Sunday 30 July 2023


Weather aside, it's been a very pleasant start to our summer break. The first week is always a period of adjustment and I feel quite out of sorts, as it slowly dawns on me that there isn't anywhere I actually need to be. That isn't to say I haven't been busy, however. And I'm not entirely sure where this last week has gone, but I happy to say that I am finally on top of the housework, the kitchen cupboard is full, and some sort of order has been restored. I am deliberately not including the garden in this statement, as the persistent wet weather has allowed the weeds to run wild, and I don't have the inclination to deal with them just now.

Earlier this week we went camping near Ullswater. Actually, we were 'glamping,' if you can call it that. We were just staying in an empty pod, designed to be used like a tent, and not one of those which contains all your home comforts. But it was very nice all the same, and the site was lovely, with excellent facilities. I booked it back in March, so it was just good fortune that it coincided with the few dry and sunny days we've experienced lately. And I do like to start my day sitting outside on the decking, drinking my coffee, even if it is out of an enamel mug.

The recent wet weather, although not entirely welcome, only served to enhance our latest visit to Aira Force. The water in Aira Beck was cascading down the falls in an impressive, and incredibly noisy display; quite a contrast from our visit five years ago, following a hot dry spell, which you can read about here. We enjoyed a walk from the High Cascades car park, down through the woods, then back up again. Stopping part way down for a picnic lunch, followed by a hot chocolate at the tea room :)

The next day, we visited Keswick. Besides a short walk through the town when I'd hiked around Derwentwater a few weeks back, it had been ages since I had enjoyed a proper wander around, and so it was lovely to have the chance to browse some of the lovely independent shops there. Lily spent a good while playing in the park and we even enjoyed a fun game of frisbee, as I'd remembered to pack it in my rucksack. Then after another picnic lunch, we spent an hour or so at The Puzzling Place, trying to get our heads around the many optical illusions on display.  

The following morning, and in another repeat of our previous visit here, we walked up the steep lane behind our campsite and onto the fell beyond, taking advantage of some free fruit on the way. There were so many raspberries, small and sweet.  Lily declared them to be the nicest raspberries ever! 

The views from the summit were just as lovely as I'd remembered. And better still, we had them all to ourselves. The heather, just beginning to flower, is a sure sign that summer is moving swiftly on, even if it feels as though has hardly begun.

Later that morning, and with the weather becoming more overcast, we drove down to Pooley Bridge, or as Lily now calls it, 'The village of pubs!' We walked down to the lake but as it was a little too busy there for our liking, we took a slight detour and visited an ice cream farm instead. I  must say, it was some of the most delicious ice cream I have ever eaten, and we even got to make friends with one member of the production team ;)

The next stop on our itinerary was a walk up Beacon Hill. Only a short walk from the car, we were rewarded with some glorious views of the surrounding countryside. An ideal way to round off our few days away, before heading for home again.  

With the first full week of the holidays already behind me, I have plenty to keep me occupied and to look forward to. I've also got plenty of work I need to complete on the house, and I have also just enrolled myself onto another course of study, to give me something to do on the wet days. But right now, I'm going to make myself a coffee, put my feet up and catch up with some blog reading. 

J. X

Monday 24 July 2023

Small Potatoes

As is often the way, these last few weeks have been rather busy. Work has been hectic, turbulent and joyous in equal measure. So you can probably understand why it has taken me several days to switch off and unwind. My mind is still trying to think about what I 'should' be doing, but right now there isn't anything, and that is taking a bit of getting used to. But I'm here for it :) 

During July, our weather has been changeable, with heavy rain and low temperatures. The grass is lush and green once more and I can't remember when I last wore sunscreen. This has been very disappointing, but I've seized those brief moments of sunshine and warmth, including afternoon tea by the lake, and now I'm keeping my hopes high for August. Surely, summer can't be over just yet.

One such moment was the school sports day. Already, postponed from earlier in the month, we struck lucky with the one fine day we had that week. It was lovely to see the children (and grown ups!) having so much fun. Lily received two 2nds - sprint, egg and spoon, and a 1st - the skipping race, of course!

That same evening I enjoyed an end of term social event. It was pleasantly warm, so we sat out in the garden beneath the fairy lights and bunting, enjoying the most amazing home made pizzas and good conversation. It was a lovely way to celebrate, especially as we won't all be together this time next year.

Back in March, Lily and I entered a competition for growing potatoes. We were given one bucket and one seed potato each and the idea was to see who could grow the best crop of potatoes by July. Well, last weekend we took our buckets back to be emptied and weighed, and the results weren't great. In fact, they were quite terrible, although Lily was thrilled to received a price for the child's lightest crop - a packet of Smash! And mine weren't much better. The few that we did manage to grow did taste delicious, however. We've not yet eaten the Smash :)

Somewhere in the last few weeks, there was another skiing lesson. That's Lily at the top of the slope with her instructor. She's really enjoying her lessons, so I hope we can somehow fit another one in very soon. Then, once she is confident enough, she can use the main slope without instruction.  

We celebrated the last day of term with a chippy tea down by the lake. It was a lovely sunny and peaceful evening, although I imagine it will be getting a lot busier now that the school holidays have arrived. Then, the following evening, I went out with some colleagues. This time there were quite a lot of us, so we went to a new restaurant in town, where the food was absolutely delicious. 

Unfortunately, heavy rain kept us indoors over the weekend, but I kept myself busy making blackcurrant jam (which are far easier for me  to grow than potatoes!). Luckily, I have lots to look forward to over the next few weeks. 

Back soon.

J. X

Thursday 6 July 2023

Life Lately

The last few weeks haven't exactly been all sunshine and wild swimming. This point in the summer term is always chaotic. The end of the school year is fast approaching, and there's always a rush to try and squeeze everything in. This was not helped by us catching some sort of virus, which resulted in me having to stay home from work for three days last week. Luckily for me I soon bounced back, although not quite as quickly as Lily did. Disappointingly, the sickness meant that she'd missed out on her karate grading, so she was delighted when both herself and another student got the opportunity to grade during the weekly class instead. She is now the very proud owner of an orange stripe belt, and I am, of course, incredibly proud of her latest achievement. 

I would say it was even worth my sitting on an incredibly uncomfortable wooden bench in a draughty gymnasium week after week, but on Tuesday evening I left her to it, and instead I went out for a run while she trained. Recently, I had treated myself to some rather lovely new running shoes, and had been waiting for the perfect opportunity to try them out. Usually, I would buy my shoes online, but having experienced some foot pain in recent months, I decided I should really visit a specialist store. There, I was expertly measured and fitted by someone who really knew what they were talking about. The result being that I felt as though I was running on clouds. My new shoes feel amazing. They don't help me run any faster, however :)

Something else which has kept me busy recently, has been the decorating of the downstairs bathroom. I have long neglected my little house, but now that it is looking extremely likely as to which secondary school Lily will be attending from next year, it would seem I will be here to stay, for a few more years at least. And so it is time to give this house a little more of my attention, and what better way to start, than with the smallest room. I'm very happy with the result of my efforts. I just need to wait another couple of weeks to have the flooring fitted, having been let down by yet another tradesperson. Then it will be fingers crossed I can garner sufficient enthusiasm to move forward and complete the rest of the house.

At the weekend, I went with my friend for a walk around Derwentwater. I've previously walked around the lake shore, but on this occasion we took the higher route, taking in Walla Crag and Catbells. To say it was a bit breezy from time to time would be an understatement! And of course the rain arrived almost horizontally while we were right on the summit of Catbells. It felt like we experienced all of the seasons in one day, but still, it was a very enjoyable walk. After which I managed to eat one of the largest scones I've ever seen, while looking across the lake towards Skiddaw. And it was delicious!

Unsurprisingly, my diary is looking pretty full for the next two weeks, then I'm looking forward to enjoying an extended break over the summer. 

J. X