Wednesday, 28 June 2017

On finding a school place

This year I  have decided to put my son into school as I had been home educating him since his brief spell in preschool. Now was the time for the once anxious boy, now out of his shell to venture into the big wide world and burn off some of his energy. My nerves and my house can no longer take it but he needs to added input for his speech and language among other things. Little Bird is ready to play with paints and glue, to be in a stricter routine of playtime and lunchtimes with learning activities structured around him and this has become impossible at home as well....I'm mum and he can mess me around quite a bit. We need a break from each other, different adult in his life to have influence and provide encouragement. He needed the extra time at home but now he is simply too bored and needs more than I can provide Monday to Friday. I felt like I was giving up for a while but then I realised it was simply a case of things changing and our natural development as mother and son. I feel better now that I'm being a good mum and recognising that now my little boy needs more. 

At the moment I am in waiting situation with the LEA, despite him having a full statement it seems there are lots of meetings to be had, hoops to jump through and lots of red tape. It's strange how getting him into school seems so much harder that not sending him in the first place when the LEA were keen to talk. Now, it's delay after delay and meeting after meeting, panel after panel....time wasting. The issue is really that there are no school places left, unless somebody moves at the last minute or changes their mind. Where will he go? I perhaps will know later this week but it is frustrating and a bit of a worry. I'm staying positive and then I can start to buy everything he needs which will be really exciting as he's never had all those school type things before.
Little bird walking along a path

5 things we need for school:

1. A school bag for all LB's books, spare clothes, drink, pencil case and the passing to and fro of notes between the teacher and I. Probably a rucksack with a nice pattern on it like cute dinosaurs or animals that is easy to wipe clean and comfortable straps for his shoulders. 

2. One of the most important items for any school child are name labels for EVERYTHING! From his coat to his bag and lunch box, they will all have some colourful labels with a little picture beside them. They will help LB know which things are his, 

3. We will also need some stationery items for school, a jolly pencil case filled with pencils, coloured pens, crayons and a ruler. For home a new calendar to keep track of school events and a notebook/diary for my bag - after all with parent's evenings and future Nativity plays to watch I will need to make sure I can quickly make a note. 

4. I can remember my school lunch box as a child, it was turquoise and had little cherubic-like characters on it, plus stickers on the back - such was the craze in the 1980's. For LB I'd like to find a cheap and cheerful lunch bag that will last a couple of terms since they get quite grotty there is not point spending a lot as I will replace it every few terms. I would quite like to find a space themed set for him complete with drinks bottle. Then I will have to look to Pinterest and try and be one of those super Bento making parents!
Bento box

5. Finally a PE bag for those shorts, t-shirt and pumps. I was not a sporty child and shied away from PE lessons but perhaps my son will enjoy sports day and the egg and spoon race - I bet he won't though he's too much like me. However, we shall see and he'll certainly have a smart bag to take his things in. 

Then of course there will be the new uniform, although until I find out which school he will be going to I have no idea what it will look like. Hopefully next week I will have some news......

*Collaborative post

Monday, 26 June 2017

Things to do in Nice

Eat the Food
From restaurants in the Old Town and eateries by the harbour, not to mention delicious street food, the fresh ingredients of the Mediterranean sunshine of Nice will have you spoilt for choice. One of my favourite things to do on holiday is sample the local food and here are the dishes which sound absolutely mouth watering.

Socca is a chickpea pancake with a crispy exterior and a soft inside with lots of pepper added. It's the quintessential street food. Also great for a snack on the go is the Pissaladière which is a tart like pizza of anchovies,onions and olives and is inexpensive. 

Salade Niçoise is the speciality of the region - tomatoes, eggs, tuna, olives, lettuce and olive oil. Or added to bread, this is Le Pan Bagnat, originally a recipe for your day old bread, this is perfect for that lunch at one of the gorgeous Nice beaches.
Salade Niçoise
Image source

Relax at the Beaches
Spending time in the French Riviera has to include the beach for pure relaxation and there are many to choose from, public and private club ones - don't be put off paying as they are well kept and the hiring of loungers and amenities such as toilets and showers are handy. Many in this region are pebbly 'galets',  such as La Reserve which is near the port and you used to be able to watch people jumping off the old diving board but this is now a new restaurant development. A local beach for people watching.

Ruhl Plage is a family friendly beach that is central and has a salt water pool for the children. The beach was founded in the 1920's and was family run off the back of a hotel. Today it is a busy yet a great beach for amenities.

The stretching sands of the Blue Beach are beautiful and the sea is crystal clear. The beach is also known for its food with a restaurant renowned for great food. 

The St Nicholas Orthodox Cathedral is a spectacular building and was built here in the late 19th century after Tsar Alexander II visited and enjoyed the warm climate. The cathedral remains the property of Moscow and is a striking site with its onion domes so typically Russian in the Mediterranean landscape.

For a Baroque delight head to the old town to find the Chapelle de la Misericorde (the Mercy chapel), a beautiful golden fronted mid 18th century building that belongs to a religious order called the brotherhood of the Black Penitents. A gem of an interior, richly decorated, frescoes and glimmering gilt. 
Chapel of Mercy, Nice. Image from Wikipedia.

Eglise Notre-Dame du Port (The Church of Our Lady of the Port) for the scenery of the harbour and the bonus that it hosts concerts on Sundays in the winter.

House Dreaming
Have a look at the amazing property in Nice from apartments with colourful character in the vibrant Old Town to villas overlooking the sparkling blue sea. You could be tempted to buy a house in Nice, if only.....but it is good to browse and dream. There are some picturesque areas such as the Musicians quarter where the streets are named after famous composers. The neighbourhood is full of Belle Epoque era buildings, wrought iron balconies and leafy gardens or terraces. 

What is there to buy in Nice? Well near the port on Rue Cathérine Ségurane,the street of the Antiquaires there are plenty of antique shops and a monthly flea market for those vintage goods from homewares to books. 
The Cours Saleya is an area within the old town known for its flower markets and also fruit/vegetables - tasty local produce for French cuisine.
Also look out for Place Massena, an historic square filled with shops and restaurants. There are lots of sculptures and fountains so a pleasant shopping experience along with some people watching.

*collaborative post

Friday, 2 June 2017

Chimney pots

'If there's more than one crow they are rooks, if there is only one rook it's a crow.'

An idle moment looking out of the window, rooftop staring. There's always some drama being played out on the tiles or by the terracotta chimney pots. Today there is a crow on lookout, shiny black, a look of slight annoyance like his feathered chum is late for their meeting. Check the time again. That's 15 minutes now. Late.
crow on the rooftop Sat on top of the louvred pot, the tallest one for the best view up the road, across the terraced houses and up to the hedgerows filled with chattering sparrows who are far too busy to notice a crow and whose constant traffic only annoys the corvid even more. No sign of the crow's mate. Check the other direction where the traffic lights change yet again. No sign. Late. 

Beak open, caw some obscenity, another glance and then off with black, yet a shimmer of purple wings. 
crow on chimney pots

Thursday, 1 June 2017

Family changes

Family life is fluid, we all change and grow. As we raise our children, our ideas change and life events change the direction of the family. I'm very grateful to have a family, although not big or exciting, it's a little unit that I'm nurturing and my son (Little Bird) is my best friend. 

This year sees him start school, later than most as he's 7 so this will be a big change for all. Now it's June it feels a little like it will be our last summer of freedom before having to go along with the routine and holidays of the school which is a little sad but I'm hoping that school will bring great things and it will be an exciting adventure for him. Whilst he is at school I will be able to focus a little more on my post grad studies and look at what happens next for me. It's easy to lose sight of yourself when you have children and this in itself is a change that can cause friction and issues within the family. I was interested to see in an infographic (see below) from Slater Gordon just how many marriages end in divorce, 42%! A good Family Law solicitor is an important contact to have for modern life. 

Me and my son

Family is important to me and it's great how diverse the family unit is, LB has two half brothers and they get along fine and we have bits and bobs of help from the rest of the family. LB's aunty now lives around the corner and his grandparents are not too far away which is a blessing for when life gets tricky. 

The #FamilyMadeSimple infographic surprised in with the fact that 1 in 30 grandparents provide full time care for their grandchildren. I certainly see many a gran or grandad walking past my house pushing a buggy in the daytime. 

So we shall see come September just how much life changes, after 7 years I could go back to work, having opted to stay at home full time and home educate LB. Both of us stepping into new territory and I'm sure we will encounter new issues to work through along the way. I'm expecting that I will spend a lot of time helping LB adjust and settle into school, he can get quite emotional so there will be many tears and uncertainty - and the same goes for me. But that's what family is all about, you go with the flow and support each other and communicate, life always changes but it's good to have each other.

*Collaborative post

Wednesday, 31 May 2017

Graveyard gift

Standing in the churchyard, local quarried stone
Keeper of lost souls, the guardian of bone,
Seasons of people passing through lych-gate to this acre
A remembrance of life, a trustworthy caretaker.

No longer in mortal memory of freshly wiped tears
Generations have long forgotten over many years,
Through times of hardship and wars with skies so leaden
Vandals, neglect and weathering spelt graveyard Armageddon.
But still the stones remain although edges decay
The words that were inscribed oft have little left to say.
 primroses in a churchyard
Now it is the nature that speaks in volumes with such might
From those that crawl and slither, scuttle or fly at night.
An angel full of lichen and a skull that's topped with moss
An ecosystem of memento mori on every arch and every cross.

Winding paths cutting meadow grass welcome dainty wing
Summer ox-eyed daises, buttercups and snowdrops every spring.
Tussocks of Yorkshire-fog with plumes of purple florets
A food source for the Speckled Wood and where beetles rest in showers.
Amidst a sea of flowers with waves of buzz and pollen golden
Centuries of graves to which wildlife is beholden.

 shaded gravestone
Ferns in damp shaded corners, a steady drip of blessed dew
The avenue of limes and the mysterious ancient yew,
Hiding places for woven nests, the robin and the wren
Tangles of ivy and prickling bramble, a dashing foxes den.

A hunting and foraging site for creatures of all sizes
The nocturnal and crepuscular and songbirds at sun rises,
A figure of eight loop-the-loop from a pipistrelle
Catching flies, dancing high above where granite tombstones dwell.

Moonlight brings the badger on his familiar trail
Trodden path with humbug grunts and wiry tufts of tail,
And as he stops to snuffle for worms and droplets of elder berries
Peace abounds; consecrated ground, tranquil cemeteries.

Open the gate to these sacred spaces in countryside or town
Take some time to sit there and really look around.
Whether your journey is spiritual or somewhere to find ease
Celebrate the gift of the natural world underneath the trees,
A place for green enrichment and replenishing the mind
A rich mosaic of living and departed intertwined.
 grasses and graves

Five Reasons to Buy a Fake Bonsai Tree

Artificial trees, whether for the home or the office, bring a touch of beauty and nature indoors. And they are, of course, trouble-free, whereas real plants are time-consuming, dirty, wet, prone to dying, and generally more expensive to boot. In terms of dressing up a space, artificial trees are great value, and fake bonsai trees deserve special attention. They are excellent for decorating a smaller space, but they make a large impact. While many artificial plants are designed to provide a relatively subtle, casual shift in mood, bonsai trees are attention-grabbers. The create a focused, powerful statement, while also softening an interior space.

Bonsai trees are great. But let's face it: you don't need a reason to buy a fake bonsai tree. If someone asks, though, here are five:

Fake Bonsai Trees Are Portable

Going to the vacation home for the summer? Moving to a larger office? Sleeping on your friends couch during a painful divorce? These are the moments when you might regret buying a fake palm tree. A bonsai tree is tiny—that's the whole point—and you can pack it up and take it with you. You can enjoy your ersatz miniature tree experience wherever you go. Some bonsais are small enough to take as carry-on luggage, and all of them will fit easily in the footwell of a car. Let your ex keep the fake palm.

Fake Bonsai Trees Will Protect You From Intruders

No, really. Because the guy who breaks into your place at 2AM isn't a botany expert. He can't tell that your ancient gnarled cedar tree is fake. All he knows is that bonsai trees means Mr. Miyagi. If you own a bonsai tree, what are the odds that you also have a blackbelt? Decent, right? So he will be heading back out the way he came in, before the bonsai owner shows up in a bathrobe to rearrange his spine. Better than a guard dog, and much cheaper.

Fake Bonsai Trees Will Inspire You to Write Fake Haiku

There is a long-standing association between bonsai and haiku poetry. Unfortunately for English-speakers, actual Japanese haiku relies on the “on”, a phono-linguistic unit that is not quite the same the English syllable. So English haiku (in the 5-7-5 format) are necessarily fake, and it is more appropriate to write them while contemplating a fake bonsai tree than a real one:

Counting syllables
The tree never needs water
What is illusion?

Fake Bonsai Trees Will Add Years to Your Life

This is true in a relative sense. If you get into (real) bonsai trees as a hobby, you are going to spend years of your life trimming branches the size of nose hairs, and using little splints and wires to tweak the growth of tiny tree limbs. You will spend ages staring at dead branches out the window, wondering how they got to be the shape they are. So, by comparison, fake bonsai trees are going to save you years of life.

Bonsai Tree Pots Are Too Small to Collect Litter

If there is a down-side to fake plants, it is the pots or planters themselves. If they are outside, smokers see them as elaborate ashtrays. If they are inside, they seem to magnetically attract plastic wrappers, coffee cup lids, and so forth. Soon you have a small landfill with a tree in the middle. But not with bonsai trees! Real or fake, bonsai trees are too small (and maybe a little too intimidating) for people to use them as absent-minded cup-holders or trash cans.
*collaborative post

British Summertime home

The British Summertime is nearly here and my thoughts switch to sunny days in the garden, hanging washing on the line, windows open, gentle breezes and balmy evenings with a glass of wine. Inside the home I like to capture the essence of our summers from the British coast to the buzz of the city on a warm evening. 

I was excited to find a wonderful United Kingdom cushion from George at Asda with a cheery map showing some characteristic landmarks and cliched but cute elements such as the bagpiper. A couple of these on the sofa will be lovely for my front room. Add to this one of their contemporary bug print cushions for English country garden charm. 

Time to inject that lighter and brighter feel into the bedroom too with new accessories and furnishings, perhaps new throws and duvets such as yet another great find for my love of maps with this colourful offering from Ben de Lisi. Summer is a great time to redress those window with some new curtains to brighten your room. My trickiest windows are in the loft and with all the light flooding in early in the morning need some VELUX blinds such as their blackout blinds for a decent nights sleep.British Summer Home British Isles Cushion, George £5 // British Isles Duvet, Debenhams £28 for a double// Bug Cushion, George at Asda, £5// Blue Stripe Mugs, Matalan £1.40// Vintage Train wall art, M&S £55// Garden birds cake tins, Dotcomgiftshop £12.95// Cottage Tea Light Holder, George at Asda, £7// Deckchair, eBay, £26.95// Rose cottage candle, Candles Direct £4.95

I love a feeling of calm in the house and a candle of two with a summer scent is my treat whilst I read in the evening. Floral fragrances such as roses or lavender give a delicate aroma to the room. Some fairy lights or a lantern add to the look or a simple tealight in a pretty holder such as the country cottage, again from George at Asda. 

It doesn't have to cost a lot to add some summer into your interior design, a few pieces from the high street, the supermarket or online can perk a room up. What could be more summery than a stripy deckchair, pop into a corner  by a window for a cheerful reading area, or on the patio on a sunny day. 

In the kitchen, a new set of mugs or some cake tins for your summer bakes - lemon drizzle please, can liven up open shelving, adding pops of colour. I need a new teapot and would love one with a coastal look, seaside gift shops are always so good for summery purchases so I will be looking out for one on our day trips. 

Personal items make me happy, wall art of seaside trips, train journeys and city breaks and vintage style posters of the Tube line. After my recent holiday on the Yorkshire coast I'd like frame a retro Scarborough poster, the National Railway Museum sells these for all over Britain and they are such a great way to remember your summer holiday.

Tuesday, 30 May 2017

Back in the sea fret of time

Northumberland sea fret Low Hauxley beach house Low Hauxley beach sea fret silhouettes crab pots Low Hauxley sea fret dunes and marram grass Low Hauxley village

Late morning and the sea fret lingers on the coast of Northumberland, swirling around dog walkers who emerge from the cold dense air like apparitions in waterproofs and walking boots. 

The fishing hamlet of Low Hauxley may be accustomed to a few spectres since this area was an ancient burial place and excavations have found remains from the Bronze age under the dune system, marram grass anchoring secrets from thousands of years ago. An eroding coast of cairns and cists containing human bones and beakers decorated with incised markings.

The beach gradually appeared through the shroud of mist as I walked with my trusty terrier, pattering paws on flat sand rippled with patterns of coal dust. Crab pots left by rocks and a smattering of beach huts on the coastal road, today's inhabitants alongside their Neolithic neighbours.

Monday, 15 May 2017

The Vale of Eden

Vale of Eden North Pennines area of natural beauty View from the A686 North Pennines Alston Penrith Old Road Sign tree framed View Pennine AONB
When the return home journey offers views that make you stop and draw out the holiday just that little bit more. The rolling, green landscape of the Vale of Eden in Cumbria and fluffy clouds to match fluffy sheep. May trees, some still in leaf burst and lungs full of spring air, a sandwich and a bleat from beyond a drystone wall. A stretch of road where cars zoom past and I think please slow down a little, in fact just stop and look through this tree framed view of mine at this wonderful drumlin, a glacial deposit and there are lots of them here in groups known as a basket of eggs or a swarm.

Tuesday, 21 February 2017

Fluffy cloud reflections

Rudyard Lake Nestled in the Staffordshire Moorlands is a 2.5 mile long lake of fluffy cloud reflections and jetties of colourful boats moored in bobbing lines. This was the 'Blackpool of the Potteries' where the North Staffs train chugged in bringing 19th century day-trippers aplenty in their promenading best.

The Aquatic Fete was the Bank Holiday attraction, watched by spectators all bodiced and bustled or Dundeary whiskered and frock coated. Marching bands trumpeted by lakeside views and a tight rope walker triumphed across the ripples. He is still remembered in a carved 150 year old beech tree. 

Built as a reservoir for the Caldon canal system the lake is surrounded by wooded hillside and dotted with wondrous boat houses built by wealthy Victorian worthies. Through lake margins of reeds and the ivy that clambers oak and the silvers of the birches, a whisper of a cold breeze murmurs a little giggle of those fish jugglers and mermaids that wooed the crowds.

A bridge of love locks leads to a bench where I catch a new romance sat talking and parallels a love that started here in 1863 between the parents of a man all Jungle Book'd and Just So'd. Will they call their child Rudyard too?

Five miles of magic paths, speared green with spring bulbs through dark winter earth, booming with the squeaky wheelbarrow woodland of the Great Tit and oars slicing through skyscape water. Funambulism, fancy frocks and fish in the imagination for a little while.
Blondin on his type-rope yellow boat Rudyard Lake canal feeder boats on the lake spring love lock bench love colourful boats lake fun boat race Lade of the Lake boathouse boat house lake and clouds

Friday, 10 February 2017

Cheshire cheesy new potato pancakes

I'm thinking of springtime food now, light and fresh with vegetables and herbs, evening meals with perhaps a bit of light starting to creep in and slowly the winter disappearing. 

I was inspired by Tesco Cypriot New Potatoes to make a spring feeling dish. They are available in 750g or loose and will be available in Tesco stores until the end of March. With their earthy flavour I wanted to conjure a meal up that was reasonable quick and filling and thought of a pancake filling incorporating one of my local products, Cheshire cheese. 
Cyprus new potatoes

For the pancake

125g Plain Flour
2 medium eggs
350ml Semi-skimmed milk
1 tbsp of vegetable oil   

For the pancake filling:
Tesco Cypriot New Potatoes, about 500g chopped
1 medium white onion
1 tbsp vegetable oil
Sprinkle of paprika
1 tbsp plain flour
100g Cheshire cheese, 
100ml Semi-skimmed milk
200g Natural plain yoghurt
Spinach leaves, a handful
Chives and parsley garnish
Chilli flakes, just a sprinkle

Cut the new potatoes and boil until soft, around 20 minutes.
Fry the onion in the vegetable oil  and some paprika until golden.
Add a tablespoon of flour to create a thick pasty
Add the yoghurt and whisk, slowly adding the crumbly Cheshire cheese
Add the milk until sauce reaches a creamy consistency. 
Add the potatoes into the sauce and the spinach leaves too.

Make the pancakes by sieving the plain flour into a bowl and then make a well in the centre.
Add the two eggs and the milk, whisking into a batter.
Oil a frying pan and place a ladle full of the batter into the pan
Cook for a few minutes and of course practising flipping is necessary. 

To serve:
Place cheesy potato sauce onto the pancake and garnish with herbs and a sprinkle of chilli.

A delicious mid week dinner and we all love pancakes so there might have even been some sweet ones afterwards too. 

cheesy potato pancake

This is my entry into the Tesco and Foodies100 #CypriotNewPotatoes challenge.

Tuesday, 31 January 2017

Renovating an old house

As spring approaches I always expect to see homes popping up for sale on my usual routes, a popular time to get the house on the market with people keen to find their dream home. I like to keep an eye on the market, partly through sheer nosiness but also to see what's available and what the potential is, should I be in a position to move one day. My attention is always on older property, doer-uppers, a gem of a find with walls to be knocked down and a new impression to be made in old fabric. Anything from a Victorian house with dolls house style frontage or a terrace or a 1930's detached with bay windows (like my childhood home).

However, as much as old house are my preference, they do from experience with my current Victorian home have difficulties in comparison to new builds. For the generous room proportions and pretty facades, they are hard work and have some potential sources of headaches and tears......although worth it in the end. Here are some of my plans and pitfalls I've encountered and become aware of along the way.
period property

How I wish I had the foresight to have the house rewired before moving in. Several years later and electrics failing and being patched up and a great deal of head scratching from one electrician when some of the sockets started to be faulty. Even still, although work was completed, some sockets upstairs still don't work and the plan is for a complete rewire at some point and what a pain that will be with plaster having to be removed, dust everywhere and having to still live in the house whilst it's done. Next time I will have the electrics completely checked out and a survey done before moving in and bite the bullet then, a lot easier to get it over and done with in the first few months. 

Lots of fun and games with damp in my old house. In fact the damp proofing company had to come back about four times and I became friends with the plasterer as he was in my house that often, I think I learnt his whole life story. Old house and damp go hand in hand, my property has a single brick wall and the driving rain beats against it and the water causes salting on the inside walls so the paint starts to bubble and the plaster blows. I now have a membrane in the wall that helps but good ventilation is key too. 

In older houses there may be asbestos which brings about fear in everyone. It can lurk behind plasterboard, ceilings, insulation around pipes, boilers and also the dreaded artex may have asbestos fibres in it. Work on asbestos is dangerous, needs checking out and you need experts who have had asbestos awareness training that qualifies them to remove it safely. Asbestos fibres are a silicate mineral and were used to strengthen concrete among other things and fire resistant so became incredibly popular to use many years ago. There are different types - white, blue and brown asbestos with different degrees of hazard to human health. The fibres can get into the lungs causing cancer and lung related conditions - the Health and Safety Executive estimate that asbestos kills approximately 5000 workers every year and therefore it is something that only experienced tradespeople should deal with. Always get it tested and checked out if you are in doubt when renovating your home.   

Look at the brickwork of your home to see if any work needs to be done. Mortar weathers away a lot quicker than brick so water ingress can become a problem. The exposed side of my Victorian house needs re-pointing and as it is possibly the most boring job ever, finding somebody who will do this is very difficult as I have found. The old pointing needs to be removed, tedious and messy, then the correct mix of mortar used to re-point. Once its done though, many of the damp issues on my interior wall may be sorted out at long last.

Layout changes
Another element of my home I would like to change is the internal layout. Knocking down internal walls can create improved spaces for family life, which is what I would like and to increase light into the back rooms of the house. Improving the flow this way is a lot easier than an extension and you won't need planning permission you are living in a listed building but building regulations may be so consult your local council. My plans are for downstairs to be one space which we could have as open kitchen and living space for relaxing and for my son to play and learn.

Do you have any tales of renovating an older property? I would love to hear about your tales of accomplishment and of any snags you encountered.
open plan living
image source: Ideal Home

*collaborative post

Tuesday, 24 January 2017

Treat yourself for Valentine's Day

So as we approach the end of January I'm thinking of what the month ahead has in store; snowdrops bursting forth from the chilly ground, buds appearing and those other little signs of spring like the songbirds singing their hearts out finding a mate. And yes of course it's Valentine's Day. Do you love it or hate it? If like me you've never had anything other than a bill arriving on that day from the posty you're probably cringing at the thought of all that sentimentality that will be splashed around every shop, magazine and blog post....ahem.....

But maybe it's time to embrace the day as some love for yourself. A day to treat yourself because you're great and even if no cards arrive, so what. Love yourself instead.

Have a Valentine shopping trip, I will be. Buy yourself some flowers but not roses that you'll be charged far too much for. There are usually some early daffodils out in the shops in February that will cheer the house up or maybe a fragrant hyacinth for the kitchen window ledge. Even some fresh herbs like basil and coriander in pretty pots to start thinking of the spring days ahead.
Valentine treats

Make yourself a cocktail or too in some classy glassware from House of Fraser, why save them for a special occasion, you're important and deserve a glass of something exciting. I love the champagne saucers, a great size to fill up with fizzy or make up a special drink. The coloured Martini glasses are gorgeous and would look so pretty on a shelf too. But for Valentines how about creating one of the pink Paloma cocktails: tequila, soda, zingy grapefruit juice and lime with a sugared edge to your glass. Make yourself your favourite meal for date night with yourself; lasagna with loads of garlic or a huge pizza all to yourself because who will complain. Indulge in the chocolate cake, pour yet another cocktail, leave the dishes for the morning and settle down on the sofa.

Light a gorgeous fragrant candle. I love Blush; The First Kiss of the Night! by Lily-Candle, it's one of my favourites and certainly the name has a Valentine feel, it's scent is very feminine and sultry. As the candle is flickering, time to watch a romantic film or read a girlie book. Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice or Cecilia Aherne's PS I Love You - both great as either film or book but let's be honest make it the Colin Firth version of Mr Darcy, OK!

Valentine's Day is so much better this way, no disappointments. Who needs a dozen red roses anyway......?

*collaborative post

Thursday, 19 January 2017

Liverpool light in darkness

Anglican Cathedral Liverpool winter lights Cold night warmed up by the soaring music of the Swedish Lucia celebrations at the Liverpool Anglican Cathedral. Candlelit crowns and the procession of a goosebump inducing soul stirring choir dressed in white gowns. Utter bliss. It couldn't have been any more wintry followed by a hot chocolate with whipped cream in the pop up ski lodge under the illuminated Christmas tree in the heart of the city.

As we walked around, past revellers and festive romancers we found a light show projection onto a building at the historic Albert Dock and fairy light scattered carousel horses reflected in those cold waters of maritime tales and yellow submarines. The lights of Liverpool. a city of great culture and a lot to explore day or night. Stumbling upon the oldest building in Liverpool that is now an arts venue,the security guard couldn't have been any more helpful and despite it being closed, he delighted in telling us all about the history of the place. But that's what you come to expect from Liverpool, proud people full of life just like their city. huge Christmas wreath at the cathedral inside the Anglican Cathedral Liverpool looking east Swedish Lucia at Liverpool blue Christmas tree in the Anglican Cathedral Full moon over the Liverpool Anglican Cathedral Liverpool Christmas bar Liverpool One Colourful Lights Christmas tree the oldest building in Liverpool Liverpool Catholic Cathedral Liverpool Big Wheel  old Albert Dock traffic office merry go round horse ice cream van Christmas lights nighttime view from Albert Dock Liverpool China Town Happy New Year lights