Farm gurl in training – shearing sheep!! 

This weekend we packed our camping things into my husbands van and we made a trek up to Bonny Scotland to spend the weekend with some friends at their farm. 

Let me start by saying, I am NOT a camper, I’m accused regularly of being a snob. This is not the issue. It’s not like I deem myself “too good” to camp out, just that given the choice between a comfy bed with amenities in a nice hotel or a sleeping bag in what is essentially nylon ball with a door. I choose bed every time. I have to defend this preferance. ALOT.   


However if I was ever to give in and take the plunge it would be to spend time with the wonderful people I did this weekend. I am so glad I did. 

You may have read my blog about lambing with the Brown Family well here we are back again with them, but this time we are on their new farm in Scotland and we are shearing sheep. 


The drive to Scotland was beautiful, we live in an already breath taking area but the beauty of Scotland’s landscape isn’t lost on me. It’s raw beauty is worth the drive alone, the farm is actually in the middle of no where, so like those houses on the hillside that you say,

How cool would it be to live there, no one around for miles!!!

This is exactly what the Browns new farm looks like. Driving up the long road to the farm, the van bounces along like that scene from Ace Ventura. We don’t have a comfy car with great suspension, we have a Vauxhall van with naff suspension that makes me feel like my stomach is about to come out of my mouth!!! Sorry Vinny Vauxhall but it’s true!! 

The comical scene that waits me is worth the trip, Marie Brown one of my oldest and closest friends does not do anything by halfs, she says camp and she has every possible thing you could need to do it. Including twinkle lights, a must for any party in my opinion!! 

There are seven adults standing over a six man tent complete with three bedrooms and a living room with a carpet. There are no instructions for said tent and only a couple of us with any clue about how a tent goes up!! Cue at least an hour of hilarity that can only be equal to that of a Three Stooges movies, up goes our home for the next two nights, with minimal input from me. I imagine many divorces are a result of putting up tents!!!

Now I know what you are thinking, you are at a farm, why don’t you sleep in the house. Well it’s been empty for a while and well …… That’s just how we roll!! Apparently ….

After a fun evening filled with a lot of beer and laughter. We retire to our tents to get some rest for the adventure ahead.  


So after a some what freezing night in the tent we headed out to work, we were all supplied with coffee and bacon butties by Terry before we started!!! He is Marie’s dad and I think we all adopted him total ledgend!!! 

We started my clambering to the top of a hill, jumping a stream. Anyone that knows me will confirm how unlike me this is!!! I broke two nails climbing on my hands and knees to reach the sheep, not going to lie, cried a bit at this I have been growing them for ages!! *sigh* never mind let’s move swiftly on!!

At last we reach the top the hill and Gwen the sheep dog sets off to work.  


It never fails to amaze me how passionate Ian, Maries husband, is about farming. It’s a hard job that is a lifestyle, you live and breathe this life and he still has such a passion for it. It must be amusing to him us townies showing an interest in his lifestyle but we do love it. We love spending time with them. 

This time of year the heat and the bugs can be a danger to the sheep, if their fleece gets too big and they get stuck on their back, they can die. So shearing is an important part of looking after the wellbeing of the sheep. It’s more than just wooly jumpers. 

Ian the professional showing us how it’s done. 


It’s back breaking hard work. It’s a fantastic skill to see, quickly and expertly removing the fleece it’s obvious that Ian has had many years experience. We were on hand to help …. I maybe hindered but Nikki, one of our party, was a dab hand helping to pull the sheep out and pulling them into position which is bloody hard work and some of them were as big as her!! My husband Ben also pitched in and for a city boy he did well. Between them it was a smooth assembly line. 

The wool when it’s removed is rolled up and sold on but not for a great deal. There is something very pleasing about the smooth lines and the sheep shaped wool that’s removed. 

Ian told me some farmers burn the wool rather than sell it in protest to the poor prices paid for the wool. I can understand it. There is a LOT of work that goes into running a farm, do we really appreciate it? Do we do enough to support our British farmers? 

Me having a go. Then Ben and one of the final sheep. 


Ben really got the bug and he and Nikki helped to worm some lambs too, I was amazed watching my husband who has been born and raised in the city take control of these lambs. Nikki on the other hand equally amazing at it she looked very at home in this enviroment and you can’t help admire a girl that can really kept up! No pink or blue jobs here!! Yes I realise I loose some credibility for mentioning my broken nails but it can be gurl power with awesome nails!!! 

They worm the lambs every six weeks or so because of the bugs in the grass the lambs eat it keeps the insides healthy. They also are regularly sprayed with fly spray to stop them living in the wool. 

 This life is so different to the one so many of us live in the corporate world, dealing with targets and money and sales. Farming has its own stresses and it’s unbelievably hard work but I can’t help feeling envious of the time spent outdoors with animals. 

Many hands made light work so we were able to get out and do a little touristy stuff in Ary too. Hopeful Ian was pleased with the help getting his jobs done, I don’t mean my limited efforts more the others lol!! 

Our weekend was a mear glimpse into their life, but I loved it. It was helped along by great company and a lot of laughs. After the unbelievably bad start to 2016 laughs have been rare. I hope we can do it again soon. 

Here are some other shots from the weekend. Xoxo

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I love nature. 

When I am our taking photographs with out a doubt it’s the landscapes and natural beauty that I love the most. 

History and architecture would be a close second. A couple of years ago I was fortunate to stand above the clouds as the fog rolled in. My husband, who had been driving back from a job, ran in to get me bundled me into his van and we chased the photo.  

It was beautiful. It was before I had bought my big camera so we used our phones as so many people do and then promptly forgot I even had the image. 

This week I have been home sick and trying to distract myself from the pain I have been sorting through my photos on my phone …. All 7000 of them 🙈🙈😂😂. I came across these images again. I am so fortunate to live in such natural beauty. 

This is what I love about blogs, particularly lifestyle ones that show how it is to live in different parts of the world. My shopping shoes and culture meter may need a top up from the city every now and again, I mean who doesn’t love a trip to NYC or Rome or London … Or even Derby. This is still true but nothing for me beats living out here in the countryside. 

Here are a couple of images from around here including the fog. 🙂 


Excuse or exercise?? 

This weekend we had friends from the city here for a visit. I love to see the area as a tourist again as it reminds me how very lucky we are to live here. 

It was a weekend of letting our hair down and I will admit we had a couple of treats but we also exercised to! We took a lovely long walk around the area and it got me thinking …. Perhaps now is the time to add exercise to my weight loss journey! 

I am not a natural athlete, I was the one lagging behind tripping over my two left feet in PE at school. There isn’t a sport I enjoy or activity I want to do a lot of (other than dance) so how do I get this started without giving up after the first week?!? 

Well my motivation has always been Gavin, to do something positive in his memory so I am using that same drive to help me stay motivated here! 

I did a work out tonight and for the first time EVER I was able to plank and do some burpees!! I realise to those of you that work out a lot that might sound nuts but being so big it always hurt my hands and I couldn’t jump up well!! I keep saying it’s not always about the big goals and it isn’t. This week my weight stayed the same and after a few food related treats I deserve that! But being able to work out more comfortably, I will take that as a win! These little goals add up! 

I am moving into week 9 with a new incentive! What will I be able to do another month down the line ?!? 

I love the meme that says,

No matter how slow you are running, you are running circles around those sitting on the couch! 

The one that is more relivent to me is the one that says 

If I am running you better run too, I am likely running away from the zombie!! 

If today you are reading this thinking about trying to start healthy eating! Do it now, if I can anyone can! I truly mean this.  I have a fairly bad food addiction. I’m still not perfect, I make mistakes but the most important thing it to keep trying. Never give up, I learned that from the most amazing person I ever knew, my hero, my warrior – my cousin Gavin, cancer took him from us but he fought with everything he had! We all can learn from that! We all should learn from that! 

Until next time! 

Here are some shots from my walk this weekend 🙂 

Passing time. Pulling myself together!

So it’s been a week. While I have been dealing with losing our baby, I have had a lot of time to kill recovering. I spent a lot time editing pics and I thought I would share them here. 

 

County Bridge Barnard Castle
 
 I have a couple of more meaty blogs but I am struggling to finish them at the moment, my concentrations not great so hopefully you can forgive me and they will be with you soon.  Until then hopefully you will enjoy these xoxo

woodland near to my house
Barnard castle, County Bridge
  

High Force, Teesdale
High Force, Teesdale
    

woodland next to High Force waterfalll, i always imagine fairies and woodland creatures
woodland near where I live
The castle walls
Inside the Castle
Inside the Castle
View point from the castle walls
The view from Barnard Castle walls

Teesdale through new eyes

My home town of Barnard Castle was the most boring place in the world to me as a teenager, since moving back here it’s like a totally different place. It hasn’t changed, the fact is the town probably hasn’t in generations. It’s me that has changed. 

We picked the house we are in because of the beautiful view  – where as in the city we picked a house that was close to the night life. How times have changed. 

 Our view from our garden. 

My husband added a bird feeder to our garden this week and was so excited by the birds, we also have a bird house with a family of blue tits in and I had to chuckle, if I could talk to  my 15 year old self about my love of this beautiful part of the world. I would die laughing!!

   
 My days of sitting in rush hour traffic behind me, well on the whole, replaced now by hours behind tractors and actually trying to get to anywhere on time! I have to say driving in the countryside is certainly fun, there’s always a question mark over if you get safely to your destination, but at least the view while I am driving is beautiful!

  

the view from the roadside

Often we are so quick to disregard what’s around us because it’s so familiar. But now I think it’s wonderful, I see my home town and area through new eyes and it’s so beautiful. I can’t wait to share it with you ….. Until next time xoxoxox

 

The Castle, Barnard Castle
  
The Buttermarket Barnard Castle
  
an old tunnel , in the old part of town
  
old tree in the grounds of Raby Castle
  
above the clouds, foggy day in Middleton
  
view of the castle , opp the river, Barnard Castle
  
Tyne Bridge
  
Egglestone Abbey
  
Egglestone Abbey
   
Graveyard at St Marys, Barnard Castle
  
By the river , Middleton in Teesdale
  
By the river and bridge, Middleton in Teesdale
  
Green Lane walk
  
fields of yellow, so beautiful
   
Green Lane
 

100 Guinea Pigs, 6 Cats, 2 Dogs and 2 humans!

My cousin Gavin is 26, he is mentioned in my previous blog, he has been a big influence on my decision to start to write publically, to feel confident enough to share. He has Burkitt Lymphoma it’s a type of Leukaemia. He was diagnosed in January this year and it has been a tough start to the year for all of us but no one more than Gav.

He has dealt with is better than I think I ever could have and is a true inspiration.

He had over 100 guinea pigs when he first fell ill and of cause he was unable to keep them on, for a start he was in hospital for two months because of the risk of infection, luckily he has a fantastic partner Shaun who has helped to keep some of them and my uncle who also cleans them out even now. Also some great friends who have actually taken some of them off his hands.

He has 6 cats, 2 dogs and some very strange indoor guinea pigs called skinny’s. The house you would think would be in a blanket of hair but proving how well they are matched Shaun is a neat freak and the only thing you can smell when walking in is flash and cleaning products!! I would love to know how they manage this.

Their animals are so loving and each has their own characters, being a dog lover I must admit a slight bias towards Riley and Ruby the dogs

Ruby10665207_10152453058348039_3529929304134466702_nRuby11012137_10152453041573039_1558010984409805953_nRiley

Riley

The cats are a little more allusive so I only have the beautiful Una Bean on camera;

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They also have a giant rabbit  and a couple of little ones =D

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From a really young age he has loved animals, and his mum and dad have encouraged it. He had a lot of animals growing up and that passion hasn’t ever left him. He finally got a job working at the local vets just before being diognoised, luckily they are keeping his job open. 

One of the many positive things he has done while he has been enduring his chemo it to set up site and Facebook for his breeding business.
Castle Valley Cavies http://castlevalleycavies.weebly.com/ and Facebook page

He loves these animal’s so much he knows all of their dates of birth, the names, which are from which family! He takes so much time and effort with these animals you would be forgiven for being slightly envious of their life.

The strangest of the collection are the skinny’s, so adorable, but strange! Vera the female is current pregnant and due any day now!

Vera

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Walter

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I love spending time with this little family, being able to help in some way even if it just is by taking a few pictures for him to use on the website.

complete two

complete one

Hope you have enjoyed the furry cuteness, until next time xoxox

The Lambs, and the birth of a calf part two……

At last we spoke, I had just arrived at my friends farm. I know very little about the workings of a farm I just know that I love animals so any excuse to spend time with them I will  and of cause my friend and her family, especially her farm-house cooking!

Over the last couple of weeks I have witnessed the birth of 5 lambs and 1 calf, I don’t think I can express the sheer excitement I feel when waiting for that new life to enter the world.

My first visit to the farm was a few weeks ago at the time I wrote my first blog, the barn was filled to the brim with little dancing lambs, Ewes, cows, calf’s and even a puppy!  My second visit was last weekend, we went for weekend boxing celebrations and more lamb cuddle’s the barn was a little less busy!!IMG_3075My friend Marie and her family live on this amazing farm, in the middle of no where…… I do mean no where…….

IMG_3029IMG_3043No main roads, No other buildings, in the middle of no where!

No main roads, No other buildings, in the middle of no where!

Marie was a townie like myself but has merged into farming life beautifully,  it’s always a pleasure to be around this family. Marie and I have been friends since we were babies, in fact along with my best friend Amanda I can’t remember a time we didn’t know each other, we all lived on the same street growing up. Marie’s Nana and my Nana were even best friends so it feels like being with family when we all get together.

The farm is so peaceful, there is a bitterly cold wind the type that gets down to your bones but even that couldn’t dampen my excitement!!

After a brief catching up we went into the barn and I was in animal heaven! I have mentioned before that snuggling one of those wooly jumpers with legs has been a to do list thing for a while, when I actually got my hands on one it was near perfection. With its little warm fuzzy body pressed to mine, at first I was worried I was stressing it out as its little heart pitter pattered against my hand, but the lovely snuggles and nibbles told me otherwise.

Within this cavernous barn there were lambs, sheep, cows and their calfs, pregnant cows and a baby sheep dog Billy hidden in the comfy corner, he is just a bundle of bouncy fur with eyes! Sorry Marie I had to steal your picture of him!!

Even Lewis the cat gets in on the action!

IMG_2954IMG_3005The Brown family all work to keep this farm running including the kids,  the freedom for the children out in the countryside is amazing. They are so independent and are able to be off out enjoying the fresh air, they are very aware of the dangers of farming life and seem to be more sensible for this!

There is something wonderful about watching the kids tend to the animals. Marie and Ian’s (Her Husband) children Ellie, Rose and little Florrie (who needs her own blog she is so hilarious, a little old woman trapped in a toddler)  get stuck in with the farming chores and have no problems getting dirty, watching Florrie toddling around with a lamb under each arm is unbelievably cute!

This last weekend was a family gathering and these little lovelies looked after their cousins who were up here also.

Florie and a lamb!RoseTeigan, one of Marie's neices.IMG_3082

Some of the pics here – Top left Florrie , top right Rose, bottom left Teagan (Marie’s niece) and bottom right Florrie and the lamb =D

Ian, Mary (Ian’s mother) and David (Ian’s dad) all work hard, so hard. I enjoy being around them very much, don’t get me wrong I would love to trade the stress of deadlines and sales targets for a slice of this wonderful life but it’s so tough I am not sure I am cut out for it. I don’t think there is much call for beautiful handbags on the farm!

By the time of our first visit the Brown’s were already a month or so into Lambing season, which is a 24hr job. Sleep is a luxury but you can clearly see the love and passion for the job in everything they do. By the second visit a couple of weeks later, they were looking a little zombieish =D

Although it was already quite late on that first evening, surrounded by the sounds of the different animals, they still found the passion when talking to us about their job. Showing us the various breeds of sheep and their lineages. Some descended from show winners! The examples of good ones and bad ones for resale and showing. David often joking about the leaping £ signs and their fate, he knows I would keep them all as pets given the choice. However I know they are all soft-hearted, and Davids teasing is just that. There were examples of their compassion all around me.

For example the below pic is of a little fella that was lame, he wasnt even standing, now a cold-hearted business person may have seen this as a waste of feed and time, not the Browns! Ellie, the eldest daughter, was determined to get him to walk! When I left after our first visit she promised me that he would be up and around no matter what! And guess what? On my second visit for the boxing party  – he was up and about!! I even got kisses off him!! see below!!

IMG_3067Watching David, Ian, Mary and Marie wandering round hand feeding orphaned lambs, the work involved in fostering the orphaned to a new mother, the time checking their little bellies are full, that they are warm and comfortable you can really see the dedication to their “job” and I word job loosely as I think it’s more of a lifestyle!

Ian told me of the terrible snow fall in April a couple of years ago that killed so many of those vulnerable little lambs out in the fields across the UK, they rounded their flock up into shelter and then spent all of the next day digging them out of drifts – they only lost one lamb! There is so much love, care and passion for the job and its evident from everything they do.

Now I am not getting into the vegetarian argument whats right or wrong that not the point of this post, but I will say this, for those of you concerned with where your meat is coming from, which I am, seeing the effort the Brown’s put into this stage of the process is a proud statement for British farming.

I am a complete hypocrite I will hold my hands up to it, I like my meat shrink wrapped and not resembling anything like the animal it came from, but I enjpy being a meat eater and I couldn’t do without it. But I also love the animals and don’t want them to suffer so to know there are farmers out there like the Brown’s, making sure their stock are well looked after, healthy and happy for the time they are with them makes it a little easier for me and I am proud to buy british products!

I had never, up until this first visit, witnessed any sort of birth first hand. As we were making plans to leave Ian already had noticed a Ewe starting to get ready. I find it interesting that they constantly have their eyes on the pregnant Ewes and know when they are close, of cause they can labour alone but its much safer for the farmer to be on hand as I witnessed.

The barn is a very organised system, so Ian knows who is about to birth and when they are in labour, there are signs the farmer recognises. The farmers also have the sheep scanned so they know how many lambs are being born and keep track of this by colour coding their backs or sides. The Ewe about to give birth had triplets inside her and she needed some help, sadly the first lamb out didn’t make it. It was a sad moment and again another example of the love and care given. I could see David, the very same lovely man who had been joking was a little quite, he doesn’t like to lose any of them. The other two were perfect and out safely, one boy one girl – named after me Sharron and my husband Ben. I am pleased to report they are both still doing well! The second Ewe went into giving birth soon after this and she gave birth to two perfect lambs. I was amazed by it! I could have stayed all evening, listen to those little ones barring playing.

Ian confided in me afterwards that the best moment for him is watching them hop skip and jump about in the fields, he feels like job well done, I have to agree job really is well done. Go on admit, when you see those little babies jumping and playing together with their little tails wagging – who can resist a smile?!

The second visit to the farm was to be a weekend of fun and I would like to say the animals were the main attraction but sadly the lads in our little party were raring to watch the boxing match that was being shown over night early hours of the morning. I am not a boxing fan but it was a fun night! We didnt get home until 7.30am and we were planning to go back to the farm to continue the fun later that day – I should point out that I don’t drink so was safe to do this!

I love this time of day and with the fresh air I was wide awake by the time we got home, made worse by the suicidal bunny’s intent on going under the van as I drove, sleep was a struggle – don’t worry I missed them all!!

The lads enjoying the boxing from left Shaun Mckie (Maries brother), Ian brown, Ben (my husband), Steven Mckie (Maries other brother) and Luke Mckie (Stevens son)

The next day, no sorry later that day……. we freshened up and headed back to continue the fun, Ian is again an example of a total legend, proving farmers don’t need much sleep! He had no sleep from saturday morning until 2am monday morning!!!

I had expected us all to be a sleep in our food on the Sunday evening, long gone are the days where I could party all night and survive on very little sleep to do it again the next night! We had so much fun, we laughed a lot, we ate some wonderful food cooked by Marie and at about midnight we decided we should make a move and start the 40 min drive home!

I wanted one last look in on the animals ………and a cow was in labour!! I couldn’t go home now, no sir! Ian predicted about another hour or so…..my husband was so pleased as he was able to have a couple more beers – beer monster!!

While we waited I spent some time with Caesar a calf that wouldn’t take to his mother so had to be hand feed, he would suckle on hands but not on his mother. Farmers often have to teach the little ones how to latch on but sadly Caesar just would not. Ian tried so hard with this little one, he even ended up with a broken toe from the mother standing on him!

He looked so little and lonely in his pen at the back, timid standing staring at me. He peeped out behind his feeding tray to say hello, then would bob quickly behind it again. All of the animals know the Browns smells, Ian was able to stoke and interact with them easily I had to work a little harder for it. I stayed with Caesar for about twenty minutes before we made friends but then after that it was amazing, he was letting me cuddle him, he loved the side of his neck stroking and most of all suckling on my hands! I am not going to lie it took a lot for me to leave him in that barn, I was wondering if he would fit in my back garden!!! Caesar and I are firm friends now….I might even be trying to smuggle him home with me! =D

Another calf on the other side of the room was one they had bought as sadly the originalcalf died during the birth, he was just too big for his mother to get him out and its testiment to the skill and quick thinking of the Browns that the mother survived, but she needed a baby. So they bought this little guy and to make sure the mother did take to him they had to use the hide from the original calf like a cloak so she would accept it, they are both very happy now and the calf is a little friendly one.

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The birth of the calf we were waiting for then begun, whom I think we had a mix of names for but Shauna (Stevens daughter) and myself liked Betty and as this was my nana’s name I am going with it. I can not describe the beauty of this moment, I loved it. The cow is held in place by fence type thing that traps her head, sounds a lot more medieval that it is, shes as happy as she can be with a big calf popping out!!

Ian and his father help her to deliver feet and nose first, up to his armpit Ian helps this little one into the world. With a litter picker looking contraption, times a hundred in size, they snugly fit the arms of this rig around the cows bottom. then it’s tightened and then propped under her bottom, they don’t want this cow to sit or lay down! Finally the little one drops to the floor and its done, Ian clears its airways and administers some medicine to help it along.

Other than Ian, I was the first one to touch this little one, so hot she was steaming, smooth and wet feeling a little like a dog covered in shampoo, I was totally smitten!!

IMG_3204Ian and David then cleared the pen, because of cause I was right in there along with the kids!! Then they let the mother free, she headed straight for her baby and got to cleaning her off. Ian tells me there is nothing better than the mothers touch to get the little one going and that was so true within a few minutes she was trying to stand. The mother, who has a stunning white love heart on her forehead, was so attentive to her little one. A mothers love translates whatever the creature, there is nothing better than that!

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 So a very weary crowd of party goers finally gave in after 2am on that Monday morning after an epic weekend we all went our separate ways. I was so excited that I didn’t sleep for hours after I got home!! I want to do that again!!!!

Until next time xoxox

An amazing weekend, starting with a random visit to Bowes Museum.

Barnard Castle is my home town, you have already heard from me a number of times that growing up in this beautiful little market town I longed to move out, I didn’t ever really appreciate where I lived, though to be fair show me a child that does.

I remember being involved in the bicentennial celebrations for the Bowes Museum and feeling a connection with the place, I romanticised the stories attached to it the most Famous being that John Bowes was building this mansion for this wife Josephine, sadly she died before it was completed she is buried within its grounds.

I viewed this beautiful building as a love letter, and I hoped one day to find someone who would love me so much they would want to build me something that wonderful, little did I know my prayers would be answered not in fact a house or mansion, but a man that can build Lego. Close enough!

Outside The Gates
Outside The Gates

I don’t want to make this blog a history lesson, the information about John and his beautiful building are public record and I fully suggest you taking some time to visit. I am particually excited for the exhibition coming to the museum in July for YSL the fashion house, Style is Eternal. To have this in my home town is beyond exciting to me!!

IMG_2751YSL advertising outside the museum entrance.

YSL advertising outside the museum entrance.

A little touch of city life coming to my home town. Fashion to me is art, there are some truly beautiful creations its more than just covering your body, it’s an extension of who you are and your personality. Who doesn’t like to dress up?!

Saturday morning my husband was having his hair cut down the road from this lovely building, so I decided rather than wander the street to visit the local coffee shop I would take my camera and get some shots of the building that was so important to my childhood.

I understand the attraction for tourists, who still flock to this museum it’s impressive especially as you first round the corner and there it stands.

I have always had an active imagination, even now as an adult when I people watch I wonder what is going on in those lives and often can start a story in my head. The Bowes Museum was full of possibilities for my imagination, not just because of the tragic love story at its beginning but the almost eerie exteriors lead my mind to create weird and wonderful stories.

A water feature under the steps to the entrance of the museum.
A water feature under the steps to the entrance of the museum.

This water feature would always scare me as a child, I believed this was a creature that had been stuck in this wall just waiting for a time when it would be free to roam the grounds and eat humans.

The story I made up……

At the time when John Bowes was starting to build this mansion for his beloved wife, there were disappearances happening in the town. Beautiful woman were randomly going missing, the towns folk were so scared that their daughters, cousins, friends would be next that they seldom left their houses, no woman was allowed to travel alone anywhere!

One brave girl who was deeply in love with a boy from a neighbouring town was so frustrated because it meant that she wasn’t able to visit her love and he was not able to visit her. She decided to seek the help of an old woman who was rumoured to be a witch, to ask her to find out what was happening and try to stop it.

The girl pleaded with the old woman until she gave in and cast a spell to reveal the identity of the kidnapper. It was a creature from the other side, half man, half beast. He had stumbled through a hole in the realities and was taking young women back to his world as his prisoners, the portal was right were the Bowes Museum would stand.

Now the girl who was so desperate to see her boyfriend decided to go herself and try to kill the beast, so in the dead of night when the moon was full so she had some light, she took her father’s axe and headed to the grounds. She was startled as she approached the gates by the old crone who begged her not to go, that it wasn’t worth it. The young girl refused and would not change her mind; she was so set on destroying this monster so that life could once again return to normal.

The crone knowing this was a lost cause, then gave to the girl a bag of herbs and a spell to seal the portal with the beast behind it and the two of them crept into the grounds.

Even with the moon light it was still dark, the building work had begun on the mansion so there were unusual shapes everywhere, the girl kept seeing things moving but just out of view, she turned in circles clutching the handle of the axe so tight she started to lose the feeling in her fingertips.

Then she heard it…… the snorting breathing sound close by, then she smelt it, wet vegetation with an underlying smell of sweet rotting meat her stomach lurched. She heard the slow footsteps behind her approaching, but when she turned nothing was there! The crone started to mumble under her breath and a bright light started to emerge from the centre of the grounds,

“There,” She said, “There is where the portal is, you must lead him there, I cannot go any further”

The crone fled, leaving the girl standing on her own clutching that axe, she decided to run heading for that light! The footsteps pounding behind her but the beast never showed himself. Standing on the very spot where the light was strongest she called to him,

“I am not scared, show yourself coward and meet your maker!”

She felt a hand on her arm, spinning her around she started to swing the axe and her other poised to throw the bag of herbs, stopping inches from her beloveds face.

“What are you doing here!?” she cried with relief “how did you even get into town….” She trailed off then she heard movement again, she shouted “We have to go there is a monster here!!”

“I came for you” he replied, running his fingers down her cheek, smiling even with imminent danger, he was calm “I wanted to see you!”

She tried to step back, confusion crossed her face, and she started to shake… it couldn’t be!

The smell of rotting flesh was too much to bear; it was so pungent she almost was sick, it was him she knew it right away her beloved was the monster she was chasing. She took two steps back, dropping the bag of herbs.

“No!” she cried, “Not you, it can’t be you” she tried to run but he held her tightly pulling her closer and closer into the light, closer to the portal and almost certain death.

“I must my love, you have to understand, and I need you all. Come with me” he crooned at her, his voice like warm nectar, and she wanted to go!

Suddenly she wanted to be there with him more than anything in the world; she had come here to fight for her love so why was she fighting him? The axe fell to the floor. She stumbled blindly behind him, closer and closer to the light.

Suddenly there was another bright flash of brilliant white light and swirling smoke surrounded them, and the image of her beloved disappeared in his place was the beast!

Through the smoke on the other side of the light the old crone started to chant, the beast screamed in pain and held on to the girl hard and dragged her onwards to the portal, she began to see the images of the lost girls on the other side, they cried and begged her to run. There was no turning back if she went through.

Like a slap to the face the spell was broken and she was screaming, she didn’t want to go with him, she pulled and pulled to free her hands! The croan’s shouting picked up in speed, not able to make out the actual words but knowing it was working as the beast screamed and started to lose his grip.

As they almost were touching the portal, hands reached out to pull him in, the girl managed to free herself of his grasp, the women on the other side held tightly to the beast pulling him closer to them. He turned to face the girl who had now joined the crone in her chanting, the smoke swirled and engulfed the beast and portal the cries were defining, mixed with the chants of the girl and the old crone. An explosive bang heard for miles around, a blinding flashing light and it was over.

In the spot where the beast and portal had been stood a stone wall, the only thing left was the stone face of the beast, who was struggling so badly to get to the girl he was now eternally stuck between two worlds, his face contorted in anger and pain.

The building went up around the wall, keeping the beasts’ stone face there in memorial to the lost women and their bravery. The young girl never left the town, she dedicated her life to making sure the beast never escaped from the wall until the time of her death……and even now she can be seen kneeling before his face, quietly chanting those words.

The End

That may the musings of a simple pre teen mind but visiting this spot on Saturday brought it all back, I had completely forgotten this story that I believe started as a creative writing exercise for school in a longer format, along with another one of a little girl who lived in the rooms at the top of the building and could often be seen peering out as we played below, that’s for another time =D

IMG_2841The roof where the story of the little girl came from. The window she looked out of.

The roof where the story of the little girl came from. The window she looked out of.

Some more of the photographs taken on Saturday.

IMG_2759 IMG_2831 IMG_2833 IMG_2834 IMG_2840 IMG_2830 - Copy IMG_2826Top of the gates at the entrance

IMG_2804 - Copy IMG_2814 IMG_2811 - Copy IMG_2812 IMG_2819 - Copy

Bye for now xoxo

City Gurl in the City

There’s something about the growl of a public bus, standing idling at a bus stop later on an evening that takes me back to my teen years.

At 15 I lived in an even smaller village on the outside of my already small town. I thought it was the worst thing ever, any trips to town to see my friends involved using the bus or walking a very long way, or at least that’s what I thought at that time! It also involved a lot of waiting at bus stops in all weathers.

This week I have been in the city for work, it’s in perpetration for one of my appointments I found myself late in the city one evening listening to the buses tick over while waiting for my girl friends to meet me for dinner. I was instantly back to being that 15-year-old girl waiting for her friends all those miles and years away. It’s amazing how a smell or a sound can do that, instantly transport you back to a memory.

Nothing changes it would seem, my friends are destined to always be late. I am still waiting around listening to that rumbling bus, ticking over all these years later while waiting for friends.

After our lovely meal at one of my clients restaurant, I had to make my way back to my car which was parked some distance away and this walk is proof that I clearly have an over active imagination!

The in my head version goes like this:

Leaving the restaurant , they said their fair wells and headed home. She watching her friends walk away and headed back to her car some distance from the restaurant.

She found herself distracted by the comforting sound of the near by buses idling waiting for the late night passengers making their way home after whatever activity had kept them out so late, the sound of the bus rumbling transporting her back to a time in her life where she was carefree. She felt happy, relaxed even.

This light was fading fast from the sky, and the wind was picking up, as pulled her coat tighter around her against the cold bite of that wind she noticed the clip,clip clip of footsteps behind her. Feeling a rush of adrenaline,

“Why are they walking so close?” the girl thought.

She quickened her step, the clip, clip,clip increased in speed as well. Quickly she assessed the surroundings, for a city, the street was empty.

“Where were all of the people!?” She thought.

The car park which held her car, she knew she had to walk down a dark path and across the empty car parktto reach it, it was opposite her office. She could go back into the office but she didn’t have a key for the exterior door! Where could she run to should they attack!

There was nowhere to run, all of the shops had long since closed for the evening the only lighting coming from the stores was from the window displays which highlighted the mannequins in the mid movement, but not helping with her unease as they looked like they could spring to life at any moment.

Where could she go?

The steps became closer, she clutched her keys and fed them through her fingers and tried to remember the self-defense she had seen over the years of watching cheesy chick flicks, she looked up and it was then she saw…….

That is was three middle-aged men on their way into town…… probably to pay pool or darts ….. not a mugger or murder….they pasted her and back to reality!!

Being from the countryside as a young woman in the city, my mother was constantly worried for my safety. Rightly so to be honest, but when you are young there is little to scare you. I didn’t worry about such things, traveling I perhaps put myself into situations that would potentially be dangerous, but again I didn’t worry. So I did laugh to myself on my way back to my car that evening in Derby, the city girl of even 2 years ago would have walked to the car without a single thought, but now having lived in a village where everyone is familiar, walking down that empty city street was uncomfortable. I laughed at my imagination getting the better of me!

I think we have a different sense of safety depending on where you grow up, there are concerns everywhere of cause, nowhere sadly is ever truly safe but perception plays a huge part in how safe you feel.

My husband is a city boy, born and bred in Derby….although a Newcastle fan since he was 4 so rather randomly it would seem he was meant to be with a North East Girl…… his teenage years were very different to mine. He was not permitted to walk the streets as such, he had to be at a friend’s house or youth club. Of cause he didn’t always follow those instructions. His first experience of going out to the pub was after his 18th Birthday, were as I had been frequenting our locals for a couple of years. No harm done it would seem as I don’t even drink now, there just was not a lot else to do – that scene from Hot Fuzz the movie with Nick Frost and Simon Pegg were the city cop is IDing all the local Youth and the pub is left empty, this is a all too familar scene of my teen years.

On reflection I wouldnt change a thing about my childhood, nor would I have not moved to the city even though I have eventually moved back home. I love the city. The traveling I have done and the experiences I have had, the people I have met have all made me into a much better person, as much as I love to visit the city, being that close to all those handbags for me is perfection …… There is no place like home.

Until next time xoxo