Thursday, 31 January 2019


When I got up at 6.30 it was a very chilly 11 degrees in the boot-room, but putting the kettle on was far more important than taking a photograph of the thermostat, although I did spend (probably) too much time looking at the Moon and a beautiful conjunction of Venus (on the left) and Jupiter (right).

A little later it was still exceptionally cold as I warmed up Bill for a trip to Penrith.

Time for a habitation service to make sure the gas is safe and so on.  Management drove over with Daisy, and took us all home, and we repeated the journey at the end of the day.

By 1.00pm the boot room had warmed up and was considerably more comfortable.

An hour later, the solar gain at the front of the house was almost too much - but I refused to draw any blinds to shut out the sun.

Going from -6 to +34 today I have experienced a temperature range of 40 degrees, which is not something you can usually say in January!

Daisy found two trips in the car and unexpected sunbathing all too much.

Wednesday, 30 January 2019


Last year the strange microclimate which surrounds Bag End completely shielded us from "The Beast from the East".  Looks like our meteorological strangeness continues, which is good, because whilst looking at snow on the fells is wonderful, looking at it outside our door is no fun.

Madam loves it when the ground is frosty and had a mad minute first thing, but after that she wanted to go inside and get warm.

Tuesday, 29 January 2019

The reality of living with Daisy

We all know that Daisy is a gentle, well-mannered, beautiful little darling and we are as lucky to have her as she is to have us!

From June 2016 - my photo backlog is dreadful . . .

What is not so widely known is that she is a messy little bugger!

This is her big bed in the sitting room after breakfast and a couple of Bonio.

Darling Girl cannot help it - she has a very 'soft' mouth, like a spaniel, and as she's eating food just falls out the side . . . which must be extremely frustrating for her at times, it has definitely got worse as she has aged.  It certainly keeps our Dyson busy.

Monday, 28 January 2019

45 minutes

We got the promised sunshine today, and bloomin' lovely it has been.  Fairly cold, but hey - it's January - but no breeze today which made things much nicer.  And prettier:

We worked outside but restricted ourselves to no more than an hour.  Yesterday I went for a far-too-brisk walk after lunch to get my blood sugar down and have woken up with the beginning of a case of shin splits.  Bugger.  Idiot.  Need to take it easy for a couple of days.

Having used up the left-hand side of the log store, wood from our two deliveries of sycamore in October was now in the way of accessing seasoned timber on the right.

It took us just 45 minutes to empty the dumpy bag, Management stacked it, we moved the bag and tossed the odd-shaped pieces which do not stack well back into it.  We also took the opportunity to move a small pile of odd bits which had come from the beech delivery in December.  And back indoors inside an hour :)

Sunday, 27 January 2019

Appearances can be deceiving

Sunny day = 😍

Outside temperature served with a side of stiff breeze for added wind chill = 😱

Saturday, 26 January 2019

Drip, drip, drip

Wisp's comment yesterday was so perfect, so absolutely "spot on" and provides the beautifully accurate description of January which I did not realise I was looking for.  Thank you, my dear.

Drip, drip, drip:  Nothing so seriously wrong that you have a "eureka" moment where you can identify the specific cause of all ills, but multiple small little glitches - the weather, a bug that is neither one thing or the other but will not go away, people behaving strangely, politics, closure of more local services, and definitely the weather .  It all adds up.

We had a slow day today - all of us; Her Ladyship Around Whom All Life Revolves was restless last night (I think she ate half her dinner too quickly and got tummy ache) so had a lay-in to recover.  Fearing she might have died in the night and us not realised (NO, not really), I lifted the fleece shielding the front of her night-time pod and woke her up at - drum-roll - 10.55am.  By the way she reacted I think I could have left her there even longer!

For many people, a quite reasonable response to what developed into a cold, wet, miserable grey day would be open a bottle of good wine, or a big box of chocolates, or binge-watch a box set.  For me it is to light the woodburner at lunchtime, oh, we know how to live it up!

Whilst sitting around half reading, half watching Michael Portillo take a train across Canada, and half dozing my brain was able to 'unstick' a couple of quilting decisions which have had me stumped. The first is one of the silly 'dog quilts' pieced in October 2018.  I started quilting these in November and derailed myself, partly because I was not happy with the quilting I did on the first one, and partly because I knew I wanted to make one of the four larger, but couldn't decide what to do.   Brain clicked into gear this afternoon . . .  not pieced yet,  just laid out, seeing a photo confirms I will change the green fabric, but getting close to what I want.

Second bit of 'unsticking' involves a collection of 6" squares from the Bernatex Fossil Ferns range.  I must have had these 15 years or more and it is way past the time they were pieced into something so I can enjoy the fabric.  Inspiration from Pinterest has produced a couple of potential layouts.

Friday, 25 January 2019

Quiet couple of days

Yesterday was fairly 'bleuuuurgh" and not much happened.  Today has been more eventful but no more cheerful ☹️.   It began at around 1.00am when our house alarm started screaming its head off.  The reason was a major power cut in the area and the built-in battery which is meant to cope with these things was not following the job description.  Did not take long to calm down the electronics, but took a very long time to get back to sleep.

Like yesterday, it is damp and grey.  Whilst that is better than trying to walk on ice, the endless leaden gloom is getting everyone down and Wednesday's sunshine seems a very long time ago.  When the clouds lift I expect to see very little snow left, there's certainly none on the Kirkstone Pass weather camera.  A couple more tea light holders have found their way onto the mantle;  continued need for those warming small points of light.

Looking towards Spring, a trip to Wilko resulted in a deep failure in the self-control department.  Only a couple of days ago I told  myself there would be very few seed sowings this year so I was free to go away without leaving M. with the chore of greenhouse watering.  Yeah, clearly that idea is working really well!

Whilst in town a chat with the pharmacy lady in Boots reveals that the current 'bug' that M. and I cannot shake is shared by about a third of the local population.  Another reason to want this winter over;  even though the days are already a noticeable hour longer than at Solstice it still feels so dark all the time.  I know we should not "wish our lives away" but Spring cannot arrive soon enough.

Once home I had a letter from Santander telling me how much they value me as a customer.  They value me so much they are closing our local branch, plus the one in the next nearest town.  In a fit of "I can feel a rant coming on" I looked online at the complete list of branches closing this year and was surprised they are not just singling out small, rural communities.  Affluent areas in the south are also losing their branches, the truth I guess is that these companies want us all to do everything online.  It is much cheaper and simpler for THEM.

It will not be long before there are no banks in Cockermouth apart from the local building society.

This afternoon one of our neighbours informed me that I will starve after 1st April because the only fresh food that would be imported post-Brexit is going to be the shoddy stuff that European producers could not sell anywhere else.  That's a cheerful prospect . . . as long as the next power cut doesn't last for days we can eat out of the freezer.  Made another massive casserole with supervision from the In-House Trip Hazard.

I call it Beef ProvenΓ§al, there's no recipe, no quantities:  local meat, onion, garlic, peppers, mushroom, jars of  a Loyd Grossman tomato-based sauce.  I only ever buy the sauces when they're half price, and a generous portion of casserole works out in the region of £1.50 each.  I know the blogosphere is full of frugal people who can feed their entire family for that much, I am not one of those cooks.  This is going to be absolutely gorgeous tomorrow night with brown rice.

I know, I know, if this is what my worst day looks like then I am miles ahead of the game.  But it has still been a tiring day and we will both be glad to get to Saturday.  Darling girl doesn't care, as long as Her People are in sight and sticking to a known routine.

Wednesday, 23 January 2019

A room with a view . . .

I had an early appointment in Cockermouth and it was a tad nippy first thing.  Not for the first time I thanked whoever decided to fit heated seats in my Subaru, a luxury I've never had before.

The rest of the day was just utterly gorgeous, although when I tried to go for a local walk late morning I didn't get far as, despite wall-to-wall sunshine the tarmac was a sheet of ice.  As pavements are fairly uncommon around here, my road walk got cancelled.

It was Skiddaw's turn in the spotlight today

Although the fells above Loweswater were looking pretty good too

Grisedale Pike

Unimpressed and definitely not keen to leave her warm cave for the late afternoon walk.

Mega sized panorama, until the Blogger servers squished it into submission 😠😠

Taken with M's far-more-suited-to-the-Milky-Way 14mm lens:

Tuesday, 22 January 2019

The lights are on

Today, the lights are on - but there has been no-one home.

I was tired yesterday as a result of my moon-watching but today is a whole 'nother universe.  That is always the way when I miss sleep, I'm moderately OK the following morning but the day after - forget it πŸ˜΄  

At last we have 'proper snow' in the distance, whilst Bag End just had cloud and the occasional hail shower.

Whiteside living up to her name:

Far too cold to even think about getting on in the garden, so I spent another day scanning photos.  I have finished the Rhodes holiday and moved on to skiing pictures, which seemed appropriate given the conditions. This was the view from my kitchen in France :-)

Monday, 21 January 2019


I did something really daft last night, or was it this morning?  I woke up just after 3.00, checked the time and decided that "it was a sign" so I got up, got dressed and watched the lunar eclipse.  Silly girl, I don't do well without a full eight hours, and as I didn't go back to bed until after totality (which was 5.12am) I am beyond knackered today.

No photos because I couldn't be ***ed to get M.'s camera and lenses out (they are optimised for astronomy) and also because I wanted to just sit and experience the eclipse, not spend all my time fussing with photographs.  It is certainly true that the best things in life are not things, and it was definitely worth today's exhaustion.  Total eclipses only happen every two or three years and there is more chance of it being wet and cloudy than having the clear sky I was blessed with last night.  I can catch up on lost sleep, but I will have last night's memories for a very long time.

The day has not been a total bust:  laundry, fill the log baskets, the usual daily housework, trip to the supermarket.

Although I know I didn't disturb Daisy during the night, she too seems very sleepy today:

Supper now, then a very early night.  I have some Zzzzz's to catch up on.

Sunday, 20 January 2019

Why this is a s*d of a job

More photo scanning on Sunday, with snooker on in the background.  There are worse ways to spend a cloudy and cold day.

In September 1991, M. and I had a glorious late summer holiday in Rhodes.  I adore heat and we both love history, it is a fabulous place to visit and one day in the future, one sad dog-less day, it is somewhere we would both like to return to * .  28 years ago this was early in our relationship, so we both took photos and had two sets of prints made.

Problem number one:  we both used lovely big albums sold by Boots.  Nearly three decades on the prints have stuck to the backing board and occasionally cannot be removed without ripping.  Whilst I can scan the pictures stuck to the pages I have to physically cut up the books to do.

Problem number two:  numerous duplicates across the albums plus all the 'extras' which did not get as far as albums but we kept in packets.

It took most of the afternoon just to sort the prints out before I could begin scanning.  Reminded me why this is a pig of a job that is very easy to abandon and why I have made little progress in the last ten years!

*  For the time being I will ignore the fact that Rhodes is an island - and that means a plane or a long boat journey, or both.  Hmmmm

Saturday, 19 January 2019

Revisiting old memories

I have spent much of the last two days scanning photos of Ollie.  Surprisingly I have not been upset once, instead it has been lovely to revisit memories from 20 years ago and smile as I find I can remember exactly where we were and what we were doing when each picture was taken.

There are no favourites, that would not be possible.  The picture quality isn't superb, despite my scanning at the highest resolution I can without introducing noise and distortion, but as long as I do not try to enlarge them too much, things are fine ☺️

It took me hours every week to get his coat like this:

But by the following morning he would be "back to normal"

He loved to swim

and to run

and to jump

and to eat sticks

and to sleep wherever was most comfortable on any given day, regardless of whose bed it really was

Looking back at these pictures I am left with an overriding sense of what a happy chap he was, and what a bloody good life we were able to give him πŸΆπŸΎπŸ™‚