Blog Every Day In May ~ Blogging Challenge.

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Back in 2013 when this blog was but a wee baby, not even 0ne years old, I decided to join in with Rosalilium’s  first ever Blog Every Day in May challenge. The lovely Elizabeth at said blog took it upon herself to organize the challenge and even chose prompts for each day, to give bloggers optional ideas for subjects to write about. Sometimes I veered away from the prompts, but I’m extremely proud to say that I actually managed to blog about something every day in May of that year. I was a proper #BEDMer. 🙂

Three years later and i’m still blogging ( Yay! ) but I know it’s sometimes hard to find blogging inspiration. I’m hoping joining in again in 2016 will refresh my blogging instincts and of course it’s a great way of discovering a few new blogs as well. Even if I don’t manage to blog every single day, I’m looking forward to the challenge. Eeeeek!  If you fancy learning more why ( or joining in!) not bob over to Rosalilium’s Blog Every Day In May Page.

Wish Me Luck. X

 

All Aboard for a Rail Ale Trail Tour.

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Saturday dawned, sunny but chilly.Just the ticket for a day of exploration along the East Lancs Railway. 🙂  My Birthday Present for the O H this year was a Rail Ale Trail Tour which started at ‘Bury Bolton Street Station’, stopping off at the Lancashire towns of Ramsbottom and Rawtenstall. Happily Wils brother very kindly gave us a lift to Bury, where we immediately made ourselves at home in the station’s The Track side bar on Platform two.. After a quick coffee we got straight onto the Ale ( or in my case,cider) and Wil bought a hunk of homemade Pork Pie. ‘The Track side’ has up to ten real ales as well as award winning ciders and perries.

By 11-30am our Tour Guide Suzanne had rounded us up and with childlike excitement ( on my part, anyway! ) we boarded the train. There’s something quite thrilling about taking a journey on an old fashioned steam engine. I felt like I was channeling my inner Railway Children. 🙂

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Our Train Arrives. 🙂

Whilst on the train there was time to buy bottled beers and our guide regaled us with a few titbits of information about the countryside we were chugging through. The track is twelve miles  of Heritage Railway , it’s upkeep is solely done by hard working volunteers. It spans some of the  Irwell Valley’s  picturesque Pennine scenery. First stop was the vibrant market town of Ramsbottom. Lunch is provided on the tour and after trackside photo opportunities we piled into Owens Restaurant & Bar  for Fish and Chips. This comfy  modern restaurant has two ales on tap. It’s also dog friendly, as is the Rail Ale Trail Tour. 🙂 If we had realised beforehand we might have brought Hugo.Not sure he would have been well behaved enough though!

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Lunch at Owens.

After lunch Suzanne took us to a fab little micropub called The Ramsbottom Tap on Bolton Street and bought everyone a quick half. The Tap is a bright and cozy space with retro prints adorning the walls and a good selection of ales and ciders.

Ramsbottom seemed to have a varied selection of interesting independent shops, tearooms and pubs so I think it would be somewhere we would return to in the future.The town even has it’s own brewery. Our next stop was indeed the Irwell Works Brewery which is situated back down the hill from the ‘Ramsbottom Tap’, in a former Steam,tin,copper & Iron works. The bottom half of the building houses the brewery which makes several  beers including ‘Copper Plate’ bitter,’ Iron Plate’ Lancashire Stout  and the brilliantly named ‘Marshmallow Unicorn’ Milk stout. These are served upstairs in  the Brewery Tap along with most other tipples you can think of. 🙂

 

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Irwell Works Brewery and Rail Trail regulars below ; Bliss and Misca. 🙂

Mid afternoon , and we were back on the steam train and meandering our way to the town of Rawtenstall. Rawtenstall is actually famously the home of England’s oldest original  Temperance Bar Fitzpatricks, which I would have loved to visit. I am a big fan of their Rose Hip and Rhubarb Cordial!  However we decided to remain in the vicinity of the station and enjoy a couple of drinks there. Buffer Stops offers five ales and one cider as well as locally made pies, outdoor seating and a traditional style waiting room area. There were plenty more photo opportunities of our mode of transport for the day too….

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The great thing about the East Lancs Rail Ale Trail Tour is that your not strictly confined to sticking with it all day.As Rawtenstall is a little nearer home than Bury, we decided to remain here a while instead of joining the others back to Bolton Street Station.Wil’s brother very kindly picked us drunkards up at five and took us back to Clitheroe. We definitely owe him one!  If you are interested in doing one of the many types of tours along this beautiful stretch of railway check out the  East Lancs Railway Website for more information.  The tour we took cost £35.50 each and included lunch, a bit of beer sampling and a professional Blue Badge Tour Guide. It is also possible to ride the train and explore the area yourself without doing an official tour. We will be back!

 

 

What to look for in Spring ~ A Ladybird Book.

Spring is well and truly here ( along with lots of April showers!) , so on Sunday I took  my Ladybird Book ‘ What To Look For In Spring’ out and about for an impromptu Photo Shoot. Ladybird Books were part of my childhood, though it is only in the last couple of years that I have started collecting the What To Look For series. Now I have all four seasons, I think I will expand my collection to include some of the other Nature titles. 🙂 It was interesting to compare the pictures in the book ( beautifully illustrated by naturalistic painter Charles Tunnicliffe) with  life in the countryside today.

My photos are from two walks I did with the dog  ( and Wil!) in my local area. I’ve included a few written extracts found in ‘What To Look For In Spring’ along with my pictures. 🙂 This Ladybird book was published in 1961.

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Blackthorn Blossom.

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‘By the first week of April the lambs that were born in February are large enough to enjoy springtime games. The blackthorn is now in full blossom’

The lambs I saw were catching the sun’s rays and the lacey blackthorn blossoms are indeed in full bloom.

‘Growing amongst the roots of the tree are violets and lesser celandine.Dead leaves have gathered here and decayed , giving nourishment to the roots of the violets which like soft humus.’

I’m not sure what soft humus is, but it seems to be true…..

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Male Goosander.
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Speedwell.
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Magpie.

‘ Magpies are wily birds and it is extremely difficult to get near enough to shoot them, but many countrymen do so when they can, and feel they have done a good deed.’

Hmmm not sure country folk go round shooting Magpies, but some do salute them!

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Watchful Grey Squirrel.
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Wood -anemones.

‘In a woodland opening we find wood-anemones which spread by underground stems and are consequently all close together.’

Saw carpets of these pretty white flowers in the woods.:)

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Wild Strawberry or Barren Strawberry flower,not sure which.

It was the perfect day for a walk up a country lane with views of Pendle Hill, its  slopes looking almost gentle from this distance.

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Marsh Marigolds or King Cups.

We know that March will soon be followed by April-when windows can be opened again,and hedgehogs and dormice can end their hibernation and enjoy the sunshine.With Spring comes the greatest wonder of the year-possibly even more beautiful than Summer.’

I certainly agree that Spring is full of wonder. Every day new flowers appear and life is springing up everywhere. If you have a ladybird book or any nature publication from the past, why not see how wildlife compares ,then and now.Let me know how you get on. X

 

 

Sunday Sevens 17 April.

Sunday means joining in with  SUNDAY SEVENS which was created by the lovely Natalie at Threads And Bobbins . The idea is to post Seven ( or more) photos from your week. Here goes!wp-1460902820761.jpg

  1.  Just started reading My Family And Other Animals by naturalist Gerald Durrell. It’s the story of Gerald’s crazy but idyllic childhood in Corfu in the 1930s. You might already be familiar with their adventures if you have been watching Sunday Evening Television recently. The Durrells is on itv 8pm every Sunday and it’s a great adaption of his memoirs. 🙂 I’ve also invested in an alarm clock!  Instead of using my phone as my alarm I now keep my mobile downstairs at nights , so I’m not tempted to go on Facebook etc into the early hours.

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2. The doog is better! Hugo is now back to full health and here he is smiling amongst the daffodils. Doggy grins are so cute. 🙂

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3. Ikea purchases. Wil and I survived our First trip to Ikea together. However I’m not sure there will be a second!  It’s HuGe! And Claustrophobic!  And we didn’t buy what we went there to buy. We were meant to come back with a wardrobe. Instead we came back with two pink flamingo glasses and a bag of daim bars. Nice glasses though!

 

4 & 5.  Let them Eat Cake!  Had a fun afternoon in Manchester again yesterday. This time with my good friends Arwen and Gill. We booked a perfectly adorable ( and very good value) Afternoon Tea at Hey Little CupCake!  in the Spinningfields area of the city. For £12 each we feasted on dainty finger sandwiches, home baked scones with jam and clotted cream, marvelous miniature cupcakes, delectable macarons and juicy red strawberries dipped in chocolate. The service was attentive, the decor ‘pretty in pink’ and the tea refills plentiful. Heartily recommended. :))

 

6,7 & 8.  As well as loving our Afternoon Tea we also enjoyed popping into Elixir Tonics and Treats on Deansgate. This is a real Fun Palace  for those of you who prefer your cocktails served with theatrical flare. I was certainly amused with the assembling of my ‘Into The Ether’ cocktail …and it went down well too. If you like smoke,bangs,pops and sparkle with your drinks, in a friendly and relaxing atmosphere , Elixir is for you. It was certainly for us!

What have you got up to recently?

Easter Holiday Fun at Bolton Abbey.

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Bolton Abbey by the River Wharfe.

On Friday I took the day off work and had a bit of a girls day out. 🙂  My lovely friends Fi and Jo invited me to accompany them and another friend to Bolton Abbey  in the Yorkshire Dales. The Abbey’s grounds are perfect for exploring, so the kids came too. 🙂

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Make a wish. 🙂

From May onwards there is even a Welly Walk designed especially for little people. But  in Spring there is plenty to see too. If you go look out for several Money Trees. The girls had fun knocking penny’s into the bark and making a wish. 🙂

April means that along with the showers there are plentiful Spring flowers. I spotted Wood Anemones and Cowslips amongst others.

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Who can this be?

The Easter Egg Hunt at Bolton Abbey was what we really came for though of course!  But first it was time for a spot of lunch. The grounds are perfect for picnics but we thought we would treat ourselves and eat inside the The Cavendish Pavillion Cafe located by the riverside, near where the hunt started.

They are testing out a new menu in the Cavendish which includes lots of delicious Pizza and Flatbread varieties. I really enjoyed my Pea,Feta and courgette Flatbread. And do look out for the cakes! There is an amazing selection…which I completely forgot to photograph! The cafe is a little pricey but very child friendly with baby changing facilities,high chairs and a microwave. If you have a dog ( Bolton Abbey is popular with walkers, cyclists and dog owners) there is lots of outside seating with plans for a weather proof canopy.

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The Easter Egg Hunt followed the riverside and the kids really got into it. It involved counting the eggs painted on the front of the different bunny’s and adding them up at the end. The prizes were stickers. We also had our own impromptu chocolate bunny hunt. Its got to be done!

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Wood Carver’s Hut in the Woods.

There is plenty to discover along the riverside including this Woodman’s Hut which sells carvings.

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Mandarin Duck Couple.

Lots of different wildlife. …

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Into The Woods.

And meandering path adventures. 🙂

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Beach Fun!

Our day finished with some riverside fun and an ice cream. X

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The Easter Egg Hunt at Bolton Abbey continues until the 24th April.

Car parking for the day costs £8 but you can move your car from one car park to another.

 

Lunch at the Infamous Diner in Manchester.

A few weeks ago the Other Half and I found ourselves in Manchester’s eclectic hub of independent shops,bars and eateries known as The Northern Quarter. I had a craving for a Burger, so where better to head , than a 1950’s style American Diner!  Infamous Diner  on Basil Chambers Street( not far from the Arndale Centre) is decked out like a diner in the movies. Think’ Back to the future’ or’ Greece’ and you’d not be far wrong.manchester 006

With black and white check tile flooring and pretty in pink leather booths and powder pink bar stools, the interior is a retro delight. There are gleaming silver ceilings and the walls are adorned with American car number plates. Bring in the Pink Ladies!

On our visit ( a quiet Monday lunch time) the jukebox played 1950’s hits and the Gene Kelly Musical from the same era ‘Singing in the Rain’  was showing on the flat screen above the bar. A quick trip to the rest rooms downstairs revealed walls covered in colourful and punchy pop art style graffiti. I love going to places where you are surrounded by fun visuals and Infamous does not disappoint. 🙂

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The Menu includes lots of American Diner faves such as Chicken and Waffles, Hash and Eggs,Pancake Stacks,Mama’s Meatballs and Beef Hotdogs. All I craved was a burger ( there are lots of choices) so I had to go for the ‘Infamous Cheese’ whilst Wil ordered ‘Steak and Eggs’ with fries. To wash my choice down I tried a bottle of Blind Pig Rum & Poached Pear Cider , which was rather good. I loved that it came wrapped in newspaper too. 🙂

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So did we enjoy our food?? Well Wil was happy with his steak and eggs. The Infamous Burger hit the spot fine but at £9.95 was rather expensive for what it is. Even if it does come served on a cute plastic red tray with a star spangled banner popped in the bun! However I surprised myself by not ordering a dessert. Looking back, I must have been crazy! How I resisted the lure of a slice of New York Cheesecake, a Knickerbocker Glory or even Infamouses own homemade donuts, I do not know.

 

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So I am going to have to return, if only to perch myself on one of these fabulous pink leather bar stools. There is an extensive cocktail menu at Infamous too!

Where do you like to eat in The Northern Quarter?

Are you a fan of American Style Diners?

 

 

 

Spring in the Castle Grounds.

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Today was a lovely spring day with warming sunshine and hints of blue sky. Ignoring the stinking cold I seem to have caught, I spent an hour in the grounds of Clitheroe Castle this afternoon. There were birds, there were bees and there were blooms and buds everywhere. Here is what I saw….

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Daffodils.
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Robin peers out from behind Spring blossoms.
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Glory of the Snow.
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Jackdaws.

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Sunshiney Celandines.
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Clitheroe Castle Museum.
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Pink Hyacinth.
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Cheeky Squirrels.

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Pigeon.
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Long tailed Tit.
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The Castle Keep.
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Primroses.

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Hope you enjoyed your weekend.X