Versatile Blogger award

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I was delighted when I was nominated for this award by the Arty Plantsman. Thank you, Darren. His website is a wonderful mix of plants, beautiful art, humour and much more. Please go and visit him at https://artyplantsman.com/

The rules of the Versatile Blogger Award are as follows:

  1. If you are nominated, Congratulations – you have been awarded the Versatile blogger award!
  2. Thank the person who gave you the award and include a link to their blog.
  3. Select 10 -15 blogs/bloggers that you’ve recently discovered or follow regularly.
  4. Nominate those bloggers for the Versatile Blogger Award.
  5. Tell the person who nominated you 7 things about yourself.

My selected bloggers:

This is simply a thank you to a few of the fantastic bloggers out there. Some of them are particularly supportive of other bloggers, some are particularly versatile with their blogs but all are entertaining. Please pay them a visit.

https://silverbells2012.wordpress.com/

https://chomeusewithachou.com/

https://itsgoodtobecrazysometimes.wordpress.com/

https://aguycalledbloke.blog/

https://familyfurore.com/

https://diaryofawouldbenovelist.com/

https://amandaonline.blog/

https://therapybits.com/

https://mesmotsbysazz.com/

https://anitashope.com/

https://blessingsbyme.wordpress.com/

https://revolutionarymusings.wordpress.com/

There is no obligation to take part!

 

7 things about me.

  1. I love castles, cathedrals and old buildings in general.
  2. I wanted to be a vet when I was a child. Unfortunately I was, and still am, too squeamish and impractical.
  3. I think the world would be a much better place if there was less greed and more wisdom.
  4. I used to go horse riding when I was 14.
  5. My favourite colour is green.
  6. I used to read and collect Bunty comics when I was a child.
  7. I’m a Taurus.

 

 

 

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The story of the angry 😔 face

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Photo by freestocks.org on Pexels.com

My friend came to visit recently and we had a fantastic time catching up and visiting scenic places near me. But she was preoccupied and the reason behind it was an angry face.

Users of Facebook will know that, a few years back, they changed the reactions to posts from just ‘like’ to emojis depicting ‘sadness’, ‘anger’, ‘laughter’ and so on.

😥😡😁

Well, my friend, H, posted a comment on her Facebook friend’s post. The comment, seemingly innocuous, received an angry face emoji.

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Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Why had Mr Angry appeared? My friend responded with another comment, fearing she had upset her Facebook friend. After a silence, she added to her response, and then feared she was making the situation worse and offending more with each new comment.

We discussed and went around in circles, debating the potential reasons behind the worrying emoji. Had H offended? Was the Facebook friend easily offended? Could she have made a mistake? (But then why the silence, queried my friend). Was she referring to a previous comment and was actually agreeing with a statement H had made?

A few days later, the riddle was solved.

A mistake, a simple mistake. Mr Angry’s face had been pressed by accident, unleashing all his fury and bringing confusion and concern into the world. 😡

Easily done.

And I wondered if there were two lessons here. Was it too easy to press the buttons on our technology, our social media and text messages, not realising how a tiny mistake can lead to misunderstanding, miscommunication and potential break-up of friendships.

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Photo by Tracy Le Blanc on Pexels.com

And is it also too easy for us to fear other people and their reactions to what we say or write or do? So often, I have worried that a late text, message, email or letter meant that the person concerned did not like me or I had offended them in some way.

So many examples of my fear yet so few times I can definitely say, I upset so-and-so and they are no longer speaking to me.

It is a balance, I think, between trying to be considerate and compassionate and also being oneself and not worrying what other people think. I’m still on that learning curve!

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Photo by rawpixel.com on Pexels.com

Fitness Challenge 2019: January round-up

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Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

So for my new year’s resolution to get fit (the same resolution I’ve had for the last 10 years!), I decided to break it down into monthly chunks, each month would have at least one challenge.

January was Red January and is an initiative organised by mental health charity Mind. Red originally stood for Run Every Day but I prefer Random Exercise Every Day, a phrase I spotted on the internet!

My second challenge for this month was to reach 100 miles by walking. This is to contribute to my overall 1,000 mile target by the end of the year.

Challenge 1: Walking 100 Miles

By the end of January, I had walked 74 miles, not what I aimed for but still more than what I would usually do in the month of January. This was what I would call coat-on walking. Coat-on for me means every mile is counted outside, via a pedometer. However, as it’s January, it’s cold and dark and I was aware of how easy it was for me to find an excuse not to go on a proper country ramble.

But I still:

Frequently walked to work and back (1 mile. I sometimes drive as it’s on my way to other places I go to after work).

Frequently went for a walk at lunchtime (2 miles)

Walked the family dogs (Various, 1 mile to 5 miles)

On two days out with friends/Simon, we ambled around the cities of Lancaster/Chester (about 3/4miles)

One canal walk with Dad (2 miles)

One walk into city centre and back (7 miles)

Nothing spectacular but it all adds up.

Challenge 2: Red January

This challenge was primarily for me to get into the habit of becoming more active. I included any additional walking in this but there were days because of snow, a headache, a stomachache or perceived time restraints when it wasn’t as easy to venture out. So I lifted two dumbells and did 100 arm curls on those ‘lazier’ days. It won’t get me fit or strong but it still keeps me thinking along the lines of ‘doing something every day’ and only takes a couple of minutes.

Red January aims to help people’s mental health as well as physical health and raise awareness of the charity Mind (https://www.mind.org.uk/)

(Exercise is believed to be good for mental wellbeing).

So overall, a mixed month. I don’t feel particularly pleased but I don’t think I’ve let myself down too badly. It is only the first month after all!

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Photo by Sebastian Voortman on Pexels.com

February

So my next set of challenges for February is:

1. Aim to walk 100 miles again. I failed this month but maybe I might do better in February?

2. Continue to do something active everyday – even squats or arm curls if nothing else.

3. Aim to set aside 15 minutes five days a week for yoga.

4. Start planning at least one long-distance hike this year.

5. Buy trainers for exercise classes.

I will see if February is a more successful month! 🙂

 

 

Meet the neighbours at Cosy Cottage Garden Cafe

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Long-tailed tit. Photo by Michel Berube on Pexels.com

I often have neighbours popping into Cosy Cottage Garden Cafe. It is a self-service restaurant where customers can just help themselves to the regularly replenished supplies.

Fat balls are supplied, a delicacy favoured by the tits. The long-tailed tits come as a large close-knit family, the blue tits and great tits venture in by themselves or in pairs.

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Blue tit. Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Robin is a regular, a nosy fellow, he likes to keep an eye on any gardening being done. Unfortunately, he is a jealous loner too, and doesn’t like to see others in his café.

There’s plenty of room for you all, I say, keeping the peace as cafe proprietor.

But he ignores me and shouts abuse at a larger blue tit.

Luckily, when the argumentative Robin flies on to another cafe, my customers come back. But despite his bad behaviour to other clients, he is a favourite regular and is always welcome here.

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Robin. Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Blackbird prefers the ground seating to upstairs. As well as scatterings from the bird table, he may be lucky enough to catch a juicy worm for dessert. He too comes by himself, but is happy enough to share the edibles with the other birds.

Pigeon too, is a regular customer, sometimes he brings his mate and they munch on tasty leftovers, dropped by messy eaters from above.

Fat balls aren’t the only item on offer. There are coconut feeders and an array of healthier seed is also available, although the fat balls are the most popular. A drinking area with water is also set aside for my clients.

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As well as regulars, there are the more flamboyant visitors. A bullfinch and his mate have hovered in the nearby trees, a nuthatch paid a visit on a couple of occasions, sampling the goods, and a Jay has also been a colourful client, staying a short while. Sparrows, starlings, a coal tit and a shy little dunnock, who prefers not to be noticed, have all sampled the delights of Cosy Cottage café.

It is a pleasure to serve such a diversity of characters. Do you have a ‘cafe’ in your garden?

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Bullfinch. Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com
Facts of the Day

1. The tail of the long-tailed tit is more than half the bird’s total length.

2. The great tit is the largest member of the tit family in Britain. More than 50 distinct calls and songs have been identified.

3. Coal tits are the smallest tit in Britain. Its favourite habitat is coniferous woodland.

Information from Reader’s Digest The
Best of Wild Britain.  

Our World: Being green in 2019

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Photo by Tyler Tornberg on Pexels.com

How easy is it to be green? I think it’s about being organised and consuming less and being more aware of what we buy.

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Photo by Mahima on Pexels.com

I’m not a militant green who has forgone all unethical goods. I’m just me, who can only do a little at a time. Maybe it’s not enough. It probably isn’t. And maybe I’ll get judged for still doing this or that or the other.

But surely it’s better to do something, no matter how small?

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Photo by sohail na on Pexels.com

Every year I come up with new year resolutions, usually broken by the middle of the year. But what if this year, 2019, was different? What if that was the year in which I kept my environmental resolution?

So here goes, five green resolutions.

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Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

1. Check for palm oil in ingredients. Making palm oil as commonplace as it is these days has unfortunately come at a high cost to the rainforests – and to animals such as orangutans who live there.

For more information: https://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/surprising-everyday-palm-oil-products-13588303

2. Cut down on plastic. This may mean buying fewer bottles of water and Irn-Bru. One thing I did this year was drink water from a cup at work, rather than getting plastic cups from the water machine. There is so much plastic in our seas that the less we use the better for the planet.

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Photo by mali maeder on Pexels.com

3. Drive less. Get the bus, train or walk. Might do my waistline some good too!

4. Renew my membership of The Woodland Trust. They create and maintain woodland habitats for wildlife, vitally important at a time when we humans are destroying their places to live at an increasingly rapid place.

http://www.woodlandtrust.org.uk

5. Start writing to MPs about green issues such as loss of wildlife habitat.

Are you doing anything green for 2019? 🙂

Too many babies *

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Aloe veras at Cosy Cottage

* Aloe Vera ‘babies’ that is.

I remember a nursery rhyme from my childhood, the first couple of lines read:

There was an old lady who lived in a shoe, she had so many children, she didn’t know what to do. 

And so it is at Cosy Cottage, okay, this is a little house and not a shoe (Thank goodness as I don’t think even the guinea pigs could fit in one).

And, yes, okay, these are not human youngsters.

They are plant ‘babies’. Aloe veras to be precise.

Aloe veras reproduce like rabbits.

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Aloe veras

My first aloe vera, given me by Simon, ironically died. Even more ironically as he claimed I couldn’t kill this plant as they didn’t need much watering.

But he persevered, giving me another. I now realise this wasn’t of the goodness of his heart but because he had a surplus of the fleshy succulents which needed rehoming.

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Aloe veras

And this aloe vera thrived, maybe a little too much as she decided to have a ‘baby’, and then another, and another.

There appears to be no ‘father’ but there are plenty of young aloe veras, and now I have lost count of how many there now are and they all need new homes.

New pots at any rate.

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Aloe veras at Cosy Cottage

Facts of the Day

1. Aloe Vera is a succulent and an evergreen perennial. Its leaves are fleshy and thick.

2. It is found in products such as skin lotion, tissues, traditional medicine (as a skin treatment), drinks, ointments and cosmetics. It is used as a moisturiser.

3. There are records of the use of aloe vera from the 16th century BC (Ebers Papyrus).

 

Fitness challenge 2019: The beginning

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Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

So is 2019 the year when, finally, I get fit and healthy? Every year I aim to be this magical fit woman, filled with energy, but the efforts of becoming this person is just too much for lazy me. Sure, I can trek up mountains but walking up those steep hills is tiring indeed. How wonderful to feel I could run up them instead of panting and puffing, in some discomfort, as I do presently.

Last year I set myself a fundraising swimming challenge (eight miles in four months) with proceeds going towards Butterfly Conservation and The Donkey Sanctuary. This was from February to May. I decided I still liked swimming but not that particular pool (it was too busy). I also walked 10,000 steps a day for a fortnight for The Big Issue Foundation, a homeless charity, in March.

And so when it came to Scafell Pike in April, it felt easier than I expected.

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So challenges help me to keep motivated and so I have devised new ones for 2019, to be spaced out over the year so I always have something to aim for.

1. I signed up for RED January. It is a challenge, created by mental health charity Mind, to help people support their mental wellbeing through exercise. It’s also about raising awareness of mental health issues. R. E. D actually stands for Run Every Day, but thankfully this is not essential (I’m not keen on running!) It’s more about getting active every day in some way. I’m aiming to walk more, at lunchtimes or to work.

For information on Mind and R. E. D January, visit http://www.mind.org.uk and https://redtogether.co.uk

2. I’m also aiming to walk 100 miles in the month of January. Originally it was 150 miles, which would be great but I’m not sure I will be able to achieve it in such a dark, cold month.

3. I signed up for Country Walking magazine’s 1,000 miles in a year challenge. I did this, one month late, last year and just scraped through. http://www.walk1000miles.co.uk

4. To walk the 21-mile Preston Guild Wheel in one or two days. Perhaps in April or May?

5. To do one long-distance walk of at least four days. How wonderful to do the Coast to Coast Walk (12 days!) Maybe in September?

And there is always the dream of walking up Ben Nevis. Will it be this year?!

I will write a monthly update on my training programme and how far I have progressed with plans. Surely if this doesn’t motivate me, nothing will! Have you got any fitness goals this year?

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Photo by Suliman Sallehi on Pexels.com

Meet the residents of Cosy Cottage

Here are the furry, feathered, finned and foliaged inhabitants of Cosy Cottage:

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Guinea pigs Loco and Blaze, pictured during their first ‘boar date’ in 2018

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Florence on top, Jemima, Dottie, Mabel and Ava on bottom

Chickens Florence, Jemima, Dottie, Mabel and Ava.

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Zebra Danios, pictured hiding behind the plants.

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Aloe veras
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Palm-style plant
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Peace lily, about 8 years old

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Regular visitors jack russells Teddy and Molly.

Children and pets

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My godchildren came to visit recently, aged two, four and eight years old. The first thing they wanted to see at Cosy Cottage? The residents of course!

The zebra danios were nonchalant as always, swimming in their water world, only paying attention when Honey, Noah and Wilfred fed them.

Although the guinea pigs and hens were a little startled at first, hearing the sound of loud young voices and the pattering of little feet, they became fond of them over the weekend.

Especially when it meant more treats!

Loco and Blaze met the youngsters and enjoyed being stroked, even Loco who sometimes makes a big fuss about being handled (we don’t eat guinea pigs here, Loco, you’re quite safe!). He is always happy to beg for parsley though!

There was much hilarity when Blaze pooed on Noah (big sister Honey couldn’t stop laughing!)

Loco then decided to do the same to Honey.

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Guinea pigs, so polite in company!

Noah helped me clean out the chicken coop, doing a much thorough job than I usually do!

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They helped with giving the chickens corn. Unfortunately the hens then thought it amusing to lead me – and the children – a merry dance and not head into the coop when it was time to go in.

I was expecting the hens to follow me in (bribed by corn, no less) straight into the coop, but no. They thought it would be a laugh to run around while me and the youngsters tried to herd them in.

Have you heard the phrase, ‘it was like herding cats’? I’m not saying it was as bad as that, but not far off either.

Never work with children or animals as they say in showbusiness!

It was a fun weekend for us all but I remain convinced the chickens were deliberately trying to show me up in front of the children and the five of them had a great laugh about it afterwards, especially Jemima!

🙂 🐹🐔🐟

Children and pets – top tips

1. Teach your child to be gentle around pets and other animals.

2. Pets are good for teaching responsibility. But don’t get a pet and assume your child will always look after it. They may get distracted with other interests as they get older. Make sure you want the pet too and are happy to look after it, if your child loses interest. 

3. Be logical when choosing a pet. It’s better to research and consider how much time, space, attention etc you can give a pet than get one on a whim and give it away the next month. As they say, a pet is for life, not just for Christmas. 🐈🐕🐹