A stroll around the village

I woke up the other day to a very cold icy morning.  The temperature was -6C and there was ice on the inside of my bedroom window.  It was bitter and I thought of just staying in all day trying to keep warm.

Thankfully by mid morning the sun was trying it’s best to shine as bright as it could, as it peeped out from behind the clouds.  Now the ice had gone, I decided it would be a great day for a stroll; so I headed off for a short walk around Upton village by Chester and learnt a bit about the history of the village as I walked by.

Wrapped up warm I started my short walk at the old village pump. 

Before Chester waterworks brought water to the village of Upton in the late 1800’s, the residents used to get their water from this pump.  It is believed to be over 200 years old but it is no longer in use and surrounded by railings.  Only ivy cascades over the stone basin at the bottom of the pump now instead of water.

From here I carried on walking down the road looking up at the bare winter trees, taking note of their different textured bark, and listening to the birds twittering amongst the hedges as I passed.  I then came to a bowl shaped area of grass which was covered by a layer of brown and yellow leaves.

This depression in the ground is locally known as The Cock Pit.  It was originally part of the Victoria Hotel garden, and rumour has it that cock fighting used to take place here. There is however little evidence to say that such things happened here and the depression is more likely to be whats left of an old sand pit. 

I followed the little winding path through the Cock Pit and up to Upton church.  As I entered the churchyard, I saw a male blackbird scratting amongst the fallen leaves for grubs and a robin was perched upon a branch singing such a sweet song. 
Walking up to the wall of the church, I saw a Plague Stone, which is also known as a Wealstone.  This stone used to be in a wall at Upton Cross before being moved to the church in the mid 1900’s. 
The original position for the stone however, was on what is known as Butter Hill near Chester zoo.  It was here that it was used as a Plague Stone.  People from infected areas came to the Plague Stone and placed money in the bowl which contained disinfectants. In exchange for this money, food was then placed on the stone for them to collect.

Not far from the church is one of the oldest buildings in Upton and is built on the site of the Man in the Moon pub which can be seen on a 1735 map.
The front of the building says a date of 1745, but the house is thought to be older than this.  Obviously as with most buildings there have been alteration through time such as the gothic windows (which I love) and a raised roof.

Upton is well known for being the home of Chester zoo but there are lots more little interesting features around Upton as I’m sure there is where you live.  I could have spent ages out but the sky was getting dim and thick with cloud, and I could feel that biting cold in the breeze.  As I didn’t think I’d see Mr Sun again that day I decided to make my way back home making one final stop along the way.

The last stop on my stroll around the village was this lovely little lodge house.
I just love the little dragon on top of the roof and there are similar dragons on a lodge house in Hoole village not far from here too.  Apparently it is said that roof dragons ward off evil spirits and bring good luck.

I really enjoyed my little winters day stroll.  It’s actually the first walk I’ve been on since injuring my foot and of course the first walk of a new year.

I’m looking forward to many more walks this year and can’t wait to see what i’ll find when I’m out and about.


Steam Rally Day 24 of 30 Days Wild

It’s day 24 of 30 Days Wild and this weekend there is a steam rally in Kelsall, Cheshire. It’s not exactly a nature based activity but it meant I got to spend most of the day outdoors.

The first thing I saw was beautiful gentle shire horses and their 2 gorgeous foals. Even though they are babies they are still big. There was also little Shetland ponies and their cute little babies, which were so adorable to watch playing together.

Walking around the steam rally there are so many sights, sounds and smells that encapsulate the senses. I sat on the grass and watched steam engines roll past me like giant smoke breathing beasts. I saw swallows swooping low across the field of clover before me, catching insects amongst the hussle and bussle of so much human activity.

I watched lawn mower racing for the first time too. I was amazed how fast they went and how loud they were as the went around the track.

After a lot of walking, it was good to come home and just relax in the garden. I’m sat here now enjoying the evening sunshine and listening to the chirping birds and buzzing bees.

I hope you had a lovely time today, and you are enjoying the warm summer evening where you are tonight.


Wirral Wanderings -Day 21 of 30 Days Wild

First of all let me start by saying:

Merry Litha, Happy Summer Solstice and Gŵyl Ganol yr Haf hapus everyone. What ever you call the longest day I hope you had a fantastic time.

Today was another hot day but at least by the afternoon it turned overcast and we had 5 minutes of thunder and lightening to clear the air a tiny little bit.

For my 30 days Wild challenge today, I went for a stroll around different parts of the Wirral Peninsula.

My first stop this morning was Gordales garden centre. They have a little lake there and it was teaming with wildlife. There was buzzards flying over head cooing, moorhens splashing about in the water and a variety of small birds eating seed on the ground.

My next stop was Burton Manor gardens in the beautiful chocolate box village of Burton, followed by a quick pop into Burton RSPB nature reserve to see the fantastic wildlife there.

My next exploration took me to a little secret place tucked down a quiet lane called Hampston Well, also in Burton. The spring is is thought to have been in use during the Iron Age and Anglo Saxon times.  Sadly it was overgrown and I never got to see much which is a great shame.

As the sun started to rise high in the sky I drove down to Thurstaston beach to soak up the lovely scenery and gaze over at the Welsh hills across the water. (The river Dee estuary)

I then decided to head to the other side of the Wirral Peninsula.  Half way across I drove past the old Hadlow station. The  disused railway line is now called The Wirral Way and is a great place to walk if you wish to see wildlife and history.

On reaching the river Mersey side of Wirral, my first stop is the old Eastham churchyard to say hello to an ancient yew tree who is somewhere between 1,500-2,000 years old.

I then drove a little further, to walk around the old Eastham pleasure grounds. You can still see evidence here of old zoo cages and a bear pit. It is quite sad to think animals were once kept in such awful conditions in Victorian time.

My final stop of the day was to sit by the old 12th Century Eastham Ferry quay. I sat for a while watching ships come in along the river Mersey and gazed over at the Liverpool iconic skyline on the other side of the river.

Wirral is a wonderful place to visit and there is so much more to see…there just isn’t enough time in the day for me. (even if it is the longest day)

A springtime stroll

It was such beautiful weather in Cheshire at the weekend, it was decided that a stroll down the local country lanes was in order.

It’s amazing what can be seen while out for a little stroll.  There seemed to be quite a few butterflies fluttering about the wild verges.  Comma, tortoiseshell, orange tip and peacock butterflies danced about chasing each other.

Bees were also enjoying the sunshine buzzing, from one spring flower to the next.

A variety of birds tweeted merrily from the hedgerows.  Goldfinches, great tits and sparrows darted in and out of the hedges and trees.  Rooks and crows walked along freshly ploughed fields looking for worms and grubs: and 2 ducks sat in the water ditch along the side of the lane.

Walking down the lane I stopped to say hello to the remains of an old oak tree which stands on land that could have been subjected to fracking….what a horrific thought.

The area is so lucky to have locals, as well as lovely people at the fracking camp (that used to be on this land) and great crested newts that helped to protect the area.  I’m so glad that the field now has cows lazily grazing the lush green grass and it is a peaceful place to stand and ponder.

As I turned down the next lane I saw new buds on the chestnut trees, pussy willow bursting with catkins, and absolutely stunning blossom in the hedgerows.

I even saw animal trackways in the undergrowth, and I wondered what creatures use them at night.

Turning the next corner I could hear lambs bleating in the near-by field whilst the lion (from the zoo) roared loudly….I wonder what the local wildlife think of the roaring??

Homeward bound I stopped to watch the buzzard circling above and admire another beautiful oak tree.  This must be the earliest oak tree in the area as the others haven’t woken up yet.

It was a lovely walk and it is so nice to be out in nature admiring the beauty that springtime has to offer.

Volunteering in nature

Today was full of blustery winds, heavy rain showers and even hailstones, but first thing this morning I was greeted with a warm smile and a friendly welcome as I entered Hooton Hall, Wirral.
Hooton village memorial hall is believed to be a WW1 hut which is held in trust for the people of Hooton.  I didn’t know it existed until today but I’m glad I decided to visit the place and help out with some work that a nature company was doing there.
This Cheshire based company helps to connect people with nature and improve wellbeing.  Today they were asking for volunteers to help them at Hooton hall to install a new footpath within the grounds to improve access around the 4.5 acres of woodland.

After a lovely cup of tea we went off into the woodland to work on this new footpath.
We started by placing a membrane on ground then placed edging planks along the sides.  Stakes were driven in the ground with a lump hammer along set intervals and nailed to the board. It was great being outdoors chatting to new people and I found the morning went by very quickly.

After a yummy lunch, cup of tea and a warm by the fire we set off once again to the footpath.  We got busy with shovels, loading hardcore into wheelbarrows and trundling down to the prepared area to tip the material along the path.  The hardcore was raked as we went along, then I had a go of using the wacking plate over the surface to spread it and flatten it down.  Its amazing how much can be done in such a short time and what an impact it makes on the area.

Volunteering benefits nature, the community and your wellbeing.  It’s a great way to make friends, learn new skills and improve your physical health.
I love to be out in all weather and after being out in the cold and rain today I feel alive and more a part of nature than I would have done if I’d have stayed inside warm.  It’s nice to have a sense of achievement, knowing I’ve helped make a difference to the local community and nature.

making wildlife connections

At the weekend the local zoo organised a Wildlife Connections festival. This event was all about connecting people with nature and celebrating Britain’s wonderful wildlife; as well as show what incredible wildlife can be found right on your doorstep.

I love the Wildlife Connection project as it is all about creating connections from one wildlife friendly area to the next so that wildlife highways can be created in our neighbourhood, helping to protect our beautiful and precious wildlife.

I had lots of wildlife gardening to do first but after lunch I decided to take a walk down and have a look what was going on at the event. There was so many people enjoying the festival and kids were running around excitedly learning about the local wildlife in the nature reserve.  There were demonstrations on creating bee friendly gardens, making seed bombs; as well as the opportunities to build bird feeders, bug homes and toad abodes. There were local conservation and community organisations at the event too and it was really interesting to talk to them and find out about recording local wildlife etc..  There was also a nature based obstacle course, music and a solar powered cinema too.


After picking up some wildlife leaflets, (and even got some in Welsh) I walked around the nature reserve that the zoo created a few years ago. This 2 acre site has been created with wildflowers, native trees, a wildlife pond and a grass area. Its lovely to see how its evolved already since it first opened.


There was lots of activities happening within the nature reserve. Children sat on the grass listening to magical stories inspired by nature. There was pond-dipping, bug hunts and bird spotting.  I saw a drone’s eye view of the landscape and found out how drones are used to support conservation work and I watched the bees buzzing about the wildflowers.


I am very blessed to have many green spaces, beautiful countryside, parks and nature reserves near where I live and I look forward to seeing how this new nature reserve evolves and ages with time. It will be a nice place to sit and spot the wildlife that comes to visit here. It will be a nice place to stroll around looking for signs of animal tracks  or just watching the bees buzzing amongst the wildflowers.


It was brilliant to see so many people at the event and I look forward to hopefully seeing more local wildlife events at the nature reserve like camera trapping and surveys etc..and it would be nice to maybe see a bug hotel, hedgehog home or bat box up maybe.

The more people that become aware of their local wildlife the more people will hopefully start to care and make a difference in their community; inspiring more people to take action for native British species. Its easy to do a bit for nature where you live like, putting a CD size hole in your fence to help a hedgehog, planting wildflowers to help the bees, create a compost heap, a log pile or put a dish of water and food out for the birds.  Every bit helps 🙂


Nature spotting at a steam rally #30DaysWild

After the mornings heavy rain the sun peeked out from behind the clouds and shone down upon Cheshire.

I rushed out into the garden to gather in the tracking papers from my small mammal tunnel I had left out over the week. The papers were wet but soon dried out in the sun and thankfully the water didn’t affect the prints…phew!


Little hedgehog paw prints are all over the papers, though I am quite surprised there are no rodent prints yet as I know there are wood mice, voles and shrews in the garden.

As it was turning out to be a nice day I decided to go to Kelsall Steam Rally, Cheshire. I was determined not only to see the usual vintage machinery but to see what wildlife I could spot while I was there.


Luckily for me, the steam rally is held on farm land. As I walked across fields of white clovers I saw swallows swooping and diving for insects along the hedgerows and around the farm buildings. I went in the farm out-buildings and saw shire horses and 2 beautiful foals.


I have never been very good around horses as they sense I am wary of them so they too act wary of me, however the shire horses here were brilliant. They were so well natured and gentle, and one even came to me for a stroke, which made my day. I saw cows in the barn and one came over curious to see us. I stroked her nose and got a big lick. Their tongues are like sandpaper!


I had a great day out in Kelsall and am glad the weather stayed lovely and sunny. When I got back home I sat in the sunshine with a lovely cup of tea and a slice of cake watching the beautiful rosemary beetles and bees on the lavenders. The perfect ending to a lovely day.