Great Spotted Woodpecker – Through the Skylight

The Great Spotted Woodpecker

Mike and I have walked many locations in the UK, and one of our favourite things to do is to spot the beautiful wildlife of all varieties and it is even better if we get to capture the lovely memories on our Canon RP Camera. Over the years, we have seen only a handful of Woodpeckers but as soon as we see them, they fly away before we have had the pleasure to take a photograph. So it was such a delight to have, not one, but a regular visitation from a Great Spotted Woodpecker, and of all places to spot it, it was through the skylight of the cottage that we were staying at in St Just in Cornwall.

Such amazing moments for us….

Handmade is Good…..

I could knit before I could walk!!! Or so it seems that way ๐Ÿ™‚ I honestly can’t remember a time in my childhood when I wasn’t knitting or crocheting.ย ย 

Hand Knitted Ribbed Beanie

Before I opened my Etsy shop, I was making things for myself and for friends and family. I soon found that I was receiving lovely compliments about my work and people started to ask if I actually made things to sell, and so it began…. I already had an eBay shop that I used mainly to sell unwanted things from around the house that Mike and I had accrued over the years, so I began to make and list my handmade items there firstly.

Then one day, I discovered Etsy.  

Etsy is an American e-commerce company who focus on handmade, vintage items and craft supplies. The handmade items that you find on there are, not only unique and of high quality, but you can rest assured that they have been made with love and that a lot of time and effort has gone into the production process.

I absolutely love creating things for my Etsy shop and sometimes, I actually find it difficult to keep up with demand. Over the years, I have been experimenting and finding out what my customers want so I am very much concentrating on the items that people are asking for nowadays and you can guarantee, I usually have two or three projects on the go at any one time.

crochet Hot Water Bottle Cover
Chunky Knit
Blue Scarf

I also love to give and to receive handmade products as gifts as I know that there has been a lot of love, care and attention to detail that goes in to something that has been handmade and, without a doubt, you also get a much better quality and unique product than the mass produced items that you find in the shops.

Buying handmade items also helps to support local craft industries and keeps the Etsy community a good and interesting place to shop.

So why not give it a go? Next time you have a birthday coming up, why not purchase a beautiful unique gift for your loved one and make them feel loved?

The Seaside…. My Very Favourite Place to Be….

I think the seaside has got to be my very favourite thing in the world. I just adore to be beside it and I have got to admit, I feel totally relaxed and at home when I am there.

While there, the memories take me back to my childhood holidays that I lovingly enjoyed with my family. Those times were where life was oh so simple and ever so magical. The ocean actually has the ability to mesmerise and calm me and I certainly get that feel good feeling.

Rhosneigr Beach is Mike & mine’s very favourite beach. From where we live, it is about a 90 minute drive away and is on the beautiful isle of Anglesey in North Wales. Any opportunity that we get, we go and set up camp there in one of the local campsites. There are two campsites to choose from in the resort and their locations are so good that you can actually leave the car on the site for your whole stay. The beach, shops, bars and restaurants are all within walking distance.

The stunning sandy beach is over a mile long with a few rocky outcrops along the way and along the top of the beach there are lovely sand dunes where you can sit and watch the many water activities including kayaking, windsurfing and boating.

We often go there for the day as we consider the 180 mile round trip well worth it. We pack up the car with the dogs, food and water and head off for our Rhosneigr fix, a good walk and a picnic. It is a great place, and one that I can’t wait to visit again.

I’m so looking forward to my next trip, and I might even get an ice cream! Bring it on ๐Ÿ™‚

Lazy Days and Sundays

Yesterday was a busy day, and it was my birthday, and it was the first time in years that it actually fell on a Saturday! And it was my very first (and last I hope) lockdown birthday!! However, all considering, it wasn’t too bad at all, in fact I quite enjoyed it….

I spent a few hours with my Mum (she is in my bubble), we ate lunch, chatted and put the world to rights. My afternoon was spent mainly on the phone to friends and family and recieving numerous parcels from couriers. I was quite spoilt to be honest and Mike, my other half, made me a lovely evening meal and we had a few drinks.

So today, I have decided, is going to be mainly about listing some items in my Etsy shops, walking my dogs and crochet….

A perfect kind of day to be honest….

Enjoy your day everyone ๐Ÿ™‚

Hand Made Crochet Daisy Blanket

Isle of Mull – A Little Bit of Heaven

It is a few years ago since Mike and I last visited the Isle of Mull and the way things are going, it will be a few more years before we get to visit again.

Our journey to Oban from our home town in Cheshire, took us about 5 hours 30 minuties, travelling a total of 320 miles. The scenery, thankfully, is very pleasant and picturesque and to me, there is nothing about this type of journey that is unpleasant.

Once we arrived in Oban, we headed straight to the ferry port to catch the boat to Craignure. This journey takes approximately 46 minutes, which again, is a pleasant route to be on.

Once we arrived in Mull, we had a little bit of a drive to get to the very tip of the island to a place called Fionnphort. This indeed, is my little bit of heaven. I cannot describe the feeling of tranquility and calm that this place embraces you with.

Just to the left of Fionnphort is Fidden Farm where we set up our camp for a few days. It is a very raw and natural campsite that is situated right on the beach and has the most stunning of views. This is where we set up camp and enjoyed our first evening eating campfire food, watching the sun set over the nearby island of Iona while enjoying a little drink or two.

Fidden Farm Camp Site

Fionnphort is a small village which is ideal for walking with routes that have the best view points ever. Wildlife is also abundant and easy to observe in this area. 

There is a busy little ferry port here also for trips to the Islands of Iona and Staffa. Iona is a small island in the Inner Hebrides off the Ross of Mull on the western coast of Scotland

After our idyllic stay at Fionnphort, we packed up and drove to the absolute beautiful village of Tobermory which is a little fishing port that was built in the late 18th century. It is now the main town on Mull and is very popular with tourists. The town is adorned with brightly painted buidings and shops along the main street and the harbour is always busy with fishing boats, yachts and the ferry that runs to and from Kilchoan.

A View of the Picturesque Tobermory

Our trip to Mull was most definitely one of the most memorable ever for me and it is a trip that I would like to do again one day in the future. Hopefully it will be sooner rather than later ๐Ÿ™‚

Coping with the Lockdown

I won’t lie, Iโ€™m actually not liking the whole situation right now and like every other lover of the outdoors and adventures, I am finding this “being trapped indoors” a bit of a struggle.

Being a key worker for a pharmaceutical business, my daily working arrangements haven’t changed at all. I still travel into the office daily, do my day’s work and travel back, and with my once a week supermarket shop for life’s essentials thrown into the routine, my weekdays are no different for me.

It’s the weekends that are getting me down, especially as the sun has been shining recently and the temperatures have been not too shabby either. I can hear the beaches, canals and the countryside crying out to me, inviting me to come out to play, but I am unable to visit any of them. This saddens me greatly.

It isn’t completely doom and gloom though as, on a positive note, my other half has been busy around the house and garden during the week, doing all of those jobs that you never seem to get round to when you are busy doing more important outdoor stuff, so for that, I am ever so grateful and happy.

There is also the fact that Iโ€™m missing my family and friends, especially my 84 year old Mum who lives in a retirement apartment complex, and along with the upset of not being able to visit for a coffee and a chat, this has the added fear factor of hoping that everbody who visits the building are actually sticking to the rules of social distancing and sanitising. I have to try not to think about this as it could drive me crazy.

My two doggies are helping to keep me active though as I still get to have my little walk with them in the morning. This is my favourite part of the day at the minute as there is nobody around so I feel at one with my thoughts, and with the weather being good at the moment, this is an added bonus. I just hope that the Government don’t take this pleasure away from me any time soon.

So, in these very challenging times, I am trying to keep my spirits up and remain positive. Mike and I have been planning our next holiday and checking out some lovely new areas of the UK that we can explore and hopefully we will be able to get our little speed boat out on the water too.

Until this day is possible, I will carry on crafting …. I am currently crocheting a pretty Daisy Blanket / Throw which helps to take my mind off the crazy situation we are all living with at the minute. Crafting definately helps me unwind, relax and to actually stay positive.

Stay safe everyone and don’t forget…. stay home ๐Ÿ™‚

On the ferry heading to the Isle of Rum
Current Project – Daisy Blanket / Throw

Fitness Watch, Daily Goals and a Circular Walk Around Tarporley

Mike & I have always enjoyed both our daily and weekend walks with our dogs and it has been one way that we have kept ourselves moving and fit but now that we are both in our mid 50’s we feel that staying active is even more important, especially as I was diagnosed with allergy related asthma last year. So this year we purchased our fitness watches and joined Ordnance Survey online so that we could plan our routes and download the maps to our mobile phones.

The route that we took

On Sunday, we completed a circular walk around Tarporley in Cheshire that took us on part of the Sandstone Trail route. We parked in the car park behind The Rising Sun Public House. The route took us through the lovely village of Tarporley itself and accross the many fields in the stunning countryside of Cheshire with lots of kissing gates and stiles, so bear this in mind if you are walking large dogs.

Our dogs cooling down in the stream

We skimmed the edge of Tiverton and passed Tiverton Hall and at one point along the this part of the trail you get a glimpse of Beeston Castle high up on the hill. This stretch of the walk is part of the Sandstone trail where you cross Wharton Lock, and a small stream where the dogs took a little dip, then several more fields, some of them being crops of corn.

When we came out of the fields we found ourselves in the yard at Beeston Cattle Market where we headed back through the village of Beeston and more fields, crossed more stiles, passed through more kissing gates to end up at the bottom end of the shopping street at Tarporley and a well deserved beverage at the pub was had before heading back home.

I aim to close all of the rings daily
  • Distance: 6.85 miles
  • Total Steps: 18,130
  • Calories Burnt: 1,081

So my question is โ€ฆโ€ฆ……… Are these watches worth it?

(I think they are)

The Caledonian Canal – Our Open Canoe Adventure

Our 60 mile (96.6km) Canoe Trail included a series of canals and lochs with links to Loch Lochy, Loch Oich and the great Loch Ness. Mike, myself and our faithful Cocker Spaniel Harry, started our journey at Corpach, just north of Fort William, on the west coast of Scotland, where we slept in the car overnight with a magnificent back drop of Ben Nevis. The route took us through the Great Glen and should have ended at Inverness on the east coast, however, due to a change in weather conditions we decided to call it a day at Dores after spending a very windy and wet night in the tipi.

Having chosing to do this trip in October, we were extremely fortunate that the weather conditions were excellent for that time of year. The lochs were mainly like glass making the reflections look surreal.

And so the journey begins….. Loading the Canoe with our kit at Corpach

Day 1 – Corpach to Gairlochy and across Loch Lochy to our first nights camp at Laggan Loch….. Fuelled on fig rolls & orange & mint club biscuits, we decided to start at the top of Neptuneโ€™s Staircase to avoid the portage around the many lochs so our journey began immediately at the canal which would take us to Gairlochy where the swing bridge gives access to Loch Lochy. At the swing bridge we were delighted to watch the golden retriever, who apparantly makes the walk daily to meet a lesuire cruise boat. The crew on the boat tipped off the passengers to save the dog a sausage from their breakfast and at the same location every day, they would throw the dog his treats. It was such a pleasure to watch.

The waters were like mill ponds

On entering Loch Lochy, we were met by complete tranquility and again, the waters were like mill ponds. The wildlife was in abundance and we were in awe of such beauty. After a full days paddling we reached Laggan, were we had a well deserved comfort break and portaged the loch to the river system that was to join the canal with Loch Oich.

Our camp at Laggan Loch

Our first camp was on the banks of the river and to say it was an idylic site would be an understatement. After putting the tipi up and sorting out our sleep mats and bags, we headed off back to Laggan where we had a few well deserved drinks on the converted Dutch barge, the Eagle. The next morning, we woke to a famous Scotch mist, packed up the kit and headed off for the next leg of the trip…..

Day 2 – Laggan Loch to Loch Ness via Loch Oich and Fort Augustus. Another long tiring day but the beauty of the journey made it a very pleasurable trip. When we finally arrived at Fort Augustus there was another long portage around the numerous lochs and we made a few trips back and to to collect our kit, so after a good stretch of the old legs, another comfort break and a fish and chip supper, we finally set off and entered the mouth of the very awsome monster of a Loch – Loch Ness.

The Great Loch Ness. This photo was taken on a beach just after leaving Fort Augustus

We decided to head to the South East side of the Loch where there is very little access to the roads and civilisation as we both felt that the whole adventure deserved to be experienced in total solitude. So, after a further hour or two of paddling, we found ourselves a lovely little beach, complete with a fallen tree and lots of fire wood, so here we chose to set up our next camp. Mike made a fire and cooked a curry while I made up the beds and poured a wee dram (this is customary apparently!!) That night, we slept under the stars rather than putting up the tipi and enjoyed the clear black skies that was full of the brightest shining stars.

Day 3 – The next morning we woke to the sound of the wind getting up and the waves that were quite choppy were lapping on the shore. We had two choices now…. we could either stay on this little beach with no access to civilazation until the wind dropped or to get in the canoe and battle the elements. We chose to move on….. The journey was somewhat of a challenge and we were both tired and horrified to find a salmon farm further along our journey that we had to paddle around in order to make headway to get to our next stop, which was the beach at Dores at the end of Loch Ness. This is where we would set up camp for the last night of our adventure.

The final camp on the windy, wet beach at Dores

The next morning, we again assessed the conditions and decided to call it a day. The waves were far too high to attempt to carry on. So, while I stayed at the camp with Harry the hound, Mike headed back to Fort William in a taxi to collect the car. That evening we booked into a hotel where we enjoyed a much deserved shower, a hearty meal and a few drinks. The next morning, we headed back home…….. back to reality!!

Things to consider if you decide to do this trip:

Get a British Waterways Licence. This Licence gives paddlers the opportunity to purchase a key for the toilets & showers along the way which costs approximately ยฃ10 per person. The lochs are extremely cold even in the summer. Set an example, and make minimal impact by leaving no trace of your camp. Take litter home with you and remove all traces of fires. Only light fires on sand or shingle spots, never on grass or peat. Use only dead wood.