Monday, 3 October 2022

September

I do realise we are now into October, and as the title proves just how infrequently I have posted lately, I thought another little catch-up might not be a bad idea. 



The new school term began slightly later than usual, which meant we enjoyed a longer than average summer break and so we used this time to take another trip to London. We stayed for two nights, enjoying a full day out in the capital, taking in Tower Bridge, The Museum of Natural History, St. Paul's Cathedral and Hyde Park. It was a beautiful sunny day, and we made the most of the good weather, enjoying a picnic in the museum garden and spending much of the afternoon cooling off in the Princess Diana Memorial Fountain. 






Back home once more, we barely had chance to unpack, when we set off again. This time, to Ullswater for a day of paddleboarding, before travelling further north to spend the night in what should have been a camping pod, but thanks to a double booking, we ended up staying in a safari tent instead. It even contained a double bed, which made for a very comfortable stay. A fish and chip supper, followed by an evening beside the campfire provided a lovely way to round off our summer.

Two days later we started back at school for the autumn term, and as usual it felt good to fall back into a familiar routine once again. 




Determined to eke out every last moment of summer, that weekend we drove to Blackpool so that we could see the Illuminations, eat fish and chips, and best of all, enjoy fresh doughnuts bought from the pier. Our faces almost pressed right up against the glass, just to see the wonder of the batter being dropped into the hot oil and transforming into this delicious sugary treat, right before our eyes - I really need to get out more :)  




The last two weekends, we've been out walking, taking in three more Wainwrights and we have, at last, completed all of the Eastern Fells. I'm looking forward to exploring further afield now, and I am challenging myself to make it to the halfway point by the end of the year. 

Looking back over the month, I can see why I've had little opportunity to post. And now that the seasons are shifting, summer is but a distant memory. It's time to slow down, prepare for the colder months ahead, and embrace all that autumn now has to offer. 

J. X


 




Wednesday, 28 September 2022

Back to Mull

As I mentioned in my previous post, I've had a few busy weeks. I finally received confirmation of my new working hours just a few days before the start of the new school year. I must admit, it was a huge relief, although they have been adjusted once more since then :) I have been thrown in at the deep end, somewhat, but it's all good. I'm learning as I go, developing new skills, and I am working alongside some very experienced colleagues who carry a wealth of knowledge between them. I feel very fortunate. 

Anyway, as it has been a while since I was last here, I thought it best to have a little catch up. 

Way, way back in August - it already feels like a distant memory, and when we were all still complaining about the heat :) - we took a lovely little holiday on the Isle of Mull. Some of you, who have been reading here a while, may remember our last visit there, in 2019, where we stayed in a gorgeous little cottage on the north of the island, fairly close to the incredibly picturesque Calgary Bay. On this occasion, however, we chose to stay on the south of the island, mainly for the ease of exploring some of the more remote areas and also to be able to simply hop on the ferry over to the Island of Iona without the need of a long drive beforehand.

Once again, we had the best time. And it was all the more relaxing for my having made the decision to break our car journey there by stopping overnight in Balloch, a small village at the very southern tip of Loch Lomond. Our guest house was lovely and had everything we needed for a comfortable stay. We enjoyed some delicious fish and chips, followed by a visit to the play park and an evening walk along by the loch. My friend had warned me it could get a little busy there, but it was beautiful down by the shore, and it was lovely to see people having barbecues and enjoying the water into the late evening. The sunset was pretty impressive as well. 




The following morning, we woke to the sound of some rather noisy gulls, and after a hearty breakfast we set off once again on our drive towards Oban. Another very hot and sunny day, we went to the supermarket to get our supplies for the week. Then we enjoyed a sandwich lunch down by the harbour, followed by an ice cream, before catching our ferry across the Sound of Mull to Craignure. After another much shorter but incredibly scenic drive, we arrived at our accommodation for the week. A large, spacious house with the most wonderful sea views, and once unpacked, we were treated to another breath-taking sunset on our very first evening.

Our first full day on the island began with more typically Scottish weather and some rather dramatic flashes of lightening. Once the storm had passed, we drove to the tiny village of Fionnphort, to check ferry times for the following morning's trip across to Iona. The island looking very inviting, on what had turned into a bright and sunny afternoon. We then drove back to the house, stopping for a short walk alongside Loch Pottie, which, of course, Lily found hilarious.




The next morning, we took the short, ten minute ferry crossing over to Iona. Passing McLeans Cross the nunnery ruins and the abbey, we walked up to the highest point of the island, Dun I, where we sat to take in the island views and eat our picnic lunch. (Some things don't change, even on holiday.) 

Afterwards, we continued our walk, heading north to the stunning White Beach. Soft white sand, littered with shells and lapped by a turquoise sea. It was so very beautiful there, and aside from its religious significance, I can easily see why the island attracts visitors from all over the world. 











The remainder of our holiday was spent exploring many more of Mull's spectacular beaches including Ardalanish Bay, home to the Isle of Mull Weavers, and where I treated myself to some wool, Fidden, Knockvologan, and the tiny Island of Erraid, made famous as one of the locations featured in the novel Kidnapped, which can be reached at low tide. We made two more trips over to Iona. Once to explore the west coast, then walk along a well-trodden path to the south of the island to St. Columba's Bay. Then again on our final day, to re-visit White Bay, returning to the house later that evening but not before enjoying some freshly caught scallops and langoustines served at The Creel Seafood Bar, situated right beside the jetty at Fionnphort. Absolutely delicious, and I would thoroughly recommend a visit there.

Sadly, all too soon, it was time for us to return home. And as we boarded the ferry back to Oban, I realised it may have only been my second time on Mull but I'm sure it won't be my last. 

J. X


Friday, 23 September 2022

Still Here

Thank you so very much for the good wishes and supportive comments on my previous post. Please know they were much appreciated and went a long way to acknowledge my disappointment and lift my spirits in equal measure. 

I didn't mean to step away for quite so long. 

I temporarily switched my blog to private in order to make some small adjustments, then I got so caught up in the busyness of the new school year that I completely forgot to switch it back again, which lead to several concerned e-mails. To those who reached out, please accept my sincere apologies, once again, for giving rise to any concern.

And now, after 6 years (How has it been so long!) I have decided to change the name of the blog. It seems far more in keeping with the content of my posts, and if I'm totally honest, I grew a little weary of having to explain to some how the previous name was deliberate and not, in fact, a spelling mistake :)

I realise I have much to catch up on and I'm looking forward to reading everyone's news. But I thought I would simply begin by saying 'Hello!'

J. X

Wednesday, 31 August 2022

A Time to Reflect

These last few weeks seem to have flown by. A lot has happened and yet much remains the same. Another trip around the sun for me, and time to reflect and re-evaluate. This year was an especially significant year, and also the first birthday on which I didn't receive a message from my dad. He was always awake and up early each day - I wonder who I take after! :) - and would always text a heartfelt 'Happy Birthday!' message appear to my phone first thing in the morning - I think he found it easier to express his feelings this way rather than face to face. And then, on top of that, a lack of recognition from others of what should have been a special day, although expected, was still upsetting.

I suppose I've been feeling a little flat since then. The main reason for my absence in this space has been an opportunity to reach some sort of clarity and bring some calm to my racing mind. And also, as is usual by this point in the summer, I am ready for a return to more structure and rhythm to my days. This happens every year, so I shouldn't be surprised. But even then, I have uncertainty in that I am still waiting for my new working hours to be confirmed. I would like to think this will happen in the next few days :)

On a much more positive note, I have been away on holiday, baked bread for the first time in ages, gathered blackberries and been for lots of lovely walks. But more on these in another post. I just wanted to stop by and say 'Hello!' and explain why I haven't been around much. I hope all is well in your corner. I'm looking forward to stopping by and having a good catch up. 

J. X







Saturday, 6 August 2022

Around and About

It is a typical summer's evening here. Warm but with a gentle breeze. Looking out of the window I can see Lily happily playing swingball, while Mog is lying on the grass beside the wildflower bed, keeping a watchful eye on the bees. I have just this moment put a small bottle of rosé in the fridge to enjoy later.

Today has been spent quietly at home. Since school finished, just a little over two weeks ago now, we have been comfortably filling our time with some wonderful days out, making the most of the warm sunshine and fine weather. It has been bliss. I have even managed to cross several items from my summer 'must-do' list already. Although, by the time I post this, there is the strong possibility I will have added to it again! :)






Last week, we walked via Grisedale Tarn up to Fairfield, enjoying a picnic lunch on the summit of Great Rigg, before finishing up with a refreshing paddle in Greenhead Gill. There was a slight detour at Lily's request, to sit on the high bench, on which we could sit and swing our legs.









Then a couple of days later we enjoyed a walk right around the shores of Derwentwater, again enjoying a picnic lunch and, of course, another paddle. This is a really delightful walk, with stunning scenery all the way around the lake.  Again, we made another slight detour from our planned route, this time to visit the beautiful Lodore Falls.




Earlier this week, we took an evening stroll from Elterwater into Little Langdale, across the 17th century Slater's Bridge to Cathedral Cave, which is in fact a disused slate quarry. We didn't need to take a picnic this time, but there was certainly some paddling in Great Langdale Beck.  




Then, just a couple of days ago we climbed Hartside, taking in the glorious views over Ullswater, before returning via Dowthwaite Head and through the delightful Lucy's Wood back to Dockray. The bracken so tall, it was a struggle to see the path at times. The photographs are a little blurry as it was quite a windy day.

In between our days out, we've also met up with friends and been swimming at our favourite outdoor pool. Yesterday we enjoyed a guided tour of an old mill, where I bought some spelt flour. I haven't baked bread in ages, so it should be a delicious treat.

J. X