29 May 2020

National Trust - Bodnant Gardens

Let me take you for a walk through the garden.  Not our garden but the lovely gardens at Bodnant in North Wales.  We love this place and like to go every opportunity we get. It's looked after by the National Trust and there is always something to see whatever time of year you go.  It's definitely on my list of places to go and re-charge.

Unfortunately it's closed at the moment so we'll have to wait for our next visit.


The Wisteria is an amazing shade of purple.


Chilean Fire Bush


Blue Poppy of the Himalayas.


Reflection pond.



The old mill, which is now a coffee shop is nestled in the middle of trees and streams.


Waterfalls.

From the NT website

The Laburnum Arch which blooms in May every year.  This year I believe it was  a little late due to the weather.


The lake at the top of the gardens.



View from the house. On a clear days you can see right over the Welsh hills. 


The house and wider estate isn't actually part of the gardens and is privately owned by the McLaren/Aberconway family.  The gardens were given to the National Trust in 1949.

You can read more about the gardens here.




28 May 2020

One from the Archive


28 May 2015


I can't believe that it's 5 years since this photo was taken.  Mum had braved the 5000 mile trip and come to visit us in Texas.

We didn't have much planned for the three weeks she was with us but one thing that was definitely on the list was a visit to the Oh La La coffee shop for a latte and a cup cake.

I don't mind admitting that I cried when I saw this picture.  I miss her every day.










27 May 2020

A Bit of a Moan

Apologies for moaning but I just have to say this.

Is it just me or do some people think that we’re back to normal already?  

This is not social distancing!

Formby Beach 25.5.20 - Liverpool Echo.

 












At home we have been sticking to the rules set by the Government in regard to staying home, social distancing etc and we haven’t seen family or friends for months so it really winds me up when others just don’t seem to care.

Neighbours at the back of us had 11 people round for a birthday BBQ last weekend!!  ELEVEN!!!  All sat in the garden having a lovely time. 

Another family of 9 took up the whole of the prom when out for a walk which meant not only those walking, but those out on bikes or out for a run couldn’t get past.  They just didn’t seem to care that they were blocking the way for others.

Do they not realise that people are still dying from this virus and it could go on for months?

I’d like nothing better than to travel to York to stay with family and give them all a hug, but I know that I’m not supposed to, so I don’t.  Do I miss them?  You bet I do but it's worth the wait to keep them safe.

Moan over  😊


26 May 2020

Garden Tidy Up



Hubby only went out to cut down a rose bush that had some kind of lurgy and ended up chopping down the Sycamore and Holly trees between us and next door.
Our next door neighbour had been meaning to get rid of them for a while and was very happy when they were down.  She says her kitchen is now a lot brighter.

Happy to help.

Unfortunately all the waste has to stay on the drive, as the queues for the local re-cycling centre currently have a waiting time of 4 hours!!







25 May 2020

Covid-19 - Fly Tipping


The BBC did an article on the news a few weeks ago about how fly tipping had been on the increase since lock down had started and the tip/re-cycling centres had closed.

It was disgusting to see that some people think it's OK just to dump their old kitchens, their fridge/freezers, glass or any other amount of household waste on the the side of the road or, in our case on the nature reserve.
This little piece of green, in our area of concrete, is called Pride Park.  Pride I think that some people don't have.




I noticed it two weeks ago and took some pictures so I could contact the council and let them know that it was there.  By the time I got back from my walk I had forgotten all about it and never contacted them!!  (call it old age).  This weekend as hubby and I walked past I noticed that it had all been cleared away and what a difference it makes.

A HUGE thank you to the local council for tidying up the area.

22 May 2020

Crochet Keeps me Sane - Part 5

Using up the leftovers.  

After each blanket I make there is always a little of each colour left over.


Sometimes there are enough odds and ends to make a whole blanket.



 And sometimes I have to make smaller projects like a blanket for my Nephew's new puppy and one for my Nephew himself to snuggle under whilst reading a good book.



I keep an eye out for patterns that I can make with small amounts of wool.  So far I have about half a dozen to try but it's getting the time to do it.  I want to do them all at once!!

To be continued.........



21 May 2020

Looking After Your Mental Health


It's Mental Health Awareness Week this week and in these times of lock down and limitations it's important to look after not only your physical health but your mental health too.  

Corona virus has affected all aspects of our lives and the constant news about the pandemic can feel never-ending. 

It's easy for those who are managing OK to overlook that there are those who are struggling.  And let's be honest we've all struggled at one time an another. I know I have.

Looking after yourself is important and these few things may help if you're struggling.  Remember.  It's OK not to be OK.

Taken form Google.

Practise self-care

It's easy to slip into the habit of sleeping late, spending all day in your pyjamas and eating junk food, but looking after yourself is essential for your mental health. Even simple tasks such as washing your face can feel difficult sometimes, but they can make a big difference to the way you feel.

Exercise if you can

Getting moving is easier said than done when you feel low or anxious, but it can significantly boost your mood.  If you are well enough, exercise is really good for mental as well as physical well-being. Find music that helps boost your mood. If you are able, get into your garden and get daily doses of sunshine.

Set up buddy groups

Set up a "buddy group" with family or friends and regularly check in with people, either online or by phone. That way, you can offer support to anyone struggling or reach out to others if you need to.  Even just sending daily updates can help us feel more connected and less alone during these difficult times.

Distract yourself

Writing down your thoughts and feelings can help offload any worries and fears you may have. It's also important to try to keep busy, whether that means going for a daily walk or learning a new skill. There are still plenty of activities you can engage with at home, including crafts, painting, reading, cooking and baking.

Be kind to yourself

If you don't feel up to doing anything, though, that's fine too. It's important to be kind to yourself and recognise when you need a break.  Try to relax and focus on positive things, knowing that every effort is being made globally to bring this situation to a close, but it will take time.

 


20 May 2020

Mass Observation Diary



Last week on the 12 May I took part in the Mass Observation Survey.  I'd come across it whilst reading Sue's blog My Quiet Life in Suffolk.  You had to keep a diary of what you did on the 12th  May and then submit it to be kept in the archives.  I think I just waffled the whole day but got S to proof read it before I sent it off.  It got his seal of approval. 

I'm so glad I did it.  My diary will now be read by future generations.  I just hope they don't think I was some batty old lady who waffled a lot 😊

In 1937 Mass Observation called for people from all parts of the UK to record everything they did from when they woke up in the morning to when they went to sleep at night on 12th May. This was the day of George VI’s Coronation. The resulting diaries provide a wonderful glimpse into the everyday lives of people across Britain and have become an invaluable resource for those researching countless aspects of the era.


19 May 2020

Rocky Road


The request for the last few weeks has been Rocky Road.  Unfortunately we seem to have been through a "Digestive biscuit drought" as I couldn't get any locally for ages.  Luckily they arrived in last weeks shopping and these were the result.


Recipe

200g of Chocolate
200g of Digestive biscuits
100g of Mini marshmallows
135g of Butter
2-3 tblsp of Golden Syrup


100g of cranberries, raisins, currants, popcorn if desired.

Line the bottom of an 18cm cake tin with grease-proof paper.

Melt the butter, chocolate and syrup in a pan until everything has dissolved.
Set to one side to cool.

Put the biscuits in a plastic bag and bash with a rolling pin until you have a mixture of dust and pieces the size of a 50p.

Add the biscuits and marshmallows (and 100g of any extras) to the chocolate and mix until well coated with chocolate.  Put the mixture into the prepared tin and squash down into all the corners.
Chill in the fridge for a minimum of 2 hours.

Enjoy.

18 May 2020

Daily Walks - New Brighton


We haven't been for a walk along the prom in New Brighton since lock down started as it meant driving there, and the Government had said that was a no no.
Once those restrictions were lifted last week we went for a walk one night after dinner.  The prom was full of people (all social distancing) but it was nice to be out, even if it was a bit chilly.
The beach, as you can see, was empty.

15 May 2020

Slimming World

It's two years ago tomorrow since I reached my target at Slimming world.

I'd like to say that it has been easy keeping the weight off since then, but that would be a lie.

Most of the time I'm good and can maintain but I have struggled, at times, to stay on track.

Losing the weight, it seems, is the easy part.  Maintaining/keeping it off is the hard bit but having been introduced to the SW way of cooking it has been that little bit easier.  I no longer use oil but use Fry Light, I don't have butter and try to limit my cake/biscuit intake, I don't eat bread that much anymore and cheese, only if it's part of my allowance for the day.

Chocolate is my downfall though and I tend not to buy it, although some days I can't help myself and a bar will accidentally fall into the shopping basket!!

I have found that going to work is a big help in keeping the weight off as I'm terrible for mooching in the cupboards if I'm at home for any length of time.  At work I can only eat what I take and steer clear of all the goodies that can be left in the staff room.  Only working three days a week at the moment, means I have put a pound or two back on so it's back to meal planning and low-fat dinners.

It seems a shame to undo all my hard work.

 



14 May 2020

Chester Zoo


This is one of my favourite places to visit.  

After my illness a few years ago, I find I still have good days and bad days.  Going to Chester Zoo helps me relax and re-charge. 

I love the giraffes, and the two babies (who will be huge by the time we next see them) keep you entertained with their antics, but my most favourite are the Aardvarks.  I just love their long noses and big feet.  According to the keepers their noses are soft as velvet even though the rest of them are wiry and rough. 

The only problem is they are always asleep when we go so we will just have to go later in the day and hope they are up and about.

You can read more about the zoo and how it's helping with conservation here.





13 May 2020

Gardening

I'm not a gardener.  I'm more of a helper for hubby.  I can do the weeding and plant a few new pots every year if needed.

On our way back from collecting our shopping the other day, we noticed that the garden centre was open and managed to beat the queues and buy some plants.

Now all I have to do is get out there and get them planted.  How hard can it be?

12 May 2020

Covid-19 - Pampering

Hairdressers are closed, the wax shop is closed, the nail bar is closed.  This is something we ladies (and some gents) are all having to cope with. Even the unhappy lady in the USA who wanted the hairdresser open as her roots were showing!!



Luckily for me I had my hair cut at the beginning of the year so the only thing I have to worry about is keeping my fringe out of my eyes.  The grey is easily disguised by a temporary colour from the supermarket.

My eye brows are normally waxed every 4 – 6 weeks but as I take HRT they seemed to have slowed down on the growth front.  These are now easily kept in order with a pair of tweezers.  (Although I have to jiggle my glasses to be able to see them!!).

My nails are now short and are painted with a neutral colour polish.  I used to get them done every month.  I like nice looking nails and at work, as I’m in contact with parents on a daily basis, I think it looks better than the chewed nails I used to have.

Will I go back to pampering myself on a monthly basis? 

My nails I will keep doing myself, my eye brows I will probably get done when they start meeting in the middle, but my hair, I’m afraid to say will definitely be done every 4 weeks.  I am simply not ready to go grey 😊

11 May 2020

VE Day




The 75th Anniversary of Victory In Europe.

We hung our bunting and had a picnic.  We listened to Winston Churchill and heard her Majesty's speech.

Not the day we had planned.  We were supposed to be in Carentan, France with both boys, P & S but the strange times we find ourselves in put paid to that.

Never mind.  A trip to Carentan at any time is worth it so we will just arrange another time and celebrate when we get there.


8 May 2020

Lemon Drizzle Cake



 

Looking for something to do whilst on hold to the holiday company.......! I rummaged through the cupboards and found some flour, sugar and some nearly past their best, lemons.  A quick “Google” and I had a recipe for lemon drizzle cake.  (With a video in case I didn’t understand the instructions)!

I 'managed' to follow the instructions without mishap and produced a passable cake.

In all my years of baking I have never made a lemon drizzle cake.  It's hubby's favourite or so he says!!  

It was delicious.

Recipe

225g unsalted butter
225g caster sugar
225g self-raising flour
4 eggs beaten
Finely grated zest of one lemon

For drizzle:

85g caster sugar
Juice of 1½ lemons

1.    Heat oven to 180C/fan 160C/gas 4.

2.   Beat together the softened unsalted butter and caster sugar until pale and creamy, then add 4 eggs, one at a time, slowly mixing through.


2.      Sift in the self-raising flour, then add the finely grated zest of 1 lemon and mix until well combined.

3.      Line a loaf tin (8 x 21cm) with greaseproof paper, then spoon in the mixture and level the top with a spoon.

4.      Bake for 45-50 mins until a thin skewer inserted into the centre of the cake comes out clean.

5.      While the cake is cooling in its tin, mix together the juice of 1 ½ lemons and 85g caster sugar to make the drizzle.

6.      Prick the warm cake all over with a skewer or fork, then pour over the drizzle – the juice will sink in and the sugar will form a lovely, crisp topping.


7 May 2020

National Trust - Speke Hall

Speke Hall is a 40 minute drive from where we live, through Liverpool and over looks the River Mersey.  Up until recently the last time I visited Speke Hall would have been in the 1970s when we would have gone on a school trip.

It seemed a lot bigger in those days!!


The Norris family started construction, in the Tudor style, in 1530 and the house was completed in 1598.  During construction the house had a priest hole added as the family were Catholic in the days of Queen Elizabeth I.  This of course was 'not allowed' and anyone caught practising Catholicism would have been deemed a heretic.  The last of the Norris family left the house in 1795 when it was bought by Richard Watt who made his money on the sugar and rum plantations in Jamaica.  He left the Hall to his 10 year old nephew, Richard III who sold most of the furniture in 1812 and moved to Yorkshire to breed racehorses.


His son Richard IV (there's a pattern forming here) lived there with his family but on his death in 1835 it became empty and his family (including his son Richard V!) moved elsewhere in Liverpool.  In 1856 when Richard V became of age he and his wife started renovations to the Hall.  In 1861 when Richard V died it passed to his daughter, Adelaide,  but as she wasn't old enough to inherit the Hall was let to Frederick Leyland who went on to modernise the estate.  In 1878 Adelaide returned from living in Scotland to run the estate which she did with a "strong sense of control in every department" (good for her).  In 1921 when Adelaide died she had added a farm to the estate, central heating and fire fighting equipment to the house and secured the future of the Hall by stating in her will that the Estate would pass to the National Trust 21 years after her death.  In 1986 the National Trust took on full management of the estate and is continuing to care for the Hall and it's treasures.


The full history can be seen here.

6 May 2020

Daily Walks - Cross Lane

In the mass of concrete and motorways that we live near, it's nice to find that little patch of green.  Of peace and quiet.  Of birdsong.


Hubby and I walked from our village to the next one over. (I call them villages in the loosest terms as they are now all part of one area).  We walked over the railway bridge, under the main road, round the back of the supermarket and under the motorway and came to Cross Lane.  A quiet little patch in the mayhem that is the joy of living 3 miles from a major city.

We didn't see another soul except the squirrels, the birds were signing and the sun was out.  It was quite easy to forget how close you are to all that noise.

5 May 2020

Donating Blood

I wasn't sure if my appointment for donating blood would go ahead, with all the restrictions we are living under but it seems that they are still in need of donations and travel to the centre has been classed as essential.



That's where I went last night. 

We were taken through two at a time.  Hand gel was used but no masks or gloves needed.  The wonderful staff had the proper PPE and that was good to see.

All the usual checks were done and into the chair I went.  Six minutes after the donation started it finished.

A huge THANK YOU to the Blood Donor service for continuing this important job.




4 May 2020

Covid-19 - Hobbies



Staying home can be hard.  Especially if you have nothing but the TV to keep you occupied during the day.  Luckily Hubby and I both have “At home” hobbies which makes life a little less stressful.

I have crochet (and now blogging).  This keeps me busy for a few hours each day.  When I’m not at work I generally start the day with a walk, followed by a little housework (just to keep on top of it) and then after lunch it’s crochet time.
I sort out a large milky coffee, and cake if there’s any left, find a spot on the sofa, pick up my hook and ask Alexa to play a book on Audible.  It passes and hour or two before having to get dinner ready.

Hubby likes to get out and  into his “Man Shed” and make something out of wood.  Santa bought him a lathe a few years ago and he’s made some lovely bowls. boxes and even a wine glass.  For him it’s limited to weekends as he’s working from home at the moment. He watches YouTube videos and then goes outside, coming in a while later with his newest creation 😊

1 May 2020

A Quote for Friday



My lovely friend Rehana put this on Facebook and I thought it was very apt for the times we are living in right now.