All posts by shazza

My name is Shazza and I live in a small town in North west England with my boyfriend and our black lab Hugo and black cat Slinky. I work in a supermarket full time and in my spare time i enjoy reading,film,food( mostly eating it,I am a terrible cook!),taking photos,travel,camping,wildlife,spending time with my mates and hunting in car boots and charity shops for vintage teacups.This blog is hopefully going to be a collection of my fave things and musings on life,the universe and everything.Xx

A Festive Afternoon Tea at Mitton Hall.

There was a time when going out for Afternoon Tea was quite the norm for me. I think one year, I managed to devour ten. I know! But in 2018 I had not participated in this delightful institution until Sunday, when I joined some work colleagues for a Festive themed afternoon tea at Mitton Hall.

Mitton Hall near Whalley in Lancashire is a charming country house hotel. It’s the kind of olde worlde pile where a medieval banquet would not look out of place in its traditional oak panelled Great Hall. At this time of year a mahusive Christmas Tree welcomes you on arrival. 🙂 We immediately felt full of festive cheer.

Our Afternoon tea was booked for 5pm, so it was already dark when we arrived. After a quick refreshment in one of the cosy bars, we were lead to our table in the Brasserie.

It wasn’t long before our Afternoon Teas arrived, served on three tiers and piled high with goodies. We had all chosen the standard option which includes any hot drink of your choice and cost £17-50 each.

The bottom tier contained festive finger sandwiches, smoked salmon canopes and pigs in blankets. I always think it’s a shame that afternoon tea is more geared up for the sweet tooth. We would have loved a few more savoury items to feast upon.

However the cakes were to die for. And I am definitely a fan of cake! My personal favourite was the Lemon Drizzle..

Other sweet treats included a mince pie, a chocolate mousse ( unusually flavoured with mango, a hit with me but not for everyone) , a mini macaroon, a stollen bite and of course, plain and fruit scones, served with jam and clotted cream.

And after all that we just had to have a photo in front of the resplendent tree. 🙂

Will you be indulging in a Christmassy afternoon tea this year?

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Haworth ~ A Rainy December Walk and a Wander up the Cobbles.

Sunday mornings unpromising weather predictions didn’t put us off our intended trip to Haworth. Our plan was to take a walk from the town, over the surrounding moorland to Top Withens . The wild location of the ruined farmhouse is thought to be where Emily Bronte pictured ‘ Wuthering Heights ‘ in her novel.

We put Hugo in the back of the car, picked up my sister and niece and made our way to Yorkshire, wind screen wipers on the go. Amazingly the rain seemed to clear up once we arrived in Haworth. A walk over Haworth Moor was still on the cards.

Raincoats on, we set off from the Brontë Village Car Park, and would you know it within five minutes, the weather could definitely be described as wuthering! We were blown past the ‘Literary Landscape Sculptures’ two sets of five stone books peering up from the heath. The sweeping rain prevented me from getting any photos. At this point we decided to only walk as far as the Brontë waterfalls, and save Top Withens for another day.

The Brontë Waterfalls lie some 2•5 miles over the moor. A well trodden path leads all the way there and is clearly signposted too, surprisingly in Japanese as well as English. Described by Charlotte Brontë as ‘ a perfect torrent racing over the rocks, white and beautiful’ the falls on Sunday were definitely more of a trickle than a torrent. However the setting is lovely, even on a dreich December day. As yet,shades of copper bracken add colour to the rugged scenery and a babbling beck gives drama to the landscape. You can see why the Brontë siblings enjoyed walking here.

Below the falls a stone footbridge known as the Brontë Bridge crosses the stream and the path continues onwards towards Top Withens. We posed in the rain for a quick selfie and were soon joined by a group of hardy ramblers who chose this glorious spot for a lunch break. It was amazing how many other walkers we had seen along the way, despite the dreary weather. Our tummy’s rumbling and feeling rather like drowned rats, we decided to retrace our steps back to Haworth, where the promise of a hot meal somewhere warm and dry beckoned.

Haworth is definitely somewhere that feels incredibly festive at this time of year. After warming up in a welcoming ( and dog friendly) cafe on Main Street called The Cook House, we went for a wander along the cobbles, listened to Christmas carols, visited some lovely independent shops and found a bustling Christmas market in Central Park.

I’m sure we will return in the Spring, for another stride over the Moors, in the footsteps of the Bronte’s.

Wildlife Moments in 2018.

Its December everyone! Is it to early to do a bit of a round-up post?? 2018 has been a pretty good year for spotting wildlife I’ve never seen before. I glimpsed my first Gannets plunging into the ocean for fish off Skye, my first Stonechats darting between fence posts and gorse bushes in Ravenglass and my first Great Crested Grebes fishing in the lagoon at Hodbarrow Nature Reserve. I witnessed my first Eider Ducks bobbing along an aquamarine blue sea in the Outer Hebrides and watched for the first time, wild otters swimming and playing in a sheltered cove there.

And this year I have tried to identify and record every flower, mammal, bird, butterfly and moth I have come across whilst out and about , in a Nature Diary. Doing this has definitely got me busy looking up everything in my often neglected wildlife guides. My diary has gotten quite full, though I know there are still so many plants and animals, that I haven’t had the pleasure of viewing in our beautiful British Isles.

Here are just a few photos of some of the wildlife I have managed to capture on camera this year. 🙂

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Great Crested Grebe fishing whilst sporting winter plumage ~ Hodbarrow Nature Reserve, Haverigg, Cumbria.
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Hugo amongst Sea Lavender in Heysham, Lancashire.
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Hedgehog wandering up a woodland path, Bolton Abbey, Yorkshire Dales.
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Underneath the Umbels, Clitheroe, Lancashire.
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Red Grouse, Great Stone of Four stones, Bentham, Lancashire.
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Small Heath Butterfly, Askham Fell, Cumbria.
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Compass Jellyfish on the beach, North Uist, Outer Hebrides.
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Common Seal, Isle of Bernerey, Outer Hebrides.
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Pretty Linnet, Askham Fell, Cumbria.
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Female Red Deer, North Uist.
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Blooming Heather on North Uist.
Swallow-tailed Moth, Salthill Nature Reserve in Clitheroe.
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Common Spotted Orchids in the Wildflower meadow, Gisburn Forest, Lancashire.
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One of the Otters we saw on North Uist. 🙂
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Corn Buntings, North Uist.
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Sea Holly, Crosby Beach, Merseyside.
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Painted Lady, Salthill Nature Reserve, Clitheroe.
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Bugles near Derwentwater, Cumbria.
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Dipper, Stridd Wood, Bolton Abbey.
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Skylark with lunch, Askham Fell, Cumbria.

Hope you enjoyed the photos.

What are your own favourite wildlife moments of 2018?

Hawthorn’s November Photo Scavenger Hunt.

Hi there Scavenger Hunters and those of you just dropping in for a nosy. 😄 It’s Kate/ Hawthorn’s last Scavenger Hunt of 2018, so I thought I’d better make an effort and join in. Though I did find some of the prompts pretty tough this time around. Still I do like a challenge, so here goes….

Post/Mailbox. I’m still loving Postcrossing, which is a fun way of sending and receiving postcards from all around the world. These three are off to Italy, USA and Japan. I have already popped them in the post box.

Decay. Bracket Fungi , according to Wikipedia are an ‘ important agent of wood decay, playing a significant role in nutrient cycling and carbon dioxide production of forest ecosystems’. Go bracket fungi! This one was snapped a couple of weeks ago in Ravenglass.

Second hand. I love this book called Sketches of Bird Life by C. F. Tunnicliffe. It originally belonged to Wils Dad and having been handed down, now lives with us. His drawings are beautiful , and you may recognise his style. Tunnicliffe illustrated the wildlife Ladybird Books. 🙂

Strand. Here are my two god-daughters on the shores strand-line in Ravenglass. Hugo is also there, splashing in the water. We loved our time away in this coastal Cumbrian village. You can read about our weekend Here.

Fold. Sorry, its those ‘Festival Sheep’ again. I ended up using the word ‘fold’ in the context of ‘a flock of sheep’ and these are a colourful meadow full near Ravenglass. The farmer marks the ewes that have been impregnated by a ram. I think the different colours mean different fathers and also the number of lambs expected per mother.

My Own Choice. Definitely making my own mouth water here. Wil took me out for tea on my Birthday to Bowland Beer Hall. This was dessert. Yummy! Who else loves Churros with chocolate sauce??

Thanks for dropping by. 🙂

Sunday Sevens 18th November.

It’s a Sunday Sevens Birthday Edition!

I booked a week off work ~ you have to when it’s your birthday don’t you….

Anyway here are a few pictures from my week.

We spent last weekend at a mates Holiday Cottage in Ravenglass, a small seaside village on the Cumbrian coast. We were joined for two nights by some friends as well, and it was great to spend time with them. 😁

The cottage looked out across the Estuary and my God daughters enjoyed looking for ‘treasures’ on the beach. This anchor was a bit big to take home with them though!

The cottage was packed to the rafters with owls! They were everywhere. In the beams, on the walls, on the windows….

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A favourite tipple of mine this week was a Edinburgh Rhubarb & Ginger Gin Liqeur served with Gingerale. 🙂

Birthdays mean books! I received these three as presents and I’m excited to delve into them. 🙂

This week I got to make a chocolate bar and a box of chocolates at The Chocolate Works in Clitheroe. Definitely a scrumptious idea for a Girls Night out. 🙂

And I wasn’t the only one with a Birthday! Hugo’s pal Mick the Greyhound had a 3rd Birthday Party at his humans house. Oh my! If you can imagine five Springer spaniels, two greyhounds, a beautiful collie and a naughty black labrador all running riot ( whilst getting on amazingly well ~ Phew! ) in your home for two hours, you’ve got the picture. 🙂 They were a lot easier to entertain than children anyway. 😉 Hugo loved it!

Afterwards I got to party in town with my chums!

Thanks to Natalie at Threads and Bobbins for devising Sunday Sevens.

Hope you had a good week.

A Long Weekend in Ravenglass.

Ravenglass is a coastal village in Cumbria that looks over the estuary bringing together the rivers of Esk, Irt and Mite. The scenery is ever changing as the ebbing tides create rock pools and sand banks. A melodic sound of tied up boats, their parts clanging in the breeze , permeates the sea front.

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Ravenglass.

I recently stopped in Ravenglass for four nights with Wil and Hugo. Some friends joined us for a couple of the nights. Luckily even in November we found plenty to keep us all occupied!

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Village Green.

The village has two cosy dog friendly pubs as well as a rocky beach ~ home to many wading birds and beach combing treasures, ancient Roman ruins, a nearby Castle with a Hawk & Owl Centre and the Ravenglass to Eskdale Railway, affectionately known as La’l Ratty.

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Hugo and Bel in front of the old fishermen’s cottages.
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Estuary View.
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Anchors Aweigh!
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Rainbow.
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Stonechat.

As well as windy walks on the beach , we enjoyed a stroll to Muncaster Castle which is a pleasant walk through the Muncaster Estate, passing the old ruins of a Roman Bath House.

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The well preserved remains of a Roman Bath house, used by Roman Soldiers from the once nearby Roman Fort ‘Glannoventa’.
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Festival Sheep. 😉
Pretty Woodland walk.
Waiting to be pelted by cabbages! Only joking. 😉
Waiting for the Owl and Hawk Display. The dogs and their owners watched from a designated area….way in the distance..

We all loved the Bird of Prey Display and it was good to know that the staff are so enthusiastic about conserving the different species, especially Vultures, who do get a bit of bad press in the bird world. Seeing them as a ‘ Clean up Crew’ definitely helped me realise what a useful breed of bird they are.

Speeking of birds, Wil and I also visited Hodbarrow Nature Reserve, an RSPB reserve on the coast between Haverigg and Millom. It was a day of high winds and squawly showers, but we enjoyed the dramatic scenery.

Hodbarrow Lighthouse, a focal point of the Reserve.

Most of all just hanging out in Ravenglass itself was a wonderful experience. I am sure we will return. 😊

Ravenglass from over the railway bridge.

Where on the coast do you like to visit?

25 Before 45 Bucket List ~ How did I do??

So as November is my Birthday month , I thought I had better check on my 25 Before 45 Bucket list progress. Considering I am now almost the grand old age of 45 ( Sob! ), I think I haven’t done to badly with the list. I have managed to cross off 15 out of 25 of the entries I wrote down two and a half years ago. Some I still would like to do and I am sure I will probably write another list soon, and add them to it. But for now , here is how I did.

1.Learn to crochet. Discovered this isn’t my bag. 😐

A friend and I had a crochet lesson and I just couldn’t master it. Kind of knew I would find it difficult, as I can’t knit either. Imagine me looking quite confused and then thoroughly bored, with my hands tied in woolly knots.

2.Find a keep Fit Regime I like. Done! I have enjoyed the #walk1000miles challenge and am still continuing. Hopefully 1500 miles this year and maybe 2000 in 2019.

3.Eat a Dutch Pancake in Amsterdam. Haven’t got round to visiting Amsterdam yet. Its definitely somewhere I intend to go for a long weekend.

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Kingfisher , spotted by a boat in Knaresborough.

4. Photograph a Kingfisher. Done! Got my photo on the river Nidd in Knaresborough. 🙂

5.Make an Honesty Box Meal. Still need to create a meal from produce bought from the side of a country road.

6.Read To Kill A Mocking Bird. Done! Bought the book from a second hand book shop in Fargo village in Coventry and loved it. I then just had to watch the Gregory Peck film from the 60s and found it to be a great adaptation of the novel.

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Wrap up warm for Picnic Cinema. Bear suits optional.

7.Watch a Film outdoors. Done! Wil and I Saw a British black comedy called Sightseers at Lowther Castle, under the stars. Sightseers at Lowther Castle~ with Picnic Cinema.

8.See the Northern Lights. Maybe another trip to Iceland beckons. We chased the lights four years ago , with little success. I don’t really need an excuse to revisit !

9.Have a Vintage Make over. I’m not to bothered about this one anymore. Glam is just not me , to be honest. Does a Wham Tribute night , where my friends and I dress up in Eighties style Choose Life T-shirts and tutus count? 😉

10.Swim in a Lido. Well I can’t believe I never got round to swimming in a Lido! Ilkley Lido in Yorkshire is the nearest one to me, so hopefully next Summer……..

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Real Ale Rail Trail.

11. Go on a proper picnic with a picnic hamper. Done! Bought a hamper from a charity shop and enjoyed a picnic by the stream in Dunsop Bridge. Unfortunately Hugo took a chomp out of the cake!

12. Be Nine Stone! A-hem, Nope!

13.Stay in a Bothy. Definitely in two minds about this one. The type of bothy I mean is one of the very basic Mountain Bothy Association stone buildings that you find in remote parts of Scotland etc. They are free to stop in, though you might have to share with other hikers. I wrote a post about them called Would you stay in a Bothy? I think I may actually prefer Wild Camping though, as you are zipped up in a tent, and there is no danger of a mouse running up your trouser leg…….

14. Photograph a Barn Owl in the wild. When I wrote this I had actually seen Barn Owls several times. Since then, none at all. 😦

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Our Llama trying to appear as short as us. Cheeky!

15. Do a Rail Ale Trail. The East Lancs Rail Ale Trail from Bury to Rawtenstall. Done! All Aboard for a Rail Ale Trail Tour.

16. Take Part in a sponsored Charity Event. Done! Raised money for the East Lancashire Hospice, whilst walking across Morecambe Bay. The Morecambe Bay Cross Bay Walk.

17. Have Afternoon Tea at Cloud 23. I have really been slacking in the Afternoon Teas department in 2019. Up to press , I haven’t indulged in this very British Institution, all year. I do like the idea of partaking in Afternoon Tea in the clouds though, so Cloud 23 ( at the top of Beetham Tower) your still on my list. 🙂

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Hugo and I doing the doggy paddle over Morecambe Bay.

18. Enter Hugo in a Doggy Competition. Done! Entered Hugo in a bonnie dog category at a local pooch show. He didn’t get placed, even though he is of course, the most handsome boy in the world. I am one highly prejudiced doggy Mum!

19. Get Engaged! Haha.

20. Bathe in a Turkish Baths. Done! The Turkish Baths in Harrogate are a relaxing and fun experience. 🙂 If your ever in Harrogate , treat yourself….

21. Go trekking with llamas in the lakes. Done! Loved spending time with family and some very cute llamas ~ Llama Trekking in the Lakes. 🙂

22. Experience a night out down Canal Street. Done! The rainbow village in Manchester, a top night out!

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Let Snoozy Cats lie. Cat Café, Manchester.

23. Do the Morecambe Bay Cross Bay Walk With the Queen’s Official Guide. Done! See number 15.

24. Visit the new Cat Cafe in Manchester. Done! My friend Lisa and I spent some quality time eating cake and stroking cute kitties. Cat Cafe Manchester.


25. Cook a proper Sunday Roast Lunch ( I almost never cook!).  Done! I know its a shocker that up until my 45th year, I had never made a roast dinner. Please don’t judge me. ;). Thanks Wil for overseeing my attempt at Sunday lunch. Yes I did cheat somewhat as I bought ready made gravy, Yorkshire puds and a tray of pre prepared veg to roast. But It still counts….I hope. 🙂

Sunday Dinner. 🙂

What would you put on your Bucket List?