Thirty things I want to do before I turn thirty - #30before30!

Monday, April 25, 2016

It seems like tradition these days to have a little 'to-do' list - a bucket list if you like, of things you want to achieve before you hit a milestone age. One of the classic muses for this project, is the fantastic 'The 30 Before 30 Project' which is a fantastic read, as well as Sarah over at Moon + Forest (link removed, no longer available) who put her own spin on the #30before30 idea and has created a list of places she'd like to visit.

Since today is the day I reach the age of twenty nine, it seems quite apt that I undertake the challenge and really push myself. I'll be posting an entry each time I complete one of my #30before30, and linking them below.

This list is personal to me - it might seem insignificant to some, but each and every one of my goals is something that I've always wanted to do. Sure, some are pure indulgence, but some are also huge personal fences I'd like to leap over with grace and dignity. I'm pretty sure there will be lots of frustration and tears involved too!

My #30before30:

(1) to go vegan for one week.
(2) complete the thirty days of yoga challenge (as found here).
(3) to climb a mountain.
(4) make a vlog.
(5) visit an aquarium/sea life centre.
(6) up-cycle a piece of furniture.
(7) forage for wild ingredients.
(8) have a photo shoot done.
(9) make an article of clothing and wear in in public.
(10) learn to crochet.
(11) make my own pasta.
(12) pull an 'all nighter'.
(13) have a ride in a cable car.
(14) to go camping!
(15) to go on an organised ghost hunt
(16) open a bottle of champagne.
(17) make my own Christmas cakes.
(18) host a dinner party.
(19) to make my own jam.
(20) to have afternoon tea.
(21) have a weekend break in a city I've never been to.
(22) pass my driving theory exam.
(23) to go to a fancy dress party in costume.
(24) plant a vegetable garden and maintain it.
(25) learn to create milk braids in my hair
(26) walk over 10 miles in one day
(27) watch a sunrise
(28) sing karaoke
(29) to plant and tend to some roses
(30) have a manicure

Photo credit: slice of white birthday cake via photopin (license)

Walton Hall & Gardens, Warrington.

Sunday, April 17, 2016

This is one of my favourite places to visit, and we decided to indulge in a 'pick me up' trip there as we've both had a really hard few weeks with starting work and looking for a new home. Walton Gardens is in Warrington, and its a great place to visit as a family - or as a couple looking for a bit of a mooch around.

The zoo is my favourite place. Mostly because there are lots of fluffy animals that love getting attention from people who like giving attention to animals - namely me. The zoo is free to visit, although you have to buy feed for the animals if you want to let them have a nibble.

Peacocks wander and fly around the zoo freely, often shouting to let you know they're around. They're an inquisitive bunch, and you may find them staring down at you from the other enclosures - this fellow took an interest in Mike taking photographs and allowed us to get a lovely series of photographs. The fact he started flashing his tail at Mike makes me wonder if he took more of an interest in him, than the camera!

I love donkeys. There are two in this enclosure, one likes attention while the other prefers to stay away - this fella is photogenic and we couldn't help but scratch his nose. He did have a nibble at my sleeve a few times, so keep an eye out for any loose bracelets or clothing!

Another character - whenever we tried to get a photograph of him he tried to head-butt the camera - despite the loving look he tries to lull you in with. He did also like his ears scratched so we managed to get a picture of him in the end.

Another head-butter. He shared the same enclosure as the goat I mentioned previously, and it was a nightmare to try and get photographs while they were on attack mode.

Bizarrely enough, the head-butters were both cohabiting with this rabbit. He looks perpetually grouchy so we had to get a picture. We have three photographs of this guy, all with different angles and the same look.

Turkeys usually aren't my cup of tea, scaring me with how big they are - but I have a soft spot. My scarf was his goal, although he posed nicely for us (and for long enough for me to scratch his little nose!). The turkeys shared an enclosure with a group of mischievous young goats, so I did feel quite sorry for them as they seemed to be getting a little harassed!

After the zoo, we had a stroll through to the gardens, which are largely ornamental. This pond is stocked full of (apparently) beautiful big koi, but being irrationally phobic of fish I wasn't privy to this - I was way, way too scared and was practically in a bush in my haste to put meters between me and them. There are outtakes to this, and no, I shall not post them!

The garden was just coming into bloom, so we could only find a few blossoms unfortunately - but they were pretty enough blooms to snap a picture of. The gardens are incredibly well tended, and you can see the huge amount of work that the volunteers and staff have put in during the winter months - it has really paid off.

I have one question, however.. There were a few of these around the gardens and parks. Trees with masses of sticks stored up in the branches - at a distance we thought they were nests, but as we got closer and the 'nests' got bigger and bigger we figured the birds that needed nests this size would be simply colossal..

Any ideas?

Carr Mill Dam, St Helens.

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

After our adventures in Sankey Valley we decided to visit a place we'd seen crop up a few times while planning that series - Carr Mill Dam. I'd had a few DM's recommending the dam as a great place for photographing the local wild life which is always one of my favourite things to do, so during the Easter half term we packed up the camera and made our way over.

After we parked, we slowly made our way down a rather sodden pathway (wellies are very much needed!) and discovered a red brick bridge crossing the waters. It had low sides which was a nice change, as usually my hobbit-sized self has to stand on tiptoes to peer over at the views either side of bridges!
Lots of friendly dog walkers favour this route, as well as walking groups - we had a huge crowd of walkers pass us by, putting us to shame as they were dressed for the occasion while I was rocking wedges.

We followed the route around the shoreline, listening to the sounds of the dam. Its a haven for local bird life, boasting Kingfishers and Grebes amongst other frequent visitors. We were treated to the Grebe dancing for each other, which is a sight to behold - true romancers!
Again, this route was incredibly muddy in places and I really recommend wearing better shoes than I did. I managed in the end, but I was caked in mud. As we wander around places like this, we often keep an eye out for things we can 'forage' - we haven't had the guts to actually forage anything for our own plates yet but its something I want to do in future.

I love mushrooms - so spotting this Jew's Ear mushroom and photographing it was imperative. Apparently this type of mushroom is used in Hot & Sour soup, so I think next time I'll be grabbing some and drying them out for later use! Obviously, mushrooms are something you shouldn't gather and eat unless you are 100% certain about them - I cannot stress enough how dangerous eating the wrong types are so please don't do it on my say-so! We google the heck out of things like this!

The dam itself is right around the other side of the water to where we parked - but it was a lovely walk through the woods, although closer to the dam it became a little more industrial. The dam was overflowing today which made for some pretty photographs - and you could get right down to the side of the water which I'm not used to! The reservoirs around Yorkshire are pretty good at keeping you away from the waters edge for safety reasons, so this was a nice and naughty change.
The walk wasn't a strenuous one, and it took us about an hour and a half to slowly make our way around. There were some people walking dogs who passed us around 20 minutes in, so if you want a nice area to squeeze a calorie burning workout in this is the place!

The World of Glass in St Helens, Merseyside.

Saturday, April 09, 2016

We decided to visit the World of Glass in St Helens this week - a place that I've always seen when out and about in town but never really visited. Obviously, we decided to take some photographs as we wandered around the various exhibits - and we even paid the £8 to have a look at the tunnels which feature later!

When you first go through the glass doors into the building, this is what you're faced with. Its actually quite surprising - I certainly didn't expect to be faced with the huge space above me framed with red brick. (FYI, if you plan on a little bit of a sing song this is the place to be, the echo made even me sound good)!
The layout is a little confusing at first - once you make it through the more official entrance a desk awaits where you can spend £8 to watch the glass blowing lecture and visit the tunnels, or simply have a free visit around the exhibits in the main building or eat at the brand new café. For those with children, there is a fun little play area and maze - we had a great time 'testing' the child friendly activities!

The glass blowing lecture was quite a lengthy affair, but I enjoyed it immensely. The lecturer talked us through each and every step of the glass blowing process, as she made a beautiful glass bowl - which is available to buy in the World of Glass artisan shop afterwards. The front row were warned beforehand that they would feel the full effect of the furnaces when they were opened, and judging by the reactions it was a noticeable increase in temperature! Obviously due to the nature of what was going on, the room was quite hot - and it lasted a good thirty minutes.
After the talk wrapped up, we went for an explore over the glass bridge which was only accessible with a cute little 'World of Glass' sticker which you purchased back at the entrance.

Going through these doors felt a little naughty at first, as there are no staff to encourage you to go over or talk you through things. I remember telling Mike that I felt like a child on a school trip that had wandered away from the group - so it was a little surreal! The bridge crossed over the canal to another building which housed more exhibits and 'the tunnels' - as you can see, Mike took full advantage of the scary glass panels.. I wasn't so brave.

NOTE: Hard hats are provided for the tunnel sections of this building, as the ceilings are very low and the ground is uneven.
The bridge leads you into a large exhibit, and then urges you out to explore the tunnels below. Its hard to capture the real atmosphere underneath with pictures, but it was an incredible experience. The old brickwork in some places was melted due to the intense heat used in the glass making, and you can touch and feel the scars that the old tunnels had due to the industry. The old kilns and cooling tunnels in the outdoor area are also free to walk around, though we didn't linger as it was a very chilly day.

We obviously had to have some fun in the area designed for children too - a lot of optical illusions and even a mirrored maze, all within sight of the glass panelled café so you can indulge in a coffee while the little ones amuse themselves - unless like us, you have a play too. Its very child friendly, and the staff are incredibly attentive.
The gift shop is stocked with the glass made on site - all hand made, and hand finished. The prices range from £12.99 for the gorgeous baubles you can see, to up to £75 for some of the more elaborate glassware.
All in all, the £8 we paid was a little steep admittedly.. But a lot of the exhibits are school based, and they engage in the local community a lot so I think that £8 is a good price to pay for keeping those available. There are a lot of workshops and artisanal events available for all ages, and I recommend having a nosy on the website or giving them a call if you want to take part!
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