Category Archives: Places to visit

Winter walk in the Centre of the UK.

This afternoon we donned our waterproofs and walking boots, packed a lunch and flask of coffee and headed to the centre of the UK !

The pretty village of Dunsop Bridge in the Trough Of Bowland is the nearest village to National Grid reference SD63770 56550 Hanging Stones. Apparently this area has been determined to be the exact centre of the country.

From the village car park ( £1.40 charge for four hours) we walked past the green and took the tarmacked track to the left of Puddleducks Tea Rooms and Post Office. From here we followed the lane through a couple of farm cottages and up through the valley as far as the water pumping station and back.

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Heading toward the Dunsop Valley.

Hugo really enjoyed dipping in and out of the brook and chasing sticks. 🙂

Meanwhile the weather was a mixture of sunshine and hale stones, plus it was blowing a bit of a hooley.

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I think the weather conditions frightened off most of the wildlife. I saw a few ducks and the odd pheasant. Lots of purple catkins on the alder trees gave the countryside a lilac hue.

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I think the scenery in the Trough is every bit as beautiful as in the Yorkshire Dales or the Lake District.

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We didn’t venture further than this water tower but I’m sure we will return one day soon and follow the lane up into the fells.

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We turned back and headed for Dunsop Bridge. This walk covered five miles in total.

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It was lovely to see bunches of wild snowdrops growing by the stream and dotted round the village. Hopefully Spring is on its way..

Have you been out and about this weekend?

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Edinburgh.

When Wil and I visited Edinburgh recently ,we decided to leave be the usual touristy venues such as the Castle, the Camera Obscura, Mary Kings Close and the Scottish National Gallery. All these wonderful attractions are definitely worth visiting ( and we will again, I am sure), but we wanted to explore some other parts of this beautiful city.

The Scottish Capital has extensive parks, extinct volcanos, hidden bars, Harry Potter inspired locations and the most listed buildings in the world. Here are a few images from our trip.

View of Arthur’s Seat from Edinburgh Castle. The peak is an ancient volcano, sitting 251m above sea level.
A William Wallace performs on the Royal Mile.
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A fairy on the Royal Mile.
The colourful curving Victoria Terrace is full of quirky independent shops, and happens to be the main inspiration for Diagon Alley, apparently. J. K. Rowling lived and wrote in the city, so could indeed be true.

Edinburgh’s Royal Botanic Garden is just one mile from the city centre, and well worth the walk, if your feeling active. I must admit I was dying to visit the ornate glass houses, of which there are ten. The Victorian Temperate Palm house below is one of the tallest traditional Palm houses ever built. Because it was quite nippy, it was nice to keep warm inside for a while, so I recommend a Winter trip. Look out for the Gardens cat, a handsome black Tom, called Milo. I didn’t manage to get a picture, but he’ll be the one being fussed over by the tourists. 🙂

You can enter the Palm House for free, and there is a charge to explore the other glass houses.
I think we are in the Cacti Glass House here.
There are lots of quite tame grey squirrels in the park.

From the Botanic Gardens it is a pleasant walk alongside the Water of Leith into Stockbridge, an area of Edinburgh with lots of green spaces and a friendly village atmosphere. It’s plethora of independent shops and cafes makes Stockbridge a great place to linger.

Entrance to Stockbridge Market, a popular Sunday Market.
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Little Free Library.,
A lovely independent bookshop we found called Golden Hare Books on St Stephen Street.
Golden Hare Books.
Cheese and wine in Smith & Gertrude.

Edinburgh is a walkers city! We followed the Dean Path along the waterside to the Dean Village, a beautiful Edinburgh suburb. An Instagrammer’s delight , the Dean Village is incredibly picturesque, but bring a picnic if your planning to eat here. There are no shops or cafes, though plenty in nearby Stockbridge.

St Bernard’s Mineral Well. A statue of Hygeia ` Greek Goddess of Health’ resides here.
Dean Village.
Well Court, Dean Village.

One place we reserved a table for dinner was ‘ The Witchery By The Castle‘ near the castle gates. Fine dining in a gothic setting, this restaurant may set you back a few quid, but it is in a very atmospheric setting and the food is mouth watering.

The Witchery By The Castle.
Dessert at the Witchery. Yummy!

We also discovered some almost hidden bars on our explorations round Edinburgh. Venture down any ginnel off the Royal Mile, and you will find a traditional real ale pub such as The Jolly Judge ( look out for the nearby Writers Museum) and The Jinglin’ Geordie. If your preference is cocktails, The Devil’s Advocate in the Old Town and Brambles in the New Town are both quite hidden from the hustle and bustle, but can get busy even so.

On the Sunday before catching our train home, we took a stroll up Calton Hill which is home to several skyline monuments. From here there are far reaching views over the city and some quite interesting structures, including a building that was once called ‘Scotland’s Disgrace’. It is in fact a half finished replica of the Athens Parthenon , a tribute to the fallen of the Napoleonic Wars. The money ran out and building of the National Monument was never completed. I quite like it though! Other iconic buildings include The Nelson Monument, The Royal Observatory and Rock House, which you can actually rent as a holiday let.

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Nelson Monument.
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Dugald Stewart Monument.
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Royal Observatory.

National Monument.

So there you have it, a weekend in Edinburgh.

Where do you like to visit in the city?

Sunday Sevens 27th January.

Sunday Sevens is a collection of seven or more photos from the last seven days.

Last Sunday Wil and I were still in Edinburgh, where we had spent the weekend for Wil’s birthday. Sunday morning was spent exploring the monuments on Calton Hill. Well worth a visit! I will have to get round to writing a proper post.

Calton Hill.

Our favourite meal in Edinburgh and a tick off my bucket list, was this lamb Wellington at The Witchery by the Castle. Talk about melt in the mouth dining , in a sumptuous setting.

Lamb Wellington at The Witchery

Back home to a foggy England. I have actually had the week off work, due to having some holidays to get in before the end of March. Wil took Monday off and we went for a misty wander round the Pendle Sculpture Trail.

Tree Nymph on the trail.
Swans on the Riverside path. 😂

Clitheroe had one gorgeous bright cold frosty day which Hugo and I made the most of , with a long walk by the Ribble. I was amused when these two swans emerged from the river and promptly plonked themselves on the path in front of us.

Cranachan.

Even though I have been in Scotland this week, I didn’t try Haggis or the traditional Scottish dessert Cranachan. Made from double cream, honey, oats, whisky & raspberries, cranachan is a simple pudding to make….even for me. 🙂 Delicious not only on Burns Night.

Noticed a few clumps of snowdrops whilst out and about this week. And discovered some hiding in my flower beds, once I tidied them up a bit. If your interested, here are a few links to snowdrop walks & weekends. Not sure I will get to go to one myself this year, as were on with decorating the bedroom.

Lytham Hall, Lancs.

Hornby Castle, Lancs.

National Trust Snowdrop walks.

Goldsborough Hall, Harrogate.

Hopton Hall, Derbyshire.

National Garden Schemes snowdrop days.

Ruby red Amaryllis.

I will leave you with this cheery amaryllis, a Christmas present that is now blooming beautifully. 🙂

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

New sculptures on the Pendle Sculpture Trail.

Pendle Sculpture Trail in Aitken Wood near Barley is a great little walk that is brimming with eye catching sculptures. I’ve blogged about this trail before here , and it’s now somewhere we love to bring Hugo. Over time some of the sculptures have naturally eroded but a few more have recently been added too. We visited on a foggy Monday morning, driving through the village of Downham and over a misty Pendle Hill.

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Witches on the trail.

There is ample parking in the car park in Barley ( £1 charge) which has a cafe & information centre. No maps featuring the new art installations were available on our visit ,but hopefully this will be remedied soon. To access the Sculpture Trail we made our way through the village , passing the Pendle Inn on our left and then Barley Garage, before following the signs up past two reservoirs and on to Aitken Wood.

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Another witch on the garage.
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A collie keeps a watchful eye on us.

The original Sculptures are very much inspired by the tale of the Pendle Witches. In the 1600s nine local women and one man were accused of witchcraft and tried and hung in Lancaster, as part of the Lancashire Witch trials. Of course they were no doubt innocent victims of the superstitious times they lived in. Other sculptures are inspired by the natural world and there are yet more, with a hint of the supernatural about them.

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Could this be a fir cone?
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Bracket Fungi , maybe.
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Mischievous boggart.
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Bat.

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Any eye-deas?

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Witch Finder General.

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The fog really adds to the atmosphere of the walk don’t you think? At one point I heard some bizarre sounds, that Wil and Hugo seemed completely oblivious to. Some very strange clickings & chattering’s from deep in the woods. Maybe I was letting the surroundings get to me, but I didn’t investigate further. Wil said I had probably heard a toad. Hmmmmm!

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Into the woods.

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I was definitely starting to believe I was in a Grimm’s Fairy tale by this point. More and more supernatural beings were emerging from the fog.

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There were years written on the circular flags. Possibly denoting the time passed since the Witch trials.
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Black Dog.
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Dryad ( tree nymph).
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Unicorn.

Also dotted around the woods are several ceramic plaques, one for each of the accused witches.

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Ceramic sheep skull plaque.
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Tiny fairy on woodpecker.
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Loved this one of the Pendle Witches.
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One of a flock of male and female Crossbills.

As we were leaving Aitken Wood I heard a lot of activity in some conifer trees. Looking up, I saw a flock of crossbills , my first ever. A magic moment indeed.

Are there any interesting sculpture trails near you?

Photo An Hour January 19th.

So I was in the beautiful Scottish Capital when #photoanhour was happening over on Instagram on Saturday. Time to join in and post a few photos of my day. 🙂

First of all I had the best ever lie in. Usually I am up and about before 7am. Being away from our pets for a weekend meant no early morning wake up calls. Definitely bliss on Saturday. By Sunday though, we were missing the noisy little blighters, and fussing over every cat and dog we came across. 😉

So anyway here is how Saturday panned out in Edinburgh…..

9am ~ As we had strolled up the Royal Mile on Friday, today we decided to head over to the New Town for breakfast. We passed the impressive Scott Monument, a stunning gothic pinnacle.

10am ~ Found an Italian cafe , which I can’t remember the name of. Good coffee though and tasty breakfasts. 🙂

11am ~ It was a bracing cold day, so where better to head for some warmth, than The Glass Houses at The Royal Botanic Gardens. We kept toasty as we explored the ferns, tropical plants & cacti.

Noon ~ Time for a brew in the Terrace Cafe, and a nice slice of cake. 🙂

1pm ~ We had headed out of the centre of Edinburgh to a lovely neighborhood called Stockbridge, which has a wealth of independent shops and cool cafes. This bookshop called Golden Hare Books on St Stephen Street has so many titles to choose from…and a cosy wood burning stove.

2pm ~ Not far from Stockbridge is Dean Village, a picturesque and very Instagram able residential area which we found by following the waterside path. The beck is known as The Water of Leith and the buildings are quite beautiful.

3pm ~ There are no shops or cafes in Dean Village, so we retraced our steps back to Stockbridge and found Smith & Gertrude , which is all about cheese and wine. We indulged!

4pm ~ I’m glad we had walked everywhere today because we also ate a lot and drank a lot! These are cocktails at an almost hidden subterranean bar called Bramble on Queen Street in the New town.

5pm ~ Back at the hotel slobbing out and watching Dogs Behaving Badly. The eerie violet light can only mean, we are stopping in a Premier Inn. I actually thought I had booked us into the Hubs By Premier Inn nextdoor, but somehow I hadn’t. Not sure what happened there!

6pm ~ A quick shower before heading out.

7pm ~ A snapshot taken on the Royal Mile. The cathedral is st Giles Cathedral and on the left is the Mercat Cross. Look out for the tiny unicorn on the top.

8pm ~ Pudding at an American Diner on the Royal Mile.

9pm ~ Sad to say I am now tucked up in bed. I was thinking about starting my new book, but I’m absolutely knackered!

I’l be back with more from Edinburgh soon. Thanks to Janey and Louisa for organising #photoanhour.

30 Before 50 Bucket List.

I’ve wrote my new Bucket List, though I can’t say I’m loving the title! But yes I am now 45 years old and having written a 25 Before 45 Bucket List when I was a mere age 42, I thought I would continue with the bucket listing lark, through the rest of my forties. 🙂

There were a few items on my previous list that I never got round to ticking off, so I have included some of them on here. I would still like to swim in a lido, see the Northern Lights and try a Dutch pancake in Amsterdam. And there are plenty of new ideas too, such as watching a starling murmuration, collecting sea glass from the beach at Seaham in County Durham and eating ice cream in a vintage ice cream parlour. I’m excited to get cracking!

And I’ve already crossed two things off my new Bucket List. I managed to take a photo of a Barn Owl that was hunting in the field next to my sisters house ( wow, they are such beautiful birds) , plus I went to watch a movie in an old vintage cinema , which has definitely made me want to do more of the same in the future. 🙂

My Bucket List.

Watch a film in an old vintage cinema.

Climb ten more Wainwrights.

Eat out at The Witchery in Edinburgh.

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I’ve only done two Wainwrights ever, so hopefully having them on my bucket list will encourage me to do more!

Go on a guided wildlife walk.

Swim in a lido.

Walk The Dales Way.

See the Northern Lights.

Try a Dutch Pancake in Amsterdam.

Collect sea glass on Seaham beach.

Dutch Pancakes in Amsterdam. Image from Pinterest.

Stop in four quirky holiday lets.

Go wild camping.

Afternoon Tea at Cloud 23 in Manchester.

Explore more of the Outer Hebrides.

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Barn Owl in my sisters croft.

Stay a few days in the Peak District.

Go to the No 6 Festival in Portmeirion.

Photograph a Barn Owl in the wild.

Ride a street car in Lisbon.

Watch a starling murmuration.

Go Ice skating outdoors.

Make an honesty box meal.

Yellow Street Car in Lisbon. Image from Pinterest.

Be Nine stone.

Visit Dungeness in Kent.

Eat ice cream in a vintage ice cream parlour.

Cycle round the isle of Cumbrae.

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Meet Felix the Huddersfield Railway Cat.

Go for a cream tea at the home of the Yorkshire Shepherdess.

As you can see, I have left a few gaps in my list, in case I think of a few more things I would like to do.

Do you have your own list?

Have you seen or done anything that I have mentioned here? x

January ♥️

The month of January can be a wee bit meh. The sparkle and celebrations of Christmas are over and done with, so what is to be done ? Possibly go back to the gym, join weight watchers ( my depressing January thing once upon a time) or go into full on hibernation? I say do none of those things. Embrace the winter months. Get out and explore. Snuggle up with a good book or two. Engross yourself in a riveting boxset. Make hearty stews. Drink winter warming brews. This month sounds so much better already. 🙂

Watching ~ The Marvelous Mrs Maisel.

I’m presently loving The Marvelous Mrs Maisel on Amazon Prime. I can really get lost in the retro fifties glamor, the whimsical storylines and the laugh out loud moments.

Midge Maisel is a well to do Jewish New York house wife whose life falls apart when her husband leaves her for his secretary. Reeling, Midge accidentally finds therapy in stand-up comedy, almost unheard of for women in those days. This show is a visual treat with fabulous characters and is written by Amy Sherman-Palladino, creator of Gilmore Girls. I definitely recommend. ❤️

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One of my birdie visitors.

I’ve signed up to do the RSPB Big Garden Bird Watch , which I had fun participating in last year. If you have any feathered visitors in your yard or garden or even in your local park, it is definitely a great help to take an hour out of your time to just sit and observe who turns up. The Big Birdwatch is on over the last weekend of January. Make sure you fill up the feeders beforehand. Then put the kettle on, relax and watch. You can sign up here.

The best January days are bright and cold.

I’ve also signed up to do the #walk1000miles challenge again. There’s a fantastic Facebook page with a wonderful community of experienced and inexperienced walkers. Lots of walks ideas on there and motivational stories too. Just think, by the end of January there will be an extra hour of daylight, so more time to enjoy the outdoors. I’m certainly looking forward to that!

Hubs by Premier Inn ~ Royal Mile, Edinburgh.

I always think January is a good time to organize a mini break. Though that might be partly because it’s my other halves birthday. 🙂 Seriously though, what better way to combat the winter blues than a couple of nights away. Out of season breaks are usually less expensive and I was beyond pleased when I found Hubs By Premier Inn in Edinburgh. I’ll tell you if staying in such a bijou room is a good experience, later in the month!

Head for the warmth ~ Palm House at the Royal Botanic Gardens in Edinburgh.

If it’s cold outside, and it often is in January , head for the warmth. A great article in this month’s the Simple things magazine has some toasty suggestions including….

Winter Swim in one of the heated open air pools or lido’s that are open out of season. outdoorswimmingsociety.com

Admire tropical growing palms, ferns and flowers in the warmth of an ornate Glass House.

Book a break at Sherwood Center Parcs and experience a treetop sauna.

After a brisk walk on the beach, grab a blanket, buy some fish n chips and eat them on the prom in a wind shelter.

Google pubs near you with a roaring fire. Nothing beats a tipple of your choice in front of a crackling open fire.

My own suggestions ~ wrap up warm in a beach hut, relax in a Turkish baths, head to an independent cinema that serves hot drinks whilst you watch a movie and/or drink coffee with cats in your local cat cafe.

What are your January plans?