Birds, Birds, Birds.

Hubby and I are getting back into the swing of our bird photography, so to that end here are a few snaps I took yesterday at Frampton RSPB on a dark and drizzly day, the skills of this photographer were sorely tested. We had such a great day.Female Stonechat.Male Stonechat.GoldfinchStarling, “Who is the prettiest of them all?”Egretand last but not least a Curlew.

Happy New Year!

Another year gone, they go so fast and getting faster every year.  Hubby and I enter the year with the usual great plans of improving our health, but this year we have even bought equipment to help us along with that evil plan – a tread mill and a rowing machine!  Already after one week I can feel a slight improvement and my distance and speed have improved, so the plan is working.

As my regular readers will know we bought a puppy this year. It is one of the greatest adventures of adult hood that if one fancies a puppy, obviously contemplating it in a more serious way than a flippant idea, one can buy a puppy. We thought about it for nearly two years, forever batting the idea away, but it was just too tough to be without a dog for so long, we had never been without a dog before in all our married life, so Rupert came into our home. We both agree it was the best decision for us and we gaily laugh at his antics, wag our finger at him when he is in the witching hour and caress his silky ears to sooth our worries and stresses away. We have both fallen under his whippety spell and love him more than words can say. 

This year I aim to walk a thousand miles again, although this time I will be recording the mileage the old way with pen and paper, having lost much needed information from not one but two fitbit failures.

We are looking forward to March when we hope to be high up enough on the list for another allotment. Fingers crossed for that one.

My plant based lifestyle is going well, I suspect I eat plant based about 90% of the time, with occasional lapses with fish, which I do love and two lapses with meat over the last couple of months.  We will see how that journey progresses next year.

After eighteen months with a frozen shoulder which has been very painful, I am at last able to knit again, if I take it slowly.  I have been knitting lambing mitts to see us through the cold spring to keep us warm while photographing outdoors.

I loved the huge downfall of snow, it was magnificent, 4 good inches of snow, a memory I will keep forever. 

I will be going to lectures in London on Food in Art for nearly three months, which I am really looking forward to, I do love a good lecture and hubby is going to brush up on his cookery skills based on Rick Steins Venice to Istanbul, which I think is a wonderful idea, basically eastern mediterranean with a twist, the television viewing looks very tasty!

May I wish you all a very happy new year, may 2018 be everything you hope and wish for, sending much love. Mandy and hubby x.

Sledging in the Abbey Fields.

Our snowy white landscape sparkles in the bright sunny day and calls me to the Abbey Fields to take a few photos of the people sledging down the hill. I’ve sledged that hill from when I was knee high to a grasshopper and it is great fun, although I would struggle to get back up a snowy icy hill these days.

The three girls taking a selfie as they screamed with laughter all the way down the hill looked like they were having an amazing time.  There were dogs barking and children laughing and the odd more senior person having a brilliant time,  along with the sound of the sledges on the crunchy well compacted snow as they flew down the hill at speed.

We are so lucky to have snow like this, especially in December, memories of childhood, refreshed.



How good has this snow been. I mean to say I don’t remember it as deep as this in many a long year. In London I went for three winters without a frost, it was incredible. I am so loving this, Rupert has loved his sprints in the snow and hubby and I have loved the walking in the snow followed by the blissful warmth and glow of a coal fire. Apparently it might get a bit nippy on Tuesday night, predicted minus fifteen, I am not going to love that, I won’t be going out on that ice rink. But in the meantime, let it snow, let it snow, let it snow. 

Back to the birds.

Its been a while, but now the ravenous winged insects have died down I am once again trudging along the gravelly paths to sit in the hides of my local nature reserve.  And boy have I missed it.

So without further ado a few of my latest snaps. One of the most difficult of all of the birds to photograph at this reserve, a cetti’s warbler. It has taken on nearly a mythical status, mainly because it is so noisy and so you always know it is around and so quick. By the time one has focussed their camera onto the area it might be hidden in the reeds,  it has gone.  I think this is my best yet.  A reed bunting enjoying a wonderful feast of seeds.Along with a black bird gorging on the hawthorn berries.A water rail popped out just for a second.And I saw a heron lifting off.And two cormorants watching the low flying aircraft.

It was a wonderful day in bright winter sunshine, cold and bright, just the way I like it.

Going plant based.

I have flirted with vegetarianism since I was 15, having long spells, the longest was three years where I’ve stopped eating meat. It was only from bringing up two stocky lads and a hubby who were confirmed carnivores that has interrupted me drifting back into it full time.  In the meantime I have  been flirting with lots of meatless Mondays along with high carb, low fat plant based meals and many vegan dishes have all been consumed with gusto.

I am into week two of a completely vegan diet. I won’t ever say I’ll become completely vegan, (although never say never!) I love to knit with wool and wear leather shoes, I think both of those occupations would prevent one from wearing the vegan hat, let alone some vegans feel that pet ownership is the wrong way to go, but I can honestly say I love the plant based diet and feel very happy in that space at the moment.

Hubby is quite happy to trundle along with his omnivore diet and cherry pick my plant based delights, some how my coconut yoghurt, medjool dates and Vego chocolate and hazelnut bar (have you tried them, they are delicious!) have all happily disappeared into his tum.  It has got to the point that I know that I am going to have to share, so even though hubby was eating a beef sandwich for his lunch I made enough Sushi for two – we scoffed the lot it was delicious. I followed Yo Sushi’s recipe for dressing the rice, although I do tend to be a bit heavier handed on the vinegar than they are and made my sushi with cucumber, red pepper and spring onions, with the usual dipping sauce of wasabi, light soy and pickled ginger.  I can see it becoming a regular lunch time dish, bearing in mind its the second time I’ve made it in two weeks, so it must be good.

My plan is to keep to plant based for two months and then have a think about where I am, it will be interesting to find out.


Our New Baby.

I am so sorry about the lack of posting on the blog, but truth be told, mostly we have been shattered – but in a good way.  It has been fifteen years since we have had a new baby in the house and although the memory comes back as to what needs doing, we are a bit older and stamina is not what it was, which all sounds rather grand doesn’t it, especially when it is only a puppy. But a puppy it is, may I introduce Rupert, our Whippet puppy who brings us much joy. This is Rupert, a week older than when he joined us and finding his feet in the business of running and sprinting. He is such a happy fellow, eats like a pig, sleeps as much as possible, possibly the best companion one could ever wish for, apart from that mad half hour a few times a day where you have to watch everything… its manic, but we do love him so., especially then. It is lovely to have a dog about the place again, it has been such a long time and hubby seems completely energised by it. And who wouldn’t be by such a pretty and loving dog. This time we are crate training, something I have always steered clear off, but as I said that was fifteen years ago, this time with Rupert, first night in his crate, with a big fluffy feather filled pillow, our new to us puppy fell fast asleep in his crate and didn’t wake until 8.30 a.m. and was clean, (our golden retriever eight week old  on the first night fifteen years ago seemed to poop out a whole puppies worth) we took this as a sign and I have to say he has been a dream boat. The only trouble I have had was when I moved his crate from the kitchen to the hall, the kitchen being an icebox in the winter and the hall being the cozy centre of the home, Rupert was a little bit distressed, it has to be said, so I sat with him, for an hour and chatted away, as you do, and then he stretched out and fell fast asleep until the next morning. We’ve just had November the fifth, he slept right through, so pleased he did, we know too well how distressed a dog can get.  Welcome to our new member of our family, we do love him so. (not sure the cats do! )