Thursday 29 July 2021

A Change in the Weather

Since our walk up the fell earlier in the week, the weather has turned cooler and we've been experiencing heavy rain showers intermittently throughout the day. It's great for the gardens, which are soaking up the water, but I'd much rather be enjoying some warm sunshine at this time of year. It is for this reason we've been spending more time at home this week. And I can't help but think we may have already seen the last of the really hot days.

On Tuesday, I spent some time in the kitchen attempting to use up several courgettes I'd been given. Although quite versatile, they are not a vegetable I cook with all that often. Usually a recipe will call for just one, and so I buy more than I need, only to discover the rest turning soft and bendy at the back of the fridge, several days later :) Anyway, these courgettes were huge, so I needed a recipe that would use at least more than one, so I had a look online and found this, Pasta-less lasagne. Initially, I was curious, until I looked more closely at the ingredients and realised it was basically a moussaka. Well, I like moussaka and this would use up possibly two of the courgettes, and so I set about slicing and frying, until what felt like hours later I ended up with a very time-consuming-to-prepare, but very delicious meal. 

While it was in the oven, I decided there was no way I would go to the trouble of making it again. But it was so very  tasty, and seeing as it would provide us with enough servings for more than one meal, then it would be worth all the of the faffing and dish washing that came with it.

Yesterday, I had some errands to run in town and while we managed to dodge the showers, we also visited the Library, where I signed Lily up to their summer reading challenge. This encourages children to borrow and read six or more books over the holidays. I'm not feeling all that optimistic, as although she is very good at reading, it is not an activity she really enjoys. In contrast,  however, she was more than happy to assist me with foraging for raspberries that afternoon. 

I thought we would take a short walk along the lane to see if there were any remaining where we would usually pick them. Typically, all the really good ones we're way out of our reach, or behind a large patch of nettles, but we still managed to collect enough for three jars of jam. These should last us a while, once the blackcurrant is finished.

Oh, and there was a knock at my door last night. I've been given another three huge courgettes! 

J. X

Tuesday 27 July 2021

Evening Walk

I hadn't planned to do much on Monday. I had some forms to fill in for the insurance claim and then I needed to drive to the car repair centre in order to get an estimate. In all honesty, I also wanted to get some of the housework done - there is only so much I can overlook before it gets too much for me and I feel the need to give everything a thorough clean. The kitchen and bathrooms are now spotless and I also vacuumed the whole house from top to bottom. There is still some dusting to do, but I can live with that for now. 

The next job on my list was to wipe down the paddling pool and inflatables, and put them away for the time being. I always feel a little bit sad to do this, as I never quite know if the weather will be warm enough to get them out again over the summer. The pool has been cleaned and is drying out at the back of the house; I don't want to roll it up while it is still wet. The inflatables are already packed away in their bag. I like to look after them, especially as, aside from the doughnut, they were all bought for Lily's first holiday to France when she was only three months old. I should have realised back then that she'd be a water baby :)  Happy memories.

In between chores, I spent some time catching up reading blogs and I enjoyed a mostly relaxed afternoon. It was while I was eating dinner that I thought about a spontaneous walk up a local fell. With several small fells to choose from we settled on the one farthest from the house which we thought would be the most quiet.

It was a typically bright summer's evening and the air was still very warm. We walked steadily along the path, stopping regularly to take in the views, although we were briefly distracted by the sight of some large raspberry bushes. We might have helped ourselves to a few but I must remember to see if there are any left over where I usually pick mine. 

The fell wasn't only quiet, it was completely empty, aside from some sheep and cows. It is most unusual not to pass the occasional runner or dog walker up there.

It felt so good to be out, making the most of the evening sun. 

J. X

Ride Out


Following the previous day's efforts, it was quite lovely to enjoy my morning at a slower pace. Not that the walk had been particularly strenuous, in fact I was pleasantly surprised my legs didn't feel weary at all, but occasionally it can feel nice not needing to set off out quite so early.
It was also a good reason to indulge myself by eating a proper breakfast. When I'm working, breakfast is either a slice of toast and jam or some fruit and yoghurt, so on the days I don't need to be anywhere in a hurry, it can feel good to take my time and cook up something extra tasty. And I couldn't think of anything better to cook than the eggs I had picked up on our walk the day before.

Free range duck and hen eggs of varying sizes are often found beside an honesty box along the lanes in this area. You can just help yourself to the quantity you need and put the money in the tin or jar. And fortunately, on this occasion, I had just the right amount of money in my purse.

A little melted butter, two duck eggs and a tiny splash of milk made the perfect scrambled eggs for my breakfast. Just look at that colour! They were so creamy and delicious, some of the best I've ever eaten. 

Although this week I've been enjoying a holiday at home, there is no avoiding the fact that some of the more mundane chores still need to be done, including the shopping. So, after a quick visit to the supermarket, I should now have enough food in the fridge for the rest of the week. Take note of the word 'should'. I can almost guarantee I will have missed something from my list :)

Usually, my mornings involve quite a lot of 'encouraging' Lily to finish her breakfast then get dressed. For once, however, on this particular day, my powers of persuasion were not required. While visiting a National Trust shop a couple of days earlier, Lily noticed a head torch for sale and decided that she would 'really, really like to have it please'. Now I'm not entirely sure how, but she got it into her head that we would return some time on Sunday so we could buy it. I didn't mind. It wasn't expensive, will no doubt come in useful, and anyway, she never does ask me for anything much. We had been trying to choose where to go for a bike ride on that morning, when Lily decided where better to go than to the shop, where we could buy this 'amazing' head torch.  

Don't let on, but perhaps I should allow Lily to make these decisions more regularly, as we had such such a lovely time. We set off along the lane, where there was a little traffic but for the most part it was nice and quiet, before turning onto a bridleway, down the hill (so much fun 😄) across the field and then onto the track by the river. Here, we stopped for a while to enjoy a picnic lunch before, very carefully, crossing the wobbly bridge and cycling up the steep lane to the shop. I did think I might have treated myself to a coffee there, but given the length of the queue for the café I soon changed my mind. Maybe another time.

We returned home the same way we went, and I am happy to report Lily is thrilled to bits with her new head torch. No doubt she will be wanting to test it out properly very soon. 

J. X

Sunday 25 July 2021

A Walk to Calf Crag

As I stepped into the garden, early in the morning, it felt noticeably cooler than over the last few days. And yet, although slightly overcast, the sky showed promise of a bright sunny day ahead. 

While I was waiting for for my coffee to brew, I fed Mog, then made up our sandwiches and packed some of the flapjack I'd baked yesterday morning for our lunch. An earlier start for us today, as I wanted to be sure of a parking space - I like to set off walking as soon as I can. 

Once dressed, I checked the forecast again. The weather was on our side, dry and sunny with a gentle breeze - perfect for getting up on the fells. There aren't many days in the year that we can get away without packing some sort of waterproof or warm jacket. 

Our early start meant there were no issues with traffic and, as I'd hoped, we were able to park up with ease, and in a shady spot. Our walk began on a narrow lane passing by some old cottages and a farmhouse, where there were some fresh eggs for sale. Presumably, these had been laid by the hens and ducks which were roaming the lane nearby. I made a note to myself to remember to collect some on my way back, before continuing further down the hill, over the little bridge and then up to where the lane met a rough track heading along the Greenburn Valley. It was so peaceful there, the quiet occasionally disturbed by the sound of loud rustling close by, which was unnerving at times, until we saw a friendly face appear above the bracken.

The track rose gently alongside a dry stone wall up the valley, to cross the beck over some large stepping stones. It then climbed a little more steeply, barely visible at times through the long bracken, before finally approaching the clear ridge path towards the summit.

Here, the light breeze was most welcome and made for a pleasant spot to rest for a while, enjoy (a very early) lunch and take in the views, before retracing our steps back down the valley to return to the car once again. Not forgetting my eggs, of course :)

J. X

Saturday 24 July 2021

Close to Home

I woke early to another bright sunny morning. Once the laundry was folded and Mog had been fed, not necessarily in that order :) I set about baking some flapjack, leaving it to cool while we went out for a while. After several days of driving around in the hot weather, I decided we should spend the day much closer to home. For this reason, we settled for a gentle walk through some nearby fields and up over a small local fell. It was only a short climb to the top, breathing in sweet summer air, with the long grasses brushing against our legs and the ground beneath our feet appearing dry and scorched from the heat of the sun. 

The wildflower meadow is looking beautiful just now and is attracting so many butterflies to the area. I lost count of the Meadow Browns I spotted, although I didn't see any Cinnabar Moth caterpillars which usually adorn the ragwort there. There were, however, plenty of un-ripened blackberries on the bushes, which I will be keeping my eye on over the coming weeks :) 

Even though it had just turned ten o'clock, it was already very warm, and so we retreated back down the fell, to the cool shade by the river to fish for minnows. To the side of the road there is a narrow track through the trees which, unless you knew it was there, would be barely noticeable. And at this time of year the river there is low enough for the rocky shore to be used as the perfect secluded spot for a picnic or to simply cool off in the water.  
We returned home in time for lunch and spent the rest of the afternoon in the garden. A few more chapters of my book read, and Lily making the most of the paddling pool.
J. X

Friday 23 July 2021

Back to the Lake

An early start, once again, for me. I was already on my second coffee by 7am. It was the hottest day of the week so far and the perfect excuse for a lazy morning, or in my case, dealing with my insurance company, then changing and laundering all the bed linen. It's an exhausting task and I have to pace myself in this heat, so as not to get too hot and bothered. 

I ate my breakfast later than usual - toast with blackcurrant jam - then set about giving the house a general tidy. It looks a little less cluttered at least, but it still looks as though a tornado has been through it. Just a shame it left all the dust behind :)

Mid afternoon, we set off for the lake once again. There is no better place to be when it is so hot. There is usually a gentle breeze by the shoreline and the water is just the perfect temperature in which to cool off. We found a shaded space to park beneath the trees and although the lake was much busier than earlier in the week, we had no difficulty in finding a comfortable spot to sit down and enjoy the late afternoon sun. That said, Lily spent all of her time there in the water, not getting out until it was time for us to leave, and I spent most of my time swimming alongside her. Another really lovely day. 

Returning home, I put the towels and swimsuits straight in the washing machine and rinsed off the water shoes and Lily's buoyancy aid. This way everything dries easily overnight and is ready for the following day, should we choose to visit again.

A lighter meal was enjoyed in the evening. We ate crackers and cheese, along with some olives and hummus, sat out in the garden. And yes, there was wine.

J. X

Thursday 22 July 2021


With the temperature steadily rising, while I haven't been reading, I've been spending much of the afternoon sat on an inflatable seal in the paddling pool. It seems to be the most effective way of keeping cool at the moment. 

I'm really enjoying my book. It's typical light summer reading for me. Girl meets boy, some sort of obstacle or misunderstanding gets in the way, but they finally get together towards the end of the last chapter. Easy to pick up and put down with minimal concentration required on my part. And, of course, it will no doubt be set in some picturesque little village by the sea :) Perfect. 

Later in the afternoon, we set off to drive into the Lakes. I wasn't convinced it was my best plan to begin with. It was still incredibly hot and then my car got reversed into on the way! Not to worry, no one got hurt and the damage is minimal. Details exchanged, we continued our journey for another mile to the small National Trust car park alongside Blea Tarn, where we enjoyed a walk up Lingmoor Fell, before dropping back down to walk back around the shore of the tarn. Hotter than anticipated, there was some protestation as we climbed the fell but once we had reached the summit, it was downhill all the way, treading carefully along the dry rocky paths and the overgrown bracken. It was a beautiful evening and so very quiet there, which was one advantage of setting off late in the day, and it was lovely to see the Purple Heather beginning to flower. We only passed three other people while we were out walking, one of whom was celebrating his final Wainwright at the summit cairn. Lily and I have a long way to go before we catch up :)

After a short break by the water's edge for some flapjack and a refreshing drink, still hot, and rather dusty by this time, we made our way back to the car, stopping off for chips on the way home. I might also have enjoyed a large glass of red. 🍷

Wednesday 21 July 2021

To the Lake

As is usual for me just now, I woke early and crept quietly downstairs to begin my day. Mog quickly followed, in hopeful anticipation of being fed. While I was waiting  for my coffee to brew, I cleared away the dishes from the previous evening and folded the towels which had been hung up to dry overnight. The house is always in disarray at this time of year. At the moment there are three large pool inflatables filling the dining room, piles of beach towels covering the table, and water shoes and a random buoyancy aid are creating a trip hazard along the hallway. I don't really mind. It's all part of summer living and as there will be plenty of time to clear and tidy once the weather changes, I will enjoy the sunshine while it lasts.

During the morning, while Lily chose to catch up with some of her favourite shows on the laptop, I set about making a curry for dinner. I fried off an onion, then added some sweet potato, spinach and curry paste. After stirring in some tinned tomatoes and a little vegetable stock, I added a cupful of lentils and left to simmer until thickened. In the evening I would quickly cook up some rice to go with it, because I had other plans for the afternoon. We were going to the lake.

Where we were going, I knew it would be quite busy, so I decided to arrive mid-afteenoon, by which time many people who had spent the morning there would have left. We found a nice shady spot beneath the trees to park the car and walked down the hill, where it was lovely to see everyone enjoying the sunshine. It was still busy, but not unpleasantly so, and it wasn't long before the paddle board had set off down the lake while I was left behind, soaking up the sun's rays. There was a brief moment of surprise when three low flying jets went overhead. They are incredibly loud and appear without warning heading right down the valley. But we spent the rest of the afternoon undisturbed, swimming and enjoying the water until it was time to return home, looking forward to a return visit later in the week. 

J. X

Tuesday 20 July 2021


It was another scorcher, not that I'm complaining, I love this hot sunny weather. 

I enjoyed a gentle, albeit very early, start to my day. The sun crept in through the gaps at the edges of the curtains and Mog (obviously starving 😀) was keen to make her presence felt. I like to wander out into the garden in the cooler morning air. Some of the wildflowers are only fully open at this time, closing up again as the sun's rays become stronger, and the bees are already buzzing from flower to flower. I am so happy with my decision to plant a wildflower bed, just as I'd hoped, the garden has definitely come to life with pollinators this year.

I spent another relaxed morning mostly reading, in between doing a few household chores, then in the afternoon we went to the swimming pool again. The pool is situated right next to a river, which is looking rather low just now, but it was lovely and cool there, beneath the shade of the trees. 

We had a great time at the pool. Limited numbers meant it wasn't too busy and Lily had a lot of fun jumping in at the deep end with another girl. After so much time away from it,  it is lovely to see her growing in confidence once again.

Returning home, we ate pizza for dinner and spent a lovely evening in the garden. And with a blanket wrapped round my shoulders, I watched as the sun went down, whilst enjoying my elderflower cordial with some prosecco. 

J. X

Monday 19 July 2021

Another Holiday at Home

This year, just like the last, we are holidaying from home. I am more than happy with this, as the thought of trying to book somewhere with availability, which is also affordable, at this present time did not appeal in the slightest. Better still, this way I have no planning or packing to do. 😀 

With sunshine and high temperatures forecast for the remainder of the week, I don't intend on travelling very far. The fells can wait, as it is much too hot for walking just now. The paddling pool is up and I have some easy reading to keep me occupied. I have been working through some ideas as to how I would like to spend the coming weeks, but I have no desire to try and cram too much into our summer break. Even though I am still waking far too early in the morning, it is lovely not needing to rush around. Yesterday, I relaxed and read my book while Lily spent most of the afternoon in the water, the parasol providing her with some much needed relief from the sun's rays. 

Mog can usually be found lying in the shade behind the shed, then she will disappear for hours leaving me worried, only for her to return home in the middle of the night, presumably having been sleeping among the long grass in the field.

Looking ahead, it would seem as if summer could go on forever, but I realise September will be here before I know it. Until then I intend to make the most of each day. 

J. X

Sunday 18 July 2021

We Made It!

This was the view from my ride to work on the last day of term. Once again, it has been a challenging year but we were some of the more fortunate ones who made it through to the final day without the need to isolate. I feel relieved for us, yet sad for the students and members of staff for whom the school year ended rather more abruptly. This summer's break has arrived not a moment too soon and I really hope we will see some semblance of normality when we return at the beginning of September.

Sports day still went ahead last week, albeit without parents in attendance, but thanks to online learning platforms the school was able to share footage from most of the afternoon's events. Lily was thrilled to come first in both her running and skipping races. She is rarely seen in the playground without a skipping rope in her hand, and I'm sure she is faster running with one than without :)

The ritual of emptying both school and PE bags is now complete and I am looking forward to spending the next seven weeks with very few commitments, and days to fill just however we please. 

Here's to summer!

J. X

Friday 16 July 2021

Blackcurrant Jam

Some time last year, in September I think, we were very kindly gifted what I had been told was a blackcurrant bush. In reality, what we received looked more like a bundle of dead or almost dead sticks with their bare roots neatly contained in a small bag. I had never grown blackcurrants before, so it was rather reluctantly that I agreed for this twiggy stump to be planted at the back of the garden, up against the dry stone wall. Then we would wait to see whether or not they would grow. 

For a while they just sort of blended into the background and I didn't really take much notice of them during the winter months, much like the rest of the garden. But as spring arrived, so did some new growth and, as more and more green shoots appeared it became apparent the bush had managed to establish itself. Then later on, as some flowers appeared, I was pleasantly surprised to see that even in it's first season it was going to yield some fruit and, not long after, those green berries began to ripen. I did wonder if we might lose some of our blackcurrants to the many birds that have visited the garden this year but, fortunately, they appeared to have left them well alone, much preferring the generous buffet available to them at the bird feeder instead.

As the bush is still quite small, I was only able to gather just enough fruit to produce two jars of jam, but it was definitely worth my minimal time and effort, as it tastes delicious!

This is the recipe I used and it can easily be adjusted it to the quantity of fruit you may have.

400g Blackcurrants

270g Granulated sugar

The juice of ½ a lemon.

Rinse the blackcurrants and place them in a large pan with 75ml water. Bring to the boil and simmer for around five minutes stirring all the time. At this point I like to squish mine a little using a potato masher, but take care as it is incredibly hot. Add the lemon juice and sugar and bring to a rolling boil for around ten minutes, or until the setting point is reached. Allow to rest for a few minutes then pour into sterilised jars.

It's so quick and easy to make. I would say most of the work is in preparing the blackcurrants. I even had time to bake some fresh bread to enjoy it with. And I can also confirm that, despite my initial reservations, this little blackcurrant bush has more than earned it's position in the garden. 

J. X

Sunday 4 July 2021

Early Summer

Hurray! Summer has arrived. Bright, sunny mornings see me waking far earlier than I would like, but a steady, unhurried start to my day is much more enjoyable than the need to rush around. Washing is pegged out on the line, birds are fed (I've discovered mealworms are a huge hit), and oh, how satisfying it feels to help myself to fresh strawberries from the garden to enjoy with some yoghurt for my breakfast. And all this is before 7.30a.m. at which time I set off on my bike to ride into work. 

Even that feels like a joy at this time of  year. The lanes are quiet, the calves in the fields are just beginning to stir, and the warm, early morning air is filled with the sweetest of smells. As I ride along I breathe in the delicious scents of the Elderflower, Honeysuckle and Meadowsweet which line the roadsides. 

Lately, weekdays have been quite busy, so I have eased off at the weekends a little more than usual. That said, I still need to get out, and much like a dog, I need to be walked regularly :) So, last weekend we took a gentle stroll up Gummers How. A much loved little fell on the southern shores of Windermere. We like to walk here every now and again, as it's an easy, short walk up direct from the car park and  the views across the lake are stunning. 

The wildflowers in the garden had been flattened by the heavy rain showers, but they soon straightened up again when the sun re-appeared. There are several new varieties which are yet to open up, and I never knew you could get white Cornflowers, so it came as a shock to see one all on it's own, in amongst the blue and purple ones. 

During the week, we finally had the opportunity to go swimming in a pool once again and it felt amazing. The sun was shining, the water was lovely and warm and Lily had a grin on her face the entire time we were in the pool. I've promised that I will book for us to go again very soon. 

The next day, I had planned a visit to Ullswater for some paddle boarding and swimming, after which there would be sausages cooked on the camping stove followed by some hot chocolate. It was warm, sunny evening and a lovely time was being enjoyed, then I realised I had forgotten the sausages! I am seriously not very good when it comes to utilising this particular camping stove, as I have previously been known to forget the gas cannisters! Never mind. A hot chocolate would be good until we arrived back home. But guess who forgot the mugs! I was so cross with myself, until, eventually, I came up with a plan. We could drive on towards Keswick, call at the supermarket for some sausages and cook them by Derwentwater instead. 
Fortunately, I was in need of some more camping mugs, so it wasn't money wasted, and by this time a pack of chocolate Brownies may have also made their way into my shopping basket. I now had everything I needed but the car park machine by the lake had other ideas. I needed to wait twenty minutes, until 7p.m. to pay to park for the evening! By this time I was getting more than a little cross at myself until another visitor, who was also waiting, told me that Max the Miracle Dog and his owner, Kerry were over the road, in Hope Park. They were having a short meet and greet before the unveiling of a bronze statue of Max, which was taking place the following afternoon. Needless to say, I was very excited at this and, once I had paid to park, I can't tell you how great it was to chat with Kerry and stroke the dogs I have read so much about. They are just so gorgeous, and very friendly, happy dogs. I would have happily stayed there all evening but I had sausages to cook.

A little way along the shore we found a quiet spot to set up the stove and, I have to say, the sausages tasted delicious and were well worth the wait. The hot chocolate and brownies were pretty good as well.

As it happened, my forgetfulness worked out rather well for me in the end.


I thought you might like to see the new mugs.

J. X