Monday 27 April 2015

Challenge Update - April 2015

My 2015 challenges are:-

1) Read one book each month.

1a) Read Agatha Christie books in chronological order.

2) Watch films from IMDb's top 100 movies of all time.

3) Support charities.

April has been quite a busy month for me with Easter, decorating and the gardening season getting off to a hectic start so my challenges have taken a bit of a back seat this month. I've still managed to read a book as well as my Agatha Christie book and watch a film but I'm hoping to improve on the amount next month.

The book I read this month was Snowfall In Burracombe by Lilian Harry. This was the book which Lisa from Jumble and Jelly bought me as one of my Twelve Days Of Christmas gifts. This is the seventh book in a series all about the village of Burracombe and its inhabitants, set in the 1950s. I haven't read any of the preceeding books and didn't feel I needed to as it can be read as a stand alone book, but the ending definitely left lots of loose ends, presumably to carry on in to the next book. Thank you, Lisa, I did enjoy reading this book and I've now passed it on to my mum as it's the kind of book she enjoys too.

I'm really enjoying the Agatha Christie books I'm reading, this month it was The Man In The Brown Suit. There were so many twists and turns in this book that I couldn't even hazard a guess who the murderer was so I was quite surprised at the end.

I've only managed to watch one film this month and it's one I've seen before, All About Eve. This film was nominated for fourteen academy awards and won six, definitely a film worth watching again.

National Pet Month runs from 1st April 2015 through to 4th May 2015 so I wanted to help animal charities this month. When we visited Hope Pastures earlier on this month, I decided to adopt Banjo, one of the donkeys there.

Banjo is beautiful donkey who had a horrible start in life, you can read about his story in my Hope Pastures post. It costs £15 to adopt one of the horses, ponies or donkeys and you're sent a lovely photo of the one you choose, an adoption certificate and a letter telling you all about their story. The money raised from the adoptions helps the charity greatly. We adopted Banjo in Mick's name so that gift aid could be claimed on the donation. I'm not a tax payer so it makes sense to do it in Mick's name, the charity benefits more this way.

Each time I've been shopping, I've been popping tins, packets and trays of cat food in to my trolley. They soon add up to a worthwhile amount. I've donated all this food to Leeds Cat Rescue, a group of volunteers who foster homeless cats and kittens in West Yorkshire and surrounding areas until homes can be found for them.

We used to have a cat ourselves, Jake, he was my baby before I had kids and Daniel and Eleanor grew up with him. After he died, Daniel developed an allergy to cats which means as much as we'd love another cat, we can't have one. I still like to do my bit for the unfortunate cats which don't have loving homes and this is one way I can help.

I've been saving all my used postage stamps as many charities are grateful for these, they can sell them to raise much needed funds. Foreign stamps earn even more money than UK ones so I make sure I save them all. I donated this lot to Many Tears Animal Rescue which is based in South Wales but has dogs being fostered in homes throughout the UK. They also have a small number of cats.

Whilst I was looking on their website for the address to send them to, I noticed that they also collect old car tax discs. Tax discs no longer have to be displayed in the windscreen but both Mick and I had our old ones still there so we took them out and whilst I was at it, I had a look in my glove box and found a few more from years past, so I've posted all these off too. What a simple way to help a charity raise money.

We decorated our bedroom over the Easter period so I've been having a good clear out of the wardrobes and drawers in there. I ended up with a dozen black bags full as well as some boxes to take to the charity shop. There were even two of Mick's suits, one which he wore for our wedding nearly twenty five years ago and one which he wore to my sister's wedding a year later. They're as good as new as they were only ever worn once. I did take a photo of it all but I've managed to delete it from the computer when I was having a tidy up on there last week, I'm just hoping that I don't come across anything else I've deleted which I shouldn't have. We took everything to the RSPCA charity shop and I was surprised to be asked if we'd like to gift aid the donation. As you know, I always tick to gift aid monetary donations but I didn't realise you could do it when you're taking in unwanted items for them to sell. Apparently, they can claim gift aid on the amount that the items sell for. I take lots of things in to charity shops yet this is the first one which has asked me if I'd like to gift aid my donation. Of course, this was done in Mick's name again so that they can make the most of what's raised.

It may have been a fairly quiet month on the reading and watching front but I've certainly been busy with the charities.

Friday 24 April 2015

Photo Medley - April

Here are a few photos taken this month which haven't yet been seen on the blog.

More photos from our trip to Hope Pastures, the horse, pony and donkey sanctuary.

We've had some beautiful blue skies this month. This was just over two weeks ago before the buds broke on the cherry tree.

Archie fair asking for a lick of my ice cream in Scarborough. Don't worry, I saved him a bit.

Another view from the cliffs at Flamborough Head.

Have a good weekend, everyone.

Tuesday 21 April 2015


My favourite perfume of all time is Ysatis by Givenchy. I discovered this in my teens and I've never fallen out of love with it. I think it's a scent which you'd either love or hate, it's quite a strong, heavy fragrance so there's no middle ground.

I've been without any Ysatis for quite some time now, I tend to use much cheaper brands for day to day wear and I acquire more expensive ones as gifts. Over the Easter period, I decided that I'd take Eleanor in to Leeds and have a bit of a spending spree with my Boots Advantage Card points. I don't think I've ever redeemed any points since getting the card many years ago and I'd managed to save up over £100 worth.

I was umming and ahing wondering what to buy when I saw there was a reduction on Ysatis, a 30ml bottle had been reduced to £24.50 so I picked it up and put it in my basket. It was only after I'd thought about it that I decided to go for the larger 100ml bottle. This should have been around £75 but was reduced to £48.99, definitely worth paying double the price for more than three times the amount.

There wasn't really anything else I wanted apart from an eye pencil. I don't wear much make up but my old eye pencil had been sharpened and sharpened until there was hardly anything left of it so I bought another and then let Eleanor loose with the rest of my points. She'd been wanting a new ladyshaver, her old one had stopped working, so she got one of those as well as some make up. When everything had been put through the checkout I still had over £16 worth of points left on my card, so Eleanor had been quite restrained. Those £16 in points will start my saving off again.

It was lovely shopping for treats without having to spend any money, I shall definitely let my points mount up again so that I can do it again.

Thursday 16 April 2015

Washday Blues

It's one of those moments you dread, you load the washing machine, hear it fill with water, listen to the drum start turning and then nothing. Kaput! It happened to me last week. To be fair, my old washer hadn't done bad. Usually I'd get a repair man out to fix it but it was over ten years old and I'd noticed that the seal had recently started dripping water too so I doubt it would have been economical to mend.

I'd remembered a post which Jayne from The View From Bag End had written recently when her drier broke. She'd had really good service from an online company so I searched for the post and found it, Appliances Online 1, John Lewis 0. One of the engineers who Mick works with had recommended the same company and online reviews of Appliances Online were very good. It was good enough for me, especially as I found a washing machine I liked on their website and an extra 10% discount code. You can purchase from this company through Top Cashback too so that's an extra saving.

I ordered the washer after 9pm last Thursday evening and it was delivered on Saturday afternoon without any delivery charge or additional charge for a weekend delivery. I thought that was excellent. There was a text first thing on Saturday morning to give us a four hour time slot so that we didn't have to stay in all day, and then a telephone call nearer the time of the delivery to tell us they were on their way and that they'd be with us within the hour. The washer was carried in to the kitchen for us by the delivery men. Unfortunately, plumbing it in wasn't such an easy job for Mick. The design of the kitchen makes it hard to slot it in to place because of its depth but he got there in the end, however, we came across another snag when the cupboard door wasn't so easy to fit. It's an integrated appliance and you'd think that each appliance would have the same fittings, but they don't. The door needed the hinges to be put in a different position to that which they'd been in on the last washer so this is how the washing machine sat in my kitchen until Monday when Mick took the cupboard door to work and got one of the lads who used to be a shopfitter to sort it out.

This photo shows what I mean. You can see how the hinges have had to be moved in order to get the door to fit correctly. It's a good job it's on the inside of the door and can't be seen.

Anyway, it wasn't a big job and I've got a working washing machine again, so now I've got a question for you all. How often do you wash? When Daniel and Eleanor were at school I would wash every other day. They each wore a clean shirt each day and though Mick doesn't wear a shirt for work every day, if he'd had meetings that week I could have six shirts to wash every two days, along with everything else which had been worn. I hate washing or ironing to pile up so I like to keep on top of it. Now that Daniel's not at home I have less washing but I still wash nearly as frequently even though I have smaller loads. This can't be cost effective or environmentally friendly so I've decided that I'm going to cut this down and leave the washing until I have a full load. This doesn't include the towels which I've always washed when I've got a full load or the bedding which gets washed as it's taken off the beds. It will mean that I have more washing and ironing to do in one go, but it will cut down on how many times a week I'm doing it.

We'll see how I get on.

Tuesday 14 April 2015

Flamborough Head

After A Day At Scarborough on Friday, we headed along the coast road until we reached Flamborough Head, an eight mile long promontory between the bays of Filey and Bridlington. I remember visiting as a child and we took Daniel and Eleanor when they were young but haven't been since. It was quite late in the day by now so the lighthouse was closed, but during opening hours, visitors are able to take a tour of this working lighthouse and climb the 119 stairs to the top of the building. It had been quite hazy all day and the fog horn was sounding.

The original Chalk Tower lighthouse at Flamborough Head was built in 1669 by Sir John Clayton and is one of the oldest surviving lighthouses in England.

The decision to build the current lighthouse was made in 1806. It was designed by Samuel Wyatt and built by John Matson of Bridlington at a cost of £8000.

There's a fabulous view overlooking the chalk cliffs, which provide a nesting site for many seabirds including Gannets, Kittiwakes and Atlantic Puffins. There are some wooden steps down the cliffs which you can use to reach Selwicks Bay below but I gave that a miss, I don't have a head for heights at the best of times and climbing down chalk cliffs is definitely not for me.

On the north side of the headland is Bempton Cliffs which has an RSPB reserve and visitors centre. They have Puffin Patrols between April and July where you can wander along the cliff tops with a guide learning all about these birds and hopefully see a few of them too. It sounds like a fun day out.

There's plenty of seating areas on the cliff tops and a restaurant and cafe next to the lighthouse which I was pleased to see is dog friendly. There's also an ice cream kiosk and gift shop. It's a shame the wind had got up by this time as it would have been nice to relax on the benches looking out to sea, but we'd have been in danger of being blown over the edge. We'll just have to return another day.

Saturday 11 April 2015

A Day At Scarborough

With the weather being so nice last week, Mick decided to take a day off work so that we could spend a day at the seaside. He chose Friday so that it would make a long weekend and we headed off to Scarborough on the Yorkshire East coast.

Scarborough has two bays, North Bay and South Bay, but before we went down to the beach there was somewhere I wanted to visit first.

I've been coming to Scarborough since I was a tiny baby yet I'd never yet seen this famous resting place of Anne Bronte.

Anne Bronte, a member of a nineteenth century literary family, who wrote Agnes Grey and The Tenant of Wildfell Hall is the only member of the family not buried at Haworth. She had been suffering from the early stages of consumption and was in Scarborough for the change of air hoping that it might relieve the symptoms. She died on 28th May 1849 and her grave can be found in St Mary's churchyard.

The original headstone gave Anne's age as 28 when in fact, she died aged 29.

The Bronte Society installed a new plaque in 2011 which gives Anne's true age.

Just across the road from the churchyard is the entrance to Scarborough Castle, another place in Scarborough I've never visited.

The plaque tells how the site was fortified in the 12th century and was last used defensively in 1745.

We didn't go inside the castle on this occasion but we wandered around the walls.

There would have been some wonderful views but a haze had descended which lasted the whole day. Here we're looking out on North Bay.

The lighthouse and harbour looking out towards South Bay.

On our way back to the car we passed these cute little cottages.

It was time now to get on to the beach, we'd all waited long enough and Archie couldn't wait much longer. He took one look at the sea and off he went.

Archie's quite a soft dog in some respects but not where water's concerned, he can't get enough of it.

As usual, he dried himself off by rolling in the sand.

I was really pleased that Eleanor wanted to come on our day out with us. We're often on our own these days as at nearly seventeen she doesn't always want to be hanging out with her parents, but I love to spend time with her as she's such good company.

We spent quite a bit of time on the beach much to Archie's delight, there were lots of other dogs for him to play with as well as an abundance of rock pools.

The sands were finally left behind and we wandered by the busy harbour with its array of fishing boats.

There were dozens and dozens of lobster pots and crab traps stacked together.

We walked along the row of shops and shacks selling all manner of seaside paraphernalia, shells, seafood, buckets and spades etc.

We'd taken a small picnic with us so we didn't have to buy any food, still, we couldn't resist a small portion of chips, Eleanor had a tray to herself and Mick and I shared one. Can you see who else was waiting for a chip?

It was a lovely day out and though there was a steady breeze all day long, it was still much warmer than we'd usually expect in April. We took our trip in the nick of time as the good weather has broken today and we've got rain and high winds, it's much cooler too.

Tuesday 7 April 2015

Hope Pastures

Easter this year has been quite busy. Mick, with Eleanor's help, decorated our bedroom, and we also managed to get quite a few jobs done in the garden.

On Sunday afternoon, we took time out to visit Hope Pastures, The Phyllis Harvey Horse & Donkey Trust which rescues, rehabilitates, and re-homes horses, ponies and donkeys.

Hope Pastures is just off the Leeds ring road on Weetwood Lane and I've passed it many, many times, often remarking how I'd like to visit and see the work that they do, so whilst Mick was waiting for one coat of paint to dry before he could start on the next coat, we headed off for a look around.

This is Domino, a young horse. He came to us straight away wanting a stroke and a bit of attention. He wasn't a bit nervous of us.

Just look at that whiskery chin, so cute.

Muffin the mule, he's half pony, half donkey. He's a little bit stubborn, but what do you expect, he's a mule. You've heard the saying, as stubborn as a mule.

Banjo is a beautiful donkey who has come a long way since arriving at Hope Pastures. He'd been found frightened and underweight at a horse market where his owner was seen hitting him. He'd travelled a long way and was tired and thirsty, but no one wanted to buy him so a kind person bid £63 to save his life and he ended up at Hope Pastures. He's now got a friend, another donkey called Coco who arrived at Hope Pastures around the same time and Banjo has learnt a lot from him and isn't quite so nervous anymore.

Every horse, pony or donkey here has got a story, but it's wonderful to see them enjoying life again. There's plenty of space for them and they each seem to have their own special friend.

The 'Gone but not forgotten' wall shows how special each of these animals are, even when they're no longer here, they're still remembered.

Resident turkey. He has his own little door in the gate so that he can come and go as he likes.

The staff were so friendly, happy to answer any questions we had. It seems they're passionate about education and that's one of the reasons why they offer Pony Days in the school holidays where as well as having fun, the children can be taught about the importance of animal welfare and the work of the organisation. It really is easy for families, groups and organisations to get involved with the work of the sanctuary as there's regular events throughout the year where the public are able to get involved.

Hope Pastures is open to the public every day of the year free of charge. The visitor centre is open at weekends and bank holidays with activities, information, souvenirs and refreshments. If you're in the area why not pop in?