Animal sanctuary open day

Today I took my friend Lin and her daughter Dee to the autumn open day at Bleakholt Animal Sanctuary about ten miles from home. It’s a place we visit regularly and it’s open daily from 10am to 4pm, with the special open days being held four times a year. As well as the normal gift shop and book shop they have stalls in the courtyard and one of the barns, a bouncy castle and other attractions, and in dry weather they have fun dog agility classes which anyone can join in for free. These events are always well attended and they make a good couple of hours out. The place seems to be very well named though as it’s close to the moors and in winter it really is bleak, although it’s lovely there in summer.Bleakholt open day
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Views from the picnic area
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Nudging the balls to get the treats out
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A resident in ‘Old Woofs’ block
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Waiting for a forever home
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Archie, now reserved
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Part of the remembrance garden
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A resident in the kitten block
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Two ‘oldies’ residents
Although the morning had been cloudy and grey it did brighten up at lunch time and the sun came out, but unfortunately it was very brief and it soon clouded over again. While I was in the cat block, sitting in with the oldies, it started raining and when I came out it was pouring down, so I found my friends and we took shelter in the cafe where we had a meal and a brew so none of us had to cook anything when we got home. We were in there for quite a while but it was still raining when we came out so we just had one more look round the stalls in the barn then called it a day and set off for home. It was such a shame that it started raining as it literally put a dampener on the afternoon for everyone, but it won’t be long before the pre-Christmas open day which is always a really good event, so hopefully the weather will be kind and the sanctuary will have lots more visitors then.

 

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The holiday from hell?

I finally arrived home yesterday evening from my ten days in California, Norfolk, and I have to say that of the 35 years I’ve been holidaying in that area – 20 of them camping at the same site – this is the first time I’ve ever truly felt like giving up and coming home early. In fact if I could have got a refund on my pitch fee I would have been back within three days, however I stayed, and now I am  back I’m wondering if it was really worth all the hassle as it’s been a holiday fraught with disasters and problems from start to finish.
Day 1, and just over an hour into the journey from home I stopped at a roadside truck stop and got a takeaway coffee, but I only managed to drink a mouthful of it before I accidentally knocked the rest of it all over the floor of the van between the two front seats – and that one minor mishap seemed to set the tone for the rest of the holiday. Arriving at the camp site I found that the pitch fees had increased substantially since last year and are now beyond my personal budget; finding somewhere cheaper at such short notice would have been almost impossible without internet access so I paid up – well I suppose someone has to pay for the demolition of the toilet block and the brand new statics and tarmac road which have appeared since last year. Finally on my pitch on the camping field I found that it was too windy to put the tent up so I spent the rest of the day and the evening in the van.
Day 2, and with more wind and on/off rain showers it was a morning spent in the van, though the afternoon was sunny and by 7pm the wind had dropped so I finally managed to put the tent up and get everything set out inside it, although I was actually sleeping in the van.
Day 3 arrived gloriously sunny and I planned a good day out to get some photos, but when it came to actually leaving my pitch I found I wasn’t going anywhere – after a short drive to the local late shop the previous afternoon I’d unthinkingly left the ignition on and the battery was flatter than flat. A quick call to the AA soon sorted that though and less than an hour later a very nice man arrived and soon got the van going again, and I went on to have what was probably the best day of the whole holiday.
Day 4 was nothing short of diabolical. The wind had come back during the night, worse than it had been previously, coupled with several prolonged heavy downpours, and when I unzipped the tent door that morning I was greeted by a scene of total devastation. Everything in there had been up-ended by the wind and was scattered all over, and one of the bedrooms had a huge puddle in the middle of the floor though fortunately the bag with my clothes and personal stuff hadn’t been affected. With dark grey skies, on/off rain and high wind it was another day spent in the van, although during the afternoon I did attempt to walk to the local shop but didn’t get far before I got caught in another downpour and got soaked to the skin.
Day 5 was another day of on/off heavy downpours though it did come reasonably nice for a while during the late afternoon so after a shopping trip to Asda I drove the few miles to Gorleston and took the dogs for a good walk along the promenade and gardens.
Day 6 started out beautifully and I had a lovely morning walk up to Hemsby along the cliff top and back along the beach. I’d planned to visit a large garden that afternoon and actually drove out to it but by the time I got there the sky had clouded over and the rain hammered down again, so that put paid to that idea and I drove back to the site and spent another afternoon in the van.
Day 7 brought yet more rain so my garden visit was put on hold once again and I went into town to do some shopping instead, though it did make an attempt at brightening up during the afternoon. That evening I went to visit some friends who live a mile or so from the site, however I’d forgotten that I’d left the half full kettle on the floor in the middle of the van and as I went round a corner it up-ended, though fortunately most of the water went down onto the side step rather than onto the carpet.
Day 8 turned out to be beautiful all day and I finally managed to do the garden visit, though I’d initially thought I wouldn’t be going anywhere unless I walked. Several lengthy bouts of heavy overnight rain, added to what had fallen over the previous few days, had softened the ground so much that when I tried to reverse off my pitch the back wheels got stuck in the mud and I couldn’t get out; luckily the site owner’s son had a 4 x 4 and a big chain so he dragged the van off for me. The garden visit was followed by a drive down to Redwings Horse Sanctuary to see my adopted pony Cauli then the day was finished off with visits to my friends Ady and Jane.
Day 9 was grey and showery in the morning though it did brighten up at lunch time and the afternoon turned out to be fairly pleasant, though not really sunny enough for long enough to go anywhere proper so I paid a second visit to my friends Eileen and Ron – it was Eileen’s birthday, and although she’s now lost much of her sight I still took a card for her.
Day 10 arrived gloriously sunny after several bouts of heavy rain overnight – it was also going home day so I abandoned the morning dog walk in favour of getting everything packed away and the tent taken down while it was nice. Packing up the van was no problem but I had a lot of mopping up to do before I could sort out the tent. On my shopping trip into town I’d got a cheap mop and bucket from Asda, knowing I would have some mopping up to do, but I didn’t realise just how much. It took ages, and I had several inches of water in that bucket by the time I’d finished.
After a good dog walk along the beach I finally left the site at 12.30pm though my problems still weren’t over; twice I hit queues of very slow moving traffic, the first lot caused by a broken down farm vehicle meaning two lanes were going into one, though there didn’t seem to be any reason for the second lot. Those delays meant that by the time I was heading west the sun was getting low and in my eyes and unfortunately I missed the correct exit off a roundabout, meaning I was heading for somewhere I didn’t want to be so I had to find somewhere to turn round and go back. I got it right eventually though and finally arrived home at 7.45pm.
So there you have it, a potted account of my holiday – or maybe I should say nightmare? Whatever it was, I certainly don’t want another one like it, in fact I feel like I now need a holiday to get over the holiday. I suppose there was one good thing about it though – with all that rain stopping me from getting out and about like I wanted to I had plenty of time for relaxing, and I didn’t spend much money either. Now that’s a bonus!
** A full account of the holiday, with photos, can be found starting here for anyone who wants to read it  🙂

Off on my travels again

Hopefully, if things go to plan – which they probably won’t – I’ll be leaving home at 7am tomorrow for my annual 10-day holiday in Norfolk. I really wanted to leave earlier than that – 5am would have been ideal as it’s a six hour journey – but I’ve had so much to do today and various things have conspired against me to make sure some of them didn’t get done, so I need to finish them off in the morning before I go anywhere. My friend round the corner is feeding the cats for me until Michael comes back from Ireland on Thursday, then he’ll take over until I get back the following Tuesday. The van is packed and my bag is packed so I only need to finish off the things which didn’t get done today then I’m off – so I’ll ‘see’ you all when I get back and hopefully I’ll have lots of photos for here and my other blog.

A Rivington ramble

After doing the long walk round Anglezarke reservoir several weeks ago I decided that when the opportunity allowed I would do the much shorter walk round the neighbouring Upper Rivington reservoir, and this decision was reinforced recently when I came across a map of the walk while tidying some papers and magazines at the boss’s house where I clean. The map listed a few points of interest which would be worth looking out for so yesterday I set off with the dogs and the camera to explore.
My walk started on the Rivington Embankment, the road which separates Upper Rivington and Lower Rivington reservoirs – Lower Rivington was constructed in 1856 with Upper Rivington being completed in 1857 and Anglezarke being constructed the same year. Just up the road from the end of the embankment a kissing gate set in the wall opposite Rivington village green took me to a footpath bordering farmland; according to the map a stone face, which had once adorned a local village inn which was demolished in 1903, could be seen on the gable end of a nearby barn but with no barn in sight anywhere I came to the conclusion that it must have been demolished since the map was produced and the face no longer existed. The path eventually took me downhill, across a narrow stream and through a wooded area before reaching more open land where a rough track took me up towards Yarrow reservoir.
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The track to Yarrow reservoir
Now although I’d started the walk in bright sunshine the once-fluffy white clouds had amassed and joined forces to obscure the blue sky and by the time I’d reached the reservoir the afternoon was looking decidedly dull and grey. According to the map there was a face carved on the front of the drystone wall opposite the reservoir embankment – it was believed to represent a foreman who worked on the reservoir’s construction and had been carved by one of the labourers, but if there was a face there at all it was so obscured by overhanging foliage that I couldn’t find it no matter how hard I looked. I gave up eventually and instead climbed over the gate at the bottom of the embankment and walked up to the top to see what was up there. Constructed in 1868, with the embankment being raised in 1875, Yarrow was smaller than either of the Rivington reservoirs, and with views across to Winter Hill it would have looked quite nice if the sun had stayed out.
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Yarrow reservoir looking north
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Looking towards Winter Hill
From the reservoir a wide track led down through another wooded area and eventually brought me out onto Knowsley Embankment, the road which separated Upper Rivington reservoir from Anglezarke. Nearby, and supposedly worth a visit, were the ‘waterfalls’, the overflow from Yarrow down into Anglezarke, but looking at all the green covering the floor of the channel I would assume there had been no water flowing down there for quite some time.
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The waterfalls
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South end of Anglezarke from the road
My walk continued along the road to the far end of the embankment then a wide tree-lined track marked ‘Private Lane’ took me off to the left. Passing a couple of stone cottages I came to The Street, an imposing residence built in the late 19th century for a local industrialist and set in its own landscaped and terraced gardens. The map had told me that close to there was a pet’s grave and though I couldn’t find it at first I eventually saw it, or rather the top bit of the headstone, sticking up close to the top of the steep bank on the right. It was far too steep for me to climb up there for a proper look so that was the third thing to go un-photographed, though I did get a shot of some of the brightly coloured flowers at the driveway entrance.
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A short distance past The Street the path emerged onto open land, running first between fields then widening out into a tarmac lane alongside the west bank of Upper Rivington reservoir. A handful of cars were parked along the lane and when I looked over the wall I could see several people fishing from various spots along the water’s edge. A short distance through another wooded area and I was on the road across Rivington Embankment where I’d parked up, then with one quick shot of the village green I returned to the van and set off for home.
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Upper Rivington reservoir looking north
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On the skyline – Winter Hill tv mast, Pigeon Tower & Rivington Pike
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Rivington village green
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My walk, anti-clockwise from yellow spot
To be honest I have to admit that hadn’t been the best of walks as I’d found the wooded areas quite boring, and apart from the reservoir views much of the countryside had been uninspiring. I arrived home thinking that I probably wouldn’t do that one again but maybe it would have been a whole lot nicer if the blue sky and sunshine hadn’t disappeared. It was only a short walk too, just two-and-a-half miles all the way round, so who knows – maybe sometime when I’ve an hour or so to spare on a really nice day I’ll go back and do it again. And as for the dogs, well they are happy wherever I take them.
I’m linking up with Jo’s Monday Walk this week where black-and-white buildings, quaint shops and a beautiful old church make for a lovely stroll around Church Stretton in Shropshire. If, like me, you’ve heard about it but never been there then this walk, seen through Jo’s camera lens, gives a lovely insight into the place.

Back from Anglesey – and I definitely need a new tent!

I arrived home late yesterday afternoon from my holiday on Anglesey; weather-wise the eight days had been a bit of a mixed bag, with two days of rain and a day-and-a-half of grey cloudy sky, but the other days were full of sunshine and blue skies and also quite hot.  Other than a few weekenders who arrived last Friday and left on Sunday the camp site was very quiet and I was the only one in the field where I’d chosen to pitch – the peace and quiet were absolutely blissful.
The start of the holiday wasn’t without it’s problems though; if I’d thought that getting a rip in the side of the tent a couple of weeks ago was a disaster then this was a catastrophe of Titanic proportions. I’d got the tent up and was in the process of pegging out the guy lines when it decided to give up the ghost completely – there was a horrendous ripping sound and a huge – and I mean really huge – tear appeared right along the top. The tent was definitely dead this time but luckily I had a back-up plan, which will be explained on my other blog, so it didn’t affect the holiday too much.
My out-and-about days produced plenty of good photos including various animals, birds and flowers, and I even found a couple of places which I’d never been to or seen before. I finally found a beach I’d been looking for for several years and at another beach I managed to get myself cut off by the tide, though fortunately I was able to wade the few yards back to dry land. The dogs had to swim though, and while Poppie was okay with that Sophie wasn’t too impressed. On Monday, armed with a tin of black paint and a couple of artist’s brushes, I took a walk to Tyger’s memorial stone near Rhoscolyn and repainted the faded lettering engraved on it – I really needed a finer brush but it didn’t look too bad, and no doubt by next year it will have faded again so I can do it better next time.
A couple of the grey days were spent on the unsuccessful hunt for a new tent and on one of the days I got a free meal and coffee at the Morrisons cafe in Caernarfon. I also visited my cousin, who I managed to track down at my second attempt, and I spent a good couple of hours with him and his wife, catching up on our respective news over a coffee or two. The sunny days produced some lovely sunsets and glorious colours in the late evening sky and the bedtime dog walks were spent rabbit spotting as there were loads of them hopping about round various parts of the camp site. Early morning yesterday saw me walking the dogs along the nearby beach and at only 6.30am we had the whole place to ourselves; after breakfast a final fling before packing up to come home was a photography walk round Parys Mountain.
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Nefyn beach – finally found after several years
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Amlwch harbour
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A lake on Parys Mountain
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A random garden at Amlwch
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Garden flowers at Porth Dinllaen
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Lesser black backed gull at Holyhead port
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Late evening sky over the camp site
With well over 200 photos taken during the eight day holiday, and the hot sunny days making up for the dull ones, my much-needed time away was very enjoyable in spite of the tent giving up the ghost at the start. My back-up plan had worked out well enough that the demise of the tent didn’t really spoil things so all in all it was a good holiday. Now all I have to do is sort out my photos and update my other blog – it may take a while!

A weekend away

I returned home yesterday afternoon after a weekend away at the Elvaston Castle Steam Rally just outside Derby. Always the early bird I was on the road by 5.15am on Saturday, arriving at the show ground just after 7am. Weekend camping for the rally is actually on four huge farmer’s fields across the road from the show ground, and while most people camp in the two fields closest to the entrance I prefer to be in a quiet corner out of the way, so after checking in with the camping stewards I made my way over to my favourite spot near the far end of the far field.
It was while I was putting up the tent that disaster struck but I’m not going into detail here – I’ll save that for my camping blog, when I finally find time to update it. As well as all the usual stalls and attractions at the rally there was camel racing (which I thought was rather boring but it would have been okay for kids) and Winged World with some very colourful parrots and cute little owls. The weather was gloriously sunny and warm all weekend and I was able to get out and about with the dogs and the camera, especially on Sunday when not only did I walk round the show ground but I also went for a lovely walk along the nearby canal – and even though my step challenge has officially finished I surpassed myself that day by walking a total of six miles and 21,339 steps!
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With the opportunity to catch up with various camping friends, and friends from years ago who live nearby, plus a walk round the castle grounds before setting off on the journey home, it was a very enjoyable weekend, and already I’m looking forward to doing it all again in July next year.

Ambling round Anglezarke

Although I’m not sure that ‘ambling’ is the right word as I usually walk at quite a reasonable pace. The latest long walk was done a week ago on a gloriously sunny (and hot) day, and I must admit that if I’d known beforehand just how far I would actually go I probably wouldn’t have chosen that particular route on that particular day.
Anglezarke reservoir is just beyond Rivington, and as I’ve recently explored the Rivington area on two separate occasions and it must be about twenty years since I’d last been round Anglezarke I thought it would make a good dog walk and also add to my daily step count. The reservoir was reached by taking a minor road off the road leading to Rivington village; just before the turn-off for the car park the road went uphill to a lay-by and viewpoint high above the reservoir and as I’d never been up there before I went to take a look.
Next to the lay-by was a very pleasant and well kept grassy area with a couple of benches overlooking the reservoir and several people were chilling out in the sunshine or just sitting looking at the view. And what a view it was; although there was a heat haze on the horizon I could see for miles and it was well worth a few photos.
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Three reservoirs – Lower Rivington, Upper Rivington in the centre, Anglezarke in the foreground
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View over Anglezarke
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From the view point I drove back down the hill to the car park and my walk started from there. A stone wall separated the path from the water but after only a couple of minutes the path veered to the right and took me through the remains of a small quarry. I remembered that the last time I went round there all those years ago the quarry had quite an open aspect but now it was quite overgrown with trees and bushes, although it was still very pleasant to walk through.
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Anglezarke quarry
From the quarry the path went back to the waterside for a short distance before veering off once again and taking me uphill through a densely wooded area which seemed to go on for ever and had no view of the water. After a while the path went downhill and crossed a narrow stream before going back uphill and through another wooded area, though eventually it went downhill once again and I left the trees behind, emerging onto a tract of open grassland with a good view across to the west side of the reservoir.
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A bench with a view
Unfortunately the open land didn’t last long and I was back into woodland again, with a steep bank of trees separating the path from the water. It was so steep in places that it was an almost vertical drop of about 30ft so for safety’s sake I put Sophie back on the lead. Eventually the path brought me out onto a minor road which took me across the north end of the reservoir and disappeared round a bend to who-knows-where. Just on the bend I picked up the path again and I was back through more trees though this time reasonably close to the water, which enabled me to get a shot of the lovely old waterside house I’d just passed the back of.
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After a while the path led up through the trees and I came to a gate into a small field; there was no sign telling me which way to go so I assumed it was straight on, and sure enough at the far side of the field was a kissing gate which took me out onto a farm track. And that’s where I began to feel confused. I have an extremely good memory for places I’ve previously been to, even if it’s been many many years since I last went, and I was sure that on my last walk round there I was able to walk close to the water at that point. I certainly didn’t  remember having to go up through the trees and cross a field to a farm track, and as I walked along the track the unfamiliarity of it convinced me that I was right. There were sheep in the fields though so maybe that was the answer – where once I would  have been able to walk close to the water access is obviously now denied if the land is used for livestock. It was a very pleasant, if rather hot, walk along the track though and I did get a couple of nice photos.
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View along the farm track
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Looking east, with Winter Hill mast top left, Rivington Pike top right
Eventually the farm track turned right but there was a bridle path which went straight on, and a notice on a nearby post told me that ice cream, lollies and bottled water were available at the farm at the end of the path. That sounded good to me, and as I was going that way anyway I thought I may as well stop for some refreshment. Two ladies were operating a stall just outside the farmhouse gates, with the proceeds of any sales going to a local hospice; the ice cream turned out to be various Magnums, which I have a great liking for, so I chose a Classic one and chatted to the ladies while I ate it then bought a small bottle of water to replace the one I’d shared with the dogs while we were walking round.
After Sophie and Poppie had slurped copious amounts of water from the dog bowl near the stall I set off again, down the farmhouse driveway and onto a tarmac lane. A little way along was the high bank and wall of the reservoir so wanting to be back near the water I climbed over the wall bordering the lane and made my way up to the top, where I was greeted by a great view across to the far side.
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Looking west
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At the far end of the wall my way was blocked by a thicket of trees so I had to go back down the bank, scramble over the wall at the bottom and pick up a sheep track of a path which followed the contours of the reservoir on my left. On my right was a large open tract of grassland dotted with trees which were all green except one not far from the path – this had a white trunk and branches which stuck almost straight out, and it was completely bare except for one bit of green growing out from near the top.
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A bit further on the path became separated from the water by a tree-shaded stone wall and not far ahead I could see a group of sheep mooching about with their young ones – thank goodness both dogs were on the lead. Strangely enough though, most of the sheep didn’t seem to be bothered by us and carried on calmly grazing as we went past, though one mum and young one insisted on blocking the path for a while before moving out of our way.
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Yes, they really were so close
A little way beyond the sheep the path ended in a set of crude steps up and over a stone wall and I was back on the road which passed the bottom end of the reservoir and eventually took me back to the car park. It had been an enjoyable walk but in the heat, and with the distance being greater than I’d thought, it had also been a very tiring one so it was a relief to finally get back to the van. There was one thing I wanted to do though before I left the area – I wanted to get a shot of the view from up at the view point but with an empty bench in the foreground, which I hadn’t been able to get earlier as someone was occupying both benches. So I drove back up to the view point and I was in luck – one bench was unoccupied so I got my shot, turned the van round and headed for home.
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Another bench with a view
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My walk, anti-clockwise from yellow spot
I’m linking up again with Jo’s Monday Walk where this week she’s on an exploration of Rufford Abbey ruins and gardens, and discovering some strange and wonderful sculptures along the way.