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: 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 www.stewartsmithphotography.co.uk to view his holiday snaps of the same area.

They’re a bit better than mine…

Devil’s Dyke, West Sussex

DSC03306

The Family made the most of the sunshine last Sunday, driving over to Devil’s Dyke near Brighton, an historic beauty spot on the South Downs Way, that is named after the huge dry valley that carves its way through ridges of rolling chalk grassland.

None of the photographs I took do justice to the depth and scale of the valley. The panorama above, taken from the eastern side, completely conceals the 300 foot deep valley, which according to one of the many stories in local folklore, was dug by the Devil to allow the sea to flood the churches in the Sussex Weald. The digging disturbed an old woman who lit a candle, or angered a rooster causing it to crow (depending on which legend you ‘believe’), making the Devil think that morning was fast approaching. The Devil then fled, leaving his trench unfinished.

Anyway, Children of Mine – my own little Devils – thoroughly enjoyed the afternoon out.

DSC03300

Especially Daughter of Mine, who delighted in all things yellow (her favourite colour – check out those shoes – and yes, she does like butter), including all 395 of the Cinnabar Moth caterpillars she and her brother counted that were feeding on the yellow ragwort.

DSC03288

Weekly Photo Challenge: Tiny

DSC02418

The 'tiny' Family kite flying by the 'giant' windmill

The Family went on an impromptu walk to Halnaker Windmill last weekend. Daughter of Mine and I were out shopping for costume accessories for the show we are both in this week and got a text from Husband of Mine saying that he and Son of Mine had gone up to the windmill to fly kites. So we met them up there, after stopping at home for essentials. Flasks of tea. And my camera.

So they flew the kites, whilst I wandered on Halnaker Hill, snapping away.

I was struck by how tiny everything looked when compared to the windmill – the Family, the kites they were flying, the tiny planes with their vapour trails criss-crossing the sky, the wild flowers and grasses on the hill – even how tiny the features of the coastline looked.

Yet the windmill itself looks tiny from afar. We are lucky enough to be able to see it from our house; the photo below was taken on Boxing Day last year when the snow was still on the ground.

Halnaker Windmill

Halnaker Windmill looking 'tiny' from afar

Here’s some more ‘tiny’ views taken that afternoon:

DSC02433

Laying in the grass for a few shots made everything 'tinier' still

DSC02448

Looking south to the 'tiny' features of the Sussex coast

DSC02507

The 'tiniest' of buttercups

Backwards

‘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?

Dream of sheep…

I turned the computer on tonight to do one thing.  And ended up doing something completely different.

What I was going to do was to continue ‘housekeeping’ on my newly revamped PC by checking all was in order with my digital photos, before writing a post about what I found during my recent tidy of the loft.  What I actually did was to log on to WordPress and got sucked into reading a freshly pressed blog post entitled Surrounded by Sheep.

To steal a line from the author, Elizabeth Lewis Pardoe, I too am ‘… forever surrounded by sheep.’

I have loved sheep for a very long time now.  I think I can trace it back to my first visit to the Lake District, where I fell in love with all Cumbria has to offer. Now every time I see a sheep, I am transported in my mind to the majestic mountains of North West England.

One of my early encounters with a sheep was on the summit of Pillar, where friends and I got talking to a group of walkers who had got into difficulties the night before and slept on the mountain in preference to heading down the mountain in the dark.  The group leader had asked us to take some of their surplus food to ease their load on the way down, which we did without question – but this lone sheep on the summit had his own ideas of how to help. Keen to check out the left-overs, he proceeded to munch his way through a packet of cream crackers, thus earning himself the nickname, ‘Jacob’, and then devoured a nectarine before deftly spitting out the stone.

Over the years I have collected, and been given as presents, many ‘sheep’ objects –  among them a sheep puppet which I bought for myself at a psychology conference in Vienna; a wooden 3d sheep jigsaw which now serves as a worthy addition to our Nativity crib at Christmas; three ceramic ‘flying’ sheep (like Hilda Ogden’s flying ducks), not to mention numerous photographs and pictures, cards and notepaper, pens, pots, keyrings and fridge magnets.

My prize sheep though is the rocking sheep given to me as a 29th birthday present from my parents.  As a child I was desperate to own a rocking horse – of course now I am a parent myself I know what a ridiculously expensive present this is to covet – yet my grandparents went some way towards satisfying my childish wants and bought me a rocking chair, which I still own.

But my lovely dad always remembered this childhood desire of mine, so of course when he saw a rocking sheep sitting outside a shop, somewhere on the way up to London I believe, he persuaded Mother of Mine that nothing else would do as a present that year.  Of course, Daughter of Mine came along about 18 months later, followed by Son of Mine, so it has been played with by children as it was intended, but always on the understanding that it’s ‘Mummy’s special rocking sheep.’  It’s now back in my room, at the foot of the bed –  so the memories are always in sight.

So I’ll leave ewe with a few more of my photographic memories of being ‘surrounded by sheep’…

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

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?
Nowadays.

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.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

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?