Thursday, 30 April 2015

Photo scavenger hunt: April 2015

Another month, another Scavenger Hunt organised by Greenthumb at Made with Love. With the weather being fine and having two weeks off work, many of my contributions this month are from our travels.

Upside down : Pineapple upside-down cake from my favourite Clandestine Cake Club book. I made it specially for this category!

Clouds : Funnily enough, we've had lots of cloud-free days in April so this photo wasn't as easy to get as you'd expect.

Chair : In the Tudor Great Hall at Rufford Old Hall, Lancashire (post coming soon).

Something sweet : Those cute lambs on our walk at White Coppice.

Growth : Magnolia blossom at the park.

Glass : Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. 16th century stained glass at Speke Hall, Liverpool.

Bedroom : Another photo from Speke Hall.

Rain : One of the few days it rained in April. We'd just got back in the car after collecting wild garlic to make my pesto.

Egg : Large free-range eggs just about to be made into the upside-down cake.

Fresh : Fresh Cafe Deli in Rawtenstall.

Feet : The rather scary carved feet on a table in Speke Hall.

Whatever you want : One morning I was sitting having a cup of tea and heard a noise. At first I thought it was the next door neighbour but then it got louder and I realised a bird had fallen down the chimney and was behind our gas fire! A quick phone call to our gas engineer who said we had two choices: leave it to die (!) or have the fire disconnected so that the bird could be freed. No prizes for guessing which option I chose. The next thing I knew, Chickpea was shouting 'there's a bird in the living room'!! She'd heard fluttering, then saw a beak appear at the top of the fire before it suddenly shot out and flew around. Thankfully the starling must have seen light and managed to wriggle its way out. Our chimney has now had a guard fitted!

You can see the other entries and the categories for May on the Scavenger Hunt page. xx

Friday, 24 April 2015

Botany Bay to White Coppice

It's nearing the end of my two weeks leave and I couldn't have picked better weeks for the weather. This week in particular has had several days of sunshine and we've made the most of it by going on walks. I recently picked up a leaflet for a Canal and Countryside walk called the Botany Bay Circular (you can download it here). The full walk is 11 miles but Chickpea and I decided to take on a small section up to the hamlet of White Coppice.

On a glorious spring day, we parked up at Botany Bay where the walk begins. Botany Bay is a former spinning mill built in 1855 which now houses eating and retail outlets.

The first part of the walk takes you a little way down the canal, just around the corner.

Then up and across the canal bridge and past the Lock & Quay pub. We later chatted to a man walking his dog who told us they do very good burgers (over 20 types according to their web site).

Now heading down Bagganley Lane...

...with goldfinch tweeting in the trees.

Over the ford bridge.

Towards Primrose Cottage. A pretty name but the solar panels have spoiled the character, even if they are eco-friendly.

The flowers growing along their wall were very pretty though.

As were the horses.

Following the footpath towards the houses you can see on the right.

The path skirts the edge of the small housing estate with open fields to your right.

Through the gate...

...and into open fields. I think the house in front of us is the unfortunately named Mouldy House Farm!

A little further on, the path takes us straight across this field.

The green of the fields was just stunning.

As was this beautiful farm house.

There's a better view of the farmhouse now. And where there's sheep, there's...

...lambs! So cute!


And finally we reach our destination, the tiny hamlet of White Coppice. Very small but picturesque and, do you know what? I didn't take any photos except this one! By the time we arrived, we were very hot and tired and just wanted to get back to Botany Bay as quickly as possible for some lunch. I should have taken more drink and snacks and miscalculated how warm it was going to be. We, okay I, also made a few wrong turns - we only had the leaflet with us and should have taken a proper map too. It didn't help that there are 2 Bagganley Lanes near Botany Bay and we were directed to the wrong one by a helpful lady! Ah well, it was a gorgeous walk anyway and one I'd happily do again. We've also been inspired to do other parts of the walk this year. I say 'we' but it's really me. Walking isn't really Chickpea's thing but I'm going to keep on dragging her along and eventually I'll walk her into submission! xx

Sunday, 19 April 2015

Halo, gates and a tree

My blogging has been few and far between lately: I seem to have lost my mojo and, also, we don't seem to have done much of note recently, even with being off all this past week. However, I do have a day trip to tell you about today.

Over the last year me, Chickpea and her boyfriend have been visiting a series of sculptures called panopticons which are based around East Lancashire. We'd already seen the Singing Ringing Tree and the Atom and last up is the Halo at Haslingden ('valley of the hazels').

There's a car park in town and the route is well-signposted to the location of the sculpture at Top O'Slate. This former quarry and landfill site has been reclaimed as part of a land regeneration scheme.

Scattered around the site are signs of its industrial past.

Then, as you emerge from the wood, Halo stands on top of the hill. Designed by John Kennedy, it's an 18m-diameter steel structure supported on a tripod five metres above the ground.

It's positioned so it can be seen from some of the major local roads. Although impressive during the day, its unique feature is that it's lit up with blue lights at night so that it looks like a spaceship hovering above the hill. We'll definitely be back one day to see that as the photos on the internet look amazing.

The views are pretty impressive too even though it wasn't a clear day. Here we're looking down the valley with Haslingden down below and Manchester in the far distance.

Having completed our trio of panopticons, I'd been thinking about what else we might do to plan our day trips around. As luck would have it, I came across the Irwell Sculpture Trail which is a 33 mile route from Bacup to Salford Quays featuring over 70 artworks. There are clusters of the sculptures in particular places and one of these clusters was nearby.

Off we set to Rawtenstall (pronounced Rottenstall). The town is also home to the start of the East Lancashire Railway which is a heritage line running steam and classic diesel trains. Unfortunately there were no steam trains running that day or we'd definitely have had a ride - next time.

The first two of the sculptures on the trail are along a path at the side of the railway line. Luckily I had a copy of the trail with me as there was no signposting whatsoever, or any information about the sculptures. A shame as the web site is really comprehensive with lots of information about the project, the individual artworks and the local area to plan your day.

Anyway, these are Gateway 1 & 2. Railway lines were used to create the archway of the gates and the interior panels are in the shape of steam train wheels. The mosaic floor underneath also has the same pattern and is in the maroon and cream colours of the East Lancashire Railway.

The final sculpture is the Bocholt Tree. This one celebrates the links with Rawtenstall's twin town of Bocholt in Germany: Bocholt's civic symbol is a tree. Take a look at the picture on the web site and you'll see what it originally looked like without all the tinsel and other things that people have decorated it with. You can also see that the trunk and branches were originally painted black and white - I don't know if the painting has worn off or whether it just needs a good clean!

The other thing Rawtenstall is famous for is being the location of the last original temperance bar in Britain. This area was a stronghold of the temperance movement which advocated abstinence from alcohol, the demon drink! Later, when I was telling my Mum about our day out, I discovered that one of my relatives used to have a temperance bar in the '50s. It's safe to say none of us practice abstinence these days!

We did stay and sample some of the sarsaparilla. Drinkable but with a distinctive taste. Chickpea's boyfriend said it reminded him of the smell you get in the dentist's surgery! Yep, can't see many of you being tempted with that image in your head!

Last up was The Whitaker, which houses the local museum and art gallery. Downstairs are displays of stuffed birds and animals, pottery and a room laid out in Victorian style. Upstairs are local pottery and memorabilia and objects collected by the family who once lived here.

The costumes and sewing related items were naturally my favourites. The crochet hook is the one with the yellow handle and it has the smallest hook I've ever seen - it must have been used for very fine lace work.

We finished our day sat on a bench in the grounds, admiring the cherry blossom and the views of the hills. There were a couple of sights we didn't get to and there's another cluster of the Irwell sculptures not far away so it's safe to say we'll be back. x