Monthly Archives: May 2012

Fun and Falconry!…

Yesterday Mom and I went (in a car, sadly) to Gentleshaw Wildlife Centre in Staffordshire for an afternoon of fun and falconry.

As well as getting to meet and hold some of the owls and falcons…

Victor the White Faced Owl (I love him!)…he let us stroke him while we sat round holding the birds and talking about their training and care.

Victor again…he has wicked moustachios

Mom with Treacle the Tawny Owl…he liked some fuss as well.

Bailey the Falcon…she was really badly treated before she came to Gentleshaw, and once a year she’s a feather puller so she can’t fly at the moment until her tail grows back. She’s also a bit nippy if you try and stroke her apparently…I didn’t put it to the test!

Mom and Victor…the poser…

…we also got to act as leather-gauntleted perches for them too!…

Moss the Barn Owl coming in to land…she was my favourite of all the birds we got to fly…

Elsie the Eagle Owl landing…

Elsie felt that running around on the ground and across benches was more amusing than food and flying…

Kyla the Red Tailed Hawk landing…

Nom nom nom…the birds got tasty chicken feet as a reward for swooping onto our gloves.

Mom was clearly enjoying the day ūüôā

Jill the Harris Hawk landing…

They weren’t THAT heavy…poor Mom!

Saying goodbye to Jill at the end of the day…she was lovely. She flew like a dream and let us stroke her mail (her feathery chest) before we had to say goodbye.

The staff were all brilliant and the centre is doing really good work. They only take on sick, injured or homeless birds (and monkeys, wildcats, terapins, raccoons, snakes et al.) and it was lovely to see how well-loved all the birds were. We were made to feel really welcome and¬†there were only two other people in our group so we weren’t queuing to hold the birds or fly them and we got to ask loads of questions. We were there on a Groupon voucher so I expected the group to be bigger but they told us that, even though they had loads of people to fit in, they didn’t want to pack out the days and ruin the experience.

Fletcher’s Garden Centre, where Gentleshaw is based, was great too. It had a lovely teashop that did really good food in a hurry (which was good seeing as I’d made us late…as usual…), made awesome coffee, and had tables outside in the sunshine. I’d totally forgotten to put sunscreen on, and I was going red during the short wait for the¬†jacket¬†potatoes (the massive and delicious jacket potatoes)…it didn’t bode well for an afternoon of outdoorsy-ness. Unfortunately, the garden centre didn’t sell any (I didn’t think they would but I had to ask), but one of the staff was nice enough to offer me some of theirs!¬†¬†I owe my merely semi-burnt arms to his kindness.

The deli there was fab too, and I ended up coming home with my favourite cheese (Y Fenni…I find it on sale somewhere once in a blue moon. Once I have Red my first trip might be to Abergavenny just to get it from the source…), chutney, fruit punch and Bundaberg ginger beer (my all-time favourite ginger beer…they also make my favourite root beer too, but that’s like unicorn poops).

All in all it was a rather splendid day! I know it bucketed down with rain all over Redditch and Birmingham but we only saw a few spots all day long – and even then we were safely under a gazebo with owls on our gloves. I can’t wait to go back and do it all again!

(all photos taken on my HTC Desire that has a scratched lens…I’m fairly impressed with the results!)


Posted by on May 31, 2012 in Days Out, Food, Places, Reviews


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The Melaware Has Landed!…

A parcel arrived this morning (thank you Snug in a Dub)…it was VERY well packaged and I had so much fun unwrapping all my new tableware and then getting Fletch to pose with it…

Fletch looks snooty because he’s enjoying the feeling of smug satisfaction that comes from pretending you’re being ‘green’

You see that little bit of space on the bottom left of the table? Well at one point during the photoshoot, Fletch got down off his chair to start dancing round me (he’s such a diva) and when I shouted ‘Up!’ (as in, ‘onto the chair’, an instruction he understands perfectly) he thought it best to jump, like a cat, ONTO THE TABLE…into that small space…right next to my precious things…

Needless to say I had a small heart attack as I envisioned everything bouncing off the patio, but luckily he got down with a modicum of grace and resumed posing on the chair, rather than as a centrepiece.


Posted by on May 30, 2012 in Random


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With any luck Old Red will be ready to pick up this weekend, so my first camping trip with him could be as little as eight days away.

Oh. My. God.

To be honest, with doctor’s appointments, falconry experiences (more about that later, I’m sure) and work, there’s a good chance that I won’t be able to pick him up¬†until that weekend. If that’s the case then I’ll have to make do with a one-nighter somewhere fairly close. I figure that, as a rental van, Red’ll be well used to being picked up by an inexperienced ‘vanner’ (I’m sure that’s not a real word, but let’s go with it) and heading off on holidays…it’s just me that needs to get my head around owning a campervan¬†and sleeping out in it on the very fist night it’s mine.

Panic attacks may ensue.

A few people have suggested that I stay close to home on my first trip, just in case something goes wrong…but it’s hard to think of somewhere that’s close enough to be useful in a crisis, yet far enough away to be classed as an adventure. Tesco’s carpark could be a good idea. There’s toilets, a cafe (in case I can’t work the stove), flat land to park on, and a fairly well-stocked camp shop! If there were electric hook-ups it’d be perfect…unless you wanted to use any of the facilities at the wrong times during the weekend…

Yes, I’m joking. But I do need to figure out what I’m going to do and, more importantly, what I¬†need to do! It’ll be a total disaster if I get to my intended¬†camp site¬†and I have no idea how to work my stove or the leisure battery or anything else that I’ve currently got no idea how to use. I’ve got a LONG list of questions to ask when I go to pick him up…


Posted by on May 25, 2012 in Uncategorized


Food Miles…

I like to spend money. That is probably quite apparent from my ‘Oh! I just bought a campervan!’ and ‘I’ll just spend a whole bunch of money on vintage tableware!’…

I also like spending money on food. I like food.

Most workdays I treat myself to coffee and a pastry as I walk to work, then I end up buying something expensive for lunch, and before I know it I’ve spent ¬£10 on food and drink alone. And then I usually buy something for dinner on the way home…

I resolved that I’d stop doing this and start buying food to make lunch instead (there’s no¬†way I can eat ¬£50 worth of cereal and ryvita in a week!), and so this week has been all about buying cheap edible things and, well, eating them! This week’s purchases included these tomatoes…

Tomatoes! (obviously)

I’ve done a bit of googling (I also like Google) and I figure that they were grown about 13 miles drive from where I bought them in Stratford. To be specific, it’s 13.1 miles, door to door. Yes, I’m lame. I even PrntScr-ed a map to illustrate both the small distance and my lameness…

Roly Holt to Bridge St Sainsbury’s

I would like to believe that Roly Holt also pack for Sainsbury’s and then deliver their fresh produce to stores in a certain radius, but I think that would be a little naive of me. In reality, these tomatoes have probably done a fair few miles for quality control and packaging before being sent to our local shop.

So I’ve made another resolution. Seeing as I’ll be doing a fair few miles with Old Red, it’s only fair that I try and reduce the miles my food has done. I’m going to try not to hit the supermarket to stock up for my trips, but instead I’ll find farm shops and honesty boxes along the way.

Besides the plain ol’ eco-mindedness of this (yes, I’m still pushing that…and¬†still¬†to add weight to the ‘I needed that Melaware’¬†argument), it’ll also be fun to use what’s in season and try and make meals out of things I don’t usually buy…AND support local businesses! Hurrah!

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Posted by on May 24, 2012 in Uncategorized


Introducing The Pie..

Sarah on our recent night out for my 30th… blurriness due to a) dancing and b) alcohol. Mostly alcohol.

Known by many names (Pie and Roo being just two of them), my friend Sarah is perhaps the most awesome person I know…and I’ve known her all my life so that means she rates pretty darn high in the awesome stakes.

Millions of years ago, when dinosaurs roamed the earth, my mother and my Auntie Trisha met each other and became the best of friends.¬†First Auntie Trish had Sarah, and my Mom became her godmother…and then my Mom had me, and Auntie Trisha became¬†my godmother.

And that’s how Sarah and I became godsisters. Not that either of us is particularly godly…I just like to call her that.

Now we’re adults (sort of) we’re even better friends than we were when we were children, and we don’t argue over barbie dolls half as much anymore! And¬†I really have her to thank for my purchase of Old Red…

Back in February when I was making noises about buying a campervan, I reminded Sarah that she wanted one too. Unlike me, she did something about it then and there, looking for a van and finding one…Lady Blue Camperoo! When I went up to see her recently we were talking about festivals and camping trips and campervans…and I’m pretty sure that’s what kicked it all off really. Sarah was proof that real life people¬†do actually do the things they want to do (which is especially encouraging when that thing is something that I want to do too)…and how much fun would it be if we could go on adventures together?!

You can read about her adventures with her son, her dog and her van here.


Posted by on May 22, 2012 in Uncategorized


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Vintage Dining…

I’ve got about another week before I can go pick up Old Red, so I’m filling the time by collecting pretty things to make my camping trips more cosy.

I had the grand idea of kitting my van out with a set of china teacups, a china dinner service and some classy cutlery. Scouring my parent’s garage¬†yielded¬†an awesome set of coffee cups and saucepans, but they were all¬†way too heavy. So I started searching for vintage melamine on ebay…

I quite liked the idea of a mismatched set and I found loads of really interesting pieces, but I didn’t bid high enough and lost out on everything. I started looking for online stores instead, and that’s when I came across Snug in a Dub¬†and their fabulous selection of Melaware (amongst other things)…

I’ve ordered a selection of orange and turquoise plates, cups, saucers, mugs, bowls, spoons and more…and yes, I’ve spent far more than I would have if I’d have gone to Poundland instead, but I just couldn’t help myself. It’s a far more practical choice than bone china (which would require LOTS of bubble wrap) and I’m being ecologically sound (ish) by “recycling” vintage tableware. That’s what I’m telling myself anyway!



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Fun with Style Sheets…

Today I went over to visit my good friend, Ste…

subjecting Ste to “water torture”

…and we spent most of the afternoon pimping this blog.

I’d really fallen in love with the Choco theme, but with no header image available it fell a little short of what I wanted. I had almost resigned myself to either a) a headerless page, or b) a plainer format that¬†incorporated¬†a header image, when Ste came to the rescue with his powers of awesomeness…

I used GIMP¬†to design my image (it’s only an approximation of what I want, but changing that will be easy now that the CSS is written) and then Ste used his clever brain to make my blog title disappear into the background and my header image to sit pretty at the top of the screen.

Praise be to Ste!

At this precise moment, looks like this…

Header by me, coding by Ste ūüôā

We had to make the best of certain¬†difficulties, like the navigation bar (at the top where you move between the ‘about’ pages), which insisted on being part of the header rather than sitting above it. At first this meant that there was a huge gap between the header and the body text, and then when we tried to move it, it ended up hovering around the top of the image. With a bit of extra padding in the CSS we could move it to a more acceptable place to hover, change the colour and add a border.

For those who’d like to know, the CSS is below. It changes the background colour,¬†changes the colour of the post header font (and again when you hover your cursor over it), adds a 900×300 pixel image as a header (but we had to set the height at 240px because the original theme code adds 60px on for some reason, so we ended up with a gap between header and body if we set the height as 300px),¬†¬†hides the visibility of the site title (so it doesn’t appear over the header image, but it¬†does appear on the browser tab…if you just leave this blank – as I intended – then you end up with a nameless site), adds a border to the navigation bar, creates a margin above the nav bar to push it down the page a bit, changes the nav bar background colour and pads it out so the tabs are central to the box and border. *phew*

body {

.entry {

.post-title a {

.post-title a:hover {

div#header {

div#logo {

div#nav {
border:4px solid black;
padding:6px 8px 0;

I’ll probably end up creating new headers and trying new themes, and I’ll save the style sheets to my laptop and alter them as each theme requires, but in the meantime this version of Choco, a la Lou and Ste will be the look I’m going with.

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Posted by on May 21, 2012 in Uncategorized


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