The Walkathon

Today is day 20 of the Walkathon but we haven’t ventured out yet. We’ll go for a walk in Lyme Park today I think, although at the moment the sky is looking full of rain and it’s a bit windy! But, come rain or shine we will be going out! The past 20 days of walking every day have been lovely. Getting outside into nature is the best thing for me, especially in lockdown.

So where have we been and what gorgeous creatures have we met? Well, we’ve met Ferdinand, Gracie, Bo, Joe, Kathy and Heathcliffe, 6 gorgeous calves that are usually busily munching grass in a field near home. We’ve met the two pigs who always come running when we call for them. Although we’ve sadly been informed they are no longer with us! We’ve seen some lovely ducks, dippers and a kestrel. We’ve seen deer herds recovering from a busy rutting season and we’ve seen lots of highland cattle too. Obviously, me being me, I talk to them all and make a big fuss. We’ve met all these beauties on our various walks and we love it! We know a lot of walks that start from our door step so we explore the greater Mill Brow area a lot. We go to Lyme Park a lot too, usually getting a take away hot chocolate half way round. We obviously get the luxury one with whipped cream and marshmallows!

A new place we explored very recently was Shining Tor, not too far from my Mum’s old house. There had been reports of a Snow bunting which is very uncommon in these parts. We headed up the huge hill in extremely windy and misty conditions and right at the top, we saw it. He was absolutely gorgeous, bobbing about without a care in the world. I don’t normally twitch birds because I don’t like the thought of 10’s of people surrounding a bird who is probably exhausted and out of its way. But, this snow bunting had no crowd and so we enjoyed it for a brief few minutes before leaving him to munch away. The weather up there was a treat in itself, the wind was so strong it was tricky to stay upright. The clouds formed a thick layer that seemed to be covering the top half of the world. Almost like a blind that had been pulled half way down our view. It was amazing!

Being out and about at this time of year there’s lots of leaves on the ground and so I’m trying to identify the trees they came from if they look new to me. I saw some love heart shaped leaves the other day and discovered they are from Lime trees. I also figured out Field maple too. Although all the leaves are a bit slippy underfoot, I love seeing all the colours together. They look gorgeous and that’s why I love this time of year. Especially on crisp, sunny days with a bright blue sky.

On top of my walking I’ve done some bird ringing in the garden which is nice. In fact, the first bird I caught the other day was a nuthatch that i’d already ringed. A gorgeous male that I first encountered in May.

I’ve also been doing my turkish lessons and PhD work. I have an exam for Turkish early next year and have decided to step my learning up a bit so I can practice as much as possible.

I’m really missing rock climbing at the moment and can’t wait for December to arrive so me and Mol can start going again. I feel my strength that I’d been building up is dwindling by the day! EEK! I’m doing yoga every morning to try and help my flexibility which I hope will help when we finally go back. It’s also really nice to do for relaxing and getting any tension out. It’s probably something I will continue doing after lockdown ends.

These past weeks I’ve made some lovely new recipes for tea too. Including a sweet potato one pot dish and a courgette and asparagus tart. I’ve basically turned Mum and Mol veggie now and so we’re trying new recipes to keep everything exciting. Nigella, eat your heart out! hehe

That’s it for now really.

Stay safe and happy!

xx

Walking through lockdown

Since my last post I have been quite busy with lots of lovely things. Birding, climbing, working and walking as per usual. I actually had a lovely bird ringing session with Jake and Ingrid, setting up nets on the edge of a flooded field to try and catch Snipe, Teal or Lapwing. We arrived really early so it was pitch black and the birds wouldn’t be too spooked. This meant we got to use Ingrid’s night vision binoculars to assess what was about. Through the device we could see lots of glowing white birds, these were canada geese they were there to rest for the night. We waited for a while and had a brew to warm up. The sun slowly began to rise and things became brighter. All of a sudden the birds began moving as they were waking up from their slumbers. This led to us catching two Snipe and two Lapwing. We ran to the nets so fast, we were all very excited! Snipe are utterly lovely up close. They have long delicate beaks and gorgeous big eyes. They were both so calm and lovely to handle. The lapwings were just super to see! After all the biometrics were taken and the birds were released we celebrated with some tasty cookies that Ingrid has made. The early start was well worth it!

After the lovely morning of bird ringing I went home, got myself ready and headed into Manchester with Mol. We decided we’d have a night away as our holiday for 2020. Neither of us have been anywhere this year and we wanted one night of relaxation and loveliness. We’d booked to stay at the Midland hotel so we could go and eat lovely food and do some Christmas shopping. It was such a nice couple of days. When we arrived we went down Canal Street to find the Divina DeCampo painting as she’s one of our favourite drag queens! We didn’t even care that it was raining! We ate some amazing pancakes for lunch and then did a bit of shopping which was great. After drinking some wine in our room we headed out for a delicious evening meal at Cottonopolis in the Northern Quarter. They do Japanese tapas dishes and they were incredible. So so tasty! Although I have to say, we tried a couple of their cocktails and they were a bit much for us! haha Think we’ll stick to our espresso martinis and long island ice tea in the future! It was so nice to get away with Mol and have a girly, sister day to ourselves.

We’ve been rock climbing a few times which has been brilliant. We’re both definitely seeing an improvement and I feel more muscley and fit than I have in a long time! woo! I might be small, but I’m a strong bean!

On Saturday it was Halloween so we carved pumpkins to make sure we were protected from any spooky spirits! I love Halloween and the traditions behind it. I was working at the bar that night which was nice. There was a bit of gloom cast over the shift though because Boris Johnson announced the second lockdown that would be starting in the next few days. COVID seems to be everywhere now and so the only thing that can be done is to shut everything down again. I’m gutted I won’t be able to work, it has been so lovely to get out of the house and chat with different people. I actually thought I’d handled the news quite well but the next day I had a bit of a melt down about it all. Mol gave me a big hug and calmed me down. Sometimes things just pile up and a good cry clears your head! Me and Mum have decided that every day of the lockdown we are going to go on a walk, come rain or shine. This way we get out of the house, can enjoy nature and most importantly, we can smile. The walks have been lovely so far. We’ve made friends with some calves and splashed around in puddles. The rain has been pretty torrential lately so footpaths are now streams!

That’s all really. This next few weeks are going to be strange but I need to keep smiling and enjoying the simple things. And if not, I can always drink a load of mulled wine!

Stay safe

xx

Edinburgh and Newcastle

I’ve not written in what feels like ages. It’s been so busy over Christmas and new year and I’ve really just wanted to enjoy being home with my lovey little family. Christmas was cosy and this New Years Eve I just decided to watch telly with Mol and get an early night. A lovely addition to the festivities was my cousin getting married, it was small and gorgeous and got to spend another day with all my family.

2020 so far has been nice and normal. Doing bits of work and plodding on with the day to day.

To mix things up a bit I decided to book a trip up to Edinburgh to see my friend Stacey. I’ve never been to Scotland and so it was pretty exciting for me! I should travel more of the U.K. really. Anyway, I went up to Edinburgh on Wednesday, and after a cancelled train and a bit of faff, I managed to give my friend a hug after nearly two years!!!! She lives in a van which felt even more like an adventure. We headed out to park up in the Pentlands, chatted and slept! The next day we did a bit of exploring Edinburgh to see some famous sites! Unfortunately I’ve got a cold so my entire trip I felt a bit yucky, but we made the most of it! We ate lovely pancakes and I felt constantly amazed at ALL the Scottish people in Scotland….. probably one of the more silly things I’ve ever thought or said out loud!! The second day was much the same, exploring more of the gorgeous city. We wandered up to the castle and just enjoyed each other’s company. Lovely!!

Friday evening I left the extremely chilly Edinburgh for a slightly milder Newcastle. I’ve been meaning to visit Newcastle for ages as my Nana bloody loves it!! I have a lovely excuse to visit now as my little cousin is at uni there. I arrived and met Katy and after dumping my stuff we went for some tea at a lovely Italian place! Her friend Izzy met us too which was nice, most of the chat was about cats. I think I’m officially a crazy cat lady!!! The next day we wandered into the city for brunch and looked at the sites. We saw the bridges over the river Tyne, spotted the castle and I just enjoyed seeing new places for the first time! I also managed to meet one of my northern friends too which was lovely! It was a happy and chilled day! Today me and Katy went back into the centre and managed to get a spot in the cat cafe for lunch. Best place I’ve ever been I think?! We got to chat with all the cats (I was actually the only person talking to the cats, no one else did?!?!) and had a brew and a toastie. Not bad eh?! We then went for a drink at this cool place made from loads of shipping containers and enjoyed some live music. Chilled again!

I’ve had a really lovely time on my whirlwind trip. So lovely to step out of the norm for a bit!! Now I’m on the train home and back to it tomorrow!

Not a bad 2020 so far!!

Xx

It’s been a while!

Oooops. I’ve not been the best at writing this blog lately. This is the first time I’ve written in 3 weeks. But to be honest, I’ve been busy with life and doing lovely things with lovely people!

I am now back in the U.K. for the Christmas break. I’ll actually be back for a while now which is nice. I don’t usually spend long at home so I’m always rushing and can’t properly enjoy it.

It’s been a few weeks of mixed emotions. Leyla, one of the kittens, became really sick and died. Poor little thing. Luckily the other cats are healthy and seem to be doing fine. So 6 lovely ones left.

Me and Doğukan went to Karpaz for a road trip one day. It was a really stormy day and so we couldn’t even paddle in the sea. But it was quite nice to drive in the thunder and see it travelling across the mountains. We visited a small beach on the way back and explored an old Greek church nearby which was cute! It’s nice to imagine the old times and what they must have been like.

It was Doğu’s birthday and we had a lovely day with his family! A few nights before we went out with our friends, Hannah and Ash, too. The family meetings are always so busy and crazy and I am constantly trying to understand all the Turkish! All of his aunties were over which was a first, usually there are one or two missing. They are all so lovely and it’s nice to chat with them. Even if it is very broken Turkish and English!

My last week in Cyprus my Mum and Beth came over which was lovely. I stayed with Doğu but we had nice times with them. One afternoon me Mum and Doğu went up St Hilarion castle. It’s the only castle I have visited in Northern Cyprus so I was really chuffed. The views were amazing and it was so silent up there. It must have been such a huge castle back when it was lived in. There were three levels with the lowest one being for soldiers. There were royal apartments with amazing views and various kitchen areas. We liked seeing all the plants that had started to take over again. Fun fact actually, St Hilarion is where Richard the Lionheart had his honeymoon and is the inspiration behind the castle in Disney’s Snow White. We loved the little adventure!!

The day after, Mum and Beth came over to me and Doğu for a wander along the beach and some tasty gözleme! Mum loved meeting the lady that makes the gözleme. She couldn’t wait to take a photo of her!

It was bittersweet when I left Cyprus. I was so excited to get home and see all my lovely family. But at the same time, I didn’t want to leave Doğukan and all our lovely cats. Being home has been lovely so far though. I’ve seen my gorgeous family and had loads of cuddles which is always the best! I’m really not getting used to the cold weather though. I know I’m complaining too much about it!

I’m trying to relax into being home and enjoying it. I always find it tricky to adjust when I get to a new place. Just for the first few days or so. I have a crazy time at home aswell because I’m in between my Mum and my Dads so I’m like a yo-yo! But it’s lovely anyway!

That’s all for now, a very quick update!

Xx

One poorly kitten

This week has been another lovely week in Cyprus filled with sunshine, smiles and sea views. There was a small hiccup in the middle of the week as the youngest kitten, Lucky, becoming really sick. One afternoon we noticed he was limping and then he became really tired. The next day he was the same and so we took him to a vets nearby as he wasn’t eating. Unfortunately this vet was pretty rubbish, she just gave him an injection of what we presume was antibiotics, didn’t check his temperature, didn’t check his foot that was sore, nothing…. She just told us to come back tomorrow. Later that night he got a lot worse and quickly went downhill. Dogu took him to an emergency vet and the vet said it was a 50% chance of whether he’d survive. He had a dangerously high temperature and his breathing was bad. They kept him in all night and gave him lots of fluids and started him on a shock treatment of antibiotics. Luckily he pulled through. We have had to go back to the vets each evening for more antibiotic injections but he is returning to his normal self! phew!!!

Apart from the cat drama, the week has been lovely.

We have enjoyed a few wanders into the countryside. It has actually been lovely to do this in the evening because some different birds are around since the last time I was here. There are lots of singing Robins defending their territories. Stonechats are everywhere now, sitting on their thin perches. I even heard a Black redstart a couple of days ago. They have a weird and wonderful song!

We have done some more olive picking this week and finally finished the trees in the garden. Its not easy work! I now fully appreciate olive oil! The time it takes to pick all the olives in a way that doesn’t damage the trees is so long! After we pick them the family sort out which olives will be used for oil and which for eating. The oil ones are taken to an olive press and the lovely elixir is made! The olives for eating are bashed with a stone, soaked in salty water for days, and then are ready! Dogu mixed his olives with garlic and oregano and olive oil and they are just so lovely! So much so that I actually got a saw tongue from eating so many!!!!

We have been busy in the garden his week. October in turkish is called Ekim and it is related to the word Ekmek which means to sow. We have been planting broad beans which was fun! We are also watching eagerly for the other crops to grow. So far there are carrots, garlic, parsley, artichoke, spinach, kale and sweet potatoes growing! We picked a lot of loofahs this week. A natural, organic alternative to plastic sponges! We have so many!

Other things we have done this week are eat Gozleme (a thin bread type thing filled with cheese or whatever you fancy!). The lady that makes them is so lovely, she always gives us extra treats! She was impressed with my turkish grammar which was nice to hear! We also went to a bazaar yesterday that our friend Deniz helped host. It was full of little stalls which handmade trinkets. One stall was full of homemade crystal bead bracelets and I was sold! A new sunstone bracelet is now in my possession!

Other than that, we’ve enjoyed seeing friends, eating good food and watching amazing storms!

Nice!

xx

Olive picking

Another week has gone by and I’m yet again in another country!! On Tuesday I flew to Cyprus and have loved every minute so far! I got to cuddle my lovely Doğukan and have lots of love from all of our cats! How can that be bad?!

I’ve seen lots of other people this week too. I met Doğu’s friend Orçun for the first time. He was so lovely!! And I’ve also seen our friend Mert which was great. We were talking about different Christmas traditions which made me all excited! I’ve brought some Christmassy things over with me to show everyone!!

We’ve just been enjoying being back to normal really, and chilling out at home. This weekend a lot of Doğukan’s family came over to help us pick olives from the trees. It’s so funny when they all arrive, they are all chatting away and then trying to chat to me, but I can’t understand everything so I just nod along!! When they come they always bring amazing food though, so it’s brill!! In total be picked around 200kg of olives on Saturday and we still have more to go. Today has been hard to collect them because a storm came in and made it really windy!! I’m so excited to taste some of the olive oil once it’s done!

Last night we went to see our friends Ash and Hannah which was so lovely! It was just great to catch up and enjoy nice stories. It was also nice to have some wine too!!

So that’s the week really, mainly olives and friends. What more could a girl want?!

Xx

It’s rainy here!!

I’ve had a lovely week this week. It was my last week in Cyprus for a few weeks and so I wanted to make the most of it!! And obviously I’ve spent my time with Doğukan and his family.

One afternoon we went on another adventure up to Karaağaç up in the mountains. The roads are long and winding but the views are just amazing. The air always feels fresh and cool up there and I reckon it’s a good detox for your lungs! We spent a while up there, enjoying the smell of wild sage and just listening to the peace and quiet. Every now and then a great tit would do a little call, but not much else.

On Tuesday we took ourselves to Karpaz for one night and spent it in a wooden cabin. Thought we’d treat ourselves this time! We have a lovely Karpaz routine now. We go to our favourite cafe and drink the best Frappes and we got to Ayios phillon beach for a swim! The sea is getting cooler now, but it was still lovely, although I was getting chased by fish!! We played some backgammon and I lost basically every game. But I’m learning slowly and it’s just nice to play and forget everything else. I get quite competitive towards the end!! We enjoyed nice food and just had a lovely time as always!!!

Apart from doing uni work, a lot of the week was spent helping his parents remove the tiles and cement from the terrace and balcony so they can put in a better insulated one! It was bloody hard work and very sweaty, but we did it! We make a really good team. I think his mums cooking helped us, and gave us good energy! Plus, they brought sweet treats as well which is always good!!!!

Apart from that it’s just been us and the cats. The gorgeous cats! They’ve become quite cheeky recently and are enjoying the canopy outside the house as there own personal balcony.

Yesterday Doğu and his lovely sister Diloş took me to Larnaca for me to get my flight home. I got lots of lovely cuddles before I left which put a smile on my face! And now I’m home. And I get to see all my lovely family’s and get even more hugs!! How lucky am I?!

Xxx

Living a happy life

Two weeks since my last blog post, which I guess isn’t too bad…

As usual I have been smiling lots and enjoying life here in Cyprus. The weather has been quite humid the past couple of weeks, but luckily last night there was a huge thunder storm which seems to have gotten rid of the stickiness! phew!

Last weekend was the first Kuskor field trip since the break in the summer. A big group of people turned out which was nice. Some people I’ve met before and some newbies. It was great to be out in the field again. We went to Kukla wetlands for most of the day. Having been dry as a bone for the last few years, it is now thriving after the winter rains this year. Thousands of birds are taking advantage of the site and it’s just gorgeous to see. There were hundreds of flamingos, various sandpiper species, little egrets, an osprey, an eagle, marsh harriers and montagu’s harriers. There were even a few lovely tern species which were coming quite close to the hide. It really was lovely. Pretty hot, but lovely! After Kukla we went for lunch at a local cafe and all enjoyed a turkish coffee or tea. Bee-eaters were about and singing in the sky. My Mum would have loved it, they are her favourite bird! Next stop after lunch was Sinirustu wetland where we saw a Demoiselle crane which was a first for me!! They look so elegant and grand. Really beautiful!

Apart from the Kuskor field trip it’s been a pretty relaxed couple of weeks really. I have been working on my PhD and enjoying trips out with Dogukan to see his family and friends. His family always give me amazing home cooked food which is a treat! His garden is looking lovely and healthy and the fig tree is still giving us a lovely fresh supply of the gorgeous fruits. The passionfruit is also coming along, it is now flowering which means we will soon get the fruit! All the cats are doing well and little Yoda has spent a few more days with us which is nice. We are definitely the mad cat people!

The other night we got a rude awakening when an explosion went off near this house. I say near, we worked out it was just under 5km away. Anyway, the house shook and there was a huge bang. We checked outside and noticed a huge fire in the distance. Explosions kept happening and you could hear bullets being set off by the heat of the fire. The armoury of one of the army bases was on fire! It was so scary, we didn’t really know what to do. We watched for a while to see if the fire was spreading but in about half an hour it was under control and was dying down. The explosions lasted for a further few hours though. And the house smelt of smoke! My first and hopefully last experience of explosions!

Now I’m enjoying a week with my Mum and auntie! They have come over for a holiday and it’s so nice to laugh and chat with them! And of course to get cuddles! We’ve been relaxing in the sunshine and enjoying nice food. I’m loving it!

I just want to stay happy and smiley. It’s a gorgeous way to be! Xx

Karpaz, molasses and stars

Back again, and this time I’m back after a week rather than four!!! Been doing lots of work this week, trying to wrap my head around statistics stuff for my PhD. And doing lots of reading for my next paper which is exciting!

Apart from work I’ve had a lovely week of adventure and new experiences. At the start of the week I went to the Karpaz peninsula with Doğukan and Mert (his friend). We basically copied the last Karpaz adventure because we enjoyed it so much. So we picked organic vegetables from a local farmer, we swam in the sea, ate lovely fresh fish (Sokan taste so much like the sea!!) and drank those lovely frappes! In addition to last time we did some intense star gazing. I’ve definitely increased my constellation repertoire recently which makes me so happy! My first ever star gazing started with my Grandma with me wrapped up in a beach towel on a sun lounger on holiday. It continued with my Mum and seeing my first shooting star. So stars are special to me. I’m now confident that I can spot Ursa Major (the plough), Ursa Minor, Orion, the seven sisters, the dolphin, the swan, Cassiopeia, Cepheus, Aries, Sagittarius, Libra, Scorpio and Aquarius. Not bad eh!!!! I was showing Doğu and Mert in Karpaz and we were dazzled by the Milky Way which was just magical!

Another addition to the Karpaz adventure was the huge eye is got after being bitten three times in basically the same place!! After the dusk swimming session on the first night, a hungry mosquito decided my eye was just right and bit and bit and bit. My eye went huge. I think the mozzi won that fight!!! Hehe

The final addition was the battle of backgammon. The boys refreshed my rusty skills and we had a few good games! I even won a game which was good! Although I think they were being nice to me!

After Karpaz we were shattered and just chilled at home. Enjoyed picking figs in the garden and drinking brews! One nice surprise was the return of one of the kittens we thought had died weeks ago! He turned up looking a little worse for wear so we cleaned him up and gave him some nice food!! Bless him! We’ve called him Yoda.

Finally, yesterday the Healers were playing at a Carub festival and so we went there for a few hours. Carups are a dark brown pod that grows on trees and you can boil them down and make molasses. Doğukan and his dad swear by it and although at first I wasn’t too keen, I know love it!! So I got myself a huge bottle to enjoy. I love it on some toasty bread!! The boys played and then a group of school kids performed some traditional dancing which was cute!!

My week has been lovely and as usual now, I’m smiling.

Love and hugs.

Amie xx

Living life and I am happy!

Goodness me, it has been ages since I have written a blog. I’ve been enjoying my life and the time has run away with me. Oops! I’ve been having lots of lovely times these past few weeks and I constantly have a smile on my face. I’ve done a bit of birding, swam in the sea, eaten amazing food, met lovely people and just had a generally great time.

I guess the main thing I got up to in these past few weeks was going to a Reggae festival in the South of Cyprus near Paphos. The festival was called SunJam and I went with Dogukan and his band mates. It was nice to meet them all and I also got to meet his friend Osman too. We started the journey from Nicosia that morning and got through the border to the Greek side easily. We then carried on towards Paphos and I enjoyed taking in all of the new sites. We stopped at a small cafe on the way and I got some lovely strawberry ice cream! The festival was held at a botanical gardens which was a gorgeous setting for the weekend. Dogukan and I pitched our tent on a balcony overlooking the festival area. It was a sort of staff only area so it was quieter and more chilled than the other camping spot. Shortly after arrival they all had a sound check so I just sat on the grass and watched whilst drinking a nice cold beer. Not bad at all!!! Eventually guests from the public could enter and it got nice and busy and the atmosphere was great. The Healers were playing later at night and so I watched them with Osman. We drank more beer and had a mysterious shot of what was meant to be tequila. They were brilliant. They had amazing energy and got so many nice compliments after they played. We enjoyed the rest of the night and headed to our tent for much needed sleep!

The next day there was more amazing music, quite a lot of fun DJ sets throughout the day. We just chilled out and enjoyed the scene. Osman played in the afternoon and so it was nice to watch him too. Me and Dogukan obviously drank beer whilst doing so. We ended up staying another night and headed home the next morning. On our way back to the Turkish side we decided to stop at a place called Aphrodite’s rock. This place is said to be the birth place of Aphrodite. It is said that she was born from the sea foam made around the rocks and then was brought ashore on a sea shell. We parked up the van and enjoyed the beautiful view and had a bit of a chat about the Gods! haha After this lovely stop we went back to the North.

Since then, I have pretty much been at Dogukan’s the entire time. Enjoying the garden, having mini adventures, and again, eating amazing food. One afternoon we went up into the mountains. It had rained that morning and so we thought we would take advantage of the cool air. Our first stop was Kara agac (This means black tree in turkish but i didn’t see any black trees….). We stopped by a spring water pool that was being fed directly from mountain water. There was also a fountain there that was attached to a really old building. We washed our faces and explored this place a little. In the pool there were huge tadpoles. They were all in different stages of metamorphosis. Some had chunky back legs, others were still just at the start. From here we climbed the mountain side more (in the car I would like to add!) and headed to Antiphonitis monastery. It was closed by the time we got there but we explored again. There were huge olive trees there and the view was gorgeous. And it was just us and the birds! Peaceful and perfect.

Apart from these two adventures I’ve just been enjoying all the lovely little things. All feels really good in my little world and I am just so happy and thankful.

That’s all for now!

I’ll be back soon!

xx