Speke Hall – A walking tour!

As another weekend of gloomy weather beckoned,  Jack still needed to be walked so off we went to Speke Hall.

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Unusually for us, we didn’t visit the house this time. Instead, we chose to make the most of the dry weather and explore the grounds. We were hoping to do a bit of a Geo Cashing but when we read the reviews online, it seems they may have been moved and my phone was rapidly running out of charge.

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So  instead, we wandered through the garden to the pond. It was such a peaceful place that looked lovely even on such a dull day. I liked the reflection of the trees in the pond and tried to capture it, you may have to use your imagination here,or just believe me that it was a very pleasing sight.

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Eventually, we continued our walk around the perimeter and came to a clearing in the wooded area, we could see the River Mersey and somewhere, not too far away, on the other side is our house. It was strange seeing the opposite coastline, we are so used to looking over in this direction, but we could make out The Eastham Ferry Hotel, so all was well ha!

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We completed the circular walk and ended up back in the garden which was full of beautiful flowers. These pink ones were everywhere and looked so perfect.

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I was told this Ice cream was Cornish but I wasn’t convinced, despite checking with the lady selling them. What do you think? Too pale? Me too!

 

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 Have a lovely day!

Casa Italia – Liverpool!

Recently, the little Miss caught the bus from school and met me for dinner in Liverpool. Given that Italian food is her favourite, we decided to introduce her to Casa Italia.

imageMy first ‘proper’ job was in Liverpool City Centre and Casa Italia was always a favourite haunt of myself and my friends. However, we hadn’t been there for years and so were  interested to see whether it had changed because the ‘Casa’ was always an experience……

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The restaurant is nestled in Stanley Street just off Matthew Street where The Cavern Club was once situated. It was always very busy!

We had not booked and so were lucky to be shown to an empty table. It was still very busy! Ah! how reassuring it was to recognise the familiar decor and table cloths. Equally, the atmosphere was the same, we could hear the same excited buzz of conversation intermingled with peals of laughter and felt, the happy vibes of an early Friday evening,  always a hallmark of the ‘Casa’.

Nevertheless, this is not the experience that I mentioned earlier, no the experience for years at the ‘Casa’ was the style of service literally dished out.

The waiters offered a surly, dump your plate on the table, style of service in a very functional way. They made no secret of their objective to seat you, serve you, get rid of you. It hasn’t changed. I think I even recognised some of the waiters.

If you know this and can appreciate it, it can be very amusing watching them in action.

imageClearly then it is not the service that brings the customers through the doors in their droves, so it must be the food!  The food was always good, freshly cooked, no-nonsense Italian fayre and, I am delighted to report that it hasn’t changed in the slightest.

We started with Garlic Bread and cheese , now of course called Foccacia. However, that is the only difference, it was as gorgeous and cheesy as always and, dumped on the table in front of us ha!

 

It doesn’t matter what you order, it is always served pipping hot, fresh from the oven and tasting delicious!

imageI enjoyed Penne Genovese, himself the Tortellini Italiana and the little Miss, Penne Arribata. It was all lovely and the portions plentiful, myself and the littlest didn’t finish. Therefore, I am unable to report on the Tiramisu, but it did look good. Of course we were quickly bundled out as soon as we had finished ha!

To conclude, I am delighted to report that the service at the ‘Casa Italia’ remains as robust as ever. Customer care is still not a priority for the management but good, nutritious food is.

Therefore, if you can take the service with a pinch of salt, the food at the ‘Casa’ is still fabulous and definitely worth a visit!

 

Have a lovely day!

 

 

 

 

We finally found Red Squirrels! 

Yesterday we returned  to Formby Point and I promise,  the picture to the right at the top is of a Red Squirrel!!!!!!!! We finally saw one – well actually three in the end,  it has taken almost 20 years of visiting, but they were worth the wait!

They are so tiny compared to the grey ones and much more timid. The grey ones in The Glade tap on our window when we are eating our breakfast.- so bold!

The Red ones were much more reserved and kept to a safe distance, hence the blurry photograph because I couldn’t get any nearer, even with Jack firmly on his lead.

We also had a bracing walk along the beach, it was really windy and quite chilly. We  cut up the sand dunes a bit further along the beach than usual and at the top we discovered The Asparagus Walk.

It was well marked and in a field near to the beach, we came across  this sculpture (bottom right) of a local farmer Jimmy Lowe who, it seems was a bit of a celebrity  in Asparagus circles back in the 1930’s. It was created by a local sculpturer Simon Archer and there is an audio of him talking about it behind the installation, he was really interesting.

imageWe were there quite early and it really was a dull morning, apparently perfect for Squirrel spotting.

Jack had most of the trail and beach to himself, some squirrels came out to say hello and there was no queue for the refreshment kiosk. It was fab!

We even saw this little chap wandering along the road on the way.

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Have a lovely day!

 

 

 

Hanover Street Social

I wrote on Saturday about having restaurant reservations with friends at somewhere I had been wanting to try for a while, it was here at Hanover Street Social.

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It is based in the centre of Liverpool City Centre. From the outside it looks very unassuming. Those three sets of windows constitute the outside view.

imageWhen we arrived late on Saturday afternoon the restaurant was full and had a great atmosphere. We had to wait at the bar for our table and it took a while to get a picture without catching too many people in it.

There were Gins and Bellini’s of every flavour on offer. The bartenders looked to be experts and they were all beautifully prepared. My friend order a Gin and Tonic which was served with cloves floating on the top, she really enjoyed it.

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We were there in time to order from the LunchTime Menu. It offers two courses for £10.95. This is the Chicken dish with a seed mustard sauce that himself ordered. He enjoyed it but it seems to have been served with sweet potatoes as opposed to the daphanoise potatoes that it was advertised with.

imageOur friend A chose the steak which was served with a dressed rocket salad. We didn’t see the French fries as advertised and, they were not mentioned by the waitress.

He said he enjoyed it too,  both him and himself didn’t indulge in too much conversation until they had finished ha!

imageDisappointingly, there was only one vegetarian choice on offer so, the remaining three of us ordered the Gnocchi with  roasted pepper and tomato sauce, with herbed creme fraiche. When it arrived, it was only warm but I think that might have been the creme fraiche cooling it down.

It was delicious and the sauce was very tangy but not sour, as can sometimes be the case with tomatoes. It tasted like fresh ingredients had been used and I could certainly taste the peppers.

However,  the portions were small and we were very hungry. I forgot to get pictures of the cheesecake that I ordered for desert or the ice cream chosen by the youngest. Nevertheless, my cheesecake was delicious and had a very strong lemon flavour but not zingy which is how I like lemon deserts. Again, it was a very small serving.

I enjoyed the meal, but was left feeling a bit disappointed. The atmosphere was great. The service was pleasant but my  friend was deprived of her second gin because the menu was never brought to her as she had requested. This too was disappointing.

imageThe people watching from our table, we were in a window seat, was very entertaining, these chaps caused particular amusement.

However, as soon as we got home, himself popped out and brought us a takeaway back. We were starving! There are so many fabulous places to eat in Liverpool City Centre, we probably won’t rush to return.

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 Have a lovely day!

 

Red Squirrels : Formby Point

My Sunday Photo this week was taken at Formby Point in Liverpool last weekend.

It is a coastal path that includes sand dunes and, a wooded area that houses red squirrels. We have been before when the eldest was a baby and a couple of times since but, we have never seen a red squirrel!

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This picture of Jack on top of a sand dune has not had any filters whatsoever used on it. The sky really was that blue and the sand that yellow, it was quite amazing.

imageThis picture shows the view over the top of that sand dune, can you see the Christmas trees lined up?

It was quite bizarre, this looked liked a Christmas tree graveyard. We guess, but don’t really know, that it must be what they do with the trees that don’t sell at Christmas time, some were still wrapped in the netting they come in.

The beach was quite crowded and Jack was a bit skittish at the thought of all the picnics  he could potentially liberate. Therefore, we walked back over the dunes to the wooded area that we had driven through en route to the car park.

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We walked the red squirrel trail and, yet again, we didn’t see a single one of the blighters!

However, we have a cunning plan, himself quizzed one of the rangers for the low down, and it seems that we will venture there in time for breakfast in the very near future. Apparently,  it’s the only time they come out to play- who knew?  We are plagued by their grey cousins morning, noon and night in The Glade, but there you go, the red ones must be  shy.

Nevertheless, it was a lovely walk. There was a mobile van selling refreshments and an  ice cream van or two, be warned though, I am reliably informed by Ms Glade that the ice cream was quite expensive ha! I loved it!

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On the way home we popped to Crosby Beach to see, Antony Gormley’s ‘Another Place‘.

There are 100 of these cast iron men littered all over the beach, I think they are amazing. He has said that he based them on himself!!

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I am not sure if you can see the people on the beach leading to the water, they are all  iron men too. I liked this scene of the tanker crossing between the wind farm and the iron men. I don’t think I like the look of the wind farm very much, but I know some people do.

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Have a lovely day!

UPDATE : Please see the brilliant explanations below for why the Christmas trees are there, it’s fab and makes perfect sense!! Thank you ladies xx

The Reader Cafe in Calderstones Park

Ordinarily, if we were venturing to a park in Liverpool, we would choose Sefton Park. Childhood memories and all that!

However, over Easter we decided to break with tradition and try Calderstones Park. I wanted to go to visit a special project.

 

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The Reader Cafe is attached to the Grade II listed, Calderstones Mansion, which is surrounded by beautiful parkland and gardens. It is run by The Reader Organisation, a charitable social enterprise that are all about bringing people and literature together. Cool eh!?

 

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They do this by holding weekly group sessions where stories and poems are shared. There is no pressure on anyone to speak aloud because the group leaders recognise that simply listening,  can be powerful enough.

All age groups are catered for and, it is thought that by sharing this sort of experience, that personal and social connections will be made. I think it’s brilliant! You can read more about the organisation, it’s aspirations and mission here.

 

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The cafe offers fresh soups, sandwiches and snacks. We had Ricotta and Spinach Pasties and they were very nice indeed. We ate the first course outside but then ventured indoors for dessert and coffee because it was getting a bit chilly. We were allowed to take the dog inside too!

imageThe cafe seating area is quite small and it was full of other diners so,  I didn’t like taking pictures in case anyone took offence.

But as you would expect, the cafe area is littered with books. There are at least two shelves and a quirky birdcage packed with differing tomes.

There was a lovely peaceful atmosphere even though, they really were very busy.

After a slice of carrot cake and a chocolate brownie covered in more chocolate, well it was Easter, we left and continued our walk through the park and past the lake.

 

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It was a lovely way to spend a couple of hours and to think, that by filling up on delicious food, we were also supporting a great cause. Pay them a visit if you are ever passing – it’s very impressive!

Do you have a favourite social enterprise?

 

 

Have a lovely day!