Category Archives: wildlife

Sunday Sevens 14th October.

Today I thought I would round off my week with a Sunday Sevens, seven or more pictures from the last 7 days.

A Witchy Walk.

Even though we are busy decorating the kitchen at the moment ( when I say we, I really mean Wil ! ) , we did take time out for a walk in Aitken Wood near Barley. Pendle Witch country, the little conifer woods here are home to a spooky sculpture trail that tells the story of the Lancashire witch trials of 1612 . I have now reached 1300 miles walked in 2018, so still hoping to complete 1500 by the end of the year.

Guilty Pleasures. 😈

So I’m in love with the devil ! Fantasy horror writer Neil Gaiman is one of the creators of the supernatural characters in Lucifer, a TV series about the original fallen angel, the devil himself. Now residing in LA, Lucifer is keen to learn more about humanity and is even using his devilish powers for good ( well kind of πŸ˜‰ ), working as detective Chloe Decker’s wickedly sexy sidekick. Swoon! I am late to the party as usual…but totally loving this show. ❀️ You can watch it on Amazon Prime.

Witchy Read.

Also very appropriate for this time of year, how about a supernatural romance that begins in Autumn and is set in historical Oxford? Diana Bishop is a young scholar ( and reluctant witch) , who unwitingly stumbles upon an ancient enchanted manuscript, buried deep in Oxford’s Bodleian library. It’s discovery both thrills and disturbs the supernatural community, who all want to get their hands on both it and the young witch who summoned it. Diana finds herself being both hunted and protected by an ancient brooding vampire called Matthew Clairmont. This book has apparently just been made into a fantasy series on Sky, so one to look out for. For now though, I’ll just curl up with this couldron bubbling paperback romance. πŸ•ΈοΈ

Skipper Stew.

The first recipe we tried from The Little Book Of Hygge was a success! We made Skipper Stew which is a winter warming stew, perfect for Autumn and Winter. As its name suggests Skipper Stew was originally made on ships. The main ingredients are brisket ( though any meat will do), chicken stock, onions and potatoes. We served it with sourdough bread and pickled red cabbage instead of the suggested Pickled beets and Rye bread though. You can also find the recipe online here.

Wine Tasting. 🍷

Yesterday I was lucky enough to go to a Wine Tasting in Waddington with some friends. At first we were all very professional , swirling our glasses round and declaring ‘ I detect hints of elderflower’ , but it soon descended into chaos when we realised there were fifty bottles to try, in a two hour time slot. Haha. Great idea! If your thinking about wine now , check out www.winesbytimbyrne.co.uk

So that was my week, how was yours?

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A camera and a coffee ~ Clitheroe Castle.

Some of you will know that I happen to live, but a hop, skip and a jump away from a tiny castle keep in a small Lancashire market town. I have been neglecting the grounds of Clitheroe Castle on my blog recently, so yesterday I took my camera and a coffee out and explored for an hour.

The Castle was built in 1186 by Robert de Lacy and rises proudly over the town. Its really only a Norman ruin with no roof, but it’s our roofless ruin. πŸ™‚

Clitheroe Castle. The Ivy flowers on the wall were buzzing with insects.
A Coffee.
Peeping Pigeon.

Below the keep is aΒ  memorial commemorating all those residents of Clitheroe, lost in two World Wars. The soldier stands, head bowed, looking out toward Pendle Hill.

War Memorial.
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Front view , with the castle in the background.
Museum.

Clitheroe Castle Museum resides in the former Steward’s House in the grounds. Many moons ago I visited with a friend and wrote this post ~ Clitheroe Castle and Museum.

There is also a cafΓ© in the Atrium, which is a good place for a brew.

 

Newish signage for ‘The Pinnacle’
Cheeky Squirrel.

I soon got side tracked by the local wildlife.

Orange Berries of the Firethorn.
Red Admiral.
Turning Oak Leaves.
Female Chaffinch.
Honey Fungus.
The Pinnacle.

The Pinnacle , situated in the Rose garden was once part of the Houses of Parliament and was gifted to the town in 1937. Also in the Rose garden are a couple of sculptures , a leaping limestone salmon and a hawk.

Dive-bombing.
Hugo at the Castle Street Entrance.

That’s all for now though, my hour is up! Maybe I will return soon, with a camera and a coffee . πŸ™‚

Hawthorn’s Photo Scavenger Hunt ~ September.

Time for another Scavenger Hunt with Kate & co , over at I Live, I Love, I Craft, I am Me. The words that kate chose are Brightly Coloured, Pattern, Ink, Upside Down, Bag & My Own Choice.

Brightly Coloured ~ Not my hanging basket unfortunately! Mine did not do well at all this year, so here’s one of the lovely brightly coloured ones at The Aspinall Arms in Mitton, a pub we occasionally walk to, across the fields . I love the vibrant pink fuchsia.

Bag ~ Not exactly a bag, but more of a picnic basket ! The above items are on display at a lovely olde worldy train station I visited recently. And they are from a film. Can you guess which one? Blog post to follow. πŸ™‚

Upside Down ~ We managed to take a wrong turn on a walk near Haworth in Yorkshire a couple of weeks ago and ended up walking past this great kids Welly storage. πŸ™‚ It was however the perfect photo opportunity for upside down.

Pattern ~ I always think Speckled Wood Butterflies wings are adorned with a very Autumnal pattern. πŸ™‚

Ink ~ Didn’t really know what to photograph for Ink, but then I thought, well I am writing most days in my Nature Diary. I’m jotting down all the wildlife that I see when I’m out and about ,walking the dog, walking to work etc ,and I have being doing so since April. It has encouraged me to ID various insects and flowers and is a useful way of recording the changing of the seasons, and what wildlife lives where. I’m quite addicted!

My Own Choice ~ Whilst walking to nearby Mitton recently, one of the fields we walk through was full of horses, including these two little Shetlands. They were too busy munching to be bothered by us. I just thought they were so cute!

Thanks for reading and have a great weekend. ❀️

Early Autumn.

September, a month where Summer’s warmth lingers on as Autumn brings in nippy mornings and changing colours. These past couple of weeks I have definitely been feeling the Autumn vibe. Nuts and berries are abundant on the trees, sycamore helicopters are spinning in the breeze and the path through a nearby woodland is carpeted with acorns and conkers.

Woodland walk.

I am feeling especially Autumnal lately as I actually won this lovely Autumn themed Giveaway over on Paula’s ‘Typewriter Girl’ blog. What a wonderful surprise! I opened my parcel yesterday to find it filled with gorgeous gifts. There is a beautiful fabric covered notebook, a rather jaunty journal, four Fall themed notecards ( the photos taken by Paula herself) and even a bar of Green & Black’s Dark Chocolate, velvet edition. I feel utterly spoilt! Paula writes about her native Ireland, her glorious flower garden and her adorable Basset Hound Boris, amongst other things. Bob by her blog and say Hi. πŸ™‚

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A parcel of goodies πŸ™‚
More Treats at The Chocolate Works.

A combination of sunshine and showers today sent me ducking into a local cafΓ© for coffee and a treat. I couldn’t resist. πŸ™‚

What films remind you of Autumn?

I have been searching on good old Pinterest for films that get you in the mood for Autumn. Movies where you can snuggle cosy under a blanket and watch characters crunch about on golden leaves or get their hands on a book of spells. Here is a list of ~

Autumn Inspired Films.

You’ve Got Mail ( 1998), The Fantastic Mr Fox ( 2009), Practical Magic ( 1998), Dead Poets Society ( 1989), St Elmo’s Fire ( 1985), When Harry met sally ( 1989), Rushmore ( 1998), Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (2004), Far From Heaven ( 2002), Beetlejuice (1988) and Hocus Pocus ( 1993).

What plans have you this Autumn?

A week on a Scottish Island ~ North Uist in the Outer Hebrides.

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Rocky beach on North Uist.

Back in August ( was it really that long ago?) we made the journey North to the Isle of Skye, stopping overnight in the small ferry port of Uig, before our crossing to Lochmaddy on North Uist, the following afternoon. So why did we choose a remote island in the Outer Hebrides as our holiday destination?

Some years earlier we had enjoyed watching a TV show called Monty Hall’s Great Hebridean Escape, where marine biologist Monty Halls and his madcap dog Reubs stayed in a restored crofters cottage on North Uist whilst working as a volunteer Wildlife Ranger on the island. The TV programme definitely put the thought into our heads about visiting the Outer Hebrides but it wasn’t until eight years later that we were flicking through a Unique Cottages holiday brochure and saw the cottage they had lived in for six months had been renamed Montys Cottage and is now a holiday let. We decided to book it there and then. πŸ™‚

Over The Sea From Skye. Our time on Skye was brief but we did manage to visit a couple of places on the Saturday morning. After a comfortable stay in the Uig Hotel ( very friendly and welcoming, especially to our dog Hugo πŸ™‚ ) we took ourselves off to the mystical Fairy Glen. Its miniature round grassy hills, one of which is basalt topped and from a distance resembles a ruined castle, have been used as landscapes in fairy tale films ‘Stardust’ and ‘The BFG’. We also visited The Skye Museum Of Island Life at Kilmuir. This collection of thatched Highland cottages housed everything a typical crofters village would have needed to make a living from the land and the sea.

The crossing from Uig to Lochmaddy on North Uist takes a little under two hours. Caledonian MacBrayne Ferries operate services to the islands and we spent the trip up on the deck, watching shearwaters skim the surface of the water and gannets dive-bombing the waves. There are dog-friendly areas inside too, so this journey is easy to make with a four-legged friend. πŸ™‚

As we approached Lochmaddy we were welcomed by late afternoon sunshine and we couldn’t wait to get into the car and drive the 40 minutes north to our accommodation.

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Monty’s Cottage.
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Interior.
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Lochan in front of the cottage.
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Ruins on the way to the headland.
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Highland Cows on nearby beach.

Monty’s Cottage. Located down its own secluded lane, a few minutes walk from the sea at Griminish, Montys Cottage looks just like it does in the brochure. A cute white washed crofters cottage with a thatched roof and incredibly thick walls, surrounded by the most beautiful countryside. It felt surreal that this place where Monty Halls had mapped out walking routes for the islands and Reubs the dog had run free on the sands, was to be our home for a week. 😁. Inside the cottage was cosy and well equipped. The owner had left us fresh milk, bread, eggs ect, which did prove a godsend as there were no shops open the following day. Be prepared that shops in the Outer Hebrides don’t usually open on a Sunday!

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Compass Jellyfish.
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European Otter!
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Red deer on the way to Cheese Bay.
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Curious Seal.

P1090593 Female Wheatear.
Wildlife On North Uist. The landscape of North Uist is more like a waterscape. There are over 800 freshwater lochans on the island. The watery habitat is perfect for wading birds and for one of Britain’s more elusive species of mammal, the European Otter. European Otters will swim in seawater but also need to bathe in fresh water to protect their coats. We were lucky enough to be able to watch two otters playing in the sea nearby the cottage. A magical experience indeed. πŸ™‚ Other wildlife we spotted on North Uist included several birds of prey, red deer, grey and common seals, many beautiful wildflowers and….. jellyfish galore.

All this wonderful wildlife was on our doorstep, literally. Gaggles of greylag geese flew over every day, a merlin regularly hunted for small birds and field mice in the meadow next to the garden, seals watched us watching them as they bobbed in the bay and scores of compass and lion’s mane jellyfish washed up in one of the several little coves nearby. Corn buntings and countless other small birds make their home on North Uist and it’s neighboring islands. They are basically a nature lovers paradise.

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A typical traffic sign. πŸ™‚
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Balranald Rspb Nature Reserve, North Uist.
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Seal watching on Berneray.
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Snoozy seal and pal, Berneray.
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Our Lady of the Isles, South Uist.

Island Hopping. Very handily North Uist is one of several Outer Hebridean islands connected by causeway roads, making it very easy to visit it’s equally picturesque neighbors. Collectively they are known as The Uists. In the north is beautiful Berneray , which in my opinion boasts the most stunning beaches. All white sand and turquoise ocean. To the south is Benbecula and South Uist, both worth exploring too. And further South is pretty Eriskay , where Bonnie Prince Charlie first landed on Scottish soil. Eriskay is also the real-life location of the shipwreck and lost cargo that inspired the film ‘Whisky Galore’. We didn’t manage to visit the islands of Barra and Vatersay which are accessed by boat. Maybe another time!

Never ending sands, Sollas, North Uist.
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Eriskay. Beach in front of the Am Politician Bar.
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One of Berneray’s stunning stretches of white sand.
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South Uist. Beach near Howmore.

Life’s A Beach. How I long to stroll again on those never ending white sandy shores. The beaches in the Outer Hebrides can match any in the Caribbean I bet. Though we occasionally had to wrap up to walk on them..even in August! There are so many stunning stretches of sand that it’s hard to pick a favourite. 🌞

As you can imagine Hugo had a riot chasing sticks and balls along countless beautiful beaches. Our far from chunky labrador ended up almost whippet thin after a week in the Uists.

Berneray Shop & Bistro.
Lobster at Namara Seafood CafΓ©.

Food & Drink. I must admit we cooked most of our evening meals at the cottage, stocking up at the co op 5 miles away in Sollas. Having Hugo with us meant that we had to find pet-friendly places to eat and there are only a few on North Uist. We found both the Lochmaddy Hotel and Langass Lodge near Locheport to be excellent when it came to eating out. Both welcome dogs and have good locally sourced menus.

Wil was really happy when oneday by chance we discovered Namara Seafood Cafe. This place feels a bit like a hushed up secret ,as it is located in a remote working harbor at Kallin on Grimsay ( another small causeway island), miles off the beaten track. The cafe is part of a chandlery ( boat supplies shop) and is by no means posh. It does serve the best fresh lobsters and crab though, straight from the ocean. Wil was one happy man as he tucked into delicious lobster & chips for Β£13, sat on a bench outside.

Are there any pubs on the islands? Well, not many! And none within walking distance of Monty’s Cottage. In fact the only pub on North Uist is The Westford Inn which we never got round to visiting. It looks like a good one though, serves meals and is dog friendly.

Reflections ~This road ends sculpture is a sweeping ceramic tiled seat at Claddach Baleshore, North Uist.
Sanctuary is a road ends sculpture at Locheport, North Uist.
Mosaic Mackerel on the shoreline near the arts centre in Lochmaddy.

Public Art & Landmarks. The Uists are home to many artists and creative talents, so it was fun to search out the various sculptures and art instillations on the islands. Even in a week we did not find them all. Interesting historic landmarks include the Neolithic chambered cairn Barpa Langais at the top of Beinn Langais , resplendent in heather by August. Also look out for the Hut Of Shadows at Sponnish, which hides a camera obscura within.

Dotted round the islands are several working craft studios. I noticed beautiful pottery at Shoreline Stoneware in Locheport and bought a lovely print of the machair ( coastal wildflower meadows) at Puffin Studio Crafts on Benbecula.

Heather,Grimsay.
Hugo, Berneray.
Rocky coastline, Lochmaddy.
Clachan Sands, North Uist.
Monty’s Cottage.
Berneray. It’s western beach once stood in for Thailand in a tourist brochure!

Are the Uists for you?

If you don’t mind not seeing a soul when you walk on the beach, don’t mind a short drive to the nearest shop and don’t expect a phone signal or WiFi, you will love holidaying on these Hebridean Islands.

Walking, wildlife, stunning beaches, turquoise sea, friendly folk( when you bump into any πŸ˜‰), fresh seafood, creative art and spectacular scenery. What’s not to love!

The Uists are definitely for us..X

A stroll along the Crinan Canal, Britain’s most beautiful short cut.

On the last day of our holiday in Scotland ,we discovered the serenely beautiful Crinan Canal. Often described as ‘Britains Most Beautiful Short Cut’ , the waterway was completed in 1801, as a quick link between the West Coast and Islands and the Clyde Estuary. The 9 mile stretch of canal vanquished the need to travel round the coast of the vast Kintyre Peninsula, a very handy short cut indeed. 😁

After noticing a sign for Crinan near the village of Slockavullin, where we were staying, we decided to go exploring in the car. 15 minutes later and we found ourselves in this picturesque wee harbour village. It is here that the canal enters the Sound of Jura.

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Crinan village harbour.
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Watching the world go by, as Hugo keeps an eye on the cake.
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A pleasure boat sets out for a cruise.

The quayside is an ideal spot to sit with a coffee and watch the world ( and their beautiful boats) go by. Queen Victoria herself took a trip up the canal in 1873.

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A moorhen hitching a lift. πŸ™‚
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Interpretation boards along the tow path tell the waterways history.

We decided to take a short stroll along the tow path, keeping Hugo on lead, as he is prone to jumping into canals given half the chance. The beauty of this walk, the wonderful watery views! On one side you have the calm Crinan canal, and on the other, the coastal vistas of the River Add Estuary.

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Duntrune Castle looks out toward Crinan. It is said to be haunted by the ghost of a handless Piper.
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Rosebay willowherb turning fluffy.
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Sleepy Duck.
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All aboard!
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Lock and Keepers Cottage.

Our short stroll took us past several boats negotiating the locks. It feels rude to stop and watch though. I’m sure I would get pretty flustered if I had a crowd eyeing my every move! In days gone by the Crinan Canal saw sailing and fishing vessels pass through, as well as Clyde Puffers.

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Fraser MacIver on his roof.

We soon came across a man fixing his waterside cabin roof. I am pretty sure he is the artist who uses the colourful caravan below as a studio.

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Artists studio.
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Art Honesty Box. πŸ™‚

I helped myself to a leaflet that says ‘ Canadian artist Fraser MacIver has lived on the Crinan Canal since 1997, taking inspiration from his canalside environment; as well as from the beautiful surrounding Argyllshire countryside’. I left money for a couple of pretty painted postcards.

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Scabious on the estuary side.

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Has anyone ever explored more of the Crinan Canal?

Would you be tempted to try a canal boat holiday?