31 January 2015

Blissful Spa Day

January is so dreary, it's dark by 4pm and this year we have had so much rain everywhere is damp and dirty and yesterday we had snow. So to cheer myself up a bit I had a blissful day at a spa. 
The package included full use of the swimming pool, sauna (my favourite), jacuzzi and steam room. I thought I was quite fit but after only a few lengths of the pool my arms started to ache - reminder to self - must start regular swimming again! 
After a delicious lunch I had a back and neck massage followed by a scalp massage. More relaxation in the sauna and round the pool reading my book before heading home feeling pampered and relaxed. 
Oh and by the way, it's still fairly light at 5pm. I'm starting to feel better already :-)

28 January 2015

Meet Godfrey

Just down the road from my village is the picturesque village of Writtle, and like a lot of English villages it has a pond, home to Godfrey and lots of ducks. Godfrey is a much-loved Toulouse goose who has been the resident patriarch of the pond for over ten years. He guarded the ducks from his island like a drill sergeant, and frequently gate-crashed wedding photos. 
Sadly now his future is uncertain. He became unsettled by the arrival of four rather aggressive Indian Runner ducks, believed to be former domestic pets which were dumped in the pond. 
Residents were concerned when he disappeared from the pond, some thought he had moved on with a new mate, but concern turned to alarm when he was seen on December 29th with a bloodied head. The RSPCA took him to the South Essex Wildlife Hospital. Turns out the new ducks had been giving the poor old boy a hard time beating him up. 
Residents decided to capture Godfrey’s arch nemeses and re-home them, it was done quickly and carefully. They were the most aggressive ducks they had ever seen. A resident said "I didn't think four ducks could cause such mayhem. I walked past the pond after they had gone and all the remaining ducks looked relaxed once again”. Maybe that’s why they were abandoned, why don’t people just contact the RSPCA if they can’t cope, it makes me so angry.
Godfrey is now recuperating. Staff at the volunteer-run veterinary centre have kept him cosy under a heat lamp, he has been on antibiotics for an infected wing and is responding well to treatment. But there is concern about what to do next, the RSPCA say he is stable for the moment, but it's too early to say if he is well enough to return to the pond. Apart from his injuries he also has arthritis. The villagers are keen to have him back, but for the time being he will remain in the hospital where he is safe. 
Good luck Godfrey

26 January 2015

Oh I Do Like To Be Beside The Seaside

We had a lovely day at the seaside yesterday, yes I did say seaside - in January, and me a confirmed summerholic (I think that's a made up word!). Dogs are allowed on part of the beach between Oct and April so I wrapped up warmly, we took ourselves off to Southend-on-Sea and had a great time. Southend used to be a bit a bit of a grim place and there are still a few run down areas, but after an injection of money in 2012 when an Olympic event was staged there the town was greatly improved. Probably its most well known landmark is the pier, it's the world's longest pleasure pier at 1.34 miles.

The dogs had a great time, lots of new experiences, in and out of the water

 and of course sniffing other dogs!

Buster doesn't mind water but he won't go out of his depth and swim.

Rufus is more fearless, I think he would swim. He didn't yesterday though
as it was very shallow, even when the tide was in.

Later when we stopped for chips and coffee Rufus started to shiver a little, I'm a bit silly with the dogs and was concerned for him so my son-in-law put his coat over him, doesn't he look cute? That's not really the look for a fearless Lurcher though!! He soon dried off, stopped shivering and was fine.

Don't these pretty boats add a bit of cheer to dull weather.

24 January 2015

Spring is Getting Closer

Or am I just a hepless optimist?

As mentioned in a previous blog I’m not a winter person and could easily hibernate for most of it, only stepping outside when absolutely necessary. This morning however I was quite pleased to be out, it was cold but the sunshine was gorgeous and the sky was a beautiful shade of blue with not a cloud in sight. As I was walking to the shop I thought how nice my neighbour's ornamental crabapple tree looked with that blue sky in the background. If I had been out and about more regularly I would have noticed it when it had more fruit on it but the birds have been feasting on it, which is good. Each garden I passed showed signs of spring with small clusters of shoots emerging from their winter beds.

Back in my own garden these lovely tete a tete daffodils will soon be in bloom. The pretty little cyclamens have been blooming all winter.  

21 January 2015

Dolls House

When I was a little girl I had a dolls house, made by my father. It had four large rooms, hallways and lighting. I decorated and furnished it, but because I didn’t play with it all the time my father got rid of it. I cried for days.
Many decades later I was passing a dollshouse shop and saw this one in the window, reduced for a quick sale because it had faded. It was a bargain. Before I knew it I was in the shop buying it! That was in 2008.

Over the next 5 years (in between other projects, hobbies and life etc.) I lovingly decorated and furnished it.
I replaced the faded roof tile paper and the brick paper at the front.

Most of the wallpaper for the rooms was samples from DIY stores, or wrapping paper. 

I used squares of felt for some of the flooring

 and furniture was purchased in the sale when the dollshouse shop closed, 
online or from other dollshouse shops. 

I can't go any further with it now though so I bought another one!

19 January 2015

Sightseeing, Shopping and Home

We spent the remaining days sightseeing and visiting lots of lovely places. Nambour for a bit of shopping, the Big Pineapple and lunch at the Ettamoogah pub. I love ginger, in biscuits and cakes, I cook with it and I eat it crystalised, so we couldn't leave without visiting a ginger factory to stock up with lots of goodies.
Somebody had recommended a trip to Montville, a very pretty place with some lovely gift, clothes and souvenir shops. Followed by a trip to Mary Cairncross Park to the lookout over the valley to the Glass House Mountains.
Our friends had some Macadamia trees, I harvested some nuts for Jane to sell at a farmers market. Afterwards I was ready for some swimming and sunbathing.
The next day we met up with some relatives of Jane and Harry and spent a very relaxing few hours on their boat for a trip on the Noosa river. Moored at Harry’s Hut Camp site for lunch. Back to Noosaville, strolled along the beach and watched jet skiers jumping over sand banks. 
Sadly the last day of our fantastic holiday arrived. We left early so that we could leave our luggage at the airport and then do some sightseeing in Brisbane before catching our flight home.

15 January 2015

Australia cont'd: Cairns

Kuranda station

21/3/94 Kuranda Scenic Railway runs from Cairns to Kuranda, winding its way up the Macalister Range through 15 tunnels and over 14 bridges, over gorges and waterfalls with beautiful views. Passed Stoney Creek falls and stopped at Barron falls before continuing to Atherton Tablelands.


After lunch at Tinaroo Dam we visitied Millaa Millaa Falls

and an amazing Curtain Fig Tree followed by a cruise on Lake Barrine.

Glorious trip on the Ocean Spirit to Michaelmas Cay,
a very pretty bird sanctuary. It was just us and a few others who had gone over to the island so it was beautifully quiet. We swam, snorkelled and sunbathed. Had a delicious smorgasbord lunch with champagne before heading back.

Went on the swing bridge at Mossman Gorge and a barge on the Daintree river. In the afternoon we headed to Port Douglas. It’s a lovely resort but at the time of our visit it had suffered a major wind storm and there was a lot of debris around.

Reluctantly left Cairns. It was pouring with rain, which made leaving slightly better!

Overnight at Townsville.

Left Townsville and went to Billabong Sanctuary. Drove through Airlee beach and stopped in Shutehaven for coffee and scones and magnificent views of the Whitsunday Islands.

Travelled to our friend’s home in Cooroy, north of Brisbane. Cooroy is a town in the heart of Noosa Hinterland located amongst rolling green hills and mountains near Lake Macdonald and The Noosa Botanical Gardens.

A nice lie in followed by a stroll around Jane and Harry's 8½ acres  of orchard, veg and flower gardens, swimming pool, large paddock for the cows and a small enclosure for three ancient chickens.
During our walkabout I almost sat on a snake, it was on a small wall around a flower bed, Jane saw it just in time. I needed a stiff drink after that! After a swim and lunch we drove into Cooroy.

Spent the day in Noosa. Walked round Noosa Heads National Park. Tee Tray Bay, Dolphin Bay, Granite Bay, Hills Gate and Alexandra beach. It is a stunning coastline. Delicious fish n chips lunch on the bank of the Noosa river. Swam in the Pacific ocean at Noosa beach which was quite frightening as the current was very strong, I was picked up and turned over and Harry lost his hat.
We just had time for a whistle stop tour of the gorgeous shops before it rained. I liked Noosa very much, it’s like an Australian St Tropez.

Coastline around Noosa National Park. It looks overcast here but it had been a beautiful day.

13 January 2015

Epping Forest

Lovely walk in Epping Forest this morning. Glorious weather, 
slightly chilly but the sunshine was wonderful

We came across this wigwam hide out, I’m sure it's very popular with children, 
my grandson sat inside it.

 I quite liked the composition of this.

The dogs had a great time, unfortunately there were lots of boggy areas with black sludge, leaf mould and all kinds of rotting vegetation, and of course the dogs don’t go around it they go straight through it. A lot if it was washed off when they went in some clear water but it was still very smelly in the car going home!!

11 January 2015


And now we have January, such a gloomy month. Last year, to help beat the winter blues myself and a friend treated ourselves to a spa day: a body massage, sauna and jacuzzi, followed by a delicious lunch - bliss. We are going to do it again this month.
I'm not  a winter person, I like the pretty frost on the trees, virgin snow, and once I'm out and snugly dressed in my cold weather clothes I enjoy going for walks, but if I gave the lazy trait of my nature free reign I would hibernate all winter!
In my ideal world I would spend the summer months here and the winter months in Fremantle, Australia where my youngest daughter lives. I used to visit her every February but I haven't been since 2010 because she comes over here now and I have been doing other holidays. I feel the need to go back soon though, I feel a bit homesick. I look upon Oz as my second home, I just love being there, I thinks it's a great country. 

10 January 2015

Ayers Rock & Kings Canyon

19/3/94 After a sad farewell to our friends and WA we flew to Ayers Rock. We originally booked into a very nice hotel but then realised that we would be out all day during our stay and only really needed somewhere to sleep so we cancelled the hotel and stayed in this very basic caravan.

It was all right, the site was very good with all amenities, even hair dryers! It was only for 2 nights and we saved a lot of money.

We went to the Olgas this afternoon but I didn't walk around them because it was very hot and although I love hot weather I didn't want to do anything energetic because I knew we were going to go to Uluru, the world's greatest monolith, to do the "Chicken Run" as it was called then. 

It's the first stretch of climbing the rock, it's quite short and steep and scary. If you couldn't do that bit they suggested you shouldn't attempt to climb to the top. I was very nervous but did it so we were set to climb the rock the next day. 

The sunset was stunning.

Another early start to see the sunrise over Uluru and climb the rock. It's stunning: remote, sacred to the Aborigines and patrolled by dingos. It's a kaleidoscope of colours, crimson at sunset, burnt umber at dawn and dusk, and silvery grey in the rain, which thankfully we didn't see. 
Before the climb we had a saftey talk, no hats or bags because it was too windy. We were allowed to take small cameras that could be put in a pocket. I can't remember how long it took to to get to the top but I can remember being terrified, it was windy and at times very close to the edge, some parts were very slippery and it was completely open, so we felt very exposed to the elements.

View from the top. The Olgas in the distance

We did it!
I was very relieved to get back down

20/3/94 Very early start for a trip to the breathtaking Kings Canyon.
We were waiting for a coach to pick us up, it was 6am, dark, a little way away from the campsite and we heard what we thought were dingos in the distance! They seemed to be getting closer so we were relieved when the coach arrived!

We had a guided tour up and over the top of the Canyon. It was awesome, I preferred it to Ayers Rock.

After all that activity we had a relaxing flight to Cairns to meet some other friends.

8 January 2015

Australia, Monkey Mia & The Pinnacles

15/3/94 We all set off for Monkey Mia. Our first overnight stop was at Kalbarri beach resort, a very pretty place with lovely bays and beaches.

Visited Red Bluff on the Indian ocean

and Hawkshead Gorge. Note the genuine Australian outback hat! I loved wearing it. I still have it.

16/3/94 Journey to Denham. Saw wild emus and kangaroos. Stopped at Shell beach, an amazing beach made up entirely of shells. Overnight at Shark Bay, a beautiful World Heritage site. As we travelled around my love affair with this beautiful country began.
17/3/94 Arrived at Monkey Mia. It was very quiet and the dolphins were in so we were able to get quite close to feed some of them. They were beautiful, so trusting and friendly. The Rangers explained how to behave so as not to cause them any stress or harm.

Pelican and Cormorants waiting at the kitchen hoping for some titbits

I wonder what it is like there now, I hope it hasn't become commercialised.

18/3/94 Left Geraldton and travelled to Nambung National Park, Cervantes to see the limestone formations known as the Pinnacles. One theory is that in an earlier era they came from seashells rich in marine life. These shells were broken down into lime-rich sands that were blown inland to form high mobile dunes. It was an amazing place and beautifully quiet and the weather was glorious.
From here we returned to Fremantle. Our last night in WA L
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