Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Photo Scavenger Hunt - February 2012

The last few weeks have gone by so quickly and it's time for a Photo Scavenger Hunt post again.  As always a big  thank you to Kathy at Postcards from the P.P. for continuing to inspire us and get us thinking and snapping each month!  Here are my efforts for February!

Tunnocks Chocolate Teacakes - spotted in Aldi and bought to re-live some childhood memories

Black and White
The Swing Bridge over the River Weaver at Northwich, Cheshire.  The bridge was black and white as were the railings around it and the house at one corner of it.

I wasn't sure how I was going to interpret this one but luckily I started reading a book that had come in a double pack of light reads I'd bought before Christmas, the seasonal one I'd read but this one I'd left until now and as I turned the page onto a new chapter there was my cupid!

Fenton Cemetery, Stoke-on-Trent when we walk through on our way to Fenton Park it always seems very full of headstones and flowers

An old cottage in the RSPB Coombe Valley nature reserve near Bradnop, Leek

Taken during cooking of Sunday tea or dinner depending on where you come from!

The Weaver Hall Museum, Northwich

In the Sky
Flying low over Northwich - taken with my Fugi finepix camera with 30x zoom - I didn't expect it to turn out let alone being able to read what airline it was!

Leap Year
I was really struggling with how to interpret this topic as there was no way I was going to see any hares leaping in fields which would have been my idea of leap year so when I found this entry in one of Mum's diaries I thought it might fit the bill.  I've been sorting out and reading bits from her diaries which she kept each day over a number of years just jotting down little things like weather, visits, appointments and etc.  As you can see on Saturday 29th February 1992 she enjoyed a shopping trip, found nothing on TV (what's new?) played her records - she loved piano music - but it was the final words that said it all 'Leap year, signs of spring.'

In a pretty shop window full of hearts and doves and all things romantic, taken in Uttoxeter on Valentine's Day.

I had to smile at the 'e' on the end of old!  Sheet music in the Antiques Barn at Blakemere Craft and Antiques Centre, near Winsford, Cheshire.

At Cheddleton Station on the Churnet Valley Steam Railway

Here is a -  link  - to more of this month's entries! 

I'm going to schedule this to publish on Wednesday 29th as I'm quite busy over the next few days.  I hope it works

Monday, February 27, 2012

Lesson Learnt

On Saturday morning we came back from a trip to a local garden centre with some compost for potting up tomato seeds ready for the greenhouse and also some small spring plants.  Blue crocus to go with the white ones already growing in the garden and some of those small iris plants.  On Sunday morning they were planted and I was looking forward to seeing their brilliant blue next to the white.

This morning whilst we were drinking coffee at the table near the window of the conservatory watching the birds, in particular two robins who appear to be starting to build a nest in one of the shrubs, the plants were still there.  When we went back to the table for lunch we saw that the blue crocus plants had been completely destroyed and the blue iris plants dug out of the ground but left untouched.

 All the bulbs had been chopped off or should I say chomped off!

 Obviously the iris bulbs aren't as tasty as the crocus bulbs.

What a mess.  It looked as it the culprit had placed the bulbs on the bricks, eaten them and thrown the stems back on the garden.

 You can just see those little teeth marks at the end of the stems.

Of course we suspect this little fellow or one of his friends.  I've just been looking at a few gardening forums and it appears that squirrels love both crocus and tulip bulbs.  So I've learnt something new today.  He left the white crocus though perhaps he didn't recognise their colour?

Friday, February 24, 2012

In and Out of the Garden

What a strange week it has been!   Monday was such a grey day but we still  managed a short, muddy walk at the RSPB nature reserve at Coombes Valley near Leek before the mist came down and the rain set in.  

It has also been mild enough to work in the garden and I've filled the garden wheelie bin with winter's leavings  like old dead leaves from the Crocsmia and Iris plants and dead headed the Sedums and Hydrangeas.  The lawns and some of the paths around the garden are still sopping wet and the garden is still looking dreary and brown but in the heat of yesterday the crocus has opened up and there is some activity in the pond which has been frozen over for the last few weeks.  I don't think I've ever seen so much moss in this garden, it's everywhere and I raked three buckets full off the front lawn which now seems to have more moss than grass in it.  I've a feeling that some drastic action is needed!

Yesterday was so unusually warm for February that the puffy quilted coat, scarf and gloves I hadn't been anywhere without over the last few weeks stayed in the car as we had a wander around searching for some of the topics for this month's Photo Scavenger Hunt.  I was getting anxious that I'd got only three out of the twelve topics but after yesterday I now have nine.  Just three more to go one I'd forgotten about will be easy but the other two are going to be quite difficult I think.  Still, that is the joy of the challenge.

Here are a few photos from yesterday's little adventure in Cheshire.

Can you guess where we were?  It's a place said to be  sinking slowly because of the industry it was built up around.  I'll write  more about this place later - after my Scavenger Hunt post!

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Scenes from the Last Few Days

On Tuesday we went for a walk along the canal in the market town of Stone.  We hadn't walked along this stretch of the Trent and Mersey canal for quite a while.

I love the old brewery building.  Joules is an old established company started in the town in the late 18th early 19th century by the Joule family.   Here is a - link - to the fascinating history of the Joule's involvement in the brewing industry and also their connection with the standard measure of energy known as 'the joule'.
After our walk we stopped for a coffee and a shared chocolate twist before setting off to Uttoxeter to visit the museum.

We don't visit Uttoxeter very often, I'm not sure why because it is a nice, friendly little town.

With lots of interesting buildings and alleyways.

The Museum didn't open until one o'clock so we decided to have some lunch at a little cafe in Old Saddler's Yard.

We didn't go into the Vintage Tea Emporium although it looked very interesting from the outside.  I think this would perhaps be a good place to have a birthday tea as a special treat.  We got to the Museum about 1.20p.m. and it still hadn't opened up even though notices on the door said it should be  so that was quite a disappointment. We could see the 17th century and wartime kitchens through the windows and it all looked interesting so I'm sure we'll go back another time to have a look.

In the evening we watched Nora Ephron's 'Julie and Julia' and really enjoyed it.  I know I'm late to this film as it has been out at least a couple of years but it is a feast for the eyes from beginning to end and well worth seeing if you haven't already - especially if you like Paris, French food, 50s clothes, blogging and marmalade coloured cats.

Yesterday we went to the New Vic Theatre in Newcastle to see another super production by Northern Broadsides -  this time it was Shakespeare's 'Love's Labour's Lost' directed by Barrie Rutter. 

As usual it was fast paced and well acted with faultless and humerous timing .  The company never fail to amaze me with each actor's ability to not only act but to sing, dance and play a musical instrument as well.  The play ends on a poignant note as the rip roaring Morris style 'stick dance' turns to the sweet, gentle singing of a traditional folk song as it draws to its spellbinding end. 

Friday, February 10, 2012


It was so cold and icy down by the canal in Etruria this morning.  We had to go out to do some food shopping for the weekend so we stopped on the way back near the Etruria Industrial Museum so that Paul could test a new lens he had bought for his camera.

When I went out into the garden this morning to feed the birds even the grass was slippy!  Most of the main roads have been gritted but the roads around us were still very icy.   The car park at the museum was like an ice rink but we managed to walk to the steps and up to the top of them.  The gulls were swirling around and around calling out in their mournful tone and who can blame them? 

Others were huddled together to keep warm.  The top of the steps was as far as we dared walk so just a few quick snaps were taken of the canal with the museum in the distance and of the icy water in the canal.
Brr - I was so glad to get home again.  

This is the best place to be!  Just let your owners go out in the bad weather to buy your food and cater to your every whim.

Wake me up when the snow and ice have gone!

Saturday, February 04, 2012

Waiting for the Snow

Brrr... it's cold today!  Well I guess that is stating the obvious but the cold accompanied by grey, misty louring skies all adds up to the fact that yes, the weather forecast was right - it will snow.  In fact as I type a light dusting of fine snow is falling gently over the garden just like icing sugar shaken from a sieve on to the top of a cake.

We were up and about early this morning but even so the birds were queueing for their food, the robin having ventured down onto the patio quite close to the back door to see why it was taking so long for breakfast to appear,  I dashed out and filled up the trays, cups and feeders and sprinkled extra on the ground to keep them going - they will need all the energy they can get to survive in this cold.  Soon there were blackbirds and starlings, sparrows and robins as well as the thrush all feeding together in silent desperation.

We ventured up into the city as we needed ink cartridges for the printer as well as to stock up on milk, fruit and vegetables for the next few days.  We had coffee at the museum before we started the food shopping.  We wanted to set off for home before noon as the all the electronic roadside information panels were warning of snow from about then onwards.

Now we are back home, the birds fed again, cats warm against the radiators. There are  plenty of papers and magazines to read and a good book too (see my last post) and the wonderful -  Borgen - on television this evening so I don't mind too much if the snow falls.

If you have winter weather where you are stay warm and if you have to travel in it stay safe.  Have a wonderful weekend!

Friday, February 03, 2012

National Libraries Day

Tomorrow is National Libraries Day.  I always use our local library and regularly reserve books on line that I want to read.  The one thing I don't enjoy anymore is the collecting and returning of books as nine times out of ten it doesn't involve human interaction.  There are machines which allow you, after scanning the bar code on your ticket, to issue and return books yourself.  You can also now look for any books you have reserved as the shelves for these are in the body of the library and no longer behind the counter.  You can go through a whole library visit without speaking to anyone.  Sometimes I like this;  other times I really don't.  But, I suppose we should be grateful that this process in now in operation as without it I expect we wouldn't have a library at all and that would be far far worse, wouldn't it?

There are events at many libraries on Saturday and people are asked to get involved and visit a library that day or in the week before.  The organisers suggest that to support your local library you should think about joining if you aren't already a member and if you are that you should use the library by taking out or reserving a book or two.   I was going to do this anyway so earlier this week I returned two books I had read, renewed two I still want to read and collected one I had reserved.

Happy Reading!

Bloggy Desert Island Discs

I'm joining in with Anne at  Marmalade and Catmint  who has had the wonderful idea of  'Bloggy Desert Island Discs'.  Like the BBC radio programme, which is celebrating being 70  years old this year, you choose eight pieces of music that have meant something to you throughout your life and also choose a book (other than the bible or other religious text or Shakespeare) and you can also choose one luxury item to take with you on to the island.

Here are my music choices.........

Out of Town - Max Bygraves from the film 'Charley Moon' 

I have a recollection of standing in front of the full length mirror in my parent’s bedroom dressed in a blue sun dress with a white bolero jacket over it and holding an open  paper parasol.  I was singing this song and twirling the parasol, and doing the actions of dusting for the words  ‘the sun is a big yellow duster, polishing the blue, blue sky’ – I’d have been about 6 at the time.  I used to listen to Children's Favourites with Uncle Mac and could also have chosen other Max Bygraves songs like 'I'm a blue toothbrush, you're a pink toothbrush' or 'Tulips from Amsterdam'  or one of my other favourites like 'Sparky and the Magic Piano' or the Ronnie Hilton song about little mice with clogs on but I've made my choice based on the fact that I know for whatever reason that I was happy that day with my parasol.

Theme from Stranger on the Shore – Acker Bilk

I remember the whole family used to sit and watch this drama series on the television and we had a record of the tune as well.  I'd have been 10 or 11 when it was first broadcast.

It’s my party – Lesley Gore

The first single or 45rpm record I bought; probably from Woolworth. I was thrilled to have my own record as before I'd had to listen to my parents 78s of  songs like 'The Happy Wanderer', 'I see the Moon' or 'The Dream of Olwen' whistled by Ronnie Ronalde.  I must have been about 13 years old and I  felt so grown up.

The Sun ain’t gona shine anymore – The Walker Brothers

Ah, my first  'heart throb' – the unforgettable voice of the gorgeous Scott Walker.

All along the Watchtower – Jimi Hendrix

I saw him perform live, he played the guitar behind his back and with his teeth, he wore purple velvet, he was incredible, he was larger than life!

Fantasia on a Theme from Thomas Tallis - Ralph Vaughan Williams

An introduction to classical music in my early twenties;  I love Vaughan Williams's music but I'm especially fond of this piece.

Gabriel’s Oboe by Ennio Morricone, from soundtrack of the film The Mission

I’m a great fan of Ennio Morricone’s music and this piece is so heart- wrenchingly beautiful.

Nimrod from the Enigma Variations by Sir Edward Elgar

Such wonderful music;  it would remind me of England and home whilst on the desert island.

My book choice is.....

A Month in the Country by J L Carr - I love this book.  It was hard to chose from several favourites and it is such a small book that I'd have to read it over and over again but that is no hardship!

My luxury item would be...

A vat or other huge container of  the Body Shop's  Vitamin E  cream; thanks!