Friday 30 August 2019

Walking in Sunshine

I know I've mentioned previously that I haven't  spent as much time as I'd have liked walking in the Lakes this year. Frustratingly, reasonable weather conditions never seem to coincide with time off work and school. Walking on the fells in wind and rain is definitely not my idea of fun and, if I'm putting in some effort, I do at least like to be rewarded with a half decent view from the summit. So you can imagine how excited I was to discover we would have several days of beautiful sunshine and warm weather to fill over the Bank Holiday weekend.


I've been building up a little folder of walks I'd like to complete, so I already knew of route which, hopefully, wouldn't prove too strenuous given the hot weather.
On Sunday morning, starting from the lovely little village of Braithwaite, we followed a clear pathway up and over Stile End, which was a straightforward but very steep climb. Then from Barrow Door we climbed Barrow, where we stopped a little way beyond the summit (and the flying ants!) for some chocolate. All I can say is thank goodness for ice packs, because without one we would have been drinking it. It was so hot! The heather is in flower at the moment and the fells looked absolutely stunning against the blue of the sky. There was barely a breeze, even on the summits and I was glad we had chosen an early start for our walk, as by the time we returned to the village it was beginning to get very hot indeed. Thankfully we were able to enjoy our picnic lunch sat beneath the shade of a large oak tree.

Following a more restful day on Monday, by the following morning we were raring to go again. This time we went up Great Mell fell, just north of Ullswater. Around a year and a half ago Lily and I climbed up Little Mell Fell, while we were camping in the area (blog post here), where you can see Great Mell Fell in the distance (last photograph).
This was such a lovely walk and the gentle climb belied the height we were to eventually reach at the summit, where we ate our lunch enjoying the glorious views over to Blencathra and beyond. The fell itself is scattered with pines and larches which adds to it's character, the lower slopes swathed in bracken. Slightly away from the more popular fells meant it was so very quiet  there and a far cry from the walk we had  experienced two days earlier.

The sunny weather meant we were really able to make the most of our weekend and has made me even more determined to make the most of any opportunity to get out on the fells again.
And look! One of our sunflowers has finally opened up. 🌻🌻🌻

J. X

Wednesday 21 August 2019

A Change in the Air

As much as I adore the summer and hold on to the season for as long as I possibly can, even I must concede that this last week has brought with it some much cooler mornings and it has become noticeable that the nights are drawing in.
The air feels damp. Those long, hot sunny days, which seemed to go on forever, are behind us now and there are little signs of autumn creeping in everywhere I look. Rowan berries are putting on a colourful display, the hedgerows are providing an abundance of blackberries and elderberries are changing colour by the day.

Our raised bed has provided us with some kale, cauliflower and brocolli and although we have shared much of our produce with some rather hungry caterpillars, we've not minded as it has been a delight to see so many butterflies around this summer.

At this time of year my thoughts naturally turn to the colder months and the pattern of our days becomes more apparent, as I discover them echoing those of past years. Gathering blackberries, beginning to make preparations for the beginning of a new school year and finding ourselves enjoying the same walks on the exact same day we'd enjoyed them twelve months earlier. Funny how that happens, but there is a comfort in this familiar constancy to our lives.
So far our Summer break this year has been much quieter than I originally anticipated. I had planned for lots of adventures and, of course, we have been dictated to by the unpredictable weather to an extent, but in all honesty, aside from our holiday, we've been quite happy to spend much of our time close to home and possibly enjoyed a far more relaxed time as a result. It has also enabled me to keep on with the decluttering and tidying, which is still very much a work in progress, but I'm beginning to see results now, which feels very satisfying.

In the kitchen I've been making soup, pickling beetroot, preparing blackberry vodka and cooking up home grown cauliflower cheese. It's a time of year when I am quite happy to be spending my time cooking. Anticipating dishes of wholesome, comfort food. Quite a contrast from the light and simple meals we've been enjoying lately.
We are still waiting for Lily's birthday sunflowers 🌻 to open up but I'm sure they will be out to delight us any day now. And as the forecast appears to be promising us some warm sunny weather this weekend, perhaps summer is not over for us just yet.
J. X

Wednesday 14 August 2019

Summer Holiday

It's been a little while, but its all good. I've been on my holidays!
I love to get away at this time of year but the idea of dealing with busy airports and the stress of travelling in peak summer holiday time  is something I prefer to avoid (at least while Lily is so young). Having enjoyed such a wonderful time on the Isle of Arran a couple of years ago now, I thought it would be fun to discover what it would be like on Mull.

The Isle of Mull lies a little way off the west coast of Scotland and is a short ferry ride from the mainland port of Oban. Following a looong drive and a quick dash around the supermarket for the week's supplies and to fill the car up, we were able to sit back with a coffee and enjoy the beautiful scenery during our forty minute ferry journey. It was a lovely, clear day and a very pleasant crossing.
Our arrival at the cottage was reassuring, with everything even better than expected. Lily was delighted with her bedroom, especially the beach hut pictures on her duvet cover, and there were plenty of toys supplied, so there was no need to unpack any of her own. Unexpected treats were the view from the back of the cottage, which looked over towards the Islands of Rum, Muck and Eigg and, most memorably, the Tunnock's teacakes in the welcome pack!

We had such a relaxing week and there was so much on the island to enjoy, although mainly we would spend our days quite simply. Lunch would be a picnic, which meant we could stop wherever we were and take in the beautiful scenery. The rest of the day would be spent exploring, with dinner back at the cottage in an evening, the one exception being when we indulged in some delicious fish and chips from the pier in Tobermory.

For us, the main highlight had to be the beaches. Stretches of white sand lapped by crystal clear waters. Shells to collect, sandcastles to make and rockpools to explore. Unsurprisingly, much of our time was spent barefoot. Most evenings were spent walking by the shore at Calgary Bay, Lily in a desperate hurry to run into the sea. 

We went walking through the forests, saw some stunning waterfalls and a sculpture trail. We sat and watched seals down near the harbour by the cottage. We visited a cheese farm and met some gorgeous newborn calves, some pigs and goats. 

Another highlight of our time on Mull was meeting The Tobermory Cat. Which one, I'm not quite sure, but he certainly lived up to his reputation. 🐱🐱🐱

We had a wonderful time on Mull. All the sea air and time outdoors meant we slept really well and returned home feeling relaxed, wishing to return, and just a little bit shocked at how the weather has suddenly turned so much cooler! I'm also trying not think about the amount of sand I have yet to vacuum from the car.

J. X