Tuesday 5 June 2018

A change is as good as a rest

I have started a fresh and ever so sparkly new blog home for the continuation on this blog. It's called A Stubborn Optimist and I would be extremely happy if you would come on over and move in with me - I'll bring the cake!

Click→HERE←to join me and please stay and update your blog address book xx

I await you with baited breath

Sunday 3 June 2018

The Tropical Ravine

Yesterday was a good day - can I get a "Hallelujah"? PLEASE read to the end - there is exciting news!

We took it easy, went to do our Saturday morning messages and have a coffee whilst we planned something fun for the afternoon. The sun was shining and there was absolutely no rain on the forecast so we decided to finally go and visit the refurbished Tropical Ravine up in Belfast's Botanic Gardens. For anyone who has lived, worked or studied near Belfast the Botanic Gardens are a place of joy and we are no different.

I remember the last time I was in the Ravine and it was awesome, in a run down, rusty and mouldy way. A place that had a certain smell, that of rotting plant life and stagnant water but good gracious was it beautiful at the same time.

2015 photograph - property of The Irish News

photo of renovated Ravine - Carrie Gault 2018

This Victorian beauty was originally opened in 1889 as a Temperate House and extended only a couple of years later to create a additional Tropical section. After that is wasn't touched, but for a new roof in the 1980's. So it was a brilliant surprise when it closed in November 2015 for a full £3.8 million renovation.  It finally re-opened on the 12th April this year (2018) and all I can say is "wow!"

Here are a few photographs, oh and we entered at the new bottom entrance - leading straight into the Tropical section....

It was displayed on the wooden framed thermometer here that the temperature was 36.3 degrees but the humidity was an overwhelming 53%. There aren't many photos from this section as I was melting, literally melting into a puddle....

The misting mechanism over the tropical plants and the gorgeous new roof and windows. 

It even looks too humid to be survivable, ahaha 

The designers kept the old rusty railings and simply painted them and added a new wooden top.

I was more in my element when it came to the Temperature part of the Ravine, I could have stayed there quite some time, soaking up all the calming greens and the playful textures and explosions of colour here and there. There is also the original waterfall in this part and the sound is lovely. Sadly there were 'other people' (always a bother when you want to have quiet meditation and maybe a snooze) so I was a little on edge and stuck to simply wandering around and getting my photos :)

An explosion of green

Banana leaves are incredible, I adore the way they reflect the light

The tricking waterfall

Oh how I do love a fern or 6 

The extremely rare and delicate Killarney Fern

Clockwise from top left - the 'Makaya bella', the 'Nerium oleander' in bud and flower, 'Hibicus' in both in pink and white, 'Senna floribuna' from a distance.

The same banana plant as before but from this side we could see it was in fruit 

Just one more green photo before I go.

I would like to share that this is also going to be the 1st blog post on my revamped ecotherapy blog! "What?" you say
"Yes, 10 years on the same blog has left me wanting a new adventure, so I will keep 'Grow Our Own' as an archive and move to my new address at 'A Stubborn Optimist'. Exciting times!
I do hope you will join me there. And tell your friends too" 😊

Love, Carrie xxx

Tuesday 29 May 2018

The lost long weekend

I fear the allotment may think I have abandoned it, poor thing. The bank holiday weekend we just had ought to have seen me there with my gardening gloves on and my hands busy in weed pulling and seed planting. Alas it was not to be as my mental health took a terrible nose dive and I was lucky to see the sunshine through the half drawn blinds.

logy meaning - Carrie Gault 2018

Mental breakdowns don't care if the weather is stunning and you have hopes and made plans. Mental breakdowns suck. They leave me exhausted beyond words and so utterly depressed that my body just can't do a thing and I end up so frustrated and angry that any energy I did have gets burned up and I am left with sleep as my only option! Arrghhh.

So instead of tending my plot I slept. Andrew managed to get there for short periods whilst I was 'busy' sleeping and it is looking quite good. It's a miracle!

Andrew's allotment Instagram photo - Carrie Gault 2018

I am so glad I used a Saturday a few weeks back to plant up my tiered flower pot stand, these babies have given me hope and joy every day. Yesterday I managed to drag myself out of the house to the back garden and sit by them for a while - a little burst of ecotherapy goes a long way.
Rustic tiered pot stand - Carrie Gault 2018

macros of flowers and plants on tiered stand - Carrie Gault 2018
I SHALL see my plot this week at some point, I miss it and I miss being able to share the goings on with you.

But already I have been outside today with my camera and as soon as I am finished here, out I shall go again and get me more Vitamin D 😊

the tea garden - Carrie Gault 2018

Hopefully I shall write again soon
Your Carrie x

Friday 25 May 2018

Hadrian's Wall Path ( the last 3 days)

Well, it's just as well I keep travel journals as this series of posts has taken way too long. I am sorry. So much has been happening here and it's all been quite stressful and I end up sleeping a lot more than I'd like. So, let's get that journal out and finish this! I walked all those bloomin' miles and I want to share the accomplishment.

Day 5 was a sight seeing day and after the Hell of the day before it was so much appreciated. We visited Vindolanda and Hexham. Thoroughly enjoyed ourselves and acted like tourists for a change :)

But then we were back on the Path by Day 6 and what a day it was - Glorious! We hopped on a bus and got back to roughly where we left off on Day 4 - Housesteads. It's a really impressive place and worth a good looking at but we had done that a few years ago so this time the only thing that mattered was the passport stamp. These only start in May and you are meant to have an official path passport but, so what, we had missed lots in the past and this one went on the map and in my journal etc.
Housesteads, day 6 - Carrie Gault 2018

From here (chilliest place in England!) the walking is lovely and it's not too hard. We even had a temple to sit in and have our lunch break; the Temple of Mithras (a pretty odd Roam cult) which was unusual. The altars are copies as there is no protection here and the real ones are in a nearby museum. Then came THE BEST BIT of the whole walk  in my opinion - Black Carts to Walwick. The views were great, we got into the best walking stride yet and the sun burst out of the sky.

Temple of Mithras and countryside to The George Hotel - day 6 - Carrie Gault 2018

Another passport stamp at Chester's Fort and then onto a pub! Yay! From here the day was over and we merrily waited for an Eco Cab to take us to our next hotel - there was no way I was walking on those fast country roads without footpaths for a couple of miles, way too dangerous.

Day 7
We were once again at a hotel bang on the line of the trail AND it had it's own passport stamping post. This made the day start with a smile, that was until we saw the marker for a recently deceased walker who had died here; as I said, the roads were busy and without footpaths.
Beautiful countryside walking on day 7 - Carrie Gault 2018

We had many miles to dander in beautiful fields and around farms, saw more Roman stuff (getting boring now, haha) and unusual species of sheep. There was a long section beside a main road on footpaths which was wick but we came to a pub at the end of it and had sandwiches and a wee beer :) In this town was the last of the best wall remains so we detoured and appreciated them then moved on. We ended up in a strange place with loads of security cameras which we later found out was the 'Close House Agricultural Science Field Station' and surrounding land.
countryside - Heddon-on-the-Wall - downhill to the Tyne - Day7b - Carrie Gault 2018

After that we ended up on the truly beautiful Wylan Waggon Trail and saw the river Tyne for the first time. As we moved closer to Newcastle it became busier here and the Path changed it's name to the Hadrian's Way and the Tyne Riverside Park with many children playing and people out with their dogs. We bedded down just off this park and all the pain relief was needed to get me through the rest of the evening.
Wylan waggon trail and the Tyne river, day 7c - Carrie Gault 2018

Last Day
Oh my, good golly, crikey and such. This was the day we thought wouldn't come, haha. The sun was strong and not a cloud was to be seen in the blue sky as we walked triumphantly in our trail shoes (instead of boots) into the town of Newcastle along the riverside and all those famous bridges. What a day and what an assault of the senses - it was so noisy and goodness there were so many people.

Last day on the Hadrian's Wall Path - walk into Newcastle - Carrie Gault 2018

We cheated and I don't even care, we walked to our Hotel and dumped our backpacks. We couldn't be annoyed with them anymore and there is something about almost reaching your goal that both exhausts you and spurs you on to get it done!
last day, Newcastle, Segedunum Fort and celebrations - Carrie Gault 2018

With the bags gone we tackled the Metro system and went out to Segedunum Fort and the end of the trail; the glorious finish line and the conclusion of our adventure. It was done, we got our photos taken, looked at the museum and bought t-shirts. The day was so extremely hot though that we soon tired of the very idea of being hikers anymore and so, back to the Metro, back to the Hotel and to celebrate and to sleep. Ah, sweet air conditioned sleep.

P.S. Newcastle?! You are drunk!

Love and hugs
Carrie x

Thursday 17 May 2018

Hadrian's Wall Path (Part 2)

Day 3 of hiking was lovely; the birds were singing, the temperature was warming up, we saw many a lamb and the blossom on the trees was stunning. It was like a fairy tale, and my love for Cumbria was cemented. I have nothing but good things to say about that day and we treated ourselves to a trip off trail to the Lanercost priory cafe, saw the first real parts of the Wall and even came across a young lad's enterprising snack stop. It all ended in a stay at one my favourite Inns, just over the border, in Northumberland.

Hadrian's wall path day 3 - Carrie Gault 2018

Hadrian's wall path day 3(b)  - Carrie Gault 2018

Day 4 was different, very different, though not to begin with. We had a hearty breakfast and though very cold (1 degree), the day was bright and good for walking. It wasn't long until we hit Thirwal castle but then it really wasn't long until the first set of 'crags' ever. Crags are evil steep ups and downs and from a distance they look like waves in the landscape with shear drops down the left hand side.

Day 4 Hadrian's Wall Path - Carrie Gault 2018

After Walltown came Cawfield crags and a break - boots off, tea and lying down. Then it became majorly poop!! Between here and Windshield Crags I began to lose it; I was hating life, disassociated, unable to speak, to focus my eyes. My bad shoulders and neck were not being helped by all the pain medicines in the world and the tears were gathering.

Day 4 (b) Hadrian's Wall Path - Carrie Gault 2018

Who was I trying to impress? I had been pushing myself far too hard over the past days and now it was all catching up and overwhelming me. Goodness sake I spend most of my life in this living room! Well now was the time to gather absolutely everything I had and we walked, up hill, slowly and continued on to the highest part of the whole damn walk. NEVER have I been so glad to see a trig point and in the distance a little hamlet - there be beer!

Twice Brewed Beer - Carrie Gault 2018

Oh boy, I shall never understand how we got through that day but I do remember the taste of victory in a local brewery/pub when it was over. Then we caught a bus to our next hotel and I slept, it was like Odin sleep, haha.

Much love
Carrie x

Thursday 10 May 2018

Hadrian's Wall Path (Part 1)

little by little snail - C. Gault 2018

I still can't get my head round it; this time last week Andrew and I were walking into Newcastle upon Tyne in the baking hot sunshine, finishing our epic hike along Hadrian's Wall Path. 

But, slowly going through the multitude of photographs I took each day, it is starting to seem like the evidence is there...we did it! 

We did it our way too...neither of us believing in the idea that you must do every little bit (even when it is on dangerous roads or through swamps) as quickly as possible in order to deserve the accolade of being a real hiker and earning our badge. The glorification of hardship and suffering is just not healthy!

Heck it was hard enough as it was..and one's health problems don't stay at home when on holiday; you can't leave them at security either.

Here are the first two hiking days via some of my favourite photographs 😊

Day 1  Bowness on Solway > Carlisle

Bowness on Solway, Hadrian's Wall Path Start/Finish Arch - C. Gault 2018

Our first day's hike from Bowness on Solway to Drumburgh - C. Gault 2018

Carlisle's stunning city gates - C. Gault 2018

Day 2  Carlisle > Newtown

Gorgeous day, Carlisle town hall - C. Gault 2018

Hiking from Carlisle to Newtown - C. Gault 2018

Beautiful covered pathway to Newtown - C. Gault 2018

Hope you like the look of our adventure so far. I'm trying not to overwhelm you with photos or we'd all be here all day, haha. Oh Gosh, I took so many.

Love and hugs, see you soon.
Have a great weekend
C xxx

Friday 20 April 2018

Buds and Spuds

Hello my lovelies, hope you are all well and have a nice weekend planned --- Hurrah for Fridays!

Beech tree buds unravelling - Carrie Gault - https://growourown.blogspot.co.uk/

Today is actually a quite nice and bright day here, so I went outside with Toby and looked about the back garden. I LOVE it when the Beech buds open up, they are so beautiful, definitely one of my most favourite trees. Then I was surprised to find the Acer I had been worried about is looking heavenly = two sights that have put a smile on my face 😀

Acer coming into full leaf - Carrie Gault - https://growourown.blogspot.co.uk/

I checked in on the seedlings Andrew planted up a while back and the Sugar Snaps are now too far ahead, oh this weather is so changeable! It's sad to compost new life but we will simply have to plant more seeds direct when we get back from our walking holiday. The leeks and spring onions seem to be in a good position though which is nice. I think most things are simply going to be later this year.

A few seedlings -Carrie Gault - https://growourown.blogspot.co.uk/

But let me tell you about last weekend. We finally planted our beautiful Sharps' Express potatoes spuds); after my accident I guess I forgot all about it. This year we are yet again doing them in large tubs as it's just so darned easy to tend to and takes up much less space. Plus the harvesting has proven itself to be so simple and cleaner. Fingers crossed for a good batch again.

growing spuds in tubs - Carrie Gault - https://growourown.blogspot.co.uk/

Lastly, after the silliest and most cliched of allotment related injures to myself last Saturday... I stood (twice, for good measure) on a rusty nail that was poking up from a rotten plank. *Blush*  I am glad to report I have healed up pretty well. The hiking holiday is still on 👍

Antrim Area A&E - Carrie Gault - https://growourown.blogspot.co.uk/

Hugs and love
Carrie x

Saturday 14 April 2018

Allotment celebration

 Me : Now we are ten.
You : Who's ten; what do you mean?
 Me : Our allotment is 10 years old today.
You : Oh my goodness, where has the time gone? You don't look old enough to have a 10 year old!
 Me : *blush* Thank you...

Oh my good grief friends, I can't quite believe I am writing this post. Andrew and I were talking about going to the allotment for the afternoon and suddenly I was reminded that it's the plot's anniversary. 

Back them I didn't know what a blog was and so we had a scrapbook - old school style. Here are some never before shared photos from that happy book...
early days- Carrie Gault - https://growourown.blogspot.co.uk/

Gosh it really seems like yesterday when I think back to the day we visited our marked out rectangle of land with Maggie. We were the first in the field to dig a square and look at the soil below, I took pictures of a strip of green grass and Maggie had a pee = it was ours, we had claimed it in person and via the paperwork, haha.

Simultaneously it feels like forever ago, haha. We have worked so hard on that little patch of land and had so many triumphs and 'learning experiences'. We made good friends who sadly have left the site by now, mainly through illness or shear disheartenment. But still we battle on...(sometimes we do wonder why though)

Have a look at the plan for 2018 - It's rough and unattractive but still, it is what it is...

The plan 2018 - Carrie Gault - https://growourown.blogspot.co.uk/

I LOVE you all, we're off to the plot
Carrie xxx

emergency room - Carrie Gault - https://growourown.blogspot.co.uk/

Later.... For the very first time in 10 years I suffered an allotment related incident today - I stood, twice, on a rusty nail that went nice and deep into my foot = a wonderful few hours waiting in A&E for a tetanus injection and wound dressing. We're only home now at 8pm. What a wick birthday celebration. 
Bring on the wine! 🍷