Most of the photos in this (frankly rather massive) post were taken today. The one above was snapped yesterday though, at the Sea Life Centre at Trafford Park. We took a little trip out there with a friend and her toddler. Joe was mesmerised, particularly by the octopus, but he saw all kinds of wondrous things: seahorses, starfish, turtles, stingrays, sharks...
And just when things seemingly couldn't get any better: pizza for lunch.
It's been a busy week with all kinds of things going on. I'm now on my second chest infection of 2015. This morning I went back to
my second residence the doctor's surgery and picked up a course of antibiotics and another load of steroids.
I didn't take Joe with me - I dropped him off at the nursery for an extra hour and made the most of it. Once I'd been to the chemist I had a little wander around Ramsbottom with my camera. You see, there was somewhere I wanted to explore.
This being a typical Northern town it has its gritty spots. Yes we have the independent shops and the steam train and the pretty stuff. But wander down the odd cobbled back street and you'll see remnants of what once was. Smoke-blackened stone houses; brick buildings slowly disappearing under brambles. And as I got to the place I wanted to photograph, I saw a few men outside a garage talking and eating bowls of cereal for their breakfasts. Woolly hats (not flat caps, sadly) and overalls. Me being polite, I asked if they'd mind me taking some pictures. They being friendly Lancashire types, they suggested I have a look inside one building which was once the blacksmith's forge. So I did.
It was a great place: the old furnace rusting away in one corner, chains and horse shoes and all kinds of ancient paraphernalia hanging from the walls.
One of the men turned out to be quite the tour guide. The building on the right (above) used to be the 'doss house', back when being homeless was actually illegal. Men would stay there overnight and would pay to sleep standing up, leaning against a wire pulled taut between two walls. That's how overcrowded it was.
I do love a story, and these Fred Dibnah types. And a bit of peeling paintwork.
If I had to choose my career again I'd maybe have opted for different GCSEs and gone down the social historian route. I find it all absolutely fascinating.
By the time I left and meandered back into the centre of town the sun had come out. I picked up a few provisions then headed home.
On the home front: the new house is looking a bit iffy. A quote from the builder was pretty alarming - and that's just to do the basics. No fancy stuff like extensions or loft conversions. There's a possibility the place might need rewiring too. I'm no mathematician but we could very easily end up spending way more than the house will ever be worth. Whilst the plan isn't to do it up to sell, we don't plan to make this our for ever home either.
We're getting another quote a week today. Then we'll have a lot of thinking to do.
Back in our current digs, I treated myself to some of my favourite biscuits: dark chocolate-covered gingers. Not home made. But before you start thinking, 'Ooh, quite the hypocrite isn't she?'... It's my stepdad's birthday tomorrow and I'm baking a cake later. Spiced honey with caramel buttercream icing. Four layers. Two cake tins. The butter's softening as I type. And hopefully that keeps my baking credentials intact.
I'm still in love with daffodils. I prefer them in bud when they're lime green and pencil-like (although there are some fully-opened ones on the table and they smell rather lovely).
Outside, the hellebores are still blooming and beautiful. And the snowdrops are still nodding away too. There are lots of shoots appearing in unexpected places, and the magnolia has plenty of fluffy-looking buds.
After a peaceful lunch today I went to collect Joe from nursery. Driving through the village, you see all kinds of goings-on. Bad: the post office has closed down. Good: the ailing pub has been refurbished and will be opening again next week.
Joe was his usual post-nursery self. Grubby and happy and chatty. Bourbon biscuit-smeared mouth and crusty nose. And dressed in someone else's clothes because he'd soaked his own through during 'water play'.
We had a little walk and went to see the chickens and the goose. The latter was in rather a bad mood so we kept our distance. It was lovely to walk around in the sunshine.
I know it's been a long, picture-heavy post. And I haven't covered lots of things. But bear with me - I'm going to feel better eventually once this horrible infection finally disappears. I hope you have a great weekend. According to one or two excitable headlines we're going to have a heatwave over the next few days. I seriously doubt that but if I get to hang some washing out on the line I'll be more than happy.
P.S. I'll give you a report on the cake next week - I'm dying to try it.
P.P.S. Apologies for any typos - I can hear Joe yelling so had better go and investigate. Proof-reading will have to wait until my next post...