Posts

Spring has Sprung and Summer is on its way!

Hello Everyone,

Since my last blog a lot has been going on in my Outdoorcae world, and i mean a lot!

Firstly i am going to start off with my garden, the bit everyone loves the best. I have loads of plants that have been planted in my green house at the moment. I also have a new cold frame which is very useful for plants which don’t need as much heat and protection from the wind but aren’t strong enough to fight battles against the weather and other predators.

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Our New Coldframe

I also currently have some plants outside like potatoes, cauliflowers, onions and parsnips mainly. But i am getting ready to start planting some of my Peas and Runner Beans outside, before i do this i need to make sure that they cant be eaten by birds so my dad and I are making a frame over the bed which we’ll cover in netting to stop the pesky little birds (They absolutely love eating my pea plants). However, i do have two pea plant planted outside as they just got toooooooo big for the coldframe, and they’ve already got Peapods on them – I Can’t wait for them to ready to eat.

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I also have some strawberries growing on my strawberry plants in the greenhouse, the plants that are outside will be a few weeks behind.

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I have quite a plants that I’m selling (eg Peas, Cucumbers and Beans) so if anyone is interest read further down in the blog.

My herb garden is growing well to.

I cant wait to see the progress my garden makes in the next couple of months.

My front garden is changing as well, for those of you who were reading my blog last year you’ll know that we decided to dig up our lawn and replace it with lots of plants and landscaped areas, this includes a new patio and pond which is surrounded by a lovely rockery in an Alpine Style

The front garden isn’t quite finished but it wont be long.

Tomorrow I am going to RHS Malvern Spring Show, I am very excited to find out what treasure i am going to find this year. I hope I enjoy it as much as last year, and i wonder if I’ll get to meet Carol Klein again !

I am also hoping to find some canals nearby that we can stop and have a look at.

Sadly this means I am going to miss parkrun, but I’m hoping to make up for it on Sunday when i am going to be running 5-6 miles.

On the topic of running, i am currently training for a half marathon. Here is what I posted on facebook so read all about it –

As some of you may know and some of you may not, I have chosen to run a Half Marathon in October to support the amazing charity Children With Cancer UK, Every day on average 12 families hear the devastating news that their child has cancer. Children with Cancer UK help theses Children get through their treatment with as much happiness and hope as possible. At the end of their treatment they ring the treatment bell to confirm their treatment is over. I want to give support to those Children and this is my way to do so. I am going to be following a very active training plan over the next 6 months to get me ready for my Half Marathon in October. If you can please give not only to support me but to give to this wonderful cause. Thank you.

So if you would like to find out more or if you would like to donate please visit

https://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/fundraiser-display/showROFundraiserPage?userUrl=CaerwynSaunders&pageUrl=1

Its been a really quiet in my house recently as my sister went away with school in Switzerland. Three Fridays ago she went away for a week skiing. She absolutely loved it and she even won an award for being the most improved skier, but it was great to see her again when she got home.

So finally, my business, Tyla Glas Kitchen Garden, is doing well. We have many different items for sale on my website and on eBay and more is coming soon. We have seeds, gifts and we are also now selling plants. These plants are not up online yet but if you would like to buy some get in contact with me via my blog, email or contact page on my website.

Tyla Glas Kitchen Garden – Website

Tyla Glas Kitchen Garden – EBay

So there is one last thing to say,

Keeeepppppp Garrrddeeennniinnnggggg

February Happenings

Hi everyone

Well its been a few weeks since my last blog and its been a very busy few weeks so I thought I’d update you all with what I’ve been up to.

First of all since my last blog I’ve acquired and injury!!!! I was out for a nice gentle run with my auntie Kate and I managed to roll my left ankle over, I thought it was just a sprain so I strapped it up and hobbled about for a few days until eventually my dad took me to A&E where they did an X-ray and found out that I had broken some bits of bone off the side of my ankle. Since then I have been getting about with my left leg in a big rubber boot

This has stopped me doing lots of things I like, like running and canoeing but I’ve still managed to do lots of things to tell you about.

Gardening

Well first of all I thought I’d let you know what I’ve been up to in my garden. The easy answer is not that much, I have cleared the allotment beds ready for this years crop, I’ve cleaned the green house and I’ve also planted my first load of seeds. It’s still quite early and the temperature is still quite low but I’d thought I’d get in early

So far I have planted he following

  • Sun flowers (my own seeds harvested last year and that are for sale on my website)
  • Sweet peppers
  • White Gem Parsnips
  • Cucumber called Beth Alpha
  • Black Beauty Courgettes
  • Red Cherry Marigold
  • Yellow tomatoes
  • Cauliflowers
  • Painted Lady Runner Beans (my own seeds harvested last year and that are for sale on my website)
  • Kelvedon Wonder Peas
  • Onion Sets

To try and help these we’ve bought a paraffin greenhouse heater which is keeping the chill out if the greenhouse

I’ve spent a few hours in the garden topping up the planters with fresh compost from our compost bins. I’ve topped up the paraffin heater and also done a quick check on the seeds I planted two weeks ago. The marigold, peas, onions and cauliflowers are already starting to come out

I’ll keep updated how these progress

Running

Even though I haven’t been running I did manage to get another mention on Marathon Talk. In my last blog I talked about having my photo taken in my marathon talk kit on Christmas Day, well Martin and Tom the presenters of the podcast read this’ll my email about this in the episode that was published on the 9th Jan. You can download and listen to the podcast by clicking this link

I can’t wait for the doctors to give me the all clear so I can get back out running again.

Canals

For regular readers you’ll know that I love canals, either learning about them, walking along them or even taking a holiday on them (like we did twice last year). Well over the last few weeks my family and I have managed to get out and see quite a few canals and even though I can’t walk far in my boot I have managed to get out and see some amazing things.

A few weeks ago we all went for a drive to Bradford on Avon, this is a lovely little village which the Kennet & Avon canal goes through. We had a little walk around the village before walking along the canal a little bit, before stopping for lunch at a canal side pub. It was a lovely little pub and we sat in the grounds in a little heated wooden summerhouse, that we had to ourselves, and watched a few boats go past while we ate our food. There weren’t that many boats as there were quite a few stoppages on the canal so boats couldn’t move very far. After lunch we drove a few miles and went to the Caen Hill Locks near Devizes. Which I think sounds really french!!

Caen Hill locks are a flight of 29 locks and are classed as one of the 7 wonders of the waterways.

We’ve also had a trip and spent a few hours in Gloucester where we visited the Gloucester canal centre and had a meal out at the Wetherspoons.

On the way there we called into Saul Junction to have a quick look around, i may talk about this more in future blogs.

But the highlight of my canal visits was to the Anderton Boat Lift which is an amazing feat of engineering that lifts and lowers boats between the Trent & Mersey canal and the Weaver Navigation, this is another one of the 7 wonders of the waterways. We went when they had an open day, due to work taking place the lift was closed so we were able to go underneath and see how it worked. We also wanted to go on a ‘Top of the World Tour’, which was a guided tour to the top of the lift, unfortunately you had to be over 15 so my dad went up himself.

On the way home we called in to the Pontcysyllte Aquaduct which is not just another wonder of the waterways but is also classified as a World Heritage Site. We walked over the aquaduct which was a long long way up. We walked along the towpath which is on one side of the structure only and has a handrail, however the side next to the water has no edge protection so would be interesting if you were on a boat – i cant wait to do this section of canal on a boat.

Now the last bit of news about canals is that we have a family holiday planned in a few weeks on a canal boat. Regular readers will know that i was lucky enough to have two canal boat holidays last year and I’m excited to be having another one. Due to the time of year there are not many bases open so we are limited to where we can go from so we are going from Great Haywood again, like we did last February.

I’ll let you know how that holiday goes in a future blog.

Other News

One more thing i would quickly like to add is that earlier today (28.2.19) I got a mention on BBC Radio 2! It was during Steve Wright in the afternoon show and i send a text in. You can click here to listen. (About 1hour 31min and 40seconds in)

Not much else to say at the moment, but don’t forget if you need any seeds for your garden then now is the perfect time to buy them and i have a load for sale on my website (Tyla Glas Kitchen Garden).

All these are collected from my own plants that i grew last year so let me know if you want to buy any.

I think that’s it for now, I cant wait for my next blog. Keep your eyes out for it!

Keeeeeeeeepppppppp Garrdddeeenniiinnggggg

Outdoorcae

Happy New Year!

Hello Everyone,

First I would like to start my wishing every one a very happy and Merry new year, I have a feeling that 2019 going to be a good one.

Now, during 2018 I was very fortunate and was able to do, and have many amazing things. Just one of these things included being able to celebrate Christmas in France on a skiing holiday. Skiing is something that I enjoy immensely, but is something that I am naturally not very skilled at.

As some of you may know, I live in Wales and France is a fair distance away, we had the option to drive or fly. We chose to drive down this year, so this meant a 5 hour drive to the ferry port to catch a ferry between Dover and Calais, then on the other side, drive 12 hours until we arrived at our destination.

This would have been incredibly tough to do without stopping as we did in a hotel by the port in Dover and stopping at services for loo breaks on the long drive down.

When we got in to our resort, Méribel-Mottaret, it was quite late so we unpacked and made our way to bed.

It was amazing waking up in another country, me and my dad got up first and went out to get our breakfast, which we ate, and then went skiing.

The snow at the start of the week was quite good but when we got further into the week it got thin and icy.

I loved the holiday and I received my wish, A White Christmas, 🎄 ❄️.

Now, because I haven’t done a blog for a while, I have some things that happened a few months back.

On Children in Need day, my school were off for a teacher training day, so me and my mum climbed Pen Y Fan.

The weather on that day was fine, but when we got higher up it was so windy. When I was climbing the stones to get to the sign I was almost blown off.

Also a while back I had a bike course session in school. Everyone in Year 6 brought their bikes in and we had someone from the council teaching us how to ride our bikes safely. 🚲

I was also involved with an cross country running event. Myself and some of the others were chosen by our headmaster to compete against other children in a running race. It was great fun and it was nice to practice my speed instead of my distance. 🏃‍♂️

As I’m talking about running, I should mention that on New Year’s Day I did a parkrun double. This means that I ran a parkrun at 9:00 in Newport and then at 10:30 ran another parkrun at Riverfront. I thought that the parkruns where very well organised and it was lovely to sing Auld Langs Syne at the start as well.

If you are a regular reader you may know that every Christmas Day I have a photo of me and my dad wearing our Marathon Talk Kit. Marathon Talk is a great podcast made by 2 people called Martin and Tom who are very inspirational and also very good runners. This year we had our photo whilst on holiday in France!

Today I have been catching up with our allotment. This year I am fully in charge as my dad is a little bit busier than last year. I have been making progress by removing weeds, removing old tomato plants and raking out the soil, to see my vlogs on my progress visit my YouTube channel, Outdoorcae

Another thing I have done recently is go to my first rock concert! Like my parents I like my music and I really like Def Leppard. It was amazing. Noisy and fun, just how I like it. Check out my Facebook page for photos.

For my main Christmas present I had a keyboard, I have wanted to learn to play for ages but simply didn’t have the place or the time. I can now play twinkle twinkle little star on the piano. Here I am.

Today’s blog was only a quick one as I was eager to get the past written and blogged about and then move on to the present.

You can get in touch by Facebook page (Outdoorcae) my Twitter page (@Outdoorcae) and my Instagram (Outdoorcae). And as always please remember to check out my business (Tyla Glas Kitchen Garden) on my blog and on eBay.

Thanks so much for reading and I hope you have a great new year.

Outdoorcae

It’s been a while

Hi Everyone

Sorry its been so long since my last blog but I’ve been busy. But on the flip side that means I have loads to write about.

RHS Autumn Malvern Show

The first thing I’m going to talk about is my trip to the RHS Autumn Malvern Show. As regular readers of my blog will know, I do like a good RHS show. In the past I’ve blogged about my visits to the Cardiff and Malvern (Spring) shows and also my trip to the Gardeners World Live show in the Birmingham. Well a few weeks ago, my family and I went up to the Malvern Show Ground for the autumn show, I was a little bit concerned what there would be to see at this time of year, but there was loads. It ranged from bulbs and seeds ready for planting for next year to fruit and veg that had been harvested. They also had a whole marquee just for Giant Veg, and some of the veg were HUGE, you may have seen a section on this on last weeks Gardeners World.

I also saw Pineapples growing, which is the first time I had seen this.

It was an absolutely beautiful day and we spent a lot of time walking around the showground enjoying all the different displays & stalls. There was even an area dedicated to bees and honey, and as most of you will know I love bees so I loved spending time in this section. My father and sister tried some of the different honeys that were available and ended up buying a jar of a funny white coloured honey that they said was lovely, I don’t like honey so didn’t try any. My sister then had her photo taken with a big massive bug.

But the highlight of the show was meeting Carol Klein, for those of you who read my blog about the Gardeners World Live show you’ll know that I really admire the work Carol does and I got to meet her for the first time. Well this time we got to watch her do a Q&A session and then I met her again and she remembered me 🙂

My Gardens

Well its been busy few weeks in the gardens, the veg in the allotment is starting to come to an end which means I’ve been busy sorting out bits out. I’ve picked the last of the summer carrots, but now planted my winter carrots out (they’ve been coming along nicely in the greenhouse for a few weeks) – I’m not sure whether they’ll survive the winter but if they do we’ll hopefully have some nice ones for Christmas

I still have loads of cucumbers growing and actually picked a trug load yesterday.

All my cucumbers in the greenhouse have now finished so I’ve cut down the plants and put them, along with the growbags in one of the compost bins. I’ve also trimmed my outside cucumber plants and just left a few to support the last load which I think I’ll probably pick next week.

My runner beans are now passed their best and I’m just letting the remaining veg go to seed so I can harvest these and store ready for next year. I’m also selling seeds i’ve harvested on my website and eBay, check them out if you’re interested. I’ll then cut down the plants and add them to the compost.

My sweetcorn seemed to be doing really well but now I’ve picked some, the kernels are still really small and hard but I don’t think they ripen any more, so I don’t know what I’ve done wrong with those. Anyway, I’ll try them again next year.

My Sprouts are looking really good and I’m going to start harvesting some of the fruit off the lower sections soon, hopefully they’ll keep on coming right through to Christmas.

I’m also trying to grow some potatoes for the winter, I’m growing them in bags and keep topping up the soil when the shoots start to show. They were slow starting so i moved the bags into the greenhouse and they seem to be doing really well now.

The last thing to mention about my allotment is most of my tomatoes in the green house have finished and the plants etc have been composted, I think I have about 4 plants left with a few tomatoes on which I will probably pick this weekend. Then its a matter of cleaning the greenhouse and getting it ready for winter.

We’ve been even busier in our front garden. As most of you will know we have removed our front lawn and replacing it with planted areas. We’re still digging beds and buying more and more plants to put in. My mum is the really good at chosing different plants and also deciding where to put them, and me and my dad then do the planting. We’ve got so many different plants that I can’t name them all, but off the top of my head we have; lavenders, a plum-tree, two apple trees, lots of different roses and camellias. I’ll try to remember to take some photos of the other plants for my next blog. We have also put in a second water feature which make the garden sound lovely. We were busy working in the garden on sunday and there were so many bees, so they obviously love the plants as well.

We’ve been having problems with cats pooing in our garden so we’ve put in two ultrasonic devices that give off a high pitch sounds when they are triggered and so far they seem to be working. Click here which will take you to the amazon page of what we bought.

We’ve also starting covering the areas we’ve finished with a small stone called Solent Gold, i think it really finishes the garden nicely and it will look even better when the plants start to fill out as time moves on.

Running

I’ve got quite a lot to talk about with my running.

The first thing is I successfully completed my challenge!

For those of you who have read my earlier blogs you’ll know I set myself a challenge of running 12km at some point in September. This was far further than I had ever run before so it was a big challenge. I was doing it to raise money for a charity called Children With Cancer who do great work to try to end the horrible disease. I did train for the run so when the day of my challenge came I was prepared, however it was still hard. But I’m so glad I did it.

So far I’ve raised about £450 (Online and cash) but really want to get over so £500, so if you could spare any cash please sponsor me by clicking here.

My school running club has restarted which is great, so I am busy training at club for a Cross Country competition later this week. I think it’s only 1.5km so the distance isn’t a problem, but I’m just doing it for the experience and because I love running.

My parkrunning is also going really well, I ran two weekends ago and decided to do it naked, no this isn’t running without clothes its running without any gadgets. So for the first time in a long time I ran without my sports watch so had no idea how fast i was running. I was shocked at the end to find that I had almost run a PB. My dad ran with his watch so we managed to upload the run to Strava, because those runners of you know that if a run isn’t on Strava then it never happened!!

Well that run was my 59th adult parkrun and my dad 199th. We were both really looking forward to doing our 60th and 200th on Pontypridd parkun’s 5th birthday which was the weekend before last. However, storm ‘blinkin’ Callum got in the way. The weather in South Wales was horrendous which resulted in most of the parkruns down here being cancelled.

So we had to delay our parkruns to last weekend and the weather couldn’t have been anymore different from the weekend before. It was such a beautiful bright autumn day with leaves on the ground, and when we got running it was actually very warm. I didnt run a PB but did run another great time, and also took photos of my dad doing his 200th parkrun. However, what really made my day was the fact that I got to meet Darren Wood who is the person who has done the most parkruns in the world, this run was his 689th parkrun!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Wow that is over 13 years of running every saturday morning which is just incredible.

Canoe Club

Well canoe club has been great since we got back into the pool after the summer, a few weeks ago I wore a spraydeck for the first time. A spraydeck is like a skirt you wear that fits over the cockpit of the boat to stop water getting in. Now I can wear one of these I can do a load more things. I’ve learnt how to do rescues and now I’m learning how to roll, so if I do capsize I can roll back up without having to get out of the boat. My dad is teaching me, he’s not very good but he is starting to get better.

Other Things

As I’ve already said I live in South Wales and the weekend before last the weather was terrible with the wind and rain nonstop for a few days. This lead to loads of flooding and roads being closed because of trees falling over and landslides. We spent the weekend at our caravan, which may have seemed a strange thing to do in the bad weather but we had a brilliant time. The caravan was lovely and warm and cosy and we just relaxed and watched films.

The weekend before last we went for a family walk/cycle (Me and my sister cycled) along the Neath Canal. It was a lovely day and we just enjoyed the nice long walk/cycle.

After months of talking about it, we’ve finally booked our skiing holiday for this season. We’re off to a new resort for us called Meribel Mottaret and I can’t wait. I’m looking forward to getting to the dry slope in Cardiff for a few sessions before we go to brush up on my skills so I can make the most of our time on the snow. I’ll keep you posted on how these sessions go.

If you’ve read my last few posts you’ll know that I’ve started a small family business selling things like seeds I’ve harvested from my plants and home made greetings cards.  This business is called Tyla Glas Kitchen Garden. At the moment I have quite a few different types of seeds for sale which include, lovely marigolds, runner beans, pansies and loads more. If you’re interested in any of these you can buy them by either clicking the link on my blog homepage (Here), or you can go to my newly created ebay page.

If you want to contact then please do on one of the following:

Twitter – @outdoorcae

Facebook – Outdoorcae Blog

 

Until next time – keeeeeeeeeeepppppp Garrrdddeennnniiinnnggg

Time for a Catchup

Hello Everyone,

I hope you all have had a nice few weeks since my last blog, I know I certainly have!

I’ve been saving all my pocket-money for over a year until I had enough saved up to by myself an Apple Watch. Well a few weeks ago I finally had enough and my dad took me to the Apple Store in Cardiff to get one – and I LOVE IT. It does everything that i want it to do and even better the strap doesn’t give me a rash like most watch straps. I even use it to track all my exercise and I have a daily competition with my dad, and everyone else i know who has one to try to do the most exercise, steps, hours standing and everything else the watch measures.

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Last week I went back to school after our long summer holiday and as much as I enjoyed the holidays I was glad to be back in school as I do enjoy it. I am now in Year 6 which is my last year in primary school and I was lucky enough to be chosen by my fellow pupils and staff to be Head Boy for my last year. I am so proud that i have been asked to be Head Boy and can’t wait for my new badge to arrive so I can wear it on my uniform.

With this being my last year I will be having lots of visits to my new Comprehensive School, the first of these is in an Open Evening this Thursday. I’m so excited to be going to comp next year and can’t wait to start all the new lessons and meet new friends.

Gardening

We’ve had a really busy few weeks in the gardens. Most of the plants in the allotment are starting to come to the end of their season but we are still getting quite a lot of beans, cucumbers, onions and tomatoes. The rest of the ground is being made ready for either next seasons plants or for some things we are going to grow over the winter. We already have potatoes, carrots and parsnips in which I’m hoping will be ready in time for Christmas Lunch.

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When my little cousin Jess visited a few weeks ago she planted some carrot seeds, they are growing nicely in our greenhouse

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With the work in the allotment slowing down we have been really busy in our front garden. I’m not sure if I have mentioned it before, but as long as we have lived here it has been a lawn that we have planted around the outside, but we never really go in this garden. So we’ve decided to dig up the lawn and fill the area with different plant with paths running through leading around the garden to seating areas and the ponds (We have 2). We are still working hard at it but here’s a few photos of some of the progress we have made.

As you will know if you have read some of my earlier blogs, I LOVE Bees. So to add to our front garden we have put in a hive. This isn’t a normal traditional, hive but is called a Gardeners Hive. We have set it up and now wait and hope that bees decide to move in. I think we are probably too late for this year as bees don’t tend to split their hives (Swarm) at this time of year as they are getting them ready to survive the winter.

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As you probably already know, as I can’t stop going on about it, my family and I have set up a small family business called Tyla Glas Kitchen Garden. We are starting small and at the moment are selling things like plant seeds (harvested from our plants), homemade greetings cards and homemade christmas decorations. If you are interested in seeing some of our stock you can click here.

We have loads more seeds that are nearly ready for selling so keep checking the website as we increase our stock.

Running

I’m still running even though I havent done as many parkruns as I would have liked recently but we have been busy on weekends. However, I hope to change that and get back to doing my weekly parkrun very soon.

As you probably already know I set myself a challenge of doing a 12km run sometime in September. This is far greater than I have run before and I am training hard. So far I have completed a 9km run and have a 10km planned for tomorrow. I have only 2 weeks or so to run the full 12km in one go, which will be a real challenge.

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Apart from this being a challenge for me (and I like setting myself challenges) I am doing it to try to raise some money to help a great charity called Children With Cancer. You can read about the great work they do by clicking on the link.

I have raised over £200 so far, but the more I raise the more it will help the charity so if you can, please sponsor me HERE

Other Things

Another good thing about the school holidays being over is that my Canoe Club has restarted. I love canoeing and kayaking and am so happy that I can do this again every week.

When my cousins were staying at our caravan with us a few weeks ago the weather wasnt great, but this didn’t stop us having fun and on one of the days we climbed the big mountain by the caravan. It was great fun even if we all did get very wet.

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Last week we had a trip to a National Trust Property that we hadn’t been to before called Brockhampton Estate which was near Hereford. It was a lovely place and we did lots of things while there. These included building a model of a timber frame house (As this was the make up of the main house on the estate), relaxed on a swing and even picked a load Damsons that we took home and turned into lots of lovely Jam.

The only downside to our visit was the cafe’s which weren’t up the the usual National Trust standard.

Now I have a bit more time I’ve started to post more VLOGS on my YouTube channel and will hopefully start redoing my Podcast soon. If you want to listen to the Podcast I have done so far they are on soundcloud or iTunes.

If you have any questions, queries or comments or just want to contact me you can on one of the following:

Facebook – Outdoorcae Blogs

Twitter – @outdoorcae

Email – Outdoorcae@outlook.com

Keeeepppppp Garddddeennninngggg

Cae

Tyla Glas Kitchen Garden

Hello everyone,

I know it’s been a while but it’s better now than never! It’s going to be a short one but I really wanted to tell you what I’ve been up to recently.

I have been busy starting up a new business called Tyla Glas Kitchen Garden.

We are a small family business selling little bits and bobs such as home harvested seeds and homemade greetings cards with more to come in time.

If you would like to know more about who we are, what we do or to buy some of our goods. Please visit this link

Tyla Glas Kitchen Garden

Another thing I think you may be interested in is how my training is going for my sponsored run! I am up to 7km and I have raised more than £200 so far, some is in cash and some has been donated straight to the charity.

The charity is Children with Cancer and the money donated by you will help towards their important research.

If you would like to know more about this challenge or if can please donate. You can do so by following the link below

Mr Men and Little Miss Virtual Run

Last weekend my Auntie, Uncle and my 2 cousins came down from Sheffield to us. We were at my caravan and they stayed in a tent on the pitch next to us.

We had a brilliant weekend and did lots of things. I also absolutely loved their dog, Skye! She was beautiful.

Also my other cousin, Jess came down and stayed with my grandparents. We went on lots of trips out and it was very fun! We even had ice cream!

I know this was a short blog but I needed to tell you about my recent going ons!

Keeeppppppp Gardddeenniinnggggg

Outdoorcae

Our Summer Canal Boat Holiday

This weeks blog is going to be slightly different from my normal posts, it’s going to be a sort of day by day diary of my recent Canal Boat holiday

Day minus 1

Our holiday started on Saturday but we travelled up to Stoke On Trent area the night before. This wasn’t only so we’d be fresh for our holiday but more importantly so we could do a parkrun in the area before the start of the holiday.

So we packed the night before ready to go as soon as we could. But my dad had a problem with his car so he had to get a hire car. Unfortunately this was a BMW which is smaller than his normal car – but don’t tell my parent I actually quite liked it!

Car

When dad got home we loaded the car and headed off. The journey was slow because of traffic so we stopped in the farm shop services on the M5 for food on the way. I had a lovely lasagna (which was way better than the one my dad makes).

We finally got to our hotel, which was a Holiday Inn right by Stoke City FC’s stadium. The stadium is called the Bet 365 stadium and Stoke City are called the Potters because of all the potteries that are there. (But not as many as there used to be).

It was late by then so we checked in and went to bed.

Day 1 – The first day was lovely and sunny

The day had finally arrived – yippeeeeee!!!!!

We all got up early and went for breakfast and then me and my dad went off to do a parkrun while the girls stayed at the hotel. We did Hanley parkrun which was only a 10 minute drive from the hotel, it also meant that I could tick H off my parkrun alphabet challenge list (see blog called Dartmouth and other Adventures). It was a lovely 2.5 lap course around the park, which included several crossings over a canal bridge. We looked after we’d finished the run and it was the Caldon Canal it crossed, so I knew I’d be seeing it again in a few hours but this time from the boat.

Hanley

We then went back to pick up the girls from the hotel

My mum loves things from the Emma Bridgewater pottery so we paid a visit to the Emma Bridgewater factory shop where my mum had a new teapot and mug and my sister had one too. Unfortunately they don’t do factory tours on a Saturday so we may try to do that later in the week as we pass on the boat as the factory is right by the side of the Caldon Canal.

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We then went to the Black Prince Marina in Eturia to collect our boat. It was a 62ft canal boat called Elizabeth. We had instructions on how to use her and then we were on our way.

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We started on the Trent and Mersey and headed south then almost straight away onto Caldon Canal, this canal should have been called the Cauldon Canal but when someone filled the paperwork our in the 1700’s they spelt it wrong and the name was never corrected.

The first locks we came to were a flight, which is when one lock goes straight into another,  which we hadn’t done before. This flight was called the ‘Bedford Street Staircase Locks’ – Mum and I soon worked out how to do them and we actually helped another boat go through first.

A mile or so later we came to our first ever lift bridge (Ivy House Lift Bridge), dad moored up while me and mum went to work out how to lift it. It was an electric bridge so all we had to do was push some buttons. These buttons turned on flashing lights and dropped barriers to stop cars (just like a railway level crossing), when these were down the bridge started lifting.

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At the first few locks there were some drunk, rough-looking people who I was slightly worried about, in fact they seemed quite nice and one of them actually helped me close one of the lock gates.

We had been told that the first few miles of our journey weren’t through the nicest area so we pushed on until we passed Engine Lock 4 and then we moored up between Bridge 22 and our second lift bridge, which had a funny name of Long Butts Lift Bridge. (By the way all canal bridges have a number which we use to know how far we have come and how far we have left to go).

When we finally moored up we had food cooked in the boat and then had an early night as we were all tired after our long day.

Day 2 – today was an absolute scorcher

Mum got up early and saw a king fisher but I was still fast asleep.

We left our overnight mooring and soon came to our third lift bridge, this time it wasn’t electrically operated so I had to use a windlass and my muscle power to wind the bridge up to allow the boat to go through. A windlass is a heavy, long, useful tool that is used on canals to work locks and wind up lift bridges.

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I drove the boat lots, to give my dad a rest (well that’s what he though anyway, I just really wanted to prove that anything he could do, I could do better) and even took the boat in and out of locks myself. When going up a lock you need to be careful that the front of the boat doesn’t get to close to the front gate as could flood when the paddles on the gate are opened. When going down you need to keep the back-end of the boat in front of the cill marker (that are white paint lines on the wall of the lock) so we don’t tip the boat up as the water drops

They told us in the boat yard that we needed to top the boat up with fresh water everyday so we stopped in a place called Endon to do this. While we were moored we had a quick-lunch. In the afternoon we kept on going and went down three locks called the Hazlehurst Locks. These weren’t a flight as there was a pool in between each one. We finally stopped for the day in a place called Cheddleton right next to the Flint Mill by bridge 42.

We walked into the village to stock up on shopping and as it was boiling i was really looking forward to an ice lolly. It was about a mile walk (up hill) to the shop and i was absolutely gutted when they had no lolly’s!!!!!!!!

We decided to moor up for the night in Cheddleton and had food in the red lion. I had a lovely rump steak with came with some lovely side dishes!

We then went back to our boat and read on the tow path alongside the canal for an hour or so. I also started a book called Northern lights written by Philip Pullman who is a very famous athour and he has written many good books!

Day 3 – Hot and sunny again

We left our mooring at Cheddleton nice and early and went straight down 2 locks numbered 13 and 14 – that I drove while dad helped mum with the locks.

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These locks were a little bit after where the Caldon Canal splits into the Froghall and Leek branches. We were heading down the Froghall branch which took us under the Hazlehurst aqueduct carrying the Leek branch. It was cool crossing underneath another canal!

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We then had a lovely section of the journey through lovely countryside with another lock called Woods Lock. Our fourth lock, which was called Oakmedowford lock, took us onto the river Churnet. I think my dad thought it was going to be white water rafting down the river seven! But in fact it had less of a flow than the actual canal! I let my dad drive the boat on the river section while I helped mum operate the lock. Unfortunately there was another boat moored at the exit of the lock so my mum and I couldn’t get back on our boat!!!!! This meant we had to walk almost the full length of the river section until there was a suitable place for us to get back on. While we were walking along the river bank I managed to fall over twisting my ankle and hit myself on the leg with the Windlass and as I fell my mothers windlass also banged into my knee wich didn’t help!

I’ve now got a big bruise on my right leg

Knee

We got back on the canal at a place called Consall Forge, and as we were just getting on the canal a steam train passed us. My mum told me that she had read that it was a very rare thing to happen! Yipppeeeeeee!!!!!

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The next couple of miles of our journey was so beautiful through lovely quiet countryside, but the canal was so narrow and windy with really tight turns so dad drove this bit again. This took us to a place called Froghall which is the end of the Caldon Canal. There is a tunnel that takes the canal the last couple of hundred meters to the basin at the end but we couldn’t go through this tunnel as our boat was slightly to high. Boats can’t be any higher than 5 feet tall to fit through this tunnel!!!!!!

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We moored up just before the tunnel and walked around to the other side and then up to the canal basin at the end, it was a lovely area with a picnic spot and a lovely looking tea room. But, just our luck, the tea room is closed on a Monday so we couldn’t have anything!

So back at the boat we turned the boat around in the winding hole (I still don’t know whether you say this like wine-ding or win-ding!!!) and headed back up the way we’d come. This time mum walked ahead on the narrow bits to tell us whether it was ok for us to come through.

We travelled back to Cheddleton and moored in exactly the same spot as the night before.

The pub we ate in last night didn’t do food on a Monday so we had food in the boat. Dad and I walked to the shop in Cheddleton, which was about 1km away, to buy some bits to stock the boat up with. I had a lovely orange Calippo to eat on the way back to the boat. This was such an event because it was the starting point of me being virtually addicted to them!

Day 4 – Another really hot and sunny day

We had a later start than normal on Tuesday and left our mooring at Cheddleton about 0930. We headed west along the Froghall branch and back under the Hazlehurst aquaduct to the Hazlehurst locks.

These locks were so busy today and we had to wait for others to come down before we went up and then had to wait in the middle holding ponds between each of the locks for others to come down so we could go up. It took us much longer going up these than it did going down them yesterday.

There were some lovely sights on this section of our trip, and also some that were not so nice.

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We then pushed onto bridge 31 (Parklane bridge) where we stopped and filled the boat up with water. We also moored here and walked into the local village (Endon) and had a Carvery for lunch. My dad stuffed himself with a massive extra-large plate of food – the fat pig.

In the afternoon we drove our boat a little bit further and then moored up in a lovely quiet section for the night. In this short section we had 5 locks to go through in a very short stretch so I helped mum do these while dad had the easy job of driving the boat. These were called the Stockton Brook Locks.

Day 5 – A cooler and cloudier day

We set off from our mooring and soon come up to the Long Butts Lift Bridge. While operating this bridge we met an old man who was from The Rhondda (Where I live) and when I asked him what part he said Merthyr Tydfil!!!!!!!

Long Butts was manually operated so I had to wind it up with my Windlass. It wasn’t far then to another lift bridge, this one was called Norton Green, but this time it was an electric bridge so all I had to do was press a button to make the bridge go up and down.

Soon we arrived back at ‘Engine Lock 4’, where we had to wait for a boat called ‘Lady of Trent’ to come up before we could go down.

Not long after that we got back to  Ivy House Lift Bridge which I’d already done a few days ago so I knew how it worked.

We stopped just after this bridge for a drink and some biscuits – YUM YUM

A few bridges and bends later and we passed the Emma Bridgewater factory – we tried to book a factory tour but they were fully booked – you can see from the photo that the outside of the building is nowhere near as nice as the things they make.

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We then pushed on through another locks before we came to the flight we did at the start of our first day on the boat.

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Just below the flight was a statue of James Brindley, the famous Civil Engineer, who built this canal.

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We then joined back onto the Trent & Mersey Canal at Etruria and headed north past the Black Prince base where we collected the boat on day 1.

The canal here was really wide compared to the Caldon Canal but not a very nice area. We went past Middleport Pottery which is where the TV programme ‘The Great Pottery Throwdown’ was filmed but we weren’t able to stop as mooring wasn’t allowed.

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We finally stopped next to a big lake called Westport Lake which is a wildlife reserve for birds. We decided to moor up here for the night so we had a walk around the lake and then played on the adventure playground for a while. I sat down for a quick rest in a spinny moon chair and when I closed my eyes and started to drift off my sister came and swung me round and I screamed!

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We then walked into the closest town, Tunstall, which was about a mile away. We were trying to find somewhere nice to have food but couldn’t find anywhere so we went to Asda and bought some nice food to cook back at the boat.

Day 5 – Started lovely and bright

We had a lazy start today, my dad went for a run while I made breakfast. We then went and visited the Visitor Centre at the wildlife reserve

We wanted to hire multiseat bikes to ride around the reserve but they didn’t have any available for the time we wanted. Instead we walked down to Middleport Pottery which was about a mile from where we had moored. It was really busy at the Pottery, probably because of the Weeping Window Poppy Display. This is a memorial for the centenary of the First World War. The poppies were infront of, and climbing up, the bottle kiln. I thought it looked very beautiful.

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Dad had booked some spaces on a factory tour which started at 13:45. We arrived a lot earlier than this so enjoyed our time looking around the place, our tickets for the tour included entry into other areas which were part of the heritage trail. We saw lots of areas including the old bathrooms, offices and the inside of the old bottle kiln.

There used to be 7 bottle kilns but only one remains. These old kilns were replaced by gas fired ovens a long time ago but the reason that the one kiln remains is that it forms part of the walls of the factory and the owners didn’t want to pay to have the walls rebuilt.

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We met our tour guide, Rob, who happened to have originally come from Aberdare which is very close to where I live, but he had lived up here for 40 years.

He took us around loads of areas of the factory and we saw the whole process from making the clay right through to the finished pottery

When we got back to the boat we left our mooring and headed north for about a mile and moored for the night just before the entrance to Harecastle Tunnel

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Day 6 – Started Sunny but very heavy rain all afternoon

So we woke up and had breakfast and had just about finished when the Tunnel keeper arrived and was ready to allow us through the tunnel.

Looking into the entrance i was petrified! Heres a little bit of a diary of my tunnel adventure:

We’ve just had our safety talk and are about to enter the tunnel. My thoughts are I’m worried!

We have been shut in and we won’t see daylight for 45mins! I am petrified!

So we have about 25 mins to go and I think the boat in front has stopped. It probably hasn’t and I’m just panicking but I’m making no assumptions

We are nearly out I think and I can see the northern portal ahead which is daylight! This is such a relief to me as I have been rather scared. Yay!

I’m Out! Thank Goodness

 

Tunnel

There are actually two tunnels going through, the first was built as part of the original canal by James Brindley, the second was built by another famous Civil Engineer called Thomas Telford. This second tunnel was added as the first one was a bottle neck where all the old freight used to get held up as the tunnels aren’t wide enough to pass boats inside. Unfortunately there was a collapse in the original tunnel and it closed in 1914 so the tunnel we went through is the only one you can travel through now.

Here is a photo of the portal of the original tunnel built by Brindley

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We moored back at Westport Lakes around lunchtime which was just as well as the heavens opened just after and continued all afternoon. We just had a relaxing afternoon in the boat with the rain ‘tip tapping’ on the outside.

Day 7 (last day) – Lovely and sunny but cold

Early start today, we were up at 6 ready to leave our mooring by 7. We then motored for 45mins down to the marina

When we got back, we unloaded all our stuff into the car and travelled home.

I had a great holiday and we are already starting to plan our next adventure – WHERE WILL IT BE????????

On another note – I have set myself a little challenge to run 12km in one go sometime in September, I am not only doing this to challenge myself but to help raise some money for this great charity that works for children with cancer.

12km will be a huge challenge for me as it’s further than I’ve ever run before, so if you could possibly sponsor me it would be greatly appreciated.

If you can please click here to visit my page to donate today!

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That’s it for this week but remember

Keeeepppp Garrrdddeeeenninnngg