Day one of my week off

I was determined not to waste my time off with trivial time saps like Candy Crush (it’s driven me so mad that I’ve deleted it from my phone, but haven’t got quite annoyed enough to do the same for my iPad) but I made the fatal error of not doing a to do list so while I pondered what to do, I did fall prey to the crush first thing. Argh, must try harder tomorrow.

I decided to take myself off to Ikea to have a mooch without the weekend crowds. I was particularly hoping to pick up some new garden treasures, but there was surprisingly slim pickings. I did get a few bits and bobs.

7843DA78-3622-4BBB-A2B2-0B21932ED902

A Chamaedorea Elegans, aka a small palm tree. Tinkerbell is fascinated by plants. We have to thoroughly check plant toxins before we buy because she likes to give them a little nip and a nibble! This one’s fine, although I will have to find somewhere out of the way otherwise the poor thing will end up chewed.

0FD1F648-DE18-446F-B3D5-0A9AF350B0EB

Aloe Vera. This one is toxic to cats, so I also bought a hanging pot for it so I can make sure it’s out of reach of little feline teeth! For now it’s safely hanging on our picture rail until I decide where it’s going to live.

A274BDE0-BC07-41F6-AFA0-EE42BB1E298E

Arabica coffee plant. This one is also toxic to cats so it’ll be kept out of reach. It likes a humid environment so it’s going to live on the top shelf of our bathroom cabinet where the cats can’t get to.

I wasn’t quite ready to go home, so I googled ‘garden centres near Ikea’ and stumbled across Hollybush Garden Centre and Aquaria. Oh my, what a treat! How did I not know this place existed? As soon as I walked in, it quickly became apparent that I was going to need to go back for a pulley shopping basket. Trundle trundle trundle I went in a joyful haze! The animal centre had all the usual small animals – fluffy rabbits, nervous guinea pigs, sleepy hamsters and chirpy birds, but they also had reptiles, spiders, frogs and fish of every colour and species.

On to the rest. The photos explain it much better than I can.

I could’ve made my bank manager very cross indeed, but I managed to narrow it down to just these three beauties – a succulent, an air plant and, well, a multi coloured frog

AA7805B0-CB10-45A2-84D9-0F0BD741076917F267EC-8B5A-4422-9207-759F83D30DA3D8EE8700-3B13-4D56-B332-1157FC5E757B

Sunday at West Midland Safari Park

I’m in two minds about animals in captivity. I don’t think anyone would disagree that animals are supposed to be in their natural environment and not restricted in any way, however, it’s not that simple. Crucially, and irreversibly, we are where we are! There are animals in captivity already and for the most part, they couldn’t now be released. Also, very importantly, zoos and safari parks do a huge amount of conservation work and research and without paying visitors they wouldn’t be able to do that. Do I wish animals had never been put in cages to start off with, probably yes, but as (some) humans are the animal kingdom’s worst enemy, the least the rest of us can do is try to make some good from the situation in which we find ourselves.

Here’s a few pics of our day anyway. Some areas of the park were closed, not sure why, but it meant we weren’t able to see the lions, cheetahs or monkeys, although I was planning to bypass the monkeys anyway out of kindness to my car!

B6AC51B4-85D4-4B54-94A3-E0652F92B205

0237FC45-1091-4C97-B382-891934C46698

1B8DFDA7-B30C-46FE-989B-1DD86153B94D

00A0ACAF-ACF8-4C24-99AE-8AF6C4F4585B

3A8834D2-9F1B-4724-80C1-1047775D11DD

For the most part these animals had lots of room, at least compared with a zoo. There were two tiger enclosures housing a Sumatran tiger and a White Bengal tiger. I guess it’s not conducive to keeping the Safari Park stocked to have tigers running free where their natural prey is roaming around and not safe for the people driving around, but I did feel uncomfortable seeing these magnificent animals in a cage. They had more space than a zoo but certainly nothing like in the wild. However, this is where the conservation work comes in. Sumatran tigers are critically endangered with less than 400 in the wild and no white tigers have been seen in the wild since the 1950s. Hopefully facilities like the Safari Park can protect these fantastic felines from complete extinction.

Wonderful weekend

It’s only Sunday morning, but it’s already been a wonderful weekend. This is probably partly influenced by the knowledge that I have next week off work, and whilst I’m lucky enough to love most aspects of my job from the reassuring rhythm of daily routine to the social interaction with colleagues and customers, and not to forget the often challenging nature of the actual work, the one thing that having to work for a living deprives you of, is time. Time to read a magazine, a blog, or a book. Time to potter and mooch without worrying about things you should be doing. Time to do the things you want to do rather than the things you need to do. Bliss, a whole week of time ahead of me.

Friday evening was an evening of firsts. An evening out at a restaurant in the Great Western Arcade in Birmingham city centre. Great Western Arcade wasn’t a first in itself since I have been there before many times, but I estimate that the last time I wandered along that fabulously eclectic corridor was at some point in my early twenties and eating there was definitely a first.

We ate at a specialist vegetarian restaurant called Bistro 1847, the first time I’ve ever eaten at a vegetarian restaurant. I’ve tried to be vegetarian several times but I always fail after a couple of months. I am an animal lover and I am deeply concerned about their welfare, but I just don’t seem to be able to summon the willpower to resist meat long-term. It’s entirely my fault that I’m a failed vegetarian, but I have found that it isn’t made easy when eating out, the options are limited and often high in calories and if going for fast food, well, it’s not fast because they never have the veggie option ready. Supply and demand problem I guess. Anyway, a bit of delicious food porn ……

673D5460-18B9-4A50-8359-77EC78D2F888

Garden Pea Falafel – peas are my favourite vegetable so this was a no brainer, although I almost went the way of goats cheese bonbons.

62CFCA5E-D6F0-4C49-AC62-D291EF02D8A3

Potato Pave. I googled what pave meant expecting something complicated and foody. The answer? Square! So basically a mouth wateringly delicious paving stone of potato.

D3C0E765-4BC8-494A-B0D4-5ADED699C392

Dark chocolate nemesis. Definition of nemesis: anyone or anything which seems to be the cause of someone’s downfall or defeat. Well, if this is the way I’m going to go I’m happy with that!

My company for this meal of firsts was two of my favourite people, but two who (another first) had never met before but got on famously. Big tick for Friday night and Bistro 1847.

Saturday brought about another first. I went to watch the fourth day of the England vs India cricket test match at Edgbaston.

C0C064FD-CF29-4E77-B27A-5DE48481B995

My Mum used to watch the cricket during the summer holidays back in the days of Ian Botham, David Gower and Mike Gatting, but I confess that I haven’t paid masses of attention to the cricketing world since then other than a brief teenage crush on Mark Ramprakash in the 90s, but I had a great time and we won!

6040C984-5B7B-4170-B622-45A73DF12349

There’s actually a lot more science to it than just someone chucks a ball and someone else tries to hit it as far as they can. Fascinating! I’ll definitely be paying attention from now on.

A final cricketing observation – who knew they did gardening after it’s finished?!? Hahahaha

7EC845C6-D50F-4FAD-BB14-DC30D197B886

The tickets for this event were gifted to us by a very special friend who works at the cricket ground, and she, being one of the kindest people I know, also sorted out a food hamper for us which I think we’ll be eating for the next few days! More food porn alert ……

6366AD26-B784-4DFC-A3E4-FD75DBDFF415

It’s a hamper and a half!

Back home I decided I’d better check the garden to make sure all my plants were coping with the lack of attention since Thursday. Pleased to report they’re all doing marvellously.

B8F95EE4-6E47-4890-814F-53B4E1CC5740

41702798-F786-445D-8BCC-3EFDA80F0BAA

The tomatoes and courgettes are coming on nicely. Not far off ready to harvest.

EC17B2C9-EFA1-4E56-B673-EE3A24465C85

And my rose hot chocolate, has a new flower blooming. What a precious and unexpected surprise! My Mum bought us this rose when we moved into our house and it is supposed to repeat flower, but in previous years it didn’t seem to know that. So when we had flowers in June, I assumed that would be it until next year. Imagine  my joy when I spotted this!