Merseyside Bucket List

From the moment I was born, up until 2009, I lived in the borough of St Helens, Merseyside (north-west England).  In 2009, I moved to Huyton village (in the outskirts of Liverpool).  I have lived within this 6 mile radius all of my life.

Last night I decided to start making a list of all the important, and wonderful places to visit in the area.  Museums, historical buildings, green spaces, and more.  I have visited many, thanks to my dad who loved to teach me the history of where I live, but there are still so many places that I have not been.

If you live in, or know the county of Merseyside, I would love to hear about your favourite places.  Do you have a favourite park?  Is there a particular building, or museum that you enjoyed visiting?  Do you know of any “hidden gems” in the area?  Please comment with one, two or more of your favourite Merseyside places, so I can add them to my list.

As soon as I have compiled my list, I shall post it here.

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My 3 year old photographer – Pic heavy

At the beginning of the month, the hubby took Gning away for the night, in a lovely little country inn, just outside the town of Penrith.  Now, my little man absolutely loves technology.  Because of his interest, hubby gave him his old Olympus digital camera (14MP), with fully charged batteries, and a blank SD card.

The following pictures were all shot by the Gning himself…  Bear in mind that he is only 3 years old.

(For a clearer view of each picture, you can click on each image to make it larger.)

The classic "foot shot"

The classic “foot shot”

Super Easy Homemade Veggie Soup – pic heavy

After being informed that I need to increase the iron in my diet, I decided that I would grab a few bags of pre-prepped veg from Asda.  It seemed like a good choice, so I got two bags of diced potatoes, and two bags of broccoli, carrots and sprouts.  We used one bag of the mixed veg, and one bag of potatoes on Saturday, to go with a pre-cooked chicken (also from Asda – we were having a bit of a lazy cooking day, ha ha).

When I got to the fridge, early this afternoon, there was lots in there to feed me, but I realised that I needed to get the veg eaten.

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So I decided to make a veggie soup in my slow cooker (please note that this recipe can also be made in a large pan (with lid), so if you don’t have a slow cooker / crock pot, don’t dismay!!).

Ingredients

Potatoes

Mixed veg

Gravy stock (veg / chicken stock works best, but I only had beef available)

Salt & pepper

Tabasco sauce

Method

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Gather all your veg and throw it all in to your slow cooker / pan.

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Make up your gravy stock, according to the instructions on the packet.  For me, I used four heaped teaspoons of the Bisto beef gravy granules, and topped up the jug with boiling water.  In reality, this wasn’t enough, and was really watery, but I knew that once the potatoes had cooked, and when everything had been blended together at the end, it would soon thicken up.

08 09 11Pour the gravy stock over the veg, and top up with kettle water, ensuring to ‘almost’ cover the veg completely.  Add a sprinkling of salt & pepper, and cover with a lid.

12 13Turn your slow cooker on to “HIGH”, and set your timer for 5 hours.

Alternatively, if you’re using the ‘pan on the hob’ technique, bring to the boil, then turn down the heat and allow to simmer for approximately 40 minutes.  After this time, check the sprouts (or potatoes) with a sharp knife…  The knife should slip right through the veg with no difficulty what-so-ever.

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When the veg is cooked right through, grab your hand blender, and blend, blend, blend!!  If you like your soup with a few ‘chunks’ of veg in it, just be sure not to blend the soup for too long.  Give it a stir every now and again until you get to the perfect consistency for you.

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Finally, add a splash (or two) of Tabasco sauce to taste, stir in to the soup, then serve.

Enjoy!

Croxteth Hall and Country Park – Liverpool

A beautiful park in the middle of a busy city isn’t very rare now-a-days.  In fact, it’s quite common place.  Take Central Park, for example.  In the middle of one of the worlds’ most busiest cities, lies 842 acres (1.32 miles²3.41 km²) of stunning greenland and waterways.  I’m talking about New York, of course.  

Now, if I was to say to you, that just on the outskirts of Liverpool city centre, there is 500 acres of greenery, with an historic hall dated around 1575 AD, a well-kept walled garden (bursting with rare roses and other flowers), and a home farm (full of rare breeds of horses, ponies, cows, pigs, sheep and goats (and more)), I’m pretty sure you wouldn’t really stare at me in amazement.  However, to see the beauty of this area is literally breath-taking.  Especially, as aforesaid, knowing that Liverpool city centre is a mere 5 miles away.

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This, ladies and gentlemen, is the ‘main entrance’ to Croxteth Hall.  To tour the house, you must enter through the shop, which is actually part of the servants quarters, around the left hand side of the house.

The Hall was owned, and lived in, by the Molyneux family from the 16th century until 1972, when the last Earl passed away.  His widow, Josephine – Countess of Sefton (1903-1980) continued to reside in the property until she died.  She was the last member of the Molyneux family to live in the hall.

When the last Earl died in 1972, a worldwide search was made for a legal heir to the title without success.  The property and estate is now owned and managed by Liverpool City Council.

You can learn more about the Earls of Sefton by visiting this Wiki page.

The farmstead shows you how a Victorian animal farm was run, and hosts so many animals, many of which are rare breeds.

My little man walked through a picket gate, and he got such a fright when the giant mother sow snorted right behind him…  We counted 8 piglets with this particular mother pig, and there was a big sign showing that throughout February and March, there were 34 piglets born!  We saw a lot of them, from little tiny pinky babies to quite large ‘Irn Bru’ (burnt orange) coloured piglets 🙂

Sheep and lambs, goats and kids…  Two beautiful shire horses (Clydesdale)…  Even an aviary full of cockerels, hens, peacocks, zebra finches (obviously, I was thrilled to see them), budgies, parrots…  It was such fun to see Gning run around looking at all of the animals.  Definitely a place for children 🙂

The country park hosts fields that seem to lead to the clouds, flowers of all different colours (from vibrant reds to subtle blues), trees of all different shapes and sizes (some good enough to climb), and ponds full of various waterfowl.  There is certainly so much more to do than to visit one of the main ‘attractions’ in the estate (the hall, farm or walled garden).  You could take a picnic blanket and a few outdoor games, and you’d be occupied all day.  Go for a walk in one of the surrounding woodlands…

You’d certainly not think that you were only a stones-throw away from the East Lancs Roas, and a bustling city.

The whole estate is actually free to visit, and parking is free too.  However, to actually go inside the hall, walled garden and farm, there are admission fees.

Hall:

Adults £3.50; children and OAP’s £2.70

Walled garden:

Adults £2.50; children and OAP’s £1.90

Farm:

Adults £3.50; children and OAP’s £2.70

Combined ticket for all three of the above:

Adult £7.00; children and OAP’s £5.40

For further info about the hall, click here to visit the official website.

To give you a basic run down, I would say that this is a family day out for all ages.  There’s plenty to see and do for the very young, to the older in life.  If you pay a visit to the hall for instance, and you are pushing a pram or a wheelchair, everywhere inside of the hall is accessible, as there are lifts and ramps 🙂  The farm, although cobbled, is also easy accessible…  And the majority of the pathways around the estate are suitable for all walks of life.

My final scoring for the whole of the property would be 9/10.  I’m sorry to say that they lost a point in all due to no fault of their own, but the smell of stagnant water is empowering, and the farm didn’t seem to help either 😉  Ha ha.

I’ll leave the post with a few photo’s of our little trip 🙂

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Here’s my little man taking a ride on ‘Toby’ the donkey 😀

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Inside the wine cellar

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This actually is a door from the original building, dated from 1575!!

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I would LOVE a kitchen this size!  Although, I don’t envy having to clean it…

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This was the Countess’ dressing room

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The stunning interior of the stairwell

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The Titanic stairwell was actually modeled from this stairwell in Croxteth hall

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My little man looking at a Shetland pony, and a rare shot of my arm!

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Mmmm…  Bacon…  Oops!  I mean, awww…  Look at the baby piggies ❤

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And finally, a beautiful shire horse

Pipe dreams

I have so many ideas for things to do, events, etc. but they never seem to go anywhere.  So I’ve decided that I am going to do something.  For a start, I’m going to list my ideas here.  My pipe dreams, if you will.  Maybe if I see then written down, I may be inspired enough to do something about them.

Craft Fair Extraordinaire

I already have a small “craft” type business set up, named ‘Treasures and Trinkets’.  I made jewellery, accessories, and other little bits and bobs…  You can view the page here: Treasures and Trinkets.  I do enjoy attending craft fairs, and table top sales to sell my wares, but something always seems to come up that I think could be done better…

I had an idea that I pitched to my husband.  I know a hall that I can hire for a very reasonable cost, and I will set up my own craft fair.  I will invite local crafters / sellers to ‘purchase’ a table, and I will have an event schedule for entertainment purposes.  In more depth, here are my ideas:

*  I would set up the hall with tables (and a chair behind each one) for other local crafters / sellers

*  I would find someone who does face painting, for the children who may come along to the fete

*  I would find a local company who can offer an “all-weather” bouncy castle to keep the children entertained…  I would not pay an up-front fee, but request that they take their money directly from the parents / children who wish to have a go

*  I would offer cups of tea / coffee for a small charge

The fair would be a mixed bag, type of event, with tables selling home crafted items such as jewellery, accessories, cushions, drawings, cakes, jams, etc…  More of a “country fayre” type event.  I’ve been to a fair few, and I enjoyed them every time.

I would have no problem setting up the event, or even finding people interested to host a stall, but my problem would be in the advertising of the event to ensure that enough people came through the doors…  Facebook is a good place to start, and I suppose a leaflet / flyer drop would be good too.  Although, the hall is situated in the rural area of a town…  It’s a little tricky to get to, but the hall is beautiful, and has free parking.  So where would I ‘drop’ the leaflets?!  I suppose I could also ask the local radio station to do a quick mention of the event, but normally they would charge.  Afterall, if I was looking to make this a regular event, I’d want to be making a profit myself, rather that putting all the money back into the event immediately.  I’m sure you know what I mean.

Play Group Mayhem

Today, I took my son (22 months old) to a play group.  It was based in a local leisure centre, and had a large bouncy castle, balls, spacehoppers, an area for crafts (today was decorating strawberry plant pots to take home), and an area with “fruit kebabs and chocolate”.  It was rather cheap to enter, and although it was on from 10am to 3pm, we were only there for an hour.  The only problem I encountered was that the group was for ages 0-11 years old.  I noticed that my little man was the only one under the age of 5…

On my way home, I mentioned (again, to my husband) that we could set up something similar to that as we have the access to the hall…

I had an idea that we could create a “Stay and Play”, where parents / grandparents / carers could bring their little ones and play with them.  I would limit it to 3 hours, and charge just a small amount for entry.

*  I would get a large selection of toys, including balls, hula-hoops, teddies, games, etc.

*  I would offer tea / coffee to adults for a small charge

*  Free juice / water for the kiddies

*  Free fruit (I like the fruit kebab idea) for the kiddies

*  I would limit the age from 0-5 years old

*  Perhaps have a different style ‘craft’ on offer each time (make a greetings card, painting, drawing, etc.)

Again, my problem would be where to start.  I’ve already had a brief look into it, and I have discovered that I do not need to register with anyone, and (although I already have a full CRB check) I do not need a Criminal Records Bureau check as parents will be staying throughout the sessions, watching their own children.  I could easily get my hands on a lot of toys…  So that just leaves insurance.  What type of insurance would I need, and where could I get it for cheap?  I don’t think I’d be doing this on a regular basis, and I don’t want to pay through the nose…  And again, it’s the marketing side of things that I would struggle on.  What happens if it is super successful on one week, then flops the second and third, but on the fourth week, the hall is full to bursting point?!  Hmmm…

Thoughts welcome.