Thursday 25 February 2021

Winter In The Woods

We've had some lovely sunny days this week and it's been nice to be able to get outdoors for some walks, unfortunately, the day I decided to take my camera with me wasn't quite so nice. It had been sunny on Tuesday morning but by the afternoon it had clouded over and by 3pm, when we drove to Lotherton to take Archie for a walk, it was threatening rain and was really quite breezy. Luckily, it stayed dry, but we were a bit windswept by the time we got home.

There's such a stark difference in the woods during the winter months to what it's like during summer, it actually looks quite barren when the trees are devoid of their leaves. It's still a nice place to walk though, and since last week, crushed stones have been added to the pathways to dry up some of the muddy puddles.

You can see so much more of the trees and their interesting features during this period. The leaves camouflage their shape and other interesting details but they're fully exposed at this time of year and you're free to see them in all their glory.

Everywhere looks dead at a first glance just now but there are signs of life if you look closely. Look amongst the leaf litter underneath the trees and you'll see the first signs of the wild garlic pushing through the earth. I'd wondered what the shoots were when I saw them last week, dismissing all thoughts of wild garlic as I thought it too early, but I then read Jules post on A Hidden Jem and she confirmed my suspicions of it being just that. It's grown since last week and already there's that tell tale garlic aroma. Another month or so and the woodland floor will be carpeted in large green leaves.

The snowdrops have been flowering for some time now. I do love to see them as it makes me think that spring can't be that far away, though I fear we haven't seen the end of winter quite yet.

Wildlife World is closed to the public at the moment because of lockdown but some of the animals can still be seen at various points around the estate. Here's a Visayan warty pig. He, for one, seems quite happy to see so much mud around.

Some birds seem stranger than others though, here's one we came across in the woods. I'm not sure about those goggly eyes.

I'm enjoying being able to get out for a walk again, I just hope this warmer weather holds, I don't like the cold.

Sunday 21 February 2021

Seed Order

I'm not growing very much this year, I think it will be down to just tomatoes and potatoes again, as it was last year. I missed growing tomatoes one year and regretted it. I've said it before and I'll say it again, nothing you can buy compares to the taste of home grown tomatoes, especially my favourite cherry tomato, Maskotka. 

When I started growing Maskotka tomatoes back in 2014 it wasn't such a popular or well known variety, it was quite hard to find the seed. I've usually ordered the seed from the internet as larger seed suppliers didn't offer it, however, I've noticed this year that companies such as Thompson & Morgan and Mr Fothergill's, amongst others, now sell Maskotka tomato seeds so it must be more popular now than it was back then.

This year, I might have picked them up on a visit to a garden centre but given that we're still in lockdown it's a while since I've visited a garden centre so my seeds have once again been bought from the internet. I ordered from a company I haven't used before, Premier Seeds Direct, and I have to say I was very impressed with them and I wouldn't hesitate in ordering from them again in the future. They offer a good range of seed and their postage prices are very reasonable. I placed my order on Thursday the 4th of February and it was delivered on Monday the 8th of February. Given there was a weekend between these dates, this was quick. Take into account that we're currently in the middle of a global pandemic, this was super quick.

Of course, I couldn't let the Maskotka seeds travel alone. Another cherry tomato variety had caught my eye whilst browsing the site so I also ordered some Sweet Olive seeds, a baby plum looking cherry variety which, like Maskotka, has a bush habit so needs very little staking. I'm looking forward to tasting this one.

Now that Eleanor has her own house I shall be growing a couple of seedlings for her too which she can take over the care of once they've been potted on. She's not a lover of tomatoes but Jacob enjoys them so I'm trying to encourage them to grow their own right from the off. What tastes nicer than something you've grown yourself?

This isn't a sponsored post. I bought the seeds myself but was impressed with the service I received from Premier Seeds Direct so I thought they were worth a mention as I know some seed orders are being delayed at the moment so you may be looking for alternative suppliers.

Wednesday 17 February 2021

Queen Of The Night

It's a bit of a tradition now that I put an amaryllis on my Christmas wish list. Many people grow these plants to flower in time for the festive season but I enjoy opening the potted-up bulb on Christmas morning and starting it on its journey to flower in the depths of winter. It's a little pick me up when that first bloom opens during these cold months so early on in the year.

Mick's the one who usually chooses to buy this gift from my wish list and this year he chose Queen of the Night variety. I've grown a red one in the past, Red Lion, but this one is a much deeper colour and it's a beauty.

I've been a bit unlucky in the past and had the odd amaryllis which has only produced one flower stem but on the whole they usually produce two. I'm being spoilt this time though, there's three flower stems on this plant, you can just see the third bud in the photo above. That means there'll be twelve flowers on this plant.

Amaryllises are fascinating plants to watch grow, they start from just a bulb and grow to huge proportions in just a matter of a few weeks. I certainly get a lot of enjoyment from this small Christmas gift.

Saturday 13 February 2021

First Time Buyers

Mick and I are now back to living on our own. Back in 2013 Daniel left home to go to university and he never came back. In 2016 he finished uni and moved into rented accommodation with Jasmine in York where they'd been studying, before moving to Surrey. They're now living in Essex.

As Daniel finished university, Eleanor was just beginning. We had the following three years living on our own, apart from holidays when Eleanor would grace us with her presence, and when she graduated in 2019 she came back home to live. After three years, we'd got used to it being just the two of us so it took a bit of getting used to her being at home full time again but we've always enjoyed having Eleanor here, she's such good company.

Eleanor and Jacob were looking for a house together last year but as with most things, coronavirus made things more complicated. There were large parts of last year when they were unable to see each other at all, but they managed to get together at the beginning of October when Jacob proposed and She Said Yes. It was only a couple of days later that a house came up for sale that they fell in love with and they put in an offer. It was around this time that the second lockdown came into force so they didn't see each other again after this time until Christmas. During this time, the house sale was going through, but it's been quite a stressful time. Buying a house can be trying at the best of times but when you're not able to see each other during this period, the stress is enhanced.

They were supposed to be completing on the house before Christmas, their buyers wanted a very quick sale as they were expecting a baby in January, so Eleanor and Jacob were all geared up for this. They instructed their solicitor to act swiftly but then the vendors started dragging their feet. Everything on Eleanor and Jacob's part was ready to go in the first part of December but the vendors dragged it out until after Christmas. I don't think anything ever goes to plan when buying or selling a house.

I'm pleased to say that they eventually got their keys and they've now moved in and are busy unpacking and arranging their new home. The house isn't very far away from here but it might as well be at the other side of the world as now they're a separate household we're not able to visit each other's houses. As things stand at the moment, one of us can meet one of them, socially distanced, for exercise so this is how I'm able to see Eleanor just now. Obviously, this could change at any time.

I'm so proud of them. They've only been working for a year since leaving university and they've managed to save enough money to buy their own house. They were hoping for a 90% mortgage but the banks and building societies withdrew these offers wanting a 15% deposit so they've had to put down a bigger deposit than they thought they would, but they've managed it.

We wish them many years of happiness in their new home. I suppose that's another milestone crossed off the list and wedding preparations will be the next thing on the agenda.

Tuesday 9 February 2021


It's daffodil time again. I'm always eager after Christmas to buy my first bunch but it didn't happen until the end of January this year.

Just a few hours after buying them, the first bud unfurled, it doesn't take long.

Twenty four hours later and they were just about all open.

They don't last long but they're such a cheap and cheery flower to brighten up the house in the depths of winter.

Friday 5 February 2021

The Man In Black

My book review for this month isn't one which everyone will want to read, it's about Wales' worst serial killer, Peter Moore. I'd read about this book on Eileen's Deja Brew II blog and Eileen offered to send me the book after she'd finished reading it.

"The sensational true story of Peter Moore, mild-mannered business man and Wales' worst-ever serial killer. At his trial, the prosecution branded him "the man in black, with black thoughts and the blackest of deeds" and the judge called him "as dangerous a man as it is possible to find".

25 years after he was found guilty of four murders and confessed to more than 20 brutal assaults over two decades, Moore's defence lawyer Dylan Rhys Jones finally tells all. As his brief, they spent hours together, discussing Moore's compulsion for violent sexual assaults, his overwhelming urge to kill, his involvement with a circle of gay men who gained sexual gratification from domination and torture, his plans for further murders, and how it feels to end someone's life.

An in-depth, first-hand account of full and frank dealings with a particularly vicious and sadistic individual who gained pleasure from killing."

I'm fascinated by the minds of serial killers and what makes them commit such horrendous crimes. I'm also fascinated by the police procedure, how they catch these individuals and how they bring them to justice. This book looks at things from another angle, from the point of view of the lawyer who defended Peter Moore. It's an interesting read and though it won't be everyone's cup of tea, I couldn't put it down.

Eileen read this book as she'd known Peter Moore many years ago and thought he was a very nice man. Her post tells of how he was Not A Nice Man. It's funny how many serial killers come across as charming and charismatic and how most people can't see through their facade. I remember my sister had a friend who lived near Peter Sutcliffe, the Yorkshire Ripper, had chatted to him many times and even walked home from the chip shop with him. She said he was lovely. Hmmmm.

Thank you for sending the book to me, Eileen, it was a great read.

Monday 1 February 2021

First Walk In A Month

I mentioned briefly in a previous post that I'd been having a few medical issues and hadn't been out of the house since before Christmas. It actually turned out that the last decent walk I had was on the 8th of December when we went Back To The Canal. I didn't go out walking again until Friday the 29th of January. Don't worry though, Mick made sure that Archie had some nice walks whilst I was somewhat incapacitated.

Mick's got quite a lot of holidays to take before the end of March. He didn't take many last year with things as they were, we didn't go away anywhere, so he decided to take Friday off. We decided to go to Temple Newsam. It was mild after days of heavy rain, so although it wasn't cold, it was very muddy.

As we're in our third lockdown at the moment, I thought it would be much busier than it was as we visited during the afternoon but it does seem as though many children are still in school. There's a primary school round the corner from us and it's still busy at drop off and pick up times.

It's unusual for me to get photos at Temple Newsam without people in them. This grassed area is usually very busy during the summer months, it's used for picnics, exercising dogs or family games. Even in winter there's usually many more dog walkers around than there was on this day.

Can you see the pathway through the trees? This is the path we use when we approach Temple Newsam from a different direction and walk through the woods. I wrote about this in my Holiday Week post back in 2019.

The formal gardens look quite desolate during the winter months. The arbours are covered in laburnum which look fabulous when they're flowering.

It's nice to see signs of spring around though, there were snowdrops flowering and daffodils poking their way through the earth which will be blooming before too long.

Archie enjoyed his walk. He's looking very woolly bearish again at the moment as his groomer isn't working during lockdown. I'm hoping he doesn't have to wait too much longer for a trim as it does seem to make him feel better when he's not carrying a fur coat around with him.

We found a painted stone. I know many people leave these in places to brighten people's day but it's the first one we've ever come across. We left it there so that it will bring a smile to someone else's face.

It was so good to get outdoors in the fresh air again. It's been quite hard over the last month or two, but I always find a walk or even a drive out can make me feel a little better.