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

My first magpie

The past couple of weeks have been lovely considering all the restrictions that are on. Luckily I can still go on walks, still climb and still learn Turkish. So all my Amie hobbies are in-tact! Phew!

I actually went on a lovely walk with Mum last week. We decided to go and see the deer rut one afternoon. It was a nice day, even if it was a bit breezy, and we enjoyed being out in the autumn weather. We went to Lyme Park and had a wander up to Lyme cage. We saw a good few groups of deer and stood for a while to admire them. Some of the stags are huge and they were all roaring at each other to protect their hareems. It’s amazing how close they came to us, they’re so focused on their task ahead they don’t seem to notice people wandering around. There were meadow pipits flying over and a large group of thrushes too. We even got to see some Rooks which was a treat as I don’t see them much here. I used to see them all the time when I lived in Poland!

I went bird ringing earlier this week and the weather turned warm and the sky filled with sunshine. It was a welcome treat considering all the rain we’ve had up here in the north west. It was a great ringing session actually. We caught the usual finches and tits but also caught a Greater spotted woodpecker, a grey wagtail and a magpie!! I caught the magpie in the whoosh net and this time managed not to punch myself in the face when pulling the trigger! I’ve never ringed a magpie before and it was so lovely to see one so close up. The tail feathers are like beetle juice, when the light catches them at different angles they have an iridescent sheen of blue and green. People give magpies a bad rep and don’t like how cunning they are and that they eat chicks in the breeding season. The thing is, a bird of prey can eat small mammals or birds and it’s seen as an amazing hunter, but a magpie is seen as being nasty and sneaky. I don’t understand it myself, it’s doing what it can to stay alive. I love a magpie, I’ll always stick up for them!! It was a pleasure being able to ring one. The woodpecker gave me a hard time. It was pecking my fingers so hard but I just had to grin and bare it! I was left with pin pricks all over my fingers by the end of it!!

Rock climbing has been going so well. I’ve definitely seen an improvement this last week and have managed to ascend two different 6a top rope routes. I feel the strength in my arms is getting better and my technique too. I just love the sport and know I’ve found something I’m really passionate about. It’s great for my mental health as well as physical health which is perfect in these COVID filled times.

Another exciting thing from this week has been the publication of a paper of mine. The paper talks about the natural vocal behaviour of the Yellow-breasted boubou which is the study species for my phd. I feel very proud that this paper has been published and feel like it’s a nice positive step towards completing the PhD.

Other than my various hobbies and uni work I’ve been cracking on at the bar. The new restrictions and tier system are making everything a bit awkward and annoying but we’re all pulling through and making a bad situation as fun and lighthearted as possible! I’m glad I’ve settled in there now and can earn some money in these difficult times! Plus, knowing how to make cocktails is a life long skill, especially when at a party!

That’s all for now really. I’m sat here with the cat sat on my knee, snoring away. I think she’s realised I’m the warmest thing in the house so she’s taking advantage!! She’s too cute to move to be honest, so I’ll give her another 10 minutes or so!

Hope you’re all safe and sound.

Xx

Back at it!

Well, here I am again. I took a massive break from writing blog entries. I can’t really put my finger on why I stopped exactly. At the beginning of the year my head was all over the place and I guess I just didn’t feel like it. And then COVID-19 hit and life went strange and a bit monotonous! Recently I’ve been thinking about starting to write again as I used to really enjoy it and it made me reflect on lovely things I had done every week, which must be good for my mind set! 😀

So what have I been up to?

During the early lockdown days of COVID when rules were strict and the roads were bare, I enjoyed walks with Mum and Mol. We were so lucky with the weather in March/ April and so we would walk everyday and enjoy seeing the flowers beginning to bloom and the birds singing. This year I’ve really appreciated the subtle changes in nature which has been refreshing. I now know the time scale of when different flowers appear and I even learnt to ID them. I remember one afternoon where I cracked the difference between meadow buttercup and creeping buttercup, I felt geeky and great! Nature has been really helpful during this crazy pandemic time, everything sometimes feels overwhelming and daunting but stepping outside and getting fresh air really helps.

As well as nature based stuff we’d do weekly family quizzes on zoom which was a lovely way to see the family. Me and Mol would also Skype Dad and Grandpa for a catch up because we couldn’t go and visit. Now lockdown restrictions have eased, it is so lovely to be able to see people and enjoy different company. Every day felt like ground-hog day but now little changes to daily life are welcome and lovely. I must admit, I think I gained an even worse houseplant obsession and my green family has exploded! I’ve heard talking to plants helps them grow so that’s my excuse for acting crazy!! Hehe

I am still bird ringing when I get the chance which I thoroughly enjoy. Ingrid always brings cake which is a treat and its nice to be with like minded people, to appreciate nature and just have a good old chit chat. In addition to my bird ringing hobby, me and Mol have started rock climbing. I used to do it in Poland, but since leaving I haven’t done any. I absolutely love doing it. We go a few times a week and do bouldering, we are waiting to pass our rope climbing course so we can be let loose on the walls. I have been practicing an overhang bouldering route and every session I get a little bit further and a little but more confident with the technique. It gives me such a buzz! We were able to go on an outdoor climbing trip one evening. We were a little apprehensive about it, but we enjoyed it so much, I think we both prefer the outdoors! We went to Lawrencefield quarry in the peak district, a gorgeous setting, almost fairy tale like. The people who went were lovely and really supportive. I think that’s what I like most about climbing actually, everyone we have met so far have been so nice and helpful.

I’ve also been doing my Turkish lessons which has been great. Another lovely distraction from the crazy COVID world. Unfortunately this year I haven’t been able to go to Cyprus, I don’t think I’ll be going this year at all. I guess next time I go my turkish will be better and I can have nice chats with the locals! 😀

I’ve been writing my thesis and sorting out various papers I would like to publish for my PhD. It is getting closer to the end point now and so I am constantly looking for jobs to make the next step in my career. I have completed a teaching english as a foreign language course during lockdown to give me another skill. So who knows what I will do in the future. I just hope something falls my way.

In the mean time I have started a bar job which I was so nervous about, but it is actually really nice. I had this weird fear about carrying the trays full of drinks but I feel like I’m fine now, balance is key!! I’m slowly getting more confident in the role and am just glad it is something I can be doing to get me out of the house and doing something a bit different. I’ve also made a few different cocktails now which I am sure will come in handy in the future. If anyone fancies a long island ice tea, I’m your girl!

Well, I think that’s it for now. England is going into more lockdown measures and so life doesn’t look like it will be getting normal anytime soon. But I have my rabbits and cats to cuddle and my lovely family to be with! Not bad at all!

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

My gorgeous family

I’ve spent the last week at home in the U.K. I won’t lie, it’s been bloody cold and rainy and it took me a while to get used to it! It doesn’t matter too much though because I love wearing lots of layers! It’s one thing I miss living out in Cyprus.

Most of the week I have just been chatting to various family members and getting cuddles. I got a lovely chicken dinner on the Sunday, a lovely treat! I’ve had lots of good British dishes actually! Don’t get me wrong, I love Cypriot food, but there is something about mashed potato that makes me smile!! And especially when it’s covered in gravy!

I’ve had meals at dads house that have turned into competitions involving a glass bowl and a napkin rolled up into a ball. The throwing competition saw grandpa win, 5-3 again Dad. I was shockingly bad!

I’ve snuggled all my pets. The bunnies have grown so much! Old Saffi is still sleeping her way through the days, Lily the dog is still trying to act young even though she’s an old grey girl, and Lilly the cat is still a chunk who got a fancy new collar!

I got to babysit my gorgeous nephew with my Mum. He was actually a bit moany and so me and Mum constantly sang to him. He seemed to really enjoy twinkle twinkle little star. I’ve now got a full blown cold and I slightly blame him. But he’s cute so he gets away with it.

Before I flew to Poland yesterday I went on a lovely walk with Mum. It was windy but refreshing! We got to see the highland cattle in the fields, and enjoying a bit of mushroom spotting! We found one that must belong to a fairy!

So now I am in Poznan for 10 days. Going to enjoy seeing my Polish people, get these discussions out of the way, eat lovely food and enjoy all the autumnal colours!

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