Sunday, 16 June 2019

I Love to Go a Wandering....

Between Monday and Friday each week my days are fairly predictable. I get up as soon as my alarm goes off, or when Lily wakes, whichever is earlier (usually Lily!). Then there is the usual hurried morning routine of breakfast, making Lily's lunch, and getting washed, dressed and out of the house in time for work and school.
At the weekend we try and do things a little differently. Although I don't bother setting the alarm, we are still usually awake bright and early, especially at this time of year with the lighter mornings. I don't mind as it gives us a head start. We enjoy a slightly more relaxed breakfast, I make up a lunch, then we get washed and dressed and out of the house, but this time for an adventure.
We are very fortunate in that there are so many great places available to explore right on our doorstep, and we like to make the most of this whenever we have the opportunity. Recently, however, we haven't really spent any time on the fells. In fact, I think the last one we climbed was Silver How back in January, so I'm hoping an improvement in the weather will see us getting out walking more often. Therefore, in a bid to ease ourselves in gently, last weekend I suggested a climb up Helm Crag. Helm Crag is one of the lower fells, just north of Grasmere, which is easily accessible and a reasonably short walk.



The pathway was quite steep in places, but there were plenty of opportunities to stop, catch our breath and admire the view. For the most part the weather was overcast, yet bright, although as you can see from the first photograph, there was a brief glimpse of blue sky. The track was lined with bracken and so many pink foxgloves which are in flower at the moment or, as Lily likes to call them, foxy gloves! Occasionally we would catch sight of some of the many sheep in amongst the bracken and we could clearly hear a  woodpecker somewhere in the trees down below us.
It was quite windy on the summit, so we didn't hang around too long and, after a quick scramble onto the Lion rock - the highest point - we instead chose to eat our picnic lunch on our descent to Far Easedale.





Before long we were back down in the valley making our return to the village, where we always make time for a visit to the park and a game of Poohsticks at the river. Also, I might just have bought some Grasmere Gingerbread as a treat for that evening. It was delicious. 😊




Although this weekend the weather has been very mixed, I was determined to get out and gather some elderflowers for this year's cordial making (recipe on sidebar), before I left it too late. Fortunately I timed it just right, as there is an abundance of delightfully fragranced flowers lining the hedgerows right now and, along with  a quiet walk through the woods and fields, it was a lovely way of spending our morning. And it was so quiet. I'm sure we had the whole woods to ourselves. We saw rabbits, squirrels and all kinds of mini beasts and flowers. Lily has a fascination with  all of these, especially at the moment, as we are participating in the Wildlife Trust's '30 Days Wild' nature challenge, which I will share more of later in the month.
In the meantime, if we could just have some sunny weather.....
 
J. X

Thursday, 6 June 2019

Sun-seeking


Our half-term week went by quickly but gave us a great opportunity to relax and unwind.
While much of the country was enjoying glorious sunshine and high temperatures, here in the North it has mainly been grey and damp. It was a different story by the coast, however, and so that is where we headed. A picnic packed, we took a short drive and were soon greeted with blue sky and a seemingly never-ending stretch of sand. The tide was out, there was a stiff breeze and we were glad of our jackets as we ambled along the shore by the waters edge. Walking across the beach instead of the pebbles felt much easier on our legs, as we weaved our way around the small channels of water, trying to avoid getting our feet wet.






We picnicked in a sheltered spot among the dunes and, of course, our visit would not have been complete without some scrambling. The sand was so soft that at times it seemed almost impossible to reach the top. It was exhausting but such good fun, and we managed to get sand everywhere! The views were worth it though. This is looking inland, across the nature reserve and you can clearly see where the cloud cover begins.


From midweek, the wet weather saw us entertaining ourselves at home. We've been reading, colouring and teaching ourselves how to play UNO. I even retrieved the Nintendo Wii from the dark depths of the TV unit. I'd forgotten how much fun it could be to play ten pin bowling in the living room, although it would appear that Lily is a complete natural and I don't stand any chance of winning!
We're back at school again now and the countdown to our summer break has begun. These next few weeks are going to be very busy as I hope to get my studying out of the way in time for summer. At least then the pressure will be off and I can concentrate on enjoying some long and (hopefully) sunny days.
J. X


Thursday, 30 May 2019

Lazy Days


Although it doesn't seem any time at all since the last half-term, I was more than ready for another break from the daily grind. This week it has been wonderful to be able to press the pause button, take some time to just 'be' and, for the most part, do very little.
Copious mugs of tea coupled with unhurried mornings have been well received and the change in routine this week has seen me feeling much more relaxed, my sleep pattern greatly improved and I have made further progress in making time for myself  much more of a priority.







A lot of our time has been spent just pootling outdoors. We've walked through  fields, woodlands and down by the river. Everywhere looks so lush and green, which is quite surprising, as until the last few days, the lack of rain had caused the farm pond and stream to completely dry out. The pathways are slowly disappearing beneath borders of cow parsley and fields are golden with buttercups.
The air is heady with the scent of blossom and pollen, and the hawthorn and blackthorn have been blowing from the trees, falling upon us like snow. I've been eyeing up the hedgerows for elderflowers in anticipation of this year's cordial making. It is still quite early but I expect I will be collecting some within the next few weeks. I think I might have left it a little late last year as I only just managed to find enough, so I'm aiming to be a little better prepared this time.





We received a lovely surprise on our walk to the bird hide one morning. We needed to pass through some sheep and, much to Lily's (and my) delight, we were approached by a lamb who couldn't get enough of being stroked and petted. It followed us the rest of the way through the field to the gate at the far end and I'm sure, had we not closed it quickly enough, that it would have gladly followed us all the way home. Now, although inquisitive, lambs are generally quite skittish by nature and stay close to mum when there are people around, so we assumed this one must have been hand reared. After stroking it some more through the fence, we reluctantly continued on our way, although I have a feeling we may make a return visit before school begins again next week.
J. X

Tuesday, 21 May 2019

Six



I do so love the month of May. The air is warm and sweet with the scent of blossom, the countryside has turned a vibrant shade of green and those long, lazy days of summer are just around the corner. Bluebells are beginning to fade, the woodland pathways are drying out in the warm sunshine and, to my great joy, more and more of our time is being spent outdoors.

Another reason for my fondness of this particular month is Lily's birthday. My amazing girl is now six! I can hardly believe it. It is now six whole years since this wonderful, sweet, happy little girl entered the world one sunny May morning and turned my life completely upside down - for the better, of course! She is such a delight and never ceases to make me smile every single day. She is growing and changing so quickly that I'm frightened to blink just in case I miss any of it, so I'm determined to stretch out every precious moment of her childhood. I just adore her zest for life, her love of the outdoors and her ability to win over just about anyone with a flash of her smile.






Lily's actual birthday was midweek, so the day itself was fairly ordinary. There was, however, an early start so she could open her cards and presents before school. The excitement for the day ahead proved useful in getting us out of bed that morning as we were tired, having spent the previous evening enjoying some pond dipping. Once the school day was over we went for a lovely swim, which was quickly followed by pizza and some delicious chocolate birthday cake.




At the weekend we celebrated fully with two hours of fun and mayhem for Lily and a group of friends at a nearby play centre. I'm not a huge fan of these types of places but there's no denying they serve a purpose and the staff looked after us really well. The children all thoroughly enjoyed themselves and, although she received so many presents, I think Lily took most pleasure from handing out the party bags at the end. 
J. X

Wednesday, 8 May 2019

Early May



I don't know about you but I'm beginning to get quite used to the occasional three day weekend. One each month would be rather lovely and I've actually convinced myself that this is all it would take for me to become more organised, get on top of everything and have a little time left over simply for fun.

Just recently, I've found myself becoming overwhelmed once again. I feel like I'm being pulled in several different directions at once and I'm finding it difficult to focus, achieve anything remotely productive and then struggling to switch off, my sleep patterns being reflective of this. This is resulting in me feeling lethargic and sluggish, which is never good. I know that I always feel better for some fresh air and exercise, so last weekend I had made sure the house was clean, the supermarket shop had been done, I baked some sticky lemon cake and flapjack, then having spent the whole of the last week studying, the books and laptop were placed out of sight and we ventured outdoors.







I hadn't realised just how much I was in need of the break. We followed the sun to the coast and it felt wonderful to breathe in the sea air and leave any unnecessary stresses behind. We walked along the shoreline to where the pebbles meet the sand and enjoyed a picnic, sheltered from the cool, sea breeze. We had fun running up and down the sand dunes and simply relaxed, watching as the tide came in.





Having set off early in the day, there was plenty of time for a trip to the park and a walk up a hill, past the café with it's beautiful display of wisteria, to the monument at the top. With it being such a bright, sunny day we chose to climb up to the viewing platform, which is accessed via a very steep, narrow, spiral staircase of 112 steps. I felt fine going up, but coming back down my legs felt wobbly. I discovered muscles I never knew I had and they've been aching ever since!




At least, on returning home, I could enjoy a lovely slice of homemade lemon cake with my mug of tea. I felt so much better for some fresh air and exercise. The overwhelming sensation of physical exhaustion was most welcome and strangely refreshing from having felt mentally fatigued.  I now realise the importance of factoring in more time like this, so  if anyone has any ideas on finding the elusive balance between work and play, or tips on becoming more organised generally, then I would genuinely love to hear them. X

Sunday, 28 April 2019

Bluebell Walk



On the final day of our holidays we chose to go for a walk close to home. It was a sensible decision, as we still had some preparations to make for the start of the new school term and just this once it felt satisfying to enjoy a leisurely early morning before leaving the house.

There is a lovely gentle walk through the fields, passing the edges of the village and out towards a small woodland which, at this time of year, is known locally for it's beautiful displays of bluebells. 
As has become our tradition at Easter time, we took a chocolate egg along with us to enjoy once we got there, although this was the first time I have needed to put it in a cool bag! It was a beautiful, warm and sunny morning, and I didn't want to chance it melting.





The spring flowers are out in abundance right now and I take great pleasure in helping Lily point out the ones she remembers easily, like wild garlic and violets, and some she needs a little prompting with, such as sunshines (celandines) and woodland enemies (woodland anemones). Although, I think I much prefer Lily's names for them.

Having been a while since our last visit,  I hadn't realised just what a treat we had in store for us once we reached the woods. I had been hopeful of a plentiful display and to my great delight I wasn't disappointed. There were bluebells in every direction and the air was filled with their delicate, sweet scent. The sun shining through the trees really showed them off at their very best as we followed the pathway further along through the trees, so that we ended up surrounded by a carpet of blue.








No matter how many photographs I took - and I took A LOT! - I still didn't manage to capture just how stunning the bluebells really were, but I hope you agree they were definitely worth a trip to the woods that day and a post of their very own.
J. X

Wednesday, 24 April 2019

Holiday Weekend








As is always the way, the holidays have been and gone in the blink of an eye and I feel like I'm playing catch up once again - but I'm not complaining, we've had such a wonderful time. The first week was spent mainly on Lily's daily swimming lessons, catching up with chores in the house and garden, and the occasional afternoon out. The second week was a little more relaxed but, as the weather continued to improve towards the weekend, we decided to really make the most of it before our return to work and school.

Last Friday we took a trip to Piel Island, which is just a short ferry ride from Roa Island, on the Furness Peninsula. It was a beautiful day and a little busier than usual with everyone out enjoying the sunshine, so we had to wait until the ferry's third run before we could reach the island - the ferry is a small boat which can only take a maximum of twelve passengers at a time. The water was lovely and calm so it was a gentle crossing and once on the island we found a peaceful spot where we could sit by the shore to enjoy a picnic lunch and collect some shells before exploring the castle ruins.

The following day, at Lily's request, we went to a 'real beach.' In other words, one with sand! Another gorgeous day filled with paddling, a picnic and sandcastles. It was delightfully warm and sunny. Looking out from the shore, the sea appeared to almost merge with the sky and, of course, Lily made some sand angels. In the evening we made chocolate egg nests, which were completely delicious and, funnily enough, didn't stay around for very long.








On Sunday morning, following an earlier than anticipated egg hunt in the garden - 6.45a.m.! - we set off for another visit to the nature reserve.  We arrived quite early so it was still lovely and quiet - just the sound of the sheep and the birds. Even the sound of the water from the beck wasn't as obvious as on our previous visit, due to a lack of recent rainfall. Another lovely day out and even better when there was my home made brocolli quiche to come home to. The warmer weather has seen a definite change to the food we are eating and it feels good to be preparing lighter, healthier meals.




Finally, on Monday we stayed close to home and took a walk through the fields to the nearby woods. I thought the Bluebells would be almost out, but as I hadn't been to these woods in a while, I wasn't sure. They are always so lovely, although I wasn't expecting them to be as stunning as this. I may have taken a few more photographs but I think these beautiful flowers deserve a post of their own.

J. X