Sunday 23 June 2019

Summer Solstice

For me, the first day of summer was one of quiet contentment. One of those days when life just feels good, that if I could I would re-live it all over again.

The day began as usual, but once work and chores were out of the way I spent much of the afternoon in the garden. The morning's cloud cover had disappeared, giving way to a gloriously clear blue sky and once I had planted out Lily's birthday sunflowers, I sat for a while and enjoyed some elderflower cordial in the bright sunshine. I wasn't alone for long, however, as I suddenly felt a familiar nudge against my leg - Mog had crept out of the house to join me following her long morning sleep, quickly jumping up onto the table expecting a fuss. She can be incredibly gentle and affectionate when she chooses to be. You would never think that recently she generously gifted us ten mice in just over three days. Ten!!!

Our strawberries have begun to ripen now and they looked so very tempting to me but, at her insistence, I left them for Lily to pick when she arrived home from school. And they were definitely worth the wait, so very sweet and delicious. 

In the evening I went for a run along the canal towpath,  through the fields and out past the village. The air was still incredibly warm at this time. The track, bordered with an abundance of wildflowers, welcomed bees and butterflies, with the sound of crickets in the long grass breaking the quiet.

Even later that evening, my friend and I went for a walk up Gummer's How, overlooking Windermere. We chatted, drank coffee and laughed a lot as the air turned chilly, the light began to fade and we watched the sun set on the longest day of the year.

J. X

Monday 17 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


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