2016 – A year in pictures

As 2016 draws to a close I thought I would post a few photos I’ve taken during the year while I’ve been out and about round my local area with the dogs and the camera. I’d also intended to write briefly about a few of the things which have happened in my life over the last twelve months but I’ve been so unexpectedly busy over the last few hours that I’m running out of time to get this done before midnight. So here you go, one photo for each month of the year –
January – Sophie and Poppie sharing the big bed
February – River Irwell, Burrs Country Park
March – Private garden, Barrow Bridge
April – View over Jumbles Reservoir
May – Bolton and Bury Canal
June – Bolton and Bury Canal
July – Entwistle Reservoir
August – Wayoh Reservoir
September – Wayoh Reservoir
October – Moses Gate Country Park
November – Late afternoon sun, Turton golf course
December – Frozen pond, Turton golf course
All that remains now is for me to say ‘thank you’ to all my blogging friends, known or unknown, for taking the time to read my blog posts, and to wish you all a very happy, healthy and peaceful New Year. Here’s to 2017, I hope it’s a good year for everyone Ā šŸ™‚

Sophie & Poppie – my two little elves

After several quite dull grey days the weather today turned out to be quite reasonable with plenty of sunshine so I took the opportunity to take Sophie and Poppie for a long walk, but first I took a few snaps of them in their new Christmas outfits. Now I wouldn’t normally dress them up, though as they both have very short fine fur I do occasionally put them in hoodies to keep them warm when the weather is really cold, but my daughter-in-law bought these for them and they looked so cute I couldn’t resist getting the camera out. The writing on the back of each one says ‘Mummy’s little elf’ though neither of them would stay still long enough for me to photograph it.




Needless to say, the outfits were taken off again before we actually went for our walk as they are too nice to get dirty so they’ll be kept for indoors only and after New year they’ll be put away. Then in twelve months time – if I can remember where I’ve put them – I’ll get them out again and Sophie and Poppie can become my little elves for next Christmas.

You really couldn’t make this up

Following on fromĀ the first burglaryĀ at work in early November eventsĀ have recently been getting more and more outrageous, and in spite of various security measures being put in place the same thieves have continued to target the premises. At the beginning of this month, on the night before I went to Ireland, they broke the lock off the pedestrian gate and broke into the gas bottle storage compound, stealing three large propane gas bottles. Unfortunately the gate and the compound are out of sight of where the dog security guy is on guard so this wasn’t discovered until several hours later.
While I was in Ireland the place was hit again, this time in broad daylight and right under the noses of various people who work there. One of the guys in the main works had an accident which needed an ambulance to attend and while everyone was at the front of the building and busy concerning themselves with him the thieves drove their van into the car park at the side, lifted another guy’s motorbike into the back of their van and drove out again. It must just have been pure coincidence that the thieves were in the vicinity at the time, so when the ambulance arrived at work they saw a chance and took it – it was certainly a very risky but bold move and they were lucky to get away with it. They were captured on cctv however, and although the images of their faces weren’t completely clear they showed enough to identify them as the same guys as before, but so far the police have been unable to trace them.
Then a couple of days ago, again in broad daylight, an incident happened which showed that these guys will stop at nothing to get what they want. Across the corner from where I work is a tyre fitting and MOT garage and the guy from there was working on a car just outside it when the thieves pulled up; two of them got out of their van and while one distracted the garage guy the other jumped into the car he was working on. Trying to stop the car from being stolen he jumped onto the front of the bonnet but the thief accelerated quickly, causing him to fall into the road; luckily he fell sideways and not directly in front of the car otherwise he would have been very seriously hurt or maybe even killed. The car didn’t get far though as the thief was in such a hurry to get away that he smashed into another car further down the street, causing considerable damage. He mustn’t have been injured though as he jumped out, jumped into their own van and the three of them got away. The whole incident was captured on our works cctv which this time provided a clear image of the van’s registration, but when the police checked they found that the number plates are false so up to now they are no nearer to finding and catching these guys.
Needless to say the PA is extremely concerned for my safety, especially when I’m locking up the premises after hours, and I now have to ring the dog man to let him know when I’m leaving so he can accompany me while I lock up. I’ve never been a nervous or timid person though and working alone and being the last one to leave a building and lock up has never bothered me, so I absolutely refuse to start worrying now about something which may or may not happen. There are even more security measures being put in place now anyway, so hopefully with more deterrants the thieves will soon give up and move on.

A new mouse for Christmas

This little cutie is an early Christmas present to myself; I was lucky enough to win it on ebay at the beginning of the week and it arrived today. The seller’s listing described it as never having been displayed and it certainly does look new. It came in its original box with the original price ticket of Ā£22 on it, and as I paid less than Ā£5 I think that’s quite a bargain. It’s hard to tell from the photos but the tail is so well sculpted it looks almost real.



According to the box it’s a Sandringham piece, though I have to confess that in all my years of mouse collecting I’ve never come across that name before, and even a Google search hasn’t given me much information. There’s nothing written on the box other than ‘Sandringham – made in England’ so as it doesn’t seem to have a name or title I don’t know if it’s one of a series or just a one-off. It’s definitely cute though, and it’ll be making its home somewhere within my collection by the end of this evening.

A disaster averted and a light bulb moment

Tuesday Dec. 6th
I got up early again that morning and just like the previous day I had the fire lit and the living room cleaned and tidied by the time Nellie came down. It was while she was cooking breakfast and I was up in the bedroom packing my things that I heard a man’s voice at the front door saying something about wanting a pan of water, which I thought sounded rather odd, but I carried on packing my things and thought no more about it. It was when I went back downstairs that I found out from Nellie who it was and why he’d wanted the water; he was a neighbour from a few doors away and he’d been just about to leave for work when he noticed smoke seeping out from the wheelie bin outside Nellie’s door
It seems that when I’d emptied the ash pan before I lit the fire there were still some very small fragments of coal still glowing, though I hadn’t noticed them in all the ash and I’d emptied the whole lot into the ash bin. Unfortunately someone had put some very dead and very dry flowers in there and the glowing bits of coal had started them smouldering, but thanks to the neighbour the pan of water had doused everything before any proper flames took hold so disaster and damage was averted. Thinking about it though, I had to wonder why, when so many people there have proper fires, the local council provide them with plastic wheelie bins for the ashes – I’m sure it would make more sense to put them into metal bins to avoid just such an occurrence.
With that little drama over I sat down to the breakfast Nellie had cooked, then after a quick check to make sure everything was packed I went up to town; my coach wasn’t until 11am so I had a couple of hours spare and there was something I wanted to do. Michael’s passport still hadn’t turned up so I began to think that maybe he’d been mistaken about leaving it on the table and he’d actually lost it outside somewhere – after all, the day of the funeral had been a rather mixed up and emotional time. So although it was a long shot I went up to the local Garda (police) station to see if it had been found and handed in – it hadn’t, so it very much looked like I would have to send over a copy of his birth certificate once I got home, and if the passport still hadn’t turned up by Friday that could be used as ID for him to travel back on the ferry instead of flying back.
It was while I was walking back to the house that I suddenly had a light bulb moment – what’s the one thing that many women, when going to church, carry with them? A handbag! I was sure that Nellie had had one with her at the funeral so maybe, just maybe…..That thought lent wings to my feet and I ran the rest of the way back, where Nellie confirmed that she had indeed had a handbag with her that morning and she would go and check it straight away. A couple of minutes later she shouted me and there she was, standing at the top of the stairs with Michael’s passport in her hand – it had been in her handbag all the time. I was so relieved I just grabbed hold of her and gave her a big hug – the crisis was over. We couldn’t think why it had ended up there though – Nellie knew she hadn’t put it in there so we could only assume that whichever friend cleared the table after the funeral buffet must have thought her handbag was mine and popped the passport inside it thinking that was mine too. Well however it came to be there I was just so glad that it had finally come to light.
With the passport problem solved there was just one more thing I wanted to do. Michael came with me and we went round to the flower shop to choose a couple of things to go on the grave. He got two plaques, one for Dad and one for Uncle, and I chose a white lantern with a red candle in it, then as we were leaving the shop the lady gave me a lovely Christmas decoration to add to them. I did ask her how much it was but she’d known Michael’s dad and Jimmy and said it was a gift so she didn’t want paying. Michael came up to the cemetery with me and we placed everything on the grave, then we went back to the house to collect my case.
Nellie came up to the bus stop with us and they both waited with me until my coach came; I felt sad to leave, especially as Michael was staying on for another few days, and there were a few tears from Nellie but I promised her I will go back to see her when I can. My flight wasn’t until nearly 4pm so once I got to the airport I had plenty of time to look round the shops then relax with a coffee and something to eat. The pilot must have taken the most direct flight path this time as the plane was no sooner up in the air than it was ready for landing again and I arrived at Manchester at 4.30. Once I got to the airport station I didn’t have long to wait for a train, and with a taxi from my local station I was back home just after 6pm.
Thinking back over the last few days I realised that even though my reason for being in Roscrea was a sad one I felt like I’d almost fallen in love with the place. I wouldn’t want to live there as it’s much too small and quiet for me and too far from many other places, but having familiarised myself with the town and got to know Nellie and some of her community of friends and neighbours I almost feel as if I belong there. Michael’s dad may no longer be around but in a strange way I feel that I can always refer to Roscrea in the same way he did – home.


A long walk that got me nowhere

Monday Dec. 5th
I woke earlier than Nellie that morning and decided to make myself useful, so by the time she got up I’d raked out the ashes from the previous day’s fire, emptied the ash pan, got another fire going, brought in some coal, timber and peat logs from the garden shed and swept the floor; she was quite surprised when she came down and saw that everything she would normally do had already been done. Just after breakfast the medical equipment hire firm came to collect the hospital bed and once it had been dismantled I helped the guy to take the various pieces of it out to his van, then Michael and I brought the settee back down from upstairs, the furniture was rearranged and the living room was soon back to how it should be.
After spending the rest of the morning relaxing with my book I decided to take Trixie out. While looking round the shops the previous day I’d picked up a copy of a hand drawn map with directions to a castle situated in the countryside just outside the town, so although it was a rather dull day I thought I’d have a walk there and hopefully get some photos. The directions said I was to follow the road from the town centre past the railway station and continue until I came to a pub on the left, turn left there and I would find the castle about half a mile further on just past a saw mill. Looking at the map it didn’t seem to be any great distance so off we went – but how wrong I was!
I found the station with no problem, it was only just out of the town centre, so happy that I was on the right road I carried on walking….and walked, and walked. Every time I came to a bend in the road I was sure the pub would be just beyond it but it never was, and with very few houses there was no-one around to ask. At one point I almost decided to give up and go back to town but as I’d gone so far I thought I may as well carry on – after all, if I gave up then and later found that one more bend would have taken me to the pub I would have been kicking myself. Eventually, after several more bends and what seemed like forever, I did reach the pub and turned left – hopefully I wouldn’t have much further to go, but again I was wrong.
Even though I was in open countryside and could see for quite a distance across the fields there was no sign of anything that looked like a castle or even a saw mill. A check on the time and a quick mental calculation told me that by then I’d walked about five-and-a-half miles, and of all that distance I hadn’t seen a single sign for the castle. There was another bend up ahead so I came to a decision – if the castle wasn’t at the other side of it I would give up. I’d just set off walking again when I saw a van about to turn out of a nearby farm entrance; apart from passing cars this was the first person I’d seen since I’d left town so I stopped the driver and asked where the castle was, only to be told that it was about another two miles away.
Now had it been summer time I may have carried on but the further I walked meant that I still had that distance to walk back again and I would end up running out of daylight. So as I had no wish to be walking along an unlit country road in the dark the decision was made – I would abandon my quest and go back to town before the light started fading. I hadn’t reckoned on the unexpected kindness of the farm guy though – even though he was supposed to be going in the opposite direction he offered to drive me back as far as Roscrea station. It was an offer I wasn’t going to refuse, and as we drove back along the road I realised just how far I’d walked – and I came to the conclusion that (a) whoever drew that map has absolutely no sense of distance and (b) if I ever want to make a future attempt at finding that castle I’ll be driving, not walking.
Back at the house I found Nellie talking to Patsy and Noreen, and they were all surprised when I told them where I’d been. Trixie just hopped up onto a chair, curled up and went to sleep – I don’t think her little legs had walked as far for a long time. After a coffee and a few minutes chat I went out again, this time to the travel agents; Michael’s passport still hadn’t turned up so I needed some advice on what to do if it hadn’t been found before Friday. When I got back to the house again I found that Noreen and Patsy had gone but Carol had called to see if the passport had been found; when told it hadn’t she suggested looking in the recycling bin as that was just about the only place we hadn’t tried. So between us we turned the bin over and tipped all the rubbish onto the front path, putting it back in again item by item; there was still no sign of the passport but at least we provided the neighbours with some early evening amusement.
After Carol had gone Nellie cooked a late dinner then we spent a pleasant evening watching tv, and though we all missed Jimmy very much it made a change to be able to actually watch a full programme without him continually changing channels with the remote. Although Michael stayed up quite late I went to bed earlier than usual; I had several hours of travelling ahead of me the following day, plus my long walk of earlier on had finally caught up with me, so I wanted to get some decent rest on my final night.