Friday, 25 July 2014

(Bed)room with a view

It's not just little kids who can camp in the garden on a summer night, big kids (and medium-sized dogs) can do it too :}

Daisy and I settled down just after 10.00pm last night and I didn't even open my Kindle, I was so comfy I just closed my eyes and drifted off.  Her Ladyship seemed quite unperturbed by the change in her sleeping arrangements, she was allowed under the duvet with me (that never happens!) so all was well in Daisy-land.

Unfortunately that blissful state did not last - I'm easily disturbed by any noise and the A66 was trying to emulate a Glasgow motorway during the Commonwealth Games.  Bluddy irritating because I've been sitting outside this morning and there's not an engine to be heard, anywhere ....

But we persevered because it was blissfully cool and fresh.  Around 4.00am something disturbed Daisy and we both woke up.  Given our tent was a cheapie from Argos about ten years ago it's not surprising that condensation was starting to form all over the inside.  I figured it was time to go in before we all got a bit damp.  Walking back into the house was like hitting a thick hot wall of air.  I then slept very soundly until Management brought me a lovely cuppa at 8.00am!

Who said "you don't stop doing things because you've got old.  You get old because you've stopped doing things"?

Thursday, 24 July 2014

The summer silliness continues with a little swim

When I took Daisy to Crummock on Tuesday and had a little paddle with her the thought of a cool swim in the lake was very tempting.  But I wasn't dressed for it and whilst I recognise there are [rare] occasions I can be a complete idiot, as a very weak and feeble swimmer I wasn't going for a dip whilst alone.

But tonight Management finished work at a reasonable time, we had supper early and then took Daisy to Crummock for a walk in the woods.  The sun was sinking and the car park was completely full but we had the small beach at the boathouse to ourselves.  I wanted to see how far into the water Daisy could be bribed . . . the answer was "up to her chest" and absolutely no more, regardless of how many of her favourite biscuit were offered.

It then remained to see whether I was up for it - and here's feeble - as I walked out to waist depth there was a moment of panic, probably at the unfamiliarity of it all.  But I did it, it felt good though, not at all cold, and I'm glad I didn't bottle out.   The jury is out as to whether my still damaged shoulder can actually cope with swimming.  If I want to do this more often then I really need to take a step back and go and have a few proper swimming lessons.

Daisy could not be persuaded to join me, in fact she got very worried about my being so far away.

Time to go home:

As a kid I was more than a little scared of water and 'lessons' with the school when I was about 6 or 7 consisted of being ordered to "just get in and get on with it". The only concession to my fear being that I was permitted to stay at the edge of the pool as a line of wildly screaming children thrashed and splashed from one end to the other.  The wild screaming was terror in my case and out-of-control pleasure from the rest of the class, school-days were not the happiest time of my life.  Nearly five decades later I can stay afloat but I don't have the technique to do it well or with any enjoyment.  Perhaps wild swimming will change that?

(published 7th February 2015)

Wednesday, 23 July 2014

The kitchen is on the "cool" side of the house

The back of the house faces north (ish).  The rooms along this side are always cooler than those at the front.

This is 3.00pm.  Loving it!

It's now just under 100 degrees in the greenhouse - before I thoroughly damped down the floor and sides it was a little over 41ºC (about 106ºf).

Tuesday, 22 July 2014


I don't care whether it's global warming, divine intervention or just plain luck but we are having a WONDERFUL summer.  It hardly rained in June and July is heading the same way (not counting the 28mm of deluge we had in 24 hours at the beginning of the month).  It's so hot we've gone and bought 4.5 tog duvets and for the first time in about a decade, I'm wearing shorts and the legs are getting a tan!  Winters up here can be wet, cold, grey and last a very long time so I'm not going to complain about the heatwave, even if it was still 25 degrees in the sitting room at 8.00pm last night.

Daisy is not quite so thrilled at this meteorological wonder.  The dog who takes up station inches from a blazing wood burner in winter is feeling the heat and I'm being very careful with her walks.  We either go out early, or late, and we don't go too far. This morning we had the best of all options, out early, didn't go too far (just a couple of miles) and 99% of the walk was in shade - we went to Lanthwaite Woods next to Crummock Water.  This is a favourite spot and we're getting full benefit of the 'free car parking' perk of National Trust membership.

Arriving at Crummock just after 9.00am I was pleasantly surprised to find we were the only folk at the car park (it was a little different 90 minutes later!)

Just a couple of minutes walk and we had a shady path all to ourselves, no noise except for birdsong and the distant sound of a farmer harvesting.

Possibly my favourite part of the walk, gorgeous views of Whiteside and Grasmoor but we're still under the canopy of trees.

Her Ladyship has learnt this stream is a safe place to get a drink (although we'd had a stop earlier and she'd guzzled water from a bottle I carried).

Down at the boat house it was quiet, serene, gorgeous views of the Loweswater Fells - and I had a Mad Brain Moment.  Apart from being incredibly comfortable and lightweight my Inov-8 shoes are MEANT to get wet - so I rolled my trousers up (too early in the day for aforementioned shorts ☺︎) and walked into the lake.  Little Miss Perfect also had a Mad Brain Moment - she followed me!  Before her usual concern about water took over from the novelty of what she'd done, Daisy walked into about 8" of water and had a good drink.  WOW, that's never happened before.  I wish Management had been with us to see this, and to keep an eye on her because I was very, very close to going "sod the wet clothes" and having a swim ...

A few minutes more and we were back at the car, despite damp socks my shoes were almost dry (and my feet were lovely and cool).  The car park looked a bit different to an hour & a half earlier; I recognised the vehicle next to us (hello Ann and Roger) and a neighbours' car was parked under the shade further along.

The endless stream of vehicles coming towards me as I drove home reinforced the 'get out early' message!  One of the cars was another neighbour (with the still-growing and out of control Fraser eager for a swim) whilst a familiar van contained more neighbours who were taking their canoe to the lake.

It's now murderously hot in the house despite every door & window being open and all the blinds closed against the sun.  There are deep ZZZZ's and much heavy breathing coming from Daisy's basket.

The View From . . .

Clouds brushing the summit of Skiddaw just after 7.00 this morning.

If I ever lose my sense of wonder at this beauty, or cease to appreciate the scale of the landscale that's laid out in front of me then feel free to deliver a short, sharp head-slap.

Monday, 21 July 2014

Aunt Margery and Uncle Robert

(By the time we reach the bottom of this post I could be having trouble with apostrophes ....  )

Those of you who've been following us at Bag End since the beginning might remember in addition to the Triffids (Leylandii) which ringed the garden we were 'blessed' with three huge cherry trees in what is now the Cottage Garden. In March 2008 I wrote:

There are three very large Prunus, not sure exactly which one. A pretty tree, nicely shaped with attractive blossom in Spring - and located in a solid line across the front of the plot blocking the view of the fells from all but the study window. They are not needed for privacy therefore I suspect they were planted 10 or 15 years ago without thought for how they would mature. It feels like sacrilege but they are all coming out. I have already made a start on two of them (do not ever under-estimate the capabilities of a determined woman with a pruning saw). The largest (and middle) tree has a reprieve until it has flowered and then it too will be coming out.

In an act of Horticultural Vandalism they were the first things to be felled. 

The blossom was pretty though ...

It took another 12 months and some hired heavies to get the stumps/roots out.

Fast forward to now, it looks less like a World War I battlefield and every Spring we have, not poppies, but miniature daffodils popping up.  Each year I point this out to Management and say "I'm never going to dig the lawn in this area because I'm sure someone's dog is buried under the grass"; I know that the owner-before-last had a couple of West Highland Terriers and I reckoned one or both of them is still here.  Stands to reason - a garden where no-one ever took any time or trouble, never did any 'real' gardening, so why would bulbs be planted under a tree if not to mark the site?

Moving to the present day ...  I was shopping, not in Cockermouth but buying directly from a local farm.  Got into a lengthy conversation with farmer's wife because she knows LP, it's a small world around here.  We talk about gardening, she asks me where I live.

Long story short: owner-before-last is her cousin.  I was wrong about a dog being buried in our Cottage Garden.  It is the ashes of his parents - her Aunt Margery and Uncle Robert.  When the son put his Mum & Dad in the garden it caused great upset.  They were active members of the village church and the rest of the family thought they should have been interred in the churchyard. Farmer's wife's Mum, now 84 years old and sister of Margery, was always very upset as she felt she could not visit her sister's final resting place once the son sold this house.

You couldn't make it up. I've given them photos of the Cottage Garden as it now is so that Mum can see the area is tidy and cared for.  An invitation for tea has been extended, I don't know if they will come.

Sunday, 20 July 2014

Plant supports

I know Monty Don claims that his wife Sarah 'designed' these plant supports but I'm sure I saw them somewhere else before he featured them on Gardeners' World a couple of years ago.

LP cut lengths of rebar for me (25th June - the materials for the metal fence are here too).

Bending them was fairly easy and they work really well propping up large perennials.  One day, I might even be organised enough/have time (hollow laugh) to settle down in autumn or winter and paint them all with Hammerite.

It has its critics, but I like Crocosmia 'Lucifer'

Saturday, 19 July 2014

Patchwork problem solving

A continual problem in my gorgeous sewing room is nowhere apart from the floor to put stuff which I am not using right this minute, but don't want to put away (out of sight, out of mind and all that).  As I don't like putting things on the floor I use the work table instead.  And therein lies the problem - it takes no time at all for the table to be covered with 'stuff' and then I can't do any work because there is no room on the table.  Lack of a decent sized design wall is a niggle too.

So, rescue the unused top of a kitchen dresser from the basement, pop it onto the worktables and it soaks up all the baskets of fabric scraps and WIPs.

This means a small bookcase can be evicted which leaves a convenient space for a couple of insulation boards.  Covered with cotton batting they make an easily accessible design wall that can tuck out of the way when not needed.

And where to put all the tubs of pins, needles and mobile paraphernalia?  Well, many years ago my dearest friend J. made me this gorgeous bag.  I used it for a long time as my daily handbag but it's not really suitable for an outdoor life in a wet climate.  Using it as my sewing basket means it is constantly to hand and always reminds me of J. when I see it :-)

Little Miss Perfect is quite happy with all the changes because there is now a comfy bed for her under my table.  Tough life, huh?


Wednesday, 16 July 2014


G & T o'clock :-)

Monday, 14 July 2014


Even though it is a wonderful warm summer, we still do get a bit of rain.  And if you are a young red squirrel, where better to go to get out of an unexpected shower than the local cafe?


Sunday, 13 July 2014

Whitewater Dash

This is such a simple, gentle, lovely little walk.  Why the heck don't I do it more often?

Saturday, 12 July 2014

Sunny on Sale Fell

(finally published on 31st March 2015 . . . good grief!)