Thursday, 31 December 2009

By moonlight

Eerie and beautiful, slightly surreal and very cold!

Taken at 10.30pm on New Year's Eve under a full moon; a 3½ second exposure braced on the balcony railing.
A wonderful end to the year.

(dear James - no, SOOC without Photoshop and yes, I will now get around to buying a decent tripod!)

Goodbye 2009

Goodbye 2009, I am very tempted to add "and good riddance".

New Year's Eve, the traditional time to look back on the previous 12 months; I don't want to look back too closely, there is much in this year which still hurts far too much and I want to move on.

Five months after saying goodbye I still have difficulty in thinking about Ollie without tearing up, perhaps I am stupid but I didn't know it was going to hurt quite this much. Who needs Voldemort to learn how to make a Horcrux? I can tell you without hesitation how to tear a piece out of your soul.

And then there was 19th November - the 1,000 year flood which devastated our small town. Cockermouth will recover but goodness knows how long it will take. Only one of the closed bridges has re-opened and getting anywhere in west Cumbria can be frustrating and time consuming. I've "celebrated" New Year's Eve by deleting ALL the photographs I took of the damage. I will not publish them, it is not how I want people to think of the Lake District and I do not want to look at them again.

We have made some house progress in 2009 - we have a new boiler which (hopefully) is consuming far less gas than the old one and all that insulation is having an effect. In the sub-zero temperatures that we've experienced over the last two weeks the house has never felt really cold and we don't need the heating on nearly all the time as we did last winter. The wood burning stove is an absolute joy and some progress has been made in the garden.

For the first time in 14 years I can go to bed when I want tonight rather than have to stay up past midnight and explain to Ollie that he doesn't have to shout the house down every time a firework goes off outside. Thankfully he was not frightened of fireworks (one night, when in desperation I opened a window so that he could see them, he watched the rockets with delighted fascination - and much less barking) but he did feel the need to make as much noise as possible to tell me there were explosions outside.

Another year has passed with very little quilt making . . . thankfully my fabric stash does not have a "use by" date on it and after much messing about with EQ6 over the last month, pulling of fabrics and cogitation, I now know what quilt I am going to make next and am looking forward to it.

The penultimate blog post of 2009 and the final lovely sunset.


The calendar might say it is the beginning of a new year but in gardening terms we are barely half way through the winter. I normally hate this period of inactivity but this year the time of dormancy is quite welcome - I can take a rest from the constant work without feeling guilty for not being outside making progress.

There is still a lot to do before we can make a start on building a proper garden and it would be all too easy to think we'd not accomplished much in 2009. However, looking back through the archives I can see how much we have done - if ever there was a reason to keep a blog, then this is it - very motivating to see how far we have come in the last 12 months.

In January, despite the cold, there was much logging and clearing of timber.

February: Fangorn Forest no more! By the end of the month the remaining Leylandii were down, now all we had to do was clear up the mess. Fortunately, the removal of the conifers did not seem to bother our Red Squirrel.

March: We started to feel we were really making progress clearing up all the felled wood, put up lots of nesting boxes and had many pretty visitors.

April: Unsuccessful dowsing for the cold water mains, huge delivery of cow manure (much of which is still blocking the drive but at least it is now completely rotted), a squirrel nest box which they haven't been near and the return of our orchids.

In May we got rid of the tree stumps and made a start on the raised beds.

June was HOT - didn't get a whole lot done.

July wasn't much more productive either, tried to get the raised beds completed but did not succeed.

The less said about August the better

September: More progress on the raised beds, clearing up for another big bonfire, nearly 700 daffodil bulbs and lots of birds

October: Is it ever going to stop raining? Much time spent on house insulation but the bases for our shed and greenhouse finally started to take shape.

November: It rained, and rained and then flooded. No-one in the Cockermouth area will forget 19th November in a hurry. We rescued a stray chicken, still haven't checked up to find out if he survived.

Although I didn't get much done in the second half of the year we're further along than we were 12 months ago, the days are already starting to get longer (OK, not by much but I'm trying to be positive here), the greenhouse is ordered and John will come to remove many more tree stumps as soon as the ground is dry enough to safely use the digger.

Here's to 2010.

Saturday, 26 December 2009

Rannerdale Knotts

Rannerdale Knotts - one of my favourite places in all of the Lake District. A beautiful and easy walk at any time of year and worth visiting not just when the bluebells are in flower. However, it is an emotive fell, a place where Ollie and I walked countless times and always on Christmas Day.
(our walk in December 2008)
It would have been very easy to run away and not return but after a long chat, Management and I decided that it should continue to be our Christmas Day fell, and this year, with wonderful conditions and snow all around, we were joined by our good friends Ann and Roger to walk this lovely route and share a toast of home-made mulled wine at the summit: to absent friends.

Where no man (woman or dog) had gone before - much untracked snow up to 6" deep. Made me want to go skiing again.

Harry is sure there ought to be dog biscuits in my pocket

Team discussion about something critical - probably whether it was time to stop for mince pies.

The best Christmas present of the year - all four of us were using Kahtoola spikes - fabulous device, probably one of the best additions to our outdoor kit we have ever bought.

There was no wind so it wasn't anything like as cold as it could have been, although the surrounding higher summits, most of which had cloud cover, looked absolutely freezing.
(looking towards Haystacks)

A snowball fight was planned it was Roger's birthday but like British Rail, we had the wrong sort of snow - much too dry and granular to do anything with. Instead, we all ate too much chocolate birthday cake instead.

Our day ended as all good Christmas Days should - back home in front of a blazing fire, lovely dinner and a film on TV.

Friday, 25 December 2009

Christmas at Bag End

Merry Christmas from one of our most treasured visitors.

Thursday, 24 December 2009

More Fieldfares

Our lovely visitors back again this morning. Please click to enlarge these sequences if you have a moment.

(look closely at his/her beak!)

And here's something you don't see everyday - a Nuthatch on the sunflower hearts feeder. First picture - incoming from the right.

The photo quality suffers from being taken through windows which could do with a clean - but it's not bad for the end of December!