Monday, 31 October 2016

Lightpool 2

A few more of my favourite photographs from our art walk on Saturday evening.

Light Lessons - Emma Allen (2016)

These figures helped guide us through an underpass from north train station into town. Strangely, I found this to be the most sociable of all the art spaces, in a place we might normally avoid after dark. 
Brothers And Sisters - Ron Haselden (2007-ongoing)
This was probably my favourite of all the artworks, sited in a former hotel (to be turned into an "art b&b" at some point in the future). Each of these drawings of children have been translated into light, three of the figures here were drawn by local children. This was a very melancholy piece, just north of North Pier and where the hustle and bustle starts to fade and with an obscure sea view.

It also made me think about all the former hotels that are now houses of multiple occupation, and of the families living in B&B accommodation with no home of their own. I have no idea if this is the intention of this piece, but it's what it brought out in me. 

I think the fact we were peering through the windows when standing outside in the rain added to these emotions. 

Just across from this hotel on the prom was something a little more fun!

When The Red Rose In Blackpool - Steve Messam (2016)

A celebration of heritage and the red rose county! These promenade shelters are so beautiful, a number of them are Grade II listed, they're also still great at doing their job! 

Two postcards from Blackpool and no mention of the most famous thing in town? Better make amends

That's more than enough for one day, I'll wrap up tomorrow, with two works sharing a space but not much else, and somewhere to rest. 

Sunday, 30 October 2016

Lightpool 1

'Let's Pretend (Large)' - Tim Etchells (2014)

Late yesterday afternoon we hopped onto the bus at the bottom of the road, then onto the tram (then quite quickly off the tram again as it was heaving) to visit the Lightpool Festival at various sites around Blackpool town centre. I think I mentioned a while ago we'd visited Grundy Art Gallery to see their current Neon - The Charged Line exhibition (running until 7th January 2017) which features artists including Tracey Emin and Martin Creed. Lightpool goes hand in hand with both this exhibition and Blackpool Illuminations

We took our map and did a nice walking tour of the pieces on display, and what a tour it was, bright lights with just the right amount of melancholy to fit in perfectly in a seaside town. More pictures tomorrow, but I'll leave you with a bit of Bob and Roberta Smith 

Art Is Your Human Right - Bob And Roberta Smith (2016)

There are also live performances in St John's Square (near the Winter Gardens) each night at 8pm. All of this is free of charge. If you do get the chance to visit, if you see nothing else please make the effort to visit Sacred Heart church on Talbot Rd, not only is it a beautiful building but there is a fabulous piece there, more of that tomorrow. 

Lightpool Festival runs until 2nd November 2016.

Saturday, 29 October 2016

White (and orange) Month

Sadie invited everyone to join in with her annual "White Month" in November, I am very excited to do so. It's a month to find some peace and calm, to be kind to yourself, maybe a time to sort out a few things in the house, and maybe a time to have a small pause before December arrives with all that it brings. 

Sounds nice doesn't it, even if it's only a couple of things throughout the month, a few seconds taking a deep breath at the back door or something like that, just a bit of time to get back to reality, rather than just going with the flow or being swept along. My white will always be holding hands with orange, they're the colours of home. 

I am itching to start, and by start I mean put a box on the floor and drag my arm over all the flat surfaces to clear them off!

Friday, 28 October 2016

Ready For The Weekend

a slightly terrifying image of me entertaining The Princess
Our plans for a do nothing weekend have flown out of the window, but it's a good thing. My parents asked if they could visit with "a niece". "Which one?" asked Dan with more than a hint of worry in his voice. "The Princess, not The Wild Thing" I replied, "Phew!" said he. So that's one day taken up in a whirlwind of swings, toy cars, noise and demands for me to perform ridiculous physical feats, should be fun. 

I always have a Friday Blitz around the house, but today things will also go into a box into the garage and more cushions will appear - my house is not child friendly in the slightest, lots of sharp edges and we need plenty of padding for all the sitting on the floor we have to do!

I branched out and made lentil soup yesterday, hardly any spices at all!

Blending a third of the mixture gave it a great texture, something I learned yesterday. 

Another thing I learned yesterday was how to make broccoli taste nice when stirfried - just stirfry for a couple of minutes, add a splash of water, cover and cook for a few minutes more, perfect! "Like a takeaway" said Dan, high praise. 

It was a bit beyond by the time Dan got home, half term visitors are making travel sloooooow this week. 

He's requested the same again tonight, nice and easy, different sauce tonight, I wasn't too bothered about the shop bought one. Here's to the weekend, but hopefully not an end to my week of enjoying the small things!

Thursday, 27 October 2016

Small Things

Five small things that have made me happy this week - 

This sight makes me very happy in the morning. A nice clear sink area. Dan is very good, he almost always does the washing up, but sometimes things are left to drain. But on days like this, as the sun comes up here we are, off to a good start!

I also decluttered a 5kg kettlebell yesterday, I've owned it for about 2 years, maybe longer, it has rarely been used and mainly served as a really ugly doorstop/ something for Dan to stub his toe on. 

I bought an oven glove for 99p from the charity shop, brand new with tags. I only had a pot holder before this so it was a pain (literally) when it was in the wash.

Chatted with some lovely people at the charity shop yesterday. One lady was telling me about the twiddle muffs she makes for various care homes, but also that they now make twiddle aprons, so people don't drop them and can use them wherever they are - what a brilliant idea!

Brushed cotton sheets, so comfy, not good for jumping out of bed first thing!

Wednesday, 26 October 2016

A Year of Noticing, Month One

On 25th September I decided to start noting down everything we buy.

The first step was to find a book to keep a note of everything we bought, Dan got on board very quickly. I had a part used project book in the junk drawer, so no need for something new and started to note down some of the things I knew I wanted to monitor - toiletries, clothes, books and magazines etc then it was just a matter of waiting until I needed to buy something!

After discussing it further with Dan we decided to track everything, he's keeping an eye on petrol and I'm noting down everything else. October was a good month to start as we had a lot to buy and quite a few things planned so we knew the numbers would be scary - and they are!

Dan's mum was 60 so we spent a lot on gifts and things for her, we spent as much on eating out as we did on groceries! And as for the clothes spend, well that was a lot, but it included a winter jacket for Dan and bras for me - none of which are bargain items. I'm happy with what we did this month and what we've learned, it makes saving money next month very straightforward! We haven't overspent but we could have done without a surprise trip to the vet (for many reasons), and one of the rings on the hob has stopped working. 

We have the bonus £25 worth of Nectar vouchers that we won the other week, so we have over £30 in total, We're going to hang onto these for a while, we need to think about the best way to use them. 

Tuesday, 25 October 2016

Cooking Day

Yesterday I started to turn the roast veg into meals. 

First on the list was orzotto, not much veg goes into this, but it's very hearty due to the green lentils and quinoa, the miso gives it a nice savoury flavour. We'll serve this with a drizzle of hemp oil and maybe a blob of houmous or something. 


Next was the base for a shepherdess pie, I used fresh veg for this

This will be frozen in two portions and topped with fresh mash when the time comes. The yeast extract really makes this, I can't stand the stuff on its own (although I do really like Marmite crisps) but when it's cooked into a sauce it just leaves a nice savoury flavour behind. 


Along came curry

This turned out to be very hot, from the Kashmiri chillies and very dry in taste, but I like it that way for a change. 


Finally for today I made a variation of my squash and butterbean pasty filling to make a kind of crumble. We have a couple of packs of naan in the pantry so I'll blitz one pack up and use that to top the stew


There's still quite a lot of roast veg left, some of the parsnips will be reheated tonight for with our roast everything else will be frozen for another day. 

Monday, 24 October 2016

Finished Wreath

Sol, I have shared the recipe, such as it is, for the nut roast plait in my reply to your comment. 

I finished the wreath last night and I'm really happy with it. I decided to keep it simple so just added a few flowers and left it at that. It's a really dark morning so probably not the best time to photograph things but here it is.

Food stretching is now in full swing, I did think we'd scoff all the nut roast yesterday but it was really filling so we're having Monday night roast, hooray!

This morning I've rearranged the kitchen cupboards and cleaned the oven (yes, I got up early!) and I'm going to make a start on some batch cooking after another cup of tea. 

Sunday, 23 October 2016

Red, Gold And Green

These are the colours of my weekend, along with claret & blue of course (big kiss to Super Scotty Arfield). Along with a great victory we had the pleasure of meeting Speedo Mick, who was there in his trademark blue swimming trunks raising money and doing his bit to kick cancer into touch

Today has been very domesticated, Dan has cut the lawn and tried to wrestle as much greenery into the garden waste bin as possible, he's done a grand job but behind the garage is still stuffed with the stuff. We'll get through it eventually! He's also made some bread. I've been in the kitchen too, peeler in hand, dealing with lots of lovely veg. 

Some of it became curried lentil soup 

I'll deal with the rest tomorrow. I kept it simple today only using a few other ingredients, the smoked garlic and tamari were used to roast the squash seeds, but they didn't last very long!

I also used a sheet of puff pastry to make a nut roast plait, or as close to a plait as my slapdash approach could manage. While it cooked I made some more flowers for the festive wreath.  

Soup and nut roast plait for tea I think!

Saturday, 22 October 2016


Thank you to those of you who suggested using nail varnish remover to get rid of sticky label residue.

I wore my new boots last night, but the price sticker was very stubborn. Dan remembered the tip and hey presto, a quick rub and it was gone!

Wednesday, 19 October 2016

Hero Product

I very occasionally talk about my favourite possessions, the things that really make things easier for me. For the other items so far you can see herehere and here.

Today it's the turn of my measuring cups and spoons.

The measuring spoons are particularly brilliant as they came from a Christmas cracker! I do have a dessertspoon sized one but it's elsewhere as I use it to measure out laundry crystals. 

I use one or more of these every day, it saves messing about with scales as I know what I need for whichever grain or pulse we're eating that day and all that kind of stuff. They were probably the best tool I had when I lost 42lbs in weight a decade ago, they help me to reach things from deep shelves, and of course I use them as a cat scaring device when they get too close to the birds. 

Now I think of it, the chopping block is important in our world too, as well as using it for the intended purpose it's bit enough to cover the hole in the worktop!

Tuesday, 18 October 2016

The Start Of Something

I know it's early to be thinking about the December Festival, but this little make is for the charity shop, not for me so it needs to be finished in good time, and by the start of next month I'll be dreading the whole event and won't be in the mood.

I'm making a festive wreath. I've wanted to make one for a while but don't need one for here as 1. I probably wouldn't get round to using it 2. my Mum made me one. 

I made a start in the gloom yesterday and this morning I've started to adorn it with flowers

The hoop cost £4 and the glittery ribbon was 49p, I'm after some gold beads, hopefully a necklace will show up at the shop, and I may be able to have a look in the button box for some extras, everything else will hopefully come from my stash so with any luck it will cost less than a fiver.

I am in two minds about making something to hang in the centre, what say you? Any other advice welcomed.

Sunday, 16 October 2016

Baby It's Cold Outside

Cold War, nuclear winter that is. 

I wanted to visit the recently revamped York Art Gallery and ceramic arts centre, but whenever we plan to visit York we never seem to quite get there. So to sweeten the deal and make sure we didn't end up somewhere more exciting instead I suggested we visit the York Cold War Bunker. For anyone familiar with York but not the bunker, it's in Holgate, just off Acomb Road, really easy to find and right on a great bus route, but it's also walkable from the train station and city centre if you're reasonably agile. 

At just before 10am the gate slid open and we were allowed inside. 

The bunker was operational, on a voluntary basis, from the 1960's until 1991 but only in active service, thankfully, during the Cuban Missile Crisis in 1962. 

All tours are guided, and it's a good thing, our guide Emily was so knowledgeable and made it far easier to understand the what, how and why of the situation. The York bunker is the only bunker remaining in this state, although others are still used for other purposes. Smaller, three person bunkers are dotted all over the country, this larger 60 person bunker existed to collect all the information from these smaller sites and report on them. 

There was enough food, water and power for 30 days, after that the volunteers would have to leave the bunker and face whatever was left of the world!

I don't want to give too much else away in case anyone chooses to visit. 

We were on the first tour of the day at 10am, there were four other people which made it a really nice group size and easy to see everything in the bunker, when we left at around 11.15 there were well over 20 people for the next tour, so it may be worth bearing in mind. Including Gift Aid the bunker is £7.90 to tour, but is an English Heritage property so if you're a member it will be free entry, well worth the money, I can imagine we'll visit again.  

We walked into the centre after that to the gallery, which although I enjoyed it and the space is now a vast improvement on what was there before, I would have been a little disappointed to have to pay the full admission price of £7.50 (it's free with the Art Pass), although I am probably being a little hash there as they have done a brilliant job and there are some great pieces in their collection. The current exhibition Flesh is excellent, if not always pleasant viewing! It has made me very excited to see the Ron Mueck Artists Rooms at Ferrens Art Gallery, Hull as part of Hull 2017 Capital of Culture. 

To top off an excellent day we stopped in Harrogate on the way home for provisions, thanks to a heads up from Pensive Pensioner we swiped our loyalty card as spends over £10 are rewarded this weekend with bonus points. We struck lucky and "won" 5000 points which I think is worth £25! I could be wrong but I think 500 points is £2.50. What a bonus! 

Friday, 14 October 2016

Home And Away

The final questions for now. 

This was the first question to arrive, and the hardest to answer, history is not my strong point, I know shamefully little about history in general, in fact I always say all I know about the 20th Century comes from the Billy Joel song We Didn't Start The Fire! Still, I'll do my best and I do thank Sam  for making me think so hard. 

Would you talk more about your town or village - unique aspects, history... what brought you there or has it always been home?

Until I was asked this question all I knew about the history of St Anne's on the Sea was that it grew out of a fishing village in the late 1800s, is a planned town aaaand that's about it. If you say to anyone from outside the area that you live in St Anne's no-one will have a clue where you mean, if you say Lytham St Anne's people will have a small chance of knowing, if you say "it's next to Blackpool" pretty much everyone will know! Luckily for me someone else has done all the hard work and provides a nice potted history here.

Having had a little read around it appears that the town exists purely to make money! It was developed for people to spend time at the seaside, relax and play golf. Which, to be honest is the reason people come to visit even now! The main thing St Anne's is known for is golf. The Open has been held at Royal Lytham & St Anne's eleven times, most recently in 2012. Even when I knew nothing about golf at all I knew that Seve Ballesteros won The Open after playing a neat shot from the car park in the 70's, well that was here!

What brought us here was work. Well, I have always wanted to live near the sea and when a job came up over this way we went for it. We've been here for 6 1/2 years and hopefully we'll be here for many more. It's very quiet and peaceful but it's easy to hope on the train or into the car to get to the motorway and off to wherever we like. 

Another tough question came from here, Mamas Mercantile. 

Where would you like to go on holiday if money were no object?

This is so difficult as I'm not really a holiday person, but I've given it some thought and have come up with two visits (well, probably more like seven visits) to the same country. Firstly I remembered an idea my friend Em has suggested to us. Em is from Croatia but lives in Germany and she has invited us to take a road trip with her from her home near Hamburg to pick up her parents in the south and off to their holiday home in Croatia. Of course I would want to visit a few other places too, I would love to visit Berlin, I believe the vegan food is fabulous, and there would be lots of art to see. Speaking of which we'd have to visit Dessau and Weimar to explore the Bauhaus sites (both UNESCO World Heritage sites) we would have to cross over to Cologne as we have friends there too.

The second holiday, and something we have discussed in the past would be to attend the Four Hills ski jumping tournament. This is an annual event that takes place over New Year. We'd start in Oberstdorf, Germany, moving on to Garmisch-Partenkirchen then cross into Austria to Innsbruck and finishes, just before my birthday in Bischofshofen. That would be ideal for me, just about 10 days away with lots of fun in between!

Thanks everyone, it's been lots of fun, and surprisingly difficult to think about these things, a great week.  

Thursday, 13 October 2016

The Furry Family

Today's question comes from Melanie from follybird.

When did you adopt your first bunnies and what made you decide to do so?

The buns we have now are not our first buns but they are our first rescue rabbits, before them we bought two rabbits. The first one was the most beautiful black Rex, I saw him in a pet shop in the teeniest cage where he's be put on his own as he was being bullied by the others. He was soooooo gorgeous and he loved me so much We only had him for a very short time (10 days) and I don't even have a photograph of him. One night he was running around and I noticed that he had a huge wound on his side, we bathed him and took him to the vet the following day where he was treated but he died.

I was utterly heartbroken and even though that was in 2003 I can't think about it without crying and I still have his little mirror and bell hanging in the pantry. Yes, I should probably deal with my emotions about it but there you go! Straight after that we got another rabbit, another Rex, she lived with us for 6 years, she was just short of her 7th birthday when we had to have her pts as she had E. cuniculi. She was amazing, loved nothing more to sit up on the sofa with Dan or otherwise be involved with whatever we were doing.

The longer we owned rabbits the more we learned about how many were in rescues and how they were treated etc so when you know better you do better and we vowed we would only rescue in future which is how we ended up with this pair. They had been in rescue for almost a year because Big Grey had a very weepy eye and I think people were put off by that, fearing it was a dental problem and would cost a lot of money to deal with, so we adopted them as no-one else wanted them!

They were just over a year old when we adopted them, the rescue manager thinks they were bought as Easter buns then dumped when they grew up. They were found by some children in a locked hutch in a wooded area with no food, so it took a while for the rescue to get them back into shape, they actually won an award as most memorable pets of the year! We brought them home in 2009 and they've been here ever since. We are very lucky where we are that our vet is a rabbit specialist as I think Big Grey probably wouldn't be with us were it not for that. 

So, in some senses it's been a bit of a sad tale, but they are so wonderful to be with, even though this pair are very much together and not all that fond of us at times! I know some vegans are anti-pet but I always say that the day no-one abuses animals and leaves them in need of care then that's the day I will happily never adopt a companion animal again. Until then if I can give someone a nicer life than they had before then I will!