Sunday, 31 May 2015

Photo scavenger hunt: May 2015

Oh, how I struggled with the categories this month! I think it might have been the hardest hunt yet. Take a look at my entry while I go and lie down in a darkened room!

Blue: A Holly Blue butterfly in my garden. This is the first time I've ever seen one, let alone found one in my garden. I can't tell you how excited I was!

Crystal : My daughter's collection of crystals.

Vintage : A local shop.

Fluff : Fluffy catkins of the willow tree. The ground under the tree looked like it was covered in cotton wool.

Global : I think this was the hardest of all the categories. This was a hastily taken photo in a bookshop.

Mask : Belonging to Chickpea. A souvenir from our holiday in Venice a few years ago.

Bus : A rather empty bus at this point though it did fill up at later stops.

Frame : A climbing frame on the local playground.

Collection : A collection of flowers and grass found on a walk on 23 May, I think I'll do something similar during June for the 30 days wild challenge.

Poster : Advertising a children's craft event. If only I wasn't too old to take part!

Ribbon : Ribbons on hats and in hair at a gymkhana at Clifton Country Park - post coming soon.

Whatever you want : My friend's cat, Arthur, yesterday eating and sniffing this patch of mint. He loved it!

It can be a real challenge but the Scavenger Hunt is also great fun. Thank you to Greenthumb at Made with Love as always for organising it. You can see everyone else's entries and the list for June on the Scavenger Hunt site.

I'll be back tomorrow with the first of my 30 Days Wild posts. Enjoy your Sunday. x

Wednesday, 27 May 2015

Helmshore Mill Museum

I'm hoping to squeeze in a couple more posts before 30 days wild starts next Monday, so here's the first of them.

When we visited the Halo and Rawtenstall recently, we'd intended to visit Helmshore Mills Textile Museum but ran out of time. So, after our walk through Sunnyhurst Wood, we headed over. First up was lunch in the cafe which I'd highly recommend. Lovely food and cheap too.

There are two mills on the site, Higher Mill, built in 1789, and Whitaker's Mill, built in the 1820s.

This is the older Higher Mill which houses the wool exhibition.

If you look at the brickwork on the left of the archway, you can see where a building was once attached, though I forget now what it was used for.

Inside we watched a couple of videos (disturbed by a very loud, inconsiderate group of pensioners!) and had a go at carding the wool. There were other hands-on activities to take part in too.

A flying shuttle hand loom.

An early power loom.

This is the wheel which powered the mill from 1848 right up to the early 1950s. At this point we listened to a talk about the cloth making process and how urine was used to remove the natural grease from the wool. Apparently villagers in the area were paid 1 penny for a pot full. Methodists were given more because, as non-alcohol drinkers, their urine was better! Have you ever seen a TV programme about the worst jobs? Well, the man who collected the pots had to check it to make sure it hadn't been watered down!

Moving on...

Have you heard the expression about being on tenterhooks? Well, these are tenterhooks. The woollen cloth was stretched on big frames to dry and teasels were used to brush it to raise the pile. Hundreds of people (mainly women and children) were employed to brush cloth with teasels! It could take days to complete each piece of cloth.

Of course, nothing stays the same and the process was mechanised. These rollers contain 4000 teasels and could do the same work in a few hours.

Outside is the mill pond.

I think this was my favourite bit. It was so beautiful and the still water made for wonderful reflections.

We then entered the cotton exhibition in the larger Whitaker's Mill.

Lots of creepy mannequins in this one!

Though I did like this one because of the quilt!

Anyone who fell in love with Richard Armitage (Mr Thornton) in the TV series of Elizabeth Gaskell's North and South (guilty!) will be interested to know that they filmed some of the mill scenes here.

As we finished the tour of the museum, it was unfortunately almost time for closing and therefore too late to get a drink in the cafe.

Instead we headed to Clough Head which we'd passed on the way over and noticed signs for the cafe.

There are a few footpaths to follow from here. Chickpeas and her boyfriend chose to walk through a small wood but I decided to head up the hill behind the Cafe, sure there would be great views from the top.

Boy, was it a lot steeper than I thought! But all good things come to those who make the effort.

The views were definitely worth the aching legs. The water is either Calf Hey or Ogden reservoir.

I thought the stone wall was unusual with its triangular pattern.

Here's one of the reasons for climbing the hill - I knew these windmills were just the other side as we'd passed them on the way over.

Wow, that view again.

I've really fallen in love with this part of Lancashire and am sure we'll be back again. Now though I'm off to watch Springwatch! Back soon. x

Monday, 25 May 2015

Bank holiday weekend

This Bank Holiday weekend, I've been...

Admiring...all the fruit on my gooseberry bush! It's only 2 years old and the first time I've had a proper crop. So, I've also been excitedly looking through recipes: gooseberry and elderflower ice cream is a strong contender at the moment. Yum!

Planting...up my troughs with argyranthemum (white daisies) and petunias.

Dreaming...of the long hot, summer to come!

Searching...around our local lake to find photos for the Scavenger Hunt (it's a tough one this month).

Enjoying...the madness that is Eurovision. This year we decided to really get in the swing so I downloaded the app to sing along, and we had nachos and tequila beer.

Baking...rhubarb and custard tart.

Auditioning...fabrics for my latest journal quilt. I'm now at the cutting out stage.

Smelling...the scent of wild garlic on a walk in the woods this afternoon.

Discovering...this 14-spot ladybird.

So how has your weekend been? As you can see, we had a stay-at-home weekend as we have a few busy ones to come. My pack for the 30 days wild challenge arrived too so I've been thinking up more quick and easy ideas for spending time with nature. Only a week to go!

Enjoy the rest of your week. x

Saturday, 16 May 2015

Sunnyhurst Wood

It's been a lovely sunny day today though with a cold and brisk wind. Good for hanging out the washing but not as good for being out and about. Luckily on the April day that we headed to Sunnyhurst Wood in Darwen, it was both gloriously sunny and very warm. The wood covers 85 acres and was planted in the 1800s. It became a public park in 1902.

Our walk started near the larger green circle on the right and followed Sunnyhurst Brook to Earnsdale reservoir on the left.

There are formal areas at the beginning around the visitor centre and cafe.

With bridges.


And waterfalls.

The paths then climb into the woods.

A feature of the woodland trail is a number of sculptures...

...and stone carvings.

There's real wildlife too. Standing in one spot, we saw robins,

great tits,

and coal tits. We also saw wren, dunnock, blue tits and chaffinch but they were too quick for photos. There was the call of a green woodpecker too but it stayed well hidden.

Apparently there are real kingfishers in the woods but we only saw this carved one. Seeing a kingfisher is on my bucket list.

I loved this little cluster of celandine growing halfway up a tree.

Believe it or not, this is a badger. Maybe it's the lack of stripes but this really doesn't say badger to me.

At the end of the wood, you can continue to follow the public footpath to a gate...

... and into the fields towards the wonderfully named Donkey Brew, which is a steep cobbled path.

We stopped at Earnsdale reservoir though. On the top of the hill you can see Darwen Tower which we visited last summer.

Descending back into the woods and following a different loop, we came across more carvings and sculptures.

There's a small pond where children can have a go at pond dipping.

It was the first time I'd walked these woods and I'm told it's full of orchids in the summer so I'm sure we'll be back. In the afternoon though, we headed east to a museum: I'll probably tell you about that next time.

We've had a quiet day in today catching up on washing and housework. Tomorrow we're planning to visit a few more sculptures on the Irwell Sculpture Trail which also happen to be in a country park. I'm hoping the cold wind drops: photographing sculptures is ok but trying to photograph flowers while they're waving around in front of you is tricky!

Before I go, I also wanted to thank you for your lovely comments about my journal qulit - you are all so kind. Something happened this week that I think might be making it onto my May quilt...but that's all I'm telling you for now :-) xx