ice cream in a picnic

My Aunty Olive introduced me to the concept of ice cream in a picnic.  It happened at Earl Rowe Park on one of the summer trips her and my Uncle Ron made up to Alliston to entertain Janet and I when we were on school holidays.  The concept of a frozen food product being carried in a picnic basket was staggering to consider and came as a great surprise when I was about 8.  I always remember it with a smile.  Sadly, it was my Aunty Olive’s funeral yesterday.  My thoughts have been with all of the family but Lauren and Joscelyn especially.  She is in a much better place now but sometimes that logic isn’t too comforting…. My hope is that that my nieces and nephew will be as fond of me as I was of Aunty Olive.  I would consider that to be a great success.

Yesterday I also sat my grade 5 piano exam.  I had signed up to do the exam to give myself a goal to work towards and that certainly worked and I am pleased with the progress I’ve made since deciding to take the exam.  However, the exam itself was not pleasant, entirely stressful and not at all a picnic!  It turns out shakey fingers do not equal good playing so I think it will be marginal as to whether I pass or not.  I tried all the positive thinking techniques I knew and I had practiced a lot but the thing I was lacking was being “performance” ready.  Or maybe November 26th was just never going to be a great day.  I’ll think I’ll try staying in bed for it next year….

On the photography front, I had some good photo taking opportunities last weekend.  Namely a frosty morning walk, the sunset in West Kirby and the Christmas markets in Liverpool.  I love my ultra wide angle lens – it is so cool.  I just wish I had more opportunities to use it than just on the weekend! I’ve attached some pictures:

P1030217 P1030187 P1030200

This weekend it’s the village Christmas light switch on and craft fair and our Christmas decorations are going up too.  ‘Tis the Season!

liverpool after sunset… and before sunrise…

Last Wednesday night I joined a walk around the docks of Liverpool with the aim of learning more about night photography.  There were 4 “students” and 1 teacher and we spent 3 hours around the Albert Dock and the Liver buildings learning different techniques.  I really enjoyed the opportunity to spend an evening with like minded people taking pictures and it was pretty well timed as our trip to see the Blackpool illuminations is pending in a couple of weeks…. Here are some of the pictures I took on the night:

P1020932 P1020956 P1020963 P1020948

Something I’ve wanted to do for a while is to watch the sunrise over Liverpool from “our” side of the water.  Seacombe Ferry terminal is the prime position for doing this and with the days getting shorter and shorter, getting out of bed for sunrise is more easily achieved this time of year.  So we went down Sunday morning about half an hour before sunrise and watched the spectacle unfold.  Paul was very patient with me as I snapped away and there is a small green space down there which was big enough to throw a ball and therefore please Stella.  I use my tripod most of the time and even used filters for some of my shots.  I was trying to use very long shutter speeds and make the water look like glass.  These are a couple of my favourites.  (I’m sure my Mum will have something to say about the fact that the sun rose almost directly above the Anglican cathedral!)

P1020992-1  P1030043

The rest of the weekend was spent on the “great curtain project”.  Mum and Dad bought the fabric for our bedroom and living room windows as a Christmas present when they were here but I needed a free weekend to really get into making them.  We have curtains on these windows already but these ones are much better quality with black out thermal linings which will hopefully help to address heat retention and summer light issues.  After hours of effort over the weekend they are still not done but definitely much closer to being so than they were at the start of the weekend.

A full week here including a longer piano lesson to make sure I’m ready for my exam at the end of November.  Yikes!

Twilight Tours….

On Thursday night, we celebrated moversary early by enjoying the sunset from the top of the Liverpool Cathedral Tower.  The tower is just over 100 metres high and offers fantastic views across the city, the Wirral and even as far as the Cumbria and the Peak District.  On a Thursday night the tower stays open late so that the sunset and then the lights of the city and beyond can be enjoyed.

Although it could’ve done with being slightly warmer for us, the visibility from the top of the tower was fantastic.  We caught the sunset but I most enjoyed watching the lights of the city come to life once the sun had gone.  I tried out some different settings with my camera and took *lots* of pictures over the hour and a half we were at the top.  I have selected my top 5 to spare you a little bit… 🙂

Moel Famau & Liverpool Lights 018 Moel Famau & Liverpool Lights 020  Moel Famau & Liverpool Lights 028-1

Moel Famau & Liverpool Lights 013 Moel Famau & Liverpool Lights 024-1

After the tower, we headed to New Brighton for some Mexican food to warm us up.  And seeing the city lights from *our* side of the river was the perfect end to the evening.

Happy Moversary!

January 2012 😯 – Oops, I mean 2013! 😉

I guess we’re officially back into the swing of things now. It’s been at least a couple of days since I wrote 2012 rather than 2013 so things are looking up….

So what’s new this week:

We went to see a pantomime on Sunday with Paul’s sister and the kids. It was Aladdin and in true pantomime style, it was very silly, there was lots of audience participation (“He’s behind you!” “Oh no she didn’t, oh yes she did!”) and they even threw sweets out into the audience for the kids. Our adult attention span must be a bit short though because both Paul and I thought it could’ve done with being a bit shorter – but we still enjoyed the experience overall.

I am having a period indecision about the colour of wood varnish to apply to the skirting boards and the doors in the kitchen. I don’t know how Paul puts up with me sometimes…. 😉

Stella’s behaviour at her 2nd obedience class of the year was improved over the 1st class but still nothing to gloat about. Staying still for any period of time at all seems to be a problem. Although I’m pleased she is interested in playing with the other dogs, her listening skills need to improve – especially when it comes to my voice! Little tinker.

My dodgy knee is improving after a couple of sessions of physiotherapy so that’s a good. Putting a warm wheat bag on it is much more preferable to a bag of ice too I’ve decided.

The temperature has dropped the past few days so that meant a nice frosty walk with Stella on Sunday morning. Much preferable to wet and mud. This has also been a good excuse to make use of the wood burning stove and have a couple of cosy evenings hanging out in the back room watching movies and/or listening to music.

I had an annual performance review at work yesterday – apparently I’m still lovely over a year after joining Nuclear Technologies. (When I started they nicknamed me “Lovely Val”….) Well that’s good isn’t it? Let’s just hope that I’m effective at my job too! 😉

Oh – and to finish – here is a picture of Paul and I in our matching beaver canoe t-shirts that Lauren gave us for Christmas. Aren’t we cute. 😉



More trips up to Scotland and also West Cumbria this week. I had a problem with the hire car this week when the clutch completely burnt out on my way to work one morning. That was interesting…. It was a bit of hassle but I was safe, I got to work o.k. and sorted out a replacement too so it definitely could have been worse. We were also bidding for some work on Thursday which was quite stressful and, due to schedules, had to be prepared for at the last minute.  Before coming home, I had a lovely meal out at a pub I’d been wanting to try with Emily which was a perfect end to a long week.

Last weekend, we had a lovely walk to Hilbre Island and some Frisbee throwing with Stella.


There was definitely a chill in the air and after running about in the rock pools and streams, Stella looked cold and wet when we got home so we got a fire going and the 3 of us enjoyed our evening in front of that. That was my favourite part of the weekend. Other weekend highlights included a chaotic children’s party for Josh and an evening of fish and chips and relaxation with Robert and Andy. I also went to see Ella and Hannah’s class assembly on Friday morning. It was very entertaining and they both did really well with their speaking lines.

This weekend we’re all set for another trip to Wales and a walk.  Paul is working Sunday and I have a Skype date with Melissa.  The days are lengthening quite dramatically now too which always makes me feel a bit more sunny inside.