Saturday 29 May 2021

When Life Gave Me Lemons


Thank you so much for all the kind birthday wishes on my previous post. I passed them all on to Lily and she was thrilled to bits. 

Last weekend we enjoyed a ride along the newly re-opened Keswick to Threlkeld trail. This was the perfect opportunity for Lily to try out her new bike, and for us to see all the improvements to the path since the route was closed off following storm damage way back in 2015. It is designed for walkers and cyclists, and completely traffic free, following the old railway line from Penrith to Cockermouth.

The route passes alongside the River Greta and crosses so many bridges on the way that I lost count. There are historical information boards all along the track but we were too busy enjoying our ride and admiring the scenery to stop and read them all. 

It was a chilly day and we stopped at the park in Keswick for our picnic and a hot drink, but for some reason I struggled to warm up. Even though I was wearing gloves, my hands were freezing and I just didn't feel quite right. I put it down to feeling tired after a busy week, but the following morning I woke with a sore throat and swollen glands. Lily did too.  :( 

We've been feeling out of sorts all week now and, disappointingly, had to cancel our much anticipated camping trip that we should have been enjoying this weekend. Never mind, we'll still be getting out and about. It just means we will be able to sleep more comfortably in our own beds each night. I've been drinking lots of hot lemon and honey but I'm not entirely sure it is making a difference - it tastes good though :) 

Seeing as I had plenty of lemons to hand. I couldn't resist making some of my favourite lemon cake. 
This is the recipe I use if you would like to try it.

125g Butter
175g Caster Sugar
2 Large Eggs
175g Self Raising Flour
4 Tablespoons Milk
Zest and juice of 2 un-waxed lemons
An additional 50g of sugar for the syrup

Cream together butter, caster sugar and lemon zest until light and fluffy. 

Add eggs, milk and flour a little at a time and mix well.
Bake in a loaf tin for around 40 minutes at 150°
Stir lemon juice and sugar together, then heat gently until the sugar is dissolved. 

When the cake is removed from the oven, skewer all over and pour on the syrup, allowing it all to soak in.

I must admit that following a busy day at work, Tuesday me was very grateful for Sunday me doing this baking. It was a delicious treat being able to enjoy a slice of the cake I'd forgotten all about. Also, this can be made into a delightful summer bake by leaving out the lemons and pouring over some elderflower syrup instead.

J. X

Friday 21 May 2021

Catching Up

I'm feeling a little weary today so, aside from working, I'm giving myself permission to do very little else. Which is all good in theory, but we all know that very rarely actually happens. Even now I'm thinking I should go and put a wash on :)

The last two weeks have been rather busy and so have passed by all too quickly for me. I'm looking forward to having a week off at the beginning of June, and fingers crossed it will coincide with some good weather just like the last time. I've not been terribly impressed with the cold and damp we've been experiencing lately, although the wildflowers in the garden are growing rapidly thanks to all the rain. I can't wait to see them all in flower. I'm also happy to report that, after my initial lack of success, I decided to sow some more sunflowers and another pack of sweet pea seeds, which have since sprouted and appear to be growing well. I'm determined to attract a garden full of pollinators this summer. 🌻🌺🌻

Where's Lily?

Last week we enjoyed a walk up Holme Fell, near Coniston. We set off from the shore of Yew Tree Tarn, which is very close to Tarn Hows, where we had visited the previous week. In fact, if we had wished, we could have reached it just by walking further along the waterfall trail. Although the morning wasn't particularly sunny, it was still dry and bright, and just perfect for a short walk, as rain had been forecast for later that day. Whilst we listened to the intermittent song of a cuckoo somewhere close by, we made our steep but not overly strenuous ascent up the path, which opened out to some beautiful views stretching right over the Langdale valley.  And, in the time it took for me to take just a few photographs, someone couldn't resist taking a short detour from the path in order to climb some very inviting looking rocks! After reaching the summit, we dropped down to eat our lunch beside one of the two small reservoirs on the fell, then descended the track further again to walk back alongside the Tarn and return to the car. Although, not before we had been for another quick look at the Tom Gill waterfalls, which were definitely holding far more water than on our previous visit.

Since my last post, we have celebrated a birthday here. Lily is now 8 years old! Of course, I baked chocolate brownies for the occasion and even though I thought I might get away with just buying a number '8' candle, Lily still insisted on having individual ones as well, so it was a good job I had some to hand. And why not. You're only eight once. 

She spent her special day paddle boarding on Ullswater, with sisters also around to join in with the fun. With any luck, another year we should be able to have an actual party, although Lily was perfectly happy with her more reserved celebrations. She was thrilled with her gifts as well, especially her shiny new bicycle which she's going to enjoy a proper ride out on this coming weekend. 

J. X

Saturday 8 May 2021

Bluebell Time

I've been having a rather lazy day today. Outside, the sky is grey, the wind is blowing and it has been raining on and off all afternoon. It's still quite chilly and, as I've been feeling wiped out for much of the past week, I am happy to stay home, drink far too much coffee than is good for me, while reading some of the magazines which I've had tucked away in a drawer for a couple of months - 'the simple things' and 'Lakeland Walker' if you are curious. It's exactly the kind of weather that lends itself to me spending a cosy day on the sofa, and so, as there was nowhere else I needed to be, I conceded this to be my best option under the circumstances, even if it does feel a little self indulgent. 

I haven't been totally dormant, however. This morning I've baked some flapjack, as I'm sure we'll be heading out somewhere tomorrow, and I always like to pack some to eat with our lunch. I have also worked my way through the huge pile of ironing, which had been decorating the dining table since the middle of the week, when I had far more appealing things to do with my time. That's because on Wednesday, as soon as I finished work for the morning, I took myself off down the lane, along the track which leads out from the village, then out past the riding stables and into the woods. My only intention being to see the bluebells while they were still looking their very best.

As usual, I was not disappointed.

I hope you enjoy these images as much as I enjoyed capturing them. Now, I think I'll just go and put the kettle on...again. 

J. X

Wednesday 5 May 2021

Early May

The year is flying by and it is going to be summer before I know it. I just wish the temperatures would begin to reflect this - the fells had a covering of snow, and there was a light frost as I cycled to work this morning. My sweet pea and sunflower seeds have not been successful, so I'm going to sow some more this week. Although I'm still not wholly convinced we've seen the last of this cold weather. Fortunately, the strawberry plants don't appear to mind the chill, as they are covered with flowers.

I'm spending the week playing catch-up with myself. Thanks to the Bank Holiday I'm a day behind, but at least this way Friday will arrive much quicker for me. Last weekend was so lovely though. On Saturday we set off early and made our way to Tarn Hows, a National Trust managed area, which is midway between Hawkshead and Coniston. It is known for getting incredibly busy there, which is the main reason I had never actually visited before, so I was relieved when we woke nice and early, enabling us to set off just after 8 o'clock. With my sole focus concentrated on finding a parking space, once we arrived I was abruptly taken aback by the view. It was stunning. And I was, for once, simply lost for words. It was breath taking. Just over the brow of the hill, the tarn sparkled below us with the fells beyond creating the most beautiful backdrop against the clear, blue sky. Unfortunately, as I was driving, I wasn't able to capture this image but I hope you can get a sense of it from the remainder of my photographs. Oh, and in case you were wondering, we got there so early that, in fact, mine ended up being only the second car in the car park 😁 but at least that meant we enjoyed the tarn all to ourselves, for a while at least.

There is an accessible circular walk around the tarn, which we extended to climb Black Fell at the far end. For a small fell it has big views, especially on a bright, clear day such as this. 

Returning back towards the car park, we took a slight detour to view Tom Gill Falls, where we stopped to eat our lunch. Much of the beck looked to be completely dry so we were pleasantly surprised to see any water there at all. It was very pretty there and imagine there would be much more of a surge after a heavy rainfall.

Just before heading for home, and by this time with an overcast sky, we stopped off at the lake, where some time was spent paddle boarding before enjoying a quick visit to the park.

As we wont be going away this summer, I have a feeling we will be doing much more of the same throughout the coming months. And I don't mind one little bit.

J. X