A great Good Friday

I’m completely confused about what day it is! It feels so much like a Saturday because I haven’t been at work. We even just had a Chinese takeaway for our dinner! I have to remind myself for the next half an hour that it’s actually Friday because Gardeners’ World is on, and it’s back to hourly episodes tonight.

I’ve had a very productive, and enjoyable day, helped muchly by the beautiful weather. I was vaguely aware of the world at six thirty this morning when hubby got up to go to work, but the next thing I knew it was ten to nine. Lovely lie in – just what the doctor ordered!

I decided to take myself into Town (for non-Brummies, that’s Birmingham City Centre – we only ever call it Town round here). The reason for my venture into the heart of the city was that the world’s biggest Primark opened there last week, and I was curious to see what all the fuss is about.

I decided to get the train in to save having to remortgage to pay for parking. There are lots of memories for me on our train line. Mum and I used to use the same line to get to school (she taught at the same school that I attended) and I can remember sitting next to her and chattering away about nothing or reading our books in comfortable silence. I can remember her putting lipstick on me when I’d got sore lips from the walk to the station in the wind in winter because she’d run out of chapstick. I can remember her trying to hold in a giggle when one of the school girls opposite us looked up coldsore in the dictionary (because she had one) but got it slightly wrong and read out ‘a mix of cabbage, carrot and onion in a mayonnaise sauce’.

New Street Station has been completely revamped since I was a child and the main concourse bears absolutely no resemblance to its former self, so much so that I have no idea where I am when I’m there in relation to where I used to be (if you see what I mean!) The platforms haven’t changed much though and they still make me think of train journeys that I took regularly as a child. New Street to Shrub Hill where my Dad would meet me for a weekend or a Christmas in Worcester. New Street to Euston for the first leg of a trip to Reigate to stay with my Granny and Grandad. When I was really little I used to have an imaginary dog in the luggage compartment! It was an Andrex puppy and it was on every London bound train that I got on. I used to play with it during the journey until I got too old, but even then I still used to say hi to it as we boarded the train!

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This is the outside of Primark. It really is huge. It used to be an entire shopping centre! I pinched this picture from t’internet, I didn’t take one today, but if I had it would’ve looked somewhat more busy! It was crazy!

I took a deep breath and dived in! I decided to start at the top and work my way down. It wasn’t quite as busy on the top floor. Here I found the Harry Potter section!

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It wasn’t a massive section, but there was a lot in there, from clothes to toys to stationery. They’ve managed to capture some of that Harry Potter magic in the decor.

There’s a massive focus on Disney throughout the store. There’s even a Disney cafe. I was intending to look at the menu to see if the food’s Disney themed, but there was a massive queue even way before lunchtime.

I couldn’t resist some Disney purchases.

We’re going to Orlando in a week and a day’s time so I got some new PJs to take along with some trainer socks for the gym and a new phone case for my work phone.

As well as Mickey and Minnie Mouse they also had Dumbo, Donald and Daisy Duck, Jungle Book and Lilo and Stitch. There was a distinct lack of any Hundred Acre Wood goodies though. Most disappointing!

There was an area called the ‘Primarket’ which I’ve never seen in Primark before. It had lots of stationery, headphones, phone cases and other techie things. I had fun looking at everything here. Most people are after cheap clothing so there was a bit of breathing space here.

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This is what I decided to put in my basket. Not the iPad, the arm that it’s attached to. You can’t see it very well, but it clips on to a table or chair and holds your tablet up for you. A couple of weeks ago when hubby was away for the night, I decided to take my crocheting to bed and watch an episode of the Crown, and I had great trouble balancing my iPad on the bed. If I’d have had this, no problemo!

I was also on the lookout for some cheap clothes and I managed to get four spaghetti strap tops for our holiday for four quid each!

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Primark, or Primarni if you will, clothes aren’t the best quality (at £4 that’s not surprising) but for holidays when you’re likely to get suntan lotion all over them, they’re great! I just hope I’m not funding some child labour sweatshop in the Philippines though! I can’t find any evidence of this, but they’re hardly likely to admit it now, are they?

I headed home to get out in the garden in the afternoon to make the most of the gorgeous weather.

I decided I’d better tackle the front garden. Those of you who follow me on Instagram (greengirlgardener) May have seen my post saying that I’m in love with my garden with a pic of our back garden. The same can’t be said about our front garden. Our plan, when funds allow, is to turn the front garden into a drive, so I begrudge time out there when I could be in the back. It may seem almost sacreligious to some of you to block pave a garden, but we have so much to do out the back that we just don’t have the time to do justice to both.

Anyway, it was in quite a state, embarrassingly so! It’s still not perfect now, I need to get the hedge cutter out and we need to replace a fence, but it looks a lot tidier.

Here’s some before and afters.

I was less stringent with my weeding than I have been in previous years. I left most of these hanging around.

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I feel that Dandelion flowers must really feel that their leaves are holding them back. The leaves are quite ugly but the flowers, whilst not being on a par with a Rose or an Anemone, are reasonably pleasing to the eye. Anyway, I’ve left them for the bees. According to Facebook (therefore it must be true) Dandelions are bees first source of pollen.

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I’ve also left several of these Geranium type plants. I say Geranium type plants because I’ve never left them long enough to grow before, but the leaves look Geraniumish to me. We’ll see what happens in a few weeks. I thought, if they are Geraniums, or some other non-weed, they’ll hopefully provide some ground cover which will make weeding less necessary.

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There’s another of the Geranium type plants amongst some of the Peonies. These have sprung up this week. They are really really beautiful when they flower. If we can ever afford to turn the garden into a bigger drive, I’ll attempt to move them to the back. I’ve read that they don’t like to be moved, but I’ll give it a go.

Three days off still ahead – what a blissful thought! Hope you all have a great Easter break.

A weekly round up

Goodness me, this week has flown by! I had a big work event which took up most of Tuesday and all of Wednesday so, again, I had no time for blogging. Be reassured though, my little forum here is never far from the forefront of my mind, so I try to document events big and small ready for when I have a few moments to write.

I am really going to try to keep it to a few moments tonight because I’m desperately trying to finish a crochet project that needs to be gifted on Tuesday at another work event, happily a more relaxed affair this time. I’m sure I’ll have lots to report on next time about that. Needless to say, I’m not going to show you what I’m working on in case the recipient should read this in advance!

The week started with a very special delivery.

 

Yep, it’s another Eeyore! This isn’t just any old Eeyore though. He’s a limited edition Steiff Eeyore. He’s number four hundred and thirty six of only two thousand made. He’s sitting on our bed at the moment, but he’s mainly going to live in his box to avoid damaging him.

So, on to Tuesday and my work event. We had an evening event and meal with an overnight stay before our conference the next day. As well as being an Account Manager, I’m also responsible for Communications which means that I organise our events. This event needed less organisation than some but I had recommended and booked the hotel we used and had booked our evening event so I was keen for it to be a success.

The hotel was the Macdonald Burlington in the centre of Birmingham and I would definitely recommend it.

I opened the door to my room and actually stopped dead in the doorway. The room was huge! Really huge! Almost intimidatingly so.

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See that coffee table at the foot of the bed? Hmmm …. I didn’t when I got up to go to the loo at 4am! Ouch!

It was a little distance to our evening event and there was some debate over whether we would walk or grab a cab, but I’m so glad we walked because I’d forgotten some of the hidden charms of Brum.

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Our event was crazy golf with a difference. It’s called Ghetto Golf and as well as the Birmingham course, there’s one in Liverpool. It’s indoor, eighteen holes with various themes such as a bus, a Blockbusters video store and a skittle alley. The tunes are playing loud and it’s a licensed premises.

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We ate at a restaurant called Buffalo and Rye, which was in keeping with the tone of Ghetto Golf. I had Buttermilk Chicken Tacos with Asian Street Fries and it was amazing! We didn’t sit down to eat until nine o’clock and I was so hungry by then I completely forgot to take a photo!

The main event on Wednesday was somewhat exhausting, but it was a success all round. I had to talk about my product and I was keen to make the best impression that I could, which I think I managed reasonably well. Lots of people, I know, find speaking in front of a group difficult, and you would think that I would be one of those people, being an introvert and not the best at self promotion, but I’m actually pretty comfortable with it. Admittedly I spend a long time making sure I’m well prepared, but as someone who is naturally quiet, and who finds it difficult to push herself to the forefront, I enjoy being in a position where people have to listen to what I’ve got to say without me having to assert myself to get to that position.

Thursday passed by in a pretty exhausted, uneventful blur until I was about to collapse into bed when an unfortunate accident resulted in this.

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Good job I instinctively closed my eye, isn’t it? It was a feline related accident involving Tinkerbell jumping off the wardrobe aiming for my shoulder as usual, but me not realising she was jumping and turning to walk away resulting in a crash! I’m not sure which part of her hit me, but it felt like I’d been punched in the face. That cut isn’t the result of a claw, my skin split with the impact! It’s on the mend though, it looks a lot better today, and it doesn’t hurt anymore.

In garden news, my Sunflower seedlings have now got big enough that I can see them from our back bedroom.

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Can you see them? In the green pots just to the left of the ladybird. The seedlings are all coming along well.

 

I need to read up on what to do next! This is the first time I’ve grown anything from seed so I need to find out when I need to pot them on, and how to go about hardening them off before they go outside and how big they need to be before I can plant them out. I wonder if we’ve had the last frost yet?

My Eupatorium shoots are starting to look decidedly leaf-like.

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I’m still nervous about something trampling them so I’m leaving the dead wood there until the new shoots are big enough to look after themselves.

My Geum has quite a few new leaves and a couple of buds which look like they’re not far off starting to bloom.

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Bizarrely, it looks like the flower is going to be yellow. Bizarre only because last year I’m sure the flowers were bright orange! Maybe I’m mistaken, or maybe the colour will change.

There’s lots of colour appearing. I’ll share more once we’re further into the season, but here are a couple of spoilers!

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The top picture is our Pieris which we inherited with the house. It’s pretty spectacular now, but give it a fortnight or so and it’ll take your breath away.

The second pic is my wild flower. I still don’t know what it is, but I’m very intrigued now it’s got two different colour flowers! I can’t wait till all those little buds have opened.

Right, must get back to crocheting, so all that is left for me to do is to wish my husband a very happy birthday …..

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….. and apologise for the Peppa Pig wrapping paper!

Enchanting Edinburgh part three

Morning all. Happy Sunday. It’s a bit of a miserable day outside today so it’s ruined my plans of getting out in the garden. Apparently Storm Freya is on her way. She’s not headed our way but I guess we’ve got her to blame for the pants weather. It feels a world apart from this time last week when I was headed up to Edinburgh.

Speaking of which, here’s the third and final instalment of my Edinburgh trip. This one will be mostly pictorial I think.

I had some work to do first, so I was up early and headed back over to Waverley Station to get the Airlink 100 back out nearly to the airport where I was meeting some colleagues. That went well and before I knew it I was back on the Airlink 100 again headed for the zoo, which is in between the airport and the city centre. I’ve mentioned my quandary with zoos before. I don’t like to see caged animals, but I do find myself drawn to zoos and safari parks because I just love to see animals in the flesh, and I know that zoos work incredibly hard to maintain endangered species and that they need entrance money to do so. I have to say, on this sunny day the animals seemed to be loving basking in the rays, even the penguins to whom it can’t come naturally.

The zoo has lockers available to rent which I made use of to store my laptop bag whilst I wondered round. I’m so glad they have this facility because my laptop bag is pretty heavy, and the zoo is built on quite a steep hill so I’d have struggled if I’d had to carry it all afternoon. My back was really achy as it was by the end of the day.

First port of call was a cafe! It was about one o’clock by this point and all I’d had to eat was Belvita Breakfast biscuits on the bus so my tummy was somewhat rumbly. I grabbed a sandwich and a scrummy piece of rocky road and headed outside. Picnic in the sun, in February, in Scotland! Bet that doesn’t happen often. I was sat in my shirt sleeves and the sun was beating down on me. Bliss!

My train home was just before five o’clock so I prioritised the animals that I really wanted to see most in case I didn’t have time to get round the whole zoo. Edinburgh Zoo is the only zoo in the UK which has koalas and giant pandas and I was very excited to see them so I headed in their direction first.

There are two adult koalas, a male and a female. I couldn’t get a clear photo of the female because she was hidden up safely at the top of her enclosure because she has a tiny joey that she’s very protective of. The zoo keepers don’t even know yet whether the joey is a girl or a boy.

The male koala was in the next door enclosure, and he was just hanging around in a tree seemingly unperturbed by all the people gawping at him.

Their enclosures weren’t huge, but I’m sure I’ve read that koalas don’t have a big territory in the wild. I remember images of them in wild fires in Australia where people were having to climb trees to rescue them because they were too lazy to bother moving. Amazing that they found the energy to make a joey really! Having seen them in the flesh now, I’m even more convinced that they should officially be called koala bears even though they’re officially marsupials, because they just look so cuddly like bears.

Next off to the giant pandas. There are two, a male and a female on a ten year loan from a Chinese zoo, but I only saw one of them. They’re in identical adjacent enclosures, but they only come together for the small mating window between March and May. Giant pandas on average only spend two to four days a year with a potential mate – this could be the secret to a happy marriage! She’s perfectly free to arrange her bamboo however she fancies with no one to mess it up!

I made my way over to the penguin enclosure next. At two fifteen every day they do a penguin parade. This was accidentally started in 1951 when a keeper inadvertently left the gate open and the penguins followed him round the zoo in single file! The keepers don’t encourage the penguins out using food so it’s entirely up to the penguins if they want to come out or not. I wasn’t in luck – apparently it was vaccination day the previous week and the penguins were still wary of the keepers. There are some great videos like this one on YouTube though if you want to have a look.

I headed over to the grey kangaroos next. There are four of them, an adult mating pair and their adolescent offspring and, I was delighted to see, a joey still living in its mother’s pouch. I haven’t got a photo of it, but I saw the joey poke its head out and have a look around. It was just like a scene from Winnie the Pooh with Kanga and Roo. I stood there, camera poised, for ages after this hoping to catch it on film, but it didn’t reappear. You can see from the first pic below though that there’s definitely a sizeable joey in that pouch.

I also saw the mother and the teenager have a boxing match over some minor disagreement. Maybe he’s annoyed that he’s having to play second fiddle to the new baby!

I was right to prioritise the animals that I really wanted to see because I didn’t have time to make it round the whole zoo before it was time to head back to the bus stop unfortunately. I won’t bore you with every animal that I did see, but here’s a few of my favourite photos that hopefully need no explanation.

So here endeth my Edinburgh ramblings. I had such a fantastic time and I would love to spend some more time up there. I was so so SO lucky with the weather and I probably wouldn’t have been able to do so much if it’d been wet or super cold, but really, there’s a lot of indoor stuff to do as well so it really is an all weather destination. Five stars to Edinburgh!