Tag Archives: nature

Flaming June

June has been a surprising month not at all what I had anticipated.  Finally, Peter and I managed another 3 night break away after months of me suggesting places from Spain, Croatia, France, Scotland and back to Wales.  On Monday 12th we sat having a “sundowner” when I mentioned an apartment I had found in Bowness-on-Windermere in The Lake District, Cumbria.  “Book it” says Peter, the only available date was Friday 16th for 3 nights, yes the following Friday!  It was available so I grabbed it.  Well someone was guiding us as it was a beautiful, attic conversion in an old house in the woods above Bowness with a great view of Lake Windermere from the sitting room window.  With stops the journey took over 5 hours (nothing to our friends in US) but to us Brits it’s a long way!!  Everything is comparative, we never thought about 6 hour round trip to airport when we lived in Spain.  It was well worth the effort. Friday evening we had a superb meal in a local bistro with good wine. Suitably relaxed we walked the half a mile uphill back to our retreat.  It took a long time but a comfy bed awaited so a good incentive!

Saturday morning we woke to brilliant sunshine which lasted the whole weekend.  Hot but fresh – perfect.  After a breakfast of fresh Danish and good coffee in a local bakery we got a boat (cruise boat) across the lake (one mile across) to Lakeside.  A steam train then runs alongside the lake for about 5 miles which was a real treat.  We stayed on and made the return trip, full of nostalgia for me as I remember steam train journeys as a child.  Boat trip back to Bowness, much busier now with tourists of many nationalites.  We managed to find a wonderful deli run by a young couple with a range of meats, cheese, pickles, olives etc but we decided on pastrami sandwiches, the best I’ve had since I was in Manhattan over 10 years ago – well worth the wait!  We found a secluded sheltered spot and ate our picnic over-looking the lake.  We were unsure what to do next but decided on a movie, air conditioned theatre and friendly staff.  Popcorn too.  The movie was Churchill starring Brian Cox and Miranda Richardson which has had some bad reviews but we enjoyed it.  We could have booked a three course meal at a local restaurant  for afterwards (including the movie ticket) but saw the deal after we had seen movie!  I was tired so maybe not best time for a big meal but I thought it was an enterprising idea for cinema and restaurant.  We had an Italian instead which was just right.  Up the hill again and another great night’s sleep.

Sunday back to the lake but we crossed this time on a small ferry which pulls itself over on wires, I don’t understand how it works but it was a great way to cool down!  On the other side we walked up to a restored Claife Viewing Station originally built in the 1790s which had wonderful views of the lake. Next we walked 4 miles (and back!) alongside the lake through woods,  families were picnicking on the “beaches” generally enjoying the rare sunshine.  It all reminded Peter of Put-In-Bay on Lake Erie, Ohio, where he attended a conference.  Some of you will be familiar with this place.  Back to the deli and we stocked up for evening meal in the apartment after packing so much into 2 days.  One treat awaited for the next morning before returning home. (Note the rare photo of the Smiths together!)

My book club read this month is Haweswater by Sarah Hall.  Coincidentally, Haweswater Reservoir was 20 miles north of us so Peter was happy to divert.  A valley was flooded to create a new reservoir to supply water to Manchester and a dam constructed.  The work commenced in 1929 and was completed in 1940. Inspired by the building of the dam the book is a fictional story about the village of Mardale that was originally in the centre of the farming community, their lives and the impact of the dam.  I was so overcome with the beauty of the place I forgot to take a photo! Peace and tranquillity with all that history under the water.  It was an emotional experience, I have discovered my family originally came from this area in the 1790s so Cumbria remains in my genes.  I recommend the book which is a well researched first novel by a sensitive writer. I’ve also read and enjoyed The Wolf Border Sarah Hall’s latest novel which was also set in Cumbria but begins in Idaho about the re-wilding of wolves the Lake District.

I always feel I’ve been away ages following one of these breaks and think I enjoy them more than longer breaks these days.  Just to note the weather has returned to “normal” for summertime which makes the whole weekend even more special. Another June Surprise was an unexpected lunch with friends at their house. Two added guests arrived which I think will make you smile!

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Exhibitions

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Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness … The opening line to Ode to Autumn, a favourite poem of mine by John Keats, may be familiar to many of us from school days. The words always conjure up this time of year for me, … Continue reading

Puppies, Parks and Princess Victoria

After such a wet and soggy winter, here in the UK we’ve been enjoying some lovely bright days. It’s been getting the Joneses into a holiday mood and sent us scurrying for the brochures and checking out online deals. While it’s exciting planning trips to pastures new, recently I was reminded how easy it is to overlook the treasures to be found on our own doorstep.

Ushi lying March 2014Between our holiday planning we’ve had our favourite little lodger back to stay. Guide dog puppy Ushi, is a gorgeous flat coat retriever and is now just one year old. We’ve been boarding her on and off since she was six months old, which has been plenty of time to fall head over heels for she of the bewitching eyes and mischievous ways.

On Ushi’s last visit she’d just been spayed, which meant no free runs and only short lead walks. But after a few days she was raring to go, so on a particularly gorgeous day we took her out in the car to give her a change of scene. A short drive away from us is the Georgian City of Bath and its Royal Victoria Park. RVP 1The Park has been around since the early nineteenth century when, in 1830, it was officially opened by the young Princess Victoria. Apparently, Bath’s Royal Victoria Park was the very first to carry her name. (As a side note, the future Queen of England wasn’t a particular admirer of Bath and used to have the curtains of her train carriage closed when passing through the city. It is said she came to dislike the city after a Bath writer insulted her.)

The Park has beautiful botanical gardens which, shame on us, we rarely visit. They were formed in 1887 and are said to contain one of the finest collections of plants on limestone in the West of England. We thought it would be a nice place for Ushi as she’d enjoy all the different scents and smells. Once inside the gate, the scenery took my breath away. Cherry blossom all over the place. RVP March 2014I love trees and find something really fascinating in their shape and texture. Every tree in the gardens was as if someone had shaped them carefully to enhance their surroundings.

RVP 2

Near one of the entrances is a replica of a Roman Temple, the Temple of Minerva was constructed at Wembley in 1924 for the British Empire Exhibition, and rebuilt in the Botanic Gardens in 1926.

RVP WI 2The local Women’s Institute have a community garden within the Park which is made entirely of edible plants and flowers, the idea being to inspire people to plant edibles that are not only useful but also beautiful. The lady in the bath is a pretty fun exhibit and is based on the Bath WI logo.

RVP AJ and UshiHappily, all three of us enjoyed our outing and shortly after this photo was taken (and a cream tea for us and chewy bone for Ushi, plus a lot of attention from fellow cafe patrons), we headed back home with a very contented and, sleepy, pup. Happy Days!

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Grannies Bonnets

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 It might be the first Monday of June but here in old Blighty it’s blooming cold again. More noticeable as we’ve just experienced two wonderful weeks of warm weather after all the rain of the previous month. But it has … Continue reading