Thursday, 11 April 2019

Spring Days

The arrival of some gorgeous spring weather has coincided beautifully with our Easter holidays. It is so good to have some time at home to rest and re-charge,  as I feel as though I've barely stopped since the beginning of the year. Windows have been opened wide and the whole house is flooded with fresh air and much needed sunlight - the fact that it shows up all the dust is not lost on me!

Without any plans for our time off, I've been slowly working through all those chores which get overlooked during the regular working week and making some progress with clearing out and spring cleaning. Even these small jobs are making me happy, however - a clean and tidy wardrobe, a mess free dining room (not for long)  and an organised cutlery drawer. I feel ill at ease with clutter and being disorganised so, although this wouldn't be everyone's idea of fun, for me it's baby steps towards creating a more simplified way of living. So far, I've been cherry picking the simple jobs. Those achievable little tweaks which allow me to quickly see a difference, in the hope it will spur me on to more considerable tasks. I would love to be one of those people who can go all out with spring cleaning but, for me, a gradual approach is more befitting.

My tidying has extended into the garden. The grass has been cut several times now and I've seen off most of the weeds - there are always those one or two that get missed the first time around. I've trimmed back some of the plants, swept up and generally made it look a bit more presentable. Sadly, the shed is on it's last legs but I'm hopeful it might just see the year out. The weathered planter has been sanded down and given two fresh coats of wood stain. With the addition of a new lining I think it will last a while longer. This afternoon Lily helped me fill it with some violas - a pretty and inexpensive way to add a bit of colour to our little outdoor space.

Of course, the intention was never to be spending all our time at home and, when the weather is this good, we like to get out and have some fun. On Monday we packed up a picnic and took a trip out to a nature reserve by the sea. It was a beautiful sunny day and we enjoyed a walk around the coast, watching the seals playing in the shallows, while an abundance of gulls and oystercatchers gathered on the shoreline. The gorse is in full flower now and really stands out against the blue of the sky.

As usual, we've been walking through the woods. The, as yet, bare trees still allowing for the sunlight to stream through to reach the woodland floor. It is such a vibrant shade of green and is growing apace, I expect it won't be long until it is covered with bluebells.  It makes a pleasant change not to be trudging through the mud now, as the ground appears to be drying out, at last.

Each morning this week, Lily has been going swimming. She loves it when we go swimming together but I thought it a good idea for her to try some proper lessons. She has been practising different strokes, swimming through hoops and, most importantly, having a lot of fun. She has taken to it so well and just this morning was given her 15m certificate. I'm so very proud of her.

J. X

Thursday, 4 April 2019

A Gentle Stroll

Although we have recently enjoyed some warm spring sunshine, the last few days have seen a swift return to wintry weather, with bitterly cold winds and snow on higher ground. I'm really hoping it will be short-lived, as surely it must be time to pack away my winter woollies and boots now. The garden is still to be tackled and I'm longing for the day I can sit out there with my morning coffee, enjoying the (yet to be planted) flowers.

At the weekend, we wrapped ourselves up nice and warm and went for a walk through a beautiful nature reserve. It was a bright, still morning and I'm sure the changing of the clocks had something to do with how quiet it was there, as it felt as though we had the whole place to ourselves.
The pathway through the reserve is built on a disused railway line, so it made quite a refreshing change for us to be walking somewhere without any hills. It was lovely to see signs of spring all around; primroses lined the track and the lambs in the fields seemed very keen to make us aware of their presence from the amount of noise they were making.

There was plenty of nature on offer, including rabbits, deer, red squirrels and woodpeckers. In places we could hear the beck babbling far down below the track, but couldn't actually see it until we reached the viaduct because of all the trees which lined the steep slopes of the gill. The views from the viaduct were stunning and from there we could clearly see the slight detour we were to make on our return. A few miles into our walk we found this lovely Shetland pony lying right across our path. She was one of three and the other two, at least, looked as if they were heavily pregnant. They appeared to be very well cared for and were happy to receive lots of our attention.

Turning away from the main footpath we joined a public bridleway, crossing a small stone bridge over to the opposite side of the river. Here we followed the track back around to the far end of the viaduct where we re-joined the footpath once more. A good spot for a rest, we sat a while and ate our picnic before retracing our steps back towards the farm where we first began our walk.

J. X

Wednesday, 27 March 2019

First Weekend in Spring

Along with a change in circumstances (and a good dose of sea air!) I am in no doubt my feelings of positivity have greatly increased with the much needed arrival of spring. The false start at the end of February had been a wonderful surprise and, although it was really far too early for such balmy temperatures, it only served to intensify my longing for warmer days and outdoor adventures.

It is the time of year when the garden appears in a hurry to wake from it's winter sleep. Things are growing at an alarming rate,  although,  if the weeds would care to take their time, then that would be more than fine with me.  The grass has now had it's first cut of the season and we are thinking about what to plant out there this year. Definitely sweet peas (me) and definitely a pumpkin (Lily) and always sunflowers. As yet, I'm undecided about anything else but I do know I would much prefer a low maintenance approach this year. I love spending time in the garden but I am, by no means, naturally green fingered.

On Saturday we took a walk around Grasmere. We were up bright and early, which is no longer a chore seeing as the mornings are getting lighter and we are treated to a regular dawn chorus. This meant we were able to enjoy a quiet walk along the lake shore from Grasmere village to the lower end of Loughrigg Fell. It is a favourite walk of ours and is an ideal place for a spot of paddling or a picnic. Not on this day, however, it was much too chilly. Although I did lose track of the amount of times I had to remind Lily to keep out of the water. Even though there is a perfectly good path, she insisted on walking right next to the water's edge and, more often than not, right in it! Thank goodness for decent walking boots, as her feet remained warm and dry the whole time we were out.

On Sunday we went for a walk in the nearby woods. Again, it was lovely and quiet and it was clear to see the woodland floor coming back to life, with Wood Anemones and Wild Garlic in abundance and it is obvious it won't be long before the Bluebells will be making an appearance. We stopped by the pond and had a good long look at the frog spawn, which we will enjoy watching change and grow over the next few weeks, but the main reason for our visit was to gather some of the Wild Garlic. It wasn't difficult as the fresh young shoots were plentiful and, with my little helper, we soon had enough to fill our small bag.  Once home, it was quickly turned into the most delicious, fresh tasting pesto, which we enjoyed simply, stirred through fresh pasta and topped with a sprinkling of cheese. If you have never tried it before I would definitely recommend it. The recipe I use is here.
J. X