A local walk in the sunshine

After weeks of interminably wet and often cold weather the last few days locally have been dry and gloriously sunny so I’ve finally been able to take advantage of it and get out with the dogs for a decent local walk. A two-and-a-half mile drive north took me to the Last Drop Village – under normal circumstances I would walk all the way from home but my recent bout of Aussie flu has been detrimental to my energy levels so I didn’t want to tire myself out too much. Leaving the van in the car park behind the village I set off across the nearby fields; way over on my left was Winter Hill with its tall tv mast and on my right, separated from the field by a line of trees and a footpath, was the edge of Turton Golf Club.
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Looking across to Winter Hill
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At the far side of the field a kissing gate took me onto a rough path through an area of scrubland which in turn led onto a tarmac lane which ran past the old Cox Green quarry. The quarry was used from 1840 to provide sandstone to build houses for local mill workers, and though I remember it still being operational when I was a child (we could hear the blasting from where we lived) I can find no information on when it actually closed down. The tarmac lane was originally used by quarry vehicles but with the closure of the quarry it was blocked off and eventually pedestrianised, making a very pleasant walk along its length. Although the quarry itself is fenced off the place has seen a few tragedies over the years as there’s more than one body been found at the bottom of the 60ft drop. In recent years the quarry and its surrounding land have been sold – who by and who to isn’t known but the steep rock faces are now used by various clubs for rock climbing.
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Eventually the lane turned into a country road with modern houses on one side, fields on the other, and I took a path which skirted round the forested edge of the quarry. A narrow stream, overgrown with vegetation, ran between the path and the fields but with all the recent wet weather it had overflowed in a couple of places and spread itself right across the path; fortunately I had my wellies on but looking at all that water I would probably have been better with a wetsuit and flippers. Sophie wasn’t too keen on paddling all the way through it but we got to the end eventually and had the choice of left or right – I went left along the edge of the sheep field then turned onto the path through the golf course.
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I’ve always enjoyed taking that particular route and it was nice to see that in spite of all the recent cold wet weather the gorse was already coming into flower in the sunnier parts of the golf course. Eventually I came to the pond and found that too had overflowed onto the path at one point, although it wasn’t a great lot and it was easy enough to walk round the puddle. A right turn took me gradually downhill past various greens to where a stream ran under the path and at the top of the next incline was the club house and its car park with far reaching views over the countryside.
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Across the cattle grid at the entrance to the club car park and a little way along the lane a stile took me into a field bordering another part of the golf course. A couple of ponies were grazing peacefully, taking no notice of us as we passed them and not even looking up when I stopped to take their photo, then across the field a kissing gate took me onto the path leading back to the Last Drop village.
Not actually a true village the Last Drop was originally converted from a group of derelict 17th century farm buildings known as Orrell Fold, belonging to successive generations of the Orrell family. In 1930 a well known farmer and racehorse owner who lived locally bought the farm for stabling and exercising his horses but the unoccupied buildings gradually fell into disrepair and eventually in 1963 the farm was sold. The new owner was a man of considerable foresight and he soon began the task of creating the Last Drop Village out of the derelict buildings. The first building to be completed in 1964 was the restaurant and during a celebratory meal the owner’s friends offered him ‘the last drop’ of a bottle of wine, and it was that which gave the place its name. The village today is home to a hotel, spa and leisure suite, banqueting suites and conference rooms, a quaint tea shop, the Drop Inn, several independent small shops and a gallery, and is also a very popular wedding venue.
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The Last Drop Village
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With the last few shots taken I briefly thought about getting a much needed coffee from the tea shop but I couldn’t take the dogs in with me and in spite of the sunshine it was too chilly to sit outside so I made my way back to the van and headed for home instead. It had been a very enjoyable walk, far enough to give Sophie and Poppie some decent exercise but not so far that I got tired, so I can safely say that all three of us were happy.
My walk, clockwise from yellow spot
I’m linking up with Jo’s Monday Walk this week where there are some wonderful views from high up on the walls of the castle in Serpa, Portugal. Time to put the kettle on now and see where the other ‘Monday walkers’ have been exploring.

Scavenger photo hunt – February

The six scavenger photo hunt prompts for this month are white, metal/metallic, camouflage, begins with ‘J’, bud, and my own choice, so after much brain-racking and photo archive searching I’ve finally managed to come up with some (hopefully) suitably corresponding shots. The first one was fairly easy, as it’s still winter I chose a shot which I took several years ago while on a dog walk through local woodland after a period of prolonged and heavy snowfall. That was the last proper snowfall we had locally, anything since then has been and gone within twenty four hours.
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The next photo is one I used on this blog about twelve months ago but as it fits the category I thought I may as well use it again. Castell Dinas Bran, otherwise known as Crow Castle, is a medieval ruin which sits in a prominent hilltop position high above Llangollen in North Wales and the footpath to the top of the hill passes through a gate with the metal sculpture of a crow on top of the gate post.
A grey day on Anglesey a couple of years ago saw me visiting Pili Palas Nature World where (apologies if anyone doesn’t like spiders) I found this tarantula in the tropical section, looking very much like the surrounding vegetation in its home.  I quite like tarantulas and at one time, years ago, I did consider having a couple as pets but never actually got round to getting any.
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Having recently been badly affected by Aussie flu I lived for almost two weeks on nothing but water and fruit juice, and thanks to Michael who limped down to our local Asda a couple of times I discovered apple and cherry juice. It’s not something I would have chosen myself but I’d told him to surprise me and that’s what he came back with – and very nice it is too. I tend to find that ‘mixed’ fruit juices always have a dominant flavour but with this one both flavours are distinctive and I liked the first carton so much that I now have a stock of them in the fridge ready for when I want a chilled drink.
Monthly photo challenge
Begins with ‘J’
I had to think hard for the next photo but then I remembered one I’d taken almost exactly two years ago on February 26th – the crocuses were on a grass bank which I pass regularly while walking the dogs near home. I don’t know if unopened crocuses can be called buds but that’s what many of them were, with the partially opened ones beginning to look quite pretty in contrast to the green grass.
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My final photo this time just had to be this one of Poppie. It was taken on the evening of the day I got her in October 2014 – her first night in a new home and though she looks very much like a puppy I’d been told that she was actually six years old. She came with her own bed, some food and a bag full of toys and was very timid and shy to start with so she slept at the side of my bed for the first two weeks before joining Sophie and Sugar downstairs. Sadly I lost Sugar to kidney failure less than two months later but Sophie and Poppie have been firm friends ever since.
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My own choice – Poppie on her first night here
So there you are, my photos for this month’s six topics – I’m popping over to Kate’s blog now to see what interesting photos others have found.

Stopped by the police and an ankle update

This morning, while taking Michael to the hospital, I got pulled up by the police at the bottom of the main road. Not that I was doing anything wrong I hasten to add, they were just doing random vehicle checks and the guy who stopped me directed me to pull into a coned-off lay-by round the corner – just what I didn’t  need when Michael had an important appointment so I asked the second policeman if it would take long as we were going to the hospital. Fortunately it didn’t, and after being asked my name and address for a PNC check, and having to put on my indicators and various lights, they checked the tyres, advised me that one just needs a bit of air in it, and I was free to go.
We made it to the designated hospital department with a good five minutes to spare, and we were surprised to find that rather than the full waiting area we were expecting there was no-one there at all, so once Michael had given his name in at reception it wasn’t long before he was called into the plaster room. His plaster cast was cut off and after a couple of x-rays were taken he went in to see the consultant; the good news is that he no longer needs his ankle in plaster but the bad news is that it’s still got a way to go before it’s anything like healed as the new bone is only growing slowly. He’s now been fitted with another supporting boot and has to go back to see the consultant in a month’s time – so any hope he had of getting back to work sooner rather than later has just gone right out of the window.
On a lighter note though, when the consultant said they would give him a supporting boot he purposely didn’t mention that he still has the previous one, so now he’s got a matching pair he can do his own version of Robocop – watch this space for eventual photos!

The washing machine saga

A couple of weeks ago my washing machine decided it no longer wanted to work as it should – although it would wash it wouldn’t spin properly and everything was coming out still wringing wet through. Now although it was an older machine (it was given to me by my daughter-in-law when she was clearing out her grandma’s flat eight years ago) it had always worked well so I thought it may be worth repairing – an internet search came up with the names and phone numbers of a few local domestic appliance repair people so I rang the one nearest to home and he called round a couple of hours later. Unfortunately though, his attitude left a lot to be desired – as soon as he stepped through the kitchen door, and without going anywhere near the machine, his words were “I’m not touching that!” When I asked why he said “Too old, can’t get the parts, not worth bothering with!” He then offered to supply a reconditioned machine at a ‘good’ price but knowing that for only £50 more I could get a brand new one from Currys/PC World I was a bit hesitant, and his following words were “To be honest I’m not bothered if you get one from me or not, I’ve got plenty of work to keep me busy so I don’t care one way or the other!” So I said I’d let him know and off he went.
Now it’s not easy to convey in typewritten words just what sort of attitude this guy had but he was abrupt to the point of being downright rude so on principle alone I wouldn’t get a machine off him – I’d rather scrub my washing on a riverbank first! I phoned another local firm and was told they don’t touch anything older than six years so I rang a third one but got no answer so I left a message. It was three days before this guy got back to me and he arranged to call on Monday last week; he was much nicer than the first guy, he did physically have a look at the machine, told me what was likely to be wrong with it and said he would try to get the parts for it – unfortunately though I hadn’t heard anything from him by Friday morning and my phone calls to him just went straight to voicemail.
Michael then told me about shop not too far away which sold reconditioned domestic appliances, apparently during his marriage he’d got a washing machine, tumble drier and fridge-freezer from there and he’d been very happy with them so he said that if I got a cheap-ish machine from there to be going on with he’ll buy me a brand new one once his ankle is okay and he gets back into full time work. That sounded good to me so on Friday afternoon I went over to the shop to see what they had – prices ranged from £60 to £110, delivered, installed and my old one taken away, though there was a £20 delivery charge. I decided on the one I wanted but unfortunately didn’t have enough money with me to leave a deposit so I said I would go back the following day and make arrangements for them to deliver the machine yesterday (Monday), however when I called back on Saturday the shop was closed. Even though the guy there had told me they were open every day except Sunday they were closed again when I went back yesterday – so not knowing when they would  be open I decided to give up and look elsewhere.
A few blocks down the road from there is a shop dealing in good quality second hand furniture and appliances and my luck turned the minute I walked through the door. I found the perfect machine at a really good price and with only a £5 delivery charge I could have it within the hour – okay, I’d have to install it myself and get rid of the old one but neither would be a problem so I left a deposit and my phone number and drove back home. Sure enough, only twenty minutes later I got a phone call to say they were on the way and ten minutes after that they arrived; the machine was brought into the kitchen, I paid the balance and once they’d gone I set about sorting it out. Disconnecting the old one and installing the new one was easy enough and fifteen minutes after it was delivered it was merrily washing my cream jacket. Disposing of the old one was soon sorted out too – I’d intended putting it in the van and taking it to the council tip at the weekend but I was just about to go out with the dogs when the scrap man came round so he took it instead.
Looking at the new machine I don’t think I could have made a better choice, it’s in absolutely mint condition and looks almost brand new so I’m really pleased with it. Before the scrap man took the old one away I noticed a small sticker on the back of it with a date in May 2005 – I don’t know if that would be the date of manufacture or something else but for a machine at least 13 years old it’s done well, so if the new one lasts half as long as that I’ll be more than happy.

A message from my friend

Back in the early days of this blog I wrote a post about a scatterbrained and ever-so-slightly eccentric friend of mine, and I have to say that in the sixteen months since I wrote that post her dottiness hasn’t improved any. Today I got an email from her which made me giggle so I thought I would share it with everyone – I know she won’t mind.
To put you in the picture, she lives in a village three-and-a-half miles up the road from me, a village which has no post office, shop, or any other businesses, so whatever she wants or needs she has to drive down to the local shops near here. Unfortunately she’s recently become another victim of the Aussie flu and as she lives alone I rang her yesterday morning to ask if she needed anything from the shops; she said she didn’t but today I got this email from her, and I quote –
“There is one thing you could do for me please but only if you’re passing and can park. I left my glasses and a book at Platinum hairdressers last time I was there – if you could pick them both up for me at your leisure and bring them next time you come up I’ll be very grateful. Normally leaving them there for now wouldn’t be a problem but I sat on my other glasses yesterday and they don’t fit properly now”
It was the last line which made me laugh. Collecting her book and second pair of glasses from the hairdressers isn’t a problem as it’s only a 10-minute walk down the road, but it’ll be interesting to see what shape the first pair of glasses are now!

Enough To Make A Cat Laugh

While I’ve recently spent the best part of two weeks suffering from the debilitating effects of Aussie flu I’ve been doing a lot of reading, and though I’ve got a couple of recently purchased books waiting for attention I didn’t really feel in the mood for either of them so I decided to re-read one which I knew would cheer me up. Enough To Make A Cat Laugh by Deric Longden is a humourous and true-life look at the ordinary and sometimes extra-ordinary goings-on in the life of the author, his almost-blind wife, and a houseful of cats; it’s actually the fifth book in a series of seven but can easily be read without reading the preceding four first.
I bought the book back in 2009 from a stall at a car boot sale; it was the picture on the front cover which initially attracted me and when I read the synopsis on the back cover I just knew it was the sort of book I would enjoy. The author has a genius for taking the most ordinary and mundane events and transforming them into laugh-out-loud accounts of various aspects of his life, in fact I’d challenge anyone to read without laughing his account of feeding the neighbour’s cat. I first read that part while in the waiting room at the hospital’s eye clinic not long after I bought the book, and I found it so funny that I had to disappear into the nearby loo so I could laugh without everyone else thinking there was something seriously wrong with me.
This is now the third time I’ve re-read the book and I still find it funny – just the thing to cheer me up and relieve the boredom of being unwell and off work. I remember I only paid 50p for it when I got it, the best 50p I’ve ever spent, and I enjoyed it so much the first time that I went on to buy (mostly new) the other six books which I’m now re-reading in chronological order. So if anyone wants a bit of light reading with plenty of giggles along the way then get a copy of this, I don’t think you’ll be disappointed.

I’ve got the dreaded lurgy!

Or in other words, the recently much-talked-about-in-the-news Aussie flu. Back in early January, only a few days after Michael had the operation on his ankle, it was reported in our local paper that the hospital had cancelled all routine operations and day cases to free up beds for those badly affected by the virus so it seemed he’d had his operation just at the right time. Health-wise I’ve been absolutely fine with not so much as even a sniffle but on Monday evening last week, while sorting through some paperwork, a wave of incredible tiredness washed over me and I just had to stop what I was doing and go to bed. Thinking it was just a one-off I went to work the following day but then the pounding headache started, made worse by the dry hacking cough which had also developed along with a constant feeling of nausea. I struggled on and got through the Wednesday but by early Thursday morning I felt so ill I had to admit defeat and stay off work.
Now I’ve never ever had flu in my life, not of any sort, so this Aussie flu thing had never occurred to me, but while bringing the dogs in from the garden on Saturday evening I spoke briefly to my next door neighbour and she suggested I might have it, so on Monday morning this week I went to the doctor’s and it was confirmed – I have indeed got Aussie flu. Now I can cope with the cough and the cold, and the nausea subsided a few days ago although I still have no appetite, but the constant exhaustion has been the worst – just walking the dogs to the field at the end of the street is an effort and I feel like I’ve just run a marathon at sixty miles an hour, but it’s an effort I have to make as they need to go out at least once each day. As I write this I am beginning to feel a bit better though, so hopefully by next Monday I’ll be over it and fit enough to go back to work – I hope so as I’m bored out of my skull doing nothing here at home.
There is one advantage to all this though, if you can call it that – my loss of appetite means I’ve hardly eaten anything and I’ve been living on fruit juice and water for over a week so it’s been a great way to lose weight, although admittedly it’s a bit of a drastic way of doing it!

Another mouse arrives

Today I’ve added another mouse ornament to my collection. My mouse buying over the last few months has been pretty much non-existent as most of those I find on ebay now are ones I’ve already got, unless I want to pay ridiculously high prices for something classed as ‘very rare’, so I was delighted when I came across this one at a bargain price including postage.
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It’s by Aynsley MasterCraft and though it doesn’t seem to have an official title it was listed as ‘Dormouse and Frog’, though comparing it to some others in my collection it looks more like a bank vole rather than a dormouse. It’s hard to tell on the photo but the detail of the pond is so good that it looks like real water in there. As I tend to keep all my mice of the same type together I’ll now have to rearrange my other Aynsley ones to make room for this one – that should keep me busy for a while!