As a little girl I lived in the past in my head. I wanted to live in a castle with a moat, use a longbow and ride in tournaments. Whenever we visited somewhere, usually with our mum and dad's trusty National Trust card, I was completely transported, off on an adventure in another world.
Little Moreton Hall isn't all that far from us but I've not been back for years and thought we'd take the boys for an explore. It really is astonishing and shouldn't still be standing up. There are sloping floors, wonky walls, twisty staircases and hidden hidey holes. I love it.
NT activities are brilliant for kids and our two spent absolutely ages writing stories with quills. Outside the knot garden and moat are great to explore and I think there'll be another visit with a picnic, on a warm sunny day, sometime soon.
I've always wanted to wear flowers in my hair, but never really had the chance. I was a bridesmaid in my 30s and a circlet headband wasn't quite the done thing.
So, discovering this beautiful idea from www.decoratersnotebook.wordpress.com that I came across via Laura and Lou was a bit of a childhood dream come true.
Making a spring or primavera crown is so easy and a chance to indulge in your feminine side if you like. In medieval times young women wore crowns of May blossom in their hair to mark the changing of the seasons and I really enjoyed marking that in a little way.
When the showers stopped today I for foraged in the garden for ivy, narcissi, primroses and primulas and spent a lovely time making and snapping. Now my teeny blooms are on the kitchen table to enjoy. Happy days x
It might be shrouded in fog today but my little town is still looking beautiful.
It's battled hard through these tough times and doing great,thanks to some really positive people who live and work here and fight for it. (I'm at the cool hairdresser's this morning - I'm not cool at all but they're lovely - and how fab are these tables!) Now we've got more ace independent shops than you can shake a stick at, including what I think is the best bookshop in the world.
Although I've been hopeless about blogging about it, I've been joining in with Laura's http://circleofpinetrees.com/category/the-year-in-books/ marvellous project #theyearinbooks
I don't get into town as often these days to physically choose a book in the shop, but they do have a great ordering service and I can collect when I pop in. If, rarely, they can't get what I want I came across this ace alternative to Amazon, recommended to me on twitter.
Through Hive Books http://www.hive.co.uk/books/books/01/ you can still get a great discount but also choose to support your local bookshop who get a donation from the sale. What a great idea! And of course your local bookshop pays tax too! I'll be buying all my online books this way. Maybe worth a look?
(Please be aware this is a genuine post about my passion for supporting local shops and businesses. I've not been sponsored to say this x)
Now I'm not going to tempt fate and say that it feels like Spring might be in the air, I feel a bit suspicious that we haven't seen any snow yet. Remember March last year? But over the past week the storms have definitely left us alone a while and the sun has peeped out. Last weekend my potting bench was looking quite serene in shades of green and white as the snowdrops stole the show.
Now real colour is emerging. Cyclamen coum and Iris reticulata are astonishing shades, especially when the rest of the garden looks very brown and grey.
I can see this little bench from the kitchen window and it's cheering me up no end. It was a gift from the family of my next door neighbour. Sadly she died last year at the grand old age of 93. We often chatted about flowers and plants so it's very nice to be using her bench to keep the gardening going on.
There aren't that many bulbs and early flowers in my borders, they don't tend to get going until April, so I've been buying up a few little pots to enjoy from the window and then I'll pop them into the ground for next spring.
This afternoon I spent a good couple of hours messing about in the front garden, cutting back and clearing up all the old stems and leaves. I think this is where my tiny pots will find a new home. They'll make a really nice show for these cold, dreary months at the start of the year when we hurry into the house and don't linger long.
So maybe not the end of winter yet, but time I think to start making space for Spring.
I'm watching the news from Blackpool and the scenes of the battered promenade and along the west Lancashire coast. Stormy seas indeed. On Saturday, after our blast along Rossall Point, we headed into town to the brilliant SeaLife Centre. Rock pools! Oh I love rock pools and we were allowed to gently touch the starfish too!
There was the most enormous crab, an utterly brilliant, ginourmous shark tank and tunnel and a huge tank of fish that live in our northern coastal waters. I thought the whole experience was so excellently done, educational but accessible and tons of fun. Well done SeaLife Blackpool.
And then after a hot chocolate in a very chic, un-Blackpooly bistro right on the prom (The Beachouse I think, all cocktails, cute snacks & prosecco!) we braved the elements again.
The waves were epic, spewing foam pounding the beachfront. This chap on the right is actually heading into the sea for a dip? Not the best idea, hope he's not gone in today!
Then the very best part of the day. As the light faded they came in tiny groups, heading for the pier head as the gale swirled around. The darker it got the more starlings came and began the swirling, tumbling murmuration I've only really seen on film before. (You can just make them out over the end of the pier).
Turning into the wind and looking up towards the North Pier was amazing. Another, even bigger show was gathering. Every now and again the starlings broke away into a whirling stream that stretched along the water, between the two piers.
These tiny birds swoop so dangerously close to the boiling sea we were sure they'd be swamped and the boys were convinced some had gone under. But nature knows best and they all safely reached their haven to roost together on this wild night.
Just spectacular. I'll never forget it. I turned my back (as ever) on the slot machines that whirred and as the prom lights flashed, I watched one of the natural world's most magnificent sights. Unforgettable.
Sometimes you just have to get out don't you. Even if it's heaving down and there are gales trying to blow you to kingdom come. We discovered a new bit of coastline yesterday, well new to me, this is Woody's old stamping ground of the Wyre and Fylde coasts.
We togged ourselves up, new wellies got an airing and once our hoods were up we hardly noticed the rain and wind. It was just fantastic, exhilarating, to be out there, being blown about, sandblasted and getting lungs full of the freshest, fresh air.
This is Rossall Point, close to Fleetwood which was once the country's busiest fishing port but these days is a struggling coastal town. Such a shame, there's stunning scenery and great architecture. I loved the North Euston Hotel and it's curved, sweeping frontage. It must have been fabulous in its heyday.
We climbed the observation tower that monitors shipping and the tides and is manned by lovely volunteers who welcome bird watchers and anyone keen to explore this estuary landscape with views across Morecambe Bay and the Lakeland hills.
Even on a raw, epic afternoon it was beautiful. Such stunning textures, sounds and colour. We saw lots of oystercatchers and waders in their element in the storms. Brilliant. Exactly what we all needed. Of course Blackpool had to follow. More about that next time!