Wednesday, 1 July 2015

Daddy's little nature lesson #1

A bumblebee such as this tree bumblebee;

can easily be tired during it's day foraging for sweet nectar and pollen in our lovely flowers during the summertime such as this Foxglove;
 (Isn't it amazing how many different colours you can find foxgloves wearing?)

A really great thing to do (with the help of an adult) is to make a little drink for the Bee to give him some energy. Some honey on a dessert spoon mixed with water or sugar dissolved in water can give these little guys a much needed boost..

And then your friendly Bee will bee able to forage in his favourite most colourful flowers again :)

( P.S, did anybody spot the silly spelling mistake I added to the text?)

Thank you for reading ;)

Wednesday, 3 December 2014

What's it all about.

This is the eighth Christmas I am experiencing as a Dad. But the first Christmas that (incidentally), Louis my eldest doesn't believe in Santa :(
Well then, that doesn't mean that it won't be as amazing as the previous seven. In fact,  now that he knows, he has been really enthusiastic to make it extra special for his brother. He probably doesn't realise that he has made myself and mum feel very old. I mean, we're 31 and 32 respectively and I feel like a spring chicken, (as opposed to a stuffed Christmas turkey :) ).

This year has been a real roller coaster of a ride and we have relished in it all. The news is always full of negativity, be headings, paedophile's, disease and domestic abuse but to name a few. As parents, we do try to shield our kids from all of this negative aura about the world and get out, see stuff, educate, have fun and answer any questions as truthfully as you can without being too gross and scaring them with it. How do you answer some of life's questions to an inquisitive 7 year old? Let me tell you, it's a hard job. Then after answering as truthfully as possible, trying to get your 7 year old not to tell his four year old brother and his friends some of these truths.

In the last 7 years what I have learned about parenting more than everything is to show an active physical interest in everything your child is into and take a look  at how you were treated by your parents (good or bad) and answer any question about life as truthfully as possible.

I truly believe that you will have a friend for life, not just a son or daughter but the best friend you can ever have by how you show in those very first years, your love, dedication, patience, willingness and truthfulness.
You will only get one chance..

Tuesday, 17 December 2013

Radcliffe Nature Trail - Tuesday 17th Dec'13.

Here at Radcliffe nature trail, there are a few good sit spots around this area behind Asda in Radcliffe. One of my favourites is a large rock where previously we have sat with the bat detector at dusk.

 It overlooks the river Irwell and in the distance you can see Knowle hill and the wind farm up past Norden in Rochdale. 
The views from here are pretty spectacular in the right light.

At the moment, the trees are sparse, all shed their leaves and there are a lot of rotten branches on the ground. These will collectively create nice little habitats for the mosses, lichens, fungi and bug life in the coming months.

The bird life is quite quiet at the moment however I think I can hear a Jay but cannot see it at the moment. There are  also a few magpies and blackbirds flying about and moorhens chatting on the river. I can also see a lone Swan gliding back and forth along the river. I know that there are at least two Heron's in this system having sighted them in the past but as yet I haven't located a nest. I'm guessing that they would nest and look after their young in a nice secluded area near to the river away from the beaten track but I'm an amateur with no qualifications, just a life's knowledge of searching the outdoors and watching documentaries.

Recently, quite late in the summer, I also spotted a lone Cormorant along the river, being alone, I guessed that it could be a male, however, again, I'm no expert.

The sit spot is pretty quiet so now I am going to take the path that will lead me past a small weir and closer to the river.

Here there is a lovely view of the weir and you sit on this raised bank in amongst the trees which provide you with some good shelter as well as keeping you from the view of anything on the river itself.

To my right there is a family of mallards swimming around in an almost conga like fashion and down to the left of me on the river bank is something that makes me really disappointed indeed and ashamed of what we have become;

 an ignorant dredge of polluting imbeciles...

There is enough plastic down there to make a cul-de-sac's worth of wheelie bins!!

After looking at the mess I decided to move to another regular viewing spot of mine. It is parallel with the first spot and the view is the reverse of it. It is a nice place to have a sunbathe in the summer with it's nice setting and viewpoint and you are out in the open here so there is not much chance of many animals coming up close unless you are really still and quiet. The only real sightings from here were the family of Mallards in the distance from before and a couple of other birds here and there.

From there, I decided to carry on walking down river to the Footbridge which crosses the river and leads to a path that takes you to the canal that joins Radcliffe with Bolton and in the other direction, back towards Bury. However the footbridge was found to be closed until further notice by an electricity company until further notice.

 (Human pollution and electric companies don't hinder your adventures in the Lakes Dad!)

As I approached the footbridge I noticed some discarded cable next to the footpath in two places, (which I didn't find very amusing) so I promptly chucked it over the caged in area to make sure that the council would remove the scrap and not leave it lying around for a fox or even a child to impale themselves on the stuff. I also made a mental note to go back and check the state of the areas in the future.
From here I decided to retrace my steps and head back towards the rock to see if anything else was up and about. 

And there it was, a Jay. It was really close to the rock on a tree seemingly looking out for anything encroaching on it's preverbial turf. It was close enough to get a good picture of it with a proper camera, however numpty here only had his phone camera and a set of bins. So I just settled down to watch the Jay through the binoculars without getting a picture :(

The Jay seemed to be concentrating on something from it's perch from the tree and then, all of a sudden I saw a Magpie about 150 metres ahead darting about some higher trees. The Jay, with it's Spitfire like wings darted off and up to screech at the Magpie to tell him to remove his feathery butt away from his territory which in turn developed into a slanging match between the two birds.

This was the best wild sight of the day for me. If you have never seen a Jay, I think you should. They are the most colourful member of the crow family and the size of a small crow but a light brown colour with these colourful feathers..

From there I walked back towards the start of the trail and onto the canal towards Water Street. Along the canal there are good parts and unfortunately the shopping trolleys within the canal put a downer on the end of the journey which included sighting canada geese, bulrushes, robins and woodpidgeon. 

The only tracks/game trails of the day to speak of were dog and horse andof course human.

Here is a summary and map of distance/trail covered using the Map My Walk app on my phone.

Not too wild then! Not a bad start though.

Winter Walks.

Over the course of winter, I aim to document my treks in the areas around north west Manchester. These will include hopefully the natural sites around Radcliffe, Bury, Rochdale, Ramsbottom and maybe Whitefield/Prestwich. 

The goal for me is to visit the natural areas near these towns to see how abundant the wildlife is including forest areas, around rivers and lakes and hillsides. 

My Dad once said to me that there was no need to go trekking up mountains in the Lakes or Snowdonia etcetera because we live near so many natural areas and places of interest specific to nature and good habitats for wildlife.

Having done a lot of trekking up mountains in the past, I think now is as good a time as any to write down my experiences in our local areas. I don't need to even get in the car to visit all of the areas I will be visiting this winter. 

Louis and I have already visited a multitude of local places with our bat detector over the last few years and found that there is many different sub-species of bat roosting every year. I am far off being a bat expert but a little bit of searching these places with the help of the bat detector and the internet, we have found at least three different sub-species in Radcliffe alone. This is simple science and knowledge to attain and for me at least, the results are really rewarding.

I am looking forward to getting started so goodbye for now and happy adventuring. ;)

Saturday, 7 December 2013


Let's not forget Sir Alex' parting words, "stand by our new manager", at the game today the atmosphere was subdued. I for one am clueless at Moyes' team selections. I am clueless as to why he got Fellaini as what seems to me to be a panic buy. There are one or two, maybe three or four players who aren't up to standard, maybe five or six who aren't up to the "man utd" standard as what we are used to as fans. 

There are however a multitude of seasoned professionals still in the team who know more than anyone else in the league how to win games, grind out results and win trophies. The words from Sir Alex were meant as far as i can tell, that teething problems personified will happen and are currently happening. I didn't agree with changing all of the backroom staff along with many others. People are proud of their clubs even when after years and years they haven't won a button, nevermind 20 league titles.

The legacy of  Sir Matt, the Busby Babes, the class of '92 can not and will not be tarnished. To the fans who leave the ground early and boo the team off, that attitude to me is not right. This is Manchester United for Christ's sake!! 


I have friends who support Bury FC and are proud of their heritage and like the fact that the "shakers" have won the FA cup twice in 1900 and 1903, there is no Bury fan alive who can remember these achievements as it happened so long ago but are proud of them, along with every other football fan in the world. This is FOOTBALL. This is why we love our national game. 

Yes there always will be very high expectations at MUFC and standards and legacies to adhere to but we are halfway into one of the most fragile seasons in the clubs history. 

I for one will not and have not left the game before the final whistle, nor booed the team off after a run of bad results. 

This is football, deal with it and get behind your team!

Thursday, 5 December 2013

Weapon of choice. What's yours?

 Here is a picture of my weapon of choice for tonight's dog run..

    No, not the mop bucket!!

 It is now 22:50 pm. I have just taken Betsy for a run. Is it right for a 30 year old to be running at night around a park with a dog and  an illuminous football in tow??

 Keeps me fit I suppose, happy days :)

Tuesday, 3 December 2013

Go Ape- Grizedale Forest.

My wife and I were invited to go along to Go Ape to do a review about it and to obviously have a fantastic day out. My initial thoughts were 'Aah brilliant!', followed by 'Ooh, scary'. :)

I have always wanted to go along to Go Ape and have missed the opportunity to go along with my friends a couple of years ago. I am also not very good with heights. That wasn't gonna put me off though, no way!

As we arrived at the centre, we were warmly greeted and I felt like we were to be in for some good customer service, ( which is a rarity in most places.) We were then asked to fill out the forms/ disclaimers, and proceeded outside to receive a tutorial from one of the Go Ape staff and he fit our harnesses. *feeling nervous but excited*

There's Karen readying herself for the first zip slide. ;)

I thought that the worst thing was actually the waiting in anticipation because I just wanted to fly through the whole lot as fast as possible so as not to be stuck behind a scared person and wait ages stuck up a tree. 

The obstacles were all different and some harder than others. My favourites were the two large zip slides crossing the valley and the best of them all was the large Tarzan swing after choosing the extreme route over the easy one..

Can't be a wuss!!!

On the Tarzan swing, you only free fall for about a second before the rope kicks in but the adrenaline boost rises to a crazy level and resulted in me shouting obscenities at the top of my voice, now I know why Tarzan does that scream thing!! What an amazing idea. I would recommend Go Ape to anybody, fat, thin, young and old. You feel completely safe as long as you are always strapped on to the obstacle and the tree by taking the safety clips one at a time and placing them onto the next bit. I cannot wait until the next time I visit one of the other sites and have already spoken to friends and family to bear Go Ape in mind when it comes to stag do's, hen parties, birthdays etc. 

Brilliant customer service + brilliant adventure = happy customer! Thanks :)