Posted in Chickens, Pets

Tribute to Ava

Little Ava

It was a sad day when Little Ava left us to cross over the Rainbow Bridge. She had been slowing down for a while, not quite herself but not ill either. One morning she was more lacklustre than usual and when I looked again at lunchtime her spirit had gone, only her body remaining.

Ava first arrived with her larger friend Mabel back in 2018.

Little Ava and Mabel first arrive at Cosy Cottage

It took the pair a while to settle in with Jemima, Florence and Dottie and, although Ava was able to defend herself if need be, she was quick to gain a reputation for a peaceful, wise hen.

Following two tiny ‘pixie eggs’, Ava decided that egg laying was not for her, perhaps because she was the smallest of the hens. Instead she devoted herself to a career of daydreaming. I often wondered what she was thinking of when she would be perching (she liked to perch high up).Maybe she was meditating on a deep philosophical issue?

When it was time for mealworms, she was always polite – you go first, she would say to the others. It was hard to tell whether she was officially bottom of the pecking order, being the smallest, or whether she just wasn’t as interested in worldly issues as food.

Little Ava (middle) with her friends Mabel and Dottie

Whereas Mabel became tame fairly quickly, Ava was frightened of humans and would scarper if anyone got close. Top hen Jemima didn’t care for people, always being slightly suspicious of such creatures, but Ava seemed scared.

But then one day my godchildren visited and surprisingly they befriended Jemima (the ‘wildest’ of the chickens) and Ava. Little Wilfred, four, would keep picking up and carrying Little Ava into the house. By the time my young visitors left, Ava had lost her fear and seemed to be happy to be picked up. She ended up being one of the easiest to be picked up!

Ava was usually laidback but if she wanted something, she was determined to have it. Freedom was very important to her. And once the ladies were allowed to venture into the back garden so they could eat the grass – in a confined area – she decided being hemmed in was no longer enough for her. Freedom was vital and she would fight for it. Every day I would find Ava on the other side of the fenced-off run. She would often perch, looking at her enclosed friends, as if to say, “is nobody else joining me?” The others would be watching her enviously, wondering what magical trick Ava had pulled to escape. Eventually her strategy worked. Fed up of taking her back into the enclosed area, only to find that she had yet again escaped five minutes later, I relented and let them have their freedom of the back garden. It was a victory for the smallest, meekest hen.

Ava was more independent than sociable, often do her own thing, but she had no enemies and got on with all. When esteemed leader Jemima died, Ava was content to follow Dottie. When Victoria, Matilda and Eliza arrived, the slow integration process came into play. In their separate coop, I let Ava and Mabel meet them from a distance. Mabel – going through a brooding process at the time – took months to acclimatise to them. Ava, on the other hand, took to them quickly.

Was she now leader? She showed dominance by perching (how like Little Ava!) on top of their low level coop. “I might be small, but I am still your elder” she might have said. Within a fortnight Ava could be found mixing with the young ones. I would find that they all liked to be near her. She was a comforting presence to be around.

A peacemaker, a daydreamer, a freedom lover, Ava never followed the crowd but was just herself, a unique individual. For a small chicken, she seemed to be very wise indeed.

Posted in Travel, places to visit, mini-adventures, Fitness challenges, Walks

Adventures on the Lake District mountains: Crinkle Craggs (860m/2822ft) and Wansfell Pike (482m/1581ft)

Picture by Simon Hunter


This story should have been titled Adventures on the Lake District Mountains: The Langdale Pikes but, thanks to the atrocious weather conditions, our trip was diverted. We set off from my house just after 7am and reached Old Dungeon Ghyll car park about an hour and a half later. It was dry although Simon had heard that rain was forecasted at 2pm. However, on our schedule, we should be walking back down the Pikes at that time.

From the car park, we set off towards Stool End Farm and from there to Oxendale Beck which we crossed over. This section was familiar territory. We had hiked this way twice before on our way to Bowfell.

Stool End with an arrow pointing to The Band

Bowfell was my first ever Lake District mountain/Wainwright I ‘bagged’, back in 2012. It was also my last one in 2019. Whereas the first excursion had been tough but enjoyable, the latter was again tough but very unpleasant. We got lost and ended up being helped by two very kind Samaritans. This time we were aiming for the Langdale Pikes and Bowfell was on our agenda but not our sole destination. We had a proper Ordinance Survey map and a special laminated version of the route highlighted. Surely this time everything would go to plan?

We trudged up Brown How first, a steep climb of which Simon kept telling me, ‘it’s not too far to the top’…. (what he meant to say was, ‘it’s not too far to that section … and there’s more’)

Wainwright says “the climb to Brown How from the beck is rough; otherwise this route is easy.”

We walked near Great Knott and passed by a pair of hikers who warned us that it was extremely windy near a gully at Crinkle Craggs. This didn’t unduly bother us as Crinkle Craggs wasn’t on our itinerary and, at that time, it wasn’t too gusty where we were. I assumed (never assume on a mountain!) that as we were bypassing Crinkle Craggs and heading towards Bowfell, this didn’t affect us.

But the wind wasn’t restricted to a single gully on a Crinkle Craggs. As we got nearer to the top, it became more menacing and furiously tried to prevent us getting to our destination. It is often breezy on top of a hill or mountain, especially in the more exposed areas, but this was more like a storm.

Picture by Simon Hunter

A group of ramblers looked like they were finding the stormy conditions hard going as well. I noted that, like our last venture up Bowfell, there weren’t many walkers up this part of the Lakes. Maybe they knew something that we didn’t???

Sitting down in a comparatively quiet spot, sheltered between the mountain crags, we ate our sandwiches and drank water. From our vantage point, we could see Bowfell and the Pikes. But we couldn’t sit here all day, hiding from the wind. So we got up and braved the blusterous wind (which kept trying to blow us back down again). We were going to head to Bowfell (unknown to us at the time, we were actually at Crinkle Craggs at this point) but Simon decided the weather was so bad we would head back and try Bowfell and the Langdale Pikes another time. These conditions were not just unpleasant, but had the potential to become dangerous. We were both nearly blown over a few times on the way back – and the specially laminated map was whisked out of Simon’s coat pocket by a particularly strong gust.

Once we started our long descent along the Band (actually a spur of Bowfell) our trip back was straightforward albeit still windy. At least we weren’t as exposed down here. From the Band, we retraced our steps from Stool End Farm to the car park, before driving off to the Wansfell B&B in Ambleside for the weekend.

Crinkle Craggs is featured in Wainwright’s The Southern Fells. In this book, he says the mountain ‘is much too good to be missed. This is a climb deserving of high priority but it is not a place to visit in bad weather for the top is confusing.’ I’m glad we reached Crinkle Craggs but we made the right decision in turning back. The Langdale Pikes will wait for us for another day when the weather is more walk-friendly.


And talking of Wansfell, Wansfell Pike was where we headed on our last day of our Lake District weekend. A pleasant amble through the Stock Ghyll Force and surrounding woodland in Ambleside took us to a gate which led to steps up a hill. Like Pendle Hill, it’s fairly low (482m so much smaller than Crinkle Craggs and Bow Fell) and steep. It seemed a popular place with several people going up and down the stone steps.

Wansfell Pike has a sense of humour. When it looks like you’ve reached the top it turns out that you’ve only reached a corner and, lo and behold, there are more steps. And then it turns out that, according to Wainwright, this isn’t the real summit, that was further on and was actually called Wansfell.

On top of Wansfell Pike, overlooking Windermere

What I had just climbed wasn’t enough. Well, I didn’t know this until later, and so I will include this walk as a Wainwright. We descended a different way, a more gradual one via grassy slopes. This time I really did slip but thankfully it was on grass so only my pride was hurt. Our journey took us to a National Trust woodland called Skeighyll Woods and then to Lakeside where we saw Windermere.

On our way back we came across the old Roman fort, dating from the second century.

Wainwright says: “Wansfell Pike is in sight throughout the climb from Stock Ghyll. The slope steepens as height is gained and a grassy hummock is the true summit.” This “unattractive place is rarely visited.” As a “viewpoint the highest part of the summit is inferior to lower Wansfell Pike which excels in its view of Windermere.” Certainly from the top of Wansfell Pike the view of Windermere is magnificent.

The Langdale Pikes – and maybe another trip to Wansdale itself – is still on my challenge list so another trip to the Lake District is needed!

Posted in Chickens, Gardens, Pets, Self-sufficiency

Eggs galore

Victoria, Eliza and (back) Matilda when they first arrived

The Cosy Cottage Coop Ladies have been busy this month with an egg – sometimes two – most days. Of the three new chickens, I assumed either Eliza or Victoria would be the first to start laying. Eliza now had a rather vivid red comb while Victoria had become more docile, squatting down to let me stroke her.

Eliza beat Victoria to it, but she had a stressful first day at her new job.

Eliza was feeling restless and indecisive. She headed up the ramp into the coop, flying into the top room, the ‘bedroom’ quarters. She would then sit in the corner, change her mind, and descend back down again before going outside and joining the others.

Now Mabel, on the other hand, was in the mood for laying an egg. No ifs, no buts. She retreated to her usual spot, in the left hand corner of the bedroom, and settled down to the serious business.

But look, who’s this, coming back up the ramp again? Eliza was disappointed to see Mabel in ‘her’ place, and, squawking angrily, she moved to the right hand corner, then downstairs to the ‘living room’, where the hens sheltered from poor weather.


However, none of these places were good enough. She wanted the left hand corner. The one Mabel was sitting regally in. Frustrated, Eliza decided to go back out and make a fuss. She would tell the others all about Mabel ousting her out of her rightful place.

How dare she, thinking she’s lady muck?” She would proclaim, expressing her grievances.

“Humph! I have a very important job to do and she’s sitting lazing about, acting the Queen Hen, where I should be working. I can’t do it unless she moves out of that corner!” She grumpily protested, hoping to garner sympathy.

“Is she still not finished yet?” huffed Eliza to herself on yet another trip to see Mabel still at work.

An hour later, Mabel proudly strode out, leaving a perfect little egg behind. “Finally,” muttered Eliza, who sulkily went up to the same corner. And, indeed, it wasn’t too long afterwards when there was another golden egg of exquisite oval shape and colour – and taste as I later found. Although Eliza wasn’t as boastful as Mabel and was more modest about her achievements, inwardly she was very happy with her egg. It was a stressful first day at work but everything turned out well.

Since then, there has been great productivity from the girls, at least from Eliza, Victoria and Mabel. Eliza and Mabel appear to have improved their timing or perhaps they are more flexible with where to lay their eggs, realising that there is no magic corner. Time will tell whether Matilda will join her sisters or will, like Little Ava, decide she is too small for such hard work and so will opt out of egg laying.

Posted in Travel, places to visit, mini-adventures

All aboard The Flying Scotsman

The Flying Scotsman

She was mobbed by fans gathering around to take her photo; she was 100 years old and still going strong; she was a celebrity known throughout the country and further afield. She was The Flying Scotsman (or perhaps I should say He if it’s a Scotsman?) and she had come to Bury’s East Lancashire Railway station in all her glory as part of her 100th birthday celebrations.

It really did feel like meeting a star, albeit one of the world of railways.

Our trip on the iconic train was the culmination of a short weekend break with National Holidays, a coach holiday company. We were picked up Saturday morning, and after a few more pick-ups of passengers in nearby towns, we arrived at Liverpool’s Albert Dock.

This too felt like a celebrity as I remember seeing this dock as a backdrop to a television programme, This Morning with Richard and Judy, back in the 1990s.

First port of call was a cafe for a cup of tea and lunch. Plenty of places to eat but they tended to be bars or restaurants from what we could see. When we did spot our first cafe, it was full but then we encountered the Quayside Cafe which had plenty of seats and was offering lunch options including scouse (hence the term ‘scousers’). I wasn’t sure what that actually was but we both opted for tomato and lentil soup which was delicious. The tea was okay but for some reason was in a plastic cup. For me, a plastic cup is always disappointing, both environmentally and in a more selfish it-doesn’t-taste-quite-as-good-as-a-real-cup way. But the soup (not in a plastic bowl) was lovely and there were no complaints there. And it’s a great place to sit and view the Docks.

We then headed towards the Liver Bird building, another well-known place I’ve seen on the TV. The proud Liver Birds sculptures can be seen on top of this beautiful building, which sits next to fellow grand landmarks overlooking the refurbished docks and the River Mersey. In too many towns and cities the old buildings are neglected and left to rot, but they’ve done a lot of work in this area and it shows. There are several contemporary and ultra-modern buildings that have sprung up over the years but the historic ones (my favourites) have been well looked after too.

The Liver Building, Liverpool

We also came across four famous Liverpudians… Fans were getting their pictures taken with them, I managed to snap a quick photo when it was quiet for a few seconds.

The Beatles statue

We ventured into the Museum of Liverpool, another modern building. We didn’t have the time to explore it all, so we focused on the main fact-packed exhibition downstairs about the interesting history of Liverpool’s Docks.

Museum of Liverpool

Had we time we could have traversed the whole building but instead we continued our way over a bridge, towards the ferris wheel and the exhibition centre complex. Judging by the numbers of little girls in ‘princess’ costumes, it appears they were all going to Disney on Ice which looked like it was having a matinee production. I wasn’t able to talk my mum into going on the wheel and we headed back to the coach to make our way to the Ramada Hotel in Wrexham and a buffet dinner. The hotel was clean, with a spacious en suite twin room, although we did have a brain freeze turning the tap on (turned out we were both twisting it the wrong way!)

Following an early start the next day, the highlight of the weekend arrived – our trip on the Flying Scotsman. The steam train was already in, patiently waiting for the hard working centurion to arrive to pull her along. When the Flying Scotsman appeared, the platform was packed with camera-holding fans, photographers, train buffs, families and even a TV crew was there to take footage (alas, we didn’t make the final cut on Granada Reports). She steamed ahead (!), puffing along and taking us through the scenic Irwell Valley via Ramsbottom, reaching Rawtenstall where she changed over to the front of the carriages for the return journey. Along the 12 miles, bystanders at platforms and in the country park snapped away at the famous locomotive.

The Flying Scotsman

Following a 45-minute relaxing journey, we returned to the East Lancashire Railway in Bury. Plenty of time for a quick spot of lunch in a cafe (a large toasted teacake and cup of tea in a cafe called Bap) and a visit to Bury Transport Museum where we saw nostalgic trains, trucks, buses and other vehicles. Modern day vehicles may be quicker and more convenient but they just don’t have the character as the old-style vintage ones did.

I’m not a trainspotter but seeing and boarding The Flying Scotsman was a memorable experience, a trip back in time to the nostalgic age of steam.

Bury Transport Museum
  • Facts about The Flying Scotsman
  • 1. The locomotive was built in 1923 in Doncaster. It cost £7,944.
  • 2. It was the first locomotive of the new London and North Eastern Railway (LNER) and given its name after the daily rail service from London to Edinburgh.
  • 3. The Flying Scotsman became the first UK locomotive to reach 100mph. It had been on a test run in 1934.

For more information, visit

Posted in Travel, places to visit, mini-adventures, Walks

Fair Snape Fell, Forest of Bowland

My Lenten exercise challenge hadn’t been doing all that great. I was looking after Jenny, a French bulldog for five days and I had hopes she would be a little fitness buddy during that time and we would go for two one-mile walks a day (it all adds up!) But her owner told me she was in season and so couldn’t go out just in case of ‘gentlemen admirers’ of the canine variety. Working from home and doing more work than usual as my colleague was off sick didn’t help with motivation either. But then at the weekend Simon came to visit and when I showed him my Curious Lancashire Walks book, written by Graham Dugdale and offering 40 ‘intriguing country rambles’, he agreed to accompany me on the eight-mile All’s Fair on the Snape walk, walk 23, adjusted with the use of Ordnance Survey map 41 (below). We would walk from Fell Foot to Higher Fair Snape to Fair Snape Fell (510m) and return via Parlick.

It was in Lancashire’s Forest of Bowland, an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, a wilderness that was generally forgotten about by hikers who, I assume, were mostly flocking to the Lake District or Yorkshire Dales, both about an hour away. This remote and wild moorland is called the Bowland Fells, the Trough of Bowland, and the Forest of Bowland – ironically as the one thing it is not is woodland. Graham Dugdale says it is so called because ‘it alludes to the area being a royal preserve for the hunting of deer in medieval times’.

The last time I ventured into these parts it was November a couple of years ago. Desolate and boggy, this area had few paths then and few now. It’s best to know your maps or go with someone else as it’s easy to get lost.

We had lunch (a creamy potato and leek soup for me) in a cafe in Garstang, a small market town, and then turned off the A6 onto a side road, heading into the AONB countryside. Surprisingly, unlike our jaunts to Pendle Hill, we found Fair Snape and didn’t get lost at all. (Maybe because Simon was navigating?!)

The hills may not have reached the heights of the Wainwrights (we would be reaching 510m today) but they were particularly scenic with a sprinkling of snow. It had snowed the day before and while it had all disappeared elsewhere, there was still some lingering on the higher ground.

Our trek took us through fields scattered with snow. Sometimes it was boggy ground, other times it was foot-high snow drifts. A tiny precarious-looking bridge took us over a brook, the infant River Brock, according to our map. I clung onto a rope to be one the safe side.

From Higher Fair Snape, we headed towards Fair Snape. The original walk in Graham Dugdale’s book takes the hiker to Fiendsdale Head but we cut the walk short because of timing.

We came across a sign, we were about 4oo metres high, only another hundred to go to reach the top of Fair Snape. But a zig zag path taking us up seemed to take forever. Huffing and puffing, I finally reached the top.

Fair Snape Fell trig point

But where was the trig point? Simon pointed to a cairn with a pole sticking out. It didn’t look like a trig point. A glance at the map told me it was in fact Paddy’s Pole (not sure where the name comes from) and next to it was a stone shelter, sanctuary from rain or wind, or a sheltered refuge for a bite to eat. But it was not the trig point. That was further on to the right. Well, we had got this far, we may as well get to the end. So we trudged over to the trig point, I took a quick snap and we turned back.

And just as well we cut our journey short for it started to snow, albeit lightly. It may not have been heavy but we were on exposed, lonely territory.

Simon was also mindful of driving back on the narrow country roads we had travelled on. So we returned via Parlick, not on the ridge itself but on lower ground, as it was less exposed.

Paddy’s Pole and Shelter on top of Fair Snape Fell, Forest of Bowland

With the exceptions of a family group and two hardy couples, the Fells were isolated. The ground conditions had got worse, with the snow drifts becoming more prominent. Luckily it wasn’t slippy, just difficult to trudge through.

Simon kept seeing copses of trees that he thought he saw on the way going, but now he wasn’t so sure. And neither was I. We crossed over a narrow road and came across a farm where fortunately the farmer was out in his garden.

Helpful and friendly, he helped us with directions although my heart sunk when he said the words ‘you go back up that hill.’


He must have seen our expressions for he added, “I’m not sending you back up that hill, don’t worry!”

Rather, it was a small incline and back up the road we had just come down on. Relieved, we thanked him and went on our way. It wasn’t long before a wonderful image soon greeted us – my car!

Posted in Nature, Travel, places to visit, mini-adventures, Walks

Gibson’s Cave and Summerhill Force

During a trip to Richmond, Yorkshire, we embarked on a 12-mile ramble along the Pennine Way from Middleton-in-Teesdale to High Force Waterfall, with a visit to the smaller Low Force fall en route.

This was my first long ramble since September 2022 although there have been various five to six-mile walks around nature reserves and woodlands. But this was the first to really test the legs.

High Force was impressive but I noticed it didn’t have as much water as last time. The previous time we visited had been just after a storm and it was an even more spectacular sight with water gushing down the rocks.

High Force, Teesdale in February 2020

Here’s what I previously wrote about Low and High Force:

Half way on the walk was located Bowlees Visitor Centre, a venue offering refreshments and toilet facilities. As usual I had been looking forward to a nice cup of tea but I was wary of anticipating too much.

Before our hike, we had been browsing in a Middleton bookshop and had been warned by the helpful bookseller that Bowlees was closed on a Monday. Alas, she was right. There may have been people inside the building but the doors were locked and it was definitely closed. So there went my pot of tea, I just had to stick to our flask of water instead. (Luckily the toilet was open so my bladder was happy).

Exploring the vicinity, we came across a car park and a sign to ‘Gibson’s Cave and Summerhill Force’.

On our map was the word ‘waterfall’.

“Shall we go?” asked Simon.

“We might as well,” I replied.

It may have added another two miles to our walk (at that point, a 10-mile trek), but we lived a couple of hours away, who knows when we would be back?

Walking alongside the River Tees, we saw no more signs but believed the waterfall and cave would be somewhere in the locality of the river. Simon assumed a small cave overlooking the river was Gibson’s Cave and a mini waterfall was Summerhill Force. Pleasant enough but nothing out of the ordinary, in my view. Although I had just witnessed High Force, so no wonder I was a tad underwhelmed.

But we carried on our walk a little further until we reached a beautiful waterfall with a substantial overhang behind. This was what we were looking for – Gibson’s Cave and Summerhill Force. The trip to this picturesque beauty spot was worth the extra two miles. And why Gibson’s Cave? There’s a legend of an outlaw called William Gibson. Running away from the law, he sought refuge and hid in this recess behind the waterfall. And at some point this lovely location became Gibson’s Cave.

Posted in Travel, places to visit, mini-adventures, Walks

A Teashop Walk in Worden Park, Leyland

The original plan was to walk up Great Hill near Chorley with the Ramblers and my friend Caroline. I had never heard of Great Hill before, or indeed the Lost Farms which the description curiously mentioned. But when the day arrived, we felt less inclined to venture up a hill and decided instead to embark on a more gentle stroll. (Fortunately, we hadn’t booked this walk so the Ramblers weren’t expecting us).

I had a flash of inspiration – why not have a Teashop Walk adventure? Caroline had given me a book of Lancashire Teashop Walks for a Christmas present and I had been meaning to try out both walks and cafes. Of course there are Wainwrights and long distance trails to tick off, but I also have a Teashop Walk list for days of lower energy when a comforting cup of tea and a slice of cake is needed more than an exhilarating challenge. And this would be a perfect end to the start of the week when a 12-mile walk along the Pennine Trail took me to fabulous waterfalls.

After consulting with Jean Patefield and her Lancashire Teashop Walks, we opted for Walk 9, Worden Park in Leyland. As Leyland was in the direction of Chorley we thought we might as well head in the similar direction.

It wasn’t too far off the motorway although not well signposted. Once we arrived, it looked like there was only a small and unfortunately full car park. There was a section for long vehicles but that didn’t stop car drivers from parking there. Happily, through the bare hedges, I glimpsed a bigger car park and although busy, this did have spaces. Even better, it was free to park on a Sunday.

Passing footballers playing on the sports fields, we headed into the park. A carpet of snowdrops greeted us on the way. Our first stop was the cafe (the teashop is an important part of a teashop walk mini adventure!) The signs took us into a certain direction until they suddenly disappeared. What is it with signs these days?!

We must have looked lost as a helpful local couple asked if we were looking for the cafe. They lived within walking distance so were frequent visitors. They were very willing to direct us and we secretly decided that the lady was Jean Patefield herself. Of course she would know where the tearoom was as she had written about it!

Feeling slightly guilty about the cheese roll and bottle of water lurking in my rucksack, I opted for tea and left the various tempting cakes well alone. The Folly Coffee House and Deli (which was recently refurbished) was busy with only a couple of large tables available inside but there was ample seating outside which was where we sat. A couple of hours later, at lunchtime, there was a long queue snaking out of the teashop. It was best to have our pot of tea beforehand!

We had enjoyed our pot of tea but it was now time to explore. Our path took us to a woodland where a folly bridge stood.

Leaving the wood, we looked into a craft shop, full of beautiful handmade items for sale.

The formal gardens – where we sat on a bench eating our packed lunches – looked a little drab this dull February day. But I could imagine in spring there would be colourful flowers blooming. The conservatory’s pansy and primrose border was a case in point.

While we munched our sandwiches, a model train went past in the distance. (There is a miniature railway in the park). We joked that the Chorley Ramblers were enjoying themselves on that train instead of going up Great Hill.

Past the conservatory, we ventured into the maze. But it was the wrong end and we couldn’t go any further! So we headed to the front. Jean had warned in her book that the maze was even more ‘fiendish’ than the famous one at Hampton Court and warned visitors they needed time to spare and navigation skills. This was off-putting. Caroline was reluctant to go in because of a scene in Harry Potter. I couldn’t get Jack Nicholson and The Shining out of my head…

Both the formal gardens and the maze were laid out in the 1850s, designed by landscape architect William Andrews Nesfield, and replaced a previous design.

Worden Hall is a Grade II listed building and was officially reopened in 2022 after a £2.8 million investment which included an extension and a refurbishment of the cafe. As well as being a great place to visit, the building itself is available for event, wedding and community use.

Although it was opened to the public as a park in 1951 after Leyland Urban District Council bought it the year before, it has a long and rich history.

For centuries it has been the estate of the ffarington family (and there is a place near Leyland called Farington so that’s where its name comes from) and according to records, a dwelling has been on this site since the 1200s. It has been suggested that one of the ffaringtons, who was secretary to the Earl of Derby in the 1500s, was the inspiration for the character Malvolio in Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night. So they were notable characters indeed.

Anyone who visits will note that, for a previous stately home, it doesn’t seem all that large. Unfortunately what we see is just a remnant of the hall. A fire broke out in 1941, destroying the roof and interior, and while the walls remained standing, these were demolished in 1960. Today all we can see are the Derby Wing, outbuildings and walled kitchen garden. But for a pleasant, easy walk, it’s certainly worth a trip.

The park has held the Green Flag Award since the scheme began in 1997, the only site north of London to have done so.

South Ribble Borough Council

Posted in Fitness challenges

40-day Fitness Challenge

Photo by Mnz on

Today is Ash Wednesday, the start of Lent and a time when traditionally I give up chocolate for six weeks but this year I thought maybe I could also use Lent as a fitness motivator?

This would help provide the start of a training programme for fitness challenges I am thinking of doing this year. The possible challenges I am thinking of are: a 20-mile Ullswater Way; a Langdale Pikes hike in the Lake District, covering several mountains in one go; Ben Nevis if Simon and I go on holiday in Scotland this June. None of these are definite and could be replaced by something else (hopefully not laziness!)

Photo by on

So for the next six weeks I am aiming to:

Do 10,000 steps/5 miles every day via YouTube videos, walking my parents’ dogs, gym treadmill/cycle etc, outside walks

20 squats daily

10 press-ups daily working up to 10 more every week until I get to 50 by Easter

I’ll see how this goes…

Posted in Books

Books I’ve Read: WWW Wednesday

Welcome to this week’s WWW Wednesday hosted by Sam from Taking On A World of Words.

What did you recently finish reading?

I’ve just finished Antimatter by Frank Close. I started this book a few years ago and took a break, reading something a little lighter in the interim. It’s actually only 148 pages long (excluding the appendix) and is accessible, probably one of the more ‘easier’ books out there about physics and the ‘little’ matter about antimatter. Antimatter is the stuff of science fiction but it does exist – at least it did during the Big Bang (apparently producing matter and antimatter in equal amounts) and scientists have been able to create miniscule amounts – but there’s very little in our part of the universe these days. Essentially everything is made up of atoms, which are then broken down into electrons, protons and neutrons – and all of these can have an counterpart. But if they meet they will destroy each other. Part of the book is fascinating, and other areas require concentration. I’m still not 100% certain what the difference is between a quark and a muon so may need to go back and reread some parts. The good news is that we are a long, long way off from creating an antimatter bomb!

A much easier read was The Midnight Hour by Ellie Griffiths. This detective story set in the 1960s forms part of her Brighton Mysteries books. The main characters were likeable and it was interesting to see what it might have been like to have been a female detective or a female police officer in the 1960s. It was never an addictive read as some crime stories can be for me (I was able to put it back down after a read) but I would always enjoy the time spent reading it.

What are you currently reading?

The Valley of Horses by Jean M Auel is the second in a series called Earth’s Children and tells the tale of Ayla who lives in Neolithic times, during the ice age. Her early life is recounted in The Clan of the Cave Bear, although a Cro-Magnon, as an orphaned five-year-old child, she is taken in by a Neanderthal tribe. In The Valley of Horses, her story continues. Following tragedy, she is now on her own and is wandering central Europe, aiming to survive and find members of her own kind. Her chapters alternate with ones detailing the Journey of two young brothers and their encounters with various tribes along the way. The descriptive writing is well done so the reader can imagine what it might have been like living in that long-ago era.

What do you think you’ll read next?

I have a couple of other Elly Griffiths’ novels – The Postscript Murders and The Chalk Pit which I’m looking forward to reading. On my TBR pile is Kahil Gibran’s The Prophet. I admit I only bought this (£2.50 from a charity shop) because it is deemed a classic but I actually don’t know much about it. It’s always seemed an intriguing book.