I am loving the weather at the moment. Cold and crisp, hard frost and no squelchy mud. Hugo coming home clean and no danger of him shaking dirt all over the house. Bliss!
During the week it’s mostly just Hugo and I on our walks as Wil works full time. I can fit the doogal in round my part time hours and we stick to local routes around the outskirts of Clitheroe. Happily It isn’t very far for us to find some fields and below is one of our usual hikes from home.
One of Clitheroe’s neighboring villages is Chatburn and from there it’s a pleasant walk into Downham, a picture postcard village used as filming locations in various TV programmes and also in the classic film ‘ Whistle Down The Wind’. Sunday was bitterly cold, so we chose this walk as there are two brew stops, if so desired..
Instead of carrying on to Downham we took a detour to Downham Mill, which is down a track on the right,off the road to Rimington. In the past like nearby Twiston Mill , it was a medieval water powered cornmill. Both mills are no longer mills, but do have ponds and millstones.
It is possible to walk past Downham Mill and over the fields to Twiston. Instead we took a footpath on the right before the mill, which lead us over some hilly fields to the village of Downham.
Up at St Leonard’s Church in the village there are nice views of Pendle Hill, still blending into the sky.
We walked back to Chatburn , passing this unusual breed of sheep again. Anyone know what they are?
January has been an enjoyable reading month. A couple of the books were birthday or Christmas gifts, two were inspired by other bloggers reads and one was bought on a whim, purely because of the cover. Though in fact all these book covers are asphetically pleasing in my eyes.
Bookshop Tours Of Britain ~ Louise Boland ( 2020). Whilst our bookshops are sadly closed at the moment, how about browsing through a book that takes the reader on 18 journeys around Britain and its many beautiful independent book stores. This handy guide allows you to plan which parts of the country to visit once lockdown is over, with its indie bookshops in mind. Lots of travel information too and litery snippets. I love this celebration of our indie stores, they really need our support at the moment. A little sad that two lovely book towns that I have visited, Wigtown in Dumfries & Galloway and Sedburgh in Cumbria , weren’t included though. ⭐⭐⭐⭐
The Wild Life Of The Fox ~ John Lewis – Stemple ( 2020). A slim volume not unlike Adele Brands ‘ The Hidden World Of The Fox’ , packed full of fascinating insights into the life of this mysterious wild creature, who’m we share our countryside and urban landscape with. The author, a prolific nature writer ,starts off by talking about a phone conversation that went on slightly too long, causing him to head out to lock up his chickens that little bit later than usual. Well you can imagine what had happened to the chickens. Yet we can’t help but have a love/hate relationship with the 🦊. And that is explored expertly here. ⭐⭐⭐⭐
Winter Holiday ~ Arthur Ransome ( 1931). I haven’t actually read any of the other Swallows & Amazon’s books. I assume they are all set in long warm summers. Winter Holiday though is absolutely perfect for this time of year. The frozen lake and surrounding snowy countryside lends itself perfectly to the children’s Arctic Expedition adventures. I love how the adults don’t bat an eyelid at the youngsters playing out from dawn until dusk and how everyone gets their skates on , igloos are built and ice yachts are commondeered. Delightful. ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
Before The Coffee Gets Cold ~ Toshikazu Kawaguchi (2015). If you could travel back in time to a crossroads moment in your life , would you want to, if you couldn’t change the outcome? In a quiet cafe in Japan , from a particular seat ,it is possible to do just that. As long as you drink your coffee before it gets cold that is. A moving and magical tale. And there is a sequel that I want to read too. ⭐⭐⭐⭐
The weekends activities included the RSPB Big Garden Birdwatch. Hurrah! Something to do, and really quite ideal for lockdown. I must admit though I didn’t have the most exciting hour. My newly filled feeders seemed to be regarded with suspicion by the resident sparrows. Not one bird ventured from the foliage behind the garden shed. What was going on!
I counted 8 sparrows during the sixty minutes I sat glued to the window, camera at the ready. For all that time they mostly stayed hidden in the ivy. Then about five minutes before my hour was up I noticed a much bigger bird had landed in the greenery. It was mostly obscured but I noticed a long speckled tail through the leaves. It wasn’t a pigeon! Then suddenly it flew higher and all was revealed. A sparrowhawk! No wonder my little feathered visitors were staying away from the food. They didn’t intend to be food themselves.
Sorry to say I didn’t get a photo of my raptor visitor. Think I was in shock. 😲 But I have added Sparrowhawk to my birdcount results for the first time ever.
Meanwhile my sister and family were doing the birdcount at the same time as me. I usually join them but unfortunately not this year. 😔 They had a really successful hour with Nuthatch, Long Tailed Tits, Pheasants, Kestrel and a Wren included in the final tally. 🙂
After lunch Wil, Hugo and I headed out for a walk from Clitheroe , taking in the fields and River Ribble near Waddow Hall. Plenty of wildlife out this afternoon and an enjoyable 4 mile ramble from home and back.
I was delighted to find some Scarlet Elf Cups, such vibrant pops of colour in the winter landscape. They are also called Red Cups, Moss Cups and Fairies Baths. In folklore Wood Elves drink morning dew from them. Scarlet Elf Cups are most commonly found on mossy decaying branches on the woodland floor.
I saw plenty of Snowdrops in people’s front gardens today , it was also nice to see some wild ones too. A real sign that Spring is on the way. ❤️
I wouldn’t like to admit to having a favourite water bird ( I love to see them all) , but if you insist, I would probably say the Goosander . I always smile when I see these sawbilled ducks on the river, the female especially with her nut brown quiff . They are super adorable 💖.
Thanks for dropping by. Let me know if you have done the Birdwatch, seen Snowdrops or walked anywhere this weekend. 🥾🐦
I stole the list below from BBC Winterwatch, some wildlife which can be seen at this time of year, on a typical Winters day walk in the UK.
Singing Robin ~ Easy.
Corvid Roost ~ Easy.
First Snowdrops ~ Easy.
Scent of Gorse flowers ~ Easy.
Jelly Ear Fungus ~ Easy.
Hazel Catkins ~ Medium.
Great Spotted Woodpecker drumming ~ Medium.
Overwintering migrant birds gathering ~ Medium.
Fox screeching at night ~ Medium.
Overwintering insects ~ Medium.
Winter Moth ~ Medium.
Hair Ice ~ Hard.
Mistle Thrush guarding winter berries ~ Hard.
Glue crust fungus ~ Hard.
This morning my locality was monochrome! We decided to walk from Clitheroe to Pendleton village and then along the bridle path to Mearley , passing the farmhouse I grew up in and then back home via Worston village. This walk has appeared on my blog before , though never in Winter.
I must admit I was hoping to find a little more snow and early on I wasn’t disappointed. We also spotted a few of the easy to see items on the watchlist too.
Pendleton lies at the foot of Pendle Hill near the nick of Pendle. Unfortunately it was foggy today so the hill became obscured by the mist after I took the photo below.
I still have relatives in the area and my lovely cousins made us a socially distanced outdoors brew ( a treat indeed! ) which warmed us up for the continuation of our walk.
Believe it or not, this is actually the first Holly I have seen with berries all Winter. The berries are an important sorce of food for birds in the colder months and trees are supposedly a protection against witchcraft. Appropriate in the Pendle countryside, home of the Lancashire witches….
As a child I lived in the tenanted farmhouse above. Little Mearley dates back to 1590 and my bedroom was the mullioned bay window room. I have happy memories of growing up there, though as a 16 year old , all I wanted was to move into town.
Afternoon and heading back to Clitheroe, the snow had all but gone.
Have you spotted anything yourself from the Winter Watchlist?
I am treating January as I usually do. It’s my month of keeping snug and cosy inside, with a healthy dose of fresh air and exercise. I also like to plan holidays and weekends away at this time of year, so have been researching our little holiday in North Norfolk during May and weekend walks in the Eden Valley, for when we can get back up to the caravan.
Continuing Winter cheer with my window display. The Robins mimic my real life robin visitor. The hyacinth plant I found in Sainsbury’s for a bargain 65p is now flowering and giving off a delicious scent, resembling woods of bluebells.
I’ve been looking for more walks from home. Although I thought we had been just about everywhere on our doorstep, I was proved wrong last weekend, when we discovered new to us footpaths. I’m sure there are more to explore!
There will be another place to wander when Clitheroe’s new Nature Reserve opens. It is very local indeed. I have nosed over the fence a couple of times and I spied several Teal on the water. 🙂 Can’t wait for a proper look.
The RSPB Big Garden Birdwatch is all set for the last weekend of January. I have signed up as usual and am looking forward to seeing which feathered visitors turn up in the hour.
Incase you are looking for some on screen escapism, here is a list of what I’ve enjoyed watching recently. Most are series and there’s one film. But let me say this, my list is one of mostly guilty pleasures. 😄
Bridgerton. Netflix. Regency romance with lots of drama, comedy, gossip & scandal.
Derry Girls. All 4 / Netflix. Coming of age comedy set during ‘ the troubles’ in nineties Northern Ireland.
Ghosts. BBC I Player. Spirited comedy about the ghostly inhabitants of a haunted house, from the creators of Horrible Histories
Winter Walks. BBC I Player. Join well known faces as they film their favourite walks in Yorkshire. I miss Yorkshire. ❤️
Eurovision Song Contest : The Story Of Fire Saga. Netflix. Very cheesy but enjoyable musical comedy film set in Iceland and Edinburgh.
The Masked Singer. ITV/ ITV Hub. Addictive crazy singing competition.
Home For Christmas. Netflix. Norwegian rom com series.
Sneaky Pete. Amazon Prime. Crime drama about a con man who assumes the identity of his cellmate to escape from a vengeful mobster.
The Queen’s Gambit. Netflix. An orphans rise against the odds to become the Worlds number one chess player.
All Creatures Great And Small. My 5. Heart warming 1940s comedy drama about a young vet who accepts a job in a Yorkshire Dales Vetinary practice. This is a remake of the original series, and just as good. ❤️
It’s nice to find a nice cosy read and I did in Winter Holiday from the Swallows and Amazon’s children’s book series by Arthur Ransome. I am immersed in a world of frozen lakes, snowy igloos and secret signals. Thanks to the What is it about books ? blog for the recommendation. ❤️
So this is my first foray into using the new WordPress editor. I hope it turns out okay.
Do leave me your own thoughts on how you are spending January?
Today was one of those days when I really wish I had taken my camera out with me, instead of just my phone. This frosty walk along the river from home to the village of Chatburn gave lots of photographic opportunities of the feathered variety. I counted Grey Herons, Little Egrets, Canada Geese, Moorhens, Kestrel, Goosanders and Wagtails .
We don’t often walk on the left hand side of the Ribble on this route for some reason, so it was nice to see the surrounding countryside from a different perspective. Clitheroe’s industrial landscape appeared sporadically in the distance.
Mary Horner’s attractive carved bench was particularly striking. Was she a shepherdess I wonder….
After a brew and sausage roll in the village of Chatburn we chose to walk back home on the road, though another great way to get back to Clitheroe is of course along the other side of the river.
Here are the last few books I finished in 2020. In the end I have read 34 books out of the 35 I challenged myself to read on Good Reads. 📚 So close!
The Misinterpretation Of Tara Jupp ~ Eva Rice ( 2008). Tara Jupp is wisked away from her cosy life in the country to spend a lively glamerous time in London , when her talent for singing is discovered. This is a coming of age story set in the 50s & 60s. Our heroine navigates a budding career, falling in love, and tries to make sense of the complicated relationships of those around her . There are reoccurring characters from Rice’s more satisfying novel ‘ The Lost Art Of Keeping Secrets’. ⭐⭐⭐
We Have Always Lived In The Castle ~ Shirley Jackson( 1962) When reading the first paragraph of this strange gothic tale , you find out that the narrator is called Mary Katherine Blackwood ( Merricat) and she likes her sister Constance, Richard Plantagenet and Amanita phalloides , the death-cap mushroom. The much depleted Blackwoods live exiled from the nearby village ,where tongues wag due to the unfortunate deaths of most of the family, whilst at dinner. I immensingly enjoyed this eerie unforgettable book. ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
A Poem For Every Autumn Day ~ Allie Esiri ( 2020). A gorgeous collection of poems, sometimes more than one for each day, through September, October & November. A book to dip into once the leaves turn golden brown. Allie Esiri has put together poetry from well known and lesser known writers, occasionally the poems recollect a particular occasion in history and at other times, the simple joys of Autumn. A lovely birthday present, I have been inspired to purchase the Winter volume since. ⭐⭐⭐⭐
I Don’t Know What You Know Me From : My Life As A Co Star ~ Judy Greer ( 2014). I honestly have asked the question “Where do I know That Actress From? ” about Judy Greer, as she has a habit of popping up in just about every American Sit Com going , as well as in a number of rom coms , usually playing the female leads quirky best friend. Judy’s memoirs are funny and down to earth, she definitely comes across as someone you’d want to be mates with in real life. Disappointingly she isn’t one to dish the dirt on her Hollywood co stars, but that does make her refreshingly likeable. ⭐⭐⭐
The Wild Silence ~ Raynor Winn( 2020). When Raynor Winn and her terminally ill husband Moth became homeless they decided to walk the South West Coastal Path. Raynor’s evocative account of their epic trek is told in ‘ The Salt Path’ and this is the anticipated follow-up. What happens next for the couple who found hope and temporary respite via walking & wild camping in nature? Another engaging read. ⭐⭐⭐⭐
Even a smattering of snow completely changes the look and feel of a place. Clitheroe Castle this morning ,before the betwixmas crowds landed ,had a magical quality about it. I took these photos with my phone on an early walk with Hugo. ❤️
Later today a friend asked me if fancied going for a Pendle Hill walk. I did not hesitate. I wanted to experience some more of the white stuff. 😁 Once parked , we headed to the Wellsprings at the Nick ,where we bought take away sausage butties & hot chocs before stepping into a winter wonderland. My friend took most of these lovely pictures. ❤️