Friday, June 01, 2012
We took a ride up to Levisham.
The little station on the restored North Yorkshire Moors Railway is a delight.
You're transported back in time to the age of steam trains and Victorian elegance.
When I was a child my brother, sister and me used to sit or stand on an old drystone wall near the end of our garden and watch the steam trains pass.
We knew all the timetables and even which train it was going to be...they all had names and numbers and my brother knew them off by heart.
We knew all the engine drivers and the firemen with their blackened faces who waved and called to us and sometimes threw us sweets and even chunks of coal for us to take home to our mam.
It was a pastime really train watching, collecting their names and numbers in a little ragged but beloved notebook, writing with a stub of old pencil that dad had given us...it was flat, about an inch wide and an indelible one he used for his work and you had to lick it to make it write, it came out purple then not black like an ordinary pencil...and bragging to friends who hadn't managed to get them.
We'd spend many happy hours just sitting on the garden wall with a bottle of water to share and maybe a stick of rhubarb and an eggcup of sugar to dip it in or, if mam was in a good mood and would take us, actually on the station itself.
We did it with car numbers too, sitting hunched over on the long street kerb outside the front of the house watching for cars which were few and far between in those far off days...lol...so far between we even had a den in the middle of a roundabout...we'd have got run over if we'd tried to play there these days!
Every Wednesday we'd travel by train to town to the weekly market and visit mam's family.
We'd have to be up early and were always dressed in our Sunday best.
It was a good couple of miles to the station which we had to walk. It wasn't so bad going but after a day out the walk back could be tiring. I often ended up giving my little sister a piggy back as she always wanted a carry!
It was easier when my sister was small as mam took the big cream silver cross pram. My sister was in it and my brother sat perched on the handle end...I had to walk and sometimes run to keep up if mam was going a bit too fast. I had to keep hold of the handle too!
We had to load the pram into the guard's van and leave it there while we climbed into a proper carriage.
They were single carriages in those days, no corridors, once you were in that carriage you stayed in that carriage. They seated about eight but we usually managed to get one to ourselves. While mam was supervising the loading of the pram she'd set my brother and me off running down the platform until we found an empty one. We stood in front of it until she came, opened the door and lifted us up the two high wooden steps. She always let the window down a notch or two on the thick leather strap you used to open it.
The carriage seats were covered in a maroon coloured plush velveteen material which prickled the backs of your legs...woebetide if you put you feet up on them, you got a quick slap on the legs!
Some times if the baby was asleep when we got to the station mam put her into the guards van too and we all had to sit in there with the pram, parcels and packages that were travelling who knows where.
We had to find anything we could to sit on...sometimes we were unlucky and sat on the floor but usually it was big square wicker baskets we used often with pigeons inside being transported to the start of a race...they cooed noisily at us through little apertures in the sides.
Awww, lovely memories!
Anyway, Levisham station...
The little pristine station at Levisham was basking in sunshine.
Red, white and blue bunting waving in a gentle breeze as the station was bedecked for the Queen's Diamond Jubilee celebrations this week-end.
An air of expectation pervaded as two trains were due to cross in just a few minutes.
Time stood still.
People waited expectantly.
Children clamoured for ice cream.
And suddenly in the distant you could hear it...
All eyes turned towards the now audible sound of the train chuffing it's way along the track through the beautiful valley of Newtondale, sending out plumes of whitey-grey steam as it neared the station.
The driver leaned out of his cab as it rounded the gentle curve.
The crossing gates shut with a sounding of metal on metal.
The train rounded the bend.
Gave another toot of the whistle and chugged slowly into the station.
The 'Cock of the North'.
Steaming magnificently to a standstill.
Passengers alighting or climbing aboard.
Waving from windows or craning their necks to look up and down the pretty flower bedecked platform.
The dining car, filled to capacity.
Serving a three course gourmet meal as the patrons chugged through the open countryside.
Then another Whooo-oo!
And a second train slid alongside the first, but going in the opposite direction.
The driver exchanged his bag with the guard who waved his green flag, tooted on his whistle and both trains chugged slowly down their respective tracks.
Wheels clanked as the track lines were moved.
Crossing gates slowly opened.
Steam dissipated in the train's wake.
And silence descended on the little station still sweltering in the hot sun.
We drove slowly home stopping off in the shade of Forge Valley.
We walked the little beck side and saw a family of Canada geese in a sunlit glade by the waterside, they shepherded their young with care.
It was cool under the trees, we sat on an old tree trunk and watched a dipper fishing, diving from his stone into the cold clear water and emerging with a beakful of insects, taking them downstream to where her nest must have been. She kept coming back, it must have been a good fishing spot.
I enjoyed my day, even Forge Valley brought nostalgic thoughts of my dear dad who used to take us there to gather bluebells and we always went as a family on Easter Monday to picnic and roll our hard boiled eggs we'd decorated.
I must be growing old...lol...I'm living in the past!
Through the waiting room door
Here it comes...
Canada Geese family
The path by the beck
Wednesday, May 30, 2012
When I started back on my Spark eating programme proper again a couple of weeks ago I vowed I'd eat more fruit and vegetables and start drinking fruit teas.
I'm not your quintessential English woman in that I don't drink tea or coffee.
I've always just drank water, lots of it, straight from the tap or flavoured with a little fruit juice, hot or cold I'm not fussy. I also have a low calorie drinking chocolate before bed and sometimes through the winter days when it's cold.
I used to drink coffee now and again, especially when I was out but I went of it about six years ago after a bout of pneumonia.
When I recovered I tried drinking it again and developed a pretty bad headache which lasted two days and put me off big time... I've never drank it since!
Tea I apparently tried when I was very young, my mam said I tasted it with a little sip, declared I didn't like it, refused to drink it and have never had it since!
I've tried fruit teas on and off every now and again for a few years but never really got to grips with them but in March for our ruby wedding anniversary we went to a Chinese banquet.
After the meal was finished we were offered jasmine flower scented green tea.
It came in a little white teapot with a beautiful small handle-less beaker all decorated in the chinese syle with a blue bamboo pattern, it was so pretty it won me over.
I wasn't keen on tasting it, I'd never tried green tea before, but I decided to try it, half expecting not to like it but, wonder of wonders, I did like it...it was such a delicate taste and refreshing too.
The proprietor was delightful, he answered my questions, told me how to make it (only two minutes before you take the teabag out of the pot, don't squeeze it, it makes it bitter and it's even better to use loose tea as there's too much in a teabag), where to buy it...we're lucky we have a Chinese supermarket in town...and I've been drinking it ever since.
I bought myself a little two cup teapot and use it with a pretty cup from my tea service.
Since then I've added more teas to my reportoir.
I looked at the fruit teas in the supermarkets, there were so many to choose from so I bought a selection and surprise, surprise I like them all.
I'm not sure if your taste buds change as you get older but a year ago I just used to say I don't like tea. I know these aren't tea in the conventional sense but I have tried 'ordinary' tea again. I still don't like it but the green and fruit teas are now a regular feature at breakfast time.
I've also developed a taste for unusual combinations.
I've always eaten loads of fruit and vegetables.
I don't dislike red meat but could quite happily live without it. I eat it every now and again, mostly poultry but I do like fish and any sort of seafood and eat a lot of that.
It comes from being from a fishing family, we were brought up on fish, we did have meat but it was mostly fish.
I've found myself being drawn towards experimenting with flavours, instead of just a piece of baked fish (I like it in a foil parcel baked in the oven) I'll add a teaspoon of sweet chilli sauce or bbq sauce or even just a sprinkling of five spice or paprika to the parcels and I love it.
Another favourite is what I call fruit chilli bowl.
It's a big bowl of any combination of raw vegetables and fruits you want to use all tossed in a teaspoon of sweet chilli hot dipping sauce...so yummy!
So far I'm on track, exercising regularly and eating healthily with a steady weightloss so I'm pleased and happy too.
fruit chilli bowl...this one consists of kiwifruit, raw mange tout, cherry tomatoes, melon, red grapes and strawberries....yummy!
Monday, May 28, 2012
Another lovely day and another lovely outing...aren't we just sooo lucky?
Now I'm retired and in better health and DH is partially retired we can indulge our fancies and go when and where the mood takes us.
Well, the mood took us to Dalby Forest yesterday...
We drove up into the beautiful North Yorkshire forestry intending to visit the Snape area in Cropton Forest to walk and look for basking adders along the ancient tree lined rides where we thought it would be quiet and cool but...the last few winters have been very bad and taken their toll on the tracks, they aren't proper tarmacked roads just hard pressed earth and stone and last month's torrential downpours wreaked their vengeance too with the main tracks descending into deep unpassable potholes...so consequently the road was closed.
Still, onwards and upwards as they say, we reluctantly turned off and after some consideration decided on Dalby Forest instead.
This is a more commercial part of the forestry with visitor centres, camping and caravan fascilities, adventure playgrounds and areas for picnics and barbeques but if you know where to go you can still get away from most of the crowds.
We started off walking the perimeter of Stainsdale Lake.
It's quite small as lakes go but very beautiful and though people do visit it there isn't usually a lot there, seemingly they prefer the more town like busy areas which reflect their own familiar environment and not the peaceful look at nature type walks.
We walked the touristy side first along the gravelled path provided and then went 'off piste' so to speak into the forested area round the back edge.
The bank sides were fringed with golden yellow Kingcups or Marsh Marigolds to use their Sunday name and pretty delicate looking pale lilac Cuckoo Flower (Ladies Smock) stood proudly next to late flowering Violets and Greater Stitchwort (Daddy's shirt Buttons).
A rainbow of colours in the lush vegetation.
As we entered the tree covered canopy sunlight dappled the forest floor and gave welcome shade from the hot sun, it was green, dark and cool with the tall pines standing like proud sentinels to a new and magical kingdom.
A soughing breeze tripped gently through the trees ruffling the leaves of the canopy and riffling the lake's surface with it's beautiful rippled tree reflections.
Looking down we saw rainbow trout gracefully cruising past like little submarines in the deep edges, the sunlight glinted on them making the rainbow on their side appear and disappear as they glided along.
The forest was cool and shady, so quiet and peaceful with only the wind's whisper, the call of birds and the occasional creak and crack of our footfall along the trail to disturb it's slumber.
It was studded here and there with wood anemones, wood sorrel and bluebells, glistening jewels in a bed of green velvet.
Lichen and mosses adorned exposed tree roots and the undulating path felt soft and billowy, like walking on a huge luxurious feather pillow, where the moss mounds grew thick and verdant.
Climbing upwards we could see the lake glisteningly blue through the gently swaying tree branches with their spring green foliage and rough textured bark.
Tantalising glimpses appeared and disappeared along our way, the only thing to spoil it was a sharp burning smell from some far off barbeque...it didn't smell very appetising...lol...hope it tasted better!
Reaching the tops the tall dark pine trees grew sparser before they opened out into a beautiful valley vista spread before us in the warm sunshine.
Masses of yellow gorse and golden broom lined the distant slopes and seemingly miniature sheep gave a pretty white dotted effect against the far green valley sides.
Magical myriads of tiny Green Longhorn Fairy Moths danced in the sunlight's shafts around a sapling oak tree, flashing blue and green or silver and gold as the sunshine reflected on their irridescent wings.
We surprised a lone Roe Deer feeding along a little bank, he dashed off towards the shelter of the treeline edge flashing the heart shaped white patch on his rump, before turning back to warily watch us continue on our way.
We traversed the steep wooden steps that some kind forestry worker had built into the side of the slope to make descent easier, the edges surrounded by Ransoms (wild garlic) with it's pretty white umbellical flowers, the air was redolent with it's clean spicy smell.
Pretty little glades appeared, each bathed in sunlight from the shafts filtering down through the trees, warming the grove and making the garlic scent that assailed our senses stronger than ever.
Completing the circle we partook of a welcome and deliciously refreshing cold drink in the shade of an old handmade stone wall, each piece abutting it's neighbour in perfect symmetry without the need for mortar, then getting back in the car, which we'd parked under trees for shade, we reluctantly said a silent farewell to the timeless forestry before motoring back home in the now cooling air.
beautiful Stainsdale Lake
looking down on the lake through the wooded area
reflections on the wind ruffled water...can you see the rainbow trout?
violets and daddy's shirt buttons
golden yellow kingcups
pretty pale lilac ladies smock
view from the tops
Green Longhorn Fairy Moth
sunlit glade of Ransoms or Wild Garlic
a suprised roe deer heads for the hedge
Sunday, May 27, 2012
It was glorious weather yesterday, it's a bit too hot really but then that's the vagaries of the English weather and, of course, we're never satisfied...lol...
We went for a drive after tea when it was a little bit cooler.
Thornton-le-Dale in the Yorkshire Moors beckoned us and we walked the beck banks in the evening sunlight, I even dabbled my toes in the cool clear water!
Thornton-le-Dale is a very picturesque quintessential English village and almost certainly features on every tourist trip to the area...another reason to visit in the evening when all the sightseers have gone!
Famous for its chocolate box pretty thatched cottage alongside a trickling stream and bridge it's a magnet for photographers and so in true photographer fashion I took the picture!
This cottage features on many a souvenir box of chocolates or biscuit tin but it is certainly pretty and though it isn't lived in now the village council look after it and keep the thatch and garden in good condition...after all it's their main village income!
We strolled down the pathway next to the burbling beck, crossed the little bridge and wandered around the village. The houses on the other side of the beck have little private bridges across to them, they were dappled with sunlight under the beech trees and had a gate at the end which opened into pretty cottage gardens.
Tiny darting minnows around an inch long swam in nursery shoals alongside the banks until your shadow disturbed them and the were suddenly gone in a silver flash.
I found a big fat common green frog just sitting on the path near the water, he never moved a muscle as I took his photograph and was still sitting in the same spot as we went on.
Even though it was evening the insects were still out, myriads of tiny flies dancing in the shafts of golden light, vying with the sunlit dust motes as they hovered above the water and a big fat velvety backed bumble bee was drowsily sipping from a bright yellow dandelion flower.
The peace and tranquility was tangible, not a sound except the tricking of the water and a gentle breeze soughing through the trees.
We stood on the little Beck Isle bridge feeling the breeze across our necks as we watched the wind ruffle the surface of the water, listening to the murmer as it tumbled over a tiny waterfall below.
A squirrel ran lightly along a big branch above us, then winding his way around the tree's trunk he vanished into the new spring green leaves of the canopy.
Underneath the tree the banks were yellow with crosswort, basking in the sunshine showing off it's goldy-green glow, crossed leaves and tiny yellow flowers...so pretty even if it is a weed!
The drive back was pleasant with the car windows wound down and the wind ruffling our hair, we stopped at a little country pub for a quiet drink before continuing home watching the shadows lengthen through the pinky-red rays of the setting sun.
bumblebee on dandelion
pretty thatched cottage
private bridge to one of the cottages
Monday, May 21, 2012
Well, it's the end of the first week of my new healthy eating and exercise regime to lose weight and I'm absolutely thrilled to bits...I lost four pounds! YAY!!!
I can't say it's been easy, the first couple of days were quite trying, I really had to keep watch on all my movements as I was reaching for things when I shouldn't have been (my hand had a mind of it's own...lol...but my own mind was stronger!) though after a few weeks of total non committment I suppose that was inevitable but now I've got myself back into my routine again I'm feeling very positive and motivated to keep going.
My pretty notebook is a joy to open with it's feint images of snowdrops on every page and is filling up nicely with my eating programme, exercise programme and meal plans...I also have a quote of the day.
The little gold stars and cartoon bee stickers look great adorning the pages and the wall calendar and I've made a start on the wall chart for my losses graph which I hope to get finished and add my four pounds to this afternoon.
So, on a completely different note, our weather has been atrocious for weeks and yesterday it stopped raining. It was still cold and windy so DH decided we'd visit a garden centre or two.
We set off with different ideas of requirements in our heads but I really only wanted to look, DH wanted to buy...veggies mainly and compost for his potato sacks.
We visted a large commercial run garden centre on the outskirts of a nearby town first.
It was lovely walking in to the warm, humid greenhouses after the stingingly cold air of the car park.
DH headed straight for the veg section and was happily rooting through tomato, cucumber, marrow and courgette plants which spurred me into buying mode...lol...as I realised I wanted tumbling tomatoes for my hanging baskets.
DH grows the big ones you need to cane up but I like mine small and sweet tumbling from hanging baskets so I can eat them when I'm gardening...not many of mine make it into the house...lol...they're so delicious warm from the sun just picked from the vine and rubbed on my t shirt...oooh, I wish they were ready now!
I also chose a few bedding plants for my patio tubs as I lost some of what I'd grown from seed in a cold snap when the greenhouse door was mistakenly left open, mainly trailing lobelia and a few marigolds.
DH bought three different kinds of tomatoes, cabbage and cauliflower. I wanted him to try a new variety of black cabbage but couldn't persuade him.
As he was paying I wandered off with my camera.
I was astounded at the range of colourful equipment there is these days, you can get tools, even wheelbarrows, in pinks, purple and turquoise and the range of pots and containers are very diverse shapes and colourful too.
There were loads of garden ornaments, I especially liked the stone owls, the blurb said they were hand carved by craftsmen before being polished and are made from natural granite cobbles!
Next we drove on to another nearby smaller family run garden centre which I like to visit as it usually has what I call a 'poorly' plant section which I love.
You can buy a full grown plant for as little as twenty five pence ( a quarter in your money) and I love making them better!
What a surprise though, they'd extended, rebuilt and modernised and it was now as large as the big one we'd just left...they still had a 'poorly' section though!
DH bought bags of compost and I emerged with two 'poorly' plants which cost me the grand total of only fifty pence.
I bought a very dejected looking Mimosa Puddica or Sensative plant and a brown budded and broken leaved Kalanchoe succulent or Flaming Katie which should be a nice shade of baby pink.
I'd bought a 'poorly' orange one three weeks ago which is thriving now and absolutely covered in blooms. I hope to restore this pink one the same.
I took a couple of pictures of them this morning after they'd been primped, dead headed and had old foliage removed and their pots submerged and left to soak in water for a couple of hours.
You can see from the pictures the Sensative plant is already perky and green, it now closes it's leaves when you touch them which it didn't do yesterday and the pink Flaming Katie is flowering well. The buds are a beigey brown colour before the flowers open which is why people pass them by as they think they're dying.
We spent yesterday evening in the garden...plenty of exercise!
DH planted out his veggies in serried ranks across the bare brown earth, labels hung on little bits of stick at both ends of each row, kneeling on a wooden board so's not to flatten the earth he'd just dug and kept company by our friendly little robin looking for worms and other titbits.
Then he planted up his tomatoes into large terracotta tubs ready to bring outside when the weather gets better, if it doesn't they'll stay in the greenhouse, while I potted on my lobelias and marigolds into next size pots as it's still too cold to plant them outside yet. They'll be hardened off over the next couple of weeks, put outside during the day and taken back in each night until the weather warms up.
Then this morning I've planted up four hanging baskets with with my 'Tumbling Tom' tomatoes, two red varieties in willow woven baskets and two yellow ones in the modern green metal ones.
I wanted black tomatoes too but they hadn't got any so I'll look on the market stalls when I go to town on Saturday.
I've hung the baskets up in the greenhouse for now but when it's warmer two will hang from the central support on the rose arch and two from brackets near the kitchen window.
A few pictures for you:
Colourful metal watering cans
entering one of the big, warm greenhouses
snazzy bright pots
Easter Island head planter
terracotta cat planters...they look surprised at the hole in their middles!
even more veggies
perked up Sensative plant
primped Flaming Katie
watered Flaming Katie
rewarded with masses of blooms
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