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.