Brrr. There is a nip in the air. Thicker jumpers, scarves and gloves have been taken out of mothballs and I need a woolly project to keep me warm with the click click of busy needles in the evening. It must be the start of Winter.
A couple of weeks ago after running out (yes running out!) of knitting and craft projects I cracked, visited one of my favourite bloggers, Phil at ‘The Twisted Yarn’ and downloaded one of her free patterns. Soon I was happily working my way through a colourful stranded cowl called ‘All that Jazz’. Pattern link here.
With my wool and pattern in my hot sweaty mitts I couldn’t resist getting started. I had meant to snap the yarns before I cast on. But who could combat the lure of the mouth watering range of Stylecraft Batik yarns? They called to me like Sirens. Listen carefully, can you hear them?
The pattern was beautifully explained. I am newish to stranded knitting and this was the perfect project to get my teeth into. At only 88 rows a few days of after work knitting meant I had a snug, cosy, colourful and finished cowl. Soooo warm and comforting …
One job that I find a chore is sewing in – and this gorgeous cowl creates many end threads with the frequent changes of colour – so I made notes on the pattern as to when would be a good row to sew in the cut threads and joining tails. By my last casting off row all I had was one strand to sew in, bliss.
I admit my cowl is not perfect. I couldn’t get hold of a few of the colours I needed and don’t think I placed the substitutes to best show the Fair Isle patterns. Never mind Winter has shown a really ugly face up here in Cumbria: trees are down, paths are slippery and it is cold. Time to have more fun and start playing with colours. All That Jazz Mark 2 here I come.
Keep warm and safe – if you are in the Southern Hemisphere keep safe and sun screened.
PS Phil at ‘The Twisted Yarn’ will be bringing a pattern book out soon-ish. I am sure it will be full of do-able and wonderful knits. I cannot wait! Mx
It is time for a new quest. Some of you may remember back in 2018 friend JG and I attempted to visit all the Herstory exhibitions held in the museums around Cumbria by public transport. Can’t remember? have a look here if you want a reminder. It was a great reason to travel around the county, we went to museums I had never visited before and learnt a lot about the women of this corner of north west England.
Now its edging into winter what do we decide to do? Go outdoors, ‘cos we are sensible sorts…, and start a new quest to visit all 37 of the Cumbria Wildlife Trust nature reserves by public transport! Crickey, where are my thermals?!
there was a field opposite but now – one pandemic and many missed bus trips later – it has become an ‘executive’ housing estate.
Skimming over that – stop sobbing M! – as you can see the weather is glorious and I have a bus to look out for, the 11:08 am Stagecoach X6 Kendal to Barrow which should already have JG on board. She was there and ticket bought I settled down for the short hop to our stop next to the entrance to Foulshaw Moss nature reserve.
The Cumbria Wildlife Trust guidebook tells us why lowland raised mires like Foulshaw Moss are so important, they are one of Europe’s most threatened habitats. In the UK 94% of this habitat has been destroyed. To go to Foulshaw is to visit a rare landscape and feel thankful to see it being restored.
We were the only humans visiting the reserve but we were not alone. Although from my photography from the first ‘hide’ you would think we were!
Wait, who’s this little fellow?
Not sure what s\he is, answers on a postcard please. Sparrow? Reed bunting? But truly there were SO SO many birds. We saw all sorts including a couple of pheasants … or maybe corncrakes (you can tell our bird watching skills are honed, cough)… and a magnificent Great Spotted Woodpecker that settled briefly on a feeder. I am afraid my rendering of this bird in pencil and Biro does not do it justice.
We could have happily stayed in this ‘hide’ all day watching the comings and goings. It was hard to tear ourselves away but the moss called. And what a call it is when you start out along the boardwalks.
The moss is wet and small pools of water show that it is soaking up the water and keeping wet just as it should be. In addition to the surviving mire Cumbria Wildlife Trust are restoring the moss lands into the area that had been planted over with trees for the war effort back in the mid-twentieth century.
Thankfully nowadays there is a lot of talk about protecting and planting trees for their carbon capturing qualities but much less is said about the carbon munching qualities of mires like Foulshaw Moss. I have read that Cumbrian peatland stores five times as much carbon as all of Cumbria’s trees put together. This habitat not only sustains a myriad of amazing plant and wildlife it helps keep us alive too! Gotta love it.
One word of warning, The decay of the plant life – like the famous sphaghnum moss – is what creates peat. It is a slow process and it can take 1,000 years to create 1m of peat so please please use peat-free composts like Dalefoot wool composts (other brands are available) for your gardens.
The board walks make this a wonderful habitat for everyone to visit and enjoy. There is also a fantastically (deliberately) wobbly bridge that I know my granddaughters will love.
As we walked around the reserve it was so beautifully sunny and dare I say warm that we even saw a couple of common darter dragonflies. Yes you know it, they were here and gone before I had wrestled my iPad from my backpack (time to start thinking about a smart phone with a good camera function).
While the moss is reclaiming its home the dying trees give it an eerie yet photogenic feel. Nature however abhors waste and the tree stumps play host to amazing fungi.
We had such a super time exploring the moss I was sad to leave but the days are shorter and we needed to try and find the elusive A590 underpass so that we wouldn’t have to cross the scary, busy and fast road. I was empathising with hedgehogs at the mere prospect of this. But hey! Those little spiny mammals much loved by readers of Beatrix Potter’s “Mrs Tiggywinkle” do have an underpass! Good stuff.
We however were not so lucky. After following what I thought might be a path on the map but wasn’t – it turned out to be the dash-dot line for electricity pylons (shocking) – we had to re-trace our steps. This left only one course of action – other than dive headlong across the road – we had to navigate the verge (you know how much I l-urve a verge).
We shouted over the traffic and I wrestled with several hawthorns – why did I think putting a crash barrier between myself and the cars would be safer? – much to the amusement of JG who had been bolder and walked traffic side of the barrier. But finally, trying not to trip over the detritus thrown from passing vehicles, we made it to the underpass. Yeah!
It was worth being entangled by those hawthorns. Safely on the other side of the road we enjoyed a throughly lovely walk in the golden autumnal light following the cycle-way to our bus stop for home at Gilpin Bridge.
What a splendid day. We walked 5.5 miles, JG measured it. A very short walk for JG but perfect for me, I am done at about 6! Here’s where we walked … I think!
Having bemoaned the amount of rain guess what? The sun came out. Enough for me to don my welly bobs (told you that they would not be neglected) and start tidying the garden.
Every year at this time one of the biggest jobs outside is sweeping up the leaves. I always feel guilty that I am not gathering these leaves to make leaf mould mulch or compost. Because I am not much of one for hammering in posts and circling them with chicken wire to stop the leaves blowing away I merely add the leaf harvest to my green waste bin. Oh but not this year. This year I have a secret weapon.
Say hello to my little friend. The compostable leaf mould bag!
All these handy bags require is that you fill them with fallen leaves – no shortage around here – then pop them out of the way and one year later you will have super wonderful leaf mould for mulching your garden. Leave them two years and wow! compost.
I thoroughly enjoyed sweeping up the first fall of leaves and filling my bag. I felt rather like a green reverse-Santa, filling the sack with soil enriching goodness rather than emptying it with less sustainable goodies (the sort much loved by the Tribe of Doris granddaughters … don’t worry girls Omi is talking to the real Santa and he assures me you will not be forgotten).
Bag one done. I have a feeling this will be the first of many, the sycamore has plenty more leaves to share.
Our North American cousins have it right when they call it Fall!
When you are Cumbrian rain is a part of life. You never go anywhere without a kagoul and the web feet we are surely born with come in very handy! Over the last few weeks it has certainly rained. And as I have a partially rustic walk home my dress code has changed somewhat.
Dressed in over trousers, trusty walking boots, kagoul, hi-vis armbands – those motorists take no prisoners – carrying my backpack and wielding a walking stick I look more like I am about to conquer Annapurna than walk home from work. I have walked along what I now consider ‘my verge’ several times and have even ‘hiked’* home across fields through flocks of sheep and small herds of cattle. Welcome to my country life!
Just shows what a difference a mile makes. Not three weeks ago I was cycling town streets to work now I look more like Bear Grylls. Infact I have rather come to see motorists as softies – skimming over the fact that I have super friends who drive me to work on their way to their own jobs in the morning – afraid to face the elements outside their tin-cans on wheels. Sour grapes on my part I am sure but growling helps me get to the end of the nobbly grass verge when the rain is horizontal and definitely aimed at me. Now who’s the softie?!
After years of resisting the temptation of the posh wellington boot – I always thought it akin to buying a 4×4 vehicle when you only drive in the middle of a city – I am considering my first pair of Hunters! Whatever next?! For the uninitiated Hunters are the aristocrats of the wellington boot world. With almost every bone in my body I yearn for the comfort and dryness of a walking welly. Upon advice I am lusting after a pair of Ladies Balmoral Hunters to make my walks home an absolute pleasure, rain (most likely) or shine.
I don’t mean to be disloyal to my present pair of welly-bobs. They do their best bless ‘em but they are not really up to a trek back and forth along a mix of lumpy, bumpy, muddy paths and tarmaced pavements. They are more comfortable in the garden or jumping in puddles with Peanut. Rest assured they will always have a role in my life.