Hamilton Square

Hamilton square is a small park in Birkenhead, built in 1826 to the design of Edinburgh architect James Gillespie Graham.

No two sides of the square are identical and it is second only to Trafalgar Square in London for having the most Grade I listed buildings in one place in England. The land was bought by William Laird. A statue of William’s son, John can be admired in the park. hs_0

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Birkenhead Town Hall, the former civic building. The building was finished in 1887 and it consisted of a council chamber, offices, with a concert hall and function rooms known as the Assembly Rooms. It has a 200 foot high clock tower, a landmark which is visible from the waterfront on both sides of the Mersey. The clock was started by Elsie Laird, the daughter of Mayor William Laird on 27th November 1886. The chimes have been heard all around Birkenhead. Now it has some civic services, such as the municipal registration centre for births, marriages and deaths and as a venue for local and national elections.
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Lavender Harvest

Saturday we went to Inglenook farm to visit the lavender farms and volunteer in the harvesting. It was a lovely day and we really enjoyed it. The staff was very helpful, eager to tell us about the lavender or about the process of making oil.

This is a poppy field near the car park.lh_01

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The barn where they process the lavender to extract the oil. It was very interesting and not what we expected. We thought the oil is obtained thru pressing, but the lavender was steamed.
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The oil. In a good day they can get 2L of lavender oil. It’s a small quantity, but it’s very concentrated. The water that results in the process is gathered in special containers and they sell it to 5* hotels or companies from the cosmetics industry.

For example, the water is bottled and put in 5* rooms from hotels in Dubai. Guests can use it as a spray to refresh themselves. The water is pure and very good for the skin.
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The lavender is used as a natural fertilizer. It is threw on the field and it becomes compost very fast. So, the fields aren’t fertilized with chemicals.
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They have 2 small ponies I was able to pet. They were so small… not much bigger than Festus.
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A lavender bush, ready for the harvest.
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A baby goat. He is 12 weeks old and so sweet.
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I was so happy to hold him. He wasn’t very impressed, maybe because I didn’t hold the carrot the right way.
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This way was much better.
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Hubby and I. A farmer asked if we want a picture, so we took advantage of his proposal.
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The pony was 2-3 inches taller than Festus. It was a strange feeling to pet a horse not much bigger than my dog. The ponies were so cute and sociable. I loved them.
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Me… harvesting. I was delighted to harvest the lavender. I didn’t had relatives in the countryside, so everything is new to me.
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The crop.
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U-boat

We visited U-boat with some friends. We were lucky to have such a nice warm day.

U-534 was headed towards Norway, when it was attacked by a Liberator aircraft. She took heavy damage and began to sink. Amazingly, 49 of the 52 crew members survived.

The vessel laid forgotten on the sea bed for over 40 years. In August 1993 the wreckage was raised from the seabed in the hope of finding hidden treasure on board. Nothing was found, so the mystery of why U-534 refused to surrender remains to this day. ub_01

A panoramic view of the U-boat.
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Luckily there was a guided tour and we learned about the history of the U-boats. It was very interesting.
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I had the impression we will be able to go in, but it was so small and the air was very oily.
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The torpedo. In the U-boat they would transport up to 22 torpedoes.
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The hit that sunk her.
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Monkey Forest

On our holiday we went to Monkey Forest, in the Trentham Estate, near Stoke on Trent and RAF Museum.

Here the Barbary macaques roam freely in a 60 acre forest. They live as they would in the Atlas mountains of Algeria and Morocco. There are 3 more similar parks, 2 in France and 1 in Germany. The monkeys from Trentham came from those other parks. The staff tries to intervene as little as possible.

The Barbart macaques are in danger of extinction, with 8,000 exemplars in the wild. The parks succeed in reintroducing over 600 monkeys in Morocco. mf_01

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Feeding time. The monkeys are fed several times a day, but the keeper doesn’t interact with them. I admire the keepers, they were very professional and very happy with their job.
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The monkeys chase the squirrels from time to time. But even so, the squirrels came to eat near them.
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The monkeys show their affection to each other with grooming.
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Enjoying a coffee and a doughnut at Banana Cafe.
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A mother and her little kid. The little monkey was born this year.
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A monkey family. The father (adoptive, the real father is unknown) helps the mother with the kid. He grooms and protects the kid.
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The little monkey wasn’t able to climb up to his parents. So, the father tried without luck to lift the kid. The mother came down, took the kid on her belly and jumped up to the father. It was very funny.
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RAF Museum

On our holiday we went to Monkey Forest and Royal Air Force Museum, Cosford. The museum is near an active field, so we saw soldiers and real fighters planes.

We both enjoyed it very much. I didn’t had high expectations, but I found the information very interesting and well presented. We spend around 3 hours without realizing how time passed. The museum is free and the parking is cheap (2.5 pounds for 3 hours).raf_01

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The history of the aviation. It was very nicely presented, the British history comparative to the rest of the world, by decades.
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Fun ‘n’ Flight was a very nice part of the museum. I must admit we played a lot.
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It was pretty hard to keep the helicopter steady.
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The simulator had two pedals too. It was very interesting, but I couldn’t stay too much to play with it because there were children waiting.
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The position of the pilot in the cockpit. It doesn’t look to comfy.
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Here is the cockpit.
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Good-luck charms.
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They had a dentist-van.
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A foldable motorcycle.
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In 2007 the £12.5 million National Cold War Exhibition was opened by Her Royal Highness Princess Anne. The architecture and design of the building are very impressive.
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I was completing a survey for the RAF Museum.
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A very interesting way to present the events of the conflicts with the domino effect. One of the few special rooms with movies.
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There was an Art Gallery with very nice paintings.
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Holiday

We had a small holiday this week. We went to Stafford, Telford and Stoke on Trent. I took some pictures on the motorway, but I put just one on the blog. We were on the 2nd lane (of 5) on M6, to Stafford.h_01

Our holiday started with a visit of Ancient High House. The lovely Tudor building from the center of Stafford, the largest remaining timber framed town house in England, is a free museum. The house was build in 1595.
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St Chad’s Church, viewed from the Ancient High House.
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Henry VIII and his 6 wives.
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The attic hosts Staffordshire Yeomanry Regiment Museum.
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As you can see from the pictures, the city center is very beautiful.
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Near the Ancient High House we saw St. Chad’s church. Unfortunately it was closed, so we weren’t able to visit it.
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Stafford Castle. On this location we took Festus with us.

The Castle was build in 1100 by Robert de Toeni, later known as Robert of Stafford. In the 14th century Ralph became the 1st Earl of Stafford. He ordered the building of a stone keep and was granted a license to crenelate and so constructed the battlements.

By the early 17th century the condition of the castle had deteriorated. During the English Civil War the Parliamentary Committee in Stafford ordered it to be demolished.

It was rebuilt in the Gothic Revival Style, but the castle fell into ruin through this century. Rebuilt by the Jerningham family in the early 19th Century using the same foundations the keep was again a magnificent four stores structure. However, given over to caretakers and then abandoned again in the 1950s it became derelict once more.
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Maybe it’s a pigeon nest. We saw a few near the castle.
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I loved the internal walls.
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David Austin’s Roses. A lovely rose farm. It wasn’t on our list to see, but we pass by it, so we stopped to see the farm. It was very big and impressive.
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The rose gardens. Between the tearoom and the plant centre there are a few themed rose gardens, very beautiful. There are over 700 species of roses there.
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The plant centre was huge. Here is only a small part of it.
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We went to the camping site, we set up the tent and we went to Telford to see the Ironbridge Gorge. There are many museums to visit in Telford and a few circular walks near the bridge. We didn’t have time to visit them, but there are on our “to visit” list.
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In the evening we walked thru Shifnal. I was surprised to see how many restaurants there were in such a small town.
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Near the farm we saw a field with poppies. It looked better in the sunny day.
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This was the landscape we saw from the tent. It looked better when it was sunny. It rained all night, but the tent was waterproof. We got up very early, so the picture is taken around 6.30. I always get up early when I’m in holiday.

It would have been better with some Wellington boots. It’s funny, last year I thought the rubber boots with nice colors (pink, blue) with a fashionable bow are useless and now I want a pair.
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There are many pictures of the last 2 attractions, so I made special posts for them.

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Feeding birds and squirrels

We went in Birkenhead park with Festus a few days ago and we saw squirrels near the lake. I’ve read on a board that it’s not allowed to feed white bread to the wild animals, so, I went shopping and I got a bag of peanuts specially made for wild birds.

Today we went in the park well prepared. bp_01

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The 1st bird that landed on my hand. I was so surprised.
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Near the lake there are a lot of squirrels.
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This one stayed near me almost all the time, sometimes on my hand.
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In this picture you can see 3 squirrels, but there were so many. The squirrels are afraid of the pigeons, so we left for the moment.
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The pigeons followed us to the lake. It was such a nice feeling to be surrounded by flying birds.

On the lake there were gooses, swans and ducks. All of them were very friendly.
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The birds on hubby’s hand.
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On my hand is room for only 3, but there were 4 trying to make place.
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I hid the rest of the food in my pocket, so the pigeons decided we weren’t so interesting any more and they left us alone. Back to the squirrels.
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They came pretty close, but they were too afraid to take the food from our hands. Maybe if we had some monkey nuts or walnuts. We’ll have to try next time, to see if we can convince them to get closer.
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