January Jottings.

I thought I would start a series of Β round up posts of bits and pieces that I have enjoyed and discovered each month. Hopefully I will stick to it! Β  I’m a bit rubbish at keeping up with things. But I will give it a go. πŸ™‚Β So without further ado, here is what I have enjoyed about January.

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Books ~ Keeping up fine with my personal challenge of reading one book a month.Doesn’t sound a lot as I used to read tons. Then I lost my reading Mojo! Shhhh don’t say anything but I think I’ve got it back.:). Picked up The Miniaturist one winters afternoon and couldn’t put it down. Swiftly followed by The Curvy Girls Club and now ( rather behind the times) whizzing through Gone Girl. So busted my target already. πŸ™‚

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Films ~ If you like rom coms, 50’s fashion and France , then you may also like Populaire , a french film that combines all the above in a tale of a clumsy secretary, a speed typing competition and a dishy Professor Higgins type. Saw Cathy’s recommendation on her lovely blog and rented the dvd straight away.Loved it! Also enjoyed the rather silly but fun chick flick ‘The Other Women’ , starring Cameron Diaz and Leslie Mann. And another flirty film set in France Chocolat which was on freeview recently. Mouth watering chocolate and a youthful Johnny Depp. Whats not to love! πŸ˜‰

Travel ~ This month I was lucky enough to spend a week in a cottage on the coast. Being able to walk on the beach every day ( even in January! ) was a dream come true. It has made us want to get away to the seaside again and we are now thinking of booking somewhere in Whitby, near the end of the year. πŸ™‚ I’m also planning a few days away in London in May. Can’t wait!

A beach in Winter. Baycliff near Ulverston.
A beach in Winter. Baycliff near Ulverston.

App ~ Being January, I thought I had better try and make a bit of an effort to lose some weight! My fab work colleague Hermione told me all about My Fitness Pal which is a free calorie counting app you can put on your mobile. If you like making lists like me, its a great and easy way of tracking your calories and fat intake. My new pal first helped me work out how many calories I should be eating each day. Then I logged down what I ate for each meal from the gigantic food database. You can also add food to the database, though I think it has just about every edible item going on it. And it takes into account any exercise you do too. Oh and it memorises the foods you log, so you don’t have to search for them again. Soo is it working? Well, Yes! I’ve lost 4 pound…..and not for once, through paying for a weight watchers meeting!

Nature ~ Saw my first wild snowdrops of the year in the grounds of ‘Conishead Priory’ and spied oystercatchers, curlews, redshank and shelducks whilst holidaying in Baycliff.

Oystercatchers.
Oystercatchers.

What have you enjoyed about January?

Ulverston and Conishead Priory.

The John Barrow Monument.
The John Barrow Monument.

We recently stopped in a cottage by the sea , not far from the market town of Ulverston in Cumbria. You can read about our week away Here.:) Anyway as we were staying so close we paid Ulverston a couple of visits. The town is famous mostly for its association with the comedy duo ‘Laurel and Hardy’, Stan Laurel was born in Ulverston. There are reminders of these unique Hollywood stars everywhere you look. I saw a florist called ‘Floral and Hardy’ and we came across their statues outside the Town Hall. There is even a Laurel and Hardy Museum situated in the Roxy Cinema but unfortunately it was closed on a chilly January week day afternoon.

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A noticeable landmark in Ulverston is the ‘John Barrow Monument’ on Hoad Hill which commands impressive views over to Morecambe bay . Also known as the ‘ Lighthouse with no Light’ due to its lighthouse like design, it was erected in honor of ‘ Sir John Barrow’ , a local writer and explorer whose life is commemorated on colourful painted murals in the town. We had a walk up to the monument. As you can probably guess I was lagging behind and hyperventilating on the way up, such are my terrible fitness levels! Don’t worry though it really wasn’t all that far….and worth the climb. πŸ™‚

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If you fancy going somewhere a little different Conishead Priory just outside the town, on the way to Bardsea , is well worth a visit. The gothic Victorian mansion stands on the site of an ancient priory built in the 12th century. The original building was seized by the crown in the 1500s and all but destroyed. The estate passed through the gentry until the present structure was built in the 19th century by some rich landowners who then got into debt. It was sold and had a caring history as a hydro hotel, a military hospital and a residence for ill miners. It is now home to the Manjushri Kadampa Meditation Centre.

Conishead Priory ~ from the back.
Conishead Priory ~ from the back.

A Buddhist Community lives at Conishead and volunteers are also welcome to stay and help out with the upkeep. There were lots of leaflets about courses and meditation retreats. Its not something that I have ever thought of doing, but I did love the welcoming atmosphere and the peaceful and beautiful grounds which are full of wildlife. There is also a lovely cafe and I have to say they do a mean raspberry and yogurt flapjack! Even better dogs are welcomed into the lounge area which has comfy sofas and a flagged floor. It certainly was nice to settle back with coffees after taking our labrador Hugo for a walk through the woodland to the beach. πŸ™‚ And look out for the temple in the grounds. You can’t miss it!

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The first snowdrops I have seen this year. Lots and lots in the grounds.
The first snowdrops I have seen this year. Lots and lots in the grounds.
Ornate ceiling tiles in the coffee lounge area.
Ornate ceiling tiles in the coffee lounge area.

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Squirrel in the grounds.
Squirrel in the grounds.

Ulverston and the surrounding area lies just outside the Lake District and even better, you are minutes from the sea. πŸ™‚

The beach at Baycliff.
The beach at Baycliff.

Have you visited anywhere new recently?

Driftwood Cottage ~ Baycliff.

It was over a year ago when we booked a little holiday cottage on the Cumbria coast. Driftwood Cottage near Bardsea was booked up twelve months in advance ( its that popular) so patience had to be practised.At last January 2015 arrived. Yay! It was very much worth the wait. We chose Driftwood because it is right on the beach, has a toasty wood burner, five minutes walk to the pub, its dog friendly ( welcoming 3 well behaved hounds) and its done out in a fresh nautical style. The views over Morecambe bay are spectacular from the large picture windows in the lounge area.  Pink sunrises and windy walks on the beach are mandatory. πŸ™‚

The cottage looks out over the bay.
The cottage looks out over the bay.

Inside the cottage is so cozy. We made the most of having a wood burner and there was even a telescope to admire the scenery and the wildlife. We really liked the coffee table in the lounge which was made from an industrial cable drum.

The lounge area.
The lounge area.
Sea Views.
Sea Views.
Little Hugo is already missing the wood burner.
Little Hugo is already missing the wood burner.
A cute desk in one of the bedrooms.
A cute desk in one of the bedrooms.

Everyday we walked on the beach with Hugo. Happily we were blessed with pretty good weather for January and some days the sky was reflected in the sand. πŸ™‚

Reflections.
Reflections.
Hugo enjoying the beach.
Hugo enjoying the beach.
We often had the beach to ourselves. We did meet a few friendly dogs like Daisy the collie here. :)
We often had the beach to ourselves. We did meet a few friendly dogs like Daisy the collie here. πŸ™‚

The bay was always busy with wading birds and we even saw a couple of shelducks. If anyone knows what the birds below are, please let me know.

Some kind of Snipe or curlew maybe.
Some kind of Snipe or curlew maybe.
Shelduck.
Shelduck.
An old jetty.
An old jetty.
Not sure what this bird is.  There were lots of them.
Not sure what this bird is. There were lots of them.

The beach held other surprises too……

Willow deer statue.
Willow deer statue.
Thoughtful etchings.
Thoughtful etchings.
Quirky Beach House.
Quirky Beach House.
And Quirky Art.
And Quirky Art.

The cottage is only five minutes walk from the village of Baycliff which has two pubs, a farm shop and a childrens play area. We actually only went to one of the pubs, ‘The Farmers Arms’ which is dog friendly ( the owners made a real fuss of Hugo), has a small selection of real ales and serves delicious food. Its best to book if you want to eat there though. Weekends and Wednesdays( Fish and Chips Night) especially.

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Fish and Chips at the Farmers.

I will post about a couple of places we visited whilst staying at the cottage soon. Being out of season though, a lot of the attractions below are not yet open. But you may find them useful in later months. We were also a little limited by Hugos car sickness. Not much fun traveling with a puking puppy! So we tended to stay quite local. Not that we minded, as Driftwood Cottage and the surrounding area are quite beautiful.Wouldn’t you agree? X

Wish you were here...
Wish you were here…

Family days Out.

Muncaster Castle.
Wild Life Oasis Park.
The Lakes Aquarium at Lakeside, Windermere.
Tree Top Trek.
Wray Castle.
Old Hall Farm at Bouth.

Lake Windermere from Ambleside.
Lake Windermere from Ambleside.

Take the dogs too.

Conistone Priory and grounds.
Lakeland Motor Museum.
John Barrow Monument on Hoad Hill.
Ulverston’s Laurel and Hardy Museum.
Lake Windermere Cruises.
La’al Ratty Steam Railway.

January Photo an Hour.

The lovely Louisa from Duck in a DressΒ  has taken over the mantle from Janey of organizing Photo An Hour every month. For January she chose last Saturday. We happen to be on holiday at the moment in a cottage on the Cumbrian coast. Wils brother and his wife came over for the night.So my pics include some sea, booze and food. πŸ™‚

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9am. A lovely lie in ( hurrah!) and a spot of breakfast telly.

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10am. Hugo is still small enough to be picked up for a cuddle. πŸ™‚

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11am. Out and about on the beach in the front of the cottage.

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Noon. Cheesy lunch!

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1pm. Headed out to Ulverston ( the nearest town) and we are about to climb up to the John Barrow Monument on Hoad Hill. This pic was taken at about half past really. It didn’t take an hour to get to the top!

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2pm. View from the top of Hoad Hill, looking out toward Morecambe Bay.

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3pm. Rainbow in Ulverston. :))

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4pm. Sheltering from the rain in a pub in Ulverston.

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5pm. Back to the cottage and Wil lit the fire. Its toasty!

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6pm.Β  Watching ‘Pointless Celeberities’ before we go out for tea.

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7pm. Enjoying a cider….and another toasty fire in the Farmers Arms at Baycliff, the tiny village we are stopping in.

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8pm. Tea in the pub. An amazingly tasty burger.

And thats it for my photos.But when I get home I’m sure I will post a few blogs about my stay here. Its such a lovely place and we adore the cottage. πŸ™‚

Lets go London!

A friend and I are planning a few days away in London in May. I am super excited!  Its been five years since I have visited the nation’s capital, so its been far too long. Accomodation shouldn’t be a problem as my friend has a wonderful brother who has agreed to put us up.Yay!  In celebration of our future trip, I thought I would list a few places in the city I’d like to visit. Be assured, my present stab at ‘Healthy Eating’ has not dampened my enthusiasm for ‘Afternoon Tea’s’. A couple are mentioned in this post. :))

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Natural History Museum on Cromwell rd is one of several Free museums in London. It houses a multitude of exhibits from the natural world including the iconic ‘Dippy’ in the grand entrance hall. Learn more here.

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I love the look of this colourful alleyway in ‘Covent Garden’. Neal’s yard houses health food cafes and shops including Neal’s yard Dairy( an artisan cheese shop) and Neal’s Yard Remedies. Such vibrant colours.

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No trip to the city is complete without a ride on the London Eye. The giant ferris wheel on the south Bank of the Thames has amazing views ( it is Europe’s largest ) and takes 30 minutes to spin you round the city’s famous landmarks. Book tickets here.

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Fancy an Afternoon tea and sightseeing in one ? The Afternoon Tea Bus Tour run by BB Bakery takes you round the sights of central London on a vintage routemaster bus, whilst you enjoy a delicious selection of tasty sandwiches and cakes. What a fabulous idea!

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The Shard wasn’t even built on my last visit to London. It would be pretty amazing to drink in the views ( and a glass of champagne πŸ˜‰ ) from the viewing deck , 800 ft above ground. See for yourself here.

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Karl Marx, Douglas Adams, George Elliot and Christina Rossetti are just a few of the famous names who are at peace in London’s Highgate Cemetery. I for one, would love to take a tour of the west side of Highgate, known for its many gothic tombstones and elaborate mausoleums. This fascinating cemetery has English Heritage Status and has grown into a nature reserve too. Read about it here.

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I’ve been to ‘Harrods’ when in London but never that other iconic department store Liberty of London on Regent street. The tudor style facade houses an elegant shopping emporium with swish elevators and glass atriums.And the famed Liberty Print fabrics of course.

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We would love to indulge in afternoon tea in such decadent surroundings as the Savoy. Its terribly expensive but what a treat…with a pianist playing as you enjoy dainty sandwiches and fancy cakes. The Thames Foyer Afternoon Tea is one of many that can be sampled in the city.

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One thing we have booked already is a trip to the theatre. Outdoors! Regent Park in central London holds outdoor performances through the summer. We shall be seeing Peter Pan. We may need our brollys!

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And another must for us crazy cat ladies is a dining experience with a difference. Lady Dinahs Cat Emporium in Bethnal Green is a cat cafe , where you can cuddle up to a kitty , whilst eating a famous ‘Brick lane Bagel’. The cats are all rescues and the emporium is their home and you are their guests.I’ve been to ‘Le Cafe de Chats ‘ in Paris and enjoyed it, so would love to visit Lady Dinahs as well. πŸ™‚

What would you like to see and do in London?

As I write this post my thoughts are with the people of Paris, a beautiful city , I hope to visit again soon.

Wildlife Wishlist ~ a look back.

Cute Bunny () ()
Cute Bunny () ()

Back at the start of 2014 I wrote my Wildlife Wishlist. I hoped I would catch at least three of the following animals and birds on camera…..

Jay, Tawny Owl, Hare, Curlew, Pied Wagtail, Sand Martin, Jackdaw, Fox, Goldfinch, Bullfinch,Lapwing,Starling, Kestrel, Red wing, Swallow, Roe deer, Badger, Greater Spotted Woodpecker, Treecreeper and Kingfisher.

Female bullfinch
Female bullfinch

Me and my little Lumix didn’t have the best look with the list….but I am hoping for great things this year. After raiding the old Change bottle, myself and the other half have purchased a Lumix FZ72 which has a 60x Optical zoom. Hopefully when I’m out and about ( with or without Hugo the pup) and spy that shy jay in the oak tree over the stream, I might have a greater chance of adding him to my photo collection. πŸ™‚ For now here are a few snaps from last years posts.

Robin.
Robin.
Damsel Fly.
Damsel Fly.
Long tailed tit.Soo cute.:)
Long tailed tit.Soo cute.:)
I was so excited to see the rare Bee orchids that grow in the Salthill reserve. Don't the flowers look like bees. :)
I was so excited to see the rare Bee orchids that grow in the Salthill reserve. Don’t the flowers look like bees. πŸ™‚
Beautiful moss.
Beautiful moss.
Sammy the snail.
Sammy the snail.
Common spotted orchids.
Common spotted orchids.
Little Egret, Bolton le sands.
Little Egret, Bolton le sands.

Thanks for dropping by. πŸ™‚

2015 Bucket List.

I have not really made any New Years Resolutions for a few years, so I thought 2015 may be the time to start. I will write a Bucket List of a few things I would like to do this year…… and see how many I can cross off. Sounds like a plan!

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Learn how to use my new camera properly. I’m terrible at skimming over instructions and not using things to their full potential.

Photograph that elusive kingfisher. I see them so often, it drives me mad that I still don’t have any photographic proof. Patience….and my new camera should help this year!

Pack my beautiful vintage suitcase for a mini break with the other half. Poor old thing ( suitcase that is πŸ˜‰ ) hasn’t been anywhere yet.

Eat healthier and yes lose weight.  The past year ( I blame my penchant for tea rooms and cake , and blogging about tea rooms and cake) I have gained over a stone. Not funny when your a shorty and the wrong side of forty. sob. 😦

Make a meal from produce bought on roadside stalls/honesty boxes/farms. Might be something to try if we go camping.

Go glamping! Never mind Camping. Might be nice to go upmarket for a change. Could take Vintage suitcase….

Decorate the spare room. Its a very uninspiring box room at the moment and is used for drying laundry/general dumping ground.Maybe we can
turn it into a beach hut. πŸ™‚

Visit London.Its been a while.

Watch an outdoor screening of a film.

Read twelve books. I hardly read anymore so I think one book per month would be quite a challenge.Any recommendations?

Wish me luck. What would be on your Bucket List?