Lady Lever and Williamson art galleries.

We are very lucky to have two art galleries locally. They are both free and have fixed and changing exhibition.

Currently the Lady Lever gallery in Port Sunlight has and exhibit dedicated to Boodle and Dunthorne jewellery. The first shop was opened in Liverpool and is a well known and loved jewellers. They are very exclusive and expensive but the items are bespoke and beautiful. They also are very ethical, both with sourcing the diamonds and gold and caring for the planet by restoring the areas being mined.

They have created many pieces for celebrities, movies and royalty.

Then we had a wander around the rest of the galleries. I love the circular statue room in this building. The statues peep out from the columns.

After a cup of tea and scone we went off to the other gallery a few miles down the road. The Williamson Art Gallery is in Birkenhead and is free entry. Again it has changing exhibits. The one currently showing is beautiful, the work is large but intricate and very clever.

It was a lovely day of wandering, chatting, and of course tea drinking. I hope you have some beautiful places like this that you can support in your local area.

The allotment

I’ve had an allotment for about 12 years in a couple of different locations. I was lucky to live in an areas where the waiting lists weren’t too bad and was able to ‘swap plots’ with someone on another site when needed.

I had started work to rebuild the old greenhouse using recycled and reclaimed materials earlier in the year however this was put on hold due to the weather, illness and time. I had a lot of fruit and tomatoes (the main crop I cultivated) and worked hard to get the site to a reasonable state and more manageable growing spaces.

The weather was crazy, heat waves and drought combined with work meant losing crops to under watering. It was a very strange year but I’m glad of the time I spent there enjoying the outdoors.

Then the bill arrived from the local council. Without any warning or consultation the price had risen by £42 (45%) the previous year it had risen by £24 meaning that in the space of two years the bill had more than doubled. I understand that the council are struggling and need to bring in cash but this was just a step too far. I could justify paying the rent, the association fees for insurance and money to maintain the plot not knowing what the price would be the following year. So I have handed in my keys and passed my wonderful growing space on to a new set of hands to be cared for.

My sentimental plants have all been potted up and brought home to be put into the home garden as has the poly tunnel. I won’t have as much growing space but will still grow as much as possible in containers at home. The bonus being, if we have another heat wave, I will be closer to be able to water and care for the plants much easier.

Billy Summers – Stephen King

Book 15 of the Reading challenge – a book with a season in the title.

Billy Summers is an assassin, once a military trained sniper, now free lance. And he’s had enough, one last job with a pay day too good to be true.

From the start he feels something isn’t quite right, feels off. One of those pit of the stomach feelings we should all take heed off once in a while !

He goes along with the plan, the cover story is that he is a writer and so some chapters are the main story whilst others are the story he’s writing, his life story. All the while he is organising a side plan of his own, just as a precaution. This is thrown into disarray by the unexpected arrival of a young girl into his life. Someone he needs to protect but could ultimately put him in prison.

This was an easy story to read, it flowed nicely and as Stephen King does, the story played out with twists and turns, there’s also a nod to The Shining. The characters are believable and some likeable whilst others not so much.

It’s been a few years since I’ve read and enjoyed Stephen King and this one didn’t disappoint.

The Farm

One joy of looking after a toddler is the fun we have. A couple of miles from where I live is an urban farm. It’s been running for many years. I’ve been here with both my baby brother (there’s 17 years between us) and my son. Now it’s my nieces turn.

Grandma and Lady P

As we arrived we noticed a few things had changed and a lot of work had been done. It’s mostly volunteers that help and care for the farm and animals. They have put a one way system in place. This takes you around the outer edge of the farm and allows the children to see all the animals easily. They have pigs, alpacas, goats, sheep, ponies, chickens, ducks and rabbits.

Grandma and P feeding the pigs

There are several play areas, a small climbing frame and slide for toddlers and a larger one in a fenced area for the older children. They also have another climbing area with a tractor for the children to play on. In the courtyard there is a large fibreglass cow with udders (filled via a hosepipe) for the children to ‘milk’ – this cow has been here for as long as we have been visiting and is still a favourite. Little P spent a good half hour playing with this cow, and the water !

Whilst she played with the cow and ran between play areas we grabbed ourselves a cup of coffee and made good use of the well positioned seating area. The cafe isn’t always open so we had taken a picnic for little P and she enjoyed every minute.

There is no charge for the farm, however there are several collection points and signs advising of the costs and price guide. We popped a few pounds into the collection and bought some local honey from them. It was a fun day, although we all needed a nap when we got home.

Walker art gallery

One of my favourite galleries in the heart of Liverpool city centre. It is an art gallery full of paintings, statues, sculpture, from the 13th century to modern day, also a room for kids art and of course a cafe.

I’ve always loved paintings with people rather than scenery and my favourite painting hangs at the top of the stairs near the entrance. The beautiful and haunting Fantine by Margaret Bernadine Hall, 1886. You may recognise the name Fantine from Victor Hugo’s Les Miserables – the inspiration for the painting.

They have changing exhibitions so always something new to see and every two years they hold the John Moores painting prize, a competition started in 1957 for artists all over the UK. The submissions are judged blind by a panel and the first prize is 25,000, there are also several other prizes including an emerging artist which includes art materials and a months residency in London. Some of the previous winners are now well known ‘famous’ artists, including David Hockney, Sarah Pickstone and Rose Wylie.

Most of the exhibitions are free to view, however they do have a paid exhibition, currently The Tudors. I haven’t seen this yet, but the newest free exhibition is ‘The refractive pool’ which has some amazing art work, including two paintings that pulled me in and stunned me with the beauty of the work.

It always amazes me the talent some people have.

December round up

What a month this has been. It started with a new job, better pay, flexible hours and the ability to work from home. It’s less pressure and more supportive than my previous position, life feels much calmer.

I also had a birthday (a zero birthday!) and was treated to a weekend away in Buxton with Simon. I’d like to say it was relaxing but as usual we ended up exploring caves and climbing hills.

The first stop was Poole cavern, it was dressed for Christmas including a Santa’s grotto. They didn’t have an usual guided tours so we were left to wander with a leaflet explaining the caverns. It was really fascinating and much larger than I expected.

From here we wandered up hill, through the woods, finding wood carvings along the way.

Soon we left the woods and clambered over a stile on to a very muddy, steep hill leading to Solomons temple. The views from here were breathtaking, it was a beautiful clear crisp winter day.

We had a lovely meal in a French restaurant, it was delicious and a good excuse for us to dress up. I was very spoiled and feel very honoured to have someone this special in my life.

The following morning we wandered Buxton and found an antique craft fair on in the pavilion. So had a wander looking for Christmas gifts. There was a charity Santa dash taking place in the park with a brass band playing, Simon cheekily asked them to play happy birthday to me, and they did !

I’m very lucky to share my birthday with a few family members, the most important is my mum. So the following weekend we had a family meal at a local Indian restaurant, the food, company and evening couldn’t have been better (although we did have snow, which isn’t normal for us). We used the wet, snowy weather as an excuse to spend Sunday at home and get the Christmas decorations out the loft. We kept it simple this year, a tree in the sitting room and another in the kitchen.

Once again illness hit, it started with a small twinge in my neck but within a few days was agony. Wearing my headset at work was unbearable so I took a trip to the doctor. No infection in my ears or throat but possibly an abscess so started antibiotics and a dentist appointment for the following day. This would be the first dental appointment since before Covid. She was very thorough, several X-rays and examination but once again no infection. She did find a patch on the side of my tongue and another ‘skin tag’ type lump so has referred me to maxillofacial at the hospital. They have sent me an appointment already.

Any way we needed a distraction so we headed for the Christmas market at Chester. It was a cold, drizzly day but lovely listening to carollers singing and taking a wander around the cathedral to see the Christmas tree trail.

The presents are all bought, made and wrapped. The family are starting to gather and work is finished.

Christmas day arrived quietly with everyone emerging from rooms and gathering around the breakfast table by 9.30. Shortly after this the day erupted into noise, chaos and a lot of laughter. My brother arrived with the 3 year old and present opening began. She loved her new fairy rag doll and her own fairy wings ( although she did get snagged on the door a couple of times to great amusement). They left around 12 as my brother had to work in the afternoon/evening. Next my auntie arrived from Yorkshire and this is when the oven decided to blow the electric and stop working. We reset the fuses but the oven was dead, the house alarm wasn’t and refused to switch off, ringing on and off for 2 hours before it too decided to give up. Thankfully we have a gas oven so the dinner was transferred across and took a little longer but was still cooked.

After dinner Simon arrived from seeing his own family and we played party games around the table, again with much laughter, chaos (there’s a theme to our Christmas’s) and trifle. It was a very eventful, memorable time and we fell in to bed exhausted but very happy.

I wish you peace and good health for the holidays and coming new year. Whatever 2023 has to bring I know we can get through it together, with laughter, tears, and a lot of love.

Photo Friday list 2023

Once again I’ll be posting one (occasionally more) photo every Friday, starting in January.

  1. This season
  2. Wall
  3. I made this
  4. Something small
  5. Starts with O
  6. A corner
  7. On my plate
  8. Something new
  9. In my car
  10. I love this
  11. Water
  12. Made of wood
  13. Something borrowed
  14. A church
  15. Starts with S
  16. Kiss
  17. Pasta
  18. Graffiti
  19. Ordinary
  20. Something hot
  21. 2 things
  22. A cylinder
  23. I stood here
  24. Something red
  25. Starts with T
  26. Hug
  27. Countryside
  28. Balloon
  29. Messy
  30. A handful
  31. I don’t like to
  32. Something warm
  33. Shadow
  34. Under a tree
  35. I sat here
  36. The weather
  37. In my cup
  38. Something old
  39. Spider web
  40. Minimal
  41. Someone I love
  42. On my wall
  43. Sad
  44. Path
  45. An insect
  46. Starts with M
  47. Transport
  48. Something odd
  49. I am drinking
  50. Bright colours
  51. Stairs
  52. Lucky

What do you think, once again some easier than others and some to make you think but all achievable. Feel free to join in and post your own photo Friday pictures on any platform you feel comfortable.