Tuesday 30 October 2018

Late October

Our half term break passed by rather quickly, and since the clocks went back at the weekend, the shorter days are a reminder that we are now heading towards the end of the year. This morning we woke to frost in the fields, but accompanied with bright sunshine and a clear blue sky, it has been a beautiful autumn day. And as if I didn't need another reminder about how fast the days are going, Lily returned home from school this afternoon with a Christmas card order form. I know I'm going to have to get organised in that department, but it just feels a little too soon right now. I'm enjoying autumn and I'm in no hurry to rush the season.
I'm actually relishing the darker evenings. Being able to draw the curtains and shut ourselves away is really appealing to my slothful side. A form of hibernation. I'm changing into my pyjamas earlier and earlier each night.

The trees are rapidly dropping their leaves now and we've had great fun this weekend walking in a nearby deer park and kicking up leaves. The squirrels were playing a great game of hide and seek and the deer themselves blending into the background amongst the trees. The fresh country air helping to stave off the beginnings of a cold that has been threatening for the last week or so, and which I would much rather do without.

Our week at home was largely uneventful. There were health appointments to be kept, the car went for it's MOT and the gas boiler was serviced. We enjoyed some walks out, trips to the park and generally frittered our time away. We usually go away for October half term, so this was quite a contrast for us, but I quite enjoyed the more leisurely approach. The highlight of the week, however, was meeting up with Suzanne from Snapshots of Number 38. We spent a lovely few hours chatting together while Lily played in the park and enjoyed a walk along the seafront, followed by lunch. Suzanne very kindly gifted Lily some books and colouring pens in a beautifully stitched holder, along with some chocolate and stickers. They have been well used already Suzanne, and as you can imagine, the chocolate didn't last long at all. Thank you, again. I do hope you enjoy the reciprocal pebble and feather. 😆

This week, our cosy evenings have been enhanced by the warm glow from our carved pumpkin, or, as Lily would say, 'punkin'. This one has been for our enjoyment alone, but we have two more to carve, in order to welcome any trick or treater's which may be heading our way on Hallowe'en. Although we don't have any tricks,  only treats.
J. X

Wednesday 17 October 2018

After the Storm

At the end of last week, with the threat of the incoming storm and high winds, I made sure I prepared the garden, securing the planters and moving the potted trees to more sheltered positions. And thank goodness I did. 
The rain began late on Friday and continued during the night. It rained and rained. We planned to hunker down on the Saturday morning, then Lily had a party to attend that afternoon. The rain continued and the wind picked up a pace. It wasn't until after we'd set off that we realised  how heavy the rain was, when we saw just how high the river had risen. Large tree branches were being washed along with ease and the water was already over the bank in places. 
With a seventeen mile journey ahead of us, we had already checked the road reports before setting off and were hopeful that as long as the rain eased, then everything would be fine, but the further we went, the worse the weather became, so with the roads rapidly turning into small rivers and local businesses beginning to put up their flood barriers, we made the decision to turn around and return home. Naturally, Lily was disappointed, but it wasn't worth the risk. Even if we had managed to get there, with the state of the roads, there would be a strong chance we wouldn't have made it back again.

As is often the way in these parts, the following day could not have been more different. With hardly a breath of wind and the sun shining (along with the desperate need to get some fresh air following the previous day of being holed up indoors), we pulled on our wellies and set off for the woods to immerse ourselves in some seasonal colour.
The sunny weather made for a beautifully warm afternoon, although the ground was covered with leaves and sticks and it was clear from some of the pathways where the stream had washed out the day before, a line of silt and twigs indicating the water level at it's highest. The ground was still very waterlogged, with a huge puddle having appeared in the woodland clearing which, of course Lily discovered first,  much to her great delight. 

There was plenty of leaf kicking, acorn gathering and prodding at various fungi with sticks,  then as we emerged from the woods, the difference between the two days couldn't have been more apparent, as we spotted a hot air balloon on the horizon.
As always, it was lovely to see the cheery display of pumpkins on sale at the farm shop, although I resisted buying one for the time being. Maybe next week.

J. X

Monday 8 October 2018

Autumn Colour

Autumn is marching on apace, and the surrounding landscape is quickly turning an array of russet and gold as the trees prepare for the winter months. It is the season at it's best and Mother Nature certainly knows how to put on a wonderful display.  Last weekend saw a sudden drop in temperature here, but following an early morning frost, the days were mainly bright and clear, if a bit breezy.
Naturally, the woods were calling to us, so we put on our wellies and made our way through the open fields towards the sheltered canopy of the trees.

Besides the wind rustling up above, it was so quiet in there, any sounds muffled by the damp carpet of leaves and moss on the woodland floor. Every now and again we stopped to look at some weird looking fungi, a particularly attractive leaf - me, or stick - Lily. And we were also on the lookout for some Hazelnuts, which we did manage to find and will plant soon. In previous year's we have gathered conkers and acorns on our autumn walks, which have since grown well in the garden. We might even have our own little forest before long.

The following day we headed into the Lakes, to Brothers Water. The strong wind saw clouds race across the sky, with leaves showering down upon us like confetti. We were relieved to be wrapped up well against the cold, and after a short walk along the length of the shore, soon returned to the shelter of the van for a picnic lunch, but not before we had passed two very brave ladies who had just returned from a swim in the lake! At this point my hands were beginning to feel very cold, as I had removed my gloves, which had been left smelling less than sweet after a meeting with a very persistent and friendly  farm dog.
Thankfully, our return home took us right by the National Trust cafe at Aira Force, where instead of taking any more photographs, I happily warmed my hands around a mug of delicious hot chocolate.
J. X

Monday 1 October 2018

A Busy Weekend

Although autumn officially arrived last week, these last few days it has become much more apparent. When I step outdoors, it now looks, feels and smells like autumn. That cold, damp earthy smell that only occurs at this time of year, occasionally tinged with the faint aroma of wood smoke from a burning fire. The air feels much fresher now, and just this morning I was scraping frost from the car windscreen. The walk to school is paved with fallen leaves and acorns.

This last weekend we have been busy. Good busy. And it has been such a heartening change from spending our time catching up with chores which have been missed during the working week.

On Friday, with the promise of a calm, clear evening, we made a last minute decision to go to Blackpool to see the Illuminations. It's been a few years since our last visit and it's been on my list of things to do for a while now. We parked at Bispham, and after a delicious meal of fish and chips (and a glass of wine for me!), the sun had already set, the Illuminations had been switched on, and we made our way through the colourful lights and tableau displays towards the Tower and Central Pier. As luck would have it, we arrived just in time to see the World Firework Championships, so we made ourselves comfortable and watched as the sky was lit up with a spectacular display set to music.

Expecting to be a little weary from the previous evening, we hadn't made any plans for Saturday, but the temptation of a walk in the fresh air was too much, so a picnic was packed and we set off once more, towards a nature reserve on the coast. It was very breezy down by the shore, the wind whipped at our hair,  and along with the constant roar of the waves, at times it was difficult to hear each other speak. We enjoyed some obligatory pebble throwing and climbing of  sand dunes and Lily managed to return home with a significant amount of sand in her pockets and boots. I should probably realise not to expect anything less by now. 

In contrast to all that sea air, on Sunday we made our way to Grasmere. A restorative finish to our weekend, it is always such a lovely place to visit and never fails  to provide the most beautiful backdrop for a walk . A gentle stroll by the lake followed by a warming lunch in our favourite cafe, with some seasonal hot apple and cinnamon to drink. The autumn colour in the landscape becoming much more obvious now, and the pathways through the woods are carpeted with leaves. We collected a few conkers from the side of the lane to add to our growing collection.

J. X