Birkenhead Park

We took the tour of Birkenhead park and it was a lovely lesson of history. We’ve been here before to feed birds and squirrels and we saw the poster with the guided tours. I had no idea it would be so interesting.

Birkenhead park is the first public funded park in the world, in 1847. At the opening 10,000 people participated to this historical event. It was an incredible number of participants, considering that there were only 9,000 people living in Wirral.

The ranger told us in that time there were many factories and mills and the people used to go out for a drink after work. So, many of them were ill often and the lifespan was short due to the harsh working conditions and alcohol. So, a place for working out and having a healthy option to spend the free time was very necessary.

The idea of a public park built with public funding was very controversial, but Issac Holmes’ idea was implemented in other cities and countries a short while after the Birkenhead park was launched.

The front gate of the park. Issac Holmes wanted a bigger one, but even so it was still very visible from Liverpool. bp_01

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Near the front gate there are 2 houses that were used by the gardeners. Now both houses are used; we were able to visit one, the one that is used by Friends of Birkenhead park. The houses have an inclosed garden with big walls, to keep away there stuff from the public eye. You can see in the photo one of the old hooks for cloths ropes.
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The first bandstand. Underneath the bandstand there was a small harbor where were docked 3 boats that were used on the lower lake.

There are 3 lakes in Birkenhead park, all made by man. The dirt from the lakes was put next to them, to create the landscape. This was very good for draining and the trees could develop nicely.
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The Swiss bridge. The designer of the park, Joseph Paxton, put a Chinese bridge, but Issac Holmes had a different idea. He wanted to recreate the Switzerland landscape with the bridge and the rockery.

Paxton changed the design to match Holmes’s wishes. But he painted the bridge in red and black, Chinese colours.
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The rockery. All the rocks are from Mersey.
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The oldest tree from the park, it was already there when they built the park.
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One of the trees that was planted during the park landscaping.
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The island from the Upper lake. Now it’s not connected to the park and this way the birds can nest without any predators.
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The garden in front of the Visitor Center. The centre is built on the spot that Hornblower wanted to make a terrace and the garden is like in his designs.
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Loosing weight – my journey

I hope you’ll like my journey so far.

3 years ago I went to see a cardiologist because I was tired all the time, my pulse would go up if I climbed 10 stairs and there is a history of heart problems in my family. The doctor said my heart is fine and she said nothing about my weight. I was clueless because I always loved the way I looked. But I wasn’t felling good, I didn’t have enough energy due to my unbalanced diet with only one meal a day, in the evening.

I started a stupid diet with a friend, I dissociated the food by day and group. This was my first diet and I managed to loose 6 kg in one month. After I finished it I was back to my old habits and I put 11 kg in a few months.

2 years ago, on 12th august 2010 I saw I had 81 kg! I was so shocked I started the diet from that day. It’s strange, but I wasn’t aware I was fat until I saw the scale. After I saw the scale I got online and I started reading as much as I could about diets.I realized the diet I had before was bad and that day I read about diets’ yo-yo effect and counting calories.

Now I can say it was a smooth process because my target was being healthy, so I had a diversified diet and I lost weight at a slower pace. I’ve lost 21 kg in 6-7 months by counting calories and macronutrients (carbs, proteins and fats).

I had a kitchen scale and I use it to weight everything. But after a few months I broke it by accident and I continued counting, but estimating the weight of the food. At first it was difficult, but I got used to it and after a while it took just 2-3 minutes/day to count them.

When I reached 65 kg, so 5 months in my journey I started exercising regularly. I did some workouts from P90X. Hubby was a huge fan of the program, so I give it a try. I became addicted because it’s so great, I love to push my limits and gain more strength.

I had a relapse when I had to move twice in 4 months. I wasn’t able to train where I stayed and my diet was different due to my move to UK. I gained 5 kg in this 4 months, but this year I lost all the fat with the 2 rounds of P90X (as you can see, I lost almost all the fat in the 1st round).

Now I feel great. I eat everything I want, but I cook because I want to have healthier options and, anyway, ready meals and take away are boring and fatty. I don’t like to eat the same thing everyday.

I use wholemeal wheat, unrefined sugar, full fat cheese or milk and I make at home pizza, pasta, sweets (muffins, cakes), vegetables in so many different ways. I eat cheese, fruits, salads (as a side), nuts and healthy oils (olive oil, for example).

I don’t feel like I’m on a diet…because I’m not. I choose what I eat considering if that product is good for me or not. I rather bake a tray of muffins (it takes 20 minutes, baking time included and I can make so many different types) instead of buying something with additives and white flour from the hypermarket.

Now I do insanity, I’m very happy with the results so far. I finished one month and I see my strength is higher. I love it! In the morning I feel I can “move mountains” and sometimes we go for a walk with Festus in the middle of the night if it’s a pleasant weather… I never feel without energy, not even after an intense workout.

And this is how I look:
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Shisha

Yesterday we went to VOOO and we had a lovely Shiha, mix flavour, it was very nice. Hubby had the camera with him, so he took a few pictures.
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In Romania I use to have shisha and coffee with hell, but now I got used to shisha and mint tea. I must admit it’s better this way, the flavor of the tea compliments the shisha.

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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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A diary of my travels, events, my thougths, blogging, craft projects and my home.