Monday, 30 October 2017

First frost

(New 2017 blog post published in December 2019)

Well, that's the Gunnera knackered until next year . . .

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 😊😊 )

Monday, 23 October 2017

Multiple uses for our mini-motorhome

It is time to change the way we both eat; not go on a "diet" but change our diets.  It has been a couple of years since I slashed carbs from my plate in order to help my blood glucose control and an unexpected side effect was that weight has fallen off me to the point where sometimes I have to eat more than I might want, just in order not to lose any more.

Since retiring Management has lost a chunk of weight but things have stalled and he wants/needs to lose more.  He has decided to join me in a very low carb, high fat, high protein way of eating and as we needed to go to Carlisle it made sense to stop at the massive Sainsbury's and do a big shop of fruit and veg.  Very occasionally I resent the fact that living in our rural idyll means we are limited in what local shops sell, and that was very much the case today.  It felt odd to be confronted with such a massive selection in the fruit & veg department, but I confess to loving it πŸ˜€πŸ˜€

Management sat with Bill and Daisy whilst I filled a trolley with items that most people take for granted, and that I don't see every week in Cockermouth or the nearest Morrisons.  There was rather a lot of shopping - we completely filled the fridge and one of the top lockers as well.

We moved Bill down the road and had a quick lunch in the park underneath Carlisle castle where Daisy was thoroughly unimpressed to be told she was walking along the line of Hadrian's Wall.

Maybe not the most salubrious place to ever have lunch but what an absolute treat to be able to chill out for an hour after a major supermarket blitz . . .  I could really get to like this "van life"

Next, the main reason for our trip - another visit to Carlisle Business Supplies.  For some weeks we have been trying to find a new office chair for me, but it is not easy.  Thanks to the endless patience of many staff at CBS we have tried multiple chairs, all of which have been delivered to us cheerfully with no charge but last week the latest one went back leaving me with nothing I could sit on at my desk that did not give me instant shoulder pain - we've learnt that posture is a major contributory factor to the problems I've got.  Well the long and short of it is that we've brought home the 'best so far' which is comfortable (a couple of weeks ago I had 3 or 4 days with no pain in my right shoulder - get the flags out!!) but the build quality of the chair is suspect to say the least, and I am going to use it whilst the chap who runs CBS gets a couple more in - items that he doesn't normally stock but thinks might suit me.

Bill to the rescue - although Daisy was a bit confused!

On the way home I wanted to stop at Dobbies to see the Christmas decorations, unfortunately I was a bit early as they were still stocking shelves.  Management was amused by the item he refered to as "that well known Christmas character - the Festive Rat".

And I was (sort of) amused by the Seasonal Garden Gnome*.

We didn't buy anything!

*  As a "gardener" I have often been the recipient of a "garden related" present chosen by someone who means well, but clearly has no idea what it really takes to manage a large lump of land ... sadly many of these gifts either break the first time out, or end up at a charity shop.  I live in dread of someone gifting us with a gnome .... should that ever happen the hapless creature is going to find itself tied to a large stone and drowned at the bottom of the Big Pond.

Thursday, 19 October 2017

(Hashtag) Absolutely.Spoilt.Rotten!

If the Met Office are to be believed it will be very wet tomorrow, and the day after that, and Sunday and Monday as well ... oh goody πŸ’¦πŸ˜•.  It made sense, therefore, to get out and ‘play’ a little today.   Although only our second proper trip out it doesn’t take much time to pack Bill with a few bits to eat and drink, and we set off down the coast to St Bees.

There was much cogitating when we got to the carpark - no large spaces for long vehicles and a big sign that says ‘no camping or overnighting’ but neither are there any height barriers to keep motorhomes and campervans out completely.  So we parked away from the more popular rows of spaces which are closest to the beach, bought a ticket and crossed our fingers (and subsequently decided life will be much easier if we go to more out-of-the-way places that don’t have white lines all over tarmac!) But I digress . . . What luxury to put the kettle on as soon as we arrived and have a coffee whilst deciding which path to walk :)

The tide was fully in and walking on the pebbly part of the beach is too much like hard work so we headed up the cliff path towards the golf course.  It was surprisingly warm and eventually Daisy had to lose her coat, but not before she’d run around like a mad, zoomy thing clearly enjoying the fresh air and sandy path beneath her feet.

Fairly dull, and the light was very flat, but still good to be out. 

She is less impressed with having her feet wiped before coming into the campervan!

We have decided that just because I can produce a “full English” in a tiny space doesn’t mean it is a good idea, so lunch was scrambled eggs with smoked trout for me and ham for Management.

Madam was MEANT to be eating proper dog food but she can be a bit of a Princess when we are out and not eat or drink .... which might be how she came to be sitting in MY seat drinking MY milk ...  ??hashtag Absolutely.Spoilt.Rotten?   I know some people say you should not give milk to adult dogs - but Daisy adores anything dairy-related and it doesn’t give her an upset tummy.

And then it was time to come home and chill out some more.   Once in more familiar surroundings, Madam managed to devour a bowl of her favourite food at speed that would have impressed a labrador and has been curled up in her bed sleeping soundly ever since.

Wednesday, 18 October 2017


Knowing how gutted I am to be missing Starcamp, Management offered to drive Bill this morning to take advantage of an hour or two of brightness.  It could also have been a ruse to distract me from the fact that I am at home and not in Northumberland but I don't care - it worked!

We only travelled a few miles and stopped in the National Trust carpark at Kettlewell, on the edge of Derwentwater.  A tiny little spot with room for less than 20 vehicles - but one heck of a view.

A not-too-muddy walk of about a mile each way to have a look at the Lodore Falls.  The view was much better than the photo :-)

Although not the best thing for blood sugar control, there are days when a pasty from Harrison's in Cockermouth is the only thing that will do - especially when it's been popped in the campervan oven for a few minutes and is piping hot!

This is someone being really silly eating biscuits whilst laying on our side!  (It is also a photographer who left a brand new camera on the wrong setting, hence the lack of focus - perhaps I should RTFM!)

This is someone being really sulky because Daddy won't share any of his pasty 😏

Tuesday, 17 October 2017

I ~know~ I should not grumble . . .

But I am having a hard time not grumbling incessantly inside my head.

We got off very lightly last night.  A silver birch in the Coppice has lost a small branch and half of the old tarpaulin covering our huge log pile is in a field somewhere.  It certainly is not at Bag End, or in any of the neighbours' gardens.  Its disintegration has left an unholy mess of small shreds which will take quite sometime to clear up, but in the great scheme of things ... bla bla bla.

Daisy was, as usual, scared of the wind and insisted on sleeping virtually on top of me.  Just what I needed - 23kg of comatose canine, she definitely got more sleep than me.  There is no avoiding the fact that a very, very hurty shoulder is a full-blown frozen shoulder and there is no way I can manage five days at Kielder Forest in the caravan.  We were due to go away tomorrow for the Autumn Starcamp but it's not going to happen.  I did suggest that Management went anyway, either taking my car and the caravan, or going in Bill, but he didn't really want to go without me.

Compared to thousands without power in Ireland, and fatalities, and all the other senseless happenings in the world right now I should not grumble.  However, knowing something and truly feeling it and believing it are two different things.  I look forward to the next Starcamp from the moment I get home from the last one.  The caravan was cleaned, food sorted, kit boxes ready to be packed; guess they are going back in their cupboard now  😞😞

Monday, 16 October 2017

Batten down the hatches

It's a bit of a glum start to the week at Bag End.

Driving Bill last Monday resulted in a sore left arm - we put that down to the fact that I've not driven a car with a manual gearbox for a couple of years, and even Management acknowledges the dash-mounted gear stick is in a slightly unusual place.  Things were not particularly bad, but not getting better, and on Friday I popped out to do some errands.  Must have lifted or carried a bag badly but from Friday night my left shoulder/upper arm has been hell.  Quite ironic really that the chronically painful right shoulder is behaving itself perfectly at present!  So it has not been a good weekend, with enough pain last night that for a brief and miserable moment this morning I considered a trip to A&E . . .

Fortunately once a healthy dose of painkillers kicked in the idea of spending half a day in an over-stretched Accident & Emergency department was shelved in favour of self-management😎    With the weather that is due in the next few hours it's not as if we were planning on doing anything much.

Over the weekend we moved anything which might get blown over and just have to cross our fingers that the 60mph wind which is forecast for this evening will not do too much damage.