Back to a full week at work but some small wild highlights to warm the soul along the way.
Enjoying the walks home.
Bucolic beauty on the doorstep. I am lucky. But there is one unwelcome visitor on the verge …. Grrrrr….
Never fear I skirted the obstacle – bit too close to the road for my liking – and carried along my (slightly less) merry way.
Yesterday saw me back in the wonderful city of Leeds. The bus and train journeys to and fro are a delight in themselves and I spotted what looked like lapwings and a fallow deer doe with her fawn as we chugged along the Bentham Line across the Yorkshire Dales. It is a super train ride.
My Leeds visit started with a family lunch with No 1 son and daughter-in-law and Munchkin. We re-visited Bundobust a veggie/vegan restaurant that specialises in Yorkshire-Asian food and also creates it’s own speciality beers. We were not disappointed in our recollections of how great the food was, it was delicious. Munchkin – who is almost two and a half – joined us in sampling everything and loved it all. We were hungry when we arrived and tucked in so quickly that I didn’t even stop to take a photo, here’s a pic of our earlier visit to give you a flavour.
After such a wonderful lunch we needed to walk it off. We trotted over to nearby Leeds City Museum to look for wild things. Thanks to the Victorian collectors there was of course a rather sad reminder of how our recent ancestors killed off many wonderful animals to feed their collections. Leeds has taken these poor ‘phantom’ creatures to illustrate how we are now damaging habitats and seeing the loss and decimation of countless more.
It reminded me of the poignant, heart wrenching poem Pastor Martin Niemoller wrote a generation ago in response to the Holocaust of World War II:
First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Socialist.
Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Trade Unionist.
Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Jew.
Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.
If we watch the destruction of the natural world and do not act how long will it be until nature and the wild world no longer cares for us? Gone a bit heavy there. Think it’s my concern not for my world (I am long in the tooth) but that of our children and their children. Ok, ok here’s what we saw.
So much to contemplate on the journey home. Lucky I had a super book to escape with.
Set in a world almost parallel to Cumbria our anxious heroine Ivy must leave the sanctuary of her home to find her brother Callum in the strange world of Underfell. A real page turner – aimed at I am guessing 8 to 13 year olds – that finds this 64 year old avidly reading on to find out if Ivy succeeds.
Back to my staging post, Carnforth, there was one last Platinum Jubilee mini-celebration I wanted to share. I love the lengths the indie shopkeepers of Carnforth go to to jolly up their high street. There is one shop I always find particularly pleasing, Moore’n’Wife. They certainly excelled themselves for the Queen’s Jubilee. I couldn’t help but smile at their window display, I hope you can’t either.
These 30 Days Wild can take you on adventures large and small.
At the weekend I met up with No1 Daughter and two of my granddaughters, Peanut and Goggins (formerly known as Shrub), in the bustling old Yorkshire market town of Skipton. On the way Jubilee bunting was everywhere. Not surprisingly Carnforth had put on a good show.
And when I got to Skipton, Holy Trinity Church was bedecked with beautiful floral decorations. Whoever created these displays is truly talented.
All gorgeous and cheerful but not really wild I know. Our wild experience for Saturday was a walk through Skipton Castle Wood. There are a few walks through the wood but as we had Goggins in the buggy we opted for an easier one.
Skipton Castle Wood is leased to the Woodland Trust and it is a super alternative to busy Skipton market, although the market is another good reason to visit the town! We started the walk from the saw-mill entrance. There are some narrow stretches and a few stairs that would make it tricky unless you had help with the buggy and makes it impossible by wheelchair. However there are alternative entrances that are suitable.
For the first part of the walk Skipton Castle looms above you. No doubt to remind us of our place.
The girls really enjoyed the walk. Goggins thought it was a hoot especially when big sister Peanut put flowers in her hair.
Peanut also joined in the archery!
We had a lovely day full of lots of laughter. A superb Wild Day.
Back home the wildness has not stopped it has just shrunk in scope. I am enjoying the little things like listening for birdsong and seeing what is growing along the unkempt verges en route home from work.
Today I was based in my home office and when I popped out to empty my veg peelings into my compost I couldn’t believe the sound of buzzing that was coming from the mock orange hedge that surrounds my compost bin. When I stepped back it was alive with bumblebees – at a quick count I saw over 20 – collecting nectar along with a couple of butterflies who had come along to join the party.
I tried to snap pictures of the bees but it is a bit like “Where’s Wally”, can you see the bees? They were there, honest.
Shows you don’t have to go far to have a wild encounter. I am so pleased that this beautiful shrub is supporting so many pollinators. It was a wonderful thing to see and hear.
Hope you are enjoying your own mini wild adventures.
Here in the UK we are enjoying two days of public holidays and a weekend for the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee. It is wonderful to see so many people out and about enjoying the celebrations but we all need to send a BIG THANKS to the folk who continue to work and make this holiday safe – e.g. in the emergency services – and fun – e.g. those in hospitality and shops. Special thanks to all the supermarket staff who will be busy on checkouts and re-stocking shelves – how else would the street party goers get their victuals?!
But let us go back a wee bit. Last weekend saw me on the X6 Stagecoach bus from Kendal to Barrow to meet up with friend MB for a walk to visit The Port of Barrow. As I alighted at the magnificent town hall, the sun was as you can see in my eyes and it gave a really eerie backdrop to the gothic building.
I toddled on across the deserted car park to find MB – something of a relief as I was beginning to think I had skipped into a zombie apocalypse. After a hearty breakfast, with my over zealous imagination put back into its secured corner of my brain, we set off to walk through the wild industrial sea line around the Port of Barrow.
Barrow is a special place for it’s mix of working industrial butted up to amazing wild places. There is nothing quaint nor gentrified here and that’s why I love it. Barrow is just as it is.
We were surrounded by water much of the time.
As you walk along the causeway towards Roa Island you have the tidal waters to your right and the old Cavendish Dock on your left. Aeronautical history was made here: the dock saw the first British sea plane (the Aero Type D prototype if you are interested) take off in 1911; and the construction of the ill-fated (it snapped in two!) Mayfly, Britain’s first rigid airship.
The waters still reveal glimpses of the past with tangled pieces of metal jutting from the waters as the tides turn to reveal the sites of old jetties. Even on land there are remnants of our recent military past.
You could just about wade through the discarded cans and other detritus (I don’t want to think what this was) of the first Pillbox air raid shelter to catch a glimpse of Piel Island in the distance through the embrasure (fancy word for hole in wall). We took the advice of the graffitied scrawl on the second and gave internal exploration a miss.
It was an amazing walk with so much history. Thank you MB for being a font of knowledge. I definitely want to re-walk this little piece of Barrow or even better cycle it as I have barely touched on some of the intriguing tales this landscape has to offer. As Arnie would say ‘I’ll be back!’.
The 1st June saw the start of ‘30 Days Wild’ an annual celebration of nature run by Wildlife Trusts all around the country. Sadly our Barrow walk was just outside the month of June but nonetheless I have got off to a flying start by …. drum roll please … having my lunch in the beautiful wildlife garden of Cumbria Wildlife Trust at Plumgarths, near Kendal. Isn’t it a joy that nature can be visited in surroundings to suit everyone wherever they live and work? There is somewhere for each of us: be it high fell climbs or cliff walks or sitting quietly in a local park, garden or wildflower meadow.
I just love the living willow fencing. It is beautiful.
Yesterday the sun came out and I spent a happy morning pottering about in my own slightly chaotic garden, enjoying planting the super plants that cousin PF brought over (thank you!) and doing a little judicious snipping and dead heading.
Lucky I got out there when I did as the heavens opened later and today is off to a wet start. Can’t grumble as everything got a good watering. But what about Day 3 you ask? Today I am drawing and sewing bears. Variety as they say is the spice of life!
I hope all is well with your day. Off now to fire up my trusty sewing machine, Jolly Janome. I will be back soon with more 30 Days Wild mini adventures.
I am still getting used to being in full-time paid work as you might guess by the sporadic nature of these posts. But never fear behind the scenes I am still keeping time for crafting. The last few months have seen more sewing than yarn crafts. And now we here in the UK are into the full flow of the BBC’s Great British Sewing Bee my sewing endeavours have been given a push.
Pre Sewing Bee I was working slowly but surely through a special quilt for oldest granddaughter Peanut and also managed to finish a top for myself, the Merchant & Mills Ellesworth Shirt. This pattern was marked as intermediate and did test me in places, does anyone love a placket? But I am very happy with the finished item, placket, binding, cuffs, French seams and all. Nonetheless I will make it longer in future as it ends in just the place my mother called your avoirdupois (that is your heaviest bit!). Hey ho, this lovely shirt will be paired over long loose sleeveless dresses so my ‘avoirdupois’ won’t matter. Here’s my tale of the Ellesworth in pictures:
Sorry no completed shirt picture. When I feel confident – you might be waiting a while – I will have a picture taken in the finished item.
Before more sewing, there was a special first birthday for youngest granddaughter Shrub. You would never have known she had chickenpox. Surrounded by her cousins and family she rose to the occasion and was a perfect hostess. I think the cake (best cake ever) might have helped!
One happy little one year old ensued. But did I mention the cake?!
It was a lovely weekend bringing all the family together. Thank you to No1 Daughter and Son-in-law and everyone who came.
Back at home, this weekend I gave myself a Sewing Bee Saturday Challenge. On the Sewing Bee I always marvel at how quickly they make things. Sometimes the cutting out takes me as long as they have to come up with a finished garment. But in for a penny in for a pound I decided to find an old duvet cover – it was recycling week on the Bee- and make a child’s jacket in an afternoon.
I ratched through the airing cupboard and sure enough right at the bottom was a single duvet cover – I think it was my mum’s! – one tsunami of clothes later I had my cloth. Enough to make the Burda child’s jacket. Head down and away I went. Here I go ..
All done in 5 and a half hours. It would have been faster but Jolly Janome threw a wobbly at the middle buttonhole which led to disaster and about thirty minutes of tears. Despite the Frankenstein (sob) buttonhole and repair that resulted I was happy with the pattern and the recycling of the long forgotten duvet cover. I even have enough left over for quilting. What more can I ask … except to be less clumsy with the unpicker!
Lesson? Handsew buttonholes in future. But then don’t expect to meet the challenge deadline! No worries, I will definitely return to my pre-deadline ways.
Well, time to sort out the airing cupboard swamp that has engulfed the landing.
Super weekend here at Casa Moke. No 1 Son arrived last Thursday to be swiftly followed by one of my oldest friends GF – who had made her way to the north from her home in the beautiful city of Exeter – on Friday. Good timing too because I had just received my first delivery of tester products from Sainsburys and needed some (un)willing victims erm … tasters to try a couple out with me.
Glad to say both meals – mild vegetable curry and minestrone soup – were a success. Truth be told the curry mix got top marks with No1 Son and I thoroughly enjoying yomping it down while, due to the fact I need new specs and concentration levels, the minestrone soup mix turned into a wholesome lentil stew as I threw in far more of the mix than I should have done. Nonetheless with the aid of a glass of red and crusty baguette the soup/stew was very tasty and filling and went down nutritiously well.
As you can see it was certainly substantial! It turned out to be the perfect meal after a day in the lakes.
Back in a time when cars were a rarity and we were school girls GF and I used to visit the Lakes to stay with my Aunty May. As eager teenagers we found the best means to get around the amazing landscape of Cumbria was …drumroll please …. the 555 bus. And guess what, it still is!
Yesterday we clambered aboard the 555 bought our Explorer tickets (£12 for a full days travel in the Lakes) and set off for Keswick. At almost two hours door to quirky dog-loving Lakeland town it might seem to some a rather long journey but the bus passes through the most stunning scenery and the trip is an absolute stress free pleasure. Without the worry of driving we could enjoy the glorious views from our top deck seats unabated.
There is always something new to see. And this time for me it was Max the Miracle Dog.
Keswick is the most dog friendly town I have ever visited so it should be no surprise that they have this wonderful bronze – put up in summer of 2021 – to celebrate a local furry hero.
During lockdown English Springer Spaniel Max and his four legged buddies Paddy and (Prince) Harry brought comfort and hope to people across the world. These wonderful dogs did what dogs do best, enjoy life. Millions followed their outdoor adventures around their home town of Keswick and in recognition of Max’s ability to bring solace to so many animal welfare charity the PDSA awarded Max the Order of Merit, the first time a pet has ever been given this highly esteemed award.
Sadly (I have just discovered) Max died only a few days ago on 6 April. His Instagram obituary reads ‘Our beautiful Max fell asleep in Manesty Woods today with Paddy and Harry, his two adoring brothers overseeing his onward journey.’ I hope he is chasing celestial butterflies on heavenly Lakeland fells.
To find out more about this outstanding dog and his buddies please have a look at Instagram https://www.instagram.com/maxoutinthelakedistrict_/. On that note there is nothing better that I can do but leave you with a dog that gave so many heart when they most needed it. Max may you rest in happiness.
I don’t know if it is the first hint of Spring – but oh my didn’t we get a shock when the temperatures dropped last week! – or the post-Covid urge to see folk and enjoy a modicum of travel but the last couple of weekends have found me trotting to Yorkshire to visit my children and their families.
As there is a risk of weeks passing before my next post I thought a few words and photos would keep us in touch.
There was a wonderful high-tea with No 1 Daughter, Peanut and Shrub for Mother’s Day. Poor No 1 Son-in-law missed out as work called, how dare it!
And this weekend a family outing to the fabulous Eureka the National Children‘s Museum in Halifax with No1 Son and Daughter-In-Law and Munchkin.
Eureka is an amazing place for children with learning offered at every corner.
Remember to look after yourself!
You can find out what it’s like to work on the drains, in a motor shop, at a bank or in a post office and other places beside:
Even the loos have something to tell you… did you know ….
Every one is considered with spaces for the under 5s, a good range of dietary requirements being met in the amazingly organised cafe, properly accessible facilities with hoists, and plenty of fun. I mean what could be better than to end the day with a triceratops?!
We had a full day and there was so much more we could have explored but the thoughtful folk at Eureka have that problem sorted too because for the price of your first visit, entry is free for the next 12 months.
Last but not least I have a new obsession. On Wednesday 30 March osprey returned to Cumbria, to one of my favourite Cumbria Wildlife Trust nature reserves at Foulshaw Moss! Watching the webcam of their nest is truly addictive, have a look https://www.cumbriawildlifetrust.org.uk/wildlife/cams/osprey-cam. The nest is empty right now, of course I have checked! As the osprey love to do a bit of fishing I am guessing that they are looking for supper. They have been quite … erm … frisky … since they returned so hopefully there will be Easter osprey eggs soon. Exciting!!!! I mean forget reality human TV give me ospreys any day.
Well must go. House to clean and osprey to watch …
Happy world frog day! No frog-y visitors today in the back porch, I expect they are busy putting up the water lily bunting and getting ready for an evening of partying … ribbit…
For me it has been a weekend of slowing down after a busy working week. Since the end of Covid lockdowns (fingers crossed) I enjoy sociable Saturdays, a chance to catch up with much missed friends and touch base with family. This week I was delighted my good friend KS could come over – with the beautiful elderly cocker spaniel that is Bagel – for plenty of chatting, food and crafting. Bliss.
KS and her husband are spending this year – in addition to their day jobs – fundraising for Cumbria’s children’s hospice, Jigsaw. I am full of awe, they both have incredibly stressful jobs yet they are dedicated in their efforts to support this special charity.
On Friday 15 April KS is organising a coffee and cake morning at Melmerby village hall. Along with refreshments there are stalls including one with woolly makes. I am behind the curve here, I need to get cracking on my crochet baby boots, but KS is of course on this (as well as organising the whole event). She finished a gorgeous baby matinee jacket while she was here along with starting a second knitted baby bootee. So if you live in or are visiting the stunning Eden Valley and the village of Melmerby on Good Friday do drop in on KS at the village hall and bring plenty of cash!
Now a quick crafty round-up from me. I paired chatting, listening and cooking with Lucy at Attic 24’s crochet-along (CAL) Harbour Blanket. I am only just finishing Week 2 of the original CAL but no matter the easy rhythm of the ripple pattern make it the perfect accompaniment to being sociable. I might just get it finished for next Winter. Here’s how it looks today:
In other crafty news: my polar bear panel has now been joined by panda.
Think the bears are enjoying the company.
Counter Intuitively – because the weather is fabulous – I decided to carry Slow Down Saturday into Slow Down Some More Sunday and enjoy tea, leftovers and books. I don’t know about you but I always have a few books on the go. This suits my restless … I mean butterfly mind. Off the shelves this weekend are:
Ed Winters is often known as Earthling Ed and what I love about him is his gentle discursive way of talking to people about veganism. As this book shows he knows his stuff and references all the research he has used. Of course while Ed appears a gentle soul what he talks and writes about is often violent and brutal. I squeamishly read through the section on how meat, milk, eggs and fish get to our plates and confess I am actually relieved to be on the section devoted to the environment! Even though I don’t think that will be an easy ride either.
Pleased to have a little bit of light relief I smiled at the book mark I am using. A much treasured reminder of my friends’ wonderful bookshop, Fireside Bookshop, that has recently relocated to Stroud in Gloucestershire. This is my favourite of favourite bookshops please have look see either online or in person. The selection is superb and contains specialist rarities, many of my books on archaeology and ancient history are from Fireside.
Ooh I hear the gentle whisper of a fritillary’s wings. Book number two:
I have loved Kate Atkinson since reading ‘Behind the Scenes at the Museum’ years ago. She has the rare gift of conveying how life changing events occur in a heartbeat. She has certainly given me a few ‘I didn’t see that coming’ moments. Book three:
Inspired by our recent visit to the Quaker Tapestry here in Kendal and sadly by the way of the world – in Ukraine and the many other war-torn parts of the globe – I thought I would again re-visit the ‘religion’ of my English grandmother, Quakerism. This famously pacifist community seemed to me the antidote to the violence of how we humans often speak and act.
It is very difficult to pin down what a Quaker is. I recently heard that if you ask four Quakers what a Quaker is, you will get five different answers. Love a group with a sense of humour! I am agnostic, I just don’t know what (if anything) is ‘out there’. But I do love the idea of a kind way of life where there is good (God if that is your belief) in everyone. I will keep on reading but while I read I must eat, so to my last books;
These two well thumbed cookbooks will help me use up everything in my veg box. It’s looking like that remaining Savoy Cabbage will be roasted with peppercorns … yum.
My garden has been neglected for most of winter. I am definitely a fair weather gardener. By the by calling myself a gardener is stretching the term. But here in Britain ‘Gardener’s World’ has returned to the Beeb, so it must be time to get back out there.
Not one to rush things I ventured into my back garden this weekend just to reconnoiter the devastation of a very stormy winter and my pure neglect. Nature is blinkin’ marvellous and I found that despite my lack of effort things are growing!
All the bulbs – most of them gifted – are merrily on their way.
And the Christmas Rose still has some life in her.
Most pleasing to me are the hellebores that I planted late-ish last year. They have survived their first winter and have already brought a bit of colour.
I look forward to them popping up in other spots as they spread.
My old friend the chive is going strong and there are happy little clumps cropping up all over. Another new-old friend is the red campion I was given last year which is looking robust. Further south I hear red campion is flowering but I think us northerners may have to wait a while longer, but it will be worth waiting to see this bonny native plant blossom and flower.
Last but not least my good friend Rosemary slowly struggles on. Bless her she is a try-er. She has been happiest sitting at the front of the house – she even flowered last year – but wherever I put her she loses small branches as delivery drivers brush past and worse she lost her whole pot in summer when local children accidentally scored a direct hit during their game of football. I like to think of her as a lesson in tolerance and patience.
It was perfect weather for me and friend JG to carry on the project to visit Cumbria Wildlife Trust nature reserves by public transport and Shanks’ Pony. And on our visit to South Walney yesterday Shanks’ Pony was certainly key!
We started with the 7am X6 Stagecoach bus from Kendal Bus Station (I snuck on a couple of stops later) our first and longest bus journey of the day. It took 1 hour 40 minutes to reach Barrow Town Hall. This used to be my daily journey to work, believe me I was having flashbacks, no surprise that back in those days I finished many a sock, glove and a particularly important baby blanket on my commute to and from the office!
Once at Barrow we crossed over the road and hopped on our next bus, the number 1 to Biggar Bank. We got off at Biggar Bank Biggar Garth (Carr Lane) and then the walking began. As always in this neck of the woods people were tremendously friendly and helpful. I have always loved this about the people of Barrow and Walney. Spotting our walking boots a passerby immediately warned us of flooding on one of the routes to South Walney and pointed us in the safest direction and wished us a good walk.
Off we set to a magical reserve of eerie but beautiful magnitude, home to rare and wonderful wildlife, wide majestic seascapes and the whisper of Piel Castle on nearby Piel Island (if you squint you can just see it).
We thought we had a three mile walk to the reserve but it soon became obvious that we had a little-ways further to go, 5 miles infact. JG has a gizmo that measures such things as well as creating maps of our route.
Cool, eh? The road ahead was flat but there were quite a few vehicles and the occasional horse. At least the cars were slowed by travelling through Biggar village which gave me a break from leaping on to the verges.
Not yet March but I saw my first lamb – looked very young – as we tootled on our way.
Must be hardy sheep here on Walney. We had arrived on a good day but it is known locally as ‘Windy Walney’ because of the ferocious winds that whip in from the Irish Sea. Walney Island is certainly a place that is open to the elements. Interestingly we spotted a Barn Owl on the way (sorry but I am as slow a photographer as I am walker) clutching it’s breakfast. We learned later that they are stalking in daylight because the recent heavy rains have limited their hunting. Wonderful to see this beautiful bird (not such a welcome sight for its prey).
As the ‘three’ miles stretched out we saw hopeful signs that we were nearing the reserve.
We arrived to be greeted by two kind and friendly volunteers and shown into the cabin where we were offered a hot drink and could have a look at the artefacts and information about the reserve. There is a car park at South Walney so you do not have to walk there and yahoo there is also a toilet!!!!
With my feet holding up reasonably well at this point and JG being a keen walker we opted for the Red Route (3 miles) which covers the whole reserve. There are also the Blue Route (2 miles) and Yellow Route (1 mile). The signage was brilliant and the colour coded posts kept us to the path – this is vitally important to the birds and other wildlife that breed here.
You really feel you are getting the best brine filled fresh air and I still have a healthy glow – i.e. I am red – from the light wind and sun. There were useful information boards to read. I had not realised that there is a working oyster farm on the island, and definitely did not know that the oysters go on little excursions around Morecambe Bay.
The sea is ever present. Cumbria’s only grey seal colony resides on South Walney’s beaches. They can be watched from the hides or from the comfort of your own home via the Cumbria Wildlife Trust’s seal web-cam. Amazing to see. We didn’t manage to glimpse the seals (I really must get some binoculars!) but the views were tremendous.
Several hides pepper the reserve affording shelter and great views of the landscapes and the wildlife. We utilised a couple to watch the wild world go by while enjoying a cuppa and our packed lunches. Happy days.
South Walney is also home to some precious dunescape habitats which are vital living spaces for many species including common lizards and other sand-loving creatures. Dunes should have areas of exposed sand but troublingly they are increasingly being covered by vegetation that drives out the usual sand dune wildlife. I learned dunes are the most threatened habitat in Europe for biodiversity loss. Thankfully at South Walney Cumbria Wildlife Trust have embarked on a project to restore the fixed dunes and are creating and improving the dune ponds.
For our last little lap of the reserve we walked along the newly installed boardwalk, admiring the views and also the fun hide with all it’s peep holes.
With a long walk back to the bus stop (my feet were twinging) it was time to leave but we grabbed a quick chat with the fabulous, friendly volunteers and the South Walney reserve officer, Jake. They were all so knowledgeable and we learned a lot from meeting them. What a super way to end our visit. Thanks Team South Walney.
With spirits still high from our visit to the reserve and spotting what we thought were a curlew and a little egret en route we set off on the walk back to Biggar Bank. Sadly for me it was soon obvious that my poor old feet were suffering and I confess quite a bit of this journey was jolly painful, a bit like walking on sharp red-hot needles.
My comfortable walking distance is around 6 miles and my absolute maximum was 8 miles. On this excursion I had thought I would push that up to 9 miles but when JG’s machine had done it’s calculations we had actually walked …. drum roll please … 13.2 miles. Oh my aching feet. Once I had taken my boots off, peeled off my socks (I thought a bit of my feet would come with them, I was not far wrong) I could see the full horror wrought to my tootsies. OOOOOUCH! All my own fault for not checking the distances more carefully.
Luckily super walker JG was fine, for her this was one of her longer training walks but nothing out of the ordinary. I am now carefully teetering around the house with feet that would not be out of place in ‘The Mummy’ they are so well strapped up with plasters.
None of this sullied the day. South Walney is exceptional and I would recommend a visit without hesitation. But if you want to bus it be prepared for a very long walk to and from the reserve.
Before I go and lie down in a darkened room a little catch up post on life here at Casa Moke and the wild British weather.
Since Covid and all the on-off lockdowns we have been conscious of the time missed with family and good friends. This week gave me one of those special windows (it’s half term for Peanut) to enjoy a few days with No 1 Daughter and her two girls as they decided to stay with me in Cumbria for some fun and frolics in the lovely Lakes.
Of course the weather – I have lost track of the storms swinging through the UK! – had other plans. The wind blew, the rain and hail fell and despite our best efforts we spent two days very close to home. This happily meant a re-visit for me to one of the Auld Grey Town’s treasures, The Quaker Tapestry. But first of all there had to be food. Right away you will know this is my kind of place:
The Garden Cafe is run by the wonderful Nikki and is all vegan so we could relax knowing we could eat and drink everything on the menu. No 1 and I first found Nikki and her fabulous vegan fayre a few years back when she set up a trailer in her garden (hence the name) and it is wonderful to see her business has blossomed. Her ethos and vegan menu fits perfectly with the Quaker meeting house next door. And the Victoria sponge?! Amazing. As for Shrub … she discovered french fries!
Suitably refreshed, Baby Shrub strapped into a carrier and Peanut hopping and skipping alongside we turned left and straight into the Meeting House to see the world famous Quaker Tapestry. I have visited many times and yet this beautifully sewn piece of community art never fails to impress. Made up of 77 panels embroidered by groups from 15 countries and involving over 4,000 people in its design and creation it is a warm yet powerful evocation of the good that people can do.
This I think is my favourite panel (I even have the tea-towel):
Underneath the panel was a children’s book for the younger clientele to read and Peanut treated us (and the embroiderer sitting behind a Perspex screen greeting visitors) to a rendition of the tale of the two mules in the picture. Jane the lady who sat so patiently was lovely and made Peanut feel a very special little girl. Thank you Jane.
That summed up the warm welcome and kindness we found at the Tapestry. There is something for everyone and I would highly recommend a visit if you are ever here-about or have chance to see some of the panels when they go on their Summer tour (if that is back on this year).
I confess it had not been our original intention to visit the Tapestry – but we are so glad we did – we had been trying to get to Keswick and three times we failed. Water, water everywhere and the prospect of getting caught on the wrong side of a flooded road home saw us turn back at either Rydal or Grasmere.
Eventually we took the hint and decided the weather gods wanted us to go to Grasmere. Our Keswick trip was abandoned and this small but busy village became our destination instead. As always No 1 Daughter had done her research and found us a vegan-friendly cafe so in a pattern that must now be familiar we started with food. Shrub is always a handy ‘excuse’ as she needs her regular feeds … as do we!
Again our chosen eatery, Green’s, did not disappoint.
Grasmere is a lovely traditional Lakeland village. It’s only downside is that it can be a victim of it’s own success and can sometimes be very full with visitors. But not on this trip as the weather had reduced numbers and we had chance to admire the beautiful church of St Oswald’s – there has been a Grasmere church since 642AD! St Oswald was a busy chap – see Dorothy and William Wordsworth’s graves, walk around the daffodil garden and swing by the Gingerbread shop (still sobbing cos they have changed their recipe and it is no longer vegan…what?! Why?!).
We finished our visit to Grasmere with a bracing walk up towards Allan Bank, once home to William Wordsworth and Hardwicke Rawnsley, one of the three founders of the National Trust. With the high winds the house was closed but as it does not have any exhibits and has been left empty after a fire anyway we were not too disappointed. What makes it truly special are the views and fresh air and we could enjoy both to our hearts’ content. Peanut had a great time clambering on the rocky outcrops and we all gushed over the amazing panorama.
We ended a lovely day with a quick visit to what is becoming one of my favourite Cumbria Wildlife Nature Reserves, Foulshaw Moss, for a bit of birdwatching and an amble around the board walks with Peanut.
We slept soundly that night! Good job too as next day saw us hare off to nearby seaside town Morecambe. With the winds still on the … erm … windy side we attempted a promenade walk …
…. But gave up in favour of … (whispers) … an amusement arcade. Which of course Peanut LOVED!!! Especially as she came first in the Mario carts game and could scream her head off on the simulated roller coaster. Think my ears are still ringing.
For me the best part of the day came with a walk around Happy Mount Park. We have visited Happy Mount for decades and seen it’s fortunes ebb and flow. At present it seems in a happy place, it looks well cared for and despite everything being shut Peanut had an amazing time with a new found friend: clambering all over the playground equipment, shinning up a tree and even kicking a football about. The wind may still have howled and the sea kept churning but she was as happy as Larry. I am sure Happy Mount will become a firm favourite with her just as it was with her mother and uncle.
Bet you are ready for a lie down in a darkened room too after reading through this. But I hope the fresh air, view and happy faces give you a boost, they certainly did me.