Friday 19 April 2024

Durham

During the second week of our spring break, we spent two nights in Durham. I had never been before. I think the closest I'd been previously, must have Beamish, while on a trip with primary school. This was when Johnathon, my best friend at the time, brought back a lump of coal from the mine, as a gift for his sister :) It's funny what you remember isn't it? 

We set off mid morning, stopping at Barnard Castle on the way to have some lunch. After a walk along the river, we enjoyed our picnic overlooking the castle.  The daffodils were all in flower, and looked lovely, albeit a little windswept. The sky was definitely looking more than a little grey, but luckily we managed to eat our sandwiches before it began to rain.There was just enough time to have a wander along the main street, where we visited a small cafe for hot chocolate, before we were on our way once again. 

Arriving in Durham late afternoon, we checked into our hotel and went for a gentle walk along the river, then straight through the city centre, past the castle and cathedral. The presence of the university there was quite obvious, as the whole city had a student vibe, and everyone we encountered was incredibly warm and friendly. By this time, the sun was shining and it felt wonderful to feel the warmth on our skin. It didn't take long before we were back at the hotel, as the city itself is really quite small. Then, knowing there was very little chance of me getting lost, I retraced our steps alone, but this time went a little bit further, and wearing my running shoes. After all, I didn't want to miss out any of my training, if I didn't have to.



The following day, the rain came, which wasn't too much of a issue, given that we had already planned to look around the cathedral. And it certainly didn't disappoint. It is a large, impressive building and has the most beautiful stained glass windows. We walked all around the Nave, Chapels and Transepts, then through to the Chapter House and the Cloister, which was apparently used as a filming location for one of the Harry Potter films. But that was a little lost on me, seeing as I have never seen any of them. 


There was even a model of the cathedral made entirely from Lego. 
Also, while we were there, we each made a paper Peace Dove, which are to be included in an art installation later in the year. The plan is to suspend fifteen thousand paper doves from the Nave, each with a message of peace, love and hope written on their wings.

We spent the whole morning at the cathedral, but probably could have stayed for longer. I would have quite liked to have gone up The Central Tower, but unfortunately it was closed while we were there. That afternoon, we explored the city some more, and enjoyed a look around the visitor centre, which is situated right next door to the castle. The city is steeped in history, and they had so many interesting artefacts on display.


After a  tasty fish and chip supper, we spent another night at the hotel, then the following day, before heading for home, we took a drive out to the coast at Seaham. The beach at Seaham is well known for it's sea glass, so we thought a morning searching the shore line would be fun. Although it was a bright, sunny start to the day, it was a good thing we were well wrapped up, as the see breeze was making us feel rather chilly. The rough pebbly beach made walking along the shore a little tricky at times, but we weren't in any rush, stopping regularly to collect the tiny pieces of smooth coloured glass. And I couldn't believe just how much we found. Only yesterday, I found another piece right in the corner of my coat pocket! 

It was a lovely couple of days, and we will definitely be returning to the north east later in the year.

This week has seen the start of Lily's final term at primary school, and already it seems to be going fast. There will be a lot of changes and challenges for both of us in the months to come, but my first challenge will be at the weekend...


Oh, and I've also spotted my first bluebells of the season.

J. X 





Monday 8 April 2024

Feeling Rested

 


The first week of the Easter holidays has flown by. The weather is still changeable, but we've managed to squeeze in some necessary and also some lovely things to do, in between the heavy rain showers. It has felt good knowing I didn't have to work to a schedule and, even though it isn't ever needed, I was nice not having to set my alarm. 

One of the first things on my list was the garden; I am so glad that I had managed to give it a good clear up before the winter months. Since the arrival of spring, I had just been waiting for the ground to dry out a little before getting to work out there. Well, with the amount of rain we've been experiencing, that won't be happening any time soon. So on one of our rare dry days, I set to work replenishing the raised bed with some top soil, and since then Lily and I have planted potatoes, carrots and beetroot. My new net tunnels should hopefully keep any unwanted pests away. I've tidied up the flower beds, and it looks likes most of the plants have survived the frosts this year. The apple trees are displaying new growth, and I've transferred the lemon trees into the back porch, so that I can move them out into the garden just as soon as the weather picks up. I'm looking forward to some sunny days, when I can sit out there with a cup of tea.

At least the grass has already had its first cut of the year, although it always amazes me just how quickly it shoots up again after winter. It's only a small patch of lawn but it can be a job to keep on top of it during the summer months. Something else I need to get on top of are the weeds at the side of the house! I keep reminding myself that the bees need the dandelions at this time of year, and I'm singlehandedly saving the planet by leaving them alone.


Lily has been kept busy with her school work, this week. She has her SATs coming up in May, and all the children have been given some practice test questions, so that they can know what sort of thing to expect. She has been, reluctantly, working at it little by little, simply to get it all completed, as this coming week we are going to be a bit busier, and she won't have the time.
It hasn't all been hard work, however. As a break from the test papers, she also enjoyed a fantastic activity day, taking part in cycling, archery and indoor caving. 

On one of the sunnier afternoons, we also enjoyed a walk along the canal. It was an area I hadn't been to before and it was so lovely and peaceful, although that might have been because the tow path was so muddy! Thank goodness we were wearing our boots. It was a typical spring-like afternoon. We were chilly one minute, then needing to take off our jackets the next. While we were walking, I took the opportunity to take a few photographs using my new phone, just to try and get used to the camera. It seems to be very similar to my previous one, and yet the photographs appear much brighter. 


At the weekend Lily and I endured a trip into town. Shopping is not one of our favourite things to do, but seeing as someone had grown, yet again, we needed to buy some new trainers. I can't believe she is now wearing the same size as me! While we were there, I also picked up a few other items , which will be necessary for me in a couple of weeks. It feels as though I've been building up to this for ever. I just hope things all go to plan. 

Back soon. 
J . X

Monday 1 April 2024

Spring


Welcome spring! 🌼🌼🌼

This last week has seen a marked improvement in the weather here, and it has felt so good after what has been a very long and very wet winter. How long it will last, however, is another matter. The clocks changing at the weekend means we also have lighter evenings to look forward to, which immediately has a positive impact on my energy levels, and has me looking foward to spending more time on the fells, and at the lake. 


School has finished now for two weeks, and along with the usual household jobs that I need to get on top of, I also have some lovely things planned. The garden is high up on the list of things which are in need of my attention, and I am desperate to get the raised bed planted up. A visit to the garden centre, this morning, should see that ticked off, at least.

Last Friday, we attended an Easter craft morning, which was a lot of fun, and where we met up with many of our friends. There was rock painting, cake decorating and weaving. Not to mention the complimentary sausage bun and cup of coffee for me :)


In the afternoon we went for a walk to the woods. It was a beautiful spring day. The sun was warm on our backs, and we were able to take off our jackets for a while. The ground was still very wet, however, showing just how much rain we've experienced recently. And as we walked, our boots made that delightful squelchy sound in the mud.


Everything was begining to look rather green all of a sudden, especially the swathes of wild garlic beneath the trees. We managed to gather just enough that I could make some delicious pesto. I say 'managed'. You can see the darker clouds in the photograph above. Fortunately, we were home and in the dry before the heaviest of downpours arrived. I expect a lot of people would have got caught out in it.

While we were in the woods, we also gathered up some sticks for our Easter tree. I'd left it a little late this year, as I hadn't realised that Easter weekend was right at the beginning of our spring break. Oops! Luckily, I had already got some chocolate eggs stashed away in the cupboard. 


On Saturday morning, we made our traditional Easter nests. Long gone are the days when Lily needed to stand on a chair in order to reach the mixing bowl. Now that she is getting older, she is quickly catching up with me, and I often wonder how much longer we will enjoy this activity together. 


Yesterday, was another beautiful day. Usually, I would have been packing up a picnic lunch and preparing for a walk on the fells. Instead, I went for a long run, followed by a walk along the river. Running is still taking up so much of my free time, but not for too much longer. I do (very much) enjoy running, but I don't particularly like how it has become all consuming. It feels like when I'm not running, I'm either planning a route, or trying to figure out how I can manage to fit a run into my already busy day. The end goal is now in sight, at least. 


J. X

Wednesday 20 March 2024

Putting One Foot in Front of the Other

I'm still here!

Once again, I have been absent from this space for longer than I would have liked. I have still enjoyed keeping up with everyone else's news, but I haven't had much opportunity to post anything myself.  You see, most of my spare time has been spent putting one foot in front of the other. Quite literally. I've been running. 

Many (many) years ago, when I was a child, I used to listen to a friend's dad talk about having completed the Great North Run. I had no idea what it was, but what I did know is that he spoke so passionately about it. Then, as I grew older, quite randomly one day, I thought that I might just like to 'give it a try'. One application form later, I still wasn't entirely sure what it involved, but as I began training towards my goal of simply completing the course, it all became perfectly clear. 13 miles is a long way to run. 

I remember the first time I went out running. It was only half a mile, and all downhill, but even then I was struggling to breathe :) Not the best start, but I persevered, gradually increasing the distance each time I went out. I even entered some local races too, just to get an idea as to what I should expect. When the actual race day arrived, I loved it. Yes, I was slow, yes, I was exhausted, but the atmosphere was fantastic and the sense of achievement was huge. Running across the Tyne Bridge as the Red Arrows flew overhead will always be a special memory. So much so, that I went  on to run it four more times. 

After running regularly for quite some time, life, as it often does, got in the way. My running became sporadic and then almost non existent. With good intentions, I would set off again, but it simply wasn't a priority any more. I entered a marathon in the hope it would give me something to aim for, but then I injured my back, which meant that any training was impossible. So I deferred my entry and put it to the back of my mind. With an additional (and rather painful) problem with my feet, I wasn't even sure that running was an option for me, especially as walking is also uncomfortable from time to time.

Then a few months ago a friend suggested running a local half-marathon, and in a moment of madness I agreed. So I picked up where I left off and made this my target. If I could just manage to complete this, I might then be able to achieve my goal. On the day itself, I was incredibly nervous, but very excited, and taking things VERY slowly and steadily, I did it! After struggling for such a long time, it felt amazing and I was still able to walk the next day. I'm sure the stunning scenery helped as a distraction - snow capped fells with a backdrop of blue sky. The conditions were perfect. And did I mention the mug of tea and flapjack at the finish line :)

Since then, I have treated myself to a fancy new pair of running shoes, as over the coming weeks I will need to increase my training. So far, my body hasn't complained too much, but I'm very aware that I am not getting any younger, so I'm still taking things very, very slowly.  

With running taking up most of my free time just now, I haven't really been up to much else. Although we did go for a walk through the woods on Sunday. The weather was damp and misty, but we managed to enjoy a wander beneath the trees without getting too wet. There was even a glimpse of a deer running off up the hill, but we could barely see the lake down below.

In the next few weeks I am also hoping to get out into the garden. I've already given the grass it's first cut, but I could do with tidying things up a little more, before I get some potatoes and beetroot planted in the raised bed. The spring flowers are adding a much needed touch of colour, while I wait for the remaining plants to awaken from their winter sleep. 

Back soon.

J. X




Saturday 2 March 2024

Catch-Up

Thank you for all the lovely comments on my previous post. I've managed to reset my lap-top, and I think it seems to be working again. I can't complain, it must be about 14 years old. I just don't like to replace things unnecessarily :)




After  January dragged on for what seemed liked forever, February passed by in the blink of an eye. A huge improvement on the previous month (which wouldn't have been difficult), my mood lifted around the time of the Lunar New Year, and the ever increasing daylight hours and being surrounded by early signs of spring have me feeling much like my old self once again. My test results came back completely fine, which was, of course, a huge relief. So it would seem that I was probaby suffering from SAD, as several of you had suggested. Still, it was sensible to rule out anything else that could have been the cause of my fatigue.




To try and alleviate this, it has been my intention to spend more time outdoors, and now that the weather is slowly improving, this has made things much easier. I really don't like getting cold and wet. We've been out for some really lovely walks, down by the river and along the sea shore. We witnessed the Arnside Bore - zoom in on the third image above - which filled the estuary at an alarming rate.

 


Lily and I even completed our first fell walk of the year, albeit a short one. The views were still impressive though. I hope this will be the first of many this year, and that we can start adding to our Wainwright total, once again.

These last few weeks, I have also been kept quite busy working towards another little challenge, which I am hoping to complete tomorrow. It will be hugely encouraging for me if I am succesful, and most dissapointing if not. Fingers crossed I will have positive news to share after the weekend.

Talking of positive news, yesterday we recieved confirmation that Lily has been offered a place at her chosen secondary school, starting in September. This is going to be a big transition for the both of us, but she is feeling very excited. I'm just wondering where the time went. I'm sure it isn't that long since she started in reception class.

J. X





Tuesday 27 February 2024

Back Soon



Thank you for all your lovely messages. I'm absolutely fine. Just having some issues with my old laptop. 

J. X

Thursday 8 February 2024

Moving On

 


I am so relieved that we finally reached the end of January and we can move onwards towards spring. I have never been fond of this time of year. Gloomy, wet days. Leaving for work in the dark and returning home long after the sun has set. Saturdays and Sundays are usually filled with preparations for the week ahead, leaving little time for more pleasurable activities. And the cold! It isn't so much the low temperatures but usually it's  the damp and wind that fights its way through the warmest of clothing, making my body tense up and leaving me feeling achy. 

My initial plan of action, this year, was to power on through the month regardless. Surely if I could simply keep going, I wouldn't get so caught up in my dislike of January, the days would feel less depressing and, just maybe, we might even have a more wintry winter :) This did not work out as I'd hoped. The snow didn't arrive and recently I have been plagued with extreme tiredness, and persistently feeling under the weather. I am eating healthily - meal planning and getting one large weekly shop have been a huge help - and exercising, but I just can't seem to shift my malaise, which is why I haven't been spending a lot of time online. I have spoken with my GP, who expressed concern, and I am now waiting on the results of some blood tests. 

Moving forward, I intend to look upon January as my reset month. A time of quiet and calm. No expectations. Perhaps I really don't need to read up on ways with which to beat the January blues, I could simply hibernate instead.

J. X

Saturday 20 January 2024

Early January

I never meant to be absent for so long. Almost as soon as we'd rung in the new year, I was back at work and it feels like I've hardly stopped since then. Even so, January is now beginning to drag on just a bit much for my liking, and I find myself yearning for spring. Not long to wait now, or so I keep reminding myself :)




On New Year's Day we went ice skating. It was a lovely way to spend the afternoon and it felt good to be back on the ice again after my accident just over a year ago. My back is completely fine now but my confidence has definitely been knocked.

It's been an incredibly cold week here, with temperatures down to -6. We've experienced snow, frost and ice and thankfully the new boiler I had fitted last year hasn't had any issues. The same couldn't be said for my old TV, however, which after 16 years of loyal service, finally gave up, and there is now a shiny new model in it's place. 

It is early on Saturday morning and the wintry weather has been replaced by cloud and rain. Lily's tennis lesson has been cancelled, and so a more relaxed weekend is in order. It comes as quite a relief actually, as it will give me a chance to catch up. There are a few chores I could do with getting out of the way. Then again, besides the weekly shop, it's no big deal if they don't get done. The main thing I need to do is to write a menu plan. Since returning to work my hours have changed (yet again!). Only slightly on this occasion, but I am finding it even more of a challenge to make healthy choices when it comes to eating and I have noticed my energy levels have slumped. I realise preparation is the key, but with being short on time I clearly I haven't been prepared enough. I will clean out the fridge and make that my priority today. 

J. X