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.


Bugger Bognor?

As the crow flies, Bognor Regis is my nearest seaside resort. Whether or not King George V truly said those controversial words, the town still comes under a lot of criticism, some deserving, some not so.

But with the lovely weather that has been filling our days during April and early May, I took Children of Mine down to the beach for the afternoon during the Easter holidays where they amused themselves for hours until the tide went out, throwing stones, digging sand sculptures and making fleeting new friends with children who were down on holiday for the Easter break.


Children of Mine skimming stones - "lower, lower!"

Though sunny, the day wasn’t warm enough for me, so I’d gone in attire more suited for a mountain walk, complete with cuppa, paper, book and my stash of art material bought at the Cumberland Pencil Museum during my last visit to Keswick.


Never go anywhere without my cuppa!

So there I was, for what ended up being five hours, sitting on the rather uncomfortable pebbles.  A friend popped along to keep me company for an hour or so, during which we had a much-needed catch up, but the rest of the time I dabbled with a bit of sketching.

And here’s the result.

On the beach

As with my other artwork on this blog, I’ve a long way to go before wowing anyone with my skills. But I had fun with my creative activity – and isn’t that what it’s all about?

So for all its faults (and there are many), the simple pleasures of an afternoon in Bognor Regis are there for the taking…


‘Good things get better, bad get worse. Wait, I think I meant that in reverse.’ – Company

Things can go backwards, yes? Some of my favourite things are backwards – Sondheim’s Merrily We Roll Along – where the story is told in reverse chronological order and the opening episode of Series 3 of Red Dwarf set on a version of Earth where everything is reversed.

So this is the week I start a backwards blog project.

You see, I’ve just been up to the Lakes with the Family; the first time we’ve been up there in the true winter months. I thought it would be fun to blog whilst there, having taken with me no less than three cameras, a laptop, a iPod Touch and a mobile with the WordPress app installed.

I thought I could easily keep up with postaweek2011 this way. But understandably, I spent more time up the mountains than writing about them. My ideas of a daily blog became nothing more than scribbled (what is the digital equivalent of ‘scribbled’? ‘tapped’? ‘prodded’?) notes:

Sunday. Tried to get to Giants Hands. Daughter of Mine – bad ankle. Portinscale gift shop. Bought postcards. Photography by lake – Nicol End. Husband and Son of Mine went on to find geocache. Daughter of Mine rescued in car. Keswick Festival of Light in evening. Chips, curry sauce and pint of Jennings in front of The Sound of Music.

You get the gist. Not hugely entertaining. And not even accompanied by one of the 800+ photos I had taken as I had managed to forget the leads to connect the better of my two cameras to the laptop, and the ones shot on my phone were only really suitable for a quick Facebook update.

So here’s one for starters. Family of Mine atop High Rigg with views to Skiddaw and Blencathra.

So there may be blog entries to follow. Backwards. Memories of things that were.

Or are they things that might be?

Improvised musicals

I start this post with an apology.

To the group of 40 or so students from the University of Virginia who contacted me last year about a new project they were working on – an online musical on YouTube, that would be developed weekly with help from viewers’ comments and suggestions.

Sorry that I didn’t watch it when I was supposed to. In September.

My only defence is that I was still recovering from the after-effects of my involvement in last September’s 24-hour musical (which incidentally, turned out to be Stephen Schwartz’s Pippin), oh, and that they contacted me on what happened to be the eve of my birthday, so I’m sure there was something incredibly exciting going on. Not.

Anyway, only six months late, I tuned in. Of course, the whole audience participation thing is over, so I have no way of knowing whether any of my suggestions would have influenced the final piece.

Episode One of The Online Musical made me smile. In a good way, so I will be watching Episode 2, hopefully sooner than Christmas. I’m not going to get into a long review here, frankly I should have done this in September for it to count, but for the record, I enjoyed what I saw – a bunch of enthusiastic people (all noticeably younger than me) making a musical out of the idea that life really is a musical. Which is what I and many of my musical theatre friends actually believe should happen anyway.

Coming soon is the group’s next project, The Mini Musicals, a series of 10-15 minute musicals based on topics suggested by their audience – that could be you and me! Anyway, I will try to follow in a timely manner this Spring, and I wish them luck as the project unfolds…

… incidentally, I’m seeing Showstopper! The Improvised Musical at the lovely Theatre by the Lake in Keswick at the weekend, so maybe I’ll pick up some ideas?!

It’s gone, all gone…

In the weeks since my last post, I’ve felt my creativity has all but disappeared.  Back in the real world of 10th birthday celebrations, Dogs’ Dinners, St George’s Day parades with the Beavers & Scouts, the permanently over-flowing laundry basket, work, endless trips in the car to clubs and activities, and those Children of Mine demanding what seemed like all my time, energy and emotions, I felt as I usually do post-show; thankful for a night in to allow myself to snooze in front of the TV in the comfort of my own living room, yet bereft of that adrenaline-fuelled rush that only show week, or in the case of the 24 Hour Musical,’ show day’, can provide.

It’s good, isn’t it,
Grand, isn’t it,
Great, isn’t it,
Swell, isn’t it,
Fun, isn’t it?

Clinging on to performance in any way I could, I took Children of Mine to see the touring production of Joseph and the Amazing Technicoloured Dreamcoat, a show that I, but not they, had seen live before.

Then the Family went en masse to a production of Titanic the Musical in Godalming. We all thoroughly enjoyed the show; as predicted I cried for probably the last 20 minutes, from ‘To the Lifeboats‘ to the very end. Particularly when the young lad who had boarded the lifeboat, cried out “Daddy!”, and threw his teddy to the father he knew he would never see again.

An impromptu trip to London with friends to see Hair and Jersey Boys completed my theatregoing for April.

So it wasn’t all bad.  I just was on a different side of the stage than I’d been used to for a while.

You can like the life you’re living…

A recent family walk in the woods reminded me of some of the other things in my life that I enjoy.

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In a week in which Son of Mine announced that if faced with the choice of cuddling me or the Devil, he would choose the Devil; he was actually extremely cute on our walk around Burton Mill Pond. As he was leaning nonchalantly on the sluice gate, I asked, “All right, matey?”, to which he replied, “Yup, I’m just enjoying the view.” Just as if the view was the best thing in his possession at that very moment. Priceless.

You can live the life you like…

Out on a walk is often the time Husband of Mine and I get to ponder on Life’s Big Plan.

In my fantasy in my head, I’m living in Keswick in the Lake District. Shopping at Booths for essentials and seeking out local produce to support the independent shops. I climb the fells by day, and hang out at the Theatre by the Lake at night. Sipping my pint of Jennings in The Oddfellows Arms, I listen to folk music from a local band, The Renegade Dogs, who despite being wussy southerners, have managed to gain acceptance of sorts.

Cut back to reality – explaining Life’s Big Plan is too tall an order for today’s post. 

Yet thinking about it, I have realised that I have been creative in the last four weeks – practising photography, successfully auditioning for productions of Jesus Christ Superstar and Little Shop of Horrors, spring clearing (I love tidying but hate cleaning, spring or otherwise) during which I discovered my O level art portfolio in the loft, and playing a bit of piano and guitar.  The creativity has just slowed down for a few weeks to a pace that doesn’t involve me being out every night.

And that’s good, isn’t it?

She’ll be coming ’round the mountain

It was sunny today here in Sussex – so here’s a sunny-ish Lake District photo to celebrate, taken last August on a circular walk incorporating Causey Pike and Sail.

Looking east from towards Keswick

The Family were on holiday last August together with In-Laws of Mine, in the week leading up to two big birthdays – my 40th and my father-in-law’s 70th!  On the day of this walk, they had gone with the children to climb Castle Crag in Borrowdale, leaving me and Husband of Mine to enjoy this long walk.  

Starting at Stair, we made the ascent to Causey Pike via Rowling End, then went on to Sail and Crag Hill before descending some very steep scree to the valley below.  It was a fabulous walk – as always – but made even more entertaining by watching a group who were gorge walking in Stoneycroft Gill. 

Gorge walking involves walking and scrambling through water, swimming across pools and climbing up waterfalls.   Judging by the cheers and shouts of encouragement, the group were obviously having great fun – plucking up the courage to jump from a rocky ledge into the freezing Lakeland water, and then heading downstream to do it all again at the next suitable place.  

If you fancy a bit of gorge walking this year (and I don’t), then check out this video:

Personally, I’d rather just go up, along, round and down the mountain.  Singing ‘aye-aye-yippee-yippee-aye’.  With a squashed cheese and pickle sandwich and a flask of tea in my rucksack.  Follow that with Cumberland sausage and mash in the Oddfellows Arms in Keswick, washed down with a pint of Jennings, and a performance at the Theatre by the Lake

Who could ask for anything more?

Rambling on and on…

Right.  Probably about time I mentioned a hill in my blog.  I got into walking early on my relationship with Husband of Mine*;  in a field of cows on the Isle of Wight; on the South Downs and then in the mountains of Slovenia – in fact, it was Svinjak near Bovec that pretty much cemented things in 1988 (he proposed; I accepted). 

Svinjak from east of Bovec

This was followed a couple of years later by a holiday in the English Lake District, carting the In-Laws of Mine’s* luggage from B&B to B&B while they walked the Coast to Coast walk, in return for the use of their car for the duration of the holiday.  Despite the lousy campsite at Bassenthwaite, I fell in love with Keswick in the North Lakes, and it is here I escape to in the flesh, or in my head – when times are good, or bad, or in-between.  The header at the top of my blog is one of the most photographed shots in the Lakes – Catbells from the shores of Derwentwater – with another favourite family climb, Castle Crag, just visible in the foreground at the end of the lake.  I’m proud to say the photograph is one of mine – I’m no expert, but then to me the mountains never fail to show their best side when I point my camera at them.

The Family – Daughter of Mine* and Son of Mine* – now have to share our love of walking; at the moment it seems quite happily.  Here’s a snap taken last weekend on a walk from Amberley to Arundel – casting our family shadow across the Arun valley.

*The Family of Blood – Doctor Who, Series 3 – share such scary coincidences with my immediate family that I thought these pseudonyms to be appropriate.  The resemblance is most apparent in Son of Mine and Daughter of Mine, who are indeed sometimes “gaseous entities that can control Human bodies” (namely mine – “twist”, “little” and “finger” are words that come to mind).  And The Family are all fans of DW – past, present and future…