A couple of weeks ago I was sitting here at the computer, minding my own business – as you do – when I heard a fair amount of bumping and banging coming from Michael’s room. He’d been asleep all day following a 12-hour nightshift so wondering what on earth all the noise was I went to see what he was doing and found a scene of utter chaos – he’d decided, on the spur of the moment, to rearrange his room again and the whole place looked like a bomb had hit it.
While moving his bed he’d accidentally caught one of the curtains and pulled one end of the rail off the wall so he’d taken the thing off completely and rigged up the curtains on a temporary wire; the bed itself was buried under a mountain of furniture and other stuff and I could only just about squeeze in through the door as one of his units was on its end just a couple of feet in.
Unfortunately the room isn’t the biggest and it’s also an odd shape with space at a premium so there’s nowhere really to put anything; it all looked such a mess that I just had to grab the camera and take these two shots but amazingly, just an hour later, he’d got everything where he wanted it, the room was tidy and the bed was clear. He does actually need a new chest of drawers though so it probably won’t be long before the room gets yet another makeover!
Comes around, as the saying goes.
Michael came home from work at the beginning of the week and said he didn’t want me to make him anything to eat just then as he’d had something at work, so he would go to the chippy down the road later on. It must have been about 9.30pm when he finally went out but he was back pretty quickly saying the chippy had closed early so he would phone for a takeaway instead.
Now the takeaway place he phoned is one he’s used before but not on a regular basis; apart from a kebab I don’t know what else he ordered but as our local corner shop was closed he’d asked for ‘a can of pop’ (it didn’t matter what sort) to be included with his order. Simple enough you would think, but when his order was delivered he found that instead of a can of pop they had sent…. a poppadom!
The look on his face said it all but fortunately he wasn’t particularly bothered about it. I couldn’t help laughing though – I reckon that was payback for the day a couple of weeks ago when he promised me pizza and brought me a sausage roll instead!
For several weeks now, as Michael and I have been unable to go out for a Sunday meal, he’s often ordered pizzas for us on his day off work, delivered from a local takeaway. The bank holiday Monday earlier this week was his day off after finishing a night shift – he would be asleep for much of the day so when he was going to work on Sunday evening I asked him if he wanted me to cook anything for tea on Monday, to which he replied that he would order pizzas for us. Now I don’t particularly enjoy cooking at the best of times and the less I do of it the better I like it so pizzas for tea sounded good.
So with the weather being glorious on Monday I took Poppie and went out for most of the day to a place I hadn’t been to for about eight years. I had a lovely day and by the time I was ready for coming home I was really looking forward to my pizza. It was gone 6pm by the time I got back, Michael wasn’t in so I assumed that he’d gone down to Asda to get something to take to work for his lunch the following day. He came in not long afterwards and he had indeed been to Asda; his first words were “I’ve got you something for your tea Mum” and delving into his bag he presented me with….a sausage roll!! Thanks Michael, that’s just what I really wanted!
Needless to say, having spent most of the afternoon looking forward to a ham and pineapple pizza a sausage roll was a bit of a let down so I just had to ask – “What happened to the pizza we were supposed to be having?” and got the reply “Oh, I got myself some chicken pieces instead”. Okay, fine – so I put half a can of baked beans with the sausage roll and ended up with quite a reasonable meal.
Thinking about it afterwards though I just had to laugh. Michael has often surprised and amused me over the years with some of the things he’s done and the sausage roll was the latest, though as there’s such a vast difference between that and a pizza it makes me wonder which way his brain was working when he thought of it!
My Monday walk this week is split into two halves, visiting two different parts of the same area but on two separate days two weeks apart. First was St. Annes, a place I go to quite often; Michael had a day off from work so he came with me and once I’d parked up near our favourite cafe we went our separate ways, arranging to meet back there for a meal later on. Walking through the promenade gardens, where I discovered that the water in the waterfall was now blue, I made my way to Ashton Gardens just a couple of streets back from the sea front.
When I got to the side entrance to the park I was surprised to see that since my visit there last July the flowering shrubs and bushes near the pavilion café had all been drastically cut down. It really opened up the whole area but to me it was too open; lined by flowering shrubs the pathways had looked really attractive before, now the whole place just looked bare.
Past the sunken garden and through the rose garden I came to where the meandering waterway was crossed at various points by stepping stones and a bridge, and set back just off the path I found a large clump of daffodils and some other yellow flowers – not being a gardener I don’t know what they were but they looked pretty.
Now while I much prefer wandering round parks and gardens when the leaves are on the trees there’s something to be said for the trees in Ashton Gardens currently being bare. The various features of the waterway are completely visible instead of some of them being obscured by overhanging branches and that part of the gardens looks just as attractive now as it does later in the year.
Leaving Ashton Gardens by the main entrance I made my way back to the sea front, this time walking along the promenade instead of through the gardens. The earlier high tide had retreated and far beyond the end of the pier a lone man and his dog walked out to the ruined landing jetty. In spite of the glorious sunshine there was a very chilly wind blowing so it was good to finally meet Michael back in the welcome warmth of the café for a good meal and a hot milky coffee before driving back home.
The second part of my walk was done just yesterday in a part of Lytham I’ve often thought of exploring but up to now, for whatever reason, I never have. A few years ago I’d found out that on the southern outskirts, and obscured from the main road by a high bank, was a creek where various yachts and other pleasure craft were moored so being on my own this time it was a good opportunity to take a look.
Leaving the van in a nearby Macdonald’s car park I crossed the main road to a footpath which would take me along the side of the creek however I soon realised I was on the wrong side; the creek itself was separated from the path by a large fenced off boatyard and storage area which extended for quite a distance and there was no way I could get through. The grassy path eventually took me through a pleasant sparsely wooded area to another creek, narrow and very muddy, with just a couple of fishing boats moored at the end of a wooden jetty and a yacht tipped over on its side, presumably the result of the recent storms. To be honest this place wasn’t particularly attractive but maybe it would look better with more water in it.
I’d climbed down the bank to get closer shots of the boats and as I climbed back up again I saw something which amused me enough to take a photo; sticking up out of the grass was the top of a green welly. The boot itself was firmly wedged several inches down so I can only assume that someone had put their foot into what had once been very soft ground and couldn’t get it out again, meaning they had to leave the welly behind.
The path turned inland and took me along the bank of the creek, which narrowed to little more than a muddy channel with a dead end, to a quiet lane which eventually emerged onto the main road a good quarter of a mile from where I started. I still hadn’t found the creek I was originally looking for so I walked all the way back along the road, past the start of the path I’d followed and one of the boatyard buildings to where I found a stile leading to a second path – this was more like it, I was now on the right side of the creek. Just like the first creek it was very muddy at low tide but it was a much more attractive place so I had a very pleasant walk along the bank before retracing my steps back to the van.
Knowing that my favourite café at St. Annes would now be closed I’d brought my own supplies but a Macdonald’s car park wasn’t the best of places for a picnic so I drove round to the quiet lane I’d walked along earlier and parked up by the high bank of the first creek. With coffee brewed on my camping stove, a sandwich, a couple of slices of cherry pie and a view of some lovely daffodils on the bank in front of me I had a lovely half hour in the van before my next bit of exploration.
Leaving the van in the lane I went up onto the main road and walked right along to East Beach and the start of Lytham Green before turning onto the coastal path and heading back in the opposite direction. Looking out to sea I could just see the mast of a sunken yacht in one of the estuary channels; I’ve seen a photo of this on another blog and at high tide it’s almost completely covered in water.
The path took me down a few steps onto the beach, skirting the rear car park of a large modern office building, then a few more steps took me up onto another very pleasant green backed by large, and probably expensive, balconied houses on a recently built estate. Here was another casualty of February’s storms, a boat stuck in a tiny creek with its stern well and truly buried in the mud and its cabin roof partially smashed by a large tree trunk washed up on top of it.
At the end of the green I came to the beginning of the first muddy creek I’d seen, actually looking a bit more attractive than it was further along, and across the salt marsh was the ‘golf ball’ radar tower and buildings of the BAE Systems aerodrome at Warton. The path turned inland there and took me round the edge of the housing estate, bringing me out close to the main road and not far from the lane where I’d left the van. Although the sun had earlier been warm enough for me to dispense with my usual jacket and just wear my lightweight tracksuit zip top a chilly breeze was now starting to blow – I’d satisfied my curiosity about the creeks and the boats and had a picnic in the van, now it was time to go back home.
As I got to within just a few miles from home the sun was getting lower in the sky, casting its late afternoon glow across the moorland so I couldn’t resist pulling into a lay-by and getting my final shot of the day. With very little traffic on what can usually be quite a busy road it was fairly quiet just then so I spent several minutes just sitting in the van and gazing at the view in front of me.
Back home, and with a coffee at hand, I made a start on downloading my photos and choosing which ones to put on here. I may have been on my own for Mother’s Day but I’d had a lovely afternoon out, and the very nature of where I walked meant that I saw hardly anyone which, even without the current crisis, suits me just fine.
You ask for ‘a bit of cheap cake that will go with a brew’.
A few days ago Michael was popping down to our local Asda store and asked me if I wanted anything while he was down there, so I asked him to get me a bit of cheap cake which would go with a brew – I was thinking along the lines of maybe a box of individual apple pies or Viennese whirls, a couple of those go well with a mug of coffee. Half an hour later he was back – with a leopard print party cake which, according to the box, would serve 14! And it was all for me as he said he didn’t want any of it.
At first I couldn’t see how it would serve 14 people as it wasn’t really that big, but having sampled a slice I realised why it would. It’s very sweet and not the sort of thing you would want a lot of so a thin slice is quite sufficient, though I must admit to putting some squirty cream with it – and very nice it is too. So bang goes the healthy eating for this week – I’ve still got quite a bit of the cake left so the diet can start next week!
A week ago, completely out of the blue and without me being aware of it, Sophie suffered what has turned out to be a stroke. She had been absolutely fine during the day but when I took her and Poppie for their bedtime walk she was behaving really oddly – going round in small circles then walking sideways and stumbling as if drunk, then stopping and staring into space, it was if she had suddenly developed dementia. A visit to the vet’s the following morning confirmed that she’d had a stroke and really needed an MRI scan which would cost in the region of £3,000. Yes, you read that correctly – three-thousand-quid! With the greatest will in the world, and as much as I love my dogs, there’s no way I could find that sort of money straight off so the vet said the best thing to do would be look after her as much as I could and take her back on a daily basis to be monitored.
The second visit to the vet’s wasn’t very encouraging at all. I saw a different vet, younger than the first one, and after giving Sophie a very cursory examination I was told that I should book her in for the following day to basically ‘say goodbye’ – no suggestion of any medication or treatment, just ‘say goodbye’. No way was I going to do that! I firmly believe that our pets will let us know when they’ve had enough, you can see it in their eyes, and I could tell that Sophie wasn’t ready for giving up yet so I decided there and then I would nurse her myself and try to get her through this with or without the vet’s help.
After the first couple of days, when I had to spoon feed her and give her water from a syringe, she’s been eating and drinking from a bowl while supported on my lap – she’s had pilchards, sardines (I seem to permanently stink of fish!) KFC, cat food chunks (easier to manage than dog food) honey roast ham, chicken roll, pork luncheon meat and normal fresh cooked chicken. She lost a lot of weight very quickly so I’m giving her whatever she will eat to try to put some of that weight back on. I’m also taking her for several short daily walks along the street, it’s a slow process and she now has the attention span of a gnat – she looks at the same stone every time we pass it as if she’s never seen it before – but she’s still very much aware of things going on around her and indoors she will watch me as I move about the room. Her sideways walking has improved a lot too and she can now get up and down the front step and the pavement edges without using the dropped kerb parts.
Yesterday I took her to see a vet at a different practice, I needed a second opinion and this guy was recommended by one of the bosses at my morning job. This vet was really nice, gave Sophie a thorough examination, watched for any responses for certain things and how she now turns in a circle – he said that ideally she should have had a scan as soon as she became ill but as she didn’t there’s no point having one now as it would only tell him what he already knows by seeing her. Thankfully he was able to prescribe something which should help her and I’ve now got some mild steroid tablets for her, one per day in the morning, and I have to take her back in a week. He was quite impressed that she has already come as far as she has since this happened last week – although she’s still a very sick little dog she’s showing no signs of wanting to ‘give up’ so with lots of home care from me she should recover sufficiently well.
I’m under no illusions though, there’s still a possibility that she could have a relapse and I could lose her, but at least I’m giving her a chance, which is more than the other vet wanted to do last weekend. Getting her well again is going to be a long slow process but this little girl means the world to me so I’m not giving up on her, neither is she giving up on herself – she may never be the lively run-around little dog she used to be but fingers crossed she’ll get through this and hopefully may be well enough to enjoy camping again in the not-too-distant future.
After most of December being damp, grey and miserable the day before New Year’s Eve turned out to be fine and sunny with plenty of blue sky and as I’d been unable to take Laura anywhere decent since she came to stay with us we decided to make the most of the nice day and go to Southport. The drive out there was very pleasant and the sun was still shining when we got there, however it wasn’t to last long.
Parking up in the car park just off the main esplanade and overlooking Marine Lake we realised that none of us had any change for the ticket machine so Michael said he would pay by card. Now we had never paid by card before so weren’t familiar with the procedure, however he put his card in the machine and tapped in the amount he wanted to pay but other than the screen saying ‘please remove card’ nothing else happened – no printed ticket, nothing. So he tried it again and got the same result, which then had us thinking that the machine was faulty and it had taken the payment twice without giving us a ticket – and we were even more puzzled when the guy behind us put cash in and it printed him a ticket.
Not knowing whether we had actually paid or not, and not wanting to leave the van if we hadn’t, I rang the number on the side of the machine and after pressing 1 for this and 2 for that etc I spoke to a very helpful guy who said that if the machine hadn’t printed a ticket then we hadn’t paid, and if we paid by card or on the app we wouldn’t get a ticket anyway. He took the details of the van and our payment over the phone and assured us that we had up to four hours in the car park – and after almost half an hour of messing about we were finally sorted.
Leaving Michael and Laura to their own devices I took Sophie and Poppie and went for a walk along the lakeside, though I only managed to take one photo before the sun went in and the sky clouded over big style. Very disappointing but I made the best of it and continued my walk round the lake, through the gardens, down to the beach and back onto the pier, and the sun did come out again briefly a couple of times though the clouds were very grey.
Although there hadn’t been many people down at the lakeside the pier was very busy, and when I got down to Lord Street it was even more so there – I would never have expected to see so many people on a winter’s day but presumably most of them had been attracted by whatever sales were on in the shops. Across the road from the shops and outside The Atkinson theatre and arts venue was a tall ‘Christmas tree’ type structure with lights which constantly changed colour ; I watched it for a while and took several photos but even though it wasn’t yet 2.30pm the grey sky meant that the light was already fading – time to give up, meet Michael and Laura and find something to eat.
I met Michael and Laura near the beginning of the pier and we went to the nearby Waterfront, a Hungry Horse pub/restaurant, for our meal. By the time we came out of there the daylight had almost disappeared and as there was nowhere else to really go to we returned to the van and drove home. Thinking back it had been a bit of a disappointing day really – this holiday for Laura was the first time she had come over to England and so far she had experienced nothing but damp days and grey skies ; with the morning sunshine and blue sky I’d really wanted to give her a nice day out but the change in the weather put the kibosh on that. Hopefully though, the next time she comes to stay the weather will be much better and I’ll be able to show her how nice Southport can be.
As this year draws to a close it’s time to look back on some of the events which have featured in my life and on this blog over the last twelve months. January started with a New Year’s Day walk round a large local park which I hadn’t been to for many years but for once I was on my own ; Sophie was on the long road to recovery following a recent major operation and couldn’t go out so it would have been unfair of me to take Poppie and leave Sophie behind. Also that month Michael was rewarded for ten years continuous service at work with £100 of ‘extra dough’ to be paid as either a tax-free lump sum or vouchers to use wherever he wanted.
February started off with a few days of snow and though it was bitterly cold there was also lots of blue sky and sunshine so the first of the month saw me taking a very snowy local dog walk to Smithills Hall ; although not too far from home it was Sophie’s first post-op walk of any distance and she was absolutely fine. Later in the month I got the surprise, and much appreciated, gift of a beautiful dog quilt hand made by my blogging friend Jayne and I had my first visit to Lytham Hall for a snowdrop walk. Then in contrast to the cold start to the month the weather became so unseasonably warm and sunny that I was able to wear a t-shirt and cycling shorts on my dog walks – something previously unheard of in February!
In contrast to the unseasonably warm weather of late February March was mainly grey, wet and windy so decent dog walks were few and far between. At the beginning of the month I treated myself to a new camera and on a dog walk round a local nature reserve tried out some of the settings on shots of various wildlife around the lake. March was also the month when I found myself locked in the front porch at work one day and spent quite some time sitting on my upturned mop bucket while waiting to be rescued by the boss’s son.
April started off with a beautifully pleasant sunny day on the 1st of the month so taking advantage of it I visited a local park which I hadn’t been to for over 40 years, then a week later I discovered the very lovely Ashton Gardens at St. Annes, gardens which I hadn’t known about until someone at work told me about them. The good weather continued for most of the month although the early mornings were a bit chilly, then a long sunny and very warm Easter weekend saw me making my first foray into the north western Lake District, camping at a wonderfully peaceful farm site north of Bassenthwaite Lake and actually coming home with a suntan.
May brought more good weather and after finding out about it on the internet I paid two visits to the secluded village of Sunderland Point on the River Lune estuary. The only road access to the village is by a tidal causeway which is several feet under water twice a day so I timed my first visit for when the tide was out, then to get a different perspective I went again when the tide was in, parking a mile or so away from the village and walking the rest of the way along a footpath. May was also the month when my pc decided to give up the ghost big style and I had to work from a borrowed laptop until I could get a new desktop model.
Early June saw the arrival of my birthday and a cash gift from Michael gave me the opportunity to buy a much-longed-for and rather expensive folding camp bed, then later in the month I returned to Cumbria for a 10-day holiday, camping at the same site I’d stayed on at Easter. The weather was mainly good and taking some suggestions from the book ‘111 Places in the Lake District You Shouldn’t Miss’ I discovered and photographed several places I wouldn’t otherwise have known about.
I don’t, as a rule, frequent cities as they hold no attraction for me at all but mid July saw me going to Manchester, not once but twice. The first time was a visit to the Cat Café which, given the not-exactly-cheap cost, was a one-off experience, then after some internet research my second visit to the city was to track down some of the many murals and works of street art dotted around the Norther Quarter. July was also the month when I accidentally managed to get a large and very solid traffic cone wedged firmly under the back of the van when I was at work, and being unable to free it I ended up calling out the AA. Fortunately there was no damage to the van though the situation did give the AA guy a good laugh.
August started off well with a lovely walk along a section of the Lancaster Canal and a wander round Garstang, plus two visits to Blackburn in search of some street art, but the month went badly downhill when my van was stolen complete with all my camping gear which was packed in it ready for a planned holiday to Anglesey. However, in spite of the emotional and practical upset I was determined not to let it stop me from getting out and about and the Sunday of the bank holiday weekend saw me having a lovely day out at Arnside, and after driving everywhere for ten years it made a change to go by train.
September started off with glorious weather and two weeks after my day out to Arnside I went by train to Morecambe and walked from there to Heysham Village, another lovely little place I hadn’t been to for many years. Three days later I went over to Ireland for a week where, among other things, I spent two days roaming round Dublin photographing street art and other things, climbed six near-vertical ladders up the inside of Kildare tower, visited the Irish National Stud, explored a haunted castle and went to the lovely little village of Dromineer on the east shore of Lough Derg. Over the course of the week I took 951 photos and once back home it took me a month to edit them all and write my holiday posts on here.
October for me was very much a ‘nothing’ sort of month. The good weather of September had finally disappeared and with the exception of just a couple of dry days it rained almost constantly so any dog walks were kept local and short. The highlight of the month was the day when a large tree fell across the lane leading down to one of the places where I work, completely blocking any access ; it took several items of heavy machinery and half a dozen guys with chainsaws to cut it up, move it and unblock the lane.
October’s rain continued into November and made it another ‘nothing’ month with no good dog walks and no days out. My camera card somehow decided to corrupt itself and I couldn’t download the most recent photos to my computer, and though it was mildly annoying it wasn’t the world’s greatest disaster as the photos were only local ones which could be taken again another time. After getting a new media card I took the camera to work one morning and got a couple of nice shots of the early morning sky through the trees ; it had the makings of being a nice day but less than two hours later the rain was back. November was also the month when a cute little mouse (fortunately already dead) ended up not as the dinner of the cat which caught it but as the dinner of one of my two dogs!
And so to the events of this month – another short holiday in Ireland where I photographed lots more Dublin street art, and a visit to the Trafford Centre to see the Coca-Cola truck. Michael came back from Ireland on the 14th and brought his girlfriend Laura to stay until after New Year ; Christmas was a quiet affair with just the three of us. More damp and gloomy weather has prevented us from having a decent day out though yesterday we actually had some sunshine and blue sky so we had a drive to Southport and back. Tonight we’ll probably go up to the moorland road near here and watch the fireworks going off all over all over town – Michael told Laura about our annual ‘tradition’ and she specifically asked if we can go.
So there you have it, some of the highlights of my year. All that remains now is to welcome any recent new readers to my blog and thank everyone for visiting ; if it wasn’t for my readers there wouldn’t be a blog, so I wish you all a happy, healthy and prosperous New Year – have a good one!