Back to my lockdown list:

Play cards and board games with the kids.

Hasn’t happened at all. I envisaged grey, damp days, the family gathered around the table, a few salty snacks, and a game of Catan or Ticket to Ride underway. But we haven’t had grey days hardly at all. And all of us have been rather busier with school work than I realised we would be.

That being said, we have played a great deal of Mölkky, especially the DBs and I. Essentially, you take it in turns to throw a stick, demonstrated here by S…


And by A…


…who somewhat heatedly claimed that me taking photos was putting her off, or to quote “stressing her out”. I think she may even have accused me of cheating. Perish the thought. Gamesmanship, however…

Anyway, you chuck said stick at some smaller numbered sticks…


If you knock down just one, you score the number it has written on it, if you knock down several you score the number that have fallen and are lying flat on the ground.

The sticks are stood back up in the places they have landed. They can get quite dispersed.


You win by scoring exactly 50. If you score too many, then your score goes back to 25. Each turn is a single throw, so the minimum number of turns before you win is five. Gallingly, only B has won in five throws.

Unlike at Christmas, for my birthday I didn’t buy my own presents; I sent TBH a list of suggestions. Since she bought them all, and the boys bought me socks too, this is clearly the way to go in the future. Mölkky was one of my suggestions. The game is Finnish apparently. We like it! We first played this with a homemade set in my aunt’s garden in Germany last summer. You could probably turn out your own set from a couple of broom handles, but I have a strong feeling that if I attempted that I’d find myself with a wonky set which was one piece short.


Granary Bread – I’ve decided that I prefer loaves which are at least partly made from malted flour.


Peacock butterfly.

After our game, I wandered over to Gait Barrows.


A pair of Goldfinches.



Bluebells had appeared!


Gait Barrows has a lot of primroses. 


The drifts of primroses at Gait Barrows probably constitute successful management, since, I believe, primroses are an important food source for the caterpillars of Duke of Burgundy butterfly which is in decline nationally but is present at Gait Barrows. Not that I’ve ever seen one, sadly.


A mass of Herb Paris right beside the main track. I can only conclude that I’ve been blinkered for the last twenty odd years.




Spreading oak.


Just coming into leaf.

I cut across Coldwell Parrock, through the ‘new’ meadows the Landscape Trust have bought and through a little gate at the back of those meadows which brings you down a small path to the RSPB owned land around Silverdale Moss.


Somebody has done a lot of tidying up at Coldwell Limeworks.




Middlebarrow, Silverdale Moss and Arnside Knott.


The remnants of the Cloven Ash.


I think that this is cherry blossom.


Whatever it is, this honeybee appreciated it.


As did this bee fly.


These small flowers had me confused. It’s coralroot – the bulbils on the stems helped me to identify it. It’s not something I see very often and it has only appeared on the blog once before in fact. It only flowers briefly apparently, so there’s not much point in my going back to have another look a month on, but it grows from a rhizome so I will go and take a peek at the other place where I’ve seen it which is closer to home.


Lower leaves pinnate, upper leaves three lobed or simple.


Toothwort again, this time in Eaves Wood by Inman’s Road. There was quite an extensive patch. I like the way it has pushed its way through the moss. 


‘The force that through the green fuse drives the flower’.


More bluebells.

Yes We Can

Another Allen Toussaint song, originally recorded by Lee Dorsey in 1970. Again, there are loads of versions, but probably the best known is the Pointer Sisters 1973 version…

…which is pretty faithful to the original, but with a complex vocal arrangement and a new title ‘Yes We Can Can”.

My first encounter with this song was on Sly and Robbie’s album ‘Rhythm Killers’, an album which I really love. I’m not going to include that version because from that album I prefer their own song ‘Boops’ and their cover of the Ohio Players ‘Fire’.

I did come across this rap version by the Treacherous Three from 1982 which I rather like:

And, I was reading about Allen Toussaint and noticed that his first band included a guitar player called Roy Montrell which reminded me about this brilliant tune:

And now that I’ve remembered, I can’t think how I let this slip my mind! I also can’t remember how I know it. I must have it on a compilation somewhere I think. Apparently Roy Montrell and his band only released one other single. I wonder if it’s as good as this?



Tide is High


Arnside Tower.

Another January weekend and another three walk day. First an early circuit of Middlebarrow and Eaves Wood.

Later, Jack Scout and Jenny Brown’s Point.


Cow’s Mouth.

The tide was high, and unusually, there were even some small waves.




I remember standing behind a rock trying in vain to photograph the mass of Oystercatchers which were perched on the remaining stub of the old land reclamation wall which wasn’t submerged. Since I was using my cameraphone, that was always doomed to failure.

Although the water was still high, it had clearly been higher still and there was plenty of evidence that the salt-marsh had been inundated.



I often take photos of posters advertising events which interest me, hoping that they will serve as a reminder and spur me on to get out and attend.


In this case, Little S and I went and the talk was absolutely fascinating. S gave a short talk of his own at the start about his fund-raising for the jamboree he hopes to go to in Bangladesh in a couple of years. He did really well, and what’s more, the assembled members of the Horticultural Society were incredibly generous.

One last walk to report that day, but only up the hill to a neighbour’s house. He’d had surgery a little while before and was getting stir-crazy convalescing. I took a game with me…


…which my brother had bought us for Christmas. As ever, it was a great choice and I really enjoyed playing.

My photos from the following day, a Sunday, are all of the sunset, taken at The Cove. I assume that the weather had been poor and only cleared up late on.


Some tunes:

Maybe not what you were expecting? I remember this cover version was released as a single which was given away free with the NME. I think the other side was their cover of ‘Eight Miles High’ which is brilliant. I still have it. Somewhere. I saw Hüsker Dü at the International in Manchester. That gig has the dubious distinction of being the loudest I have ever been to.  (That is, way too loud). Even louder than The Clash at the De Montfort in Leicester, which made my friend M’s ears bleed.

And then, because this maybe is what I lead you to expect…


Tide is High

Breaking Bread at Christmas


Christmas Eve Baguettes

Over Christmas, we had a houseful of guests: my brother and his family flew over from Switzerland and my mum and dad joined us too.


Christmas Day at The Cove.

We managed to get out for a short walk every day. I baked bread most days* and did a lot of cooking, often with my brother.


Christmas Dinner – clean plates all round


Cinnamon and Raisin Bread

We played a lot of games, Mexican Train, played with dominoes, I think being the one we played the most.


Yorkshire Puds – haven’t made these for years and I don’t think I’ve ever had them rise this much, hence the photo!


Sunrise at the Pepper Pot



There was a family trip to the flicks to watch the latest Star Wars offering and another to an Escape Room (although I took one for the team and missed both of those).

One day two of my cousins and their families joined us, which was terrific. We had our first chance to meet the newest member of the family.


A family walk to see…


Sunset from the shore

*My bread making has had new impetus since I picked up a second hand copy of Richard Bertinet’s book ‘Dough’. His recipes give very wet doughs. Here he is demonstrating slap-and-fold kneading:

And a tune:

Breaking Bread at Christmas

A Week in Ratzeburg


After the party, we were able to spend a week in Ratzeburg thanks to the generosity of my cousin K and her family, who lent us their house for the week whilst they were away in their campervan. This is a different cousin K than the one mentioned a couple of posts ago – they are sisters, the oldest and youngest of four.

K’s partner J is a stone mason and sculptor and their house and garden are decorated with examples of his work…



The buddleia at the front of the house was also prolifically decorated with butterflies. Mostly, but not exclusively Painted Ladies…




Small White, I think.


I haven’t been able to identify this day flying moth. It’s quite striking though, even without a name.


We were extremely comfortable in our home from home and very grateful to our hosts. We had a couple of very wet days and it was great to discover that they love board games possibly even more than we do. Here are A and B taking defeat graciously after a game of Settlers of Catan…


A Week in Ratzeburg

Three Weeks Under Canvas: Kubb at Towyn Farm


So, as the title implies, we’re recently back from three weeks of camping. The late-evening photo above shows our trusty Conway Countryman trailer tent, with Carn Fadryn in the background. Long-suffering readers will know that this was the thirteen annual get together at Towyn Farm near the village of Tudweiliog on the north coast of the Llyn Peninsula (although, only our twelfth, because we skipped 2009 to go to Germany for my aunt’s birthday instead.)

This year we were a party of 17, at least when everybody was there. Different members of the group arrived and left at various times, some only there for the weekend, others staying for longer. We were late, the boys and I arriving early on the Sunday after an early-hours start. We should have been there on the Saturday, but muppetry on my part, including not being able to locate the pump for the tap (it was in the sink) and not remembering, until B reminded me as we were about set-off, that the number plate on the trailer needed to match the ones on our new (to us) car. TBH and A arrived later still, on the train, having stayed behind because A had her DofE Bronze expedition that weekend.

Anyway, once we were safely pitched up, we had the usual marvellous time. The mornings were often misty and damp, but the weather always improved by the afternoon and we spent our afternoons on the beach. In fact, we settled into a rhythm of a late and leisurely breakfast, a late lunch and a very late evening meal, usually followed by one final visit to the beach, in the gloaming, and a late retirement to bed. I’m not sure whether the prevailing weather dictated our behaviour or if it just fit in conveniently with our lazy inclinations.

After so many visits, we have a routine for the beach too, alternating swimming with games of tennis, cricket and some frisby throwing. I don’t have any photos, because I don’t like to take my camera to the beach. After all of the fresh water swimming we had been doing, the temperature of the Irish Sea came as something of a shock – it was freezing. But that didn’t prevent some of the kids from spending hours in there.

The game of Kubb has become part of our regular routine too. My brother bought us a set several years ago, and it has to be one of the best presents ever (and he excels at presents). I’ve never seen anyone else playing it and our games always seem to attract attention and questions wherever and whenever we play. (As does Andy’s enormous space-age trailer-tent).


It’s a good game for parties like ours, since up to twelve can play, in two teams. Essentially it involves knocking down wooden blocks by throwing wooden batons at them, which makes it sound rather dull, but it isn’t at all. When we play, it also involves a great deal of barracking, banter, gamesmanship and accusations of cheating and, in the case of the game in these photos, a fair deal of hubris too. The team on the right here, who had, in fairness, won once already, had been ahead in this game too, but are now on the point of losing.


You can find the rules here. Andy will be disappointed to find that ‘kubbs that right themselves due to the momentum of the impact are considered knocked down’ since that happened to him and, despite his quite correct insistence, we overruled him and let the offending kubb stay upright. Disappointed is probably the wrong word. Disgruntled, unsettled, indignant, might all be closer. Indignation is one of his strong suits, though, in truth, his bark is much worse than his bite. Once he knows the truth, we will never hear the end of it, that’s for sure.


During one of our late trips to the beach, I think on the same evening that I took this photo, we saw several seals popping above the surface briefly to watch us, watching them. I’ve seen seals along this coast before, but usually early in the mornings, and not by this relatively busy stretch of beach.

Three Weeks Under Canvas: Kubb at Towyn Farm

Exploding Kittens


The Cove on Boxing Day.

We spent Christmas at home here in Silverdale. My mum and dad and my brother and his family came to stay for the week. We packed a fair bit in: walks, turkey, stuffing, lots of games, trampolining (well, not all of us), a trip to the flicks, turkey pie, a get together with two of our cousins and their families, a take-away curry (no turkey in sight), more games, more walks, far too much chocolate etc.

The very serious expressions here…


…don’t really convey how funny the card game Exploding Kittens is to play. We also played: Fives-and-Threes, One-armed Pete, Mexican Train (all dominoes), Camel Super Cup, Code Names (picture version), Tension, Caboodle, Pictionary, and probably several others which I have temporarily forgotten.

My own current favourite of the new games we bought each other is Kingdomino which we’ve played quite a bit since Christmas and which, especially with just two players, really makes you think, whilst being easy to understand and quick to play.


At the Pepper Pot on Christmas Day.

On Boxing Day we had a fairly long walk, about 5 miles, to the cove, across the Lots, through Bottom’s Wood to Woodwell, along the clifftop path to the Green, through Burtonwell Wood to the rift cave, on to The Row and home through Eaves Wood.


The weather started bright, but rain clouds were building and, whilst we didn’t get wet, it did cloud over. Still, a lovely stroll and there was more to come…

Exploding Kittens