Category Archives: Adventures

December 2018 SMART Goals – Focus, Reflect, Relax

I’ve written a few times on my blog about how I set goals in December, not in January so avoiding all those ‘New Year, New Me’, New Year resolutions. I think it’s easier to make changes in your life at another time of year.  I started making changes in December over 10 years ago – it seems to work for me, as the run-up to Christmas has always been a time of reflection and regrouping for me.  I’ve always had a diary, used reminders or to do lists either on paper or electronically. It really helps me to be accountable to myself. Last month, I started writing my SMART Goals on my blog, as it helps me to see what I’ve achieved over the month, the quarter and going into 2019. It also makes goals more real, realistic and accountable if they are public goals shared with your friends and family.  In December, I’m concentrating on my photography especially with my Lensbaby and my working life.  So I am focusing, reflecting and relaxing.

If you’ve ever been on any marketing, project management or planning courses they’ll have mentioned SMART objectives. SMART goals are:

  • Specific, Measurable, Actionable, Realistic, Time-bound (i.e.What is the deadline or timeline for your goal?)

I wrote about how to set your SMART Goals last month:


Let me know in the comments how you get on?

How I monitor and record my progress:

I have a diary/journal where I note daily activities. Also, I use alarms on my phone to schedule activities. I use the Pomodoro method – timed 25-minute work sessions and then a timed five-minute break – every four or five 25 minute sessions you have a longer break. This method really helps me focus. Continue reading

Is it really December? Six on Saturday 1 December 2018

It’s the first day of Winter today according to the meteorological calendar. The older I get the quicker the time flies by and the more rubbish my memory becomes; this is one of the reasons I started a blog – to record what was happening around us, in the garden, days out and what adventures we got up to.  It’s certainly done that, I’ve rediscovered my love of photography.  It also gives me a chance to see how the garden changes from day to day and year to year.  But, I really do sound like a broken record mentioning often what odd weather we’ve had this year – it’s been very, very mild, temperatures often 10-15 degrees – and not getting anywhere freezing overnight.  Here beside the Bridgewater Canal, in Monton, in Salford, quite a few of my plants still haven’t realised it’s December. Usually, the garden in December would be looking rather leafless, bare sticks and trees, the odd evergreen plant and a basket or two of winter violas and pansies – with frost and cold, wet soil.  Instead, there a couple of plants flowering that really shouldn’t be…

1.Margarite – Argyranthemum Frutescens

five small yellow daisy like flowers - margarites

yellow margarite

I have three of these plants in pots, in the front garden, and they are still flowering – they’re proper sun lovers.  I love daisy style flowers, so I have many different plants – dahlias (Bishop styles), Leucanthemum, these and cute alpines. Continue reading

big burnley clothes swap sign

#BigBurnleyClothesSwap Burnley, Lancashire

It’s Lancashire Day today 27th November. The day commemorates the first day the county was represented at Parliament in 1215; Lancashire is a wonderful county, so much to see and do here. I live in Eccles, which started out in Lancashire, but is now in Greater Manchester, but most people consider themselves Lancastrians.

I thought I’d tell you about my visit to Burnley in the Lancashire hills last weekend; I was invited by Burnley Social to the #BigBurnleyClothesSwap to cover the event (free of charge). Burnley Social are working to promote Burnley as a great place to live, work, study and visit.

They ran the event to support students and young people to #recycle and #reuse while supporting the local Hospice ( – and have a bit of fun too.  They’d laid on hairdressers and makeup artists, and a photographer – and music.

Boohoo supported the event by donating ‘samples’ for the event – thanks Boohoo 😊

row of party dresses on a rail

Why I love Clothes swaps #recycle #reuse

These are great ways to refresh your wardrobe – all you do is bring some clean, good quality items and swap for items from other people.   When you get to a clothes swap event you’re usually given token or coloured raffles tickets corresponding to the same number of items you’ve brought (swapping like for like). So a raffle ticket for tops means you can choose a top, accessories for accessories etc.

I’ve been to a few clothes swaps at my WI.  If you’ve not been to one – please try one out or get together with a group of friends yourselves. You’ll be surprised what you find – and swapping with real people means they have suggestions about what you should try that you’d never pick up.

I got a lovely checked shirt for my husband to add to his collection and a new party dress for me (under wraps for the moment)

Everything was well organised at #BigBurnleyClothesSwap and I saw people choosing some beautiful things.   Thank you Burnley Social 🙂 I hear there’s going to be another clothes swap in 2019.

canvas bag 'suits you girl' bagpurple yellow sequin skirt with blue and purple sequin skirt

Supporting Charity

Money from ticket sales and all the left-over clothes were donated to Pendleside Hospice (who have charity shops too). Continue reading

Red and orange pyracantha coreopsis, marguerite in a triangular, red glass vase

Orange and red firethorn, bonfires and fundraising – In a Vase on Monday – 5 November 2018

Anyone in the UK will be well aware it’s Guy Fawkes Night, so as I’m writing this there’s the fizz, bang and pop of fireworks all around me. Plenty of people still hold their own family fireworks in the back gardens. Locally, in Pendleton in Salford, there is a huge fireworks display and bonfire at Buile Hill Park organised by Salford Council – many of the cricket and rugby clubs were hosting events as fundraisers.  I’ve had the colours of fire on my mind today. I wanted to write about two things today – flowers and fundraising. Orange is the connection – we’ve been fundraising for Motor Neurone Disease Association.

Red and orange pyracantha coreopsis, marguerite in a triangular, red glass vase

Red and orange pyracantha coreopsis, marguerite in a triangular, red glass vase

In a Vase on Monday – fire!

I wouldn’t usually include the berries that are going over but it seems appropriate to acknowledge the change in the seasons…

The vase is an unusual triangular shaped red glass vase dating from the early 1960s.  I found it in my friend Steve’s home after he died in 2015. It must have been a wedding present for his father and mother.  Knew them over 20 years, I never saw flowers in the house.  But, I kept this vase and a pair of crystal vases probably another wedding present.  One had a pile of pennies in it.  I fill these vases with flowers and think fondly of Ju, Kev and Steve – very missed.


As usual, I am joining Cathy at – it’s a simple idea pick plants, flowers, seedheads etc from your garden or locality and put in a ‘vase’. The vases are very inventive – gardening bloggers from around the world join in.  Do have a look – it certainly lifts my mood on a dark, wet Manchester evening when I can see flowers in their full Spring glory on the other side of the world.


Prickly plants help stop burglars

With the dark nights, it’s easier for burglars to lurk and enter unlit buildings. One way to deter people with nefarious intentions is with shrubs with thorns. Good contenders are:

  • Pyracantha – Firethorn – I certainly felt it taking cuttings for the vase.
  • Berberis – there are many different varieties, including a stunning maroon one.  My mum has it under her kitchen window.
  • Roses including climbers.
blue ticket for Motor Neurone Disease Association Manchester Ball - 3 Nov 2018 with orange mascarade mask on a party table

Motor Neurone Disease Association Manchester Ball – 3 November 2018

Fundraising for the Motor Neurone Disease Association

On Saturday, my husband and I attended the Masquerade Ball for the Manchester Motor Neurone Disease Association along with 300 other people in all their finery. Bright blue and orange are the corporate colours of the association.

Our aim is to raise as much money and awareness as possible to help people living with MND (we call them warriors) five of them were at the ball.

My husband’s younger brother died from MND aged fifty in January after five years with this vile disease. He is loved and missed every day.  My husband runs ultra marathons, endurance events, trail and half marathons. He’s pushed our pal Bethan who has cerebral palsy around Brighton marathon. Bethan lost her mum to MND.

The ONLY positive thing about MND arriving in your life is that you find some amazing people who become lifelong friends.  We were with many local pals from the association and our running pals from #RunMND who came from all over the country to support our fundraising and have some fun.  Plenty of people were there too from our local hospital Salford Royal which is the regional centre for MND support and care.

We had some suburb auction prizes including Manchester United tickets, take that concert tickets, numerous meals and afternoon teas, wines and spirits. We won the auction on a specially commissioned painting.

The event was organised by Stacey Kerr who’s our awesome volunteer fundraising coordinator – she has raised nearly £40k in her own right in five years.

We raised a staggering £11,600 – well done everyone

Here we are in our outfits #withfilter  wearing my wedding dress 🙂 yes my shoes glow under the flashlight 😉

Find out more about our branch here:

My husband’s next run is Manchester Marathon next April 2019 – you can find his JustGiving page here:

Find the RunMND posse (usually wearing orange ra-ra skirts) – there are nearly 900 of us around the UK and even some in Australia:

Plodders, strollers, endurance in anything (walking, pushing wheelchairs, running) are very welcome – including supporters like me

More information and help on MND:

It’s a vile, grim disease but if you’re affected please get in touch.

You’re never alone xxx xxx

Find us on social media too.


I still can’t form sentences to explain how much I miss my own brother who died suddenly in March 2017 – he was doing what he loved which is a comfort.  He is loved, missed and thought about all around the world

I am reminded that ‘life isn’t a dress rehearsal’ get out and live it, have fun with the people you love, be kind, make a difference and laugh every day.


Do you fundraise?

Carpe Diem,

Love Bec xx xxx


Manchester Urban Gardening – always unexpected – Six on Saturday 27 October 2019

We were out and about in Manchester City centre early on Saturday morning mostly running errands around the Northern Quarter. It was a bright, cold but sunny day – it’s been the first morning with frost in the air. My pals who live in the hills around Manchester said it was trying to snow… Winter is coming…

I thought I’d take some photos and tell some stories for my Six on Saturday.

  1. Silver Birch

    There are many Silver Birch trees dotted around the centre of the city – some mature and some, like this one, planted by new flats built a few years ago. There is no sign of the leaves turning yellow as Autumn has been mild until this week. Look at that blue sky though! #nofilter 

2. Special Acers

      These are two of the 22 dwarf

Acers in huge black iron containers in memory of the Arena attack victims placed around the city centre. In May 2018, they were covered in messages and hearts – the containers have bees on them too. The city council are planning a permanent memorial. 

I don’t think I need to tell you how much impact this terrible act had on our city and its people but we are resilient – #strongertogether

3. Urban re-use – Mackie Mayor, Swan Street, Manchester

The North part of Manchester city centre around Oldham Street and Great Ancoats Street is now called ‘Northern Quarter’ but in the 19th Century it was the market area of Manchester.

Only two of the market halls remain and are still in use.

Manchester Art and Design Centre

The Craft Centre was founded in 1982 and is run by Manchester City Council.  It was one of the first buildings to help the regeneration of this part of the city since the 1980s.  It had fallen on hard times, with seedy shops, red-light areas and a great deal of poverty.  It’s very different around the Northern Quarter now – trendy restaurants and bars, creative arts and designers, etc.

It is housed in the former retail fish market building (opened in 1873).   The Centre is home to many artists, crafters and jewellers – do visit if you’re looking for gifts. It has an excellent vegan cafe too.  

My Chap and I went last year to make our wedding rings with Charlotte Verity ( I need to write about this wonderful experience.

Mackie Mayor (2017 – )

Smithfield Market (the meat market) was opened in 1856 at the height of the city’s industrialisation and growth in the population, who all needed food.  It was a market until 1972, after which it was used as storage facility, a skateboard park but mostly shut despite it being Grade II listed.  Most people worried it would be knocked down or fall down.
It is named after the Mayor of Manchester who opened the building in 1856.
The refurbishment was done by the team behind Altrincham Market and Market House. It is a stunning building containing businesses selling coffee, burgers, fish, beer, pizza, oriental food. It’s a wonderful place.  Here is their ethos.

It seats 500, there are no reservations!  BTW It is closed on Mondays.
Do visit if you’re in the area 🙂

4. Urban plants

When you look closely plants are all around us in city centres – not just in window boxes.  At Mackie Mayor, these trolleys are packed with plants.

A stunning poppy, coreopsis and nasturtiums.

It was far too cold to sit outside but this area is heaving with people in the summer.

5. Bees are everywhere in Manchester

We do out bit for the bees too – there are hives on the roof of the Arndale Shopping Centre and Manchester Art Gallery. The worker bee is the symbol of Manchester – it was given to the city in the 19th century to reflect the ‘industriousness’ of its people and is part of our civic crest. There are bees in stonework, floors, windows, bins and plenty of stickers and street art.

We had an invasion of bee statues this summer –

Halle St Bee-ter's A Chorus of Industry - No 3401

Halle St Bee-ter’s A Chorus of Industry – No 3401 – #beeinthecity

£1.1m was raised from auctioning off the bee statues to support We Love MCR Charity’s Stronger Communities Fund, which provides grants of up to £2000 for initiatives that bring communities together to celebrate diversity and build stronger relationships.

The bees inspire so much creativity – a story for another post.

Street Art in the City Centre

Stephenson Square is probably the centre of the Northern Quarter street art. The gable ends have ever-changing art overseen by #outhousemcr. Artists come from around the world to paint our street art. It often has sharp social commentary.  There are probably more than 30 street art paintings on buildings around the northern quarter.  I need to go on a sunny day and take more photos.

I take photos of this substation/building and the art every time I walk past – the art has been changing about every three months since 2010. It’s overseen by @outhousemcr.  Stephenson Square is also home to the ‘Northern Quarter Makers Market’ – 2nd Sunday of the month.

The green roof on the disused toilet block was planted by Manchester City of Trees a few years ago It has a mix of wildflowers but only the poppies are still flowering. City of Trees aim is to plant 3million trees around Greater Manchester – one for every person.

Stephenson Square was a tram terminus so it’s actually rectangular – it’s home to Fred Aldous art and craft shop (founded 1886).  Emmeline Pankhurst held rallies here in the Square for votes for women – she was born and lived in Manchester – founding the suffragette movement in her home on Nelson Street. This is now the Pankhurst Centre (which has a lovely garden too) – it has limited opening times (check the website).

I am proud that there will be a statue of Emmeline unveiled in the city in St Peter’s Square in December.  She’ll join Queen Victoria as the only other female statue in our city.  The statue will be unveiled on 14th December 2018 on the hundredth anniversary of the first election where ‘some’ women could vote.

I should do a post about the many paintings on this section – even the late, great David Bowie has featured.

6. Unexpected Surprises

Look out – There are monsters around Manchester… have you seen any?


As usual, I’ve joined in with the Propagator – – Six things garden related on a Saturday – I hope mine count 😉


Have you seen anything unusual this week? Any monsters?  Have you got any street art near where you live?

Stay safe over Halloween,

Carpe Diem

Love Bec xxx xxx