In Search Of Heathcliff

Yes, that one…

Today we went to Penistone Hill in Yorkshire to do our Bronte walk. The sun was out, and although it is still winter here it was a glorious day with highs of 13c. I parked 1.4 miles away from the Bronte Parsonage and headed towards Bronte Bridge and Falls. I had not been here for just over 21 years, so it was nice to visit it again, although I have been to Haworth many times in the past 10 years.

Our Route
Heather on the Moorlands
Bronte Bridge Approach
Bronte Bridge
Marker stone after the bridge was rebuilt after being destroyed by floods
This is NOT Top Withens obviously, just an old farmhouse that we passed on the hike.

Wuthering Heights Inn was a lovely pub that we stopped at for lunch. They are dog-friendly which was really nice, they provided us with dog treats, bowls of fresh water and a warm welcome. M had a hot beef and gravy sandwich with thick chips. I decided to have a dirty burger which was a half pounder with cheese, pulled pork and chilli mayo, side of salad with sweet balsamic dressing, fries and onion rings. Needless to say, it was rather delicious and was washed down with a pint of bitter shandy. Mazikee and Harper helped eat the chips.

Our view whilst having lunch
Me and Mazikeen – as usual by my side with a stick.
Me with Harper watching the sheep
Mazikeen now locked on to the sheep. She was doing a very low growl, then howling at them which was very funny to watch.
Looking for Heathcliff
The Reservoir

All in all, it was a lovely day, I am slightly burned from the sun and wind, mostly the wild and windy moor. Alas, we never found Heathcliff or Cathy or managed to get to Top Withens, but will go that way next time. All told I hiked 6.5 miles with the girls. Mazikeen probably did about 12 miles or more as she was off lead and ran about everywhere, leaping into every muddy puddle, stream, and the waterfalls. I kept Harper on her lead as she is a bugger for taking off on her own adventures.

Not too sure where we will hike next Saturday weather permitting that is, but I am looking forward to more adventures.

Reading Challenge – Feb

As you will know, and if you don’t, take yourself off to a darkened room and a laptop and read my blog, god-damn-it. Only kidding! I set myself a challenge of 30 books to read this year, so far I have managed 6 and I am part way through far too many to mention, but here are the ones I have managed to read up to now.

Sequel to SCOUSE GOTHIC. Gothic/fantasy thriller set in present-day Liverpool. 
The same characters from Scouse Gothic return and find that their pasts and present continue to become further intertwined. Vampires and mortal co-exist and discover that the boundaries between friends and family, good and evil becomes even more blurred. 
Included are maps of Liverpool marked with references to the text, illustrations and recipes based on characters and events in the story.


Based on interviews that were conducted with Holocaust survivor and Auschwitz-Birkenau tattooist Ludwig (Lale) Sokolov—a love story in the midst of atrocity.

In April 1942, Lale Sokolov, a Slovakian Jew, is forcibly transported to the concentration camps at Auschwitz-Birkenau. When his captors discover that he speaks several languages, he is put to work as a Tätowierer (the German word for tattooist), tasked with permanently marking his fellow prisoners.

Imprisoned for over two and a half years, Lale witnesses horrific atrocities and barbarism—but also incredible acts of bravery and compassion. Risking his own life, he uses his privileged position to exchange jewels and money from murdered Jews for food to keep his fellow prisoners alive.

One day in July 1942, Lale, prisoner 32407, comforts a trembling young woman waiting in line to have the number 34902 tattooed onto her arm. Her name is Gita, and in that first encounter, Lale vows to somehow survive the camp and marry her.


Life can be difficult – even when you’re dead. 

Lathom lies awake. His nights are plagued by nightmares and his days by hallucinations and cravings for blood. Worse still he’s stone cold sober all the time – immortality has its drawbacks. 
Melville has decided to put his past behind him and live for the future – unfortunately, his past has other ideas. 
Peter is worried that his research might create human vampires – and also that he may already know one. 
Frank ponders how to make an omelette without breaking your favourite egg. 
And Sheryl wonders if it’s unnatural for vampires to live together. Perhaps, love isn’t all you need – perhaps all you need is blood.


A new edition of one of the best-selling and best-loved books of recent years, with a new introduction by the author. The publication of Wild Swans in 1991 was a worldwide phenomenon. Not only did it become the best-selling non-fiction book in British publishing history, with sales of well over two million, but it was also received with unanimous critical acclaim, and was named the winner of the 1992 NCR Book Award and the 1993 British Book of the Year Award. Few books have ever had such an impact on their readers. Through the story of three generations of women — grandmother, mother and daughter — Wild Swans tells nothing less than the whole tumultuous history of China’s tragic twentieth century, from sword-bearing warlords to Chairman Mao, from the Manchu Empire to the Cultural Revolution. At times terrifying, at times astonishing, always deeply moving, Wild Swans is a book in a million, a true story with all the passion and grandeur of a great novel. For this new edition, Jung Chang has written a new introduction, bringing her own story up to date, and describing the effect Wild Swans’ success has had on her life.


The Pope is dead.

Behind the locked doors of the Sistine Chapel, one hundred and eighteen cardinals from all over the globe will cast their votes in the world’s most secretive election.

They are holy men. But they have ambition. And they have rivals.

Over the next seventy-two hours, one of them will become the most powerful spiritual figure on earth.


From the ocean, it rose.

Every fourteen months it appears on a secluded beach in a small town just before dawn.

One morning during his daily run to the beach, Danny Lynch witnesses the strangest and most incredible thing he’s ever seen.

A dark, man-like figure emerges from the ocean, stands for just a few moments on the beach, and then retreats back to the surf.

Danny’s perspective on the world changes in an instant, and as the only eyewitness to this event, his mission now is to convince anyone who will listen that what he saw was real.

But with only a vague photo and a dubious story, that task is proving almost impossible, and his only hope may be in finding a mysterious woman who was at the beach earlier that morning, and who may hold the terrifying secret that could cost Danny his life.

What did Danny see? And why is he in danger?


So far so good with my challenge, and I am three books ahead of schedule. One of the current books I am halfway through is Warlight by Michael Ondaatje, set in the decade after WWII. It is a little odd, but enjoyable. I read some reviews and it really does divide the readers, some find it a ramble of thoughts, but I cannot see what they are moaning about, it is written like a memoir, so it will ramble, but there are correlations throughout. I loved The English Patient, both book and film, and when I saw this was was drawn to it. It was in my shopping cart for weeks on end, as I thought it would drop in price, and in the end, I yielded to its allure. Then again, any book in a book shop has a big allure.

I love the feel and smell of a book, especially brand new ones, and very old ones that have a heady lived-in smell. I am sure that if you like your books like me you will understand my ramblings. If heaven exists, then for me it would have to be an enormous library with comfy sofas, good coffee and deafening silence. Void of screaming children, people, mobile phones, or any distraction from the words in the books. Oh! and an automatic food bar, so I could eat too. Maybe a knitting section with an abundance of yarn and patterns, after all, I would need some form of exercise LOL. But this is heaven so I would not have to worry about exercise really or getting fat etc., as that is all sorted out on arrival. So there it is my heaven, a place to read, knit, drink coffee and eat without getting fat. Fingers crossed I am right!

Dietary Adventures in Narnia

I know, Narnia indeed! But, it would seem like I have stepped into the blessed snowbound place. Why? Well, it would seem that sticking to my diet I have been able to eat really nice things and keep under my calorie count. I decided that it should be around the 1200 mark, with a margin (of error?) taking me to 1500 if I am being a bad boy.

I have cut out milk, which was a shock to the system as I quite literally, live for milk, cannot get enough of it, and tend to drink many pints a day of the lovely creamy full-fat milk. If I have unpasteurised milk, or raw as our American friends call it, I can drink a hell of a lot more, oh, then there is sterilised which is my all time favourite from when I was a kid.

Anyway, I have been keeping track of all that I consume, and I have tried my best to increase my intake of water. I am a bugger for not drinking water, and this is due to the amount of coffee and tea I drink on a daily basis. I am still not drinking enough water if I am honest, but it is a lot more than I have done in the past.

I started at the beginning of the year at 14 stone 7 pounds. I am broad shouldered so carry the weight quite well, but I need to shift my gut. At least I still have a 32″ waist and this has never increased for the past 25 or more years. After weighing myself I have managed to lose a stone (14lb) so far, but there is still a need for lots of improvement. I have been bad the last few days, so back on the diet again and try as I may to avoid the sinner’s delights of cake and sweets (candy).

Both M and I have ended up with colds, so they do say that you have to feed a cold, so that was my excuse to eat cake, ice cream and other delights. The world is too full of nice things, so I don’t mind sinning from time to time, after all, what is life without a little whimsy?

Very Fishy

I finally finished both my large tanks and I have to say I am very happy with it all. The first tank video is in the hall next to our spiral staircase. I have just changed the lighting to full spectrum lights that are automatic, so they do the full sunrise, sunset and thunderstorms. Mostly large fish in this tank, and some odd buggers including horse head loaches. I also managed to get two dolphin fish after my last one died due to the large catfish, which have now got their own tank. The second video is of the lounge tank, this one is full of livebearers, snails and various shrimp including a large Cameroon.

Hall Tank
Lounge Tank

Aquarium – Part 1

Complete…

Today I planted out the tank with 11 plants, treated the water again with biological bacteria that will help stabilise the tank, help the plants utilise light, water, and nutrients from the fertiliser I add each day. This products also helps the breakdown of waste and nitrates. Once this was done I added 10 of my fish to the tank and left it there for a few hours. Again after a few hours added another 10, then finally this evening I transferred the final 10, 30 in total.

List of Fish

  • 2 x synodontis catfish
  • 1 x bala shark
  • 1 x tiger barb
  • 2 x tiger loach
  • 1 x weather loach
  • 2 x angelfish
  • 1 x pleco
  • 1 x blue dolphin
  • 2 x blue gourami
  • 2 x dwarf gourami
  • 2 x kissing gourami
  • 3 x sunset gourami
  • 2 x pearl gourami
  • 3 x cory
  • 1 x silver dollar
  • 2 x golden panchax
  • 2 x rainbow fish

Now that is done, I have turned off the heater, lights and the 2 reef wave makers to the old thanks and on Thursday I will drain it and start the cleaning process in order to get it ready for starting a marine tank. Although I know that the cleaning will take a good few weeks to ensure everything is spotless and free of any residue from the previous set up. Thankfully I have an aqua vacuum which means that side is easy enough, but the buildup of algae especially in the weir will be a tough part to clean. If you have never seen a weir, it is a closed off part of the tank at the back that water flows into before leaving the tank to flow through the sump tank and back up into the main tank. As mentioned I have had to leave the pump and air pump running as I do not fancy the water turning stagnant before I can empty and clean it.

I have 2 electric blue acara’s on order and with luck, I can collect them this weekend. Once they are in I do not think that I will be adding any more to it. Unless I can find something really special. I did fancy a disc fish, but they need a very quiet and peaceful tank. I also found freshwater stingrays, but apart from them starting at £300 and ranging up to £1200, they need very different tank mates, so that is out. I may put a snail or two in the tank as mentioned mine are breeding, so that would be a good relocation move. Although I would rather have my apple snails breed as they get rather big, and would suit the tank.

Tropical

Today I decided to pop to one of the reliable aquatic shops and look at tanks and was looking at a nice tank, but the sales guy Graham told me of another tank that was £50 more, but it was bigger, the filter heater and lighting was better, and all round a better-looking tank. I had a good look and it was rather stunning, so threw caution to the wind and bought it. I could have gone for shaped tanks, corner tanks, and orb ones, but decided to stay traditional.



I built the cabinet this afternoon, placed the tank on it and added the river sand, but need to get more for it as 10 kilos does not cover much. Everything is in position, so tomorrow I will go back and get some more river sand and 100 litres of RO water, then when home mix with another 100 litres of tap water, then leave all the equipment to run for a few weeks until it has fully cycled and all the levels are perfect. When this happens, I will remove about 20 litres of water and add 20 from my current tank to the new one, and let cycle for a few days and then move all the fish over.

Once this is all done then the hard work starts with the old tank. I will need to do a full clean of both the tank and the glass sump, get rid of all the stones install plastic “egg box” grid to support the rock features, add ocean sand, live rock, RO water, and more equipment. I also need to replace all the sump media too so it will not be cheap, but when it is done it should be stunning. I estimate it will take about 4 to 6 months to get it perfect, but I am more than happy to go slow, get it right, and most importantly no lose any livestock, anemonies or coral.

Once I have transferred the fish to the new tank I will post some photos, and of course, write about my experience of building a reef tank.