31 August 2020

Box Sets

Over the last year we have been making our way through some old box sets.  So far we have watched:

All Creatures Great and Small: Complete Series (Box Set) [DVD]

All Creatures Great and Small.

Based on the life of real life vet Alf Wight the story is about James Herriot, a vet in Yorkshire before and after World War Two.  Tales of grumpy farmers, practical jokes, love and fantastic scenery.

There's an updated series due to start on Channel 5 soon.  I'm not sure I'm ready for them to change from the original but the scenery will be worth it.

BBC One - Life on Mars

Life on Mars.

This series tells the fictional story of Sam Tyler, a policeman in serving with the Greater Manchester Police. After being hit by a car in 2006, Tyler awakens in 1973 to find himself working for a predecessor of the GMP, the Manchester and Salford Police, at the same station and location as in 2006.

It's one of those that you're not really sure what's going on so it keeps you guessing.  Such a great series.

Ashes to Ashes | Tv shows, Life on mars, Old tv shows

Ashes to Ashes

The series tells the story of Alex Drake, a police officer in service with the London Metropolitan Police, who is shot in 2008 by a man called Arthur Layton and inexplicably regains consciousness in 1981.

Again another great series that keeps you guessing about what exactly is going on.  There are cringeworthy shots of 1980s fashions and decor but all in all a great watch.

Ricky Gervais' Show “After Life” Breaks the #1 Writing Rule | by ...

After Life 

After Life follows Tony, whose life is turned upside down after his wife dies from breast cancer. He contemplates suicide, but instead decides to live long enough to punish the world for his wife's death by saying and doing whatever he wants. Although he thinks of this as his Superpower, his plan is undermined when everyone around him tries to make him a better person.  It is set in the fictional town of Tambury, where Tony works as a journalist at the local free newspaper, the Tambury Gazette.

Ricky Gervais at his best.  It's not everyone's cup of tea as it can can be quite dark at times but it had me laughing, cringing and crying in equal measure.  I can'wait for series 3 to come out on Netflix.

Amazon.com: Watch Band of Brothers Season 1 | Prime Video

Band of Brothers

The series dramatizes the history of "Easy" Company, 2nd Battalion, 506th Infantry Regiment of the 101st Airborne Division from their jump training in Camp Tacoa through its participation in major actions in Europe until Japan’s surrender and the end of World War II.

We have watched this series every year since 2006.  It was the only thing available to watch after a day of moving house and it became a tradition.  We now feel that we know the characters personally.  We've read the books.   We've been to the Normandy beaches and the boys want to visit Bastogne.  We would have been in Carentan this year for the 75th Anniversary of VE Day but Corona had other ideas.

Are you watching any good programmes at the moment?

28 August 2020

Greek Salad

Hands up anyone who actually likes lettuce!!

Not me.  I do like a good salad though,  just not the greenery bit.

A friend at work told me to try Greek salad as it's made with no such greenery.  As she is of Greek origin it must be true.


  • 1 medium red onion
  • 2 Medium juicy tomatoes
  • ½ cucumber partially peeled making a striped pattern
  • 1 green bell pepper cored
  • Greek pitted Kalamata olives a handful to your liking
  • kosher salt a pinch
  • 4 tbsp quality extra virgin olive oil
  • 1-2 tbsp red wine vinegar
  • Blocks of Greek feta cheese do not crumble the feta, leave it in large pieces
  • 1/2 tbsp dried oregano


1.            Cut the red onion in half and thinly slice into half moons. (If you want to take the edge off, place the sliced onions in a solution of iced water and vinegar for a bit before adding to the salad.

2.            Cut the tomatoes into wedges or large chunks

3.            Cut the partially peeled cucumber in half length-wise, then slice into thick halves (at least 1/2" in thickness)

4.            Thinly slice the bell pepper into rings.

5.            Place everything in a large salad dish. Add a good handful of pitted kalamata olives.

6.            Season very lightly with kosher salt (just a pinch) and a bit of dried oregano.

7.           Mix the olive oil and red wine vinegar together and pour all over the salad. Give aeverything a very gentle toss to mix (do NOT over mix, this salad is not meant to be handled too much).

8.            Now add the feta blocks on top and add a sprinkle more of dried oregano.

9.            Serve with crusty bread.

26 August 2020

Real Books

I have to be honest and say that I haven't read a real book in ages.  Not because I don't have the time but because I've been listening to books on Audible so that I can crochet at the same time.

This system was going well but then along came Tennis Elbow and I had to find something to do for a week whilst I rested my arm.

I have a stack of books that are waiting to be re-homed and as I looked through them I realised that there were one or two I hadn't read.  I fished them out of the pile and started reading.

Wakenhyrst by Michelle Paver

1906: A large manor house, Wake's End, sits on the edge of a bleak Fen, just outside the town of Wakenhyrst. It is the home of Edmund Stearn and his family – a historian, scholar and landowner, he's an upstanding member of the local community. But all is not well at Wake's End. Edmund dominates his family tyrannically, in particular, his daughter Maud. When Maud's mother dies in childbirth and she's left alone with her strict, disciplinarian father, Maud's isolation drives her to her father's study, where she happens upon his diary.

During a walk through the local church yard, Edmund spots an eye in the undergrowth. His terror is only briefly abated when he discovers it’s actually a painting, a 'doom', taken from the church. It's horrifying in its depiction of hell, and Edmund wants nothing more to do with it despite it’s historical significance. But the doom keeps returning to his mind. The stench of the Fen permeates the house, even with the windows closed. And when he lies awake at night, he hears a scratching sound – like claws on the wooden floor...

The rest of the blurb says it's a gothic thriller and the decent into the mind of a psychopath.  I didn't see it like that.  I thought it more about a man driven insane by religious beliefs and a daughter who blamed him for the death of her mother. Definitely not a horror story.

It was an odd book but I finished it just to see what happened.  Would I recommend it?  Probably not.

Then I did a total change of pace and read.  

What Alice Forgot by Lian Moriarty

Alice Love is twenty-nine, crazy about her husband, and pregnant with her first child.

So imagine Alice’s surprise when she comes to on the floor of a gym and is whisked off to the hospital where she discovers the honeymoon is truly over — she’s getting divorced, she has three kids and she’s actually 39 years old. Alice must reconstruct the events of a lost decade, and find out whether it’s possible to reconstruct her life at the same time. She has to figure out why her sister hardly talks to her, and how is it that she’s become one of those super skinny moms with really expensive clothes.

Ultimately, Alice must discover whether forgetting is a blessing or a curse, and whether it’s possible to start over.

What would you do if you woke up and thought it was 2010?  Would you be happy with your life now?  It makes you think.

She bangs her head. She doesn’t know her own children and doesn’t know why she and her husband are about to get a divorce. Mostly she doesn't understand the way people expect her to behave. 

I was excited to read this as Big, Little Lies was so good but it's a bit cheesy and certainly very light.  The ending, I thought was a bit predictable but it's readable.  It is, as they say, a good beach read.

24 August 2020

Venturing Forth

It's taking a while but we are gradually venturing a little further from home and into places with 'other people'.

I don't mind admitting I have liked being away from crowds and noise for the last 5 months and I'm in no rush to get back to it.

We took the plunge a few weekends ago and went out for lunch at Hickory's in Southport.

It was well organised, well spaced and we didn't feel squashed in or rushed.  We felt it was a good choice for our first meal out.

We have also been returning to our National Trust visits.  I book on a Friday morning for the following weekend and so far it's worked out well.  Neither Chirk Castle or Dunham Massey have been over crowded and there was a relaxed feeling to place.

We have been to the Zoo twice since it re-opened and again it was a good experience.  They really have thought the area out well and there are only small queues to go into the inside areas.  We stayed out of those and opted for walking to all the areas we don't normally go to.  On our trip last weekend, our time slot was 2pm and we stayed the whole afternoon.  By 5.30pm it felt like we had the whole zoo to ourselves.
It turns out, afternoons are the best time to see my favourite animals too so it's win, win.

We have our fist weekend away planned but I'm still a little apprehensive about staying somewhere overnight.

Are you happy to be out and about or, like me, are you happy to take one day at at time and not rush back in?

Blogger seems to be playing up today as my layout has gone all wonky!! :0)

21 August 2020

Family weekend

Last weekend we all got together, as a family, for the first time this year.  

When the rules changed in July and family members were allowed to stay over in your home our DiL called and asked if they could come and stay.  Of course I said yes at once.  Admittedly, I was a little worried to start with as, apart from the Sky man, we haven't had anyone in our house since lock down started.

Dates were arranged around working schedules and last Friday they came to stay.

What a joy it was to see them.  

We spent a lovely evening in the garden, dining al fresco and chatting until the bats and moths came out.

Jellyfish spotting

The weather played nice and we were able to get out and about with our Grandson.  He had a lovely time at the beach (as did the big Lee boys).

On Saturday we went to Chester Zoo.  The sun came out again and we had a lovely day.

Little man did so well, and apart from a few times when daddy carried him on his shoulders, he walked the length and breadth of the zoo.  He was more than happy to hold Uncle S's hand.

And he shared his ice cream with daddy.

We're now making plans to visit them in the October holidays.  I can't wait.

19 August 2020

National Trust - Dunham Massey

A few Sunday's ago we took a picnic and headed an hour up the motorway to Dunham Massey.  The home of the Booth and Stamford families.

It was such a gorgeous day and, with restrictions in place re numbers, it wasn't too busy.  Lots of families having picnics and enjoying the sunshine.

There are woodland walks around the deer park plus a rose garden, an allotment area, ponds and a winter garden.  The deer roam freely throughout the park and aren't bothered by people at all.  The males live separately from the females but aren't fenced off.  They just seem to stay in their own areas.

Here's a bit of it's history.

1362 - The first mention of a deer park at Dunham Massey.

1362 to 1694 - If you're interested in history you can find out more about the lost years here.

1694 - George Booth, 2nd Earl of Warrington, inherits the Dunham estate with debts of £50,000. To turn the estate's fortunes around, George begins to plant hundreds of trees throughout the park providing a profitable timber resource for the future.

1736 - Mary Booth, the daughter of the 2nd Earl and his wife, marries Harry Grey bringing the Stamford title to Dunham.

Intervening years - Gosh there’s a lot going on!!   To find out what happened to the other Earls i.e 3rd to 6th see here

1856 - The 7th Earl George Harry Grey marries his second wife Catherine Cox, a former circus performer in 1855. Shunned by Cheshire society, George and Catherine decided to leave Dunham taking paintings, furniture and silver with them. Dunham was abandoned by the family for 50 years.

1906 - The 9th Earl of Stamford, William Grey returns to Dunham Massey with his wife, Penelope Theobald and their children, Lady Jane Grey and the future Earl, Roger. Delighted to see the family return, Cheshire society greet the family's carriage as it travels through Hale and Altrincham and onto Dunham Massey.

1910 - 10th Earl of Stamford, Roger Grey, inherited the estate at the age of 13. Passionate about re-assembling the collections that had been dispersed by the 7th Earl, Roger dedicated his adult life to preserving Dunham Massey.

1915 - After the First World War broke out, Dunham Massey was offered for military use and became the Stamford Military Hospital. The saloon was transformed into a ward complete with approximately 53 hospital beds. Nearly 300 patients were treated at Dunham Massey by a team of nurses that included the daughter of the house, Lady Jane Grey.

1976 - As the The 10th Earl never married he left Dunham Massey in its entirety to the National Trust. At the time, the 3000 acre estate and the house (including all its contents) made Lord Stamford's bequest the wealthiest in the Trust's history.

It was such a gorgeous day, if a little hot at times with having to wear a mask.  But needs must.

17 August 2020

All Things Bright & Beautiful

Let me just state from the outset.  I am not a gardener but I do like a nice a garden.  

The garden we have at the moment is mainly concrete slabs but we hope to rectify that once we've decided exactly what it is we want to do with it.  

Hubby wants a huge man shed at one end and I want a country style garden with a trees, grass and decking.

Most of my flowers this year are in pots. The rest are in a small border but they have still done reasonably well.

        Fushia - Sunflower - Crocosmia

        Phlox Paniculata 'Laura' - Helichrysum italicum (Curry Plant) - Oxalis

      Sweet William - Lobelia Starship Scarlet - Begonia Red
      Fushia - Petunia - Begonia Pink

Curry plant is great for ground cover, Phlox and Lobelia grow every year and get bigger each time, Fushia come back year after year and crocosmia is like a weed unless it's kept under control.  Great for a small area you can just leave to it's own devices.  It does die back in winter though and leaves a big blank space in the garden but you can't have everything.

15 August 2020

One Photo / Twenty Words

Hubby tells everyone I can burn a salad, my cooking is so bad.  

Well look who proved him wrong yesterday!

14 August 2020

We're NOT Going on Holiday

Today hubby and I should have been going on holiday.  One that was booked in August 2019.  One that would have been for our 25th Wedding Anniversary in September.

Corona had other ideas and we now have to wait 365 days until we go next year. (Virus permitting).

Not one to dwell on what is not to be I've put together a few photos from previous holidays abroad.

France 2011
Omaha Beach, Normandy - Notre Dame, Paris - Vernon, Normandy - War graves cemetery, Bayeux 

Turkey 2012
Side, Turkey

Florida 2013

All things Disney and Universal

Arizona 2016
Tucson, Arizona - Boot Hill, Tombstone - Catalina Mountains - Rooster Cogburns Ostrich Ranch, Picacho

12 August 2020

Bear in the House

It's not very often that a TV programme really pulls you in.

Bear in the House is a great 2 part programme, recently aired on BBC 2 about a bear sanctuary in Laos.  

The star of the show is Mary, a 5 month old Sun Bear. Taken from her mother in the wild she was destined to end up in one of the countries many bear bile farms.  Giles and Matt from Free the Bears rescued her and taught her how to be a bear.  She was such a joy to watch.

The sanctuary also has over 30 moon bears, red pandas, pangolins and macaques.

The programme wasn't all smiles and cute bear cubs.  It was horrifying and distressing but watchable all the same.

You can read more about Free the Bears here

If you have access to BBC iPlayer you should be able to catch up with Mary.  

10 August 2020

Science v Engineering

Which of these jugs holds the most?  It's obvious isn't it?  Apparently not.


One Saturday morning as I was emptying the dishwasher hubby said that we really needed some new measuring jugs as the plastic ones had seen better days.
He thought that Pyrex would be the best option and went on to tell me what sizes we would need.  He said that the small plastic jug we had would need replacing with a new one, but I told him we already had one that size.

He wasn't convinced and said that the glass one was bigger. The plastic one is tall and slim and the glass one is wider and not as tall. The cogs in his engineering mind went into overdrive until eventually he got it.  

They hold exactly the same amount.  It's all to do with volume, thickness of glass and height or something along those lines.

The science minded, younger male got it straight away.

Science wins over engineering.  On this occasion :0)

7 August 2020

Summer Photographic Scavenger Hunt 2020

Mary-Lou at Patio Postcards is hosting this years Summer Photographic Scavenger Hunt (SPSH).

So far I've managed quite a few off the list but it doesn't finish until 1 Sept so I still have a few weeks left to find the others.

2.  Something with or in a knot.  A rope used to cordon off areas of garden at Chirk Castle.

3. Something with the colour of your countries flag.  My Texas pig money box.

5. Something you have more than one of.  Two very good friends and work colleagues. 

6.  Something in the shape of a triangle.  The roof of the laundry building at Chirk Castle.  There are also triangles in the weather vane.
7. Something that displays a rule. A sign on the lion enclosure at Chester Zoo

8.  A leaf longer than your hand.  Another find from Chester Zoo.

9. Something that starts with the initial of your first/last name.  Lighthouse at New Brighton.

11. Something you need to throw away.  Not so much throw but give.  Items waiting for our charity drop off slot for St Johns Hospice.
12.  Something that holds your favourite beverage.  My flamingo coffee mug.  I take a decaf latte to work every day.  The danish is a Sunday morning treat :0)

13.  A rubber band/elastic in use.  The elastic on my face mask.

14.  Something with wheels.   An old cart in the stables at Chirk Castle.
16.  Something with rough texture.  A tree I spied on a walk through the local woods.

17.  Something naturally round.  The begonia in my garden.

20.  Something with the number 7 in it.  My sugar container (although it actually holds coffee pods)

I've still got 6 to go, but hopefully as we get out more I will be able to find them before the beginning of September.  Fingers crossed.