Kestrel perched in the a tree in Coxley near a couple of Wood Pigeons; it was instantly distinguishable from them, even in at a distance, by its distinctive silhouette; a cross between a juggler's club and banana-shaped.

WE ENJOYED dipping into a couple of hampers that friends and family had bought us for Christmas and although it was a welcome treat to indulge in the selection of pork pies, patés and home-made chocolates, the result was that we ended up a few pounds over our target weight by the time the new year arrived. And we can’t just blame the hampers; we’d been slipping a bit in our healthy eating ever since our holiday in Switzerland last summer. Whatever the reason, new year seems like the right time to make a fresh start.

We’ve been going for food with fewer calories, for instance soups and a kind of rustic stew of seasonal vegetables made with a dash of Worcestershire Sauce but we’re also determined to get out a bit more and burn up a few calories in the process.

Hazel catkins had opened where the path from Thornhill comes down to Mill Bank lock on the canal.

Walking can burn somewhere between 100 and 175 calories per hours so on our 1 hour 40 minute walk to Thornhill Park and back this morning we burnt a good 150 calories or more – which I guess was about equivalent to the muesli etc that we ate for breakfast!

However, if we’d sat around all morning, we wouldn’t even have burnt off our breakfast.

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