We are well into a new year and it’s taken me a while to compile the video for our 2020, but here it is! It may not have been a year where we had rich experiences but we came out unscathed, valuing the small things in life. The joy of family and friends, of hearing the birds singing or feeling the prickle of sunlight on your skin. 2020 was definitely a year to make you think and be thankful for all that you have.
Like everyone else, here’s wishing 2021 is a more fulfilling year.
Thanks for following my blog and for your continued support!
What an unprecedented year 2020 has been! From a stormy beginning to the new year to a global pandemic the likes no one had seen in a hundred years. We were told to work from home or be furloughed. The roads were quieter and the air felt fresher for it. Then we were allowed out but it wasn’t for long as we were soon all told to stay at home, again! People lost their jobs, their homes and small businesses suffered. It has been a year of struggle and stresses untold. Every day blended into one and mental health issues took its toll. Now Christmas is upon us but there’s not much cheer to be had. This year in photos has been the hardest blog to write. How has your 2020 fared?
Our 2020 started off slowly with lots of walks with Riley. If I knew what lay ahead I would have gone on more adventures.
Our aviary welcomed a new friend in the form of Nova, a Star finch.
If I’d have known that this was the last time I’d see a live concert at the Philharmonic Hall, I would have made an effort to enjoy it more. However I was less than satisfied with this performance of Mahler’s 2nd Symphony.
With all the uncertainty around lock-down it was nice to escape for a while. A favourite RPG of mine which I last played in 1997, had been remade and was released in time to save lock-down.
Social distancing meant that we didn’t see family as much as we would have liked. So we had many family quiz nights to catch up and have a much needed laugh.
Sadly we had to say goodbye to Evie, the family cat who passed away aged 18.
Once Covid-19 lock-down restrictions had been relaxed, we took a day trip to The Lake District. Wild swimming at Beacon Tarn was a reset button to all the anxiety of the year.
A visit to a local sunflower maze with family was enjoyable, even though the sunflowers themselves had passed their best!
One of the best days of 2020 was when we took a visit to Buttermere in The Lake District. The weather was perfect, just like a summers day!
Like many who had plans this year, I had to cancel my birthday holiday to Scotland. I settled for a walk at Formby Beach with David and Riley instead.
During the summer, on a walk with Riley, I spotted the Google Maps car. Fast forward to the end of the year and during a search I spotted Riley, Mum and I on Google Maps!
With the country in differing Covid-19 tiers, there seems to be less hope and cheer this Christmas. Whoever you celebrate the season with, I wish you all the best.
I’m keeping everything crossed that 2021 will be a kinder year to us all!
I wish you all good health and happiness for the new year ahead!
Two years ago I wrote about collecting acorns on my walk to work and then returning home and planting them in the hope they would grow into oak trees. You can read that post here.
Since writing that first post, I had given up hope and forgotten about the little acorns I had planted. Notice my surprise whilst releasing the second batch of painted lady butterflies from Insect Lore, I glanced into a pot and noticed what looked to me like oak leaves. I asked David for confirmation and he agreed.
Baby Oak Tree
I was stunned and overjoyed. We have our very own little oak tree! It may have taken two years but we have success!
Mid May I ordered five painted lady caterpillars from Insect Lore, hoping to have them by the end of this years 30 Days Wild. They were dispatched min June and I waited anxiously for them to arrive. The first week passed with no caterpillars, then a second week passed. 30 Days Wild ended with no caterpillars in sight. I complained to Insect Lore customer services and they said that post in my area had been extra slow, but that they would kindly dispatch some more caterpillars.
After a full three weeks since the caterpillars were dispatched, they finally arrived!
I was a little weary of opening the packaging, frightened of what to find! Would I find dead caterpillars? On opening the package and taking out the pot where the caterpillars feast on some unidentified brown goo. I found a mess! Among the excess food source, caterpillar poo and fras (a fine web caterpillars weave when they feel threatened) I discovered five chrysalises. Not hopeful they were alive I extracted them from their filth and placed the chrysalises inside the mesh habitat I kept from last years batch and left them.
A week later while David was in the study working from home, he called me in saying that one chrysalis was alive. It had been vibrating. I was overjoyed! At least one was alive!
Some half an hour later David called me in again and said I had a butterfly! It had burst out of its chrysalis and we watched as it pumped up its wings. It was a wondrous sight to see. I hadn’t had much hope for these beautiful souls.
Several hours later I discovered that another chrysalis had burst and a new butterfly had emerged. I had two butterflies!
I still had three chrysalises and two were quite small so I had little hope for them. But come the next morning we found that all chrysalises had emptied and I had five painted lady butterflies! What a miracle! After spending three weeks in a dark box, sitting in a Royal Mail post room, they had overcome the odds to become beautiful butterflies!
Last weekend I released them.
Four flew away, however one wanted to stay an extra day. So after watching the butterfly sit lethargically in the garden, David and I popped him back into the habitat with sugar water and flowers and planned on releasing him the next day.
Painted Lady Butterflies
Painted Lady Butterfly
The butterfly seemed much livelier on the second release day and enjoyed the flowers on the salvia. We left him enjoying the flowers and on returning to the garden, he was nowhere to be seen. I hope he managed to fly off and begin his adult life.
What a wonderful story of life fighting against the odds!
But my caterpillar story for this year isn’t over yet as on the day before I released the butterflies from the first batch, the new set of caterpillars arrived. Only a week late! On opening this package I am happy to report five caterpillars looking a little stunned. It took them a while to begin moving but in the few days since their arrival they doubled in size.
Painted lady butterflies and caterpillas
Painted lady chrysalis
Since then they have already become chrysalises.
So I had caterpillars for a few days at least. I wonder if they will all develop into painted lady butterflies? I’ll let you know!
Taking inspiration from Cathy’s post, introducing First Line Fridays. A weekly feature hosted by Wandering Words, on judging a book by its opening lines rather than its cover or author. I decided to give it a go myself.
The below is from the book I am currently reading.
2013. The bed sheet was twisted as tight as I could physically wrench it and tied off tightly on to one of the beams above. In the absence of rope, or rationality, it would have to do.
A bit of a gloomy start to a book, but it does pick up and as you may have guessed, the content is how bird watching and taking in nature overall, has a positive effect on mental health.
As December comes to a close and the end of the decade draws ever closer, it’s time to look back at 2019. The year was slow to get going but when it did it snowballed! The second half of 2019 has been a roller-coaster! Together, David and I have been on many exciting adventures. Below find 12 random pictures that highlight the year that was 2019!
The year began with a ten mile walk around Kewsick, where I introduced Riley to the joys of paddling in Derwentwater.
Riley in Entrust NT Hands
During this cold month I embarked on many Riley walks with friends and family.
Family walk to Formby Beach
David and I became members of the RSPB and visited many reserves in the North West. A favourite of mine is Leighton Moss, Morecambe where we got to feed hungry robins and tits.
Feeding a Robin
We purchased our first female Lady Gouldian Finch. She is a nice addition to the aviary.
Rize the Lady Gouldian Finch
I managed to go on my first wild swim of the season in May. I took a gentle walk to High Dam near Windermere for a peaceful swim amidst nature.
High Dam swim
June had so many highlights it was difficult to chose just one, from raising painted lady butterflies to being bee-keepers for the day. However playing host to our American friend Jennifer who came to visit for a second time was even more fun than her first visit. We hiked in the Ogwen Valley and wild swam in Llyns Bochlwyd and Idwal.
Selfie time at Ogwen Valley
Work wise 2019 hasn’t been a great year for neither David nor myself. To outweigh all the negativity in his workplace David joined in a fun day with dalmatian puppies.
David and Dalmatian Puppy
Saving a poor gull who had fallen from its nest (high up on a roof) from uncertain death was ultimately fulfilling especially when a week later it flew off independently.
We finally managed to go on a short break to the Lake District after postponing earlier in the year.
Grasmere from Grey Crag
I finally ticked off Glaslyn after booking a short break away to Snowdonia for my birthday.
David bought a new car! A Honda Civic but I still miss his old car the Renault Clio.
Though December is all about the excitement (or stress) of Christmas, this year’s trip to New York overshadowed Christmas preparations. My most lasting memory of the holiday was standing on the shoreline before a magnificent Brooklyn Bridge.
The Brooklyn Bridge
Let’s hope 2020 will be another kind year!
I wish you all good health and happiness for the new year ahead!
It’s Sunday! Time for a quick Sunday Sevens, a series devised by Natalie at Threads and Bobbins.
Week off work = lots of Riley walks!
This past week I have had a quiet week off work, though it wasn’t too restful as I took Riley on lots of walks to the local park. Lots of extra walking means my miles for the #walk1000miles challenge has been a good 38 bringing my annual total to 1,233 miles. How are you doing if you are walking 1000 miles?
The Lion King 2019
A Trip to the Cinema:
For a treat, my mum and I took a trip to the cinema to see the new Lion King. Having seen the 1994 original and loved the soundtrack by Hans Zimmer, I was eager to see what the new all CGI production was like. The film had received some pretty scathing reviews but I really enjoyed it! The reprises from Zimmer’s soundtrack really made the film for me. If you have seen the film, what did you think?
Book I am reading:
Thanks to Sharon’s reviews, I’ve picked up a copy of Sayaka Murata’s Convenience Store Woman. It’s very quirky, funny in places and a satirical take on modern culture.
David took a few days off work at the end of the week and joined me in a leisurely four mile walk around Brockoles nature reserve. We went in search of dragonflies! We spotted azure damselflies, common hawkers and numerous butterflies on the wing.
It was David’s birthday on Friday, so we invited his brother and sister and their respective spouses to a dinner party at our home. We ordered in our favourite curry from Saffron and had a good catch up.
Swallow Tailed Moth
During the dinner party I wandered around the yarden with David’s nephew Ewan, and spied this gorgeous swallow-tailed moth. I’ve never seen one before so you can imagine my excitement.
Buff tailed bumblebee
A bonus picture:
While pottering about the yarden this Sunday afternoon, I spied this huge bumblebee. Isn’t she a beauty!?!
You all know how much I love updating you all in a Sunday Sevens! I’ve managed to collate enough info this week for a post. Thanks to Natalie at Threads and Bobbins for devising the successful series.
Sunday 21st July 2019 was RSPB Burton Mere‘s 40th anniversary pin badge launch. David and I made our way to the reserve on this special occasion to purchase the much anticipated badge. The badge ID was unknown until we arrived. It was a cattle egret! A species that has nested and reared young in previous years. I paid the £2 donation and we enjoyed a few hours walking about the reserve.
Cattle Egret Pin – 40th Anniversary
David has been curing pigeons again! This time a female pigeon with a sore eye, who was unable to close her beak. After a few attempts at capture, David managed to catch her and quickly discovered that she had canker, a bacterium that if left untreated can kill pigeons. David has bought tablets to treat this disease so after an overnight stay at Rescue No.49, Doris was released and has been seen frequenting the yarden every day this week. Thanks David for saving another life!
Doris the pigeon
David and Dalmatian Puppy
After all the uncertainty recently about David’s job, re: redundancies and reshuffling, an event at David’s work called Puppy Day helped him release the stresses and strains of daily life by spending time with dalmatian puppies.
During recent research I’ve discovered that there is no such thing as a seagull. They are just gulls seen at the seaside! However since their food and habitat is being encroached by humans these gulls are becoming more prevalent inland. The nesting gulls around our home I have learned are two different types. The gull nest to the back of our house is a herring gull and the nest to the front, I have identified as alesser black-backed gull. On Friday the chick to the back had fallen from the nest (chimney stack) and now cries for food whilst on the roof. The adult tends to this chick so I am not too concerned.
Watching birds while it rained:
This weekend was a rather damp squib, in more ways than one!! It rained constantly all day Saturday, so I decided to spend a good hour watching the birds visiting the yarden feeders. I saw four species of bird, 7 goldfinches, 5 sparrows, (who are so adventurous and like to explore every corner of the yarden). 13 Starlings and 4 pigeons. I even spotted a poor bedraggled honeybee trying to dodge the raindrops!
View from the window
I’ve forgotten to calculate my miles recently. So when I did add up this week’s mileage, I found that I had walked 35 miles, bringing my annual total to 1,177!
Book I am reading?
Having finished The Heightsby Juliet Bell I am left wondering what to read next. Any ideas??
I’ve noticed that since Riley has hit the prime age of 10, he has slowed down a lot. He no longer plays for as long as he used too and he stop and starts when going for a long walk. I worry for him. Do you have any tips on looking after an older dog?
Day 19: Today I am returning to my painted ladies chrysalids. Monday evening, coming home from work, we found one painted lady butterfly clinging to the mesh of the habitat. I was overjoyed to find it was the little caterpillar I had been worrying about, who hadn’t made it to the top of the cup to chrysalise. I left him/her to harden its wings and expel red meconium which is the left over part of the caterpillar.
An hour later, our first butterfly was joined by another!
Painted Lady Butterfly
Painted Lady Butterfies
Tuesday morning, we awoke to three painted lady butterflies. I chopped up some orange and apple and made nectar (sugar/water) and left them at the bottom of the habitat, hoping the butterflies would find them.
On arriving home from work Tuesday evening David and I found all five had emerged from their chrysalises. I was ecstatic, yet slightly concerned. I had five new lives in my hands.
I shall be releasing them soon, so they can continue their life cycle. I also read that painted lady butterflies are migratory and can travel 2,500 miles to North Africa.