Thursday 31 December 2020

New Year's Eve

I woke early this morning and, as usual, I crept downstairs to sit quietly and enjoy my first coffee of the day. It had been another cold night and the garden was again covered in frost but, disappointingly, there wasn't any sign of the snow which had been forecast to arrive overnight. I'd switched on the tree lights and checked my phone for messages, before I glanced out of the window at the front of the house to see a few light flakes floating down. Not wishing to get my hopes up, I went into the kitchen to make my coffee, but I could see the snow beginning to settle along the driveway. A short while later I heard squeals of glee from upstairs. Lily had opened the curtains to see a covering of white. There wasn't enough snow for us to go sledging but it was still a magical way to start the day.

Today, we've enjoyed a walk by the river. It seemed quite appropriate really, considering we spent so much of our time there this year. Amongst all the worry and uncertainty there has always been something reassuring and constant in it's familiarity. We've walked along the banks, paddled in it's clear waters, enjoyed picnics on the rocky shores, looked for toad spawn and even fished for minnows. It's been lovely to watch how the seasons have changed the landscape throughout the year and this morning was no exception. The water covered the rocky shores where we had sat during the summer months and the bare trees gave little cover to the river below. 

This evening will be spent quietly. Still weary from our walks over the last few days, I expect I shall be in bed long before the clock strikes midnight. Therefore, I'm taking this opportunity to wish you all a happy, healthy and peaceful New Year. 

J. X

Wednesday 30 December 2020


This morning, we began our walk from Patterdale, a small village just south of Ullswater, striding out across farmland with the frosty grass crunching beneath our feet. The sun was still low in the sky at this time, but our destination looked promising and, as we climbed higher up the fellside, we soon left the shade of the valley behind.

The first stop on our route was Boredale Hause. A pass between the Patterdale and Boredale valleys, where various paths meet. We were last there when we took the track heading north up Place Fell, back in November. Today, instead, we took the path leading south towards Angle Tarn, a popular place for wild camping during the summer months.

The way ahead was a like entering a winter wonderland. Enough snow to be magical, not too much that walking was in any way difficult. It was powdery and dry. Unfortunately, not suitable for making snowballs - I tried :)

Looking across at the Helvellyn range.

The northern, and true, summit of Angletarn Pikes. It's not as intimidating as it looks and we climbed the path right to the top.

The southern summit. 

Our lunchtime view. Angle Tarn looking beautiful in the winter sun.

Back at the car, tired but happy, and an opportunity to enjoy a warming drink before heading for home.

J. X

Tuesday 29 December 2020

In Search of Snow

This morning, wrapped up warmly against the cold, we set off for our walk. The temperatures had been below freezing overnight and I wasn't going to take any chances, so we put on our salopettes and layered up. Our aim today was Binsey, a small stand alone fell to the north of Bassenthwaite. 

Slightly overcast when we began our climb, the sun was quick to break through the clouds and in the short time it took for us to reach the summit, the sky had cleared and we were treated to the most beautiful views in all directions. Then, while we were sat eating our lunch, even Skiddaw could be seen just peeping out above the clouds. With the air so crisp and still, it was tempting to stay there for longer but with Lily feeling restless we made our way back down the fell, being careful to avoid the patches of ice on the path. 

Not a bad place to enjoy some of the mincemeat shortbread I'd baked yesterday.

It would have been lovely if there had been more snow, but I'm hopeful we might see some more before the end of the week.  

J. X

Monday 28 December 2020

Frosty Morning

Although, disappointingly, I didn't wake up to snow this morning, there was a light covering of frost, and the field behind the house sparkled white. A beautiful winter scene. 

I've enjoyed another relaxed day, having reached the stage between Christmas and New Year when I'm not quite sure as to what day it actually is. Not that it matters, of course. Having spent many years working all throughout the festive season, I relish this time to do with as I please.

Today, this included another walk in the woods. The low winter sun dazzled against a clear sky and puddles had turned to ice. Even by early afternoon the shaded ground was still frosted, the distant fells dusted with snow. 

On returning home, I was soon warmed up with a hot drink and it wasn't long before I was busy in the kitchen, baking for the week ahead. The weather forecast looks promising and, with some slightly longer walks planned, we need something tasty to keep us fuelled in the chilly outdoors.

Using one of the jars still remaining in the kitchen cupboard I baked some mincemeat shortbread. Just as tasty as (if not more than) mince pies, this is much more simple to bake, and makes around sixteen pieces, which are easily wrapped up to put in the pocket of my rucksack.

The link to the recipe is here. This time I made mine without the cranberries and almonds.

J. X

Sunday 27 December 2020


After last night's storm, it came as a relief to wake to a scene of quiet and still. The wind and rain had been relentless and unforgiving but somehow I had managed to sleep well, waking shortly before 8o'clock.
Determined not to feel as I had yesterday, I began the morning with my usual mug of coffee, then enjoyed a delicious bowl of porridge with compote, after which it was decided a walk in the fresh air would do us the world of good.

With our wellies on - many walks around here would be almost impassable without wearing them just now - we set off through the fields, along beneath the trees and up the lane towards the church. Usually this is where we would stop for a while, eat our chocolate and enjoy the view. This morning, however, the view was hidden beneath the clouds and with the spit spotting of rain threatening to turn much heavier, we made a hasty retreat back down the hillside, past the overflowing stream, and into the scant shelter of the woods, by which time the rain had eased off at least.

Although the cold winter days are still ahead of us, it is reassuring to see tiny buds on the tree branches and new shoots poking up through the earth. Signs of new life emerging. Signs of hope.

Refreshed from our walk, we returned home just in time for lunch, which for me was soup, served with some crusty bread still warm from the oven, and maybe just a very small slice of cheese :)
This afternoon I've enjoyed a coffee and a natter with a friend over video call. It's been too long since we've seen one another, so it was lovely to have a good catch up but I really hope we will be able to meet up in person very soon. 

J. X

Saturday 26 December 2020

Boxing Day

I had such a lovely time yesterday, that today has felt a little flat. The novelty of the previous night's peace and quiet had been short lived and I found myself missing the general activity and chaos of Christmas Day. Grateful, however, for the opportunity to have even had that.

I was awake early, as usual, and enjoyed my first coffee of the day (there have been many) by the glow of the fairy lights. Our little tree has done well this year.  Although I've kept it well watered, I've still needed to vacuum up the pine needles frequently. Not that you'd notice, as fortunately there aren't any bare patches. It's staying right where it is for now but will probably get planted in the garden next weekend. 

I've spent the day doing very little, it's been pleasantly relaxed. Had the weather been better we'd have gone out for a walk, but aside from a brief visit this morning, the wind and rain have seen me keeping warm and cosy indoors for the remainder of the day. It hasn't stopped me checking out possible routes for the week ahead, however :)

Meals have been picky, made up of Christmas leftovers - crackers, cheese, chocolates and gingerbread - and my body isn't thanking me for it. Too much rich food, I've been feeling lethargic and sluggish all afternoon. You'd think I would know better at my age. Hopefully a good night's sleep and some 'proper' food tomorrow will have me feeling brighter and a bit more energised. Someone please hide the Quality Street.

How was your day?

J. X

Friday 25 December 2020

Christmas Day

It's been a lovely day, and one I'm sure I will remember for a long time. More fortunate than many, we have been able to share our celebrations, so we've enjoyed a day of great company, delicious food and played a lot of games. And it was a very happy little girl who made her way upstairs to bed earlier this evening, having had her 'best Christmas ever'.

Now, the table is cleared, the dishes are done and it's time to relax with a large glass of Baileys.

Merry Christmas.

J. X

Thursday 24 December 2020

The Stockings were Hung by the Chimney with Care

The house is quiet. There's a mince pie, a small glass of brandy and a carrot plated up on the coffee table, and I'm hoping Lily will soon be fast asleep. I won't be long out of bed myself, as I expect it will be an early start for me in the morning.

I've had a busy, but very relaxed day, a Christmas Eve to remember for all the right reasons. 

This morning we  enjoyed a climb up Catbells, one of the lower Lakeland fells which overlooks Derwentwater and is a popular walk with people visiting Keswick. A beautiful but bitterly cold morning, we took our time on the ascent, pausing regularly to appreciate the views. It was lovely (and very festive) to see the snow on the surrounding higher fells, and we needed to tread carefully to avoid the patches of ice on the path. Well, I did at least. Lily couldn't resist the feeling of it crunching beneath her boots.

It was only a short walk, so it wasn't long before we were heading home, full of excitement to begin our Christmas celebrations. After warming up with a large mug of coffee, I put my bread to bake in the oven and Lily added the finishing touches to our gingerbread house. 

This evening we've enjoyed the (still warm) bread with some delicious baked camembert and cranberry sauce and I finally opened the tin of Quality Street - I didn't trust myself to open it any earlier :) I might have also enjoyed a festive tipple or two.

Tomorrow, I expect, will be full of fun and laughter, a last opportunity for the family to be together for a while. I hope however you are spending it this year, that you manage to have yourself a happy, healthy and joyful Christmas.

J. X

Wednesday 23 December 2020

Almost Ready for Christmas


The weather this morning was horrible. Wet, windy and about as un-festive as you can get. Fortunately, I didn't have anywhere I needed to go. Most of my Christmas preparations are done now, so I've spent the majority of my day in the kitchen, baking even more cinnamon shortbread, icing the gingerbread house and mixing together the dough for the no-knead bread, to be enjoyed with  some baked camembert tomorrow evening.

I'm considering our gingerbread house a success. I always use this recipe here. It's a very simple make, which means there's more fun to be had in decorating it. That said, ours has minimal icing and sweets, just the way Lily prefers it. I added cinnamon and cloves to my mix as well, which enhances the flavour. And another thing I would say is that the recipe makes far too much dough than you will need, but I've put the excess in the freezer to bake cookies with at a later date. Our gingerbread house is iced now but it needs a good dusting with icing sugar, which I've promised Lily she can do tomorrow, so I'll post a picture of the finished house then. 

This evening we've been playing some games, including  Prickly Pile up. A Christmas present for Lily a couple of years ago, it is now a firm favourite and one of those which I'm sure we will enjoy playing for many years to come. 

We have some plans for tomorrow which are dependent on the weather, but first there are presents to wrap. I'm just waiting on a certain little someone to fall asleep. I'm not sure I can remember a time when I felt so relaxed on the run up to Christmas. I'm sure there is a lesson in there somewhere. 

J. X

Tuesday 22 December 2020

Snowflakes and Christmas Lights


In sharp contrast to yesterday, this morning dawned bright and clear. There had been a light frost overnight. The grass sparkled and the water had frozen on the bird feeder. Unusually for me, on such a beautiful day, I was in no hurry to leave the house. A gentle morning pottering indoors was more enticing and resulted in the last of the fairy lights being hung across the kitchen, the muddle of boots getting cleared from the hallway and many, many tiny pieces of paper scattered all across the table.

The mess was worth it, however. Seventeen paper snowflakes and four sore fingers later, one 'fairly' impressed little girl, and and the dining room window is now finally decorated. I say fairly impressed, as Lily was hoping to contribute more than she did but, unfortunately, the thickness of the folded paper meant the cutting out was a little too difficult for her. She did, however, enjoy very carefully unfolding the paper triangles to reveal the finished snowflakes. These were not always a complete surprise to me, as to make things easier, I'd printed off some templates I had found online. You can probably tell which ones from the above photograph.

This evening we took a trip into town. Once again, it was good to see people out and about, shopping safely, enjoying drinks outside cafes. 

Having already completed my Christmas shopping it was lovely to just walk through the streets and admire the displays. So many beautiful lights.

I'm almost ready for Christmas now. I've still some presents to wrap and I'm looking forward baking our gingerbread house tomorrow. 


Monday 21 December 2020

Winter Solstice

It was another early start for me this morning. Mog was my alarm, deciding she needed me as a companion to begin the day with. I can't understand why she chooses to do this sometimes, other than to simply annoy me. Outside appeared grey and gloomy, and I was glad of the warm glow from the lights on the Christmas tree.

It was a gentle start to my day, however. A quiet house, several mugs of coffee and a good blog catch up. I always appreciate the opportunity to read uninterrupted.

After lunch we went out for our Midwinter walk. The sky a pewter grey and the still damp air somehow seemed appropriate for the shortest day of the year. We needed to wear our wellies again, the ground gets so muddy beneath the trees. 

We walked up the hill and through the field where we'd gathered blackberries at the end of the summer. It seems such a long time ago now and yet no time at all. The ever changing seasons marking the passing of time with reassuring constancy.

Winter is upon us. A time to retreat, light candles and hunker down at home, as we begin our gradual return towards light and warmth.  

Solstice blessings.

J. X