Tuesday, 27 September 2016

Damsons, sloes or a load of bullaces

foraging by the canal I'm still not actually sure if the purple fruit gathered on a dry evening's walk by the canal is damson, bullace or sloes....or maybe even an combination. canal walk Cheshire Sloes are the fruit of Blackthorn (Prunus spinosa) and hang closer to the spiny branches and the leaf is a simple pinnate oval shape and serrated. The classic fruit for adding to gin or making a jelly with.

Bullace  (Prunus domestica subspecies insititia) is a plum, similar to damson but I think tarter and here it seems a little complex with many regional types of Bullace. Both it and Damsons are related to the domestic plum and can be used to make all sorts from pies to fruit preserves.
canal walk sloes or damsonsWhatever they are, (I'm opting for damsons) we gathered a small bag full of them. Reaching up into the trees laden with purple skinned beauties as the sun shone through. Harvest time. sloes by the canal I'm new to foraging and keen to learn more. There feels a homely nostalgia to picking these damsons, once more popular but now forgone for more profitable and easier to harvest plums. Similar to last year's bilberry picking adventure in heathland, it just feels so satisfying to be out gathering these out of favour fruits and I feel like I'm harking back to the 1940's and off to make jam. autumn sloes evening canal walk Once home, they were washed and pricked with a cocktail stick and then placed in lovely glass jars with sugar and rum. Already the rum is now purple and will be hopefully the most delicious tipple I've ever had in my life on Christmas Day. And then the discarded damsons steeped in alcohol can become a stodgy, warming pudding in that lull winter period after the festivities.  making sloe rum

Thursday, 22 September 2016

Late summer posy

late summer garden posy A vintage pot from a car boot sale, quickly filled with some late summer garden flowers - yellowing leaves, reddening sedum, bright orange crocosmia, honeysuckle berries, rose hips and hydrangea. Not bad for a 50p stone pot. 

Scarlet tinged strawberry plants, lots of runners to pot up for next year's fruit bounty. All the garden preparing itself for the autumn show - purple berries, glossy and food for the birds. 

Every morning I stand at the back door and look into the garden, dew drops on the washing line, steam from the cup of tea swirling into the colder air. Autumn was on its way. 

Amber light, gentle rays of sun, radiating across the little space where I find my peace. 
strawberry plant changing colour elder berries sedum starting to flower garden bunting honeysuckle berry late summer garden my dog late summer yellow flowers
Joining in with How Does Your Garden Grow? with Mammasaurus.

Morecambe Vintage by the Sea

Midland Hotel Morecambe
{restored Midland Hotel, a streamline moderne Art Deco style built in 1933}
Morecambe sands vintage fair Morecambe
{vintage folk all around Morecambe for Vintage by the Sea}
{old electricity substation Trip the light fantastic}
vintage turquoise car
{A classic car rally}
{WWII Spitfire}
stripy seaside flags Morecambe shoreline everyday is like sundae ice cream van
{Vintage ice cream by Kate Sundae, a creative lady that as well as icy treats did the urban murals around Morecambe}
grey VW campervan
{The old railway station in the background, now the tourist office and an arts venue}
donkey rides vintage car Midland Hotel Vintage Fair Art Deco ceiling
{Neptune and Triton medallion by Eric Gill and is at the top of the circular staircase in the hotel’s central tower}
Midland Hotel poster vintage bus
{A nice trip along the prom in one of the Ribble Vehicle Preservation’s Trust’s heritage buses}
Morecambe prom yellow VW Beetle Morecambe beach Morecambe is such a hive of art with so much to see, second visit this year and it's clear to see the magnitude of effort put in to ensuring that this seaside resort is not forgotten. Vintage by the Sea is just one of the many initiatives for the town has something on each month. With a beautiful shoreline too and views across the bay to the hills of Cumbria, Morecambe is perfect for a stroll and an ice cream.days end Morecambe stony shore

Tuesday, 20 September 2016

Going back to university

This September sees my study recommencing and I'll be on a post graduate diploma in Parish Church Studies with the University of York. I'm so excited about this new chapter in my life and the potential future career working in the heritage field, specialising in the conservation of churches.

university stationary
I've purchased my course books and now I am trying to get organised so I have a study space at home - not easy as it will be just the dining room table which is actually in the family room so all sorts of chaos. With that in mind I am having to be very on top of where all my paperwork, notes and books are. Nice new stationary always cheers me up and then I have no excuse for not having a tidy workspace, also a bit of motivation to start the essay does not go amiss.

Here are my top 5 stationary items for my new academic year:

1. Academic diary - to keep track of all my lectures, assignment due dates and workshops. I'm also doing lots of voluntary work so will use my diary to keep track of that too.

2. Document wallets - I collect a lot of church literature as I'm on my travels so I  have them organised by area of the country. 

3. Padded envelopes - for selling course books when finished with them and other items for ebay to help me fund the course. I'll be paying in instalments so I'll be clearing out any clutter to sell it on a monthly basis. 

4.Sticky index tabs for noting pages in my course text books. They really help when writing essays so I can keep track of the important chapters and information to help me.

5. A new fountain pen - stemming back from school days I have to have a new fountain pen as I love writing with one and how it glides across the paper making writing those reams of notes a lot more pleasurable.

I'm going to try and update the blog as to where my studies are up to each month and I'll be doing a vlog for the University too, so I will link in with that. It's going to be a challenging time what with trying to juggle home-life and homeschool for my soon too but I'm determined to make this happen.

Would love to hear of any tips for going back to study when you have children to look after too.....

*Collaborative post

4 Action Packed Days Out in the UK

For thrill seekers the British Isles has a great deal to offer, the landscape presents a variety of activities and with so much beauty to see you can combine the exhilaration of an action packed day with an opportunity to see our glorious home.

Kite Surfing
On many a recent trip to the coast over the summer I have seen the acrobatics of kite surfers, the skill and excitement is clear to see as you watch from the shoreline. There are day's taster sessions you can try from Northumberland to Sussex to Wales...... learning how to control the kite and board. It's a colourful spectacle for the watcher but so tempting to want to have a go. 
 kite surfing Rhosneigr
Kite surfing on Anglesey at Rhosneigr 

Flying high
Many years ago I did some flying from Liverpool and out over the North Wales coast to Caernarfon in a little 2 seater plane, the views were of course sublime and the buzz from my flying experience was one I will never forget. A 60 minute flying lesson makes a wonderful gift and will be a day that the adventurer at heart will treasure. There are so many options from a vintage flight in a bi-plane to helicopter and balloon flights. I've also done a helicopter flights out over the Peak District, I was absolutely gripped by the whole time up at 1000ft looking at the english countryside.
tiger moth plane
Image source: Shutterstock Tiger Moth

Zipping around
At Zip World in Bethesda , North Wales you can zip wire across the wonderful views of Britain's largest slate quarry, an atmospheric and unique experience, it's the fastest zip line in the world and your hurtle across the quarry pit, unforgettable! 

You can also zip wire underground, cross bridges and grapple onto the rocks secured to steel ferrata in the beautifully lit Llechwedd Slate Caverns at Blaenau Ffestiniog. This once historic mining town has turned into a home for adrenaline junkies. A lighter element is Bounce Below, a mine the size of a cathedral which has nets for you to bounce on and tunnels to explore.

Rocky and wet
Ghyll scrambling is a popular activity in the Lake District, a ghyll is a local word for a mountain stream, formed by the water run off from the fells. You can ascend the streams which is gorge walking or go canyoning which is abseiling down the waterfalls. Prepare to be absolutely soaked and be challenged. A fantastic group activity for a day's adventure. 

Lake District ghyll Image source: Shutterstock ghyll

Collaborative post

Monday, 19 September 2016

South Stack coastal walk Anglesey

 Anglesey coastal path sign  South Stacks lighthouse Anglesey  gorse and heather on the Anglesey coast  road through heathland South Stack  gorse and heather  heathland and rocks  South Stack lighthouse  heathland purples and yellows  Anglesey seascape harvest on Anglesey

A seascape grey and icy blue, rain out on the horizon, lashing into waves and the swell tumbles and crashes onto the rocky island and up the ravine around South Stack on the western side of Anglesey. Irish Sea, cold and raging, dangerous conditions, a point taken forth by Captain Hugh Evans the harbour master at Holyhead when he campaigned for the now 197ft high white lighthouse so desperately needed on this shipping route in 1807. A feat of engineering with materials transported down 400 steps cut into the rockface and moved across by rope and basket to the island until a suspension bridge was eventually built. 

Cliffs surround and are home to colonies of seabirds with various screeches and cries, the Guillemots and the Kittiwakes nesting in the pre-Cambrian mineral rocks - perfect for viewing from the small white folly that is now an RSPB bird hide. Look out for dolphins or porpoise and keep an eye out for the chough, a shy relative of the crow, red billed and clawed, wheeling against brisk coastal breezes. Further up is a mass of maritime heathland like the waves carried on rolling and plunged into a floral sea of plum purples and sunshine yellows of heather and gorse. 

Carry on inland half a mile and the prehistoric homes are a special point of interest on this island which is so rich in archaeological finds. The low walled remains of round dwellings from an ancient settlement, the passage of time on a coastal walk.