Keswick 2013

The Alley to Crandy NookFire!Street TheatreInvaders!Tiny Castle CragCatbells and Maiden Moor
Pitch and Putt22 years later...NappingWatching the sleepy cowsGrandma's cakeSkiddaw
WaitingLow cloudShelteringLakeland rainThe Keswick LaunchRigging
Amy & SamDistant boatLow cloud 2Coming closerDe-riggingHappy sailor!

Keswick 2013, a set on Flickr.

Another Cumbrian adventure in the North Lakes with the Family and In-Laws of Mine.

Mountain walking, Wayfarer sailing, Lake kayaking, ice-cream eating, Jennings drinking, game playing, jigsaw failing, sheep spotting, photograph taking, waterfall finding…

A great time was had by all.


Weekly Photo Challenge: Unfocused

Although Daughter of Mine was actually very focused – concentrating hard whilst sewing badges onto her Guide camp blanket…

Weekly Photo Challenge: Hope

'Just' plastic bricks, but through your eyes they could be anything...

Son of Mine. His hopes. His dreams.

Today –  that maybe Mum will make time to construct a little more of Darth Maul’s Sith Infiltrator (“Mum, it amuses me, watching you struggle…”). And a very much looked-forward-to piano lesson.

Tomorrow – a visit to a friend’s house and his weekly football training with his local club.

This month – a fun half-term holiday, perhaps a visit to the cinema? That his request for his favourite dish of moules marinières isn’t ignored for much longer.

The future? Relayed to us at last night’s parents’ evening, overheard by his teacher: Son of Mine and his two best friends discussing university tuition fees, agreeing a house-share and mapping out future careers playing to their collectively agreed strengths – one in history, one in English and his own ‘specialist subject’ – maths.

Fly that kite as high as you want...

Daughter of Mine. Her hopes. Her dreams.

Today – that she manages to get her fruit smoothie, made in Food Tech, home without spilling it.

Tomorrow – to end the week without too much more homework, allowing some respite over the weekend to play in the promised snowfall.

This month – that she gets some time in half-term to hang, metaphorically speaking, sloth-like from the comfort of her bed, emerging only to have breakfast perhaps 30 minutes before the rest of the Family have lunch.

The future? Endless possibilities – secondary school is bringing out new favourites alongside the primary school years’ answers to ‘What do you want to be when you grow up?’ Now, a 9-year old’s dream of being a scientist, electrical engineer or contemporary dancer have been thrown aside in favour of a soon-to-be-12-year old’s world of possibilities. A textile artist. A history teacher. Or something to do with music – she has recently found ‘her‘ instrument: the saxophone. Possibly languages, which at the moment, both excite and enthuse her.

My hopes for Children of Mine?

That they continue to enjoy learning at every stage of their life. That they stay healthy, happy and fulfilled in whatever path they choose to take. And like every other parent today, that they don’t rack up massive debt on the way to get to where they want to be; then realise they didn’t want to be there in the first place…

Oh, and that they’ll visit their grumpy old mum and dad when they’re settled in a little cottage in the Lake District.  Husband of Mine will be strumming his ukulele and mandolin in the pubs for beer money.  I will be avidly blogging, blipping, tweeting and Flickring (or their future equivalents) about my adventures on the fells.

For real.


Boxing Day Blues

Boxing Day for me is always tinged with a little bit of sadness. This year it has been five years since the last time I saw my dad. I remember hugging him goodbye and teasing him about losing weight in the New Year – just over six weeks later he suffered a fatal heart attack.

My dad on the left, with my father-in-law, taken at Children of Mine's christening in 2004

But every day I thank God for my other ‘Dad’ – my father-in-law. Together, they made a formidable pair – always there to help in a crisis; always there to have fun at a celebration.

In the 25 years I’ve known my father-in-law, he’s always been loved and recognised for his own individual contribution to the Family’s lives. I remember hugging him, this time at my dad’s funeral and sobbing “…at least I still have you.”

His contributions are endless. He designs, makes, mends, grows and initiates ‘things’: handmade toys for the Children; surprises for his loved ones and friends; vegetables and fruit for the table.  He shares his scientific and electrical knowledge, whether helping re-wire a house or teach Daughter of Mine about circuits; and creates legendary games, puzzles and quizzes for Christmas night.

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Even this Boxing Day night, he left our house armed with a multitude of things he had offered to mend: a spring catch on a secret treasure chest he had made for Son of Mine’s birthday this year; the flag pole on the wooden castle he had made for his fourth birthday (joking that it was now out of guarantee); and the attachments for my Kenwood Chef, to loosen the adjustment nuts (because Husband of Mine doesn’t have a vice). He also left with another wood project to design and make – a series of display boxes for Son of Mine’s collection of gemstones and fossils.

It was also my father-in-law who introduced me to the Lake District and Keswick, back in 1991 when newly married Husband of Mine and I, desperate for a cheap holiday, jumped at the chance to act as support team while my new in-laws walked Wainwright’s famous Coast to Coast walk. We camped, in the rain, near Bassenthwaite Lake then moved our tent to Kirkby Stephen for a few days of glorious sunshine – leaving me in love with Cumbria, but alas, not with camping!

This year we bought him a ukulele for Christmas.

Thankfully, Mother-in-Law of Mine got the joke...

“To ‘Davey’…Merry Christmas…” read the tag, so written because he can play ‘Davey Crockett’ on any instrument you care to mention. He may even get to ‘guest’ with Husband of Mine’s folk band – ‘The Renegade Dogs’!

So with a bit more practice, maybe next Boxing Day’s ‘blues’ won’t be so bad…

Weekly Photo Challenge: Mountains

Now you might think this would have been an easy topic for me, given that I have just returned from a two-week trip around Scotland and the North of England.

No so. Still ploughing through the hundreds of photographs I took, there are no snaps that are any more than just that, a record of another family holiday. Lots of the Children of course, and of the things we did together – beachcombing in Broadford Bay; the Skye Highland Games in Portree; walking – mainly in the rain – with waterproofs on and hoods up; swimming in the Fairy Pools in the Cuillin Mountains; eating vast portions of mussels; even forming a Roman Army at Hadrian’s Wall.

But for the sake of the photo challenge, here’s a view of the Cuillins from a seal-watching boat trip from Elgol through Loch Scavaig to Loch Coruisk.

Award-winning landscape photographer Stewart Smith was in Skye at the same time as the Family. A few tweets were exchanged: about the midges, the weather and the fact that he was on holiday, not at work, and therefore not getting up at 2am to capture the dramatic light across the mountain peaks that forms the essence of his photography.

So why not pop on over to to view his holiday snaps of the same area.

They’re a bit better than mine…

One day of summer…


Whilst I was blogging slogging away at the washing and ironing pile, Children of Mine were playing politically correct Native Americans (that’s ‘Indians’ to 70s children like me) indoors with furniture, blankets and cushions making a teepee den. Dressed up in, well as authentic a Native American costume as they could find (under-5-pink-squaw-outfit and Charleston flapper is more like it), the arms of the sofa provided a horse each, and the patio doors became a convenient target for arrow practice.

DSC04020DSC04016 (2)

That is, until Husband of Mine stopped them – firing arrows at the glass that is – not the entire game. “Mummy said we could!” – came back the plaintive cry. Er no, I just think I didn’t forbid it…

So then, discovering it was actually quite warm outside, they decided to venture outside for a dunk in the over-sized paddling pool in the garden.


But they were thwarted again, this time by the temperature of the water. A quick competition to win 20p for being the first to get their shoulders under, then their heads, and they were shivering as much as if they’d been plunged into a pool of ice cold water.

Which wasn’t far off the truth; it would have taken a lot more than 20p to get me in there.

“It’s all culottes!” Why I hate clothes shopping

I’m sorry to keep harping on about my grandmother, but I have just had a ‘culottes’ moment.

My grandmother, or Nana as she was to me, once summed up a dismal shopping trip for clothes in the 1980s with the phrase, “It’s all culottes!”. Husband of Mine and I still refer to this catchphrase whenever we struggle to find something in the shops.

I had the luxury of a hour or two on my own in my local city centre, whilst the rest of the Family went swimming, with the intention of getting a couple of things to wear on holiday. Now, I haven’t really bought any summer clothes this year (not a lot of point, given the weather) and those I bought in the last two summers haven’t really had much of an outing except for the two holidays abroad that we’ve taken. This year, although not heading for the Lakes in August, normality has resumed with our usual holiday pattern of self-catering in the UK – only this time it’s Scotland.  I knew then there was no point in getting sidetracked by skimpy floaty things, their prices slashed in the sales due to the combination of austerity measures and the appalling July weather.

So I trotted round the usual High Street places, failing to find anything I even wanted to try on. Don’t get me wrong, I love dressing up – probably more than the next guy – give me a costume and I’m in my element. It’s when it’s me,the real me, that it’s often never right. Too patterned. Too fussy. Wrong length. Boring. Not in my size. Too strappy. Too plain. Would look wrong up a mountain. What shoes would I wear with it?

“It’s all culottes!”

My clothes size has fluctuated in the last 20 years between an 8 and a 14. Not really through any of my doing – apart from the obvious pregnancy-related weight gain, my actual size has remained fairly constant. It seem to be the fault of clothing manufacturers not just in their labelling, but in the strange proportions they seem to adopt for ratios such as waist to hip and shoulder to underarm.

Take trousers for instance. I buy size 12, which fit round the hips, but are always, always, too big around the waist and result in an unsatisfactory attempt to gather the excess material with a belt. Yes, yes, I know it’s not fashionable to have high waists, but I can’t be doing with muffin tops. And then this strange shoulder to underarm measurement; I think mine must be abnormally short as when combined with my tiny boobs, so many tops seem to have either spare inches of strap poking above my shoulders, or sit so low that they expose both my décolletage and my ribs in one go.

So continuing my search, and remembering my reason for browsing was not high fashion, I was back in my clothes shopping comfort zone. This centres around layers of comfortable, quick-drying and mostly warm clothing suitable for, this year, walking up mountains and along coasts, visiting the Skye Highland Games, beach picnics, a bit of photography followed by crashing with a pint in the local pub. I even found myself eyeing up ‘insect repellent’ dresses, thinking one of them would be perfect evening wear to fend off the wee midges.

I didn’t buy a dress, but did manage to leave with a stone-coloured, snappily worded ‘travel’ skirt (can’t one travel in a normal skirt then) and two pairs of trousers; one pair are culottes cropped so I must remember to smother my ankles in insect repellent.

So thanks, Nana, for still being with me on shopping trips… x