Tuesday, 27 September 2016

Walk for Life 2016 completed

My sponsored walk to raise money for the Alzheimer's society has finally taken place. A big thanks to everyone who sponsored me, I exceeded my target which was great. 
Big Girl kindly said she would accompany me, and we left home with a decent amount of time before the start so we could find a parking spot. Unfortunately the car park right next to the start was full, so a  quick look on my phone showed me the next nearest one which had plenty of spaces left. At six minutes away it didn't seem too far, but silly me, I had the settings on 'by car' - 'by foot' was a 14 minute walk. Well I guess it was a good warm up!

There were hundreds of people congregated in front of Mariners' chapel, a great turn out that exceeded the Alzheimer's society's expectations which was fantastic. We got yet another warm up, as everyone was asked to participate in a mini Zumba workout!
Then we found out that the route had changed. It was supposed to be quite a scenic route, starting at the docks then going on through Alney Island where there is a nature reserve. I was rather looking forward to it as I haven't been there before but apparently not enough people had volunteered as marshals so for health and safety reasons they had to keep it local. So it was changed to four times around the docks 😕

A countdown to 10.30 and we were off! The walk began alongside the Victoria Dock, accompanied by a cheery, if rather aged, Samba band...

The Candle is a 21m (68ft) high sculpture designed by Wolfgang Buttress. It has lines from the poem 'Requiem', by the Gloucester writer Ivor Gurney, engraved around the base. Known locally as 'the Rusty Needle', the Candle is meant to be a reminder of how many fires have occurred in the docks over the years...

If you click on the photo below you should be able to read it...

There were several onlookers, come to support us I think 😉....

And lots to look at as we walked, including several vessels being maintained or repaired in the dry docks...

Gloucester Docks was used as a location for Tim Burton's film 'Through the Looking Glass' starring Johnny Depp. The docks were dredged to provide enough depth for five sailing ships. I don't know if the one we saw was one of them. The weather looks rather ominous in the photo below doesn't it. Luckily there was only a few spots of rain, and one brief downpour near the end of the walk...

The walk took a bit longer than it should have as there was a bottleneck at the bridge over the lock and also the one by the dry docks. Hundreds of people converging on a single track bridge meant a few minutes wait every time we got to one.

There was another short hold up when we had to wait for the Llanthony bridge to come back down after a vessel had passed through...

It took around one and a half hours to complete but would have been less if we hadn't had to queue. Big Girl was quite pleased to get a medal at the end. Now it's just a case of working out my total donations, waiting for a few last minute ones and sending the money off!
Once again, thank you to all our supporters, we couldn't have done it without you (well we could but it would have been a bit pointless without raising any money!)


Saturday, 24 September 2016

Poorly panda

Not much at the car boot yesterday morning, don't know if it is the change in the weather that kept people away. One little thing that caught my eye though was this poor little chap...

He was perched atop a pile of stuff, looking rather sorry for himself. I just knew if I didn't rescue him he would end up in the rubbish bin rather than being taken home. Apparently the man's dog had got hold of him and ripped his ear off, poor little thing. Soil handed over 20p, and Little Boy looked after him until we got home. After his canine altercation he was a bit smelly and dirty, so I gave him a gentle scrub with a cloth in some soapy water, then he had a warm up in the tumble dryer. He's now having a relax on the sofa but his forever home I think will be in my craft room, when it's finally finished. 

I've always been a sucker for the sick and deformed. When I used to keep fish I'd always end up coming away from the aquatic centre with the fish with one eye or half a tail!

There was also a man selling flowers and veg at the car boot, so I couldn't resist getting a gorgeous bunch of dahlias for only £1.50. There are plenty of buds in there so hopefully my display will last for a while...

Aren't they just beautiful, a wonder of nature...

Another thing I bought from him, which I've never had before, is a purple cauliflower. It looks rather weird doesn't it, I suppose it's because we are used to seeing white ones. I had heard that when cooked they lose their wonderful colour, but I steamed it and it stayed purple just a slightly lighter shade. 

And some sprouts which nobody seem very pleased about when I produced them at home. I wonder whether it's something to do with your tastebuds changing as you get older as I always remember hating the compulsory spoonful of festive sprouts. I can't say I love them now, but I do enjoy the occasional few, steamed of course not boiled to death. I made Big Girl have one on her plate, which she moaned about but when she popped it in her mouth she admitted she actually quite liked them now!

Right, I'm off to fix panda's hole in his head where his ear was ripped off. Now all he needs is a name, any suggestions gratefully received!

Thursday, 22 September 2016

Happy Autumn Equinox

Today is the official change of season from summer to Autumn - the Autumn Equinox. Apparently, according to the local weather on the radio, we are going to have single figures tonight with the temperature around here dropping to 7 degrees. It didn't seem particularly autumnal today, reaching a pleasant 16 degrees as I dropped Big Girl off at the stables after school. 

Off course, if we were still living in New Zealand it would be the Spring Equinox (also known as the vernal equinox), heralding the start of Spring in the Southern Hemisphere. I can't say I miss the weather being the wrong way around - it always seemed strange having a baking hot Christmas Day!

The word 'Equinox' comes from the Latin 'equi' meaning 'equal' and 'nox' meaning 'night'. The equal part refers to the fact that the amount of daylight on this day almost equals the amount of darkness. 

It's the beginning of longer nights and shorter days, leading us into winter. Some people I know see this as a bad thing but I welcome it. Snuggling up in a homemade crochet blanket, fire on, scented candle burning, reading a good book. What's not to like? Okay, I guess if you are seasonal affective disorder sufferer its not good. But it could be worse - the planet Uranus is tipped on its axis nearly 90 degrees, which means that winters there last 42 years!

Take care


Friday, 16 September 2016

Walk for Life

I was in two minds whether to create this post, but then as the saying goes, if you don't ask you don't get! I am taking part in the Alzheimer's Society sponsored Walk for Life at the end of the month, to raise money to help find a cure for dementia. Our nearest is the Gloucester Memory walk, and Big Girl has kindly offered to accompany me. 

Around 225,000 people develop dementia every year - that's equivalent to one person every three minutes. For those of you unsure, let me explain what dementia is. Here is a condensed version of the Wikipedia definition:
'Dementia is a broad category of brain diseases that cause long term and often gradual decrease in the ability to think and remember that is great enough to affect a person's daily functioning. Other common symptoms include emotional problems, problems with language, and a decrease in motivation. 
The most common type of dementia is Alzheimer's disease, which makes up to 50-70% of cases. Other common types include vascular dementia (25%) and Lewy body dementia (15%). Less common causes include Parkinson's disease and Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease. More than one type of dementia may exist in the same person.'

I've had experience of dementia both personally and in also in my line of work. Sufferers go through a wide range of emotions - confusion, anger, fear. And it's not just the person affected who suffers, it's the friends and family around them too. The people who care for them, who see the person they once knew slip away to be replaced by a stranger. 

So the reason for this post is to try and raise awareness of the problem, and possibly to raise some sponsorship money too. I've left it a little bit late (the walk is in just over a weeks time - please pray for a sunny day!) If you don't want to, that's perfectly okay but if you do thanks a million! You can donate via my Just Giving page, and all money raised goes directly to the charity. 


Update - sorry, blogger is playing up, can't get link to open. If you want to donate you'll have to copy and paste link. 

I'll take some photos, and let you know how it went. 

Wednesday, 14 September 2016

Getting ready for the greenhouse

There are quite a few pretty plants in the garden but I'm always reluctant to pick them. I bit the bullet the other day, and I'm rather pleased with my display...

What happened to the heatwave on Tuesday? Hotter than Thailand, followed by a possible storm? All we got was a wet, thunder and lightning, humid afternoon. It's strange weather at the moment, you never know what to wear. It was 16 degrees today, which was the overnight temperature one night last week. Seems it just can't make its mind up if it's summer or Autumn. 
I went for a trawl through the charity shops the other day, with Little Boy and my mum. I won't bore you with everything, just show you the best bits...

These jodhpurs were on the 'last chance' rail, and I snapped up two pairs for Big Girl for the grand sum of £1.98! 

Another great bargain was an energy saver lightbulb for an amazing 10p. There were several more, but I was a bit dubious why they were so cheap. I'm presuming they work...

My favourite buy was my shoulder bag. Slightly Cath Kidston in style, it has a blue spotty body with a colourful stripy canvas strap. I was quite happy to pay £3.99 for that. 

When I got home there was a surprise white bag on the doorstep. Our lovely neighbours have a cooking apple tree which is bursting with fruit this year. They offered to drop some round for me; I was expecting a carrier bag full, but I got a sack full instead - me thinks a trawl through Pinterest is needed to find some apple recipes. 

Good job I sent everybody out last weekend for a blackberry picking session, and another one is planned for this weekend. I give them a soak in a bowl of cold water to make sure any creepy crawlers are evicted, then drained in a sieve and open frozen. I love apple and blackberry pie, and I'm quite proud of the fact I make a good pastry. The pies often end up a bit rustic (I wouldn't win GB Bake Off) but I go for taste rather than looks!

After dinner it was a bit cooler so I decided to have a bit of time in the garden. I like to grow plants from seed, so have decided to invest in a greenhouse. If you're going to have a greenhouse, get a big one, so I've gone for an 8ft x 10ft. On a trip to the garden centre the other day I ventured into a greenhouse for sale that size, and couldn't believe how big it seemed - I can fit a lot of plants in one that size! Can't wait 😀. I've just ordered some slabs from B and Q which hopefully will turn up this weekend. I was surprised, I thought one of the builders merchants would be cheaper but actually B and Q were only about £4 more and that was with 10 extra slabs (have to buy in packs of 20 from them, and I needed 30). Also factor in my free delivery (saved £10), and £5 saved going via a cashback website, I'm quite pleased!

There's a bit of work to do before we are ready for the greenhouse to be delivered though, this is the area where it's going...

The silver birch is staying, as it will provide cover from the railway line, but everything else is being ripped out. The water tank under the table has come out of the attic, and I thought it would make a good water storage tank in the greenhouse. 
When I was tidying up some of the plants that are coming out I found an amphibian friend. I wish I could talk 'frog' and tell him/her that I might be taking away their home but in the end they will have an even better one. Wildlife friendly plants, bird feeders, bug hotels, nest boxes, and a pond are some of the things on the list. 

All in good time, wait patiently my hoppy friend

Monday, 5 September 2016

A wet weekend away

Living in New Zealand, we had so many animals that holidays were more hassle than they were worth. So when we moved back home and were animal-free we decided we would take the occasional weekend break.I bought a deal on Groupon which gave us three nights away in a choice of six UK resorts. 
The downside was you had to pay, then find out which ones were available. Never mind, there were lots .to choose from. So I paid and phoned up. Ilfracombe sounds nice - not available. Okay, how about Bude - not available. Looe? No, sorry. St Agnes? No. So what did we end up with.....Burnham on Sea. A weekend in Western Super Mud - great!

Well they say a holiday is what you make it, and it's not where you are but who you are with that counts. Ok, maybe, but I think a bit of sunshine helps too. Hasn't the weather been gorgeous lately? Little did we know how it would change, especially for our break away. Saturday's paper had an article entitled 'Grab the brolly...Britain faces weekend washout' 😩😩😩. It said Britain was to be hit with a freak deluge and have up to a month's worth of rain, as an early autumn storm swept in from the Atlantic. Great. Just to rub our noses in it even more, the following week (this week) was expected to bring warm tropical air and a possible 86F heatwave by the end of the week (although that hasn't appeared has it). Fantastic. 
OH and I had taken Friday off work so we could make the most of our time away. This was how we spent lunch when we arrived...

Sat in a car park with a packed lunch balanced on our laps. We couldn't even go to our chalet on the campsite, as check in wasn't until 4pm. Luckily they let us have the code so we could while away some time in the swimming pool, and a brief visit to the sauna for me. 
Dinner that night was at a restaurant just down the road. The portions were huge!...

On the way back to the campsite we popped down to the beach, just so the kids could have a quick run on the sand. The rain had cleared however it was still quite chilly so it was only a flying visit, but at least we saw the sea!

Saturday morning dawned and seeing as the weather still wasn't brilliant, we decided to pass the time by having a drive through the Cheddar Gorge. An Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, it's Britain's biggest gorge with 450ft cliffs. 

We spotted some of the goats balanced precariously on ledges. They were introduced to encourage the biodiversity of the area, keeping down the growth of new trees and encouraging rare plants species such as the Cheddar pink to flourish. There is also a flock of feral Soay sheep. 

I don't know if they are clear enough to see, but I put this photo in to show you the bolts in the rock face, put in for climbers. There are 350 rock climbing routes on the 27 cliffs of the gorge. 

Big Girl and I jumped out of the car to have a quick look at a few mini caves, but to see the proper caves you have to pay big bucks (about £20 each). There are two caves open to the public, Gough's cave and the smaller Cox's cave. 

The weather was still rubbish after lunch, so we needed something indoors to do - a trip to the pier at Western!

There are quite a few rides there, and it is better value to get wristbands rather than paying for individual rides. I nearly fell over when I went pay - £52.50 for four wristbands!!

OH and Big Girl went on some of the more grown up rides whilst I took Little Boy to the child friendly ones, including a rather unflattering Hall of Mirrors. He also braved the Ghost Train, but got a bit scared and didn't really enjoy it. 

Sunday morning we decided that whatever the weather, we had to pay a visit to the beach to make at least one sand castle. 19mph winds don't stop little people, and they piled straight into sand construction. I couldn't even persuade Little Boy to put a coat on he was that into it, so OH and I sought refuge sat in the boot of the car and watched on. 
We weren't the only ones on the beach, it got quite busy by late morning. We had children to entertain as an excuse but several of the cars were adults only - who in their right mind wants to sit on a beach in that weather?!

So how do UK beaches compare NZ beaches? I'll leave you with a photo of our favourite local beach in New Zealand and let you decide