Euro 2020(1) Dream Team

Here’s my The Sun Dream Team for the belated European (Football) Championship.

In goal, Gianluigi Donnarumma is my sole Italian representative.

Spain’s Joao Cancelo, France’s Lucas Hernandez, Portugal’s Raphael Guerreiro and Croatia’s Duje Caleta-Car make my four-man defence.

Toni Kroos of Germany, Netherlands’ Georginio Wijnaldum and Denmark’s Christian Eriksen are my midfield trio.

Upfront, I’ve gone for polish goal machine Robert Lewandowski l, the evergreen Cristiano Ronaldo and another former Manchester United player in the shape of Memphis Depay.

I’ll let you know how I get on!

Ripon Car Boot Sale

The day actually started with another visit to Ripon Canal, where not for the first time, I saw a pike, as well as lots of other small fish. The pike itself was a small one but I’ve only walked there three or four times… and I’ve twice seen a pike! This was despite the water being much murkier than previous visits and lots of paddle boarders/canoeists in action.

Now I know that the above photo might look like a load of junk, and also be misleading because it’s in our own boot but… we bought all the above for about £15!

We got two soft toys, a toy plane, a robot type figure, Top Trumps cards, about ten children’s books, two children’s DVDs, a dress, a board game (For 50p. There’s similar games online for £40!), a doll seat, builder’s helmet and toy ambulance!

This car boot sale, at Ripon Racecourse, takes place in the afternoon. We normally have another local one in the morning then sellers and buyers can move onto Ripon. The other one, at Ripley, is suspended at the moment. There’s one on the other side of town but… it’s rubbish!

There was a good turn out in Ripon and sellers weren’t being silly with their prices. We got some good deals, primarily for the kids. My youngest daughter picked a few things up but cooperated when I suggested that she didn’t buy one or two things. I think that she’ll be happy to go car booting again.

We have sold things in the past but of late have used Gumtree or just given things away. If Ripley gets up and running again then I’ll let you know how that goes.

Do you have car boot sales or similar where you live? Errr… just incase it’s not clear, people sell things from their car boot, or normally on a table… people aren’t normally selling actual car boots!

Frog City/Newt Central

The seasonably cold and generally miserable weather has, for the most part, limited amphibian activity… or sightings at least. When the weather finally turned however, the array of amphibians rose to the surface to bask in the sun!

I counted nine frogs, which is particularly prominent for our pond. The newts were also making their presence felt in numbers. Sorry, but they’re a little harder to get clear photographs of. They do exist… honest. They’re not just some mythical creature like the yeti that I want to believe does!

Of course, we also have our second pond now complete with fish. I’m yet to see any amphibians taking residence alongside them.

I do love the newts. They’re just something different and the way they move, whether horizontally or vertically is extremely slick. Frogs are welcome too. It’s great for my daughter’s to see wildlife in their own garden. That goes for bees and wasps too, though I’d rather they didn’t keep nesting in our bird boxes! One wasp flew too close to the pond and unless it exceeded my expectations, likely met an ugly fate!

There are also the birds that have sung their hearts out… noticeably when I’ve camped in the garden! It all makes for a range of wildlife. I’m sure that when the light turns on at night that bats, mice (Spotted a resident one many times last year) and maybe the evasive hedgehogs are responsible!

Look out for more water based updates as the months pass.

Garden Camp Two: New (And Old) Gear!

You can find details of my first garden camp here…

I’ve developed an insatiable yearning to go camping. I’ve done a bit in the past but not since having children. My Vango F10 Helium 200 (An old version of a Nevis I think) can’t really handle four people and my eldest daughter’s additional needs mean that we’d need an electric hook-up and to give some consideration to storing her milk… as well as buying a new tent and mattresses etc.

Anyway, I digress, initially it’ll be just me. This time the birds weren’t quite as raucous and settled down early enough. I think that an impending storm last time might’ve contributed to their mighty performance. To be clear, I love birds and appreciate hearing the even wider variety of sounds than I’d previously noticed… but I do want to sleep! The late night hum of the odd speeding car and motorbike travel across school fields and residential areas with ease too!

I enjoyed reading a chapter of Jeremy Wade’s How to Think Like a Fish. You can read about it here when I’m done!

I probably fell asleep around 10:30pm and was woken bang on 4am. The birds! Did I fall back asleep? Possibly, but I think I was up, content but tossing and turning a little. I didn’t actually get out of the tent until 8:10am. I was cold when I woke. I hadn’t been at night (I believe the low was 9 degrees). This may be more to do with the ground than than the air. I had my ground sheet, bottom of my tent and my mattress beneath me. In the early hours, I had to add my fleece t-shirt that I recently bought. Come night two, I’d add my insulated foil sheet underneath my inflated mattress.

I’m struggling to fully inflate (With my lungs) an expensive sleeping pad that I bought. It’s a shame because it’s small and light as a feather. The Levin one that I’m using is a bit heavier but has a built in pump. It still require a bit of (Noisy!) effort though. My back felt a little hard when I woke up despite the mattress feeling extremely comfortable.

My new Fathom EV 300 sleeping bag performed okay. The zip gets caught when you pull it from the outside, less so from inside which is slightly more awkward. It’s snug at the top for the head and I slightly prefer my previous one in that regards but my new one is 3-season and packs down extremely small.

I have plenty of space on one side of my tent to put spare clothes as well as my torch and book etc. The inner does droop a little, in fact more than a little but it’s bearable for one person who is sleeping in the centre.

I tried my old cooking unit again but the ignition button wouldn’t work. It still works with a match but then this possibly makes the new unit that I bought preferential. My water boiled (In a camping whistle kettle) with ease… and makes a beautiful whistling sound. That said, the tea I bought was horrible! Despite using water instead of milk, my porridge was fine.

On the second night, I didn’t get into my tent until around 10pm. The birds were quiet but my neighbours weren’t. They we’re playing loud music! The hum of boy racers pierced my ears too.

Eventually I fell asleep (Maybe around midnight) and that resulted in me not waking until about 6:10am. Again, I heard bird calls that I hadn’t heard before. A woodpecker may have been amongst the sounds but echoed differently to those that I’d heard before.

There was condensation on the inside of the outside (The flysheet) of my tent. I think that’s the idea though. Any moisture on the outside was already dried by the sun. The inner and outer don’t touch at all so the inside of my tent was fine. Like I say though, the inside of the outside was moist which is a bit awkward in regards to drying it before packing it away.

All in all my garden camps have been valuable experiments to get back in the groove with camping. I’m booked for a weekend stay at a campsite in a few weeks so hope to post about both the camping experience and another hike. Look out for those posts come late June.

Pedometer Diaries: Chapter Two

It’s been over two months since I caught up with modern technology and got a pedometer! Here’s my original post…

Now, after 66 days of having this piece of white plastic attached to my hip (Belt), I’ve totalled 455.68 miles. That’s an average of 6.90 miles per day.

My ten-hour Yorkshire Three Peaks boot ending epic…

… was, not surprisingly, my most steps (54,429) and therefore miles (25.77) in a single day. A regular work day sees me in the 15-16k step region. There’s only been a couple of four figure days, mainly due to extreme weather. My worst day was… the day after Yorkshire Three Peaks! #recovery!

It’s been great to learn how much distance I cover at work, some of which is up and down two or even three flights of stairs burdened by heavy loads. That’s motivated me to make sure that I clock up some mileage on my days off.

I’ll let you know my numbers once again, in another few months. I’m sure that you can’t wait!

Les Machines de L’ile

Today, we’re sticking with yesterday’s French theme…

Situated on what is technically an island in the River Seine, Les Machines de L’ile… is an island… with machines!

You’ll discover a variety of creatures and vehicles amongst the creations. Though I sat in some sort of moving contraption and my wife went on a boat, I’m ashamed to say that I’ve never been on the premier attraction… the elephant! I did want to go… but nobody else did! I will go on it one day… if it’s still working!

You can walk around the gallery and see the artists/creators at work down below.

Nantes has some handy tools to help tourists navigate, including painted lines that cover miles. The castle is free to enter (The courtyard anyway) and there are plenty of shops… including an excellent chocolate shop!

If you’d like to hit the beach, coastal places such as Pornic are less than an hour’s drive away. Take some flip flops though because the sand can be extremely hot… and the water quite dangerous too. Errr, yeah, just be careful with children!

There was no big boat ride to France last year, or this, so fingers crossed for a return to Nantes in 2022… and maybe a ride on the elephant with the kids!

Five Songs from France

It’s Friday and you know what that means… a selection of five songs based on a theme. This week, it’s music from France… or songs performed in French… or singers who’ve had success in France. It’s fine, it’s my blog. I can do what I want!

Nolwenn Leroy Gemme (This may have already featured in Song of the Week. Again, my blog, my rules!

Amir Jai Cherche

Charlie Winston Speak to Me

Josef Salvat Autre Saison

Gerald de Palmas Sur la Route

See you for another selection next week!

Ikich Coffee Grinder

It grinds coffee… thank you and goodbye!

It grinds coffee in less time and with far less annoyance to my wife than my old manual coffee grinder did!

At the risk of not bothering to check, I think that I got it from the South American rainforest and that it probably cost about £20. It’s a practical not particularly obtrusive machine.

For my previous coffee related post, please click below…

I hope to do further coffee (And tea) related posts, if a particular local shop ever completes its refit and reopens!