A trip on the trains

The last two days saw us taking Alice for her first trip staying away at another house. We got two tickets for the North Yorkshire Moors Railway, as part of a teachers go free deal. As it’s a little bit of a journey in the orig to get there for the first train we asked Amy’s dad if we could stay the night before. His house in Robin Hood’s Bay is a bit closer to the railway start point making it easier getting Alice up and ready. We’ve visited the house with Alice last year, but not stayed yet. Loading the car was a military operation, being our first night away we didn’t know what to take. So in the end we probably had enough nappies for a week.

Alice was up early ready to go on train day. Alice wanted to make friends with the cats, but they were a bit more wary of her.

We got to the station in Pickering OK and sorted out tickets. We didn’t go down to look at the engine at this point, as we wanted to make sure we were comfortable on the train with Alice’s things.



We got on the train and settled with a useful table.



The railway takes you through the North Yorkshire Moors. You travel through a mixture of woodland, coniferous woodland and fields. We saw plenty of the larger farm animals.


Alice was initially quite interested in watching out the window with her eyes tracking along. She managed a little while before becoming more wriggly.



Alice then settle down into grazing on some snacks for the journey, working her way through some carrot wotsits type snacks and a little bit of cherry bakewell flapjack.




Refreshed with food Alice was ready to watch around again.


We got out of the train at the end of line at Whitby and saw the engine.




Whitby is famous for being the setting for some of Bram Stoker’s Dracula. This weekend is the goth festival, so the shops were all set ready. So this area forms the setting to two of my favourite horror movies: American werewolf in London and Dracula. If movies have taught me anything I know not to go walking this area of the country at night. It’s a lovely old seaside town with lots of historic buildings going back to when the town made it’s fortune from fishing and whaling.



The wind was quite strong along the piers, so Alice nattered away. Amy enjoyed a coconut ice cream and I had a toffee fudge. This area seems to of been developed more from our last trip with a better quality of food huts having emerged. Alice was travelling in the baby howdah as we thought the pram would be a hassle on the train and around Whitby.



The train journey back we had a compartment to ourselves allowing Alice to wander a bit more, but was also lucky as Alice was grumpy and tired by this point. So much of the return journey was spent fractiously trying to get Alice to have a nap.

The sun had come out more though and the moors were looking stunning for it.


The journey has tired Alice out and she fell asleep in the car. As she’d taken so much to get her to sleep I stayed in the car and read my new gardening book to give her a rest.


We stopped off for tea at Amy’s dad before returning home. A few lessons learnt about what we need to take with for sleeping away. But a nice day out. Alice slept well last night after excitement, making it through to almost 6 o’clock, a good achievement for her.

Whitby 2



A little further along the Transpennine Trail

Today saw me and Alice getting out a bit further along the Transpennine Trail. This morning I finished reading Ranulph Fiennes book on Scott of the Antartic putting me in the mood to explore further. If Scott could manhaul a sledge to the South Pole I can manage a bit more of Hornsea.

I started with a stop off near the mere to check out the sheep. The mothers are out protecting their lambs currently. Alice seems to find them funny when we’ve visited before and today was no different sat giggling in her pram.



From there we had a little stroll along the main road before joining the trail. It was sunny today but that section is nicely shaded for Alice.


The trail was rich in wildlife today with many birds, bees, flies and butterflies out.

My new lens helped cature some photos I would if struggled to get before. In order a peacock, a red admiral and what I think is a small white.



Butterfly 2

Part of the way along is a side path coming out above the rescessed trail to a farmers field. Around this stretch was a lot of bees but only captured a few.



This side public footpath took us out at the little bridge out of Hornsea on the main road out. As there was no decent path we retraced our steps back to the trail.



Continuing on from my blog on surveys I am keeping an eye out for blue bells. Lots along the trail, but I don’t believe they are native.




On existing the trail we turned into the cemetary. I’d investigated the cemetary last year and found it good for wildlife with lots of squirells. No squirells todsy, but some lovely blossom.




We returned home along the old railway line. The station building is now houses and in my mind some of the nicest looking in Hornsea.




The last stretch home took us along the seafront where it was windy enough for people to fly kites. Alice loves the wind in her face and gasps and giggles at it.




The floral hall has built a rather nice bug hotel.


A pretty good trek out and some new ground covered. Hopefully all that fresh air will give Alice a good nights sleep as tomorrow we are heading to North Yorkshire.

Two wildlife surveys

Last year I took part in the Great British Bee Count for friends of the earth. This survey allowed you to either log how many bees you saw in a set time or to log sightings of species. I loved the app. It was simple to use. Take a photo of the bee on your phone, then it gave an identification sheet. I became a bit obsessed chasing bees. The hunt returns 19th May.


The Woodland Trust have another survey, The Big Bluebell Watch. Over half the worlds bluebell population are in the UK, so the Woodland Trust want to know where you have sighted bluebells and if their native and non-native. Bluebells are traditionally a sign of ancient woodland and offer an early source of pollen to many insects. So the Woodland Trust wants to make sure they don’t disappear.

I’ve sighted lots along the old Hornsea Railway way and made my submission.


National Gardening Week

This Easter weekend marks National Gardening Week. As its been the school holiday for me I’ve made some good steps forward with sorting out the garden. I’ve had a bit of help from parents over the week.

My dad has been working on greening the lawn and it’s now looking a lot better for it. WhenI moved in last Summer it was a sea of dandelions. While I appreciate that dandelions make a great early food source for bees they aren’t nice to walk on. We also have a path behind the garden where I’ve left them to grow. There also appears to be some wild bluebells emerging.

Some of the flowers put in earlier in the year are doing well. The patch of forget me nots I planted in Autumn are doing well and a few have seeded in other spots.

The foxgloves and hollyhocks are doing well. They got eaten to pieces initially but are now growing better.

These bulbs I planted in Autumn are shooting up. I can’t remember what they were, but lovely leaves. Be a nice surprise seeing what flowers.

My mum turned the apple tree after we cut it back to encourage shaping and growth. It had been a bit neglected but seems to be doing well now.


We got in two varieties of rosemary and silver mist lavender in the back. With some gravel in the soil for drainage I’m hopeful they’ll take well. A few gardens along the street have good patches of rosemary and lavender, so hopefully do well. There good for both bees and butterflies, which I’d like to attract in. I’ve got quite a lot of plants for bees, but less for butterflies.


My parents bought me two hardy fuschias which should look nice when flowering.

On the patio I’ve knocked out one of the unused stone wall planters. Now we’ve got the log burning stove fitted we want to turn this into a seating area and wood store.

The daffodils in the pots on the patio are up to dead heading point so looking to plant up a few other pots with some Summer flowers. I’ve got someĀ night scented flowers recommended for moths and to attract bats. Some poppy seed has gone in the flowerbed.

The seed packet that came from grow wild had grown beyond its pot so my mum split them over the flowerbeds in the front and back garden. There is also some more lavender in the front garden.

The RHS guide to urban gardensĀ was a kindle deal of the day earlier in the week so possibly get some more ideas for the patio there.

And I’ll finish with a few wildlife visitors over the last week.




I’ve moved a bird feeder to the front garden which is seeing plenty of visitors.



A trip to the mere

Yesterday saw both my parents and one of Amy’s friends visiting. Me and parents got some work done in the garden and then after lunch we got out for a walk.


We started off heading along the seafront. Then went along the old railway track to the mere. We stopped off in the cafe for a selection of ice cream and cakes and teas. I had a suitably good custard slice. Alice enjoyed an apple roll. One of the best things for making her quiet to give us time to enjoy a cuppa.

At the mere tested out my new camera lens which allowed me to get snaps a bit closer than previously possible.


Some super teasel growing. I’ve got some growing on a windowsill at home that I hope to plant out later in the year. Birds and bees love it and I like the look of it, so it’s a winner.


I was able to capture a photo of one of the pied wagtails. Their numbers are apparently in a slow decline, but still a common site around Hornsea. They have been becoming an increasingly urban visitor, but the mere is more their traditional habitat.


The lens allowed me to get some nice shots of the ducks and swans on the water. While their not shy and don’t mind you walking up to them on land it’s still nice to capture them with the waters reflection showing off their lovely dark green feathers.



Continue reading A trip to the mere

The Deep

Yesterday saw us getting out. As mentioned in a previous post we are having a wood burning stove fitted. This left us confined largely to the kitchen with Alice staring out the window, though she does like playing in the corner by the French windows.



We had an invite to join one of Amy’s sisters taking the other sister’s girls out to The Deep. For those who don’t know The Deep is one of the UK’s largest aquariums and was one of the few successful millennium projects, the others largely being abysmal failures. Amy’s brother in law works there, which will give Alice a bit more insight into it as she gets older. I used to go with nephews a lot and they would happily sit watching the tanks for long stretches. It’s a super day out and has had more added since I last visited.

The first tank you come to, the lagoon, has been refurbished with more interest added above the water. It’s looking good for it. Amy’s sister informed me that the leaves were individually attached on by a lady who worked on set design on star wars. Now there is an interesting CV.


Alice had a peer at the fish, but at this point she’s more interested in the people around her.


Recently Alice watched through Finding Dory with Amy. It was one of the first movies where she’s sat and watched for periods, so it was nice to see some dories.



The family watching the tank.


We arrived at the penguins in time to see feeding time. Alice quite liked the penguins when we’ve sat watching Attenborough, but she was more interested in the people round her.


Further round you can see them swimming under the water, but yesterday they were all stood on the side.


Since I last visited the sea turtles have been introduced. They are pretty spectacular seeing them swim right up the tanks glass. Well worth a return visit to see.


Along the stretch between the two main viewing windows are several of my favourite tanks, not containing fish. Most people flock at this point to the clown fish of finding Nemo fame, but personally I like the tree frogs.


Further round there are more frogs, leaf cutter ants, hissing cockroaches, snakes and millipedes. In the centre of this section is a soft play area giving the girls a chance to bounce around. Sadly the hissing cockroaches are sealed in, so no hearing the hissing. I enjoyed watching the leaf ants at work, fascinating creatures. Having recently revisited a number of the evolutionist E O Wilson, whose speciality is ants, I’ve had a renewed interest in them. However they don’t photo well. These tanks of amphibians, reptiles and mini beasts are mainly looked in briefly by children and adults as they realise it takes effort to actually spot anything in the tanks, but it’s worth a bit of patience to see the occupants.

I did however manage the green and black arrow frogs and the milk frog. The arrow frogs are pretty well known. The milk frog is a species from the Amazon rain forest. The name milk comes from the fluid they excrete when stressed rather than their colour. They apparently make quite good pets, but need a big tank.




Towards the end is the tunnel allowing you to see into the main tank. It was here we went for the family shot.



Me, Alice and Amy said our goodbyes to the others as we wanted to go see the Weeping Window Poppy display. We have previously seen the poppies down in London, but wanted to see them again installed in Hull.

It’s a rather pretty tribute to the soldiers of the war. One of the aims of the piece is to open up dialogue about the events of WWI, which currently seems like a relevant subject as we seem set to repeat mistakes. I hope Alice doesn’t find herself living through events as tragic.

However she seemed happy to be out and about again after being inside The Deep.


Just down the road is another flower display, but this time made from lego. This is featuring as part of the city of culture instalments.


We decided to finish off with tea out to avoid traffic, so headed to Ask as we know the pram can fit in and it has suitable baby chairs. Alice discovered dairylea dunkers.


A nice day out avoiding the chaos at home.