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Gorgeous daughters numbers two and one.

One of the things that has been really difficult over the last four weeks has been not being allowed to drive and I’m so glad to be back behind the wheel again.

But during my enforced period of non-driving, gorgeous daughters one and two were among the people who carted me about when I needed a lift (payback for all the running around I did in their pre-driving days I suppose lol).

One Sunday when Man wasn’t down for the weekend, GD2 (that’s the one on the left of the photo) thought a walk in the rain would do us all good so we headed to the local lakes.

We started off walking on reasonable footpaths around the edge of the lake before John suggested heading off across a field and up a hill.

To say it was muddy was the understatement of the year. Anyone who saw us must have thought we were completely insane.

Or anything.

086bWe were even getting funny looks from the wildlife.

But then he got a little freaked by us and ran away across the field.

091bSwiftly followed by Mrs Deer.

095bThey were very cute and they certainly brightened up a very grey and miserable February afternoon.

Cleared for take off :)

Cleared for take off :)

Well there have been no further recurrence of the mini strokes that I experienced, my ecg results were fine, MRI scan showed no permanent damage, cholesterol results, that I was initially told were 11.6 actually turned out to be 5.6 – still high but not unbelievably, dangerously high and blood pressure is down.

And all that means I can drive again WOO HOO. Sadly, it also means I don’t have to work from home any more so I am back in the office from Tuesday BOO. Although my consultant did suggest I ought to work from home more often … I wonder what would happen if I suggested it :) Might be worth mentioning.

Anyway, other than having to see the GP on Wednesday, I am clear of medical appointments for three months when blood tests need to be done again to see if anything has changed. In the meantime I intend to continue with the health kick – low cholesterol/fat healthy diet and lots of walking. Oh and I can go back on the list to have my hernia operation now.

The thing I am most pleased about is I am still not smoking. According to the app on my phone it has now been 43 days, 11 hours and 48 minutes and this has saved me £333.26.

Quite where the money has gone I am not sure, because I am certainly not any better off at the moment. All I can say for sure is I am slightly (very slightly) less debt ridden.

I am sure the financial benefits will come at some point. Although I am spending a fair amount in prescription charges instead now!

And dental treatment – although I had the final piece of dental work done last week, so now I am clear until the next six month check up. There is progress after all. Slow and steady wins the race.

So what have I been up to for the last few weeks?

Well I have been working from home but that means the housework keeps up to date as well.

I’ve taken to walking on the Common a fair bit when the weather hasn’t  been diabolical. I have watched every single episode of every series of Criminal Minds and got through the first two and a half series of Merlin.

I have rediscovered my interest in cooking. I am eating loads but it’s much healthier than it was. If it doesn’t involve oats or lentils, I don’t want to know lol. No, it’s not quite that bad but I do actually love fruit, vegetables, beans and pulses and whole grains etc etc so I am making an effort to use them. My ten bean chilli is gorgeous, as is a recipe I discovered/adapted for apple, oat and honey cookies made with no sugar and no butter yum.

At some point, also given the increased levels of activity, I am hoping the weight will start falling off. At the moment, I am just happy to have lost a few pounds despite the fact I have stopped smoking.

Man has been down to look after me for a couple of long weekends and on Friday I drove to his in Nottingham for the first time for ages and ages.

I have been trying to capture lots of different birds with my camera as I have been on my wanders on the common (although it was lovely to be able to go a bit further afield and visit Attenborough Nature Reserve yesterday) and this has become a bit of an additional hobby.

I’ve also read a bit.

I haven’t been able to get out to see any more churches, but now I’m back on the road again, who knows :).

And I think it’s time to start blogging again.

So here’s some of my birdy photos … rest assured there will be more pictures to follow :)

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009bIt snowed overnight on Sunday/Monday in Nottingham. Not as much as there was in the north of the county but certainly enough to put another covering on the roads and pavements.

I would have stayed and worked from home for a couple of days if it hadn’t had been for the dental appointment I have booked for this morning and the raging toothache I have put up with for two weeks.

As it turned out though, England seems to have been a lot more prepared for the snow this year than for the last few years.

The roads – certainly everything other than the estate and minor roads – were almost completely clear. Gritting lorries and snow ploughs have been out in force and, from what I have experienced in Hampshire, Surrey, Nottinghamshire and the bits en route, the world has kept moving.

So I opted for driving home during daylight, left Man’s just before 1pm and arrived home at 3pm. Pretty damn good, the traffic was really, really light :)

Actually, I didn’t arrive home … I decided to arrive at a church in the next village because the light suddenly brightened from the constant one-tone grey that we have had for the last few days so I thought I would take advantage of it.

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This is St Mary’s Church at Eversley, I think it looks lovely in the snow. I like the simplicity of the War Memorial and the cross.

This church is not one of the ones on my Churches Conservation Trust list. It is still in constant use. But it does have a literary history. It was here that the author Charles Kingsley preached for many years and where he wrote The Water Babies (which I have never read – maybe I ought to add it to my list).

If you wander behind the church and down a tiny footpath, you cross a little stream and very quickly reach open fields.

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Finally the cloud cover breaks after days and days of grey I’d quite like to live in that nice house on the bottom right hand side of the picture. I bet I’d get lots of birds in the garden then.

027bIt looked quite dramatic and eerie.

Got home to find Pud and John had made good use of the grit bin at the end of the road and gritted the steep concrete steps to our house and up the garden to the gate at the back. Good job people. The rest of the house looked like a pigsty … but I suppose I can’t have everything :)

 

 

Woo hoo, it’s Monday and, for the first time since the beginning of December, I have returned to having Mondays off :)

Yay.

Weekends are lovely but I very much enjoy waking up on a Monday morning knowing loads of other people are heading off to work and I’m not. What a smug feeling of satisfaction that is.

I have some chores to do today (I’ve already washed the inside of the downstairs windows) but I haven’t been out with my camera all weekend and I’m getting withdrawal symptoms. It is however, grey, wet and miserable … even so I think I might take a walk over the common to see what I can find.

Christmas has been packed away for another year, gorgeous daughter number two and both the boyfriends shoved them straight up in the loft for me. There’s a little bit of furniture shifting to be undertaken but not too much. And nothing that can’t wait for an hour or two.

I might log in to the work laptop for half and hour – I need to create this year’s holiday chart (mainly so I can book a week off work lol) – and it’s easier to do that when I’m not working then when I am.

But today is a chilling day. I have some reading and writing to catch up on and I want to get out with the camera before it hammers down with rain.

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So here’s a nice sunny summer picture to remind me of the colour that is lacking outside today.

 

 

Attenborough Nature Reserve.

Attenborough Nature Reserve.

The sun came out briefly yesterday so Man and I grabbed the cameras and ran.

We didn’t want to go far in case we missed the sunshine so we went to a favourite haunt, Attenborough Nature Reserve.

They have hides there and I wanted to see if I could get photos of the rats that feed underneath the birdfeeders. But the water levels have risen four feet since our last visit so there was no land under the bird feeders for the rats to scavenge on.

Instead we found a show-off cormorant, a curious robin, geese, terns and ducks aplenty, and a windchill factor of about minus 30.

And we were mistaken for birdwatchers by someone who actually asked us to identify a species for him! And we knew (or rather Man did)… it was the cormorant,

There followed a discussion about how perhaps we should wear big badges saying “I am not a birdwatcher, I am a photographer”. For some reason we both seem to think that it’s so much cooler to be a photographer than a twitcher. Although actually, when you look at the facts, we are probably both. And I don’t think either of us have ever been ‘cool’, we’re just happy in our own little world :)

Both the light and the clouds were lovely and we whiled away a pleasant hour or so snapping happily.

But it was damn cold, I need to sort out some proper warm clothing. How do you take photographs with gloves on though?

We adjourned to Highfields in Nottingham for coffee and afterwards found a very cute young lad who stood quite happily with a slice of bread on his head trying to attract the terns so I could take photos of them, which I then edited heavily in Photoshop.

I quite like them … and I am very grateful to my little friend for his assistance :)

 

003bIt was a lovely winters day yesterday so Man and I went for a drive in the Derbyshire Dales.

We were heading to Laithkill Dale for a little meander through the countryside. According to Natural Britain, it is one of the finest limestone dales in the Peak District.

It isn’t, however, brilliantly signposted, so the driving through the beautiful countryside lasted longer than the walking through the beautiful countryside and we saw quite a lot of the town of Bakewell, coming at it from several different directions, several times :)

The driving was lovely though, and there was snow on them there hills.

I have to admit to being confused by the terminology of the countryside sometimes. I mean what exactly is a dale, and why is it different from a moor or a heath, valley or fell.

Well, I don’t know about all of them but I do now know that a dale is a valley, in this case one cut through limestone.

After rather a circuitous journey, we arrived at Over Haddon and I stuffed £3 in the car park meter before I noticed the huge sign saying parking was free after 2pm in December – and it was 2.01pm!

We walked downstream from Over Haddon, which had quite a quirky little church (not one on the list) – but the light was already changing because it had taken us so long to get there.

We did spot a heron that didn’t want to be photographed and the water was unbelievably clear. There were a few ice patches where the sun hadn’t quite reached long enough to defrost it and it was so peaceful.

Definitely a place to return to and walk the whole length of the dale.

And we were treated to a spectacular sunset when we left, even if it was only 4pm.