Monday 31 August 2009

Family and Friends

It was my son-in-law's 50th birthday this weekend, and to celebrate, he had a big party. Family, new friends, friends from work and long-time friends all gathered for lunch and a tea party. Fify people ate, drank, chatted and dashed in and out of the garden as the rain came and went!

Daughter Sue had cooked a fantastic spread for lunch, with quiches, salad and a yummy cheese board.

Cups of tea came later,

with scones, cream and jam. Did I mention Sue is a great cook? And a far better scone maker than I am! They were delicious!

And, of course, a birthday cake, with sparklers in the shape of '50', though that is hard to see from my photo!

Another view of the cake and party-goers - cleverly (?) done in the mirror!

Then there is always the aftermath! My eldest grandson cheerfully mucked in with his hands in the bowl, carefully washing the very pretty cups.

I think such gatherings are fun, but also good at keeping friendships and family relationships alive. We can't always see as much of each other as we would wish. Lives are busy, and people get scattered, moving futher away from home. It was a lovely afternoon. I met people I didn't know, and gave hugs to family I hadn't seen since Christmas! The youngest member was 3 months old, and the oldest in her 80's. A great time was had by all!

Tuesday 25 August 2009


We went for a walk along the Macclesfield Canal a few days ago. And we had a good time gongoozling! Which, for those who don't know, is watching other people doing all the hard work of locks and bridges, and possibly getting into a mess! We have had many holidays on the canals in the past and cursed the gongoozlers sometimes as our narrow boat didn't do what the steerer wanted it to, but now it was our turn!

It was a beautiful day, and the locks are handy to sit on!

The locks can be quite deep, and it feels spooky sometimes waiting on your boat at the bottom of a lock as it fills up!

There are also bridges, some like this one, only used for farm traffic. Its often very quiet and peaceful along the canal - lovely!

There wasn't much wild life around, much to our suprise, no butterflies and hardly any birds. But I did find some berries! The hedges and the canal edges had been trimmed rather roughtly, by the Waterways Board, so no chance of blackberries!

But there are always a few interested onlookers!

I wish I had taken photos of the boats, but we were surrounded by people, and it seemed rather rude to snap their difficulties with the locks and paddles!

The Macclesfield Canal is mostly lock-free, apart from this section at Bosley, where there are 9 locks one after the other as the canal drops down the hillside. A little further on it goes across the River Dane by an Aqueduct, but I couldn't manage to get there. I was quite pleased with myself for getting as far as I did.

Saturday 22 August 2009

Time and Tide


You can’t catch the clouds in a net,
roll them up and stuff them in a cupboard,
like a winter duvet.

You can’t shut the wind off at source,
switch off the fan, and stop the draught.
If you try to find the beginning of the wind
you will only meet yourself again.

You can’t stop the sea coming in
and slowly eating the soft earth,
for it will only find another door.

The tides will come and go, deep green water,
hungry for entrance,
or a shining expanse of mud,
dark and deceptive.

The lifetimes we live are not forever,
however much we deny death.
The winds and the sea will see us go.

Tuesday 18 August 2009

Greek Holidays


As it's the holiday season, I have chosen a few of my Greek holiday photographs to make a collage. They are various places, but all by the waterside. There are lots of harbours and watersides among the Greek Islands! Some of the nicest tavernas for meals were those right by the water, watching the fishes, the boats and the general activities whilst eating a lovely meal and enjoying a drink!

All our holidays were taken during the 1990's, when we were younger, fitter and generally more active. We always chose self-catering, and had a whole range of apartments or cottages, some palatial, some pretty basic, but the sun always shone, fetching fresh rolls from the bakery for breakfast was the norm, and the sea sparkled turquoise and blue.

Happy days!!
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Thursday 13 August 2009


The ending of summer for me is always signalled by the Mountain Ash (Rowan) berries ripening. We have a beautiful tree we got free from the Borough Council as a "whip" many years ago. But I have to be quick to photograph the berries before the blackbirds and other birds strip it clean!

The big contoneaster is next to ripen, but that doesn't get eaten until a bit later - apparently the berries have to get a bit riper for the birds' tastes!

The sloes are beginning to get ripe now. We saw big bushes of them on a walk at the weekend. I have never made sloe gin, though I am assured it is delicious - it involves a lot of pricking, shaking and whatever - seems like a lot of hard work to me! But I do remember picking loads of sloes when my daughter wanted to make dye with them. It was quite an undertaking, picking, cooking, straining and then dyeing the wool. But it came out a beautiful colour - I craved a sweater in that deep purplish wool!

I like autumn - maybe because I was born then. But I also regret the end of summer. The end of any season has a lot of sadness about it. Wistfulness because of what I failed to do, and there is no more time, sadness for the dying gardens which have given so much pleasure. I rather dread the cold and damp that our winters seem to produce. Summer is so short, winter so long and drawn out.

But we can never go back, so I will enjoy whatever summer's ending brings, look forward to autum, and hope for sparkling winter days!

Friday 7 August 2009

Home and Family

We had a lovely family afternoon yesterday, with four generations all together. A lot of the time was spent admiring the new arrival. Max, our Cocker Spaniel got fed up with the lack of attention and eventually decided to go to sleep!

After all that excitement we thought today had better be a garden day. Our plants aren't looking very tidy, especially the daisies. This is due to the fact I didn't put strong enough or high enough supports! Never mind, they make a nice splash of white!

And the nasturtiums which I fondly imagined would scramble over the netting pointedly refused to climb!

The view from my summer house is very green and peaceful. Its lovely to sit there and read or think, or even fall asleep!

We've put large posters of fruits and vegetables on the walls of the summer house. There are apples and salad greens as well as the tomatoes (I didn't know there were so many kinds of tomatoes!)

And on the ceiling there is the sky at night and all the different kinds of clouds.

Not a very exciting garden, but we like it! Lots of work to do, though, and my husband has to do all the grass mowing, which takes a long time. The weeds are a bit rampant, too, I shall have to try and do something about them!

Like life, really!

Saturday 1 August 2009

A Derbyshire Walk

Yesterday (Friday) we went over to Buxton, which is in Derbyshire,in the Peak District, and not very far from where we live. The Buxton Road is very winding, with big dangerous bend. It is unfortuately very popular with bikers, who test themselves and their machines on the bends, unhappily causing many accidents, too many of which are fatal. But the road does have fabulous views in all directions. I tried to take the above from the car as it was moving. I hasten to add I was NOT driving!

We went to Buxton and Grin Low Country Park, to the Grin Low entrance. The other one goes to Poole's cavern, a big limestone cave, full of stalactites and stalcmites, which gets very busy in the summer. The Grin Low end was very quiet, with a huge car park. There is also a camping and caravan site, but the tent field was closed due to waterlogging! I felt very sorry for holiday-makers there. The sites, car park, and the start of the walks are in a vast disused quarry. Cliffs of rock tower over the site, looking magnificent, even on a dull day.

The paths follow these cliffs quite closely,

and we are warned to beware falling rocks!

The path was very steep. The photograph doesn't give the right impression - believe me, I was wondering if I would ever make it, but I was determined to get to the top and see what was round the corner, and I got there!

The path followed an old lane, with rocks on one side, where most of the flowers seemed to be growing out of the cracks.

At a junction, one path led over a stile into a very interesting-looking wood, which we were tempted to go down, but we turned right and came out onto the most beautiful grassland.

It was covered with wild flowers, and hawthorn bushes, right up to Solomon's Temple, a circular "viewpoint" built in 1896 for those who fancied a walk after taking the waters in Buxton Spa. It has been built on a neolithic burial mound, ansd there have probably been other buildings there. It stands on Grin Low (Low in the peak District means a hill, or mound) and was seemingly named after the previous owner of the land, one Solomon Mycock. Nothing to do with the Solomon of Biblical fame! That's it on the skyline. We didn't attempt to get there!

The views round 180° are breath-taking - almost literally, as there was a brisk wind up there!

The grass was covered with wild flowers, including harebells, which I have not seen for a long time. They are so delicate, but survive in some of the coldest and windiest spots. There were also red clover and some yellow flowers I didn't know the name of! There was a handy information notice, telling s about the limestone grassland, and the flowers and animals likely to be seen. We didn't spot any animals, and only a few jackdaws, but the flowers made up for that!

On the way home we stopped at the Peak View Tea Rooms for some lunch. We both had toasted bacon, cheese and tomato sandwiches, and agreed that they were the best toasted sandwiches we had ever had! I can heartily recommend the Tea Rooms (a bit of a misnomer, they do full lunches and are licensed) - the food is fantastic!

I was most intrigued with the embroidered cake covers - I've never seen anything like them before. The cakes looked tantalising, but Mr. G steered me away firmly!

Each table had very quirky cruet sets. Ours were burgers, but this table had a monk and a fridge! There were also buses, coca cola tins, and other weird and wonderful sets. On the wall was a marvellous display of teapots shaped like houses, cottages, vegetables, you name it. Around the room were pottery sheep, animals and all sorts of other things.

Altogether a very satisfactory day!