The Heat Wave of 2018

I’ve not known a summer like this since I’ve lived here… so that’s almost 20 years in case anyone is counting!  The weather is warm (sometimes hot) and very dry.  The hose pipe bans have started and there are fires on the moorland – and on Bidston Hill too.  It’s been great weather for camping and walking though so I thought I’d give a little update of a couple of the things we got up to for the past few weeks.

We went for a  walk with Denis a couple of weeks back starting in Wilmslow.  There were lots of shady paths and it wasn’t one of the hottest days we’ve had which made it great for Stella.  Although 15 miles turned into 18, I still enjoyed it (but don’t tell Denis I did…it’s fun to tease him about this mileage increase!) One of the first stops along the route was Quarry Bank Mill and the Styal Estate.  Then we walked alongside the boundary of Manchester Airport and watched a few planes taking off.  We had a stop at the Merlin pub for lunch – that was a nice place and given that it was Father’s Day seemed to be a popular place for lunch.   There were also two ice cream stops and the last leg of the route was alongside a river which Stella was most pleased about.

We also had a camping trip to Abersoch on the Llyn Peninsula in Wales with Nicola and Cathy and their families.  Nicola has a caravan that they keep there and we joined them to experience the delights of this little corner of Britain.  I do love the lovely coast line and turquoise colour of the water – it always feels to me like being abroad.  Paul and I took Friday off and travelled down in the morning stopping at Aberdaron.   This is a lovely little village with a nice beach, a great bakery and some lovely little shops including an ice cream shop!  After ice cream for me and a pie at the bakery for Paul, we headed to the beach for a little walk and play.  Stella loved running in and out of the surf playing ball.

We headed to the campsite where we found ourselves on a farm in a camping field to ourselves.  Stella was in heaven.  Even more so when the rest of the party joined us – more friends to play ball with.  On Saturday we went for a coastal walk – estimated distance 8 miles, actual distance 15).  There was ice cream, a pub stop and 3 beaches along the way.  We all felt we’d earned the sunny BBQ that night – lovely to sit chatting and still being warm outside.

We got up early the next day to come away so we were home in time for England’s second World Cup football game.  I came away with a couple of extra horse fly bites and sun burns on the back of both legs where I’d missed with the sunscreen but we both really enjoyed the weekend, the company of the others, the food, the walk and the weather.     The van does get a little toasty when the sun hits full power but it’s a small price to pay.  Our next van adventure is not too far away in a couple of weeks… it would be great if it was warm and dry but fingers crossed for temperatures in the low 20s rather than the high 20s!


Spring family photo session at Dunham Massey National Trust Property in Cheshire

I spent a lovely afternoon last week at the National Trust property, Dunham Massey National Trust Property in Cheshire with Sarah, Chris and Evelyn for a spring family photo session.

Sarah and Chris were keen for pictures of Evelyn at this stage of her life as well as for some pictures of them all together interacting and doing what they do. A perfect brief – I love capturing natural expressions and I especially love the spontaneity of children.

We had a wander around the gardens together and saw some lovely bluebells, tulips and a very tame squirrel… and after Evelyn trusted me to carry her bag, we all got along very well indeed! The weather was dry and bright and the sun wasn’t too harsh – ideal conditions for the session.

They have so much love for each other which I hope comes through in the pictures.   They make me smile a lot anyways.  Here are a few of my favourites.

Somerset and Cheshire with the Alderson’s

We had the great pleasure of hosting my Mum and Dad on their recent visit to England.  It was lovely to see them as always and we maximised our time together with a trip to Somerset followed by some time in Cheshire too…

After an early morning airport pickup, we drove down to South Somerset to a little village called Montacute.  The cottage we stayed in was the Tudor Rose and was very old (please see my Dad for details on the exact age as this feature was extremely pleasing to him) and full of character.  It was also perfectly equipped for the three of us – and oh so central. It had an interesting selection of DVD’s so we entertained ourselves during the week with movies such as The Queen, The Duchess and a couple of Agatha Christie one’s as well.

On the first day we were together, we walked to the National Trust property of Montacute House which was just a stone’s throw from the cottage.  I really enjoyed a guided tour around the property being transported back in time to the Elizabethan era when it was built and learning about Edward Phelips who was responsible for the house’s build.  We had scones for lunch and explored the grounds, house, shop and second hand book shop.

It was Dad’s birthday the next day so we (very appropriately) spent a good part of the day exploring some pretty little Somerset churches – including one that had appeared on a postage stamp in the 1970s (St. Mary’s Church, Huish Episcopi).  In the afternoon we went to the Somerset Cider Brandy Company and saw a lot of apples being crushed into cider, cider brandy, cider ice wine and even apple chutney.  We even wandered in their orchards and I tried to pretend I didn’t see Dad stealing apples from the orchard….  In the evening we went out for a lovely pub meal at the Phelips Arms – again just a stone’s throw from our cottage.

One of my favourite cities is Wells and we made sure we visited on market day.  We explored the farmer’s market, the beautiful cathedral and had lunch in the cathedral café.  In the afternoon we went into the Bishop’s Palace and Mum didn’t disappoint us by trying on the bishop dress up clothes that were there despite the fact that the place was overrun by tours.  She does make me laugh.  Pork pies from the farmer’s market made for a lovely dinner.

On our final day in Somerset we visited Barrington Court which is another National Trust property.  This one’s garden’s were it’s jewel in the crown.   We learned a lot about how the property had become derelict and was being used to store barrels of cider by tennant farmers until it was leased to one half of Tate and Lyle who spent a lot of money and time returning it to it’s former glory.  On the way home from Barrington Court, we went for a walk on Ham Hill which had amazing views from the top.  There was also a stone circle, a war memorial, a quarry and a lime kiln – although we didn’t manage to find that.

On the way home we stopped in Glastonbury for a walk up Glastonbury Tor.  The sun was shining and it was a lovely morning for a walk.   When we got to the top we found a few people sitting and enjoying the sun – not what you expect in October!

Once we were back in Cheshire, we had a couple of days touring around the usual Wirral haunts including Moreton shore (with Stella), Royden Park, West Kirby beach and Parkgate.  Of course there was ice cream involved in Parkgate!  We visited the shops and market in Birkenhead and also a few garden centres for good measure.  We had a lovely family day when Jayne, Paul and the kids came to visit and played some games, ate some food and celebrated October birthdays with a cake shaped like the Wirral Peninsula made by Emma’s Cupcakery.

We also spent a day in Tatton Park.  Again I enjoyed exploring the gardens, the house and Dad was really excited to watch the deer rut in the park. The best lunch of the holiday for me was the one we had there in the Gardener’s Cottage.  This little place was tucked away on the edge of the courtyard and has been crowned the Best Tea Room in Cheshire by the magazine Cheshire Life.

On the penultimate evening of Mum and Dad’s visit, we enjoyed a lovely meal out at the Irby Mill.  Lin and Denis joined us for some yummy pub food and good conversation.  I’ve never eaten there and was really pleased with the food, service and atmosphere.  Definitely one to consider in the future.

It is always hard to say good-bye but this was somehow lessened knowing that in just a couple of months we will be together again for Christmas.  Thanks for the visit, Mum & Dad, and I’m very much looking forward to us being together again.

Inaugural camping trip of 2014 – Capesthorne Hall & Tegg’s Nose

Lots of news to catch up on but I’ll start with our first camping trip of the year. It was a bit late this year with the delay down to birthday celebrations and associated planning…. But we got there in the end.

It was our first stay at the Capesthorne Hall campsite. I think it is a relatively new site and it was very quiet indeed. There were only 3 of us staying on a site which could hold about 50. A bit of an undiscovered gem I think! The hall and grounds were beautiful and we had nice views across the pastures to the sheep and the cows grazing. There was a great view of Jodrell Bank from the approach road to the hall too. The facilities were also immaculate. Because it was so quiet, Stella was able to be off her lead and chase balls – something she really hates… 😉 The only downside was there were a few midges around and about when it was very still due to the two lakes that were on the grounds.

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On Saturday morning, Denis picked the 3 of us up and we drove to Tegg’s Nose in Macclesfield. The plan was a 19 mile walk on Tegg’s Nose and along the Macclesfield canal and reservoirs. It was one that Denis had done with his long distance walking club earlier in the year. The weather was much better than expected but we had a couple of showers along the way. It was a long, tough walk – the result being the 3 of us were asleep before 9pm that night. There were lots of bluebells along the way and the pace was such that I was able to take a few pictures…


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On Sunday morning the weather seemed to take a turn for the worst and was quite hit and miss with the showers. We stayed around the campsite having breakfast and playing ball before we headed off to the airport so Paul could drop me off for my trip across the Atlantic….

And that’s where the next blog begins….

dirty weekend away…!

That’s dirty in the literal sense of the word…. 😉

Our weekend actually started on Thursday night which was rather wonderful.  On Friday morning we went to see Josh in his class assembly where the Year 3 Class at Thingwall Primary School told us about their penpals in the Isle of Man.  It’s great to see Josh smiling and full of confidence and I especially liked his crab walk!  After the assembly, we headed over to the Peak District for Paul’s birthday weekend at the Old Vicarage Barn in Youlgreave, Derbyshire (

We stopped at Bakewell on the way and picked up some provisions – including a Bakewell Tart of course!  When we arrived at the barn, we found it was a lovely place and so beautifully done inside.  It was open plan concept and was more like a loft conversion than a cottage with a mezzanine floor for the bedroom.  The housecoats with the barn’s name embroidered on them were a nice touch as was the Victoria sponge that was waiting for us when we arrived.


At various points over the weekend, we were covered in mud from head to foot and poor little Stella looked brown rather than black and white!  The country has had so much rain, I guess the conditions were not surprising.  A couple of the footpaths were flooded as well so that took some careful navigating and foot placing.


On Saturday, we walked in Lathkill Dale and after getting back to the barn and getting clean and dry (this took a while!) we went for a celebratory birthday drink in the George Hotel and then had some birthday cake, of course.

On Sunday we walked again from the door of the cottage across lots more muddy fields and paths.  The highlight of Sunday for me was Stanton Moor with the 9 Ladies Stone Circle, Tower and Cork Stone and most importantly some nice dry paths.  We went to the Farmyard Inn in the village for our dinner where we were all made to feel really welcome and I enjoyed my Homity Pie very much.  A Homity Pie, as I learned, is a traditional British vegetarian open pie and I think I might have to try making one of those – it was yummy!

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On our way home on Monday we stopped near Congleton and walked up the Cloud and along the canal.  The Cloud had great views of Cheshire but it was a bit misty in the distance – we could still make out Jodrell Bank though.  While we were walking along the canal two other dogs joined us and decided they wanted to be part of our pack…. They followed us for a while but after a phone call and a bit of a wait, they were reunited with their owner.  We felt like we’d done our good deed for the day.

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I enjoyed our time together this weekend, the walking and the relaxing and the opportunity to take lots of pictures too.  We both agreed we could have easily managed a week at the Old Vicarage Barn but it wasn’t to be – back to work today.

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