Category Archives: Manchester

In a Vase on Monday – three flowers, birthdays (some third), Hope and Kindness

‘Three things in human life are important. The first is to be kind. The second is to be kind. and the third is to be kind’   Henry James (1843-1916) American Author 

It’s been difficult times here recently; A few weeks ago, it would have been my wonderful brother’s 50th birthday, and the following day marked 18 years since my awesome Dad passed from cancer.   Everyone who ever met either my brother or our Dad, would remember them, especially if they’d cooked for them. They touched people all around the world and are forever in my heart. My awesome sister in law and nieces, and his many friends, had a lovely celebration to remember my Brother in Australia.  I can’t express how proud I am of them all, and how much love I have for them all – strong women.   My Chap and I have been down to see My Mum too,  and helped her buy more pots for her garden, and plant new birthday roses and fuchsias, for remembrance.  It’s been SO tough for her too.  It’s been SO tough for all of us.

There’s been some positives though, had some interesting news at work.  I’m well into the swing of daily walks #onehouroutside, mindfulness and, at least, weekly yoga.  We’ve been making plans too.  I’ve been walking around Monton and Worsley with My Chap – it’s always lovely to watch the plants springing into action.  I wrote about one of my favourite circular walks a couple of months ago:

Spring is coming 🙂 I was excited to see my first snowdrops, a dwarf Iris and crocus buds too. This was despite having two snow showers last Tuesday, it was minus 5 on Wed and more snow overnight on Sunday here in Manchester.  The violas are still flowering from my last vase, and a few dwarf purple and yellow ones have appeared too, as well as crocus buds and daffodil spikes coming up.  I wrote about violas, self care and there’s no such thing as Blue Monday in my last vase.

This week, I picked a snowdrop, a dwarf Iris  and added them to some red Cotoneaster berries and leaves (possibly amoenus?) and put it in a small earthenware vase about 4 inches high, that I bought about 30 years ago in Scotland while at University.  It has no label and I don’t remember where exactly I bought it.   I am sure this was my first vase purchase – though I’ve only rarely put flowers in it over the years. It has never appeared on in In a Vase on Monday before, but I’m sure you’ll see it again 🙂

Snowdrops represent Hope – this seems appropriate this week – Hope for the future


12 February 2018 – Iris, Snowdrop and Cotoneaster

I picked the cook books to represent where we live (Manchester), where my Brother lived (Melbourne), and a Rick Stein book (one of my Dad’s favourite chefs).  All of us love fish, and time spent by the sea.  The Mrs Beaton book was my gran’s (Dad’s mum – who was an excellent cook) but I think she must have had more than one copy as there are no notes or recipes scribbled in it.  The red and white striped notebook my Dad gave to me, when I went to university in the mid 1980’s, with some useful recipes like boulognese, how to boil rice, and baking cakes.  It’s very precious to me.  My Brother Matt gave us the Melbourne cookbook and we’d given him, and his family in Australia, The Manchester Cookbook. 

Cooking food represents our love for our family and friends.

All of us love fish and time spent by the sea.  


12 February 2018 – dwarf Iris, Snowdrop and Cotoneaster in a blue and green earthen wear vase.  With some of our favourite cookbooks

Do have a look at Rambling in the Garden where Cathy hosts In A Vase on a Monday – where gardening bloggers from around the world add links to their vases. Always beautiful, interesting or unusual – including plenty of southern hemisphere bloggers who brighten my days in the depths of Winter.  This week Cathy has a Japanese Ikibana style black vase with a white Hyacinth.

Be Kind – #savouringJanuary2018
I’ve been reminded again this week of the need to #bekind to myself and do my favourite selfcare activities for me.  The cold weather has been tough on my arthritic joints – painful and I’ve been wrapped up with thermal socks on and lots of layers – but moving helps especially something like sewing, crochet or knitting.

I’ve made a green heart for the Women’s Institute #showthelove campaign to raise awareness of impact of climate change – show the love make a heart to wear and share-on-valentines-day.   I made a small lavender filled house too 🙂

cotton house heart and candle.jpg

12 February 2018 – house filled with lavender, green heart for #showthelove and a candle because I love the scents.

There’s something incredibly relaxing about sewing, handling the soft material – creating something – this is a lavender filled ‘house’ I made. I need small, achievable projects like this and hearts. Sewing helps my #wellbeing and concentrating on the stitching ’empties’ your head so to speak.  Yoga does this too.

I finished my instagram challenge – #savouringJanuary2018 – You can follow me on Instagram – @becmonton56

I lit many candles too – Hygge in our House 🙂

Happy 3rd Birthday to Cottonopolis WI –
We dressed up in 1920s gear, learnt the Charleston, ate cake, picked our bursary winners and had alot of fun as usual.

  • Have a look at our facebook page for the photos of our third birthday party 🙂
  • Join us if you’re local – 1st Tuesday of the month, 730pm, George Leigh Street, Ancoats, Manchester

Adventures around Manchester in the last month – Good food and good memories 🙂

My Chap and I decided to go for a meal at one of the place’s we’d taken my brother when he’d visited -Mr  Thomas’s Chop House in Manchester. This venerable tiled green and white Mancunian institution was opened in 1870, serves classic British food, has an excellent selection of Lancashire real ales and an extensive wine list.

For starter, I had Tom’s cornbeef hash, with pickled red cabbage and poached egg. There is nothing in the world quite like this hash – it is awesome and so good I forgot to take any photos – oops 😉 Followed by steak and kidney pudding. My Chap had scallops and the hash for main course – we had no room for pudding.

We had a wonderful lunch, drank a glass of a very good red and then headed off to Manchester Art Gallery, another place we’d taken my Brother.  Always great art to see, including Valette’s impressionist paintings of Manchester (he was Lowry’s tutor) as well as many Pre-raphaelite paintings, Victorian high art and regularly changing exhibitions.

The next day, Sunday (my Dad’s ‘anniversary’), My Chap cooked a 10/10 Sunday roast in commemoration of Jay.  My Dad was famous for his roast dinners and mine and my brother’s pals would scrap over who could get an invite.

I’ve written a few times about the men in my life and how much they loved cooking including:

Happy memories 

I know for certain that we never lose the people we love, even to death.They continue to participate in every act, thought and decision we make.Their love leaves an indelible imprint in our memories.  We find comfort in knowing that our lives have been enriched by having shared their love.   Leo Buscaglia (1924-1998) Professor University of Southern California and motivational speaker

I’ll be remembering darling My Dad, Uncle Fred, Steve and most of all my wonderful Brother Matt and I’ll continue to raise a glass of quality red, especially if My Chap and I are by the sea.


12 February 2018 – wedding gift wine glasses and Châteauneuf-du-Pape – lovely

It’s the third birthday of my blog today – Much has stayed the same and much has changed in that time… a bit like me….

Here’s my first few blog posts and the first appearance of ‘In A vase on Monday’ 🙂

plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose

I’m reminding myself to #bekind (to myself as well).

And on that note, I’m off to blow out some candles and head to bed 🙂

Carpe Diem,


Bec xxx  xxx






In a Vase on New Year’s Day – dogs, woods and walks 

‘It’s never too late in life to have a genuine adventure’ Robert Kurson, author (1963– )

Happy New Year everyone, may your 2018 be happy and healthy.  We’ve been down south to visit my Mum, and only got back to Salford for Hogmanay, so I decided to pick plants from both gardens. I cut some Cornus (dogwood) from my mother’s garden which has bright red stems and variated leaves, and when I got home, I cut some Hypericum from my front garden.  My garden is very wet and blown about, but there are crocus and narcissi poking though the soil, and the hellebore are flowering so they will probably get their chance next week in a vase.

This was one of the first vases My Chap bought me; it has appeared a few times in In a Vase on Monday as has the Hypericum,  in flower though ;-).  There’s a few shoots poking through too, so that seems appropriate for a new year too…

Please have a look at Cathy’s vase this week, over at Rambling in the Garden who hosts IAVOM, as well as contributions from gardeners around the world.

My Mother’s Garden – frosty December 2017

I’ve written a few times about my mother‘s garden, she’s lived in the house since it was built in the 1970s – there’s many happy memories of food, paying games and relaxing in the garden with the family. My mum is the gardener in the family, my Dad mostly dug holes for plants, mowed the lawn and grew herbs. I get my love of gardening from my Mum.

The soil is clay so that’s why much grows in pots and a North facing garden just like ours in Salford. There’s usually a great many fuchsias in pots on the terrace – as usual they’re living in the garage over the winter (there’s a window). My Mum has a gardener to do the heavy work, and pruning now, as she’s been retired along time.  My Chap and I do get roped in when we are visiting though.

2 January 2018 – frosty Berkshire garden (including Dogwood)

2017 into 2018

We had a very quiet Hogmanay, it’s been a very tough year with loss, health troubles, especially my osteoarthritis, but I’m on the mend now and am much more myself. But 2017 was the Best of Times too. I married the love of my life 🙂

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Happiness – one week & five things that helped #3

The weather took a major turn for the worse this week (12-19 May 2017) – it’s hurled down for most of the week, the garden certainly needed it – everything was really parched. But, all the rain meant I didn’t get into the garden much, let alone anywhere else. I’ve also been feeling very tired, and arthritis pain is high.  However, I’m continuning to note down activities, people and things that make me happy or I’m grateful for.

As ever, major thanks to Suzy from who hosts this weekly gratitude link up.  I think she’ll recognise the lighthouse, as she lives around the corner from me 🙂 Also to Emma from who inspired me to blog and also writes regular posts on Happiness.  Thank you ladies. One of the things, I love about blogging is meeting (usually virtual) new friends, finding a community and developing a network of people all around the world. I’ve been very grateful for them all these last couple of years.

Here are five things that helped bring me happiness this week:

1. Hen Do arrangements 

Officially, according to tradition (recent tradition, mind you), I shouldn’t be organising my own hen do – but I am.  It’s because I have friends from various parts of my life work, locals, friends from uni, women’s institute and friends I met for random reasons over the last 30 years. My two UK bridesmaids have a lot on in their lives at the moment. One lives in London and is doing a Masters. The other is local to me in Lancashire, but she has a very hectic family life, busy life and her own 25th wedding anniversary do to arrange.   I thought I’d get the ball rolling so I asked everyone what they might want to do… So I’ve done a survey – I want to give people a chance to get to know each other, potter around Manchester, and also have some fun.  No dressing up, no tackiness, no clubbing (I’m too nackered). I am quite sure an Afternoon Tea will be involved 🙂

2. A visit to Salford Angels Women’s Institute 

I’ve been a member of Cottonopolis WI (since it started in January 2015), we meet in Ancoats, just north of Manchester city centre, on the first Wednesday of the month (7.30pm). Do come along if you’re a local. There’s always cake 🙂

I’ve written a few times about WI means to me; the fun, camping, adventures and excellent meetings and speakers – it’s most definitely not jam and Jerusalem – it’s been a campaigning organisation since its inception in 1915, lobbying for equal pay, The WI were founding members of both the ‘fair trade’ and ‘Keep Britain Tidy’.

One of the great things about all the new WI’s around Great Manchester is we do lots of joint activities and people attend other WI meetings – so I know ladies all over the city.  So on Thursday I went off to see the Salford Angels and had a lovely evening, with plenty of cake.

3. A walk around our neighbourhood – Monton in Salford

My Chap and I went for a walk around the neighbourhood after we’d had our tea. It’s something we do often in the summer evenings. We have a good look at all the flowers and plants in front gardens, noticing plants for our garden.  It was lovely to chat about this and that, nothing complicated or heavy, just a good chat and a laugh or two.

We are lucky to live in Monton, in Salford. It’s very green place, the Bridgewater Canal is at the end of my street, Worsley Woods are a mile, or so away, and there’s a couple of golf courses (not that we play – but there are many footpaths).  There’s even a parkrun at the end of our street.

It has a lighthouse that’s 30 miles from the North Sea (it’s really a garden shed) – just another reason why Monton is a bit quirky.

Red and white lighthouse, with two canal barges by the Bridgewater Canal

19 May 2017 – the lighthouse by the Bridgewater Canal, at Monton, Salford -30 miles from the sea!

4. Lunch with my pal C

I had a great time catching up with my good pal, hearing all her news and discussing my news – it really lifted my spirits. She’s a good listener. I’ve known C for over 12 years, we shared an office at work. She’s an IT geek and I’m not 🙂 Our birthdays are a couple of days apart, we usually go out to celebrate our birthdays, involving cocktails. Annual trips to Manchester Christmas markets, days out to Dunham Massey. Shes part of the Cottonopolis WI posse too – and obviously, she and her husband will be at our wedding in September.

5. My Gardening magazines arrived

If you’re a regular reader of this blog, you’ll know I love our garden and gardening.  Ive been a bit lax about take part in In a Vase on Monday recently, but I’ve got my eye on some margarites for next week. Bloggers get involved from all around the world. Their beautiful flowers lift my mood when I’m feeling low. This link hosted by Cathy at:

This week my Gardeners’ World and Royal Horticultural Society Magazine arrived. I’ve spent quite a bit of time looking through deciding what we might plant, or if money and space were available. The Gardeners’  World is very accessible for beginner gardeners like me, the RHS one helps with plant pests, plants that might suit our shady, north facing soggy back garden – and Latin plant names too.

We’ve been to RHS Tatton Park garden show most years (we are going again this year), but I only got around to joining RHS last year.  I can’t tell you how excited I am that the 5th RHS garden Bridgewater will be a mile or so from our house up the canal (hence it’s name). It’s great for Salford in so many ways, not least employment and training. Watch this space, as it develops – work has started, it opens in 2019 – the plants need time to grow 🙂

What have you been grateful for this week?

Carpe Diem

Love Bec xxx

This weekly gratitude post covers:

  • Week 3 – Friday 12 May – Thursday 19 May 2017

Happiness – one week and five things that helped #2

It’s been glorious weather for most of the week here in Manchester, I’ve managed to get out in the garden every day, even if it was just to water things.  It’s been bone dry and both our waterbutts are empty.  I could, of course, show you a picture of plants in my garden, as that always makes me happy.  Likewise, My Chap lights up my life :-). But, this would be a bit of a cop out for a weekly gratitude post, so I think I’ll feature them on special occasions only.

I was inspired to write a weekly gratitude post by:

  • Suzy – – she had a new nephew arrive this week how exciting 🙂 – her latest post on five things happiness is here

1. Choosing music for our wedding  

Four CDs and a note book with a green and gold dotty cover

12 May 2017 – choosing music for our digital playlist – plenty of indie classics 

We aren’t having a DJ at our wedding, instead we are going to have a digital playlist. We spent a happy Saturday night in listening to tunes old and new – and thank goodness for digital download sites.  We’re going to have lots of different playlists for different parts of the day. They’ll definitely going to reflect our somewhat ‘eclectic’ music tastes.  Lots of indie classics too.

2. Lost a stone 

Blue one stone slimming world award and book

12 May 2017 – slimming world one stone award and book

Given everything that’s been happening since Christmas, I’m really pleased to have managed to lose some weight, without going nuts on a silly diet.  I’m fortunate to go to supportive groups and have a great consultant who’s a really good cook. Ive got no number in my mind, just to fit into smaller jeans, help my arthritis pain and not look frumpy in my wedding dress. Onwards and downwards 🙂

3. Rock and Roll Bride magazine arrived 

Rock and roll bride magazines - blue haired and pink haired ladies

12 May 2017 – Rock and Roll Bride magazines

As I mentioned before ours is a very unconventional wedding, I was a bit lost looking for inspiration in the wedding magazines – all stick thin, 20-somethings with huge flouncy, sparkly, strapless, ivory flocks – and everything very expensive. None of it was what My Chap and I wanted for our day.  We had very clear ideas about what we wanted, and what we didn’t, but didn’t know how to find suppliers apart from trawling the Internet…

Then I spied a magazine front with a lady in a gold dress and her husband in tweed – both with plenty of tattoos – so I found Rock and Roll Bride – a blog, and the ‘most’ supportive Facebook group – lovely, helpful and kind people.  Diversity at its best 🙂

So I would say Have the wedding you and your partner want 🙂 Although, it’s a lot easier when you’re paying for everything yourselves 🙂

4. A barbecue at a friend’s house 

Fire pit made from a washing machine

17 May 2017 – fire pit made from a washing machine drum

My Chap and I went to a lovely barbecue/house warming at friends we know from mountain biking and running. My Chap ran man v mountain with the chap last year and has mountain biked with them all over the Lake District, Pennines and Peak District. Ive eaten alot of cake and gone on plenty of walks in beautiful locations.  We caught up with lots of friends which was lovely.  The host M is a very handy, he made the firepit from an old washing machine drum.

5. New shoes – my first ever Irregular Choice 

Irregular Choice shoe box

17 May 2017 – my first ever pair of Irregular Choice shoes – for my wedding

I’ve bought my first ever pair of Irregular Choice shoes – no sneaky peeks as they’re for my wedding outfit. They are absolutely beautiful and so comfortable.  I don’t really do heels either so these are perfect. My Chap loves them and encouraged me to buy another pair for ‘going out’ 🙂 This could be an expensive passtime.

How has your week been? And what have you been grateful for?

Carpe Diem

Love Bec xxx

This post covers week Friday 5th May to Thursday 11th May – next week I’m hoping to be more prompt with posting – Thank you, as ever, to Suzy for hosting the link up –