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: 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.


Why I love rhododendrons, sheep and tea

For all my indifference to gardening, I love rhododendrons. Why?

Because I spent a day wandering around the world-famous Rothschild Collection of rhododendrons and azaleas at Exbury Gardens on my honeymoon in a wet June in 1990.

Because the first time that I visited Cumbria in the spring, I realised that there were literally masses of wild rhododendrons, making my favourite place even more special.

Probably because they flourish in the wild, given the correct conditions, and therefore are part of a natural landscape requiring NO MAINTENANCE.

Daughter of Mine groans whenever I say, “Ooh, look at that rhododendron!” because, apparently, I say it all the time. I don’t. Even I know they are not in flower all year round.

Anyway, since visiting Nymans Gardens in Sussex over the Easter weekend and seeing their glorious displays of this beautiful family of plants, I have added ‘plant rhododendrons’ to my ever-growing list of projects.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

But I’ve learnt during my research into the species that it’s not all good news for the rhododendron:

‘Its foliage prevents sunlight reaching forest floors and stops other plants, including tree saplings, from growing.’ – A big problem in Scotland apparently, but presumably in the Cumbrian landscape too?

The leaves, flowers and nectar of some species are poisonous. The domination of the plant in large areas effectively destroys the whole food chain; insects don’t eat it, bird numbers decline because there aren’t any insects to eat, and in turn larger predators such as sparrowhawks are also forced out of their natural habitats by the loss of prey to the area.

Allegedly, humans can get ‘Mad Honey Disease‘ by eating honey made from rhododendron flowers. Not that I plan on becoming a bee keeper, although the disease is short-lived and rarely fatal.

And according to Shepherd’s Blog, sheep have been known to die after eating the plants when other feed is scarce. Thankfully, a common antidote is at hand – a strong cup of tea (or more accurately a stomach tube, drenching gun or dosing bottle of tea). The premise is the tannins in the tea neutralise the poisons.

I just knew a good cuppa cures all.

Cumberland sausage wins protected status

lankyshire sent me this link to the BBC’s confirmation that the Cumberland sausage is now a protected species, ranking alongside the likes of Champagne, Parma ham and Greek feta cheese in having Protected Geographical Indication (PGI) status under EU law.

“Good job too”, says Son of Mine, pictured here tucking into a very delicious specimen recently at the Four in Hand in Keswick.

Tucking into a Cumberland sausage in the Four in Hand


Honister Pass is one of my favourite Lakeland passes, linking Keswick to Buttermere, via the beautiful Borrowdale valley, then on to the village of Lorton where the road winds back to Keswick by way of the Whinlatter Pass, or continues to the market town of Cockermouth.

Last night saw me catching up on my reading pile – the March issue of Cumbria Life, which was waiting for me when I returned from Keswick two weeks ago and the newspapers and magazines that I habitually buy on a Thursday – The Times, the local paper and the Radio Times.

‘Owner of last slate mine dies in air crash.’

My attention was drawn to this small piece in The Times on Thursday 10 March, sadly reporting the death of Mark Weir, the owner of Honister Slate Mine on 9 March, whose helicopter had crashed on his way home from the mine.

It is clear from the tributes that are being posted on the Facebook page set up in his memory, as well as those on the websites of the various local newspapers, that he was an inspirational man with a passion and vision that breathed new life into the last working mine of its kind in England.

I last visited Honister in August 2009, stopping at the café at the mine for a much-needed cuppa, after climbing Haystacks from Buttermere with the Family and in-laws.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

No time to take a mine tour or climb Fleetwith Pike along the Via Ferrata on this occasion, but it was definitely on our wish list to do on a future visit to the Lakes.  We also needed to wait until Son of Mine was older and taller.

And with two under 10s in tow, there was no way Husband of Mine and I could plan that luxury break to Paradigm – the luxury self-catering properties run by Mark’s partner, Jan – with the chance to maybe experience a flight in the helicopter with Mark on his way to or from work at Honister.

As with much in life, the timing was all wrong.

I seem to remember from an interview I read, probably in one of the Cumbrian magazines I subscribe to or the local papers that I tend to buy when I’m up there, that Mark had ideas to create an underground theatre in the mine.  Now that would really have been right up my mountain, if you get my drift.

I didn’t know Mark Weir personally, but with an idea like that, then who knows, maybe an opportunity would have come my way to meet him.

The sad thing is that now I will never get the chance.

My thoughts and prayers go out to his family, friends and colleagues.

Weekly Photo Challenge: Shadow

The Family are all out in the garden, in the lovely sunshine (but biting wind). Children of Mine have been bribed encouraged to help with chores – washing the car, gardening – in return for a pocket money boost.

I am inside, on a mission to come up with a Plan for the Garden. And cook roast pork.

But I got sidetracked, reading blog entries for this week’s photo challenge: ‘Shadow’.  And the first one I clicked on – Gardening, Bumble bee and a Sunset Shadow – defined exactly why I wasn’t in the garden with the Family instead today – “80% of gardening is the equivalent of housework”.

I rest my case.

And so back to the photo challenge – The Shadow Family on the descent from High Rigg, east of Keswick. It’s the only photo of the 800 or so that I took that I’m actually in (I’m second from the right). Hope you like it.

The Shadow Family


‘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?