Wild Swim Bucket List for 2017!

I’m not one for making resolutions or planning challenges at the beginning of the year. I don’t like the idea of setting myself up for disappointment if I don’t achieve the goals. So I am keeping this list simple. Many of the wild swims featured are swims I have wanted to do in 2016 but had not had the chance. So 2017 will see more of the same!

Snowdonia National Park, Wales:

1 . Llyn Cau, Cadair Idris

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Llyn Cau, Pinterest

I simply adore the name of the mountain that Llyn Cau sits half way up, Cadair Idris, it rolls off the tongue lyrically. I was looking at maps for llyns to walk to when I saw this south of Snowdonia. It was going to be the walk David and I took at the end of 2016 but we ended up walking towards Snowdon instead. I have fallen in love with the dramatic scenery of Llyn Cau. It is definitely one for 2017!

2 . Llyn Glaslyn, Llyn Llydaw, Llyn Teyrn

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Llyn Llydaw

After reading Kate Rew’s reference book and researching wild swimming, these three llyns have been on my list ever since. All three are located below Snowdon on the Miner’s Track. I think after the walks David and I have managed in 2016, that these three llyns are very much achievable in the future!

3 . Llyn Gwynant, Llyn Dinas, Llyn Cwellyn

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Llyn Gwynant

After having visited Llyn Gwynant and Llyn Cwellyn late in 2016, I have planned a return visit some time in the new year. All three are close to each other and David and I could spend a whole day in the area, walking and swimming these very fine llyns.

4 . Llyn Padarn

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Llyn Padarn

As one of the longest llyn’s in Wales, I thought I would include Llyn Padarn. I had intended on visiting the llyn in November after viewing the poppies at Caernarfon Castle but plans changed and Llyn Padarn was added to the ‘to do’ list.

5 . Llyn Idwal

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Llyn Idwal

Llyn Idwal is the place where the wild swimming seed was planted. David and I visited on an icy February day, the rest they say is history. I would like to revisit Llyn Idwal and actually swim where my wild swimming journey began.

The Lake District National Park, England:

6 . Grisedale Tarn

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Grisedale Tarn, fellsphoto.co.uk

It seems that all the swims on my bucket list are in Wales. However there are still many in the Lake District I would like to visit and revisit, one is Grisedale Tarn. Grisedale was one of the first tarns I wanted to swim, after watching YouTube videos by Trek and Run Online. With a two hour walk to the tarn, Grisedale became overshadowed with easier swims in dramatic scenery such as Wast Water. Nonetheless, Grisedale Tarn firmly remains on my bucket list.

7 . Blea Tarn

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Blea Tarn, National Trust

Yet another tarn that is still on my list is Blea Tarn nestled in the Langdale Valley. There have been many opportunities for myself to swim here but somehow none have materialised. With only a short walk from the car park to the tarn there is really no excuse to not swim here in 2017!

So, there you have it, a small selection of some of the wild swims I would like to accomplish in 2017. There are many, many more, not to mention a few of the lochs in Scotland, (if I ever get up there that is,) but I thought I would keep the list simple and achievable.

As yet, we have no plans for 2017, no holidays or weekends away booked. That’s not to say I don’t have any ideas though.

If you know of any wild swims that I have left off my list or think I should try, then let me know in the comments below.

I wish you all much peace and happiness in 2017! 

All the best,

Christine x

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!

‘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.] 

Maître d’: A table for two?

Bilgen: No five.

Maître 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 

Easter Monday… a brighter day!

Today was spent looking for abstract art for the garden and coming back with bird seed and plants!

We visited Dobbies and B&M firstly. I find Dobbies quite expensive. I think we should have gone to Lady Green!! I still need a Phlox for the garden!

Then David said ‘we’re close to Widnes and more garden centres’, so we put the satnav on and went to two other garden shops, however came back with nothing!

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Power station and Rape Seed field in Widnes

David is still worrying about the TV and the chimney breast. It does not help with me freaking out, saying the whole chimney will cave in if not supported!! After lunch we visited B&Q in search of answers to David’s chimney problem and we came back with a Scabiosa and Lupin for the garden.  I am happy now that there is lots of colour in the garden!

Scabiosa

 

Later that afternoon, I managed to soak up some vitamin D! I sat outside in the garden, did some reading (Kate Morton’s The Secret Keeper), ate strawberries, drank wine and listened to the Classic FM ‘Hall of Fame 2014‘ 😀 I am very excited. I wonder who will be at number one? Rachmaninov’s Piano Concerto Number 2, I hope! 🙂

I had voted for Samuel Barber’s Adagio for Strings, but it only got to number 15!

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!