Monday, 16 February 2015

Not your everyday sight

To quote a cousin's favourite phrase, we've been "keeping on keeping on" here, with homeschool, chores and the odd bit of geocaching thrown in for good measure.  This morning we accompanied Housemate to a hospital appointment, then as I had some groceries I needed, we decided to go to the Aldi that's near a local country park that we haven't been to before.

If you've seen my last post about Sandal Castle, you can see the country park "Pugney's" in the distance on one of the photos.  The weather wasn't anywhere near as nice today, but at least it had stopped raining and after a reviving cuppa in the cafe, we booked out one of the mobility scooters for Housemate, and set of around the lake.

I'd actually forgotten it was half-term and there were quite a lot of people and children enjoying the park.  We had a good walk around the lake and there were views of the castle from a different perspective.
Sandal Castle viewed from Pugney's country park
 A little further on, we took a path thinking there was a geocache nearby.  There was, but not one we could get to as we were on the wrong side of the beck.  What we did see was something that one certainly doesn't see every day, or at least not in the wild in the UK anyway!

A parrot, green, black head with yellow stripe
I think the poor thing must either have escaped or been abandoned, but from reading the logs of other geocachers it seems to have been around this particular spot for a while as it's quite often seen here.
It's quite a pleasant park, although probably nicer when the weather's better and it's not quite so wet underfoot.  They do activities like sailing, kayaking and various RYA courses here too.  There's also a little train, not running today, that potters its way down one side of the lake on summer weekends.  The track is tiny, only about 8" wide, but the little railway has its own little turntable.  We shall have to come back again in the summer.

Until next time. x

Sunday, 8 February 2015

Sandal Castle

Evening all.  It's been a while!  My excuse is that we haven't really done anything recently that I consider blog-worthy.  Life seems to be very repetitive; Small's schoolwork, a bit of geocaching and hospital appointments, so nothing I'd call particularly interesting.

Today was a little different.  We're still going out geocaching, and we're discovering plenty of places and interesting local history that we wouldn't have known were we not doing it.  We went to a local country park, one we go to quite regularly in the warmer weather to ride our bikes, to find a few caches.  We tend to go around the main circuit as it's easier to ride on.  The downside of that is we were previously unaware of a great many paths that criss-cross the park.

While out walking today we found a 'metal henge', a lovely garden memorial to a local councillor who apparently did a lot to ensure the former colliery site was restored into something everyone could enjoy.

Mini metal henge garden at Walton Colliery Park
We have also learned quite a bit of local history.  I knew my kings and queens from doing history at school, but I never really knew much about a lot of the local connections.  We made amends for that today with a visit to Sandal Castle.  I freely admit there was a geocaching connection to all this, and through solving a puzzle cache to do with mnemonics, we found the site where Richard, Duke of York was killed during the Battle of Wakefield in 1460.  A monument has been erected on the site, and it was nice to see some white roses placed there.

Monument to the death site of Richard, Duke of York, 30th December 1460
Happy little geocachers - Small and HMS
After we'd visited the monument, we went to the site of Sandal Castle itself.  There's not a great deal of it left, as it was devastated during the battle, and has fallen into rack and ruin since.

View towards Wakefield from Sandal Castle
Info board about the Battle of Wakefield
Part of the reason for our visit was to gather information from these boards to work out the coordinates for another geocache location.  The other part was to visit  local monument and learn some history in a fun and hands-on way.  Nothing better than learning history by actually being on location rather than reading it in a book or on the internet.  It also gave the kids the opportunity to run around and enjoy themselves.

Remains of the castle and moat

Small, sitting on some of the ruins
A view of Pugney's Country Park, with Emley Moor communications mast upper left

Above is a rather red-faced and upset, but proud, Small.  He doesn't like steps.  He doesn't like climbing up hills.  He doesn't like boards with gaps in them that you can see through.  It's as though with his foot problems, coupled with the sensory overload of processing the information required to do this kind of activity, it is too much for him.  It took an awfully long time to get him up to the remains of the keep, going one painful step at a time, with an awful lot of terrified crying and screaming.  But we got there.  He was very proud of his achievement at this point and we didn't have a pip of a paddy going back down again.

Keep well, keep warm.  Until next time. x

Thursday, 22 January 2015

In the dark

I've had a fun day, not!   This morning after Small had completed his work, it was a mad dash out to get some milk before the  delivery man came with a load of logs.  Typically, he'd said he was delivering on Thursday, but didn't provide a time.  He turned up around 3pm and managed to back the truck down the ginnel to deposit the load at the back gate, which was just as well as my wheelbarrow has a flat tyre and the compressor I use to pump up things like that has decided to pack up.

It was much less effort to barrow it 10 feet to the wood store than all the way around the house from the front, and luckily a friend gave me a hand while her son came in and played with Small.  The back yard now looks like a mudbath mixed with all the slushy snow that's left over from yesterday's snowfall, but at least the supply of logs has been replenished so we should be warm for the rest of the winter.

After we'd finished barrowing and stacking we came in for a well deserved cuppa.  We'd only been in a few minutes when the power went off, much to my annoyance as I'd not long put the breadmaker on so of course that went off too.

It turned out some twit had cut through the newly laid electricity cables over on a nearby building site, so the whole village was off for a while.  The power finally came back on at 8.30 pm, but at least during the dark time we were among the lucky ones who had a good stock of candles, a camping lantern, heat from the wood burner and plenty of hot water boiled on the wood burner for cups of tea.

It's been quite a while since I've experienced a power cut that lasted more than half an hour or so, and we amused ourselves playing eye-spy by candle light.  Small's getting better at the game, but we still get instances where he'll say "L" for something that begins with "F" or similar.

Hope you've had a good day.

Until next time. x

Saturday, 17 January 2015

Swimming in the snow

It's been jolly cold here today, and the forecast is set for more cold and negative temperatures next week.  I'm not sure the newspapers have got it right this time or not - they're forecasting blizzards again for next week, but as they did that before Christmas and nothing happened, I shan't hold my breath.

Today was swimming day.  Not a lesson, just our usual once a week collective paddle.  It was quite ethereal today being in the warmth of the swimming pool while the snow was gently falling outside.  Thankfully it wasn't really settling, but it was kind of magical and mesmerising at the same time watching it silently falling as we splashed about.

After yesterday's catch up with the housework which has been somewhat neglected recently, today it was the turn of shopping.  Food shopping that is, not anything frivolous.

I don't particularly like shopping at the best of times, but a Saturday afternoon is most definitely NOT the time to do it.  We ended up at the Aldi in Wakefield as it's the nearest one to where we go swimming, but as has often been the case since just before Christmas, the shop looked like it had been burgled and I wasn't able to get quite a few of the things I needed.

I've also noticed that Aldi has been making changes to its products of late, and not necessarily changes for the better.  They seem to have abandoned their every-day essentials porridge oats, which is a pity as Housemate uses them in his homemade breakfast mix.

Worse, they've also changed their cat litter, much to my annoyance.  It used to be of the clumping variety which is extremely economical as you just remove what you need to remove.  It wasn't exactly expensive at £1.79 a bag, and it lasted a good couple of weeks.  Lately though, Aldi in its infinite wisdom, has changed to a £1.39 bag of 'everyday essentials' cat litter that doesn't clump.   It's therefore extremely difficult to remove just what's been used, and one ends up throwing away the entire contents of the litter tray.  Hardly economical when instead of one bag per fortnight, you end up having to buy three bags a week.  Not that I do, I hasten to add.  I simply go to Lidl and get theirs instead, but that's not the point!  I'm annoyed at Aldi for making changes where, in my opinion at least, none were needed.  :(

Still, I can't grumble overall.  I've saved heaps since I started shopping there, and even with the price cuts at other super markets, I can't see myself going back to shop at any of them in the near future unless Aldi really cocks it up.

Hoping you're all warm and well.

Until next time. x

Thursday, 15 January 2015

Catch up

I'm not too sure where the days have gone this week as I've suddenly realised it's Thursday and I haven't posted anything since Sunday.   We haven't done anything particularly exciting this week, and as life generally follows a similar routine from one week to the next, I can't help thinking nobody will want to read about my boring, repetitive life and so I don't post anything.

Small has got on well with his work, and his writing is just about back to where it should be following the holiday season lapse.  He also did very well at his swimming lesson this week, having not been since the week before Christmas as the tutor was away.  She was quite impressed at his progress and I explained that he's been practicing when I go.  I've found the best way to motivate him is to do short, repetitive races, having pointed out to him that he goes much faster when he a) closes his mouth, b) keeps his chin down, and c) uses arms and legs for propulsion.  It seems to work, although he gets tired and hurty very quickly due to the stiffness and tension in his legs caused by tippy-toe walking.

He was especially good yesterday, as he'd made a deal that would allow him to go to "Toys Arrows" to spend his Christmas money, a privilege he lost due to an incident with HMS.  He met his self-imposed conditions without complaint, so after we'd been for our walkabout, we went to the aforementioned store.  He was chuffed to little buttercups to get a Lego set he'd had his eye on, but as it was rather complicated, he needed some help putting it together.

Despite the onslaught of yet more gales today, it was fine enough for us to look for a couple of geocaches and then on to the semi-regular weekly home-ed meet up at Angler's Country Park.  Only a few of his friends were there today, so we all stayed indoors rather than the playground which felt like it was sub-zero with the wind chill.  There's actually a nice little area for kids, with crafting stuff, wildlife magazines and a big pair of binoculars that is powerful enough to see the other side of the lake quite clearly.  I'm not sure exactly how far away that is, but a fair distance.

Take care in this awful weather.

Until next time. x

Sunday, 11 January 2015

More birdies at Clayton

Although grey clouds were looming all around it wasn't raining this morning, contrary to what the forecast had suggested.  As we'd enjoyed ourselves last weekend geocaching over at Clayton, we headed back there to pick up some others that we hadn't got to and to have another very muddy walk.

We found our targets, but as silly me had forgotten to charge up the phone we use for navigation, our last for the day was at All Saint's Church, in the combined parish of Frickley and Clayton.  Caches don't tend to be within immediate church boundaries, but they can be placed nearby.  We quickly found what we were looking for, so we set off to take a look at the church.

The track up to the church
Small and HMS at the gate

I do hate getting the 'photographer's shadow'  in pictures, but there was no other way of getting this shot short of kneeling down, which I didn't fancy as it was rather muddy.

Lots of lovely little snowdrops peeking through

Click to enlarge
In the graveyard we 'found' this headstone, in memory of 'Thomas Depledge, aged 21 years who was cruelly murdered on the highway near Darfield, October 10th 1841.'   I say 'found' as I'd seen a photo on the geocaching website so knew it was there and we went to look for it.  This led to a discussion about highwaymen, the origins of the phrase 'highway robbery', and the fact that roads in those days weren't the paved variety we're used to these days.

As an aside, if the respective councils of Barnsley, Wakefield and Doncaster don't to something about the state of their roads soon, we're going to end up in one big pothole!

From what I've been able to find out, Thomas was a farm labourer who was set upon by ruffians on his way back from Barnsley, and they robbed and killed the poor chap.  Sarah, from what I can glean, was Thomas's mother, who lived to a ripe old age.

Crocus just starting to peek through
All Saints Church, Frickley and Clayton
A good walk and a lovely visit to the church.  It wasn't open, and doesn't appear to have held a service since Christmas as when I looked through the window, I could see the decorated tree still standing in a corner of the building.

Until next time. x

Friday, 9 January 2015

Another week

Well that's another week gone by and it's Friday again.  The trouble with getting back into the homeschool routine after the Christmas break is that the days tend to be pretty same-old same-old with Small's learning.

Wednesday we visited Small's Nanna, and yesterday we met up with some home-ed friends at Angler's Country Park.  Although it was quite cold, I think we all enjoyed the chat and the play after not seeing one another for a few weeks.

Today being Friday, it was off to Doncaster to collect HMS from school.  We'd picked up a 'travel bug' earlier in the week.  No, it's not some nasty disease or Delhi-belly.  It's a geocaching tourist, an item with a tracking code that gets placed in a cache for others to transport to another cache, and is not something one is meant to keep.  Cachers log the code and the traveller accrues mileage as it goes from place to place.  This particular one has come from Scotland.

Sometimes a 'travel bug' will have a particular goal it wants to achieve, and the one we picked up the other day has a mission to visit football stadiums.  As we were in Doncaster anyway, we drove over to Doncaster Rovers ground and took a photo of it in front of the stadium.  At some point next week, we'll find a suitable place to leave it for someone else to pick up and take elsewhere.

HMS holding the 'bug', and Small, at Doncaster Rovers Stadium
It was good fun and the kids had a laugh, and in a small way we've helped a fellow cacher's 'bug' achieve its aim.  I'm guessing it belongs to a child, so hopefully he will be pleased to see the photo we've posted on the geocaching website.

It's blowing a howling gale outside now, with lighter objects taking off left, right and centre, although nowhere near as bad as northern Scotland which has apparently had hurricane force winds.  So wherever you are, stay safe and well.

Until next time. x

Tuesday, 6 January 2015

Scarborough Fair

We had to go to Scarborough today as Housemate had something that needed picking up there, and it seemed like a good reason for a day trip.  Although it was raining when we set off from home, the sun started poking through around lunchtime.

The sun's out!

Remains of Scarborough castle

Small on the seafront

Plaque beside sculpture on bench

Oversized bench with large sculpture

Click to enlarge

Close-up of the soldier
After we'd driven along the seafront, we went for a drive up Oliver's Mount.  I've never been up here before, and I didn't realise the roads were used as a motorcycle racing track.  Fortunately there were no bikes today so we were able to drive up nice and slowly.

WWII monument on Oliver's Mount
Spectacular views from the top
We'd already decided to come back a different way, and we ended up driving to a pretty little village called Lund, which is about 6 miles from Beverley.  OK, it wasn't entirely random, as there were a couple of geocaches here :D   Both Small and I got our respective 50th finds, which isn't bad considering we only started hunting for them on the 18th of December.

All Saints Church, Lund
Old water pump on the village green
Olde worldy
Love the pub sign
Sunset on the way home

It must be about 9 years since I was last in Scarborough, and it hasn't changed much!  We enjoyed our day trip, and loved doing a bit of exploring somewhere none of us had been before.

Until next time. x

Monday, 5 January 2015

Back to the routine

It was back to the Monday morning routine of  being up at sparrow o'clock to get HMS ready and driven to school, and back to the books for Small.  Although the learning process never stops, the fact that he's had some time away from writing was all too plain to see.

Work completed, and because it was a lovely day, we went off for a short and muddy walk.   We've been doing bits, here and there, of a very long series of geocaches that are reasonably local to us.  The whole route is a circular one of around 16km, but as we can't manage that we've done a few here and there.

Our walk today took us from the little hamlet - not sure if it's even a hamlet, as there are only about 7 [big!] houses - of Hessle, across to part of Ackworth.  The latter is an extremely large village, spread out over several miles, and it has several churches.   One of these was our destination as we needed to collect some information from a noticeboard in order to work out the coordinates for the actual final destination.  This exercise includes doing math and reading historical details.

Housemate dropped us off, and we sent him off to the church to read the noticeboard, which he was able to park right next to.  Our first task was to get past the enthusiasts pictured below.  This area is very definitely horsey country, and in fact where our walk started was next to a lovely courtyard stable block.

The one just in front of the gate simply wouldn't move, so we walked round him.  The one to the left of the gate was the curious type and it followed us across the field.  It was only about 100 yards from one kissing gate to the next, but I had to keep Small calm as he wanted to run which wouldn't have been a good idea.

We made it safely to the next gate, and the cache we were looking for was here somewhere.  Unfortunately the nosy chestnut, which was at least 16hh if not more, was very interested in what we were doing and was able to stick its head over the top of the kissing gate.  It was a nice, friendly horse - unlike two others who were having an argument, with one small white pony viciously and repeatedly biting the other chestnut that is in the centre of the photo - but it was a big horse and I suppose when you're only 5, probably looked quite scary.  It tried nibbling my backpack a few times, then turned its attention to Small and tried to nuzzle him.

While I'm used to horses, Small is not.  When Nosy started paying too much attention to him, Small started to panic.  Fearing a full blown meltdown which might have upset the horses, we moved on into the next field after managing to get a horse that was on the other side of the kissing gate to back up so we could get through.  Fortunately the horses in this field seemed more interested in talking to Nosy than paying any attention to us and we made our way down to the next set of gates.

Nice fencing and our target, the church, in the distance
Someone obviously has a lot of money here, as there was plenty of nice new post-and-rail fencing and heavy looking new wooden gates.  As the horses hadn't followed us, Small soon calmed down and he quickly found the next cache, and the next one too.

While we were walking down, there appeared to be some electric fencing running along the edge of the field.  I certainly wasn't going to find out whether it was or wasn't, but an interesting discussion ensued about what it was and why it was used, so the education continued even while we were enjoying a walk!   We soon got to the church and met up with Housemate who, in our absence, had worked out where the next cache was hidden.  Three out of four found today.

We had a few boring errands to run later on, but all in all a good day.

Until next time. x

Sunday, 4 January 2015

Clayton birdies

I'm sure you're all fed up by now of hearing about geocaching.  So I won't tell you we went out hunting today.  Instead, I'll write about the lovely walk we had today over near a little hamlet called Clayton.  I think I may have driven through the village once in the past, but I certainly don't remember it and it was good to get out on a wonderfully sunny-if-cold morning to get some fresh air and exercise.

Once again, we've ended up exploring somewhere we wouldn't otherwise have gone, and as the crow flies at least, we were only a few miles from home.

Beautiful blue skies on a frosty morning
Clayton and Frickley club
Bridge over the York-Sheffield railway line
Lovely open spaces
HMS and Small
A lone pine
More open fields
One of the few houses

Of course the kids loved this quagmire
Clayton and Frickley church in the distance
How Small finished the walk
And HMS wasn't much better
And just because I can't resist, we found all eight of the ones we set out to find today.  HMS also bagged his very first solo find, by which I mean he wasn't given any clues, hints or tips on where it might be.  He was made up!  The slightly sulky face changed in an instant and he wanted to go look for more.  He also didn't seem to mind that he was getting mucky - a huge change for a child who normally has a hissy fit if he gets the slightest bit of dirt on himself.  Success!

We also learned a bit about the various species of bird for whom the various caches we found today were named.  We didn't see any of those species, but did see some chaffinches, blackbirds and robins.

After lunch, it was off to "Toys Arrows" as Small calls that well known toy store.  Unfortunately he blotted his copybook big style by spitting at HMS just before we left so as a consequence of his actions, he wasn't allowed to buy anything today with his Christmas money.  After the initial humungous paddy as we were getting in the car, by the time we got to the store he seemed to have accepted what he'd been told and he didn't kick up a fuss when HMS got himself some Lego, so I hope a valuable lesson has been learned.

The moon was just rising as we were coming home.  It looked extremely beautiful and I tried to take some photos of it, but I just couldn't get it right and they looked awful.

All in all a very good day albeit with a hiccup, but I think both the boys enjoyed themselves and I'm pleased that HMS has joined in with the geocaching idea with enthusiasm.

Until next time. x