Saturday 22 February 2014

Waking Up

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.

Wednesday 12 February 2014

Stormy Seas

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.

Sunday 9 February 2014

Bleak & Beautiful

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!