Friday, 23 January 2015

Tough week

It's been a weird week and I'm at the end of it feeling worn out.  I don't feel like putting too much detail out in public, it involves the bereavement I mentioned previously.  Before anyone kindly steps in with condolences, they are not necessary; the death occurred a little while ago but for reasons I am still trying to get to the bottom of, no-one was notified.  There might be a future career for me as a private investigator though, I have uncovered all sorts of information and confess to quite enjoying the cerebral side of it.  There has also been an unusual amount of driving, think I'm up to about 300 miles since Monday, which is five or six times what I normally do in a week. 

A predominate theme this week has been the kindness I've encountered.  People who don't know us have bent over backwards to help and assist.  There really are some lovely folk about :}

It's not all been death and despondency - I'm also looking for a new* car and I ~HATE~ buying cars.  There have been test drives and much patience from salesmen (more of the above-mentioned kindness) and we get to Friday with no idea of where to go next, because the only vehicle which I thought would suit is bloody uncomfortable to drive.  I am not the right shape for modern cars - my femur seems to be too short and seat bases stick alarmingly into the back of my knees which is never going to be comfortable.  Staying with a nine-year-old Honda is looking like an increasingly attractive option. 

Today there is thick cloud, rain and wind and it's lovely - an excuse/reason to stay hunkered down at home.  So far I've done all the laundry and tidied the floor of my study.  Might not sound much but it makes a huge difference to how I feel.

Yesterday was the highlight of the week.  I ignored everything which "had" to be done (clearly it didn't) and took Daisy out.  Nothing more exciting than three miles around Sale Fell but it was wonderful.  Just enough snow to be interesting but not so much as to make things difficult.  Blue sky, not a breath of wind, so warm I had to remove her coat and shed one of my own layers.  We took our time and when I eventually reached the main summit I realised I'd not thought once about funerals or cemeteries or solicitors or cars.  I'd been totally focussed on Daisy and our walk - completely in the moment - so not really such a bad week after all :}

I took zillions of pictures and a bit of video - my video skills are NON-EXISTENT and need lots of practise but if you can bear the sea-sickness inducing camera shake then Daisy barking at an unexpected snowman was the highlight of the day.


First outing of the year for my Micro-spikes - Daisy has canine crampons installed as standard.

There was much zooming around for the sheer joy of it

She really, really did not like that snowman :}

* not brand-new, never, ever.  Someone else can take the depreciation hit :}

Friday, 16 January 2015


It's been a strange sort of week.  LP was here on Wednesday and Thursday despite a dire weather forecast and got a lot done.  We were promised (and received) very strong winds but the rain hasn't been as bad as expected and there was no snow until this morning.  What little we did get was gone by lunchtime although it's definitely getting colder.

LP moved all the assorted surplus paving slabs that were dotted around the garden and made temporary paths for me so I can get to the log store and fruit cage without slipping on the mud.  He then set to with his latest new toy and pressure washed the black deck by the big pond, and all the slabs and patio areas which were getting very green and slippery.  I've got some photos which I will add to this post when I can be bothered to go to the iMac :}

A chunk of my week was taken up with supporting someone very close to me as she learned of the death of someone special.  When I haven't been on the phone and researching a few things online I've been a bit too worn out to do much else, but I'm fine, Management is fine, and Daisy is absolutely splendid!

Monday, 12 January 2015


Little Miss Perfect and I had a fabulous walk this morning.  Given how abysmal our weather forecast is for the rest of the week I took advantage of a break in the rain and we went round the back of Sale Fell.  Although very muddy in Chapel Wood we were sheltered from the worst of the wind and had the place to ourselves which is always a bonus.  Occasional bursts of sunlight made it extremely pleasant.

The wind really got into its stride as we hit the top of Lothwaite and I achieved a 'personal best'* by recording a gust of 55mph. That was a bit brutal and the rest of the time the wind was blowing a steady 35-40mph so no way we could have got up to the main summit.  Daisy was coping extremely well in her new even-more-weather-proof coat**, no hunched shoulders and flattened ears and a surprising amount of zooming around and chasing her tail.

A quick walk back to the car trying to ignore some very painful hailstones ended a lovely just under 3 mile walk. 

*  the previous highest recorded wind whilst walking was in May 2007 at the top of Grisedale Pike.  The weather had changed from "bright and sunny" to "no visibility and blowing a hooley" in the time it took to walk from Braithwaite to the summit, and a very necessary change of plans shortened what was to be a Coledale Round to a quick drop down to Force Crag Mine.  It was still a damn good walk though :-}

**  the week before Christmas she was the victim of an unprovoked attack.  We were in Harris Park and a collie went for her in no uncertain terms.  The bloody owners did nothing, except to berate ME for shouting at their dog.  Daisy's original Hurtta coat is now referred to as the stab vest because it prevented her getting bitten on her abdomen.  I've now repaired it but we took the opportunity to buy a new one whilst I was working out how to fix the damage.  Whilst our lovely girl had no physical injuries it has left her anxious when we meet dogs she doesn't know, we're working on that not becoming an ingrained habit.

Sunday, 11 January 2015

Beginning to deal with blog-lag

It's only one post but it's a start.

Clicking on Tomatoes takes you to a round-up of last year's crop.

The plan is to publish the posts on or around the dates when the activity actually happened, so that in future years when I look back at the blog, the gaps are minimised and events appear in the right place chronologically.  And we all know that P-L-A-N is a four-letter word at Bag End.

Saturday, 10 January 2015

A slow start to the New Year

January is already 10 days old - where on earth did a third of the month go?  Whoosh . . .

The first five days I guess we just putzed around at home and there was a lot of decluttering as Management had a major overhaul of his study.  I should have taken a photograph of the huge number of bags and boxes which volunteers from Hospice at Home collected yesterday.  Christmas decorations came down, Daisy went for a walk (nearly) every day and life puttered on in a fairly normal way.  The last five days should have been quiet and relaxing - Management went back to work and I had planned to give the house a thorough clean and tidy.  Well, Management went to London and my week was non-productive.  We finally got connected to the SuperFast Fibre Broadband network that's been installed across much of Cumbria but of course, it didn't go smoothly resulting in a tremendous amount of time wasted.  All the irritation was forgotten this morning when the latest speed test gave us an incredible result:

It is more than a little frustrating that we should have had this in March last year and that incompetence and carelessness meant that the cabinet serving our group of houses was overlooked.  But we have it now and I'm not complaining about that sort of download speed.

I'm desperate to get out into the garden but the weather just won't co-operate.

There's not been much proper fell-walking, either it has been too wet or too windy, or both at the same time.  Daisy and I have still managed the usual walks such as Whinlatter, Sale Fell, Crummock Water and the sand dunes at Mawbray but there's not much to photograph at present.

Despite dreadful weather in Scotland, there is no snow to be seen on the 'Hobbit Hills'.  In fact, there's not been much to see out of our windows at all . . .

Friday, 26 December 2014

Christmas Walks, 3

Rain buggered up Plan A, which was Derwentwater followed by a small bit of supporting local businesses, ie: look at the sales in Keswick. 

Plan B: parking just off the Whinlatter road and a 5 mile there-and-back to Force Crag Mine to have a look at the new settlement ponds.  Got a bit wet on the way back but it was a smashing walk. 

A Small Canine Personage has decided that obeying the "sit" command, when doing so results in her bum connecting with cold wet ground, is very boring.

Thursday, 25 December 2014

Christmas Walks, 2

A quiet day - dog walk, nice supper, bit of telly . . . The End.

The dialogue here will be along the lines of "you've had all the biscuits, if you're hungry you should have eaten your breakfast." This is not the first time the two of them have had that conversation, it won't be the last.

Home-made Beef Wellington, yum. 

Our version of 'Christmas Pudding' all home-grown apart from a handful of raspberries; Summer's Pudding with strawberries, blueberries and blackcurrants. 

What is it with dogs and pastry? Before anyone gets bent out of shape at this, no she is not allowed to beg at table and that was the only piece she got :} Yeah, real meanies, that's us :}

Wednesday, 24 December 2014

Christmas Walks, 1

We don’t have kids, we don’t have family or friends visiting and we don’t have spiritual beliefs which have anything to do with the Bible. Management, however, still enjoys a house with Winter Decorations to come home to when he finally escapes London; and a couple of boxes of chocolates and biscuits plus a big dinner on Thursday are things he likes, so we do what works for us and ignore everything else :}  “The Festivities” are quite easy to bear if you just decide to take no notice of media exhortations to Buy, Buy, Buy or Drink, Drink, Drink and Eat, Eat, Eat.

Not much happens here at Christmas - Daisy still needs a walk every day, and all the other chores and minutiae of normal living go on as usual. On Christmas Eve, with no shopping to do or presents to wrap we decided to take Daisy to the sand dunes at Mawbray. At least it was dry, but the wind was strong with 35mph gusts. We were all a little cold and tired when we got back to the car about 1.00pm and decided to get straight home for something to eat. But driving through Allonby the lure of the Fish & Chip shop was too much, and it didn’t take long for lunch to be cooked to order. We go to The Codfather so infrequently that it always feels like an indulgent treat, and one portion is more than enough for two of us in the middle of the day (OK, three of us - Daisy got a little fish).

We had a good giggle about the incongruity of our lunch as we sat with glass steaming up and the smell of salt and vinegar filling the car and making Daisy’s nose twitch very much in the way of “I see you have fish, I also like fish.” Management said “Fish and chip lunch at the seaside on Christmas Eve. I could go for that every year - want to start a new tradition of our own?” Sounds like a good plan to me :)

Tuesday, 23 December 2014


Popped into Keswick this morning and thanks to Edwin Booth and family, the fridge is now full to bursting and absolutely no more food needs to be purchased in this calendar year. When we left home it was dull, grey and wet.  When we got home two hours later it was still dully, grey and wet but the Derwent had burst its banks.

It wasn't until much later when Daisy and I went out that I realised that we must have had an absolute cloudburst.  It's a good thing there are already plans in place to improve our main path in 2015.

And when it is not chucking it down, I need to take a two inch layer of bark chip off these verbascum plants.  The bits that washed into the pond can stay there :{

Sunday, 21 December 2014


Theme?  Bandwagon?  Trend?  Zeitgeist?   Whatever the reason I've noticed a tendency over the last couple of years for people not to set the dreaded-and-doomed-to-fail New Year's Resolutions but instead to focus on a word which exemplifies their aims for the coming 12 months.  And that seems far more sensible - and achievable - and useful - than cutting down on the cookies, or going to the gym, or whatever other lifestyle choices seem like a good idea in the aftermath of the commercialised bun-fight which now surrounds Christmas and the holidays.  And it neatly dovetails into a feeling which has been growing in my head for the last few months and that is to SIMPLIFY.

The apparently rurally idyllic life which I enjoy contains far too much STUFF and not enough hours.  The first problem is the accumulation of possessions, the second problem is trying to do too much.  Neither is good for me.

The 'possessions' problem is one of habit.  Neither Management and I buy clothes or house stuff unless we absolutely have to, but we're both buggers for shopping related to our hobbies.  We're also particularly bad at getting rid of things, him more than me.  We have good reasons/excuses for that.  His parents lived and fought through WWII and raised their family without spare cash.  You didn't chuck stuff out because it really MIGHT be useful one day.  So quite rightly Management learned to hang onto items which weren't wanted/needed now but might be in the future.  My excuse is less clear cut but I put the blame on a less than ideal and insecure childhood.  I came to associate having 'stuff' around me with security, which is a load of tosh but it's taken me years to find that out.

When we packed up our Hampshire home to move 350 miles north we had a huge purge.  We cut down from over 30 bookcases to less than 20, I culled 15 years of textile and art magazines by half, and we still needed two removal trucks to shift our belongings to Bag End.   Seven years on I realise I haven't looked at more than half a dozen of the remaining magazines (there is an entire cupboard full of them) and I haven't worn any of the dresses or pretty clothes from a past life on more than a couple of occasions.  On the subject of hobbies - the shed is groaning with gardening stuff that I never use but cannot bear to throw out.  That's got to change.  But it's not just about physically having more room, after all this is a big house, but getting away from the oppressive feeling of having the weight of all this STUFF bearing down on me.

The 'trying to do too much' thing is more complicated.  I might blether about that some other time.

So on Solstice Day* I am looking forward to the New Year which for me begins tomorrow, and thinking about all that space which my decluttering is going to create.  That's my motivation - I do love space.  Not pared to the bone minimalist empty space, but tidy, organised, under control space where I've got room to breath and relax.

I've already made a start - how many tatty gardening jackets does one girl need?  I'm now down to two - a much-loved and comfy 20 year-old Berghaus fleece and an old and no-longer-very-waterproof Vango jacket (also about 20 years old!)  Everything else went in the bin, they were way past being good enough for a charity shop :-{  and half a dozen gardening shirts were re-purposed last week.  This lot and an unphotographed pile that half filled the back of the car have all made it to the charity shop this month.

*  depending upon who you believe (but I'll go with Greenwich Observatory) this year Solstice is at 23.03 however many will mark the event at sunrise tomorrow (8.00am)

Saturday, 20 December 2014

In Turner's footsteps

Daisy's walk today was the same but different; the same because we went back to Crummock Water, and different because Management joined us and I suggested we take a route which was new to him.  A gentle climb from the car park (and a short steep section through what is probably an old quarry) and we were on the top of a lovely little hill, Brackenthwaite Hows, which is far too insignificant for Wainright to have paid it any attention.  Down to the boathouse, back to the car, only a couple of miles for us but Daisy seemed to think it was a good outing.

A slightly more famous Englishman did pay it some attention, and in 1797 JMW Turner painted "Cromackwater" from the same place. 

I'm glad Wainright ignored the location, means far less people have it on a 'tick list', even in May.  It's a quiet spot to rest a while on a hot summer afternoon, roll in the grass, and get covered in shrubbery :}