Friday, 6 March 2015

Ups and downs, swings and roundabouts


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...

31 comments:

  1. Gorgeous photos and words. Hope the house move isn't going pear-shaped. That top photo is a stunner.

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    1. Thanks! We've looked at other houses just in case but are trying to make it work with this one, somehow... lots of playing around with numbers (not something I'm very good at).

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  2. Wow, I love your photos so much, you have a great eye for taking pictures if you know what I mean... : )
    Can't wait to know how the cake's turned out, but I bet it's gonna be yummy!

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    1. Thank you! The cake was good but SO sweet. Didn't stop me though...

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  3. Hope you're feeling better soon at least the sun is shining now - that always makes me feel brighter. Your photos capture the essence of a Lancashire town. It is very similar in feel to where I live down here in West Yorkshire - true northern mill towns and villages, so many interesting corners to photograph.
    Hope too your house quotes are reasonable.

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    1. Me too! We're determined to make sure it works out somehow.
      I love West Yorkshire, by the way - we're not too far over the border :)

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  4. Beautiful post Sarah, your pictures are wonderful. The stone house looks very similar to the home I finally found last May ..an 1850's place in a small village. Loads to do on it but I feel like I'm home at long last. Home your builders don't cost you the earth!!

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    1. We'll find a good one with a good price to match!
      Glad you liked the photos - and that you've found what sounds like a great home. Enjoy making it your own...

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  5. Sorry you're still so unwell, I do hope you're on the mend soon. Beautiful pictures, and mmm, dark chocolate and ginger, some of my favourite things. I hope you're able to find a more reasonable quote for the work on your potential new house. Wishing you a good and restful weekend Sarah. CJ xx

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    1. Thanks CJ. It's been fairly busy but not too much. I just wish weekends went as slowly as the week seems to!

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  6. I'm sorry to hear about all the illness you've suffered this winter. I hope it's over soon. Good luck with the house, it sounds like it's becoming a bit stressful. I enjoyed your photos of the old buildings. I've never been to England but scenes like these are sort of what I have pictured when reading Dickens.

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    1. Dickensian describes it perfectly!

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  7. Your images are enough, no need for apologies of any kind, or baked goods buying admissions ... balance in all things, and scoff a scrummy chocolate ginger biccy when desired, that's my motto. Feel better soon x

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    1. I'm getting there - probably because I didn't wait as long to see the doctor this time around. The biscuits are medicinal too :)

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  8. So sorry to hear about yet another chest congestion: Yuk! I do have to tell you that I absolutely LOVED your social historic pictures int he beginning of your post, so interesting! (I miss historic buildings here on the west coast of the States...) Beterschap! :-)

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    1. The pictures seem to have pleased lots of people! I'll have to start nosing around more often and see where I end up :)

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  9. Super pictures. I love the old letterbox. I bet those old buildings could tell some stories. Hoping you are able to finally shake of the germs and that your house move progresses ok.

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    1. Me too! And I wondered whether the smithy actually made the letterbox himself...

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  10. I do hope that you are feeling much better again very soon and also that you can sort out the house thing and get the work done that is needed within budget. xx

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    1. We're endeavouring to do just that! Fortunately I'm the creative type whereas Jay's a whizz with numbers and all things practical...

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  11. Hi Sarah, I love your photos and I would have been thrilled to look around the old forge too. So nice you got a tour from a knowledgeable chap. We did social and economic history of the industrial revolution at school and I loved that.
    hope you are soon feeling brighter....and you managed to line dry some washing toady :0)
    Jacquie x

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    1. My yellow rain mac got a wash and a blustery drying out on the line! Next up: bedding. I'm looking forward to our first line-dried bed this year...

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  12. Oh my! Never ever apologize for a picture-heavy post -- your photos are so wonderful! I loved that look around your town. . . and your little guy and your gardens. . .

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    1. Thank you! Glad you enjoyed it.

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  13. Wonderful pictures (as always) and yes, I know what you mean about local history and the stories within those old buildings. Hope those antibiotics do the trick.

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    1. Sometimes you just have to have them, don't you? I know doctors are reluctant to prescribe them these days but now and then nothing else seems to shift an infection.
      Glad you liked the pics :)

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  14. Oh Sarah your photos make my heart sing! I'm a big fan of peeling paint too. And Fred Dibnah. He was in part responsible for my eldest's fascination in history. I rather wish I had chosen differently too, in terms of degree anyway. Classics was interesting, but ultimately pretty useless. Apart from pub quizzes and the like. In fact my education is quite archaic in terms of subject matter. Oh and I haven't got a problem with shop bought treats. Be my guest. They look lovely.
    Here's hoping that the germs do one pronto.
    Leanne xx

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  15. Oh I do love a poke around old buildings too. So interesting! Imagine having to sleep standing up. I do hope the spring weather brings your chest infection to an end. I hope you're not feeling too miserable with it. I can relate to your picture of Joe coming from nursery. My three arrive home from school most days with more of their lunch on their clothes than they could possibly have eaten. More laundry! At least the washing line is in use a little on sunnier days. Bee xx

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  16. Your picture of Joe in the aquarium is stunning. I hope you are on the mend now.

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  17. Beautiful photos. I'm sorry you're still ill, and hope the antibiotics helped. Fingers crossed for the house. Could you lower your offer slightly perhaps? x

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