Monday, 11 December 2017

As I don't ~have~ to go out today

I won't.  The prospect of staying at home and messing with fabric is far more attractive than defrosting the car.  As we've not had rain or snow there is, thankfully, very little ice around but minus four is still bloomin' freezing!

Both Management and I have walked Daisy today, and played with her on the lawn.  So that's two walks, three games of ball and some mad chasing up and down the hall inside - about time she settled down for a snooze!

Blurry picture because the car was a little iced up inside as well as out!

Sunday, 10 December 2017

Weather update

It's a lovely day in The Shire and the view from Bag End towards Skiddaw is gorgeous:

Wednesday, 6 December 2017


Just kidding - it's not like that at all!   But it is wet and wild and neither Daisy or I are showing much inclination to go outside unless we really have to.

When Daisy's routine is disturbed she doesn't eat properly which meant very little food on Monday whilst we were out, and not a lot yesterday because she was knackered.  Her Ladyship made up for it this morning and then spent much of the day sleeping off a massive breakfast.

I spent it in the sewing room 😊😊 and Madam came to check up on me occasionally (or when she thought it was time for another Bonio).

Bit of a cheat really, this is 'no sew bunting' which I made up, but I expect someone's already done it to death on Pinterest or YouTube.  I realised life was far too short to sew all the fabric into neat triangles, then spend HOURS turning it right-side out and burning most of my fingers trying to press the seams neatly.  The liberal use of Bondaweb to glue two pieces of Christmas fabric together is not to be under-estimated!

I did make my own bias tape for the binding, and am particularly pleased with some rather fine top stitching to finish it all off !

Tuesday, 5 December 2017

Day out

Despite Daisy's preference for an established routine at home, sometimes her Staff want to go out for the day . . . We spent all of Monday in Bill;  a quick stop in Penrith followed by a gorgeous drive down Ullswater.

I took disappointingly few pictures (note to self, must make more effort!) but that was probably because I was too busy just enjoying being where we were.  The view when we stopped for coffee was pretty spectacular 😊😊

When did the windows get quite so dirty?

Lunch at the top of Kirkstone Pass, then down The Struggle to Ambleside and an hour or so walking around the shops before heading home.  Our darling girl took it all in her stride, accepting adulation and admiration from all manner of strangers as she sat patiently in shops waiting for one or other of us to finish what we were doing.   

Just a note to any local traders who probably aren't reading - if you have a notice on your door saying "Dogs Welcome" we will come in and probably spend money.  If you have a notice on your door saying "No Dogs" we keep our credit cards firmly to ourselves.  Thanks to the lovely Rock Shop insisting that Management and Daisy could step inside, I bought a MUCH bigger salt lamp than I would have done if I had been alone.

As soon as we got home Madam curled up in her current favourite warm bed and refused to budge until bedtime.  Tuesday has been much the same - she's thoroughly tired from having her normal routine disturbed and "sleeping it off".

Monday, 4 December 2017

Old dog

Daisy: she's not as young as she used to be (well, none of us are, but this is about four-paws).

Last Thursday we had a total of seven walks during the day -  Little Madam really prefers to do her toilet outside the garden, and it is so easy to pop round the corner to a safe, grassy area with barely a need for the lead.  None of the walks were more than half a mile - each lasts about 15 minutes and provides plenty of sniffing opportunities.  Then there was the manic game of rugby on crisp and frozen grass after she'd run around in frenzied circles doing "greyhound impersonations" with the sheer delight of finding the ground all iced up!  The tally of her day was at least 3 miles and about two hours of exercise and she was a HUGELY happy dog.

I'm rubbish at this selfie lark, Daisy is much better 😊

On Friday, in addition to the toilet & sniffing breaks, in the afternoon I took her out for what used to be one of our regular walks - along the riverbank, across a field, and then back home on a quiet country road.  A couple of miles and just under an hour.  There are no photos but it is fair to say she wasn't a terribly happy camper and clearly happy to be home and back in her bed. 

The difference between the two days?  Chalk and cheese and it is a pattern we have noticed before.   Our Little Miss Perfect is now an old dog even if we do not know exactly what her age is, and "little & often" is definitely her preferred modus operandi.

Friday, 24 November 2017

Not a week for getting out much

This week has been thoroughly driech, and November-ish and wet.  It has also been thoroughly sad;  our neighbour never regained consciousness after his cardiac arrest and subsequent fall, and passed away on Wednesday night.

After the shock of P's accident at the weekend I took Bill out for the day on Monday.  Only got as far as Carlisle but it was hugely confidence boosting to take the campervan on my own and not have any problems with driving a manual gearbox.  I had a stop at Dobbies to look at the Christmas decorations (and say "hi" to the Festive Rat!) but didn't buy anything.  Whilst some of their wares were quite lovely I spent most of the time looking at price tags and shouting "how much?" in my head.

After a mega-session in Sainsbury's I had planned on going into the town centre but really, I can buy undies online from M&S far easier than in a large and confusingly laid out store so I came home.

The rest of the week has been something of a wash-out with torrential rain on Wednesday which put paid to any plans to go out for Management's birthday, although this morning it is very cold and there's clearly been snowfall on the hills overnight.

The task of going door to door and telling the neighbours that P. had died fell to me, and I followed that depressing couple of hours with a quick trip to the shops.  Daisy is not happy; I keep disappearing and not taking her with me.  M. tells me that whilst she doesn't sit at the door and cry in my absence, she does tend to curl up very quietly and do not a lot until I return.  We are even starting to wonder if some recent 'not-quite-right-tummy' episodes are connecting with my going out and leaving her.  Honestly, it's worse than kids!

There continues to be absolutely stuff-all activity in the garden.  Even though I planted a few Swiss Chard and lettuce for overwintering in the greenhouse I can summon up little enthusiasm to go and tend to them.  This too shall pass, I've gone "off" the garden before and I know I will get back into it when the time is right.

There has, however, been sewing activity of the "making things for Bill" kind, but those photos are still on the camera . . .  the only thing I can show as completely finished is a pressing sham for a lightweight jacket I bought that has the most difficult-to-iron sleeves I have ever seen in a garment.

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.

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.

Saturday, 11 November 2017

Astronomy Outing

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!

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 😊😊 )