Tuesday, 17 October 2017


This season is full of little treats, fruits and eye bounty of colourful leaves and fungi sprouting up from the earth over night, once said to be wear lightening had struck. As I drove along, my eye was caught by a fairy tale clustering of Amina muscaria, known as Fly Agaric. Quintessential pixie toadstools in every fairytale book. The seat of many a elf's bottom,lounge for smoking caterpillars or landing pad of fairies....
Amanita muscaria

Fly Agaric

Grouped on a grassy verge outside a house, as if awaiting a party of naughty pixies to come along, I quickly stopped the car and had a closer look. So striking that I'm sure if the neighbours  saw people on their hands and knees outside they would instantly know why. Rounded globes at first, red blobs dabbed with whipped cream. Fairy tale they may look but do not be fooled for they are poisonous, containing hallucinogenic agents, muscimol and ibotenic acid in varying quantities. Not to be messed with and best left to fairy folk who dabble in such mind altering shrooms. 

Associated with shamanistic religions of the Siberia people such as the Lapps, used in their storytelling and the singing of 'heroic songs', ritualistic and mysterious. Reindeer absolutely love to eat these mushrooms and there is folklore around Father Christmas being the result of a reindeer urine drinking session or two, (taking it this way reduced the toxicity) creating visions of flying, red and white....ho ho ho. 
Young Fly Agaric

As they mature the parasols open up flat, perfect for a fairy carriage runway but soon to be gone from their mossy patch. I returned a week later to find them well past their prime and browning. Treasure of autumn, a lucky find, keep your eyes pealed for them springing up after moonshine, look but don't touch to be on the safe side.
Flat top Amanita muscaria


Red spotty toadstools

Wild Food UK

Magic mushrooms and reindeer - Weird Nature - BBC animals

L. G. Czigány. "The Use of Hallucinogens and the Shamanistic Tradition of the Finno-Ugrian People." The Slavonic and East European Review 58, no. 2 (1980): 212-17. http://www.jstor.org/stable/4208027.

Rush, John A. Entheogens and the development of culture: the anthropology and neurobiology of ecstatic experience. Berkeley, CA: North Atlantic, 2013.
group of fly agaric

Wednesday, 27 September 2017


Autumn graveyard picnic

There is a stillness around me.
We have separate adventures in the daytime now.
His day is filled with paint and flour, I know as he comes home covered in it.
Of stick legs in PE shorts and waiting in line to attempt a roly poly down a rubber mat.
Crusts left and swapping crisps.
Finally sitting down at a little table even though his body wants him to move so much more. 
Fidgets allowed to break up his learning, small steps. Immense pride. 

Learning about the Romans bringing a beaming smile to history mad mummy's face.
Digging in sand for artefacts. That's two of us that want to be archaeologists. 
Home starving and home tired, bed so much earlier and without so much fuss.
A picture of him laughing in the play area with a new friend.
He was ready. Was I? 

And so the stillness surrounds me like the mist that hung on the road until lunchtime.
I didn't enjoy my walk so much today without a little hand holding on.
Allowing myself to focus on the light through the trees, it seemed a little sad.
Small steps for me too, into a new life.
Paint splatters on his sweatshirt later will remind me that we all have to find our happiness.
Breaking free to move forwards. 

Friday, 25 August 2017

Autumn daytripping #TestYourTreads

My favourite season is a mere gust of wind and a conker fall around the corner, a time when the countryside is looking magnificent in its autumn finery and no better time for days out to enjoy nature's show. But before we leave, time for a few checks of the car to make sure we are safe on our travels, especially the tyres as with all the leaves on the road and damp days, plus the nights drawing in, the driving conditions will be a little trickier - no matter what you're driving.......even if it's the Zombie Response Team bus that I came across last autumn.....well it is the time of year for all things spooky 👻

Zombie Response Team bus

So....what to check with your tyres. to make sure they are safe and legal...
  • Check the tyre pressure, refer to the car manual to see what the pressure should be (sometimes also in the jamb of the driver's door this is shown) Also consider the load the car will be carrying. When we go on our autumn holiday the car will be full of cases and us plus the dogs so the tyres pressure will need to be increased. We have a portable tyre inflator that plugs into the lighter socket in the car, connect to the tyre valve and the digital display advises of the pressure. This is a usual weekend check before a day trip or any particularly long journeys when we check oil, water and engine fluid levels.
  • Check the tyre treads which need to be a minimum of 1.6mm legally but really this depth does not ensure safety and replacements are advised to be at least 3mm. The deeper treads will grip better and have a better stopping distance, especially in wet weather. What you don't want to end up doing is aquaplaning so check these out by looking at the tread indicators on the tyres or there is a check you can do with a 20p as the border on it is 1.6mm, place into the tyre groove to see if yours are above this. 
  • Bald tyres are illegal and carry a weighty fine plus could be very dangerous. Do get them checked out and replaced, tyreplus.co.uk have a wide range of tyres to ensure you have the right tyres for your car. Their network of over 700 fitting location and conveniently can replace them at your home or workplace.
  • Check the outside of the tyre for any damage such as cuts.
  • Check for uneven wear on the tyre treads (this could be on the inside or the outside) as this could suggest that the wheel alignment is not correct and requires a trip to a car garage to sort out for a minimal cost.
  • Ensure your spare tyres (if you have them still - we don't as yet have the repair kits that many new cars now have) are also legal and of the right pressure. Make sure you have a car jack, relevant tool kit and the details of your rescue service.

Then we are ready for our autumn day trips to castles, churches, collecting conkers in woodlands and exploring the best of the mellow countryside. 

Remember to #TestYourTreads
Autumn road trip

*Collaborative post, words are my own.

Wednesday, 23 August 2017

Setting up a new loft room study

Now that I am in my second year of a Post-Graduate diploma I have amassed a massive amount of books, papers, files and other church history related material and need to create an office room where I can arrange my desk and bookshelves. Up in the loft room is out of the way, up a wooden staircase to the room where my son doesn't go and I can have some peace and quiet. 

The room needs a new coat of paint, white to bring more light into the room and a few new items to create a cosier space to sit and do my studying. I already have a bookshelf up there and so with a new stationery and some glitzy homeware items the space will be my reading retreat. I have a VELUX roof window on one side but would like another from 
veluxshop.co.uk to bring lots of natural light into the room and to be able to look across the rooftops and out over the surrounding fields. It's also a great place for watching the night sky and having a relax in the evening. So....it's the logical place to create my workspace in and I've been looking online for items I'd like to personalise the space.

When it gets a bit chilly I like having a snuggly woolly throw to hand, this geoprint one in goldy tones looks very snuggly and a new mug for a  cup of tea whilst I write my history notes is essential. Keeping with the metallic theme, a few beautiful stationery accessories for the desk to inspire me to plan and make notes, store my history magazines and keep my pencils. Coppery and rose golds tones will make my study area look really feminine and keep with the light and airy feel of the room. The storage boxes from Habitat would be perfect for all the church literature I pick up on my travels and keep them nicely organised as at the moment they are in piles on different shelves and in tatty cardboard files. 
The room also functions as a bedroom so I'd like the study area to not look too cluttered or take over with  With the light from the VELUX windows it is ideal for reading in each season and as a place to rest. I'd add some metallic cushions onto the day bed in here, so the shiny star cushion would add some character and accessories such as the copper globe to break up the stacks of books and add some features to the room. 

As soon as Little Bird is in school this will be part of my home improvement plans, so whilst he is learning and playing I will now be decorating and decluttering. Hopefully before Christmas I will have some new room looks to show you.

Geoprint throw, Matalan £15// Shiny star mug Noth £20// Metal storage boxes Habitat £50// Geometric design magazine file WHSmith £6//Rose Gold Kate Spade notebook £20//Copper desk organiser RedCandy £23.50// Copper Globe Asda £15// Copper succulent plant pot George £5// Shiny star cushion eBay £12

Monday, 21 August 2017

The Psychology of Colour in your home

What is your favourite colour in the home? I love dusky pink or grey and yellow is a colour I love to accent with, bright yellow cushions and fluffy throws on the sofa. Yellow makes me feel cheerful, a happy colour and one that lifts a darker space. This weekend I came across a bright yellow front door on a pretty house and I thought to myself, what a great colour to invite people in with or simply make passers-by smile. According to the below interesting infographic from Thomas Sanderson on the psychology of colour, the colour yellow in a home is great as it helps release serotonin, a great colour for social spaces in the house such as a dining room. The guide shows how colour in the home can influence mood and the psychology behind it.

I like to use a lot of colour in my home, I mainly have white walls but then accessorise and furnish with heaps of colour. I have white walls and a painted white floor in the family room, with a relatively new purple sofa that really stands out. Apparently purple is an appropriate colour for relaxation so I planned that perfectly! The rest of the house has a lot of vibrant red and cools blues, a real rainbow all the way through but not too much, just a painted chair or an eye-catching accessory. I'd like to buy a new bookshelf and arrange books by colours - maybe not practical for finding books but it would look very pretty against a white wall. Have a look at the infographic for some insight into colours in your home. 
Psychology_of_colour_small *Collaborative post

Saturday, 12 August 2017

A weekend pause

A slow moving winding waterway runs through the verdant flat plain of mid-Cheshire, the River Dane, a name derived from Old Welsh dafyn which means trickling stream. Here in Northwich it joins the River Weaver, the confluence being in the centre of town. But before it does, its last meander is through the middle of farmland, past cows who clumsily dip in for a drink or to cool on a summer's day.

As part of a Sunday afternoon drive, the first stop is at a farm that over looks the Dane although it cannot be seen, just picked out by the trees and denser plants that flank the river. A looping greener way into town so sinuous it's as if the river couldn't quite make its mind up until deciding that town life and merging forces with the Weaver was the better option after all. 

Shipbrook Hill where I stand is the site of a Norman Castle and local folk have told me of some ruins of it being within the farm's garden. I found no trace but on this escarpment is the treasure of a view on this fluffy sky day with the steeple of the church in the distance piercing cumulus and equally cotton wooled sheep frolicking in the nearby field. On an ox bow beyond are a herd of cows, tails flicking and swallows squeal above and swoop enjoying the weather. By my feet, pink mallow stretches up and tickles the fence posts, clover flowers like baubles are bobbing about with bees and the rolling carpet of grass from shades of deep green to end of summer yellow stretches on towards the town.

Thursday, 10 August 2017

Jacamo clothes for summer

Summer clothes for Little Bird's dad, a treat from Jacamo for adventuring towards autumn, perhaps up spiralling castle stairways and running down hills with much giggling.It's usually LB that has the clothes quota but this time dad could choose some items. 

First up was a chambray shirt, chosen as it is smart casual and can be worn for work which has a relaxed dress code and also for an evening at the pub or taking LB on a trip out on a cooler day, of which we are certainly having plenty of this August! The cuffs are navy on the underside so can be turned over for a different look.
Jacamo shirt

Next were some chino trousers and denim shorts. The chinos are not those ones that I remember half the IT department that I worked in wearing but are surprisingly now on-trend and an essential for any time of the year. These are charcoal ones with a twisted fit to the leg, great for work again and can be dressed up or worn as casual. In fact he will wear them with the shirt and add a smart pair of shoes for when he goes out with friends. 

charcoal chinos
The last item chosen was a pair of jean shorts which will be the best summer item for taking LB to the park and generally messing around on boy's days out with the other two lads in the family. Usually kicking a ball around and fooling about, the shorts will be perfect for that and are machine washable, like the other items. The detail on the short's pockets was particularly nice and the casual look of them will coordinate with t-shirts and shirts, and a pair of retro trainers.
Jacamo clothes Jacamo have a wide range of clothes and footwear, all at reasonable prices and whatever your style is. Sportswear, lots of brands and offers such as 2 x £35 on hoodies and chinos. On your first order there is free next day delivery and after that, it is £3.99 or click and collect for free from a Jacamo store or a MyHermes Parcel Shop (orders over £40), which is good if you are usually out during the day.

Items were gifted for the purpose of the blog post, views are my own honest opinion.

Monday, 31 July 2017

First impressions of a home town and house

The day I first saw the town I live in, Northwich, it was a sunny summer's day and I was on my way to a family wedding. The sky was blue with puffy white clouds and the grand entrance to my future was also bright blue, a bridge over a river where herons stood sentry and bicycles streamed along the river path, happy families and barking dogs pulling on leads. Every so often a canal boat gently chugged past and this low humming was only broken by rowers in unison of intense synchronicity, slicing through glinting water. Once out of sight, only a quack could be heard. Exploring further through the town, noting grand old houses and red brick terraces, black and white timbers by a boat marina where colourful pleasure craft bobbed about, a merry dance of a little market town, I made a collective first impression. One that lingered and several years later when a move was required, fell like a pinball rolling, sending off glowing light bulbs of knowing where I had to look to live. And here I am, nearly 15 years later, it's my home and I consider myself a proper local.
Sunnyside Up Boat Cheshire

First impressions can be everything, whether it is the first time you meet somebody or at the reception desk of a company. In a few snapshots you take in your surroundings and the demeanour of a person and piece it all together. In the first half hour in my town it had had an effect upon me, a positive one of boats and bikes, of slightly alternative people, live music and happiness of ordinary folk. A community feeling that enveloped me and set my mind for what I wanted. 

That same warm fuzziness grabbed me the moment I stepped into my current house. A cold February afternoon, snow was gently falling and as soon as I saw the front with its Victorian features I knew it had to be mine. Within ten minutes I had told the estate agent that I would have it. The power of those first impressions. Of course all was not completely rosy (like the cat mess in the bedroom!) but how we can be guided by our first thoughts and feelings on something or someone. 
Northwich marina sunset

Perhaps I am rather impulsive but I find my first impressions are often the right ones, a gut instinct. Often I know when I meet somebody that we will be friends or if we will be avoiding each other. For my home town, I still have that glow about the place and a sense of pride when I show people where I live. The boats still often warrant a detour on my way home to take a few photos of the marina as dusk falls and when I see my blue bridge I know that I am back where I belong, by the river and its swans by the rowing club. The friendly people that say hello, the homely market and its curious mix of industrial history and havens for wildlife in the nature reserves that skirt the town.

Likewise with my home, the stairs to the loft room still give the pleasure of looking out across town, over rooftops and seeing the river in the distance as I first discovered on that very first impression I had. The garden which although at that time was sparse of plants, had the potential for being my piece of heaven and the little side passageway onto a row of cottages felt like a link to a tucked away backwater of people that would grow sweetpeas in summer and fetch your bin in for you. 

Even some imperfections can add to a first impression still remaining positive, they keep it real and I suppose I'm like that with people, too perfect and I'm suspicious but both good and bad feel like the real thing. So I'm glad that I rely on my first impressions and if you have a bad one, it can be so hard to change and remove those thoughts from your head. Something to remember as we go about our day-to-day business but back to my home and hence why you'll always find flowers adorning the front door and a dragon guarding the entrance :)

Weaver Navigation

*Collaborative post

Wednesday, 19 July 2017

North Wales #Cultural Drives

I'm history mad, mostly churches and the weekend is when I jump into the car and go on a church crawling trip, dragging my son along who generally enjoys it too, the anticipation of not knowing exactly what we will discover . Chill Car Insurance are putting together a book of Creative Drives and this got me thinking about a drive that I would recommend. 
Map North Wales

For me it would be a history drive along the North Wales coast along the Express Way taking in the scenery of the seaside towns and headlands from Flintshire through to Anglesey.  Although in parts industrial, along the Dee Estuary with ports and remains of coal mining, the coast here is a wonderful blend of past centuries with castles and churches aplenty and wind farms and collieries. A short journey off the Expressway and you are immersed in history and reminders of the Welsh fortitude and resilience in this rugged and beautiful landscape.

First stop is the enigmatic shrine of St Winefride. With vaulted ceilings above the reputedly healing waters you can follow in the footsteps of pilgrims like so many have done for hundreds of years. Less than £2 for a family ticket that incorporates the small museum and access to the chapel above the shrine. Look for stone carvings, graffiti of people seeking cures and remembering their spiritual experience. There are tours and you can of course at certain times have a dip into the spring waters. One of the Seven Wonders of Wales
Holywell Shrine
Not far off the Expressway is  the village of Talacre with its sandy beaches and broad dunes popular with families and great for waking dogs. Part of this area is Point of Ayr,which is the most northern point of the Welsh mainland and the 18th century lighthouse on the beach is the oldest in Wales. No longer an operational lighthouse but reportedly haunted by one of the previous lighthouse keepers. Stop here for salt water paddling, sandy adventures and a bag of chips afterwards.
Point of Ayr lighthouse

A familiar sight along the Wales Expressway, the Marble Church due to the fourteen different types of marble used within. 
The towering spire rising to 202ft is visible from afar, a Gothicly wonderful church to stop off and have a look at inside and out. Built as a memorial commissioned from a wife, Lady Margaret to her husband Henry Peyto-Verney and completed in 1860. The graveyard has more than 80 war graves of Canadian soldiers who were based at the nearby Kimnel Park army camp where they sadly died in the Spanish Flu epidemic after the end of World War 1.
The Marble Church, Wales

A small coastal village with a puppet theatre that is a permanent fixture and shows are at 3pm. Founded in the 1950's the small theatre has over 1000 marionettes. The current show is Hansel and Gretel.  
The smallest chapel in Wales is on the promenade by the beach with amazing views across Colwyn Bay. St Trillo's chapel founded by the 6th century Celtic saint is a rough stone structure, enough room for only a few people and the altar has a holy well underneath. Nearby are the remains of a weir built by Cistercian monks to catch fish which you can see at low tide. 
Also for children, there is an outdoor paddling pool and crazy golf, a quieter resort stop off to entertain little ones. 
Rhos on Sea

This Victorian resort has a beautiful pier to walk along and is overlooked by limestone headlands on either side of the famous Great Orme and Little Orme - Orm means serpent's head and was named by the Vikings in the 9th century. Famous for this being the place  where Lewis Carroll met the little girl that inspired Alice in Wonderland so there is a trail of white rabbits, Mad Hatters and caterpillars on mushrooms that you can do. The pier is full of the usual amusements and small shops, Punch and Judy by the beach and go on a boat trip on the Sea-Jay. It's a fun filled stop on this cultural drive through North Wales and well worth staying over to experience a full day here. The cable car up the Great Orme will offer superb views and then you can catch the tram back down. Llandudno beach is part sandy and also pebbly with a  huge ridged sea break, this is a great spot for practising skimming pebbles across the sea. There are plenty of places to eat and then it's back into the car to head further around the coast.
Llandudno Pier

A bustling university town with a very interesting pier, quiet and nostalgic. Through iron gates are many memorials which are fun to read as you walk along. The beach here is muddy and a great place for watching birds such as oystercatchers and comorants. We have watched mottled brown turnstones on the iron steps underneath the pier, chattering away.
Bangor Pier

Deserving a whole post of its own is Anglesey but I couldn't not mention it on this road trip for the grand finale is the awesome sight of the Menai Bridge. We often just drive over so we can stop off and see this view from the other side. On Anglesey there is a lot to see, beaches, the colourful village of Beaumaris or the spectacular kite surfers of Rhosneigr.

I hope this brief guide has shown you some of the interesting things to see along the north Wales coast, there are many more and the castles of Conwy and Penrhyn are also notable. The gateway to my road trip starts once we have passed though Chester and it's always exciting to see the first Welsh road sign. 
Menai Bridge

*Collaborative post

Friday, 14 July 2017

Handcrafted gifts for the home: UncommonGoods

It's a cloudy afternoon and after a little tidying I am sitting down with a cup of tea and having a look at some homeware products from UncommonGoods who with being based in Brooklyn, New York know a thing or two about design. 

Their latest collection has items that make me swoon with great ideas for home accessories such as these stained glass feathers that would look wonderful hanging in a sun streamed window. UncommonGoods support artists and designers, with half of the items sold being made by hand. 
stained glass feathers
I also love the colourful look of the Fabric of our Family Blanket which is a homely way to put a personal note into your home. It's a perfect keepsake and the squares can be customised with your own special dates and icons to show hobbies or traits  - there is a large selection from sports, animals, zodiac signs and games. It's woven and a great size for snuggling on the sofa under.
Fabric blanket

Also for comfort I really like the Vintage Camera Pillows since photography, ie. my surgical attachment to my iPhone for taking snaps with, or my other camera, feature prominently in my life. I like my home to be quite personalised so these would love brilliant on a chair or on my bed. These are hand-made artist prints onto cotton sateen that are then sewn onto cotton twill. Once I get a study area sorted, they would look great on a reading chair. Have a look at these great items for a home office too from paper weights that would make great gifts to fun bookends and stationery.
Vintage camera pillows

A third of the UncommonGoods collection is made from recycled/upcycled materials such as these lovely Craft Wax Beer Candles made from amber beer bottles - scents of 'hard cider' and 'blood orange' are my kind of homely fragrances. I love my candles, a treat at the end of the day to relax to and these give 60 hours burn time - perfect.
craft beer candles

For nighttime I also really love this blackbird night light that is absolutely adorable! It's a mother bird (appropriate for a happy homebird) and is made from recycled glass. A pretty glow for atmospheric evening chilling out.
Bird night light
Of course , there are also handcrafted gifts for the garden and these bat sculptures caught my eye and the hanging yoga poses. I think they'd look really quirky hanging from one of my small trees in the back garden. Both are made from copper by an artist and what a lovely present they would make......although I would want to keep for myself. The sun has come out again and I think a copper bat roosting in the rose bush would make a sweet feature to look at whilst I sit my with cuppa.
decorative bats

yoga decorations

*Collaborative post

Monday, 10 July 2017

Things at the moment

My life seems to have phases, things come in blocks, so a particular series or fascination with something or coincidences whether good or bad.

This has been the summer of watching The Handmaid's Tale. I rarely watch television, but this series looked interesting and so I am watching it online and await each episode eagerly with a relish I remember from my younger years when Lost or Twin Peaks were favourite. It's based on a book by Margaret Atwood, admittedly I have not read it. I do have a copy of one of her other books Oryx and Crake so on the back of this series and its great story line, I think I will give it a whirl. The Handmaid's Tale is gripping and following the main protagonist, June/ Offred and life in a dystopian USA where a totalitarian government has take over and the main gist of it is that only some of the woman are still fertile, the Handmaids and they are sold as slaves of reproduction to the wealthy families. Really worth catching up with on Channel 4 or read the book as I'm told it is amazing.
pink roses

Sadly this summer seems to be a lot about cancer. It's rarely touched on my life before and yet this summer I have people that I know who are bravely battling the disease. Indeed my poor little dog is too. I can't begin to imagine how life changing it is for a person and the ladies that I know, I have so much respect for their strength. I've heard their words around chemotherapy and how poorly it makes them feel. One of the ladies was trying to perk herself up, wearing a pretty chemo hat, having pampering sessions and going out for lunch on the days she felt ok. It must be just so hard to keep going and I have huge admiration and hope for them to recover soon.

This summer has also started a rosé wine / white wine and soda drinking phase for me. I wasn't really drinking so perhaps it is the studies but it is rather nice to have a cool glass of wine on a sunny day or evening. Also olives have sneaked back into my life, tubs of them in olive oil, with feta cheese and stuffed with pimentos. 
Rose wine

Also I have become mad on roses. I bought two from the market at Ludlow for £6.50 each, a large buttery yellow one called Absolutely Fabulous and an interesting striped pink rose called Ferdinand Pitchard. Both are heavily scented and will be going into a new flower border.
Then my neighbour popped over with some pretty roses in a jam jar from a wedding so that was really nice gift and I put it on the mantelpiece. So roses, roses everywhere! Next year I will have more in the garden so I can cut more to bring inside and fill the house with their scent.
garden roses

*Collaborative post

Sunday, 9 July 2017

Recent hot days

Tonight is so muggy, hot and sticky after a gorgeous summer's day where all the washing dried beautifully on the line and the sunflowers started to tilt their heads towards the burning rays. The tomatoes are growing bigger and the patio is blooming with all the flowers enjoying the heat, accompanied by my terrier who basks for a while until it gets far too warm and I shout him in.
Garden dogs

On days like this we need to keep cool, particularly little ones, so I limit how long Little Bird is in the sun for although he's pretty good at staying out of the sunshine as the bright light can be bothersome for him. The dog however need reminding and I bring him in to cool off. I need a portable fan to help keep him cool whilst he is poorly, for he has cancer so keeping him stress free is important and I don't want to heat to start making him feel ill. I make sure he has fresh water at all times and there is plenty of shaded areas to lounge in. It's important to look out for any signs of sunstroke in pets, lots of panting and flopping down (damp their coat, bring your pet into shade and contact the vet) but making sure it doesn't get to this point by keeping him out of the sun aside from his small spell out by the plants - most of the time he realises himself and comes trotting back into the house. 
sunbathing dog

Icecream van

Meanwhile our day trips to the beach have helped during the hot weather. Sunscreen slapped on, walks not in the midday sun and plenty of cold drinks - maybe an ice cream too :) We went to North Wales, to Talacre beach, a popular spot for those from Cheshire to escape to for some sandy adventures on a summer's weekend. With feet paddling through the tidal pools, we cooled down along with the dogs. The beach is backed by extensive sand dunes that are designated a Site of Special Scientific Interest due to the flora and fauna found there such as marram grass, natterjack toads and sand lizards. Behind the dunes is the Warren where the succession to scrub land/grassland occurs and you can walk through and explore.
dog in the sea

The wide beach here is on the Dee Estuary/Irish Sea and you can see the Rhyl Flats Wind Farm out at sea. Part of the Welsh coastal path, this particular part is a mixture of heritage and industry with a lot of reminders of shipping and mining. The beach road has a few places to eat and drink so you can have a pleasant sunny day spent here. 

Dipping toes into the cool water we had fun just walking along, people watching and looking for shells - cockles and razor shells, drawing in the sand and watching boats come in. Eventually Little Bird was completely saturated and the tide was coming in so it was time for a huge portion of chips to share on the way back to the car. Always a cheerful beach trip from Cheshire on a hot day.Talacre Beach
*Collaborative post

Thursday, 6 July 2017

Late summer events in Cheshire

I live in Cheshire and it is such a great county with a variety of things to do over the rest of the summer. Here are my ideas for the Cheshire area.....

RHS Tatton Garden Show
Loads of glorious show gardens, floral marquees and Pimms. The ultimate posh Cheshire day out and a source of inspiration for gardeners. There's usually a big wheel laden with flowers and plenty of music and food. Take your little wheelie trolley to take home tons of plants in and gain some green fingered knowledge from the veggie growers and their displays of perfect carrots and lettuces. The community gardens, usually done by school are a favourite and it's fun to spot the scarecrows. 
Flower ferris wheel

Congleton Jazz and Blues Festival
August Bank holiday music and over 50 jazz bands in bear town. A free event and one that makes for a super musical pub crawl.

Rewind Festival
The ultimate 80's festival with a line up including Belinda Carlisle, Kim Wilde and T'Pau. August 4th to the 8th at Capesthorne Hall. I want to go badly for 80's is my thing, pop my wellies on, shorts, shirt, glitter on my face, cool hairpiece, flower crown and shades. There's lots of 80's dressing up too with day-glo and people dressed as 80's cartoon characters - a lot of fun.Themed bars and food, fairground rides and much singing. You can camp there or just go on a day pass. 

Just So Festival
The ultimate children's festival at Rode Hall. Creative, magical happenings of characters and stories.Singing, dancing, weird creatures, lanterns and stars. There are games to play and tent to camp in, the perfect family event in August. 18th to 20th August.

Knutsford Foodies Festival
A favourite of mine for sampling cheese and wine and coming home with bags full of delicious delights. Held at Tatton Park, 14th to 16th July. Try the chilli eating competition of relax in the vintage tea tent.

Live in the Park at Arley Hall
The nearest stately home to where I live and I'll be able to hear the fireworks going off that night of the 15th July in their grand finale of the annual picnic music event all for charity.  

Astle Park Traction Steam Rally
Steam engines, cars, motorbikes, a roaring event of stunts and feats with a fairground and camping on the weekend of 12th-13th August.

Coolest event in Cheshire. Too cool for me. August Bank Holiday weekend, much dancing, much drinking Ibiza style in Cheshire

*Collaborative post

Wednesday, 5 July 2017

Being happy

When I was younger I had a lot of things bothering me. In my twenties, I was not sure of myself, always wanting to be somebody else and not happy in my own skin. Things are quite different now, I have my moments but mostly I'm past caring what others think of me too much and I'm happy to be healthy and content. 

One of the things in my life that I've worked out, of which I was reminded of this week is that comparison is the thief of joy. As soon as you start comparing yourself to others then it is just a situation where you start feeling miserable and inadequate. Nobody else is on your particular journey and all the things that it encompasses - family, life situation, money so what I've discovered for a happy life is just to enjoy that journey. Right now, I'm learning, I'm on a course. I'm no expert, I'm learning and that is fine - I enjoy it. Of course I'm not going to know as much as somebody else who is ahead of me in this particular area of study but actually that is something to embrace. I welcome people who know more than me, I welcome the knowledge they have to offer. I focus on my own journey and keep on. When you compare, the journey gets halted, you get bogged down with negativity. This goes for everything else too. I am who I am and try to just love life.
dog in the sunshine

Well it's not a huge manor house or a cottage with a picket fence or the house in the Cotswolds that I fell in love with but it's a home and I'm grateful for it. It needs redecorating, if I ever get the chance and I have a boisterous seven year old that chips paint off and creates a huge mess but it's a home. It's filled with my life - memories, little boy giggles, photos, books, warm throws, a pretty garden and the security of my head hitting the pillow each night whilst by two dogs snore away. If I had a wonderful five bedroom home, sure that would be great but I'd still sleep, still eat, still have a bathroom to clean and well my compact home does the trick. 

I have a garden that is big enough for different purposes, a bench where I can sit with a glass of wine and enough flowers around to make it my happy space. It's good to dream of what you want, it gives focus and determination but comparing to others and what they have just distracts. Here's an ideal home I have in mind, maybe one day....
white cottage

Ah when you look at yourself in the mirror and think, oh I hate that way one eyes looks smaller, I hate the way my thighs look or I wish I had brown eyes or whatever. Stop! I'm happier than I ever was with myself, sure I have things I want to work on, part of my journey but most importantly I am happy. I quite like my imperfections, I'm grateful for the strength I have and how I am healthy. I'll never be a skinny sort, I'm just me, shaped how I am by genes and a love of cheese :) I love buying clothes and know what suits me and what doesn't for my shape. So always embrace yourself, hit the shops and make yourself feel beautiful whether it's fashion for plus sizes or you wish you were curvier, be healthy and enjoy the process.
Me and my boy

Work and study
A huge proportion of my time is taken up with my post graduate diploma and it has been very hard going. When I first started I was so overwhelmed by what the other course members knew and how engaged they were in debates. Instantly I felt disheartened but then I took a step back. Many of the others were older than me or had been working within churches already, or had done previous medieval study. I had to realise that this was my thing and I was doing ok what with juggling looking after a little boy with extra needs and keeping afloat. I'm still behind with the course but I'll get there and it's not a race. As long as I keep a smile on my face and manage to pick up a course book each day I'll be fine and we'll see where it takes me.

*Collaborative post

Tuesday, 4 July 2017

Places I'd like to live

Every so often I feel like moving to a different area, I have a bad day and want to up sticks and go to another part of the country or even another country entirely. Some days it might be the city and on other days the coast. if I'm on days out I get seduced by new places and start imagining a life there and how things would be different. 

One place that always appeals is the wonderful city of Bristol and its association to me of nature and its culture. I first found myself there in my twenties as a student of ecology attending a Mammal Society conference and dreaming of working for the BBC Natural History Unit. As soon as I see the Clifton Suspension Bridge across the Avon Gorge I get a flurry of excitement. The arty culture in Bristol is vibrant from the street art of Stokes Croft to the annual balloon fiesta with over 150 colourful hot air balloons flying over the city.
Hot air balloons Bristol

Another place that appeals is Scandinavia. I'm a bit obsessed with the culture and the lifestyle of Norway, Sweden, Finland and Denmark. The wooden houses, the design, the snowy landscapes of winter and the greenery of summer. Folklore of trolls and brownies that you leave porridge out for, Norse gods and goddesses and the other worldliness. I am particularly in awe of the wooden stave churches. There is something about the Scandinavian life that exudes coolness and sophistication - their flair for home design is something the Brits love. Family life in Scandinavia seems pretty trendy too, think Ikea and how the family room is the heart of the home, open airy living that promotes communication and togetherness. I spent a little time in Norway some years ago and was incredibly impressed, making it one of my dream places to live.
Wooden stave church By Eduardo [CC BY-SA 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
Living in France would also be pretty amazing. I imagine myself in a French village, collecting my pain au chocolat and croissants from the boulangerie, walking past vintage Citroen cars and past beautiful gîtes with shutters and pink roses scrambling whilst beans grow up canes. There are so many regions that I would choose, perhaps Brittany and all its coastal castles. A tumbledown cottage would suit, in a French medieval town, windy streets and steps past bars and small shops, sparrows chattering away and the late afternoon sun dipping behind the church tower.

Quaint seaside towns and harbours with colourful boats and cottages along lanes with flower and crab pots by front doors. Cornwall is a county that I adore for its pace of life and wonderful beaches to walk along and watch the surfers. Cream teas, Cornish pasties as you go, dog walks, clear water and a sense of freedom. The community feeling of local festivals, markets and buying local produce. I long to go back and explore some more and will have to be satisfied with staying in holiday cottages but pretending that I live there for a week is pretty exciting.