February is here and at last there is hope that Spring is round the corner. The 2nd of February is celebrated as Candlemas Day in the Christian religion. Candles are lit in churches to symbolise Jesus,hope and light. Before Christianity the day was known as ‘Feast of Lights’ and celebrated the daylight hours increasing as winter gave way to spring. Whether you are religious or not, it is lovely to light candles around the home. I am sat writing this post with the lovely scent of my favourite Earl Grey Tea scented candle filling my nostrils. 🙂
Snowdrops have been known as Candlemas Bells and according to superstition they should not be brought into the home until now. A bunch of snowdrops symbolise the ending of Winter and looks beautiful in a little vase. I bought my snowdrop plant today and hope to replant it in my flower bed……once the stormy weather wanes. Even better why not see snowdrops in all their spring time glory on one of many Snowdrop walks in the UK.
In Anglo Saxon times February was known as Solmonath which is apparently translated as Sun Month and Mud month. The mud seems very appropriate after today’s Mud Bath – esque walk with Hugo! The Saxons baked Cakes for their God’s in February. This seems like a good excuse to me to bake a cake or even better why not book an Afternoon tea for you and a friend. Here are a few places I’ve enjoyed Afternoon Tea 🙂, always guaranteed to cheer you up on a drizzly day.
I thought I would start a series of round up posts of bits and pieces that I have enjoyed and discovered each month. Hopefully I will stick to it! I’m a bit rubbish at keeping up with things. But I will give it a go. 🙂 So without further ado, here is what I have enjoyed about January.
Books ~ Keeping up fine with my personal challenge of reading one book a month.Doesn’t sound a lot as I used to read tons. Then I lost my reading Mojo! Shhhh don’t say anything but I think I’ve got it back.:). Picked up The Miniaturist one winters afternoon and couldn’t put it down. Swiftly followed by The Curvy Girls Club and now ( rather behind the times) whizzing through Gone Girl. So busted my target already. 🙂
Films ~ If you like rom coms, 50’s fashion and France , then you may also like Populaire , a french film that combines all the above in a tale of a clumsy secretary, a speed typing competition and a dishy Professor Higgins type. Saw Cathy’s recommendation on her lovely blog and rented the dvd straight away.Loved it! Also enjoyed the rather silly but fun chick flick ‘The Other Women’ , starring Cameron Diaz and Leslie Mann. And another flirty film set in France Chocolat which was on freeview recently. Mouth watering chocolate and a youthful Johnny Depp. Whats not to love! 😉
Travel ~ This month I was lucky enough to spend a week in a cottage on the coast. Being able to walk on the beach every day ( even in January! ) was a dream come true. It has made us want to get away to the seaside again and we are now thinking of booking somewhere in Whitby, near the end of the year. 🙂 I’m also planning a few days away in London in May. Can’t wait!
App ~ Being January, I thought I had better try and make a bit of an effort to lose some weight! My fab work colleague Hermione told me all about My Fitness Pal which is a free calorie counting app you can put on your mobile. If you like making lists like me, its a great and easy way of tracking your calories and fat intake. My new pal first helped me work out how many calories I should be eating each day. Then I logged down what I ate for each meal from the gigantic food database. You can also add food to the database, though I think it has just about every edible item going on it. And it takes into account any exercise you do too. Oh and it memorises the foods you log, so you don’t have to search for them again. Soo is it working? Well, Yes! I’ve lost 4 pound…..and not for once, through paying for a weight watchers meeting!
Nature ~ Saw my first wild snowdrops of the year in the grounds of ‘Conishead Priory’ and spied oystercatchers, curlews, redshank and shelducks whilst holidaying in Baycliff.
We recently stopped in a cottage by the sea , not far from the market town of Ulverston in Cumbria. You can read about our week away Here.:) Anyway as we were staying so close we paid Ulverston a couple of visits. The town is famous mostly for its association with the comedy duo ‘Laurel and Hardy’, Stan Laurel was born in Ulverston. There are reminders of these unique Hollywood stars everywhere you look. I saw a florist called ‘Floral and Hardy’ and we came across their statues outside the Town Hall. There is even a Laurel and Hardy Museum situated in the Roxy Cinema but unfortunately it was closed on a chilly January week day afternoon.
A noticeable landmark in Ulverston is the ‘John Barrow Monument’ on Hoad Hill which commands impressive views over to Morecambe bay . Also known as the ‘ Lighthouse with no Light’ due to its lighthouse like design, it was erected in honor of ‘ Sir John Barrow’ , a local writer and explorer whose life is commemorated on colourful painted murals in the town. We had a walk up to the monument. As you can probably guess I was lagging behind and hyperventilating on the way up, such are my terrible fitness levels! Don’t worry though it really wasn’t all that far….and worth the climb. 🙂
If you fancy going somewhere a little different Conishead Priory just outside the town, on the way to Bardsea , is well worth a visit. The gothic Victorian mansion stands on the site of an ancient priory built in the 12th century. The original building was seized by the crown in the 1500s and all but destroyed. The estate passed through the gentry until the present structure was built in the 19th century by some rich landowners who then got into debt. It was sold and had a caring history as a hydro hotel, a military hospital and a residence for ill miners. It is now home to the Manjushri Kadampa Meditation Centre.
A Buddhist Community lives at Conishead and volunteers are also welcome to stay and help out with the upkeep. There were lots of leaflets about courses and meditation retreats. Its not something that I have ever thought of doing, but I did love the welcoming atmosphere and the peaceful and beautiful grounds which are full of wildlife. There is also a lovely cafe and I have to say they do a mean raspberry and yogurt flapjack! Even better dogs are welcomed into the lounge area which has comfy sofas and a flagged floor. It certainly was nice to settle back with coffees after taking our labrador Hugo for a walk through the woodland to the beach. 🙂 And look out for the temple in the grounds. You can’t miss it!
Ulverston and the surrounding area lies just outside the Lake District and even better, you are minutes from the sea. 🙂
Dog friendly hikes and exploring, mostly around New England. Our Adventures includes: waterfalls, the beach, conservation land, lighthouses, state parks, the woods, the mountains, statues, and castles.
This is my diary of the wildlife where I live in Oxfordshire, and sometimes the places I visit. I am a 15 year old young naturalist with a passion for British wildlife, especially Badgers and Hares. I have been blogging since May 2013 and you can read my old blog posts at www.appletonwildlifediary.blogspot.co.uk