. [and Christine and David wave them on their journey home!]

 

Christine Lucas © 2014 

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. ūüė¶ 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

Diamonds, Cava and Insidious!!

Oh well Christmas 2013 has come and gone!

I was all excited for Christmas this year. It was my last under my mum’s roof before David and I made the move into the new house next door!!

For Christmas Eve, I listened to Classic FM all day. There were four hours of Christmas carol requests, while I made fat cakes for the wild birds. Then there was the narration of ‘The Snowman’ by Aled Jones, the story gave me memories of when I was a carefree ‘happy’ child!

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Christmas day was a quiet affair were I drank a bottle of cava (as no one else liked it!) and I sat watching ‘Insidious 2’ with mum and brother Daniel. In the morning we all opened our Christmas presents together, Riley was funny taking his gifts and ripping the wrapping paper off them!

Riley

I seemed to have an endless supply of gifts from the family!! I even grew quite bored opening them all!!! Mum got me a bottle of brandy. Daniel got me a crystal nail file and David got me amongst others, diamond earings and a bucket of actual poo from Colchester Zoo!!! At least the flowers will grow next year!!

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Boxing Day was all about visiting family and in-laws. In the morning we visited my brother Stephen and my two nephews Nathan and Aaron and in the afternoon we visited David’s family where we had salmon salad for dinner and played ‘Pictionary’ on the Wii ’til 1am!!Aaron and Nathan

My two brothers, Daniel, Stephen and David.

Back to the Herd!

Day two.

A very tired Christine is updating this blog tonight.

This morning I awoke at 6.30am with the sun blazing into the bedroom. Breakfast was a jovial and friendly affair, with us talking to Gill about our love of visiting zoos, my passion for Red Pandas and the many street art exhibitions we have seen throughout the UK. After 9am we reluctantly left the B&B and headed towards Colchester Zoo.

Today has been a long day, of walking around the Zoo for hours, looking at all the animals and catching the Stand Tall giraffes. We saw the Red Pandas and Binturong, watched a bird of prey display and caught a glimpse of the impressive Amur Leopard!

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The weather today has been much better, with lots of sunshine, though the wind was quite brisk at times.

Then after 3pm David and I, tired from all the walking, headed back up to Norwich for the two night stay at 175 Newmarket Road B&B. Dawn welcomed us in and showed us to our room for the two nights. She was very helpful asking if we knew what places to go and eat.

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After 5.30pm we headed back out, and went to the Raj of India restaurant for a curry. I had a vegetable dupiaza and David the chicken biryani. It was lovely and the service was commendable too. I loved the little warm towels given at the end of the meal to wipe your hands on. It was a nice touch!

Now back at the B&B I have had a nice bath, sitting with a cup of tea and feeling the ache of a headache. I just hope it doesn’t turn into a migraine, for tomorrow we are visiting Banham Zoo for the first time, and yes more Red Pandas!!

Night!

Things DO Happen for a Reason!

It took a good few weeks for me to mull over the idea about sending my CV to the agency Randstad with regards to an Access to Work booking with the Royal Liverpool Hospital. ¬†I decided ‘why not!’ I was not working at the time and the prospect of going on job seekers allowance was not preferable. That was in June! I have been working there now for three days a week, with the odd fourth since then. Today I learned that my ‘boss’ at the hospital has had her hours for myself extended to 30, meaning working four days a week permanent!

From working less than ten hours a week to now working 30 is amazing! What a brilliant stroke of luck! I am pinching myself at the knowledge that after all this time at working at the university I now have a more permanent, almost full time job! Finally! A reason to break open a bottle of white tonight then. ūüôā

Last Friday was my day off! So I planned to go with David and my Mum to the Festival Gardens. My Dad worked there when it first opened in 1984! It only opened for a couple of months in the 80’s, but today it has been reclaimed and given back to the city, something I think is a lovely gesture.

I had kept two badges that my Dad had given me when I was seven years old from his time at the festival and I thought it was nice for me to take them back to the gardens. I really loved walking the grounds of the new park. It was like walking down memory lane with seeing the old Chinese pagodas. My favourite part was the Moon Wall, we all had fun goofing around that!

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