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.