Thursday 30 July 2020

Making Up for Lost Time

I cant believe it's been almost two weeks since I last posted here but now that the world is beginning to open up more and more, we've been making the most of every opportunity to get outdoors and to teach our legs how to walk uphill once again.

Our first walk was to Harrop Tarn. This is a short but steep climb up a narrow track through woodland, accessed from the shores of Thirlmere. It was lovely and quiet there and once past Dobgill Falls the view opened up onto the tarn where we sat and enjoyed our picnic lunch.
Although the day was quite overcast, the air was warm and still. On a clear day you would be able to see Helvellyn to the east beyond the bridge.

Our route continued on forest track alongside the tarn and back through the trees, down the hillside overlooking Thirlmere.  The fell on the right in the above photograph is Steel Fell, which we climbed the day before lockdown back in March. It feels such a long time ago now.

Time for a quick explore on the shore at Thirlmere before heading for home.

Our second walk up Latrigg was much more familiar, as we have climbed this many times now. This is a very popular little fell with visitors to Keswick, as after just a short climb you are rewarded with beautiful views over both Bassenthwaite and Derwentwater. I was aware that for this reason we would probably encounter many more people on this walk but it actually wasn't as busy as I had been expecting and there was more than enough space to pass everyone quite safely.

And this was the reason I wanted to come here. Some of you may remember my post of two years ago here.

I hope I can continue to do this for as long as possible.

While we were in the area I thought it would be a nice idea to climb Ling Fell. I had noticed this little dome shaped fell earlier in the year when we were walking up Sale Fell (photograph above) and decided it might be worthy of  a visit, and since Latrigg had only been a short walk we wouldn't have any problem in bagging another small summit the same day :)

On the way up. 'So very tired'. Don't be fooled, she can out-walk me any day and usually does.

View from the summit, overlooking Sale Fell with Bassenthwaite beyond.

We even made it to the sea again. A lovely walk around a nature reserve and a very happy time spent poking about in rockpools.

J. X

Saturday 18 July 2020

Hill Top

On Monday we finally got the opportunity to visit Hill Top, former home of Beatrix Potter and inspiration for many of her books. I had originally wanted to visit earlier in the year as it had been one of the school's topics for the spring term, but better late than never, and although we couldn't go into the house itself, we might at least be able to enjoy the garden while it was lovely and quiet.

We parked up on Windermere's  west shore and enjoyed a simple picnic lunch before walking up a short track to Claife Viewing Station, which suddenly appeared through the trees and offered beautiful views across the lake. The courtyard cafĂ© had recently re-opened, so it was here I was able to enjoy my first proper coffee since the beginning of lockdown, and it tasted oh-so-good.
From there we followed the signposts for Hill Top, which took us uphill along tracks, and lanes to reach Near Sawrey. At one point we thought we might have been going the wrong way, as the signpost pointed away from the main road, but the route turned back on itself  and took an unexpected turn through the field and alongside a lovely little stream where we sat for a while on a bench.

I had booked our visit the previous week, so we had an allotted time slot and on reaching Hill Top we were welcomed by a friendly guide and given a brief run down of the distancing measures. The garden was one way only but we could go round several times if we liked. This little white gate, which is the entrance to the garden, can be found in The Tale of Tom Kitten book.

This pretty little pathway leads up to the front door of the farmhouse. This also features in The Tale of Tom Kitten and in The Tale of Pigling Bland.

To the other side of the fence is another pathway, then behind that is a small orchard.

It was so quiet. I imagine we would not usually have the garden to ourselves, so it felt rather special.

In the walled vegetable garden we searched behind the flower pots but still couldn't find Peter Rabbit.

I would like to go back again when we can have a look around the house but for now  I am more than happy to have been able to wander around the garden.

J. X

Tuesday 14 July 2020

A Little Farther

Little by little the world is beginning to open up once again, and with a return to some sunnier days we've been getting outdoors, going just that bit farther than we have been for a while and, if I'm being honest, it is going to take me a bit of getting used to.
I think I have allowed myself to become far too comfortable staying close to home, which is unusual for me, as there's nothing I like more than exploring and discovering new places. And so, even though my initial plans for when restrictions were relaxed, included climbing Helvellyn as soon as I was able, the reality is very different and I find I am needing to take things much more slowly. That's fine, however, there's no hurry, especially as my fitness levels are not what they were :)

It's been a good week. A huge treat for myself and Lily was a socially distanced meet up with friends at a local park. I can't tell you how lovely it was to see the children playing together, and it was both wonderful and reassuring how they just got on with it without hesitation, even after all this time. The resilience of children never ceases to amaze me. And I can't tell you how good it was to chat with friends over coffee and put the world to rights for a couple of hours.

The sunflowers in the garden are opening up now. Unfortunately, we lost one to some strong winds, but I have put the broken stem in some water in the hope that it might still flower. We have two types this year. The usual tall bright yellow ones, which I love, and some smaller reddish orange ones, which although still lovely, are making me think of autumn and I don't want to wish my time away.

Enjoying the evening sun.

Midweek, we went in search of raspberries, although we didn't need to look very far, there are an abundance of them on the side of a nearby hill. We gathered just enough to make four jars of jam.

Earlier on during lockdown I made some dishcloths for friends, who were delighted with them. I still had some cotton left over, so this week I tried a new crochet pattern instead of a knitted one and I'm really pleased with how they've turned out. 

Unfortunately, the sourdough starter hasn't worked out as well as I'd hoped. After initially looking very promising it turned to gloop, so I decided to start over, this time using a small bowl rather than a jar and it looks like it's doing much better. I'm keeping my fingers crossed for a better outcome this time.

J. X

Tuesday 7 July 2020

Ambling Through the Week

This last week I've taken a far more relaxed approach to my days. Circumstances are such that now more than ever before, my days are blurring into one another and once again I find myself having to take a step back from a regular routine. I definitely won't be returning to work until September at the earliest, and at the moment I don't yet know in what capacity. I should hopefully find out more later in the week but, as with anything at the moment, any plans will be subject to change.

Time spent in the garden has been sporadic and only when weather permitting. All but one of the sunflowers have survived the winds so far and I don't think it will be long until they begin to flower. The carrots are still a while off being harvested and the strawberries are all finished for the season but I'm happy to see that some of the beetroot will be ready within the next couple of weeks.
I've re-potted the apple trees and coriander, but they are growing so fast I will need to put them in even bigger pots before long. With the weather having been so changeable lately, I've been keeping the pots indoors. We even had some heavy hail just the other day, it's not what we usually experience at this time of year.

Spending more time at home it is very easy for me to become inactive, so in an attempt to incorporate some form of exercise into my day, I tried going out for a run with Lily riding her bike alongside me. I was pleasantly surprised to find it actually worked quite well. We didn't go very far, just along the lanes to the village, but I now know it's an option at least - no more excuses!
On our way home we passed a chicken by the roadside. At this point we were quite a way from any farm it could have wandered from, so we stopped and I picked it up to put it safely into the field. Unfortunately, it didn't make a difference as it kept trying to escape back through the gate. Fortunately for me (and the chicken) a farmer friend was passing by in his pickup and he offered to drive it back to the farm further along the road if I put it in the back. It was such a relief. I didn't like the thought of it being hit by a car, nor did I relish the idea of running the rest of the way home with it tucked under my arm.

At the weekend we went for a wander in the woods. Slightly further afield this time and it felt good to be gradually navigating our way into the wider world once more. It would have felt even better had I been able to enjoy a proper coffee at the end of our walk, but a certain someone was keen to return home and with it looking like it could rain at any moment, I reluctantly agreed. Coffee can wait.

In the kitchen I've been successfully sticking to my menu plans and we've been enjoying some old favourites I hadn't made for a while. Chow mein, risotto and quiche have all made a welcome return to the dinner menu, and it's even better when I make enough to last for two mealtimes. A few days ago I set about creating a sourdough starter. I've never made sourdough bread before, so I'm taking it as a challenge. Watch this space.

J. X