52 weeks of happy: 25/52

IMG_7482This is cheating a bit I suppose – four photo’s instead of one. I was very pleased with the way they all looked together though. The bright colours and the big blooms of the clematis at the top really knock you in the eye and the rose and elderflower have such beautiful, summery scents.

IMG_7486A child free night on the summer solstice saw us heading to our allotment for a spot of weeding. A shared bottle of Crabbies made it (almost) a date night. It would be an exaggeration to say the our plot is under control but it’s looking a lot better than last year. The strawberries are turning pink (yay – I might be able to stock up on jam this summer), the gooseberries are swelling, the runner beans are running up the poles, the first courgette is almost ready and the globe artichokes won’t be long either. Time to start planning some serious preserve making…

IMG_7491My first, very amateur attempt at nail art. Good job my client wasn’t fussy. She just thought it was the best thing ever to have polka dot, red, white and blue nails. Shame they could only stay on for 24 hours due to school rules. I have a feeling there might be some more fun had with this in the long summer holidays, especially when she has a birthday coming up too.

IMG_7497Son Number One requested an after school trip yesterday so we shot out as quickly as we could to RSPB Saltholme. Unfortunately, we couldn’t stay long as they close at 5pm and despite my best efforts, it was 4.30 when we got there. We just had time to check out the new ‘badger tunnels’ in the play area and have a quick race around the other (fabulous) play equipment.

So, I wondered, where to go next? The Middle Miss really wanted to go to another park with a play area but I thought something more peaceful was required. Just along the road from Saltholme is one of Teesside’s special places. Despite the proximity of a busy road, a titanium dioxide plant and a nuclear power station, there is a spot where you can almost always guarantee a seal sighting. It has been updated in the last year or two so that you now reach it via a path and a couple of boardwalks instead of by walking along the roadside. It has also been improved from a bare creek bank to a full size, elevated and sheltered hide. I know it’s impossible to tell from this photo but the row of dots on the left hand side, near the far shore are a group of harbour seals. 200 years ago about 1000 harbour seals lived in the area. Due to the massive industrialisation of the area the population was wiped out by the 1930’s. It is now recovering well. If you want to read more, follow the links here and here. To think that as a child I thought that the name ‘Seal Sands’, which describes the area where a great deal of the petrochemical industry is located, was never really going to be appropriate again. I’m really pleased that even in the depths of industrial Teesside, nature is able to recover and thrive.

52 weeks of happy: 24/52

IMG_7428Peonies are so beautifully frilly and vivid. They somehow seem too showy for the location in which they are often found – otherwise boring front gardens. They look as if they should be part of some tropical rainforest if you ask me. They remind me of my childhood when we had one growing in our slightly empty front garden border (my Mum will probably tell me that it wasn’t empty, but that peony is the only thing I can picture growing there). I remember being slightly amazed that such a big flower could just pop up each year with no help from us. I’m still slightly in awe of that now.

IMG_7440More flowers. I was a bit grumpy at the weekend, probably due to Babykins (and therefore me) having had a bad week of sleep. Bed times are becoming quite a battle, which I hate. I went out for coffee with a friend on Saturday afternoon and when I got back, The Husband and Babykins gave me a bunch of yellow roses to cheer me up. I thought they would look good with the big daisies that have suddenly sprouted in the allotment so I popped out on my bike to collect some. Obviously the gift of flowers made me happy but I also very much enjoyed using my bike, which has been stuck in the garage for far too long.

b78ca168d75f11e2b65722000a9e00be_6Babykins and I had an outing to RSPB Saltholme on Monday. Despite (or perhaps because of) being so close to industrial Teesside, there is something special about the landscape here. At the moment it seems to be teeming with swooping birds: particularly terns, black-headed gulls, swallows and sand martins. The latter two birds being part of the essence of summer in the UK.  We joined in with their ‘little explorers’ group, making a bird feeder from a juice carton, listening to a story and singing a song. That was fun, but actually, the bit I enjoyed the best was just wandering around the place by ourselves. I appreciate these days so much more because I know that as soon as school starts, trips out will be reserved for the weekends and holidays. Then you have to share with the rampaging hordes. Babykins and I had a fine time spotting minnows in the ponds, watching the birds on the feeders from the hide and exploring the play area. I think we will be visiting again soon.

IMG_7476Supper: Pork belly slices (sorry, not a vegetarian special this week) cooked in aromatic broth, served with noodles, steamed mangetout and stir fried red pepper and spring onion. Now for the happy part ALL THE FAMILY ENJOYED IT!!!!! It’s not often that happens. See the chopstick at the top? The older two children decided that noodles should be eaten with the culturally correct utensils. They had fun winding them around and around and slurping them up. Oh, and the meat was from the reduced to clear section of the supermarket so not only was it tasty, it was cheap too. Happy days.

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52 weeks of happy: 1/52

Well, I’ve just been reading ‘Little Tin Bird’ and thought that this idea of a post a week of happy things sounded like a good idea. I think that trying to remember happy things is probably my primary reason for blogging. So, the first week of 2013 is over: here are my happy moments.

Eating pate on toast. I haven’t had this for years. It’s not exactly healthy but I certainly enjoyed it.IMG_5880Starting a new twirly, whirly scarf. This is either going to be a birthday present or stashed as a gift for next Christmas. I kid you not – this year I am going to be ORGANISED! (More on this at a later date).IMG_5884Enjoying the view of industrial Teesside. In the right light, it can be just as special as somewhere rural. The Transporter bridge is pretty iconic if you happen to be a Teessider. This was taken at RSPB Saltholme. The birds certainly don’t mind sharing with the cooling towers and chemical plants.IMG_5892I’m not sure if this counts as happy or not but I’ve eaten a lot of chocolate this week. IMG_5893Finishing the scarf in the early hours of this morning. The reason I was up at 2 am was not so happy – another sickness bug. At least I got to watch some interesting TV and complete my little project.IMG_5911Here’s to lots of happy times in 2013!