Sunday, 19 November 2017


I popped outside this morning intending to clear some more leaves from the lane outside our house.  Two bucket-fulls in I noticed a friend standing at the end of her drive; less then a minute later a paramedic car was hurtling up the road towards us and I just knew . . .

There is little road signage around here but I was able to direct the paramedics, and shortly afterwards do the same for an ambulance. I put Daisy inside, called for Management and off we ran, to find our neighbour, P, had fallen off a ladder whilst trying to fix some guttering.  Like us he has a balcony above the garage and he had fallen a good 15 feet or more, landing on his car before slipping onto the concrete driveway.

The air ambulance landed in an adjacent field soon after, Management and another neighbour employing heavy-duty bolt cutters to get through a gate at the request of the paramedics.  The rest of the day has been a blur of shock and talking to neighbours.  It is not often you stand a few feet from a friend whilst three medical crews do CPR for over 20 minutes.  I received a tearful call from his daughter an hour or so after they arrived at hospital - we were told to expect the worst and have since learnt that he had a cardiac arrest (worrying when two stents were fitted 10 days ago) and is now in an induced coma.

It turned out we knew one of the EMTs and had a good chat with him while they were clearing up.  He told us that after 20 minutes they were just about to 'call it' but a further injection of adrenalin had finally started our friend's heart, however I already knew I had been watching P. close to death. 

I am writing because it is cathartic, I needed to "get it out".  A long soak in a very hot bath helped too.  But I also write because this horrendous incident has made me feel so much better about something - about buying our campervan.

We struggled and struggled with whether or not to spend a large sum of money on an indulgent toy.  We rationalised the purchase by telling ourselves lots of 'sensible things' about residual values and so on, but in the end we did it because we flippin' well wanted to.  I have not regretted it for one minute and after today we are resolved to get out there and use both the caravan and Bill as often as we can.

But for tonight I shall just pray for our friend and his family.

Astronomy Outing

Saturday, 11th November 2017

We had arranged to join a small astronomy event near Tebay so decided to make the most of the journey and use Bill to "make a day of it".  Setting off after an early lunch we had a lovely run down the motorway and found ourselves on seemingly deserted moorland an hour later.  Time to take Daisy for a walk . . .

Not too cold, not much wind, and miles and miles of space - it was bliss.  Gorgeous limestone pavement with the usual collection of ferns and upland plants growing in the grykes.

Friends of the Lake District's 'tree fold'

Daisy was clearly having a wonderful time doing much bouncing and barking, but she was rather surprised when the leaping around raised an equally surprised hare. No time for a photo, but more biscuits for a Good Girl who came back when called, despite her first reaction being oh goody, something to chase!

Back to Bill for our supper, and the chance to witness a huge murmuration.  Too dark for my own photo, this one is labelled for re-use so thank you Tanya Hart 

As we settled down for a cuppa and a bit of a read until it was time to go to the astronomy event we realised the 'deserted moorland road' we were parked at the side of was host to a constant stream of old cars.  We found ourselves witnessing a link section of the Historic Endurance Rallying Organisation's "Rally of the Tests" (no, I've never heard of it either!!)  Loads of lovely old vehicles, from a 1938 Bentley Derby to a 1985 Porsche 924.  I'm not interested in motorsport although it was lovely to watch, but sobering to realise I recognised rather a lot the cars from when they were new - bugger, I'm getting old!

The astronomy gig was OK, but sadly ruined by a couple of groups of people for whom the Red Light rules clearly did not apply, as they waved bright torches around and ruined everyone's night vision.  Shame because we were under a crystal clear sky with virtually no light pollution.  Packed up somewhat disgruntled.

Rather than head straight home we drove back onto the moor, gave Daisy another walk and had a cuppa, reflecting that we had actually had a brilliant day.  The great walk, the hare, starlings and then the car rally - all unexpected but lovely, and very much made possible thanks to Bill.  🙂   The limestone outcrops are absolutely beautiful and it's definitely a place I want to return to - if only to see the sheep!

Friday, 17 November 2017

Not just Nigel

31st March 2017

Monty Don's Nigel is not the only gardening hound who has to endure the horror of his favourite ball finding itself in the wheelbarrow 🐾  💚

What is less obvious is that some hellebores and a Himalayan honeysuckle finally made it into the ground in the Coppice.

(Yay, finally trying to deal with the photo-backlog.  So that Susan doesn't miss any posts I plan on publishing the new ones on whatever date I write them, and move them where they belong a few days later)

Thursday, 16 November 2017

Caught napping

Very cold outside but it is a lovely bright day, and look who has found the biggest patch of sunlight streaming through the front windows?

Wednesday, 15 November 2017

Vehicle week

Last week was all about vehicles and mutterings have been heard that Management has no more "free time" now than when he was working 😊   I frequently mutter something along the lines of "I thought retirement was about putting your feet up" but the trouble is, both of us have far too much we want to do and sitting around on our backsides just doesn't come into it.

Monday was a Big Day because I drove Bill for the first time since my left shoulder had its massive tantrum.  Thankfully all went well and Daisy & I enjoyed a short and muddy walk through Holme Wood at Loweswater.  Management wasn't in the mood to walk in the rain (smart boy) so whilst he accompanied me for moral support (and possible emergency driver if necessary) he stayed in the van and read while Daisy and I were out.  Happily no incidents but we returned home with a filthy vehicle thanks to the weather.

Tuesday was another 190 mile round trip - I went back over to Catterick to collect the caravan.  No pictures, no incidents, but home with two more thoroughly filthy vehicles.

I had Wednesday "off" but we spent most of Thursday and Friday cleaning cars and vans .... that's not quite correct - I cleaned both our cars on Thursday whilst Management pressure-washed the patio.  On Friday I cleaned Bill and he washed the steps and slabs by the gate; I think I got the better end of the work allocation.

It was a long, wet week and I cannot blame the weather . . .

Monday, 13 November 2017

First snow

All is well at Bag End, so well in fact, that I've been too busy doing other things to make sitting down at the Mac a priority, but I continue to live in my cheerful alternate reality where I believe that One. Day. I will catch up with all the backlog!

This morning dawned grey and dull with cold, flat light that no amount of Photoshop can make look cheerful.  And it was cold, did I mention the cold?

A sharp frost left the ponds with a thin covering of ice and in the distance I could see the first dusting of snow on the tops.


Grisedale Pike:


I am grateful that none of the neighbours saw me standing on the balcony in dressing gown and wellies - as it was the dog thought I was stark, raving bonkers and went back to her warm and snuggly bed.

Wednesday, 1 November 2017

Pats self on back

This is a selfish post, just for me.  At some point in the future when I’m having a crisis of confidence, this will help me remember things that I CAN do :)

It was time for our lovely caravan to go for her first habitation service.  I drove her 90 miles to Ropers in Catterick and had a brilliant run - two hours door to door which is the best time I have ever made when towing.

Said goodbye to Rosie, and then popped a few miles back up the A1 to stop off at Scotch Corner services, a useful place to park and eat my picnic lunch.  Bloomin’ good job I did - because since our last stop there, less than a month ago, the car park has been changed and it is quite clear that Caravans. Are. No. Longer. Welcome.  I would not have liked to discover these changes with 7 metres of large white box behind me!

Previously caravans shared a large area with coaches, with a safe access in and out.  They have now been banned from the Coach Park (fine £100, do not pass go, do not obstruct your licence plate) and are allocated four tiny little spaces at the end of the general car park.  Today the place was deserted, on a weekend in the summer it is hell on earth driving through this section in a normal car, it will be thoroughly nasty when towing.

The spaces are not wide enough for a caravan, and if there are any cars parked nearby it won’t be possible to make the turn into them.  It will also be difficult-to-impossible to get out as there is not room to pull forward far enough to allow for the swing on the back of a van.

I know why the owners of the services have done this - coach passengers all troop off to the loo, and then in their boredom spend goodness knows how much on sweets, cakes and junk from the shop.  Caravanners are self-contained and don’t need to waste money on over-priced and usually stale produce (I have never yet managed to buy a pastry from the onsite M&S which wasn’t already dry and tasteless).

So after a bit of grumbling to myself which did not spoil a lovely lunch and a good coffee, I drove home.

And that’s where “Pats self on back” comes in ... once upon a time I would cheerfully drive a couple of hundred miles in a day without thinking about it.  In recent years doing such a thing has either been too much to contemplate because I was exhausted or in pain, or if I did do a long drive I really suffered at the end of it.  But today I got home with no pain, a slightly stiff back which is really to be expected having sat down for so long, and no tiredness.

Like I said, apart from the grumble out loud about parking at Scotch Corner, this one’s just for me to remind myself that I can 😊😊😊

Sunday, 29 October 2017

Lovely day to be in the garden

Clear sky, no rain, no wind ... are we still in Cumbria?

Perfect conditions to collect loads of fallen leaves from the lane which runs up the side of the garden.  With Management's help we filled seven builders' bags in less than an hour and emptied the leaves onto the big shrubbery bed near the Big Pond.

This bed has been badly neglected over the last couple of years but that hasn't stopped the plants growing.  The privet, which only needs to be about 4 feet high to make a hedge, was about three times that and needed a severe seeing to.

I wielded a pruning saw, Management ran the shredder (with the chippings going straight back onto this bed).  Huge improvement, I can see the individual trees now, although we still need to cut back the laurel that is threating to swamp a lovely red flowered Hawthorn.

The cyclamen I moved down to the bottom of the garden seem to be happy.

Management did more leaf blowing and cleared the paths, and I ran the lawnmower around where I could to pick them up.  I know this won't last, but it does look lovely when everything is tidy.

The ground is so sodden and damp that we could not even contemplate cutting the grass by the pond.  This area is never ever going to be well drained and dry, neither is the section up by the Coppice; serious consideration being given as to whether we could replace the grass with something else that could be walked on and was evergreen.  My immediate ideas were ivy or vinca and to Management's surprise the those are the two suggestions from the RHS website .... hmmmm ..... unusual but so what?  We'll have to see what mood I'm in next Spring before making any decisions!

We were not the only ones to enjoy being outside on such a lovely day:

Smiles all round at watching the sheer joy of having a back rub and playing upside-down-ball (no, we haven't worked out the rules either, but as long as Daisy is enjoying herself then who cares 😊😊 )