Saturday, 27 February 2010

A bit of spit and polish

A nice day today, so I did a wash and got it out on the line. I also cleaned two more windows, this time at the back. Two is all I can manage in one go, then I get bored. My attention threshold is very low, half an hour and I have to do something else. I had a quick whip round with the Dyson, the cat litter was getting spread about by over enthusiastic scratching cats.

My walking boots were still filthy after the walk last week, another cleaning job I do not relish. I generally don't bother, they are only going to get dirty again. I thought I'd better make the effort, they might last longer if I look after them.

So after brushing all the dry mud off with an old washing up brush, they got a generous layer of wax. They look a bit better now.

I must have been in the mood for cleaning boots, I polished up my posh going out boots, gave them a nice shine with black polish. Don't think I have done them for over a year, crikey!
I went down the town this afternoon, I thought I might buy a waterproof jacket for walking. I looked in all the charity shops but couldn't find any. It's a bit of a pain to put on a plastic mac everytime a shower comes. I looked in Millets, too dear, I looked in another shop which had 'Sale' signs in the window. I tried a few on, and found a lightweight grey and black jacket, which was reduced from £40 to £20. I didn't want a fleecy lining because I wear lots of layers anyway. This jacket is ideal, waterproof, breathable, and windproof. Just the job.
I had a look in Pets At Home to see if they had Felix As Good As It Looks, on special offer. They had, but there was none left on the shelf, I was disappointed. Then I looked round the corner in the next aisle, and found a big stack of them. I was chuffed to little mintballs. I got six boxes of 48 pouches for £60. To buy this amount in boxes of 12 pouches from a supermarket at the normal price would have cost £104.40, so a massive saving there. That's me stocked up for a long time.
Anyway, it's been nice chatting, but I have got to get my things ready for tomorrow. I'm off to North Yorkshire in the morning, for three days. I shall be exploring just north of Pickering tomorrow, then moving on to Boggle Hole Youth Hostel, near Robin Hoods Bay on the coast, for two nights. My plan is to walk part of the Cleveland Way, and possibly venture onto the moors. Have a nice weekend, I'll catch you soon.

Friday, 26 February 2010

Doggy paddle

Ben dog went for a swim today, we have a hydro therapy unit at the kennels, here in the village. Ben's back legs are becoming unsteady, he is thirteen now, and Flora his owner is hoping the excercise will help his muscle tone. I have noticed his gradual slowing down in the four years I have been walking him, we don't do hills any more, just a steady plod and a sniff about. Here he is getting his life jacket on. This is the fourth session of a course of ten weekly visits.

He was a little bit nervous on the approach down the ramp into the water, but Jimmy coaxed him gently in. When he first came he only had three, one minute swims, now he has three two and a half minute swims, with a rest in between each one. Jimmy is constantly massaging his back legs under the water.

After the first swim he was panting a bit, but after a rest he soon started to relax and enjoy it. I hadn't noticed that my camera lens had steamed up, apologies for the misty photo's.

Now it's time to get out and he rests for a few minutes on the ramp, all the time Jimmy is reassuring him with a lot of, 'Good Boys'.

At the top of the ramp his back end collapses in a heap because of all the extra weight he is carrying with his coat full of water.

He waits for a few minutes before he descends the second ramp to the drying area. Off with the life jacket and a rinse down before the shampoo and conditioner is applied. More rinsing and on with the hairdryer, he also has a good brush to removed the matted fur.

He was so good throughout the whole operation. I took him home in my car because it was pouring with rain. The weather was too miserable to take a photo of the finished article, so here is one I took earlier. Last year on a walk across the fields. Isn't he gorgeous, I love him to bits.

Thursday, 25 February 2010

A history lesson

Not a very good day weather wise today, so I stopped in and did some sewing on my new mystery project. It's taking shape nicely but still a long way to go. I am naming it The Mountain, it's a sculpture in fabric.

In between the showers I went out for some excercise. Remember my gym, the hill? I walked up and down it six times, no not all at once. Up and down twice is all I can manage in one go without stopping, then I need a rest. As it's so close to home I can nip out, it takes 20 minutes to do it once. It sure does warm me up, haven't put the heating on at all today.

I'm just back from the Arts Centre at Barton, I've been to see a film called Creation. It was a story about Charles Darwin. Before the film started there was a speaker from Hull University talking about the differences between the Darwin in the film, and the real life Darwin. He had ten children altogether though the film only showed five. He was torn between the love for his deeply religious wife and his own belief in a world where God has no place. It was a very emotional film, as he struggled to accept his daughters death.

I quite enjoy going out to watch a film now and again, it's a cheap night at £3 and I don't buy anything else. I can never find any decent films at the cinema in town, but I have several marked off in the Arts Centre brochure to see. Goodnight sleep tight.

Wednesday, 24 February 2010

What a boring post

Well, my gas bill has provoked a lot of interest, thanks for sharing your views. Now that I have actually studied the bill I dont feel quite so peeved. Apparently the price of one kwh came down part way through the bill period, and I was using the heating at the coldest time, which was also the most expensive time. So the bills from now on will be going down as the temperature starts rising. Today it already feels a little warmer and I dont need to put the heating on. There is a little chart on the bill comparing how much gas I used in the last three months, with the same period last year. A year ago I only had the gas fire in the living room, there is a big difference to this year, it has shot up.

I don't have a problem with quarterly bills, as long as I have an idea how much they might be. In fact I would rather not have to be bothered with monthly bills, it seems as soon as one payment is made the next month comes round almost immediately. Four times a year would be ideal for me to pay all my bills, as long as they dont all come on the same four months. It would be a sort of rota, then you could work your household budget out for the whole year.

A few years ago I would find that my bank balance had plumeted to a dangerously low level on several ocassions, when work was either not forthcoming, or I couldn't be bothered to do any. I was hanging on by the skin of my teeth at times, wondering what I could sell to make a few bob. Of course something always turned up and rescued me from the mire. I always made sure there was enough to cover the mortgage, that was priority.

Anyway, back to the price of gas. I had a look at the British Gas web site, (thankyou dancingonabladeofgrass),read up on energy smart, and I don't get the point of it. Perhaps it might be usefull to a large family when the teenage kids all want to play their computer games, and you need to nag them about the cost of electricity, but it would be no use to me at all. Apparently the gadget tells you how much electricity you are using at any one time, I can't see how that can save you money.

What do you do with it, plug a few things in and watch the number rise, then think about what you can do without, and pull a few plugs out? You can do that anyway without the gadget. Common sense tells you if you are going to have an electrical appliance plugged into every socket of the house it is going to cost you a fortune and your bill will go sky high. As far as I can see the only way you can save money on utilities is to either reduce your consumption, or the companies drop their prices.

My goodness what a boring post this is, let's get onto something a bit more light hearted for tomorrow :-)

Tuesday, 23 February 2010

Global warming, bring it on!

I've had a bit of a shock today, the quarterly gas bill arrived. When my central heating didn't work it was so easy, I just managed without it. No questions, no worrying about whether I could afford to switch it on. No central heating, end of story. I didn't mind receiving a gas bill, because I knew I wasn't going to get any nasty surprises. Every time I opened one I smiled, that will do nicely, I thought.

But now that the government has very kindly fixed my heating for me, my bill has shot up to £96.89 from the £52.90 it was for the same period last year. They said, get a new energy efficient boiler and watch your bills go down. Well mine flippin well hasn't, it's gone up! I knew it would be too easy to flick the switch when I felt the slightest bit chilly. I knew I would become a whimp and give in. Well this has got to stop. I can't be doing with the uncertainty of these fluctuating bills, I want to get back to the old method of not using it and not paying for it.

I know you can pay by direct debit and spread the cost, but from what I have heard the gas and electricity people always set the monthly payments quite high so that you are always paying more than you need to. Eventually you end up with quite a sizeable amount in your credit pot. I am not going to get into that situation, lending British Gas my money so they can invest it and make a profit. Better that it's in my purse, and I will pay for what I have used.

That's another thing, I try and keep my direct debits to a minimum, I don't like the idea of people helping themselves from my bank account. Whenever possible I pay my bills as and when they arrive, that way it feels like I am paying with real money. It helps me to keep track of things, my bank statements are usually only one page because there is very little activity, makes it easier to spot anything untoward.

With a bit of luck, with all this global warming going on we won't be needing central heating, then everybody will be in the same boat, hot and sweaty :-)

Monday, 22 February 2010

Aha, there is a road outside my house!

My mucky windows were starting to bug me a bit, cleaning them is a job I hate, along with most other household chores. The easy way would be to get a window cleaner, but I am far too mean to pay for someone to do a job I am perfectly capable of doing myself. Only the elderly, infirm, or those with upstairs windows that they cannot reach, and the filthy rich who live in mansions, should have a window cleaner.

I must have saved loads of money over the years by cleaning my own windows. I don't suppose it is such a big chore after all when I come to think about it. They don't get done until I cant see out of them, and that is only two or three times a year, so I don't know what I am moaning about.

I used to faff around with cheap spray cleaners made for windows, or water and proper window cloths, aren't you supposed to put vinegar in the bowl? All far too messy. Now I just cut up an old teashirt which is ready for the rag bag, and get my trusty Pledge from under the sink. I don't have a rag bag actually, I wear my clothes till I start looking like a tramp:-)

Anyway, this morning I cleaned the two upstairs front windows. Luckily they have the sort of openings that you can hang out of and reach the outside. My goodness, they were filthy. I don't think I have done the ledges for several years, I don't know what people thought as they walked by. They are now clean.

I know aerosols are not good for the planet, but this is the only one I have in my house, and as I use it sparingly and very rarely get it out, it lasts ages. Can't remember when I bought this one from the £1 shop, it's probably about three years old. Look at the muck on that cloth ;-O

Sunday, 21 February 2010

Dead cheap soup

I have been getting a tad bored eating steamed vegetables most nights, so I decided to play around with them a bit. It has to be something simple mind, and uses the least amount of pots and pans, I don't want to spend too much time in the kitchen. This is my version of vegetable soup.

Two potatoes, scrubbed not peeled. Ten sprouts. One parsnip. Two cabbage leaves. One onion. Boil them up in a pan of water. Add, teaspoon of turmeric, veg oxo cube, teaspoon of packet sauce mix, any old herbs and spices, and four desertspoons of natural yoghurt. Boil till veg is soft, mash with a potato masher. Makes about two pints. Costs a few pence when using reduced end of date veg. Three slices of bread from a 20p loaf, the cider was the most expensive part at 50p. Tasted loverly, I ate the lot straight out of the pan.

Saturday, 20 February 2010

Don't let me eat the chocolate

I'm a bit late with this tonight, I've been busy on the walking forum. I wanted to know how to work out the distances I walk, and some kind member pointed me in the right direction of a really good web site. I can mark out the route on a map with the mouse, and hey presto it comes up with the mileage. Yesterday I walked 9.5 miles. And today I have walked 5.25 miles into town, I didn't think it was as far as that. It takes me 1 hour 40 minutes, which is about right for the average of 3 mph.

Anyway, I am going to go back over my previous walks and start logging my miles. It will be interesting to work out some totals, maybe for the week or month. I can see this spurring me on to do longer walks, and maybe walk a bit faster.

I bought another OS map from W H Smiths, and while I was in there I spotted a special offer on Cadbury's chocolate 140g. They were 80p each or two for £1. I thought that was a good buy so treated myself to two bars, one for now, and one for later. Then I had an idea. I usually give my next door neighbour some chocolate for feeding my cats when I am away, so I bought another 8 bars for £4.

I have started to eat one bar, well I did buy it for myself, but I have put the other nine bars in the fridge, to save for John next door, and Janet my friend who also comes in. I may have set myself an impossible task here, not to touch the chocolate in the fridge. I wonder how long I will last before I cave in? To be honest I would find climbing a mountain a lot easier than keeping my mits off the choccy, it's going to be one hell of a challenge. I'm going to need your encouragement when I am in danger of falling off the wagon. Please shout at me if I eat the chocolate.

Friday, 19 February 2010

The bog trotter

What a day I've had today. It was a sunny start so I thought let's get off for a walk, checked my maps and picked out an area just off the M1 motorway junction 37 north of Shefield. There seems to be plenty of footpaths to do a circular walk, starting at Silkstone.

It wasn't long before I found myself on a very long bridleway which was a sea of mud. Oh well, I thought, maybe it will get better further on. Wrong! It seems every way I turned I was paddling through boggy fields or slipping around on muddy paths. Instead of a pleasant stroll through the beautiful countryside I have been on an army assault course. I now feel fit and able to join the lads on their next mission.

I have taken a few photo's, not a lot, I'm sure you all know what a boggy field looks like.
This is Silkstone Church, it sits high up on a huge piece of land, at the crossroads in the centre of the village. I went inside and found two guys putting books out ready for the coffee and book sale tomorrow. They were very chatty and told me a few interesting stories about the history of the village.

This stile is an example of health and safety gone mad. The stone steps up and over the wall are all that's needed and have been around for hundreds of years. This design can be seen all over the place. Some bright spark has decided that a wooden frame needs to be built around it with hand rails, presumably so that us incompetant walkers don't fall off.

This is Cannon Hall, a big stately home near Cawthorne. There was a wedding party having their photographs taken.

This is the river that runs through Cannon Hall Country Park.

And some of the birds that live there.

There is also a Cannon Hall Farm which I came to after passing through some fields of sheep. It must have been feeding time, because a farm worker turned up on his quad bike with a trailer, and started dropping piles of feed . It was ever so funny, the sheep were chasing him as he went from one field to another. The farm buildings were surrounded by high fences and had notices up saying no entry at the back, because there is an entry fee to pay. I passed by the front driveway ten minutes later and the sign said £4.95 per car. I suppose that is quite reasonable if you can squash about a dozen in your car :-)

As usual I over estimated the distance I thought I could cover in the time, and ended up doing the last bit on the road. I really must start out a bit earlier next time.

Thursday, 18 February 2010

Listen and learn

A lot of my time at secondary modern school was taken up with not listening to what the teachers were telling me, but daydreaming about about pop stars, boys, fashions, make up, and where I was going to meet my mates. I was one of those pupils who hid at the back of the class and hoped I wouldn't be picked on by the teacher. I was never going to be an academic, and couldn't wait to walk out of those gates for the last time. My learning came to a halt when I was fifteen.

Now I have a new teacher, Radio 4. It's like having a lesson in my own living room when I tune in, I can be getting on with my crafting and still learn something new as I sew, knit, and crochet. The programmes cover such a wide variety of subjects, I think of it as food for the brain, so I am trying to make sure I get enough nutrition in that department. Use it or lose it is what they say.

I start off by listening in to the Today programme, a magazine of world news. Sometimes it gets a bit too heavy with political matters or world affairs, but overall it is pretty balanced.

A few of my favourites are:-

From Our Own Correspondent, introduced by Kate Adie. These are stories from behind the headlines from BBC correspondents, often with an unusual slant on the subject.

You and Yours, a consumer programme on every day from 12 o clock. Lots of usefull information here about consumer matters.

Costing the Earth. This is about what consumerism is doing to the planet, global warming, over polulation, and what we should be doing about it. A little bit of nature, a little bit of science.

Material World is along similar lines as Costing the Earth. Again very thought provoking.

The Bottom Line. Evan Davis presents this business programme. I am interested in all aspects of business.

Desert Island Discs. I sometimes listen to this depending on who is the castaway.

Last Word. This is an obituary programme about people who have passed away in the last week. I find other people's lives fascinating.

Case Notes. Mark Porter explores medical matters. Well we all need to know how our bodies work.

Taking a Stand. Fascinating programme about how people have made a decision which has had a profound effect on their lives. The resilience of some people who have the strength to pull through is astounding.

File on 4. An indepth investicative programme on a variety of issues.

In Touch presented by Peter White. An informative programme on blindness, interesting even if you are not blind.

Beyond Belief. A look at religion from a different angle.

The Food Programme. It tells about what is going on behind the scenes of food production and consumption. Something we all should be taking note of.

Excess Baggage. Adventures, frustrations, and joys of travel, with a lot of humour

Blimey, I could go on, that's rather a long list there isn't it. I bet there are some people who never think of listening to Radio 4, they are missing out on such a lot of learning. Right, back to the classroom, oops, I mean my living room.

Wednesday, 17 February 2010

There is such a thing as a free lunch

I was treated to lunch today, I wasn't expecting it so it was a nice surprise. Some months ago I was asked by the local U3A group, that's the University of the Third Age, to do a talk on my experiences as a female lorry driver. I really enjoy doing this so I accepted their invitation.

I arrived at the village hall at 10.00am and set up my projector, and after they read the notices I took the floor at 10.40. There was about seventy in the large room so I had to use the pa system. I really get a buzz with a microphone in my hand, and in no time I had them falling about laughing. They were such a jolly crowd, it makes the job so easy. Afterwards people came up to me and said how much they enjoyed it.

Just as I was packing away, a very nice gentleman asked if I would care to join them for lunch. Well I could hardly refuse could I, hearing the words, 'I'll treat you', swung it for me. So for my free lunch I had cheese and broccoli bake, chips, peas and salad, and for pudding I had treacle sponge and custard. It was lovely. With a bit of luck I might be asked to go back and give them my money saving and simple living talk. I had a very enjoyable day and a lot of fun.

Tuesday, 16 February 2010

The Mr Beasley saga

We have found the wandering Mr Beasley, again. He has been going back to his previous house, apparently he likes the greenhouse there. Don't know why because there is hardly any glass in it. Anyway, Sue went to look for him and there he was, so she rang Janet who came with her car and a crate, and they took him back to Sue's house. He is now in a cat chalet.

He is beginning to lok a bit scruffy, his beautiful long hair is becoming matted around his neck, and his bottom. This is the fifth time he has run away from home now, even though his owners have tried to keep him there. For some reason he does a runner, and we don't know where he has been getting his food from. Possibly the mouse population has shrunk in the village. Sue gave him two sachets of cat food which he quickly demolished.

I think the owners will have to consider re homeing him, unless they move back to where they lived before. He needs to find somewhere that he is happy to stay. Sue is hinting that he would be very happy at my house, she is not listening to me when I say I don't want anymore commitments. He is lovely though.

Natural beauty

During these cold days, I am not in a hurry to go out very early, except if I have a days walking planned. Mostly I have a leisurely start, up between 7.30 amd 8am, sit at the dining room table overlooking the garden, eating my breakfast, listening to the radio, and planning my days activities. Ahhh, the joys of retirement :-)

The sun always comes up over the back from the left hand side and travels across behind the row of silver birch in the next garden, then after lunch time moves around the side of the house to the front. In the summer I have to close one of the curtains as I sit there and daydream, as it is too bright. This morning the sun was cheekily peeping out from behind some very moody clouds drifting along in the breeze. I just had to capture the image.

Fabulous, isn't it! How often do we take these things for granted. The sun will rise, it will move across the sky, and it will disappear over the horizon. How often do we dismiss these sights as normal and carry on with what we were doing, and how often do we look but don't see?

It only takes a minute for a stunning view like this to reveal itself, and in another minute it will be gone forever. How amazing is that! And if we weren't paying attention, if we were so engrossed in our own little world, wrapped up in our own worries and anxieties, we would have missed out on many beautiful sights that present themselves every minute of every day.

The best part is that we don't have to go anywhere to appreciate natural beauty, it is all around us. We only have to open our eyes.

Monday, 15 February 2010

Pampering my feet

I think I had better start looking after me feet, after all if I am to go off trekking at every opportunity I'm going to need a couple of happy plates of meat. What I would really like is to treat myself to a lovely relaxing pedicure by some professionally trained person, but that is most unlikely because the cost of it would be more than I could bear.

So what's the next best thing? A frugal diy pedicure, my mum used to do this all the time. First of all gather up all the bits and pieces you will need. I had a look in the back of my bathroom cabinet and found some Deodorising Lemongrass Foot Spray and a bottle of Peppermint Leg Cooling Gel, left over from my Bodyshop consultancy job about eight years ago. I did this work for a while so I could get my toiletries at hugely discounted prices.

Next I need some implements to scrape, and scrub, and cut toe nails. I love those sponges with a rough bumpy side, my whole body gets cleaned with one of those, face as well, ouch! A pumice stone for the hard skin, and sharp scissors for my nails. I know you are not supposed to cut them into the corners but I always do, and I have never had ingrowing toenails. A fluffy towel out of the airing cupboard will be needed.

To finish off the treatment I have a selection of moisturising creams in sachets. As I mentioned before, these were given to me as part of a bag of usefull stuff. All I have to do is decide whether to use the Hydrofirming Night Treatment Cream, the Comforting Moisture Cream, or the Biologie Skin Optimizer, what the heck is that for? As I am not going to bed yet, I choose the Comforting Cream.

Nearly ready, boil a kettle full of water, and lay a towel on the floor in front of a comfortable arm chair. A nice bowl of hot soapy water to soak my feet in. Washing up liquid for me, it does the job and is cheap, but you can use any old soap. Time to relax and close my eyes while I swish about. My Andrea Bocelli cd is perfect for these daydreaming moments. When you are scrubbed clean up to your knees, and the hard bits smoothed with the stone, dry your legs and wrap your feet in the towel. A trim with the scissors should be easy now the nails are nice and soft.

Finish off with a foot massage, I use generous squirts and splashes of creams and lotions, all the way up to my knees. If you are going to be wearing sandals you might like to paint your nails. I can't be bothered with that sort of thing so I just slip on a clean pair of socks and my feet feel warm and snug. I am going to pamper my feet more often, they deserve it. I must have saved about thirty quid today.

Sunday, 14 February 2010

No smiles from Henry

I've been a bit tied up with Henry for a couple of days, another sleepover. He is a gorgeous fella. Although he was hard work a few months back, he appears to have passed his naughty stage, and is now just a bit cheeky. He has made me laugh this weekend with his antics. Lilly cat has has his face washed several times with Henry's big sloppy wet pink tongue. My dirty socks have been dragged out of the laundry bin and used as a play toy. The carpet has been pulled up at the top of the stairs. I was reading in bed last night and the big lump jumped up and trashed the covers, eventually settling down to sleep on my feet.

It's so funny when we are out walking, he stops dead when he sees someone, and just stares at them. We stood for ages on the street corner while he was people watching, I should have taken a fold up chair with me.
He went at 5pm today, and I felt a bit sad, never mind I shall be seeing him again no doubt. Trying to get a good photo of Henry is not easy. He will not smile for the camera.

Saturday, 13 February 2010

Holmfirth, again. Not the touristy bit.

It was a toss up today whether to go on a mega bus ride, or chat with the sheep in West Yorkshire. The sheep won. I arrived at Holmfirth at midday and began my walk with a fairly steep climb out of the town, it wasn't long before I was peeling layers off. A bit of huffing and puffing with the old ticker quickening it's pace has got to be doing me some good. I have already done the touristy bit of this 'Last Of The Summer Wine country', now to explore the rest.

It seems every road out of Holmfirth has an incline. How they managed to cram all those houses into such steep and minute plots never ceases to amaze me. It's interesting to stroll by peering into someones back yard when their roof is the same level as the footpath. Here are two photo's of the first views I saw.

While a lot of dry stone walls are neglected and crumbling I was most impressed with this neat and tidy example. I have no idea how long it has been standing but I would say it is good for a few more hundred years. The square slate like slabs were perfectly placed, I can't see that it will ever fall down. It's a pity these ancient skills are not taught to the youth of today, because when the human race has blown itself into oblivion we will need to start all over again.
I joined the Kirklees Way, a designated leisure footpath promoted by the local council, and was pleasantly surprised at how interesting it was. A bit of allsorts really, I love trees of any kind.

I like to incorporate a walk around or alongside some water in my travels, and had planned it so I pass a couple of reservoirs. I came down a steep bank to the Brownhill Reservoir, the map clearly indicates a crossing at this point. Unfortunately this was the sight that greeted me, a building site, the path was closed untill the spring. Not the sort of thing you expect to come across in the beautiful countryside, but I suppose they have to do this work to ensure that we enjoy continual clean water at the turn of a tap.
Not to worry, there is another crossing half a mile further along, and this is it. You can see the footpath I took over the little bridge and along the top of the slope.
On the other side I heard the sound of the rushing water as it cascaded down the overflow channel from the higher level to the lower.

Further along the path I looked back to see this great view, it always pays to stop and look behind you, you might miss something.
This photo is taken looking back at the path I have just come down, still part of the Kirklees Way.

And what should I come across but a lovely little waterfall with a rather ugly iron footbridge crossing the water. It was a beautiful woodland scene, very pleasant when you are the only person there.

Couldn't resist taking more photo's.

I arrived in Holme village, after passing a house which was hidden underground. It was like one of those you see on Grand Designs, the only clues to it's existance was a glass dome and several glass bubbles poking up from the neatly planted camourflage. I couldn't get any pictures because of the high banks that surrounded the structure, obviously the owner values their privacy.
This rather splendid building on the roadside is for sale if you fancy buying it.

This is a photo of Digly Reservoir, another water feature I passed on my way back. The darkness was beginning to descend, my day was almost over. It was a race against time to get back to the car, so the last half an hour was along the roadside. Something I hate doing but it makes no sense to stumble around in the dark on uneven ground. I like to make the most of every minute so often find myself trying to cram too much in the day, roll on lighter nights.

One last shot, of this dramatic sky.

Thursday, 11 February 2010

I've had the snip, snip, snip, snip, snip, snip

I try and limit my visits to the hairdresser, not because I am too meant to pay, well ok I don't want to pay very much, but because it is so damn boring in there. I wait untill I absolutely have to go, usually after I have chopped lumps off and it is starting to look a bit odd. I can manage the top and the sides, but I struggle a bit with the back.

I hate sitting there while someone fiddles about with my hair, combing, lifting and separating, clipping it up out of the way, trimming my fringe, pushing my head this way and that, bits of hair floating around my face and landing on my eyelashes and in my mouth. I hate looking at myself in the mirror so it's just as well I can take my specs off so I can't see how awful I look with flat wet hair. I hate anyone else seeing me in this unglamorous state as well.

Then the hairdresser starts making conversation, and I can't hear her because I have taken my hearing aid out. I just smile and say yes to everything, and hopes she gets on with the job pretty sharpish so I can be out of there. I don't know why some women like going to the hairdressers, I wish I could take my head off and just leave it there and go back for it later.

Anyway, I had my haircut today, there is a new shop just opened in town, big signs on the window with the prices, £5 for an oap trim, that will do me. The girl did more chatting than cutting, I was in a rush but she kept rabbiting on and I couldn't hear a word of it. Then she got the hairdryer out and blow dried it, which it didn't need it was almost dry anyway. I said how lovely it was when she positioned the miror round the back of my head. I paid my £5 and as I was leaving I said, 'see you again'. Not very likely, I thought, if she is going to fanny about like that every time :-)

Wednesday, 10 February 2010

Decisions decisions.

I've been dead lucky today, more free stuff has been donated to Ilona's Welfare Fund. I went to visit my friend Helen, who has been helping her mother in law de clutter. The result was several bags of stuff to be given to charity shops. My kind friend let me have a rummage first and take what I wanted. I came away with lots of candles, lots of sachets of moisturising creams, a bag of fabric for my sewing projects, insoles for my boots, a lovely silk blouse, and a few other bits and bobs. A very nice haul indeed.

We took Henry dog a walk, he was so excited to see me again. He will be coming for his sleepover on Saturday, but we have strict instructions not to do a two hour walk. We must only do several shorter walks, because Henry has started limping a little bit. He is such an energetic dog, but he tends to overdo the dashing about.

I spent a bit of money today, I got the Dyson out and sucked the dust out of the carpets. I'm not sure how much an hour of Dysoning costs, but it needed doing, I got fed up of the place being knee high in cat hairs. Cleaning the stairs is a job I hate, but I can just about put up with it twice a year, ha ha.

My latest Tesco vouchers arrived this morning, I now have a grand total of £39 in the pot. They sent a Rewards catalogue as well so I had a look to see what I might treat myself to. I could fly to Paris and back. I could have a Thornton Chocoholic Hamper. I could get an annual pass to visit ten attractions as many times as I like in the year. I could have a years membership of English Heritage. I could go sky diving, air balooning, hire a narrow boat, go across to Ireland, eat out in restaurants, and get rescued by the RAC. Decisions decisions.

Tuesday, 9 February 2010

The mystery cat

Last night I spent almost three hours standing, then sitting, at the top of my stairs looking down at the slightly open back door. I had to be very quiet and hidden, and not take my eyes off the door for a moment, because I was hoping to catch the pussy cat that has been coming into the house to steal food from the cats dishes in the living room. I know I could close the door to keep other non resident cats out, but this time I wanted the cat to come so I could see who the culprit was.

At 10pm I gave up and closed the door. For the previous two nights food has been eaten, and guess what, tonight food has gone again and I don't know who came in for it because I wasn't watching. Do I just close the door now and give up, or do I carry on watching?

The reason for my detective work? Mr Beasley, the big ginger puss has gone missing again. We found his owners for him when he was lost a few weeks ago, they came to pick him up. He was kept in for a couple of weeks so he would know where he lives, but then he went walkabout back to his old home. The owners found him and took him back for another spell of confinement. But the little ugger has scarpered yet again. I wonder if Mr Beasley is stealing our cat food?

Monday, 8 February 2010

Free hat and gloves

Crikey, it's gone back to winter again, snowing here. I have no pressing need to go anywhere so I might as well hang around here for a while. I've just taken Ben dog back home, we went a walk earlier then I brought him back to mine for an hour, he likes to see the pussy cats, and scavenge the left overs from the food dishes.

The phone rang this morning, a friend from my last job said he is in the area and could he pop round for a coffee. I call him my friend, and he is, but we had a bit of a thing going about five years ago. It didn't last very long and we parted on good terms, but hey, you can stay friends with your ex I reckon.

We had a bit of a catch up work wise, I still like to talk shop even though I have been out of it for a while. Interesting to find out how things have changed in the last year and a half. He told me about his biking and I told him about my walking, and suddenly he jumped up and said, 'I've got just the thing for you,' and disappeared out to his car. When he came back he handed me this.

A lovely pair of gloves with matching hat. He had them for Christmas and didn't need them as he has loads. The gloves fit perfect and the hat is snug, perfect for treking out in the cold. I like it when people give me things :-)

Sunday, 7 February 2010

A little teaser

Sorry if the previous post sounds a bit goboldygook, but the sizing of my photo's was puzzling me a bit. Some need to be large, others are ok in small. I generally make everything large, cause that's how I am, bold and brassy and shout it from the rooftops type.

There's still a lot to learn from this blogging, I need to look into the nuts and bolts of it, all a learning curve I suppose. Anyway, that fiddling about has taken a good part of the day up, but at least I got there eventually. I increased the size of some of the photo's but you can still click on them to make them gigantic if you should so choose. Please don't look too closely at my wrinkly mush, ha ha.

I must get on with something else and get off this computer for a while. The garden needs tidying, the bin men are collecting the brown bin tomorrow so I will go out and cut a few trees down, only joking, trimming a few shrubs will do.

Just to leave you with a little teaser, I have an idea for another craft project, but I'm not going to give too much away at this stage. Here is a couple of pics to start you guessing.
Take a round piece of foam, 8 inches diameter and 5 and a half inches deep.
Take an electric carving knife and slice pieces off the sides, making it into a cone shape, it doesn't have to be perfect.

That's it. It's going to be a complicated piece like the rock pool, so you will have to be patient, it will take a while. I have a picture in my mind of how I want it to turn out, and I'm going to look pretty silly if I make a hash of it. The inspiration comes from my walking. That's it, toodle pip.

Saturday, 6 February 2010

Trying something

Trying something

My mini break at Grinton Lodge

Hi, there are quite a lot of photo's in this post, I took 65 and more than usual have turned out ok, I hope you like them. I left home at 9.40am on Wednesday and met my sister and her husband at Bedale, a few miles from the A1 in North Yorkshire. They are staying in their caravan near Stokesley on the edge of the North Yorkshire Moors, and came across to meet me. We found Panetti's, a cosy little Bistro where we had lunch, this is me, Bryn, and Anna Maria.

After a walk round we parted company, and I carried on a few miles further to Leyburn. I have wanted to visit this small town for years, ever since I delivered cement to a quarry there. It was just as I remembered it, a charming Dales town full of character. Then it was time to go to the hostel. The road is quite narrow and twisty and passes large areas of moorland which are out of bounds to everyone except the military who do a lot of their training there. Best not to wander into it in case you get shot at. It had started to snow and after a couple of miles it was getting quite heavy and settling on the road. I was down to a crawl in some places. I couldn't see the edges of the road. Thank goodness I came across the hostel before it got too dangerous, I was pleased to see the huge castle like building come into view, partially hidden in the trees.

I checked in and found I had the place to myself, just me and the warden. I had my own room with four beds to choose from, and numerous shower and toilet facilities. I had the kitchen to myself and after I cooked my own dinner I had control over the television remote all night long. A real fire in the grate and a can of cider, it was heaven.

This is Grinton Lodge, I took a photo of the poster on the wall. It was built at the centre of a large shooting estate in 1817, by James Fenton of Doncaster, a mansion with outhouses and stables set in gardens with wonderful views of the surrounding moorlands. It changed hands several times and had extensive alterations in 1880 for it's disabled owner to enable wheelchair access. The lodge was sold with 5 acres of land to the YHA for £5,500 in 1948. I wonder what it's worth now.

This is the sight that greeted me when I set off the next morning with my backpack and my map. This path is opposite the hostel, no footprints, just rabbit paw prints in the snow.

It wasn't long before I came to a deep and slippery slope down to a stream.

And a climb up the other side. You can see it is quite misty.

Into Grinton village, this is St Michaels Church.

I took a footpath alongside the river, then veered off to the right through the fields heading towards Cuckoo Hill. If you look at the skyline in the next picture you can see the snow at the top of Fremington Edge, I am hoping to climb up there.

A breather half way up and a chance to look down and admire the view. There is a lot of mist hanging in the sky, and the sun is trying to come out.

Oh well, set off again, still a fair bit to go.

A bit further to go, stop for another breather. The weather is changing by the minute, the sun is trying to make a show on the left, the wind is swirling the mist, sometimes you can see for miles, then the view is hidden.

Another stop before the top, the view is so magnificent I sit on a rock and take a few minutes to take in the gloriousness of it. You can just see the barn on the left hand side of this picture that was in the shot at the start of the climb. This is better than flying.

At last, the pile of stones indicates I have made it. That last few hundred yards was rather difficult, a vast shelf of frozen snow to cross with no obvious foot holes, I could have done with some crampons. But once you get so far there is no giving up and going back. I know to some experienced climbers that this would have been a mere stroll in the park, but to me it was a wonderful opportunity for a challenge. The sense of achievement I felt made me beam with pleasure, and the rewards are a stunning view. Well worth the effort.

At the top I turned left and walked along the edge for about an hour, the mist was coming down very fast so my views were totally lost and I was walking on a ridge of snow alongside a wall with the moors on my right, and very little vision in any direction. Eventually I came to the point when I had to start my descent, the mist cleared a bit as I went down. It wasn't obvious where the footpath was, but thankfully the kind walkers before me had built little piles of stones to mark the way. I eventually got down to the bottom at Langthwaite, and turned left to follow the Arkle Beck back to the hostel. Time was getting on, and at one point I lost the footpath. It was becoming quite difficult along the waters edge, the erosion of the soil, due to possibly snow and rain, and walkers boots, had left all the tree roots exposed. I was literally stumbling about which was taking it's toll on my feet. I noticed a lot of branches that had fallen or been blown from the trees had been stripped of their bark, I thought that was strange. I also noticed that there were a lot of dead rabbits about, probably hundreds of them, also very strange.
It was time I was getting off this rough ground and onto the road before it got dark, a race against the clock. Eventually I came to the road at High Fremington, and knew that I could easily get back to the hostel along the road from there.

Day three. A drizzly start to the day so waterproof gear needed. I headed towards Grinton on the road and came across a pleasant little footpath alongside a stream.

There was a poster in the hostel that said Market Day in Reeth on a Friday, so I went to explore. It's a gorgeous little village. This is the Babtist church.

It was a very small market because it is early in the year. I had a chat to two of the stall holders who said how much they enjoyed coming and it definately was worth the effort to get up early and travel the long distances, because the same regular customers came every week.
This tiny cobbled street with it's pretty cottages is typical of many Dales villages.

I had a look round the craft workshops and had a chat with a very friendly artist who makes animal sculptures. I asked him if he could shed any light on the dead rabbits. His explanation was that they have had three weeks of snow and the rabbits wont have been able to find any food so they have just died. He said that would also explain the trees without the bark as they would have been desperate to eat anything. Also the burrows would have been flooded. I felt very sad that all those bunnies have died, but I suppose that is the law of nature.
I thought I would have a spell of easy walking along the road to give my feet a rest. There was a lot of baa baa noises coming from the fields as I was passing, so I stopped to talk to the sheep. They seemed curious and all came strolling towards me bleating incessantly. It was so funny, I had to take a photo.
I was watching the time, this walk won't be as long as yesterdays because of the time I spent in Reeth, but I wanted to make the best of every minute and not get back too early, so I took a diversion up a steep track at Healaugh. My goodness it was very short and very steep, I had to peel off a couple of layers I was so hot. I passed by a lovely big house and had a chat to the two gentlemen in the garden, they pointed out the track back to the road past Thiernswood Hall, a big stately home.
Back on the road, I eventually I came to a junction and turned left over a bridge.
I turned left again and continued along a tarmac track. A short way along there I had the option of dropping down onto the edge of the river Swale, or keep on the track back to Grinton. I chose the river walk.

The river is quite fast flowing here. It looks as if the path might have been washed into the river at some time, because it has been repaired with large rocks.

After a few bends the path leaves the river for a while, it eventually returns and you see this wooden footbridge. It looks quite spectacular from a distance but close up it looks like a miniature version of the Humber Bridge. It would look quite at home in a theme park.

I walked back to the hostel over the fields rather than the road. Quite an impressive building don't you think.

If you've got this far well done, thank you for reading, I hope you enjoyed it.