Tuesday, 26 September 2017

Back To Uni

Eleanor's summer finally came to an end on Sunday when she returned to university for her second year. It's been lovely having her home for the holidays though it seems a long time ago now since she came home. Well, I suppose it is, she arrived home on the 11th of June and she's had fifteen full weeks here.


It was very strange when she went away last year, it was the first time that Mick and I had been on our own for over twenty one years but we soon got used to it. In fact, it's the norm now so it takes some adjusting when she comes back home and we have to share the house again. The house does seem empty again though now but I'm slowly getting back into a routine of being on my own during the day.

She managed to get herself a little bar job while she's been at home, she worked four and a half hours on a Friday night and eleven and a half hours on a Saturday. She's saved most of her wages so that she's got quite a bit of money to take back to uni with her.

The hard work really starts for Eleanor now. High grades have never come easy for her, she has to work for every mark she gets, so we were thrilled when her overall grade for Year 1 was a 2:1. It's a shame that the first year grade doesn't count towards the degree. We're just hoping that she can keep it up, though she does work hard so I know she'll give it her best.

Saturday, 23 September 2017

Messing About On The Water

I still haven't finished telling you about our holiday in Norfolk at the beginning of September so we're back there again today.

The day dawned bright on the Tuesday so we decided we'd head for the Broads and hire a boat for a couple of hours. There's quite a few different marinas where boats can be hired from, we chose Wroxham,


We had a short holiday on the Norfolk broads when Daniel and Eleanor were very young, I think Eleanor must only have been about three or four and she can't remember anything of it now so she really enjoyed having a go at steering the boat herself and she soon got the hang of it.


I've never seen so many herons in one place before, they could be spotted all the way along the river bank.


There were swans too, and different types of ducks.


This salty sea dog enjoyed his time aboard. The life vest was not his, he was just wearing it for the photo.


We could have gone on a boat trip rather than hire a boat ourselves but we definitely did the right thing, it was much more fun.


About half way into our hire it started to rain. It wasn't a problem though, we just pulled the roof across to keep us dry.


The rain soon passed by, which Archie was pleased about as he could go back to sticking his head over the side and watching the other boats go by.


It's a pity that this ice cream boat was closed for the day.


There's some beautiful little riverside cottages, lots of them even have their own mooring for their boat,



There's some beautiful larger cottages too.



Number 7 on my 50 Before 50 list is Take a boat ride, so that can now be crossed off.

This little trip has whetted Mick's appetite for a weekend away on the Broads next year. Nothing's been decided yet but we may very well end up back there. I won't be complaining.

Wednesday, 20 September 2017

Horsey Gap

Another of our days out whilst on holiday in Norfolk. I'd never heard of Horsey Gap until I read the visitors book in the cottage. The last holidaymakers to leave a comment in there said how they'd seen seals on the beach there so we decided to have a trip out.


It was Monday, we'd spent a couple of hours wandering in the drizzle at Great Yarmouth before deciding to call it a day and head back to the cottage. By late afternoon it was glorious, hazy sunshine, you wouldn't have thought that the day had been a washout. Perfect for an early evening stroll.


We parked in the National Trust car park which involved about a mile walk to reach the beach. There's sand dunes to the left but we decided to stick to the path.


There's signs of late summer around now. These blackberries are still to change colour.


The heather is in full bloom.


This pillbox has been left over from World War II.


I think this bird looks like a female chaffinch but I'm not convinced it is one. Does anyone have any ideas what it might be?


It took us about twenty minutes to walk the mile, I kept stopping to take photos, but eventually we arrived at the beach and it was a Wow! moment. All those seals basking on the shore. We saw the odd one on the beach near the cottage but to see them in this number was just amazing.


We kept well back, we didn't want to disturb the seals at all, and we had Archie with us too, though he was such a good boy. He wasn't interested in the least and didn't make any noise. I'm so pleased now that I bought a camera with a 60X zoom. We had this view to ourselves, there wasn't another soul nearby and it was just magical. I'll leave the narrative for now, there's not a lot I can say about each individual seal, though be warned that there's lots of photos. There's many more which haven't made it on to the blog.










For me, this was the highlight of the holiday. If you get the chance to visit Horsey Gap I would whole heartedly recommend it.

We made it back to the car park as daylight was fading and by the time we got back to the cottage it was pitch black with an almost full moon.


The perfect end to a perfect outing.

Monday, 18 September 2017

The Constant Princess

I'm quite late to the party with Philippa Gregory books, I'd heard good things about them but wasn't sure they were for me. I've come to enjoy history more and more as I've got older but I didn't know if I'd like the mix of fiction and facts, though I've read a few books like this just recently, so when I saw The Constant Princess reduced to 99p for Kindle, I thought it was worth a go.


Although The Constant Princess isn't the first book that Philippa Gregory wrote in The Tudor Court series, it's the first in chronological order so I thought this would be a good one to start with. I've struggled with a few books just lately finding it hard to get into them, I'd already resigned myself to the fact that this would be the same but it wasn't like that at all, I was absolutely hooked from the very first page.

This novel tells the life of Catherine of Aragon, Henry VIII's first wife, right from her childhood in Spain, through to her marriage to Henry's older brother, Arthur, and finally to her life as Queen of England. It's a real page turner and I found myself unable to put it down. I enjoyed the author's style of writing, I found it easy to read, and I enjoyed how the book is written from Catherine's point of view.

This is another book I'd recommend and I shall definitely be reading the next in the series.

If you want to know what else I've been reading lately, you can find a list in the sidebar. This shows all the books I've read this year and there's also lists of the books I've read right back to 2012.

Friday, 15 September 2017

Redwings

Nearly thirty years ago, I adopted a beautiful white pony called Polly from Redwings Horse Sanctuary in Norfolk. I always said that if I visited Norfolk I would visit the sanctuary and go and see her. Unfortunately, Polly had to be put to sleep in 2006 after living at Redwings for twenty two years and I never got the chance to meet her.

On the Sunday of our holiday, which happened to be my birthday, we decided to visit Redwings. They now have five centres situated around the UK with two of them in their home county of Norfolk. The Aylsham centre was the closest to where we were staying so that's the one we decided to visit.


The first thing that struck me was how big the sanctuary is. The lucky horses which are rescued and come to live at Redwings must live out their days very happy. They've got a great amount of space, company from other horses and are most obviously well looked after. What more could a horse want.


Apples were being thrown into this paddock and it didn't take long for the horses to notice, they all came running hoping to grab a tasty snack.


This is Ronnie, a miniature Shetland. He shares his paddock with Reggie and Baby Face Nelson, and they're known affectionately as The Gangsters. They came to Redwings after their owner died.


I'm not sure why Taz was in his stable rather than out in the fields. He's such a beautiful boy, happy to come to the front of the stable for a cuddle. I'm going to whisper this so that the other horses don't get jealous but he was my favourite if I'm being honest.


The horse on the left is Maya, a black Friesian mare who came to Redwings with six other horses after being found at a site in Essex in a terrible state of neglect. Their owner was found guilty of causing suffering.


Cookie reminds me of a spotty Dalmation dog. She must have a problem with her eyes as she's wearing a hood to keep the flies out of her way.


There's donkeys at Redwings too. These gorgeous animals need company and both Wiggins and Wacko had suffered from loneliness before arriving at the sanctuary. They're now the best of friends.



These Horse Facts, and lots more like them, are fastened to the fences around the paddocks.




You didn't think I'd been to Redwings and not adopted a horse did you? This gorgeous boy is Gulliver. He was rescued by the RSPCA at just a few days old, along with his mother, Cinders. They'd both been abandoned and left to fend for themselves. Cinders became severely malnourished as she was using the little food that she could find to provide milk for Gulliver. They were both given a home at Redwings and as Gulliver is such a friendly chap, he was an ideal candidate for the Adoption Club.


Adopt an animal for charity is number 43 on my 50 before 50 list so that one can now be crossed off.

All in all, Redwings cares for over 1500 horses, ponies, donkeys and mules every single day at one of their sanctuary sites around the UK, with the Aylsham site having 50 residents.

Do take a look at the Redwings website, it's very interesting and informative and if you feel inclined, you're able to adopt a horse online there too.

It was a lovely day out and I was really pleased that I'd chosen to spend my birthday with these beautiful horses.

Wednesday, 13 September 2017

Apple Day

I've been wanting to visit the Apple Day at Lotherton Hall for the last few years but for one reason or another I've always managed to miss it. Not so this year. It was held on Sunday and we got there nice and early.


The orchard was already filled with people picking the apples off the trees.


Armed with a book, which told us which tree was which variety, and a grabber, which enabled us to pick the uppermost apples, we set off to see which apples took our fancy.


The first ones we picked were Malster, a dual-purpose apple which originated in England and was known to exist in 1830. It's briskly acid when fresh, well adapted for cooking and sometimes used as a dessert apple when matured.


I chose five of these as I decided I'd make them into a crumble.


The next one was picked from a tree which didn't have much fruit on it. I'm not sure if it hadn't produced much or if it had already been stripped by others before us.


This is Edward VII, another dual-purpose apple which was first recorded in 1902, the year of the king's coronation. I only picked one of these, but I made sure that I kept it separate from the five I'd already picked from the other tree as it looked very similar.


The next tree was literally covered in fruit, I think perhaps because the apples don't look quite as attractive as some others.


Ashmead's Kernel is a dessert apple, developed in the 1700s by Dr Ashmead of Gloucester, England and is supposed to have a unique pear drop flavour.


My own Gloster apple tree has produced very well this year, the branches are literally bent by the weight of the fruit.


The apples are a deep red, very attractive to look at. I picked these four to take for my mum and dad but I picked an extra one for myself so that I could taste it and compare it to those I'd picked at Lotherton.


Now the proof is in the pudding, so to speak, so what did they taste like?


Well, the Edward VII was very tart, though it can be used as a cooker too so that's not really surprising. I don't mind a tart apple though. The Ashmead's Kernel was rather tart too, even though it's considered a dessert apple. None of us detected the unique pear drop flavour though. We tried a Gloster from my little tree in the garden alongside the ones we brought home from Lotherton, this was a much sweeter apple, a little like a Golden Delicious at first but with more of a tart aftertaste.

Both Mick and I agreed that we liked the Gloster best, followed by the Ashmead's Kernel and then the Edward VII. Eleanor totally disagreed with us, preferring the Edward VII followed by the Ashmead's Kernel and the Gloster came in last place for her. Another thing to note is that the apples from Lotherton started turning brown almost as soon as they were cut into, the Gloster held it's crisp, white colour, I'm not sure why this would be.

As for the Malster, I bought these with the intention of making a crumble but I haven't got round to that yet. Eleanor wasn't at home for tea on Monday, last night we went out for a meal with Eleanor, her boyfriend and his parents before they both return to uni, and Mick's working in Basingstoke today so he's decided to make the most of being just forty minutes away from where Daniel's now living and he's staying overnight so that he can spend the evening with him.

I'm sure the crumble will get made soon.