A day in the life of Wirral Animal Sanctuary’s Hedgehog Centre

I took a trip down to Wirral Animal Sanctuary’s Hedgehog Centre last weekend with the idea of documenting a day in the life of the centre. It can be a very busy place – especially in the winter when they had more than 70 hedgehogs at the peak – but even with a mere 20 in (as was the case during my visit) there is still loads to do!

Liz was in charge of the centre on the day of my visit. She was supported by three dedicated volunteers with other team members popping in with donations and deliveries throughout the day.  Ghost the cat also kept popping in and out – for attention mainly it would seem – which he got by the bucket load.

Each of the occupied cages needs cleaning and the bedding refreshed every day. Sometimes medication needs to be given to help the patients ward off infections or to restore their water levels. One of the hedgehogs needed a foot spa because of its infected foot.  Another had some ticks which required removal.  One needed some cream on his nose where a strimmer had nipped the tip of it.  A faecal sample needed to be taken and analysed from another.

There are a couple of incubators for the really sick hedgehogs. Unfortunately one of those was Simeon, who didn’t survive the duration of my visit – he was very poorly indeed – but the volunteers did their best to keep him warm, safe and comfortable in the final hours of his life.  Rest in peace, Simeon.

One hedgehog was admitted when I was there – another victim of a strimmer with a rather large head wound and some missing prickles. There were admission forms to fill in, weights to be established and an assessment to be carried out.  Thankfully Joseph seems to be recovering, fingers crossed for this little one.

After my visit, I decided that I needed to see a hedgehog being released back into the environment… This is such an important part of the work of the centre.  I met Martin at the Butterfly Park in New Ferry where a group of volunteers were eagerly awaiting the arrival of their newest residents.  New Ferry Butterfly Park is a Cheshire Wildlife Trust urban nature reserve developed on a former railway coal yard, goods yard and water softening plant. Once Martin had established the best place for the feeding station and shelter, Potter and Cat Woman were moved from their travel crates into their new home.  Their enthusiasm for their new found freedom wasn’t exactly mind-blowing – although we did see the nose of Cat Woman tentatively peeking out of the house just before it got too dark to see any more.  These two have definitely landed on their feet with their release location – what a great place for them.

This experience has given me a greater appreciation for the work of the centre and my already great fondness for these prickly creatures has only increased. Although we all agreed nature can be cruel when we said goodbye to Simeon, the success stories of those hedgehogs like Potter and Cat Woman really demonstrate the benefit that the Hedgehog Centre brings.

Cathy and Neil’s Wedding at Wallasey Town Hall and Sheldrakes Restaurant, Wirral

July 1st was Canada Day – and a special one at that. The country is now 150 years old so it was a bit of a milestone for the mother land.

I was very happy to spend the day photographing the wedding of Cathy and Neil. I feel so privileged every time I am invited to be a part of the most special of days in two people’s lives in such a unique way.

I met Cathy to discuss their wedding photography a very long time ago now and at the time I didn’t have much of a wedding portfolio to show her… We talked about the type of shots she liked, the venues, the timings of the day and we had a look at some of the pictures I was able to show her. Thankfully she trusted in me enough and I met with both Neil and Cathy a couple of times as their wedding day approached.  They are such a warm and friendly couple.

On the wedding morning, I arrived with Cathy for some prep shots about the same time Denis arrived with Neil. The buzz in the house increased as the morning progressed with the progressive arrival of family and friends. The weather was warm, sunny and dry and Cathy’s grandson, Casper, kept everyone amused with his honesty, laughter and recorder playing.

Emotions started to bubble over in the house once Cathy was dressed and everyone saw how amazing she looked.  I got myself to Wallasey Town Hall (https://www.wirral.gov.uk/about-council/contact-us/council-offices/wallasey-town-hall) to give me some time to get sorted ahead of the ceremony  and found Denis with the groom and his two best men (his son’s Chris and Conner) and groomsman (Cathy’s son Ste). A few of the guests were starting to arrive by then as well. We got a few candid and group shots outside the hall and then Neil and the others disappeared inside before Cathy turned up in the VW Beetle with her brother, Dave, at her side.

I do love Wallasey Town Hall. It is such a grand venue with a fabulous central staircase and views of the river at the back of the building. Cathy’s dress looked amazing as she walked up the staircase. I really liked how the ceremony room was set up with formal chairs in the middle and couches around the edges – it felt really chilled but with still a bit of formality befitting the occasion. My favourite part of the ceremony was when Casper had to help out with the exchange of rings. Ahhhh… The bride’s Mum, Dot’s poem about the couple also had everyone in a mixture of laughter and tears as it was read out.

After the ceremony, we all headed outside to the back of the hall for some group shots and time in the sun by the river. Denis and I had a little time with the bride and groom after the other guests had gone before we moved rivers from the Mersey to the River Dee and the reception at Sheldrakes restaurant (http://sheldrakesrestaurant.co.uk). By the time the wedding breakfast rolled around, Denis and I were ready for a sit down and a bit of a reconnaissance of where we were up to with the group shots and a quick flip at the back of our cameras to see how the story was unfolding there.

After dinner, the fabulous, fruity cake got cut followed by some speeches. Cathy’s brother Dave kicked things off, followed by Neil. Then a video prepared by Chris and the speeches finished with addresses from Conner and Laura. Laura had a little help from Casper though which gave us all a chance to see what a happy and loved little boy he is if we hadn’t figured that out already… There was time for a few more Candid shots before the evening entertainment started. Cathy’s daughter, Laura was a guest singer in the band.

I was really hoping for a sunset shot from the balcony at Sheldrakes but as the evening advanced the clouds came in and the mist came down and I realised it wasn’t going to happen…. But we got some great shots along the way so hopefully the lack of an amazing sunset shot wasn’t too disappointing for Cathy and Neil.

A very big congratulations to Cathy and Neil.  I hope they enjoy getting used to that kind of surreal but wonderful feeling of calling each other husband and wife.

I’ll leave you now with a few highlights from the day…

a dog named Theo…

This really amuses me…. Call me silly but it’s because of the way Theo is pronounced with a scouse accent. Part of the accent is that “Th” comes out as “F”. So the dog of Paul’s colleague whose name is Theo will only ever know itself as Feo…. 😉

I’m off to Cambridge tomorrow for the International Symposium of Occupational Exposure. How exciting….? It should be really good, actually. There are lots of lectures that are really relevant to what I do and some of the presenters are people that are experts in the field. Brent is going to join me too so it’ll be nice to have his company and a friendly face to have dinner with in the evenings. I’m also going to stop off in London on the way home to get my first official viewing of Brent’s new flat and spend some more time in his “hood”.

We went for a bit of a bike ride yesterday and got a bit muddy in Arrowe Park and a bit wet in the drizzly rain along the promenade.

It was still lovely to get outside and get some exercise, though and much preferable cycling conditions than gale force wind! We also went to Port Sunlight garden centre and looked at all the Christmas decorations. Very nice. This display reminded me of Lauren!

On Saturday night there was a big pay per view boxing match on. Paul decided to get it and although I’m not a huge fan there was a lot of hype so I decided to stay up and watch it with him. It was really boring to start with and nothing at all really happened in the first two rounds. I decided to take a pee break for the 3rd round and ended up missing the finish of the fight by technical knock out! Doh! Typical!

weekly update…

The early get-ups are already getting a bit harder as it is much darker in the mornings now than it was a few weeks ago. As a result of this (I think), I’m feeling a bit more tired this week.

Or maybe it was because of our pretty big cycling effort this past weekend…. We cycled all across the Wirral to Parkgate and then up the Wirral Way and across the promenade along the sea. 28 miles with an average cycling speed of 12 miles an hour. There will be a couple of modifications to proceedings prior to the next outing, though. I think I need a bell for my bike. People can’t really hear you coming very well and when there were a few people on the promenade, there was a couple of times when someone nearly stepped out right in front of the bikes. Disaster was averted on this occasion but better to be safe than sorry…. I also think I need a drinks bottle as when we’d finished the ride, I felt a bit “funny” which I put down to not having enough liquid and being dehydrated….

The rest of the weekend past involved some gardening, cooking, shopping, house jobs and watching European Athletics (didn’t Great Britain do well…?). On Monday I had lunch with Julie which was really nice and we not only had a good catch up but I came away with a bag of courgettes, beets and swedes which is always a bonus.

Other than that this week, I’m off to Derby tomorrow for a meeting and on Friday night we’re heading off to the Peak District for a camping trip. The weather has been a lot more changeable recently so hopefully it settles down for us for the weekend…. the current forecast is showing showers for Saturday, though! Boo!

what’s in a name…

It was a lovely weather weekend this past weekend. We had a weekend at home sleeping in, catching up on some gardening, going for a bike ride and trying out the new cooker. It’s up and running now and has been a success so far. Getting used to something that actually heats efficiently may take some time, though!

Here’s some pictures from our cycle ride.

Bike Ride 001

We also paid a visit to the local library where I happened to come across a book about English place names in my browsing… It was really interesting to find out why the places we live in are called what they are and reflect on what different places they are now. To highlight my top 5 favourite name origins:

1. Cockermouth – the mouth of the river Cocker. (I knew that one already but that’s always worth emphasizing!)
2. Keswick – cheese farm.
3. Oxton – farmstead where Oxen are kept. (I think they’ve all run away now….)
4. Birkenhead – the headland where birch trees grow.
5. Liverpool – a pool/creek of muddy water.

The world cup is still going strong with lots of interest in the psychology of what’s happening with the England team. It’s all a bit crazy, however, talking to the Argentinean in the office, the English response to the football doesn’t compare to the South American one. Apparently, the English might as well be sleeping when the games are on in comparison to their reactions…. That’s a scary thought!