Some leave time has been really welcome. A great start was Fiona and Chris coming over on Good Friday. Obviously I ate a chocolate egg on Easter Sunday but a long walk might have helped negate it’s effects! I gave Hector some nice beers instead of choccies!
On Tuesday I went over to see Sis and we visited Mum. It was pretty chilly and lots of snow was newly fallen on the hills. I didn’t feel much like walking or gardening because both my hip and my right thumb were pretty damn painful. Mum looked well and seemed really happy to see Rosie.
On Wednesday I had another lovely long walk, but there was heavy rain later.
I got this shot of the – what we are now calling the ‘terrace’ and like the result.
I put some pots out onto the terrace and with a rug on the chair to sit on it was a lovely place to spend a couple of hours.
I saw some neighbours and got some things done Thursday and Friday and also had another lovely long walk with Rosie (just 3 miles) and dropped in on Jane in the village on the way back.
The blossom on the trees in the garden and churchyard are wonderful at the moment and I have loved having plenty of time to get the garden ready for late Spring and early Summer; transplanting self-seeded aquilegia and mints.
On Saturday Frank and Kate dropped by and Kate and I went into town so I could place my first ever bookies bet on the Grand National. Now that I see that 2 horses died during it I won’t be doing it again. One of the ones that died was one I had backed which hasn’t made me feel to good.
Later a nice girl, another Kate, I’ve met a couple of times at networking and marketing events came over. She’s a wonderful portrait photographer and we planned to share techniques by spending some time in the church for portraits and then later to Castlerigg Stone Circle where we shared my landscape inspirations. Kate’s first baby is due really soon so we didn’t walk far at all! After learning some of her skills I think I’ve taken the best portraits I have taken to date… and I hope I can improve some more.
Castlerigg was freezing but we stayed a while and I loved sharing the photography with her. I look forward to seeing her shots.
I love this shot – very incongruously dressed Janapese tourists….
On my last day off we were meant to be going to watch some rugby with Chris and Fiona but the match was called off. We gardened and Hector tidied up the garage instead. I had found two one-gallon Greek Olive Oil tins at the recycling area and brought them home. He took the tops off and drilled drainage holes in the bases, and when I’d cleaned them I planted some strawberry plants in them.
Beaten – did the pub quiz with Adele and Ray. Lots of fun and as ever a really good time with them. We didn’t win – but it doesn’t matter.
Busy – village magazine to finish and get to printers.
Blonde – dyed my hair. I’m happier blonde. Took quite well I think. I like it.
Business – very hectic at work. Had a trip down to the Midlands to visit our big 2 day Conference venue – that I found and booked – and it went well. 300 delegates will attend 2 nights and 2 days in the Autumn with en-suite accommodation, workshops, seminars, master classes, dinner, quiz, keynotes, speakers and multi trade stands. Its a real feat of organisation and I LOVE doing it.
Boggy – weather damp and mild. Not much by the way of a walk with Rosie. Hope for fine weekend weather and some nice mini expeditions.
Birthday – Clare’s birthday this week and she and Jane both came to visit me at the office. Glad to show them where I work and to give Clare her pressie.
Best - We went to see The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel. It was delicious!!!! The perfect feel good film. I want to be Judy Dench sitting side saddle on a little scooter nipping around Jaipur streets my arm around a diffident Bill Nighy.
Thats what a weekend is about!
Saturday some shopping and some treats from the exquisite Booths store thats recently opened in town. Like our very own Fortnam and Mason! I stocked up on bird food for the feeders in the garden – yikes. £35!!!
Later Frank and Kate called around because Kate is going back to Somerset this weekend. Nice coffee and chat.
I took Rosie a little walk at Eden Hall.
Sunday dawned bright and clear but very cold.Hector had suggested we go out and decided against a trip on the Settle-Carlisle railway and to head off for a walk somewhere not too far away. I’d always wanted to visit Gelt Woods so we went there.
There was a children MotoX meeting on the opposite hill so it wasn’t a tranquil as it might have been but it was a quiet enough when we got higher up.
Just when I feel fitter these days for a longer walk my flipping’ arthritic hip scuppers a long walk and we curtailed it less than 1/4 of the way around. Am hoping its just a glitch and eases off. Like Hector says – I am walking all ‘wonky’.
Its a walk in the footsteps of border raiders, with ancient woodland, a railway viaduct, a red sandstone gorge, a Roman quarry and a wild magical river.
Most of the woodland in the vicinity of the river Gelt has been designated a Site of Special Scientific Interest. The woods are an important example of gorge woodland of a type peculiar to northern Cumbria and parts of Scotland, with a rich mix of native trees including sessile oak, hairy and silver birch, rowan, holly and hazel. Some areas were clear felled after the Second World War and planted up with larch, Scots pine and other conifers.
The name Gelt may have derived from an Irish word meaning ‘wild’, brought to the area via Ireland by migrating Norse settlers, but it could also be a variation of the Gaelic word ‘galt’ meaning ‘magic’. Rising in the Pennines above Castle Carrock there is, perhaps, something about the river Gelt’s journey through this rocky landscape that is both wild and magical.
A really nice Saturday – gardening, housey stuff, quiet supper and I had a 2.5 miles walk with Rosie just before sunset.
Then for Sunday, Hector had the wonderful idea of using our Dales Rail cards and taking a day excursion on the Settle to Carlisle line. They let you take dogs so we took Rosie for her first train ride.
We got the train to Ribblehead (in the Yorkshire Dales) before 10 in thick morning mist and by the time we were above Kirkby Stephen it had cleared to glorious bright vivid sunshine. Rosie was fine – totally not bothered by being on a train. The guard on the train was wonderful, so funny and a Geordie. He insulted Rosie, insisted I should dye her pink and was clearly enjoying his job. I will remember him!
Ribblehead was cloudless. We walked to the wonderful viaduct and up past it onto Blea Moor. Rosie behaved really well and we followed the path up along the railway line back towards Dent which was easy going because there is a really good path. It winds up and down on the hills and passes the signal box at Blea Moor which has to be the most cut off signal box. There’s a house with it and Hector said he thought that the Dingles from Emmerdale lived there – he had a good point!
We kept going for an hour or so before turning back, retracing our path and ending up at the Station Inn – where we spent Hectors 50th birthday in 2010. We had a bite to eat, sat in the warm with a drink and let Rosie have a few snacks. The barmaid was really taken with her; she even asked her if she had been “on a choo choo!” Bless. Silly, charming and funny.
We wandered back up to the station, the train was on time and the guard the same as in the morning. The only 2 seats together were at the same table as and opposite the 2 most sour individuals you could meet. If looks could kill. Clearly they didn’t want anyone on their table, or they didn’t like dogs (though Rosie was on my lap, still, quiet and no problem at all) or we look dodgy – who knows. But they were dripping disdain so it wasn’t too long before we decided it more pleasant to stand up for the rest of the journey. While we were standing some young boisterous teenagers got on the train and shuffled off loudly looking for seats. We had hoped they would sit with the sourpuss two, but they didn’t. We’d have enjoyed that!
As the train got to within a couple of miles of home the mist had descended again and it was like a dream that we had been in such sun.
A very special day and one I will remember with a smiling heart.
Sunday: Lovely clear and still Autumn day so I dragged Hector out for some air and supposedly for a walk up to Aira Force (waterfall beside Ullswater) but the lake itself was so beautiful and so calm and heavenly that I got immersed (not literally) in it. My heart was full of simple joy just to be there.
Saturday: Nice weather. Good mood. Hector was at a meeting with others with our local MP to start a process to get good enough broadband in Cumbria. Don’t know how they can hope to achieve it for the entire county with a £10M budget, some communities will have to be left out?
As soon as he got home we had to dash out to go and see the miraculous-voiced Elkie Brooks concert. WHAT a woman! She has been in the business for 50 years and deserves every accolade. She is now 65, looks 45 (or less) and has a voice that could rip leather. Utterly stunning. Blues, jazz, rock. A band so tight they could snap a ships’ anchor chain. I was grinning like a fool when she did a cover of Familys’ “Burlesque” from the early 1970′s. Her voice and musical abilities knock sideways the whole X-Factor fame-seeking hype (when WILL people wake up to this garbage?)
Elkie did all the songs we’d expect of her “Pearls a Singer”, “Lilac Wine” et al. All with the power and voice precision that I wasn’t really expecting if I am honest. Her band did backing vocals too and were great.
This film is from 30 years ago…
We’ve had a nice weekend. Hector finished (almost) the long long project that was/is the building of the wooden log store. With Ross’s help he cleared away the red currant tree and tidied up the area in front of the garage. Its looking much better.
Sunday, and I decided it was about time we went out ‘n’ about so, thinking Ross might like something more interesting than just an amble by a lake or river or something, I suggested we went to Trotters Animal World near Keswick. As it turns out I got the most pleasure from it! John the keeper of the birds there did a wonderful display with a Harris Hawk called George III), a hunting Owl, a Tawny Eagle and a glorious Bald Eagle. It was excellent. Now I know what Sally and I have to do next for our girls trip out. A private hour or so trying the skills of hawking with John and then idle next door to Trotters to the exquisite Armathwaite Hall Hotel for tea. I love a plan.
As well as the birds we saw some delightful lemurs including a cuter than cute baby one. There were some gibbons (make me laugh every time), bison and buffalo, capibaras (bigger than a Labrador dog but the worlds largest rodent), some snoozing otters and a hut area with the most amazing Mandrills. The male was huge and spectacular. All in all I loved it – not sure about H and R! Have they got NO soul?
Its the shortest route home from the office in distance, and longest in time, but by far the most lovely. The road is breathtakingly beautiful all along the route.
This shot has been fiddled with – a false river-scape from the bridge at Lazonby.
32 hours : brewing : hills + dales : Ribblehead hair : ??? the butler : dinner : snow : epic scary episode
A magical mystery tour, two day, jaunt for Hector’s birthday and as we set off he had NO idea where we were going, nor that we were away for a night. Was it North or South on the M6 at the roundabout?
A first stop was Ingleton and a little look around, but everything was shut, including all the cafes where had wanted a cuppa. The sun – as it always seems to do for us – came out right on cue and made the views of Yorkshire stunning.
At the pub at the famous Ribblehead viaduct we had a hot chocolate and met an automated butler that I named… (surprisingly the landlady liked it and has, she says, adopted it) and a bumpy drive along the little track to park up under the viaduct itself where I braved the windy weather to take some shots. Snow-covered Ingleborough itself looked amazing in the bright sun. It was so windy that as I got back in the car we have a new term now for really messy hair – I had Ribblehead Hair.
H still didn’t know where we were headed….
Then off to Masham… a lovely town. The market square has an honesty box instead of a parking meter so it feels welcoming. There are REAL shops, proper butchers, grocers and sweet shops and has an air of friendly calm.
And, the main event for day one was a tour of the Black Sheep Theakston brewery at Masham. It was fascinating and afterwards we had a chance to pull our own pints and H took a shopping opportunity to stock up on bottled Black Sheep.
I fancied the barman…. so I took him back to a hotel!
Hector thought we were heading home but as we pulled into the car park of the Wensleydale Heifer the game was up and I had to tell him we were having dinner there and, indeed, staying over. I think the surprise was a success! I had booked the Black Sheep room – to fit in with the beer, brewery and general theme.
Its a ’boutique’ hotel and a tad of an extravagance. Our room had a wonderful deep roll-top bath and some luxurious toiletries so I took full advantage. The specialities of the hotel are seafood, but the whole menu is tempting. I had duck comfit with truffle mash and H had a HUGE piece of haddock in Black Sheep beer batter. We slept really well after a wonderful dinner. Hector bought me a bear that wears a jumper with the hotels logo – sweet.
After a perfect breakfast we set off for a day exploring, deciding not to have an itinerary and just bimble our way hoewards. We took a walk at Aysgarth Falls which were in roaring spate and running red-brown.
We were the only people on woodland walk by the river, which is also a conservation area for Dormice and there are little hibernation boxes for them on the trees. It was still and quiet except for the thundering river and birdsong and, further off from the river, the drip-drip of the trees thawing their ice in droplets.
A zig-zag drive up the scar above the Swale valley and into the next before stopping at Grinton to try the pub there (snack lunch) and a look at the Church (St Andrews) which is known as the ‘Cathedral of the Dales’.
Deciding to follow the high road into Cumbria we left Reeth behind and were treated to the best views that the Dales have to offer. Stunning. As we climbed towards the snow line the road was still absolutely clear so we kept going. We were lulled into a false sense of security. The views kept us rapt and I had to keep stopping to take photos. We must go back in May or June to see the area when the meadows are thick with wild summer flowers.
As we ascended over the snowy pass there were some strange and eerie clouds on the horizon…an omen?
At the exact border of Yorkshire with Cumbria – right at the top – the roads went from cleared to completely UNcleared and as we crested the hill it was too late to turn back as the back of the car swung and we ‘lost it’ at the brow of the steepest of hills where the road drops down steeply beside a ravine towards Nateby. VERY scary. H made me get out of the car and got ready to try to get down safely. It looked doomed to go all wrong…. I was truly terrified and felt sure that I’d see him career down the road and smash into the rocks or the drop into the ravine. Another car appeared on the road below and stopped, unable to negotiate the hill. He spotted our predicament, left his car, and waded through the snow up the hill towards us. He and H decided that there was no way we could get back up the hill so worked out the best way to try to get the car down the hill just as a 4×4 spotted us from above. Its driver (who had been up there paragliding) came to help too. H managed to straighten the car enough to get the drivers side wheels into the deep snow on the roadside and relied on the ABS to keep him steady as he inched his way down, slowly and carefully while I hardly dare look. When it looked like he’d make it safely the guy in the 4×4 drove me down the hill too – his well equipped off-roader making it seem so easy. I have to admit, we were both pretty shaken up at the time. We rounded off the two days with a wander to the pub and a quiet drink or three.
It was however, an AWFULLY BIG ADVENTURE and a really special and enjoyable two days. Its these occasions that we always remember and make us very happy. Dare I say – that it was romantic?
Lovely sunny weather, picnic in the magic-bag and a bimble about. First stop was the fantastic plastic-wrapped farmhouse. Is farming as we have always known it, all wrapped up? Wrapped in black plastic and bailer twine like a haystack, a whole farmhouse in the Eden Valley represents the plight of the hill farm.
Hector’s reflection in the all-wrapped-up plastic covered farmhouse at Sparrowmanwick. I love the way that his orange jacket matches the bailer twine and is framed in the tight constraining square.
FRED is a 16-day Art Invasion across the whole of Cumbria. Over 60 artists from across the UK and beyond take their art out into the big wide world in Europe’s largest event of its kind. From the beautiful west coast to the unspoilt hills of the Pennines, from the Solway Firth to Morecambe Bay, FRED is everywhere…in the hills and on the walls, in the towns and the villages, on the bus and on the train…
Then by winding routes and West across the county’s most gentle and lovely scenery to Hesket Newmarket and the Old Crown pub (the only village cooperatively owned pub in the UK). A video link to BARvarians at their own pub (in Bavaria). Pubs in Cumbria are twinned with counterparts in Bavaria through live video links. Pub-Twinning. Enjoy a pint with our Bavarian counterparts, transported into local pubs using a live webcam. Online regulars, propping up the bar 24 hours a day. FRED art at a pub, and the Crown at Hesket Newmarket at that! Weeeellll, what else could we do but stop off?!
FARMS IN PLASTIC…..PORCELAIN IN TREES…ROADSIDE PAINTINGS…RADIO SOUNDTRACK AT A LAKE….
Today we’re doing a tour of the FREDs (An Art Invasion Across Cumbria). Cant wait. We LOVED some acouple ofyears ago. The plastic multitudinous windmills on the shore of Ullswater in 2006 is one of my happiest memories. Even the weather looks like it might be quite good so I think that a picnic is in order too…and we just happen to have some nice French baguettes…..
outdoors Fi | 05 Aug 2008
A WONDERFUL day out to Crosby and St. Helens to see Gormley art. The sun came out and the Another Place figures at Crosby Beach were a delight.
Antony Gormley and Gormless! (a good pun but not true! Sorry He!), My very muddy and sandy toesies, One of the 100 in He’s woolly hat.
Then we went to St. Helens to see Gormley’s Field for the British Isles in its original home town. Its been a hugely inspirational artwork for me and has given me real pleasure and energy for sculpture. This is the pavement sign in St Helens to lead you to the Gormley thing.
outdoors Fi | 21 Jun 2008
We did it! By 4 am we were at Long Meg stone circle (with a couple of dozen other folks and a herd of cows – strategically placed there by the farmer who I imagine hopes they’ll put off solstice revelers!)
I’d had a few of hours in bed but He said that if he went to bed there would be not way he could get up at 3.30 for a sunrise – he didn’t quite get the whole spiritual summer solstice at standing stones thing – so it was above the call of duty to go with me!
It was a gorgeous, clear and bright morning and a delight to see the mist in the Eden Valley and the golden light.
The sunrise was lovely. Very lovely.
Mid-summer on Saturday and we’re planning to see the sun rise at Long Meg Stone Circle. OBVIOUSLY it depends on the weather! So, its up at 3.30 am! MAD!
Sunday – heading up to Gateshead Sage to see Eric Bibb in concert became a really good excursion. We set off early and up over Hartside pass and Alston,
….then over to Hexham and while He sat in the car I had a wander around Chesters Nursery and Walled Garden. GLORIOUS! It’s famous for its herbs, but its all lovely. The scent of the place is pure heaven and I came out floating on a cloud of floral well-being. I bought an antique cast iron calf feeder. Weirdness indeed but an interesting ‘thing’ for the garden.
Then a hop along the milltary road just north of the A69 and into Newcastle and Gateshead. We went to the Baltic (of course) and enjoyed bright afternoon sun, a walk over the Millennium Bridge and a drink on the quayside with a view over the Baltic, Sage and the multi-storey car park made iconic by the Michael Caine film Get Carter…..
….before going to the Sage to see Mr Bibb – who was, as ever, brilliant, though he forgot the words to a first song and then the electrics all went weird and it took a while to sort out. He graced our ears with lots of new material and all my favourites. He later introduced his daughter to join him on stage to sing. Lovely voice.
Our second May holiday. THANK YOU HECTOR!
May 2nd. Leaving kittens and Tootsie Mummy cat with friends who had a short break at our house, we were heading as far south as its possible to get in England – South Cornwall.
Friday A stay with Helene and Martin in Tixall. Super company and a lovely dinner. The perfect start to a holiday.
Saturday – the long haul down the M6, M5 and non-motorways that got us there. The journey down had some nice moments as dozens of brightly be-decked Mini’s, being driven by fancy-dressed clowns, were heading south too – to something called the Riv Run 2008. It looked an enormous amount of fun.
The Old Shipbrokers where we stayed is in Pentewan; a little village with a seafaring history and a really good beach in a little bay. To make matters more appealing our pink decorated and brass-bedded, room overlooked the sea and immediately below us the rooftop of the welcoming pub which served – according to Hector – a very tasty pint of ‘Tribute’ ale from St. Austell, so our first evening was spent at the Ship Inn emjoying hearty helpings of good food.
Sunday Day one. Mevagissey, just two miles away – weather not perfect. Murky. Had a wander around and explored the harbour.
The mist came down so we decided to go to the big hole in the ground that is the Eden Project. The plants in the biodomes are very interesting; the large tropical, rain forest and African areas especially. My favourite was the temperate biodome with the wonderfully re-created Mediterranean areas. Such colours and flowers….and scents. We even had a little ride up the hill in the tractor pulled train. I couldn’t get photos in the tropical biodome – it was so humid the lens badly misted up….
Monday A short drive to the North Cornwall coast and Port Isaac. Again a bit murky but we had a couple of hours in this pretty harbour town, and walked up out from the steep streets onto the South Coast coastal path and along the cliffs. The car park in this tiny-streeted town is the beach – clever use of flat ground but clamping is the least of your problems if you overstay your ticket – your car could be engulfed by the incoming tide! After that we headed to Port Gaverne where He had identified a good pub (from the trusty Good Pub Guide that is always on hand for all our excursions!) It was indeed a good pub with really friendly host and the little beach opposite was perfect for an ankle-deep paddle and delve into rock pools. It wasn’t far then to Tintagel and a stumbling walk down the steep path to the magical cove and the eerie atmosphere of the place. I don’t do heights so chickened out from the walkway over the rocks on the cliffs. Its a bit touristy with a cafe and visitor centre at the cove, but you can’t blame them for that.
I was determined to have fish and chips in a harbour so we went home via Fowey and eventually found a chippy, but its not the friendliest town we ever visited (it can join Shaftesbury and Tewkesbury in that) so we didn’t wait around too long. Good fish though!
Tuesday – Summer is here and we decided on a quiet day. So we went only a couple of hundred yards and spent the day on the beach at Pentewan – very pleasant and a chance to read and paddle and snooze and, as it turned out, get a serious dose of sunburn (me not He). I should’ve been more careful. Extremely sore legs, face and chest (didn’t sleep much that night – painful to move). We opted to drive into St. Austell for Pizza Hut take-away to eat in the guest house garden.
Wednesday The much-looked-forward-to trip to The Lost Gardens of Heligan. Its apt that Heligan is an anagram of ‘healing’. It was bliss and the weather fabulous. There were bluebells under banana trees, rhododendrons in full flower, an Italian Garden that was so beautiful it brought a tear to the eye, meadows and jungle, a woodland walk under mature trees with bluebells everywhere, walled vegetable gardens, a peaceful and immaculate Sundial Garden. Bliss. bliss, bliss. I was left brimming with calm pleasure and new ideas to take to our little enclosed yard and front garden. There was a reception going on on Floras Lawn and the Duke of Kent was around – lots of be-suited and overly-hatted folks sipping champagne and tea. I bought a couple of plants to take home as a memory of our day at these mysterious and beautiful gardens and as a little bit of Heligan to keep and nurture.
Thursday – our last day. Not very warm and sunny, but dry. I wanted to travel on the King Harry Ferry across the Fal tidal inlet near St. Maws. Its one of only a handful of working ferries traveling by means of chains. Just beyond that we had a lovely walk around part of the perimeter of the Trelissick gardens. We went back via the hidden tiny village of Ruan Lanihorne and the Kings Head (another from the Good Beer Guide) where I had a superb glass of wine and He had a most acceptable beer.
Then to the Nare Hotel near Veryan for afternoon tea in the Quarterdeck Restaurant after a little walk onto the vast sandy beach under the low cliffs. Tasty but WAY too much food So much in fact we cancelled our planned last night dinner at an Indian Restaurant.
Friday – we set off for home at 930. The 440 miles should take about 7 hours with a couple of stops, but the M5 was a car park in places as was the M6. He wouldn’t play I-Spy so for something to do I texted BBC Radio 2 and joined in with a Jeremy Vine piece and he read it out and after a stop for lunch at a lovely pub in Prestbury (Cheltenahm) called the Kings Arms we hit the road again and when Chris Evans came on the radio I texted him too and he read it out. Two on BBC Radio 2 in one day.
Hear the Vine one here …. and the Evans one here…..
A long awaited trip to Falkirk to the wheel. A bit of a hike made all the longer on the way up due to my (somewhat rare) hangover and several service stops – but a well worthwhile trip up to Falkirk to take a good look at, and have a go in, the extremely clever Falkirk Wheel. An amazing structure. I’ve always had a thing about canals and their boats.
Now for the techy bit…!
The Millennium Link was an ambitious £84.5m project with the objective of restoring navigability across Scotland on the historic Forth & Clyde Canal and the Union Canal, providing a corridor of regenerative activity through central Scotland.
The various parts of The Falkirk Wheel were actually constructed and assembled, like one giant Meccano set, at Butterley Engineering’s Steelworks in Derbyshire. A team there carefully assembled the 1,200 tonnes of steel, painstakingly fitting the pieces together to an accuracy of just 10 mm to ensure a perfect final fit.
The Falkirk Wheel lies at the end of a reinforced concrete aqueduct that connects, via the Roughcastle tunnel and a double staircase lock, to the Union Canal. Boats entering the Wheel’s upper gondola are lowered, along with the water that they float in, to the basin below. At the same time, an equal weight rises up, lifted in the other gondola. This works on the Archimedes principle of displacement. That is, the mass of the boat sailing into the gondola will displace an exactly proportional volume of water so that the final combination of ‘boat plus water’ balances the original total mass.
outdoors Fi | 11 Mar 2008