Category: Ducks


I’ve posted several times about the wooden ducks we have collected over the years. We like to dress them up for special occasions like Easter and Christmas and for national events like royals occasions and to support the various England teams. The guy who used to sell them at the Manchester markets has given it up to open a new business in Wrexham, north Wales, selling model planes and cars and the like that you can make up yourself.

You can still find the ducks though. We spotted these beautifully painted ones at The Hollies farm shop where we went for the gin tasting a few nights ago.

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And these we saw, upscaled and up-priced ones, at a flower show in Chorley (more posts soon about that) that we went to yesterday. They are cool but I prefer the unadorned ones we have that we can dress up.

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It was so hot in the city yesterday that it was nice to get out and visit the Warrington office on Birchwood Park. It was hot in Warrington as well of course, but it seemed less oppressive out there where the office blocks are set in parkland with wildflower meadows and small woodlands surrounding a lake. I got there about lunchtime and lots of the people were enjoying their food alfresco on the lawns about the lake. I took some pictures.

This plant is called Birds-Foot Trefoil. It’s a member of the pea family. Theses yellow flowers are very similar to the ones you see on pea vines. They provide food for the little, not so common now, Common Blue butterflies.

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After parking up I walked past this fountain. I took the pictures with my iPhone. Real photographers might ‘tut’ at me using an iPhone camera but I find the quality of pictures is fine for what I need. I like the way it has caught the falling water.

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I’m not keen on Rhodedendrons for reasons I went into a few posts back, but I did like the apricot/peach colour of the flowers on this one on Birchwood Park.

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The offices are mostly high tech with companies like Rolls Royce having offices here. The U.K. Nuclear industry also have their HQ on the park. I had to go to one of the newer offices. The buildings are quite simple in design but the landscaping really sets them off. There’s a long lawn running the length of the offices and that is divided by a canal, maybe it’s a rill, running down the centre. At the end there is a chromed sculpture that leads your eye to the top of the canal/rill.  It’s all a very nicely done development.

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Some ducks had abandoned the water for the relative shade on the lawn so hot was the day. 

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Some Pink Campion wildflowers growing on the edge of one of the little woodland areas.

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And I did like a lot the little, highend bird houses for upscale wild birds that live at Birchwood Park.

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And while I was at the Maker’s Market in West Didsbury I spotted these wooden ducks. They are the same as ours but have been painted up so that they can be sold at a premium price in places like Didsbury. They are very nice but I like our plain ones that we can dress up ourselves as and when we need to.

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I’ve been working from home for part of the day. Always a tricky one. The neighbours are having building work on such a scale that it seems to be affecting  the entire immediate neighbourhood, if not physically, but with the noise. And I can always find little jobs that need doing before I can settle to ‘work’ work. And the weather is so warm and sunny it’s been tempting to wander into the garden and see how it’s doing.

This pot of bulbs got shunted into a corner last year after flowering and were forgotten. Usually they would be planted up with summer flowers. But when I came across it this morning last year’s bulbs, some Narcissi and some tulips, had come into flower. I tidied up the pot and here it is looking wonderful.

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Shrubs usually come back of course. And this Spirea, Bridal Veil, was also looking wonderful.

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Last year, a pair of ducks took up residence in our area. They were not at all worried by the people or cars and wandered from garden to garden looking for tasty morsels to eat. Then they disappeared. But this morning, unless it’s another pair, they were back. Here they are poking about in the grass on the lawn for whatever ducks like to eat in the grass. They were happy for me to get close and posed for my camera on my iPhone.

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We like to have fun with our wooden ducks. They started out as garden decorations but have migrated to the warmth of a centrally heated house several years ago. They are quite happy inside now. On special occasions we like to dress them up. So here they are all ready for Easter. Wishing all my readers a Happy Easter. Go easy on the chocolate eggs…

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We have spent most of the time since Christmas Eve holed up at home eating festive treats. Cabin fever has set in so we decided to go for a walk to blow away the cobwebs and wake us up a bit. Working hard can be tiring but nothing like the tiredness you get from giving yourself up to pleasure for four days. I fasted some before Christmas and lost a bit of weight, most of which has been put back on in the last few days, but at least I don’t have to beat myself up over it as I’m back to my ideal weight for a guy my height and age. Sorry to be irritating about that but I just ate sensibly before Christmas and the weight just fell off. I have never had much trouble controlling my weight. Eat well and exercise and there’s not much to it.

The Boxing Day snow is still lingering where it fell as the temperatures haven’t got above freezing at all since then. The skies are clear and blue and, at this time of the year in the UK, that means cold.

We wrapped up warm and headed for the Forest Park, a local park popular with dog walkers with a huge grassy expanse where people play football on Sunday mornings. I was warm in my wool/cashmere coat, scarf and gloves but regretted wearing my flat cap as the frost was getting to my ears. Note to self….take wool hat next time.

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This is Mary of ‘Mary had a little lamb’ fame looking out across the cricket pitch for her lost sheep. In the best tradition of a Christmas pantomime, altogether now….’He’s behind you!!!’

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From there we went to the Science Park and did a loop by the Atomic Energy buildings, past the pond and then back by the Fujitsu Campus. A weird place for a walk you might think but it is a pleasant one. The offices are set out in parkland with little bits of woodland along the paths. There’s a lot of wildlife in the area. It was all very quiet with the car parks almost deserted and the offices closed until after New Year, possibly until next Monday. We like to enjoy a long winter break in the UK. I liked the white bark of these Silver Birch trees, lit up by the winter sun against the blue of the sky.

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We headed to the pond on the edge of the huge central lawn. In summer people like to sit out here and eat lunch. I did a panorama.

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The pond was frozen at one end but the fountain at the other end kept the water open so the resident population of ducks had somewhere to swim. It looked cold for them. I didn’t envy them at all.

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I thought the ducks, all Mallards, the males with their iridescent emerald heads and the females in their drab browns, would be there so I made up a packet of bread for them so they could have something to eat. They are quite tame as they are used to people and like to share their lunches with them. I soon had an enthusiastic group of them enjoying the bread. Some in the water were having trouble getting out across the little ice shelf that had appeared on the edge of the pond so I threw some in for them.

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I was intrigued by the snowflakes that someone had gone to the trouble of stencilling onto the paving stones of the path.

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Just before we got home I spotted Santa, a snowman and two reindeer, one was Rudolf, having a beer and a cigarette outside a house. Apparently Mrs. Santa Claus hates the smell of tobacco smoke inside her home.

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We’ve been busy decking our halls for the festive season and that means getting the ducks ready for Christmas. Here they are, all festive and be-scarfed (I think I just invented a verb there) and ready for Christmas and the cold weather…

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I was pleased to find that the guy who sells wooden ducks was at the Christmas Markets in his usual spot on Brazennose Street, just off Albert Square. Every time I mention this street it reminds me to try and find the origin of its name. It’s such an unusual one. So far I’ve had no luck though. But back to the duck guy. I’d realised it was last Christmas since I’d seen him and his ducks. Sometimes I’d see him at the markets in Piccadilly Gardens, not one of my favourite parts of the city and I try to avoid it. But on the odd occasion I’d been through the area and a market was on, he wasn’t there. Nor had he turned up at any of the markets in the more salubrious areas of the city like St. Ann’s Square which I do frequent a lot.

It’s not good news. After 10 years of selling his ducks he has decided to give it up. He’s opening a model shop in Wrexham in North Wales and this is the last time he will be selling the ducks at any of the markets. I’m sad about this. Regular readers of this blog will know that we have a lot of fun with the ducks we have bought from him, dressing them up for various celebrations that we have. Other people have appreciated them as presents as well. All good things come to an end I suppose.

Some final pictures of the last of the ducks at the Christmas Markets…

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On the news they have just said that Halloween is the most celebrated holiday in the UK after Christmas and Easter. The supermarkets and other stores that trade in Halloween paraphernalia have reported a 2000% increase in business since 2000. It seems that all those American suburban family movies and TV programmes that feature Halloween have had an effect. Commercial considerations aside, I like Halloween. I’ve decorated the ducks for Halloween again. I think they look cool.

HAPPY HALLOWEEN TO ALL MY READERS!

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The ducks haven’t had much to celebrate of late and have been looking forward to celebrating something big since 2012 when they had the London Olympics and the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee to keep them occupied. As the Queen doesn’t seem to be doing much these days that needs a flag waving at, they have joined the rest of the country and are supporting Ing-er-land in their campaign at the World Cup in Brazil.

So here they are all dressed in the red and white of the Cross of St George. They’ve got the beers in, in the shape of some specially designed gold Budweiser bottles in the shape of the Jules Remy trophy which all 32 teams in Brazil are hoping to raise at the end of the tournament.

The flowers, at first, don’t look to fit in with the theme. But ASDA came up with this bouquet of yellow, green and blue flowers inspired by the Brazilian flag.

England’s first game against Italy in the Arena da Amazonia in Manaus, deep in the Amazonian rainforest, tomorrow night at the ridiculously late start of 2300! I will be in bed well before that. If the ducks are up watching it and are on the beer I hope they don’t get too rowdy. I have to be up early for work…

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