The Broody Sisters

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“When are you expecting your babies?”

“Soon, I hope, Jemima. I’m expecting five, you?”

“Six, I believe. Not long to go now, Flo.”

At this point, Dottie shakes her head in impatience. It is the silly season again and there are no eggs, no chicks, no pregnancies, no potential fathers in the vicinity and yet three of her friends have, once again, gone ‘broody’, sitting around all day in the nesting area, clucking about nothing except their invisible pregnancies. 

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If you read my blog last year, you would have encountered a post called Brooding Buddies. I was hoping that situation would be a one-off but no, once again, we have a similar scenario.

For one day and one night earlier this year, Dottie was showing signs of broodiness.

Then she snapped out of it.

But Florence, after a hard-working spring, laying eggs every day, decided that she would like to become a mother.

So she sat down all day, every day – or she would do if her cruel leader of the pecking order – i.e me – didn’t keep taking her out and putting her next to water and food.

That’s the thing with broody chickens, all sense flies (pardon the pun!) out the window and they don’t eat or drink unless they’re taken out of their broody spot.

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I separated Florence, put her in a hutch for a few hours, gave her a bath – none of these worked. Closing the pophole meant she would look for somewhere else to brood – like a plant pot.

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And Florence hogged the nesting area unless I closed the pophole. Yes, there are other places to lay eggs but hens being hens, they like things just-so and just-right. That particular nesting area was for all of them and Florence’s behaviour was beginning to irk them.

Jemima started giving her little ‘I am the boss and you should behave yourself’ pecks.

Mabel started giving her dirty looks – which escalated to pecks when she came near her.

And then Jemima started ignoring Flo, and seemed to be more easy-going but actually it was only a precursor to having maternal feelings herself.

And you guessed it, the next morning she was huddled next to Florence in the nesting area.

Jemima had it bad last year so I was not surprised by this change from ‘head hen’ to ‘mother hen’.

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So instead of Florence being given a ‘behave yourself’ or ‘snap out of it’ peck by Jemima, the two of them would now comfortably nestled together under the tree (after being ousted from their broody area).

So now there were three sensible girls – Dottie, Ava and Mabel.

Mabel was still angry at Florence but, oddly, ignored Jemima, who she still respected.

And then one day, I went to the coop to let/take the bantams out and Mabel, up on the top as always, fluffed her feathers up and made an angry sound at me. She even moved her head around to see where my hand was, was Mabel going to peck me?

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Not you as well,  Mabel?

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I have resigned myself to a summer of lifting the three broodies out and keeping an eye on them to make sure they are eating and drinking. Little Ava and Dottie are, so far, behaving themselves … so far!

https://cosycottageandthequestforthegoodlife.wordpress.com/2018/06/23/brooding-buddies/

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100th blogging post!

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Since I started writing Dreams and Adventures at Cosy Cottage, I’ve found the blogging community very supportive and helpful so, as a way of saying thank you and a means to mark my 100th blog post, I have decided to mention a few posts I have enjoyed recently.

Here’s a tip if you want to either promote your blog or find new ones to read – there’s a blog called What You Blog About and it features a wide range of writings covering all manner of subjects. One of which is mine!

Dreams and Adventures at Cosy Cottage

There is a place to both submit your story and a directory to find more blogs. Thank you again to What You Blog About for paying Cosy Cottage a visit. 🙂

My second is one in which one of my nature posts inspired someone else to create a beautiful artwork.

It made me wonder if we all inspire and motivate someone else in life in some way but the majority of the time never realise this.

And then sometimes we get inspired by someone else in a subconscious way, in a way we don’t consciously think about but the seeds are sown…

https://familyfurore285309785.wordpress.com/2019/07/09/hummingbirds/

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My third post is a lovely one promoting kindness from Cyranny’s Cove. She has started a regular kind-hearted challenge for us to join in. There is a lot of darkness in the world, so why not spread a little light?

Kind Hearted Challenge – August Edition

And talking of spreading more light, here is Anita’s blog. A cheerful site which always ends on a note of kindness.

https://anitashope.com/

For those of us who are fascinated by history, Alli’s blog offers a way to time travel to the medieval age and all the intrigues it offers. She recently went on a quest to Wales which can also be found here: https://medievalwanderings.com/

I started off with a blog supporting other blogs. To round off is one by It’s Good To Be Crazy Sometimes. Every week she has a blog party where we can promote posts and pay a visit to fellow bloggers.

https://itsgoodtobecrazysometimes.wordpress.com/

These are only a handful of the fabulous blogs I follow and I hope to promote more when I celebrate my second blogging anniversary in September.☺️

 

 

 

Our World: Watership Down

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Many, many years ago, I started to watch a film called Watership Down. It was a cartoon and, as a child, I assumed it was a children’s film. But I found the beginning traumatic and subsequently didn’t watch the rest of the film. I’m sure it featured rabbits being killed and, as an eight year old with rabbits of my own, it wasn’t what I particularly wanted to watch.

Fast-forward many years later and I bought the book in a charity shop. It’s about a group of rabbits whose home is lost because of, you guessed it, humans and their ‘need’ to develop fields.

Now I find Watership Down a sad book in a different way. Whenever I see the countryside being built on, I wonder about the wildlife that may have used that land to live, feed…

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And yes, before I am called a ‘nimby’, I accept that we all live in a house once built on green land and people need houses to live in.

My issue is not the building on some green fields but the extent of which it seems to be taking place today.

There are so many brown field sites, once built on and now standing as an eyesore, and empty, derelict buildings. These could be revamped, making our towns and cities a more vibrant and pleasant place. Win win for humans – and wildlife. 

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If I had power, when it came to building on green belt land and rural areas, I would make it a law that housing developers would have to set aside, not just an recreational open green space for people, but a sizeable additional area as a nature reserve. Why take away homes for wildlife when creating houses for people?

Why does it have to be an either/or scenario with wildlife inevitably losing out? It’s well known that much of Britain’s wildlife is decreasing because of habitat loss.

Living in a greener, more natural environment is good for people’s mental health too.

Yet another win/win!

And as for Watership Down? I haven’t finished the novel yet, but I’m hoping there is a happy ending and the rabbits do find a new home, away from the threat of the bulldozer.

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Tribute to Gentleman Blaze

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Recently Cosy Cottage suffered another bereavement when well-loved Blaze passed away. He was the eldest of the residents here, between six and seven years of age, and had been feeling various ailments of old age – stiff legs (arthritis probably), blindness in one eye and general slowness.

Blaze previously lived at my Book Club friend Liz’s house. He arrived at Cosy Cottage as an elderly widower a year ago, after losing his friend Fury.

At the same time, Cosy Cottage’s Loco had lost his partner Bugsy.

My book club friend Liz and I decided to try and matchmake these two lonely old men so they would have companionship in their old age.

It worked a treat and, for a year, Loco and Blaze got on very well. Blaze nibbled on his hay contentedly while Loco continued his lucrative career as a professional beggar. Blaze happily helping himself to the profits of Loco’s begging schemes.

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When Loco died, I started to search for a pal for Blaze. He seemed to be happy enough, eating and drinking, but still… They do say Guinea pigs prefer to be with others.

So that was when Tom and Tim, pictured below, arrived. Again, like Loco and Bugsy, they came from the adoption section from Pets at Home. Three pigs meant a bigger cage was needed – so I bought a c&c cage with an attic. I went through the same routine as last time, when introducing Loco to Blaze. This included separate cages next to each other and quick, fleeting ‘getting to know you’ sessions.

And then D-day arrived and the the three moved into the large c&c cage – a palace for Blaze, who had been living in a cottage by comparison. But this was when I found that, even though most experts say male guinea pigs need company, it does have to be the right companion, especially for someone of Blaze’s age.

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Tim and Blaze got on well until one day Tim started trying to mount Blaze. This is actually natural in the boar world, and is a way of asserting dominance.

But I was concerned about Blaze and any potential stress this may cause at his elder years, so Blaze moved out of the palace and back into his little cottage. The new boys were too young and too boisterous.Blaze really needed an older companion like himself.

I moved him next to my settee so he was closer to human company, if not pig, although he may well have heard the bickering of his quarrelling neighbours from across the room!

Blaze was a quiet, well-mannered boar of simple tastes. As long as he had his hay and his muesli, he did not ask for much. Never complaining and always polite, he was a little gem among pigs.

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He was very popular with my godchildren, especially two-year-old Wilfred. I think Wilfred would have loved to have taken Blaze back home with him in his pocket.

Blaze came across as a wise old boar. Rather than demanding treats, he seemed to be meditating on the meaning of life. Saying that, he never turned down anything tasty that came his way.

But he had his health issues. About to cut his nails one day, I noticed there was something wrong with his foot. Was it dried mud? No, it was bumble foot. This is a horrible condition where pigs’ feet get scabs. It can spread to the bones so a visit to the vet was essential. 

After a visit to the vet, he was given antibiotic, foot wash and painkiller for this, but sadly, a few days on, he passed on.

I like to think of him going to Dandelion Heaven, where Loco, Fury and all his other pals will have waited for him… And where there will be many fields of dandelion and hay to munch on. 

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R.I.P Blaze, you were a lovely little gentleman.

 

A hint of California in my garden

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I received my ceanothus (Californian Lilac) as a present when I first moved into my house some eight years ago in 2011 (goodness, it doesn’t feel so long ago!)

It was at a time when, although I loved gardens and plants, I was very ignorant about such matters. (Although I still am, I was even more so at that time).

When it stopped flowering after the first year, I thought it had died!

Eight years ago, it was much, much smaller. I remember walking past a front garden which boasted a much older ceanothus. It looked much bigger, colourful and more flamboyant than my little one with its few weedy buds.

Roll on eight years and my ceanothus is looking grand and beautiful.

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And it has survived the chickens, even Mabel (who always seems to be appraising the plants in the garden)…

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And the bees love it too…

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Note: This post is a flashback to a couple of weeks ago, when the ceanothus was still looking its best.

Facts of the Day

1. The ceanothus thyrsiflorus is an evergreen shrub that can grow to 6m/20ft high. It has ‘glossy mid-green leaves and, in spring, bears pale to dark blue flowers in large panicles’. There are other types of ceanothus though, including deciduous varieties. 

2. It is valuable for wildlife, providing pollen for bees. Its leaves are also eaten by caterpillars of various butterflies and moths.

3. The roots ‘favour fertile, well-drained soil’ and it is suggested it should be grown ‘in full sun in a sheltered location, protected from cold winter winds’.

Information courtesy of The Illustrated Practical Guide To Wildlife Gardening by Christine and Michael Lavelle

Cuckoo Way: Chesterfield Canal, Day 2

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Could I get up this morning after a gruelling 26-mile canal walk? Well, with the help of plasters (three) over blisters on my left foot and a bandage over another foot (the blister was too big for a plaster), it was possible to gingerly climb down the stairs to the breakfast room of our b&b.

It was a bank holiday so, even though Worksop isn’t generally seen as a holiday destination, there were quite a few guests having breakfast at Acorn Lodge. 

After our filling cereal and full English breakfast, we got ready, paid up and headed back to the canal. Acorn Lodge was a good stopping off point for a rest but it was time to move on.

Simon got a text from his dad saying if we wanted a lift back this morning to give him a ring. Tempting (that’s how tired I was) but no, we would continue. 17 miles today, Simon said.

My trusty pole came in handy!

Our walk started off sometime between 9.30 and 10am, later than yesterday.

En route to the canal we came across a fascinating church/former priory, I would have liked to have explored but my legs were determined to conserve as much energy as possible. Simon looked in and took this photo of a very unusual yew door.

Another treat was in store before we left Worksop. We expected the canal to be in a much more urban setting than previous. What was not expected was the sight of a kingfisher (my second sighting in a fortnight!) It was standing on a ledge on top of the canal, before swooping in and grabbing a fish breakfast.

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After this great start, we moved onwards. Only once did we nearly get lost when thankfully a resident gardening noticed us ambling along and pointed us in the right direction, over the bridge and across the canal.

An elderly man on an old-fashioned bike told us ‘not too long to get there’, of course, he told us this before he heard where we were going.

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We passed Shireoaks Marina, where many boats were moored, stopping off at the village for painkillers for my feet. The marina was actually built on the site of the colliery basin, used to load boats until 1947. It is surprising how many scenic places have an industrial past.

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We reached Turnerwood, a pleasant little hamlet which looked like it might have a cafe…. But no time for a cup of tea, alas.

Past Turnerwood and we arrive at an engineering fan or canal lover’s dream – the land of double and triple locks. It is also a very scenic, wooded section, on the other side of the tow path is Old Spring Wood and Hawks Wood. 

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The Thorpe flight of locks includes two treble and two double staircases within its 15 locks.

Along with the Turnerwood flight (seven locks), the canal passes through 22 locks in just over a mile. The canal also flows over ‘a three arched aqueduct above the River Ryton which passes from Yorkshire to Nottinghamshire’ (The Chesterfield Canal Guidebook, Chesterfield Canal Trust).

We passed by the site of the wharf where the stone for the Houses of Parliament was loaded. Yes, did you know that the stone used for the famous political arena was transported from Chesterfield Canal all the way to London (via the Trent, Humber, North Sea and Thames)?

While we walked, we decided that, depending on how we would feel after another couple of miles, we might take Simon’s parents up on their offer of a lift back – but not until we reached Norwood Tunnel at the very least.

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Time was ticking on, and although normally we could walk three miles in an hour, possibly more, at this rate we were slowly ambling along at two miles an hour. We might end up getting to the end of the canal in Chesterfield at midnight at this rate!

At Kiveton Park, we carried on to the portal of Norwood Tunnel, where the canal seemingly ends. From here, via Kiveton Waters (the site of the old Kiveton Colliery) we continued above the Norwood Tunnel, going under the M1 at one point. The tunnel was once the equal longest tunnel in England, 12 feet high and 9 feet 3 inches wide. Because of mining subsidence, one part collapsed in the 1800s and closed in 1907.

A couple of stretches of the canal reappears, at one point partly overgrown with plantation. And then it disappears – and we realised that the fenced-in gardens were actually built on the line of the canal.

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From Killamarsh it is possible to walk to the end of the canal – but with a four mile or so non-canal detour. (The Canal Trust is working on restoration).

Earlier we had made the decision to go back once we reached Killamarsh so, at 4pm and 12 miles on, we got a lift back from The Crown pub in Killamarsh.

I didn’t feel as disappointed as I thought I would. Yes, we cut our walk short by about eight miles but we did walk about 12 miles today and 26 yesterday so 38 altogether. Much of the trek was achieved. We also hiked along the most attractive section. Had we continued, we would have trudged another four miles just to get back to the canal at Staveley Town Basin – and then another four or so miles from there to Chesterfield. As Simon said, we walked the full length of the existing canal from West Stockwith to Killamarsh.

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We saw many sights, some of the wildlife I forgot to mention earlier included the migrant chiff chaff, house martin, swallow and goldfinches. We also heard a chaffinch and reed warbler.

It took four days for my legs to get back to normal but I felt happy with my achievement – my first marathon really! And I felt impressed with myself for walking 38 miles in two days.

Here’s to the next challenge…

Facts of the Day

1. Work on the Chesterfield Canal started in 1771 and was completed in 1777.

2. The main trade was coal but stone, iron, corn, timber, lime and lead were also carried.

3. The final commercial cargo was carried in 1956. The canal could have closed if it hadn’t have been for campaigning by the Retford and Worksop Boat Club.

Thanks to their members,  Chesterfield Canal Trust and other volunteers and campaigners, we were able to walk along this beautiful part of Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire. 

Cuckoo Way: Chesterfield Canal Day 1

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The start of our Cuckoo Way walk at West Stockwith

Day One

9am. We started off at West Stockwith, where the picturesque canal basin connects with the River Trent. It was once a boat building centre where the Chesterfield Canal narrow boats – nicknamed cuckoos – were built.

I had a sense of high optimism about today’s journey, yes, it would be about 20 miles (actually it was 26!) but it was on the flat. No hills, no mountains. I could walk for ages on the flat, yes?

Hmm, let’s see.

We passed boats and dog walkers and attractive housing overlooking the canal. Our first locks – upper and lower –  were at Misterton. Both bridges and locks had numbers which, when I got tired, I counted to keep my morale up. There were also milestones too but some seemed to be absent.

The time we embarked on our journey coincided with Duckling Season. We came across many mallards, one had 10 youngsters close by while another sadly only had one. I told myself the others were hiding.

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We passed a former brickyard and wharfs, quiet farmland, Gringley-on-the-Hill – probably the only hill we saw on our walk, and Drakeholes tunnel, pictured below, (unfortunately the nearby 1700s pub, The White Swan, closed some time ago, despite its ideal location. Hopefully it will reopen one day). We also passed an ornamental bridge – with an age-worn face on either side – at Wiseton estate.

Clayworth was our first rest stop, it appeared to be a haven for moored boats on either side. Sitting at an outside bench, our cheese sandwiches and water tasted good.

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Alas, time ticked on. It was after noon and we were behind schedule – the plan was to stop off at Retford for lunch but at this rate it would be 2pm.

Keep striding ahead, don’t think too much of the time, as long as we get to Worksop before it dark…

My previous ‘dilly-dallying’ became more purposeful, although I kept feeling as if I had a blister on my foot. Our scenery was delightfully quiet and rural and we passed a quirky-named lock called Whitsunday Pie Lock. A strange and slightly eerie sight from across the water greeted us – of what seemed like tombstones dotted around…

We spoke of Eddie Izzard, a British celebrity, he ran 26 marathons in 26 days!! (How is that even possible?!) Well, if he can do that, I can surely walk 26 miles along a canal in one day…

… And 20 miles the next day.

Retford was supposed to be our half way point but it turned out it was actually two-thirds of the way. This cheered me up at the time but little did I know how weary my legs would feel after leaving this stop. That, although we had walked 15 miles to reach this point, the next 10 miles would feel even more of an endurance.

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For time and tiredness reasons, we opted to just get a drink in the nearest pub or cafe to the canal rather than venture into town. This turned out to be The Packet Inn (the inn was named after the passenger boats arriving on market days). The landlord of this down-to-earth pub was surprised to be asked for a cup of tea and two lemonades.

‘A cup of tea?!’

‘Lemonade?!’

But he served those drinks and very reasonably priced they were too. It was just what was needed. The lemonade was heavenly.

Back on track, we checked my feet, no apparent blisters could be seen.

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We saw swathes of hawthorn, a few swan nests along the way and a highlight was a kestrel swooping down into a nearby field for his/her dinner.

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The terrain varied, I had concerns that this would be a unvaried walk, one that may possibly bore Simon but we were spoilt with different scenery, woodland, farmland, industrial…

Our next main village was Ranby, it must only have been about five or so miles on from Retford but my legs said differently. My feet, once again, insisted they were covered in blisters.

I was tempted to enter a village pub and order a taxi straight to the B&B. But there was no village pub within easy reach of the canal even though we could see the A1.

We carried on.

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At Osberton, we walked past several fields with horses, an equestrian centre or some kind.

We reached another bridge. I had been counting the numbers of bridges, locks and milestones but had long stopped. I was merely focusing on putting one foot in front of the other.

But this bridge was different. An elderly man, out for a walk with his dog,  was looking over it. We hadn’t come across many fellow travellers in the last few miles.

Simon raced ahead to ask this gentleman a very important question, ‘how far is it to Worksop?’

‘A mile and a half’, he replied. It was music to my ears.

True, it felt longer as we trudged on into an ever-increasing urban environment. Even when I saw the big b&q store or warehouse (never, did I think I would be happy to see such ugly industrial and retail buildings!) Worksop did not seem much nearer.

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Eventually we reached the right bridge, it took us to a main road, on which was a restaurant Simon had mentioned as being ‘not too far from the guesthouse’. I think it took us 20 minutes from the canal to the accommodation.

We finally arrived at 7.30pm. Such a relief to lie down on a bed! We ordered a pizza takeaway, my legs were now officially on strike. Oh, and the blisters – all four of them – had developed on my feet.

The pizza tasted stodgy. The garlic bread had no flavour, no garlic. Baywatch will never win an Oscar, but to lie down eating and watching TV was simply blissful.

The only question is: would I be able to walk tomorrow?

Coming on Saturday: Cuckoo Way – Day Two

 

The Cuckoo Way

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One evening in January, while having an evening meal in a pleasant pub along Lancaster Canal, Simon and I discussed having a semi-long distance canal walking adventure.

Canal walking sounded good to me, a challenge with no hills could be relatively easy in comparison to some of our more difficult hill-walking hikes.

So I thought…

Lancaster Canal, in Lancashire, turned out to be 57 miles in length. Chesterfield Canal, Nottinghamshire, was a ‘mere’ 46 miles in comparison.

Maybe a slightly easier walk then. I liked the idea of an ‘easier’ challenge!

A three-day hike, I said.

Two days at most, Simon replied.

Err, okay, right.

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So, at the start of May, Simon and I embarked on a 46-mile walk along the Chesterfield Canal.

In two days.

I had done some walking (mostly six-mile or less with a few intermittent longer treks of 9 or 8 miles) and two Zumba classes in the last two months.

But was it really enough for a 46-mile trek (in two days!)?

But it would be flat so, I mean, it must be quite easy, right?

We will see…

This walk, from West Stockwith to Chesterfield (or vice versa), is one of wildlife, history, beautiful scenery, geography and industry. It’s called The Cuckoo Way because that was what the old horse-drawn boats were called. No-one knows for certain why.

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A map of the canal (from Chesterfield Canal Visitor Guide 2019)

It starts in the River Rother, Chesterfield, Derbyshire, and ends at West Stockwith, Nottinghamshire. Or vice versa, which was the way we did it.

Simon got a cheap Ordnance Survey map early March and the B&B in Worksop was booked on March 19.

On Saturday, May 4, we would get a lift to the start of the walk from Simon’s parents and our adventure would begin….

Coming soon: Cuckoo Way – Day One

https://cosycottageandthequestforthegoodlife.wordpress.com/2019/07/10/cuckoo-way-chesterfield-canal-day-1/

https://cosycottageandthequestforthegoodlife.wordpress.com/2019/07/13/cuckoo-way-chesterfield-canal-day-2/

An interview with Florence

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Florence was very privileged to be interviewed a couple of months ago by Doodlepip of A Guy Called Bloke’s blog. She gained permission from Head Hen Jemima to be spokeshen for the other Bantam Girls. 

To see her interview, visit:

Petz Interviews – The Cosy Cottage Chicken Clan 76

(And if you know of any furry/feathered etc pals who would like to be interviewed, visit the above website) 🙂 🐔

A robin’s nest

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Earlier this year, a couple of robins – who usually wouldn’t go anywhere near each other – decided to set up home together and raise a family in a bird box in my garden.

It was a rather attractive abode, hand-made by Simon and painted a duck blue by myself. Last year, great tits lived in a different nest box in Cosy Garden but this was the first time The Blue Cottage would come into use.

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I noticed one, if not two, of the robins every day it seemed. They were very busy, flying, eating from the feeder, perching on a garden table, surveying their territory.

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And then one day, silence.

I didn’t notice right away. I assumed they must have been doing their business when I was out at work or somewhere else. Also I expected the mother to be sitting on the eggs so I didn’t expect to see her.

But still…

I continued to avoid the top part of the garden so I wouldn’t distract the pair.

The days went into a week and then another week passed by. Perhaps the eggs had hatched and the chicks had flown when I wasn’t around?

Eventually, I gave a little peek. Something I avoid doing as new and expectant mums hate being disturbed.

But there was no one there except five tiny eggs.

So what happened? To this day, the robins have not returned. Possible explanations I have heard were the adults were ‘killed by a cat or car’ or ‘the eggs were never going to hatch, they weren’t fertilised in the first place. So they left’.

I hope the robins weren’t killed, hopefully this time it just didn’t work and they will be back with more eggs and a successful outcome.

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