On the road again – 18 September 2020

There’s not much you can say about going home after a great week.

We had to be out of the house by 10am and we just made it. Both cars packed, we said our goodbyes and drove off.

Journey north was uneventful, with only one stop at Gretna Village, a retail opportunity, you might call it. That’s now what I called it. I just called it a chance to stretch my legs. Scamp took the (retail) opportunity to buy a cheap(ish) hand towel to test alongside our normal towels to see if it would be worthwhile buying some bath towels from that make. Only time (and Scamp) have the answer.

Back home with some fuel still left in the tank. Not a lot, but on our travels we’d travelled just over 375 miles and still had about 90 miles left in the tank from the petrol we’d filled up with last Friday. That’s a lot better than the Juke would have had.

PoD was a view from the same window I took last Friday’s PoD from. I like to be symmetrical when I can.

Tomorrow I do not intend to do any driving.

Butterflies, Viaducts and Beer – 17 September 2020

In that order!

The butterflies were feeding on ivy flowers on Frank’s Bridge in Kirkby Stephen. As far as I could tell they were all Red Admirals. They were taking a fair bashing from the honeybees whose territory they seemed to have invaded. The bees made their displeasure felt by apparently deliberately bumping them off the flowers. A strange behaviour I’ve never witnessed before.

Over the bridge, we were discussing which way to go, when a dog walker told us there was a great view from the hill beside the cricket ground. We thanked her and climbed the hill to the viewpoint at the top and she was correct. There was a great view all around from the top. Because the hill was fairly high, it was an uninterrupted view too. We met a couple from Durham who were also admiring the view. I took a few photos which turned into a 360º panorama which in turn would turn into a Tiny Planet. A bit of a cliché, but I haven’t done one in a long time, so that makes it ok. It became PoD, despite the fact that Scamp doesn’t like it.

Said goodbye to the Durham couple and walked down the other side of the hill and basically retraced our steps from Monday’s visit. Aha, but Scamp had other plans. After reaching the part where we would have turned right and walked back into town, we continued on using a wee lane to cut off a long corner on the road and almost reached a quarry entrance before we turned on to the old railway path. I like old railways, especially ones that have been turned into safe walkways that cut across country. It’s usually easy to imagine steam trains running along these arteries before Dr Beeching and his cuts destroyed the British rail network, back in the ‘60s. This one led immediately on to the Merrygill Viaduct over the Hartley Beck. We continued on to the Podgill Viaduct which crosses the Podgill Hole (!) which is another tributary of the River Eden.

There was a viewing gallery at the Podgill Viaduct, down 42 steps from the path. Fairly easy going down, but a killer coming back up. However it did give us a good view of the viaduct from below.

Climbed back up those 42 killer steps and walked back into the town. Got a seat quickly at the wee café Scamp had her eye on since Monday and had lunch there washed down with a half pint of Bitter & Twisted each, before heading back to the house. Well, we also had to stop for some bread and a cake each at the town bakers and some bulbs and another pot of marmalade from the deli.

Dinner tonight was a carry-out. Sim had phoned in an order for Chinese which JIC went to collect while I waited at Coast to Coast for three Fish & Chips. One door and a queue where you wait to place and pay for your order. Another where you queue to collect that order. One woman who shouts at you because you obviously don’t know how this works (she seems to be the only one who does) and one woman who for some reason treats you like a human. Good chips and excellent fish though.

More TV tonight and more pyrotechnics from the battlefield too.

Packing tonight, because it’s the long way home tomorrow.

The Grand Tour – 16 September 2020

Today the walkers were going ‘up the spout’ again. We were heading for Ullswater to find another waterfall, Aira Force.

We set off on our travels, off the narrow roads and on to the busy A66. Found Ullswater quite easily with the help of the satnav. The scenery looked interesting but the roads are narrow and twisty, so there wasn’t much of a chance to admire the views. Tried to park at Aira Force carpark, but it was a waste of time. Too many cars which meant far too many people, so we drove on to see where we would get to. Decided on Kendal which we hadn’t been to and we’d be driving on narrow roads again which are so much more interesting than the wide ‘A’ roads.

Climbed the Kirkstone Pass which I’m sure we’d driven before, many years ago. Stopped at the top to take the view you see here. I remembered that view looking down the pass to Brothers Water in the distance. Since I’d not had a chance to photograph the big waterfall at Cautley on either of our visits, I did manage a few slow shutter shots of a wee stream at the top of the pass.

Drove on from Kirkstone Pass, down the other side and took the turning to Kendal. Wandered round the town and then found an interesting restaurant called Comida which is Spanish for Food. Scamp had poached eggs on toast, I had poached eggs on toast with spreadable Chorizo and a side of Padron peppers to share, although Scamp wasn’t impressed with the peppers. She did however order some churros which came with a glass of hot chocolate sauce and were delicious. It was an excellent lunch and we’d definitely go there again if we’re in the Lakes.

Followed the satnav after an argument with it, but eventually had to give in and “perform a ‘U’ turn when possible”. Came back through Kirkby Stephen and stopped at the Coop for more provisions. JIC and Sim were cooking tonight. Naked Fish and Carrot Chips! Sounded interesting and was. Very tasty. JIC did a great job of cooking the fish. We really need to try this at home. Carrot chips could be the next big thing.

Another beautiful day weatherwise.  Sat at night in the living room listening to the gunfire and explosions from the army camp a couple of miles away.  Skies lit up with flares over the ‘battlefield’.  I don’t know how the locals put up with the constant noise.

Tomorrow the walkers are off to Wild Boar Fell and we are hoping to do the Viaduct Walk in KS.

Cautley Spout revisited – 15 September 2020

Hoping for better weather

In the morning Scamp read at the house while I tried another sketch, a rough, from a different angle. As sometimes happens, the rough turned out better than I’d expected, and became a shaded pencil sketch. I may have to give up the 20mm long Palomino Blackwing and release it from its pencil extender. It’s worked hard since mid April!

In the afternoon the two hill walkers decided we should revisit Cautley Spout, but attack it from a different angle. It was a much better day than the last time, so we agreed to have a go. Parking was a lot tighter than at our previous visit, but after waiting in the Cross Keys carpark, we managed to grab a space. The Cross Keys is a Temperance Inn where no alcohol is sold, or allowed on the premises. I didn’t know such places still existed.

Today’s walk started in the same direction as the last one, but then made a change of direction, going left over a narrow bridge and on at an angle up the hill with a dry stane dyke on our left side as we climbed gently round the edge of the hill. Great views of the valley below and lots of rustling from beech trees as their leaves were turning more brown than green in the autumn sun.

No rainy coat today, in fact I’d to tie my jersey round my waist and continue on in my shirt sleeves, the weather was so calm and warm. I began to wish I’d changed to shorts instead of jeans. After an hour or so of tramping along a path that started off almost as a stream bed with water running down it. Then through a field of grazing sheep past deep pools of running water where Vixen demonstrated her love of swimming. Eventually though the path started to lose itself to a bog and we decided that after a tangerine each for sustenance, we should call it a day and walk back down.

Further down the path, Vixen had another swim in the bigger stream which is the run off from the waterfall. She was on a long lead and seemed totally at home in the water.

Scamp was cook tonight and Holy Cow Chicken Curry was hotter than we expected it to be. Nice Stone Oven naan bread to soak up the leftover sauce.

A good day. Glad we did the easier of the two walks, but the weather definitely helped.

Kirkby Stephen on our own – 14 September 2020

The other two were off climbing mountains, we were being tourists, in the sun.

Parked at the car park JIC had used on Saturday and then headed along the main street, which didn’t take very long. There wasn’t much to see. Walked back and had a look through the Cloisters, went through and had a look at the old church behind them. Took the path round the lawn and then exited on to the path that took us over Frank’s Bridge. Don’t know who Frank was, but he made a good job of the bridge. The air was full of the buzzing of bees in the bushes beside the bridge. A few butterflies too. Lots of ducks swimming in the River Eden underneath, but we didn’t have time for ducks. Instead we were following the path we’d travelled a couple of days before, except …

Except, instead of turning right after crossing a bridge over a stream and climbing up, up, up, we turned left and followed the stream past pretty houses whose gardens ran right down to the stream. How brilliant that would be to have a stream at the end of your garden, until it floods, then it might be a different story. We walked on and took a left turn at what seemed to be the end of the village. That eventually took us round past the cricket ground back to Frank’s Bridge. Took some photos of the ducks in the river under the bridge and watched a dog called Betty charging into the water and scaring the living daylights out of the ducks. I know this is boring, and means nothing to you, but remember whose blog this is!

Back in the town again it looked like there had been a funeral because lots of people dressed in black and the men with black ties had commandeered all the tables in the café Scamp wanted to have lunch in. Instead, we had a lunch in a Costa across the street. After a toastie and a coffee for me and a millionaire’s shortbread and latte for Scamp we crossed the road again. Scamp bought a sieve for fishing out poached eggs (that’s the best description I can muster) from an ironmongers. Then we found a deli where I got some marmalade that didn’t taste as home-made as it was advertised and a couple of russets, plus some veg for tonight’s risotto. Walked to the car, drove to the Coop and got some nice beer Lost Lager, plus other stuff, as usual when in foreign climes.

Drove home, to our home for the week. I’d bought a sim card for my old iPhone and spent a lost half an hour trying to get it to accept my credit card details to top-up Eventually I got exasperated and after checking with my bank that I hadn’t been spoofed out of my worldly goods, I shut the phone down. Thank you ‘Kenneth’ from O2 customer help who did his level best to get me sorted out. Went outside into the sunshine and while Scamp read, I sketched Pinfold Cottage where we are staying.

Dinner tonight was Prawn & Pea Risotto, cooked by Scamp.

Tomorrow we are hoping to go back to the waterfall, but this time we’re taking the more leisurely route.

Walk on through the rain – 13 September 2020

We climbed halfway up a mountain today to see a waterfall.

Not your typical Sunday morning. Sat upstairs in the lounge willing the weather to improve for our second walk of the week. This one to Caultney Spout which is an impressive waterfall. JIC drove us to the parking place and we decanted into the rain. Crossed a narrow footbridge over a river. JIC and I noted the carcass of a deer, we think, impaled on a tree branch,just upstream from the bridge. Note to self: Don’t drink any of the water in this stream today.

Once across the bridge we turned face on to the wind and the rain and plodded onward along the path, passing other walkers going the other way. Probably they had already climbed the mountain and were on their way to the next. They all looked happy, cheerful hikers in their cagoules and shorts. Shorts? In weather like this? You have to be hardy to play that game. We trudged on. Then I found that the Teazer had mysteriously managed to extend its lens. Even worse, it wouldn’t shut down. Finally got it to behave, but the battery level was showing nearly empty. What it had been doing in my pocket all the time, I have no idea. Never mind, I still had the Oly 1.

Further on and the wind and rain were lessening. At first I thought (hoped) the weather was improving, but we were just entering the lee of another hill and that was sheltering us. It was round about then the Oly 1’s screen went black. Switched off and on again, but still nothing. Removed the battery and pushed it back into place and got the message to set the date and time, not a good sign. Set them and all seemed well, full three bars on the power icon.

The path became steeper and wetter after that. We also had to cross a few streams. As the slope increased even more, Scamp suggested that the other two (plus Vixen) go on as we were just holding them back. They pointed out where they were going and we just nodded. Were those orange and red dots really people? Apparently they were. We let them go on, leaving us the opportunity to take our time. The Oly turned off again. This time I plugged in a replacement battery, reset date and time and it was operational again. Thankfully it remained working for the rest of the walk.

We could see that Sim and JIC were on their way back down again led by the four wheel drive of Vixen. The rest of the walk was uneventful and we were soon on our way back home after turning at the Cross Keys which is a Temperance Inn. A real one. No alcohol served, not that we were bothered, we were heading home for lunch. Got stuck behind a tractor travelling at a sedate 20mph for mile after mile on twisty turny roads with lots of traffic coming the other way. No chance to overtake, but the patient JIC took it in his stride, but we all breathed a sigh of relief when it turned off into a housing estate.

Tonight’s dinner was cooked by JIC and Sim and was Bacon and Borlotti Beans. After dinner we watched the New Monkey Magic. Not a patch on the original.

Tomorrow the hill climbers are heading for the Nine Standards and we’re heading for Kirkby Stephen.

Saying goodbye over the internet – 28 August 2020

Strange days.

The day started with a webinar with the man from Falkirk. For once he didn’t have a lot to say for himself and the topics discussed by the man from Puma were way above my head. All about inheritance tax and the avoidance thereof. I don’t think that will bother us.

After lunch we said goodbye to an good friend, not a very old friend, we’d only known her for a few years, but she meant a lot to both of us and opened our eyes to a whole new world, literally. Who would have thought when we met her and Jaime that we’d be watching a live feed of her funeral in a nearly empty church in Trinidad from our own home, 4000 miles distant. Strange days.

After the service we went out for a walk round St Mo’s. Twice round the pond in the sunshine. Took some photos of the lazy dragonflies checking each other out. PoD was two competing males.

Tomorrow is an early rise for a drive to St Andrews to see Annette’s caravan.

A Sunny Spell – 24 August 2020

Neither of us expected such a sunny day today, but we took it gladly.

Scamp was out this morning for coffee with her sister and her cousin. While they were out I completed my thumbnail sketch for my architectural painting and then worked on the light pencil sketch. None of the chunky sketch work of the Palomino Blackwing pencil, this was all done with a 0.7mm mechanical pencil. The groundwork is now almost finished, I just have to convince myself that the perspective at the front of the building is true. Once that’s done I can go on to the ink work. Phoned John and had a chat with him about the joys of retirement. Managed to finalise a date for them to come over for dinner. The last date was rather spoiled by a lockdown some time in March.

When Scamp returned with two plants from Isobel, we had lunch. After that we did a bit of gardening. Heavy duty pruning for me, using the loppers to get stuck into the big climbing rose at the back door. It’s now chopped down to head height and a bit straggly in places, but we’ll leave that until later in the year before we do the final tidying up, all being well. Scamp was finding places for the new plants to go.

Later in the warm afternoon we went for a walk round St Mo’s pond. Found two relaxed dragonflies and got a few shots. It turned out they were Common Darters, one male and one female. Just for future references, the male is smaller and red, the female is yellow ochre with red stripes down her back. They didn’t get PoD though. That went to a Harvestman which is not a spider although it looks like one. It’s in the order Opinions and joins the spiders in the Arachnid group. It’s amazing what you learn. If you look closely you’ll notice that it only has seven legs. It appears it sacrificed one, probably to save its life.

Dinner was chicken curry made from a Holy Cow mix and half the left over chicken from last night. It was hot, but tasty. Excellent flatbread, even if I say so myself with the additional secret ingredient of two dollops of coconut yogurt.

Tomorrow I’m intending meeting Val for coffee. Tried to phone Colin but it went to voicemail and Val hasn’t managed to get a reply from Fred.

Not the best day – 21 August 2020

This morning we had sad news.

We got a phone call from Jamie this morning to say that Madeleine, Sim’s mum had died. She was a lovely person who introduced us to Trinidad and Tobago. She and Jaime took us into their house and treated us like royalty. We will never never forget her kindness and the energy she put into everything she did. The woman with two phones, making sure the wedding reception ran as smoothly as possible. A great loss. Our thoughts go to Jamie and Simonne and the rest of the family.

Today’s PoD is a little seedpod I saw in St Mo’s this afternoon.

Tomorrow is another day.

Bob the Builder strikes again – 13 August 2020

A slow day to start as far as the weather was concerned, but lots to do.

Got an email from the garage with my order form for the new Micra attached. Just a formality really, but at least I now have a proper breakdown of the deal.

Shona had sent a text late in the afternoon, yesterday. Ben had broken the lock on the bathroom door. He likes to play with the water in the bath, but doesn’t realise that it’s running through into the flat below. It was mid June when I was last called to the fix the door and I screwed a hasp on to the door frame and a staple on to the door itself. It seemed ok at the time, but as I predicted at the time, the now twelve year old Ben has demonstrated that he can tear those screws out. I went to B&Q to get a couple of bolts. That meant a bag of bolts, of course. A bag of washers too. As I’d left the house without a screwdriver, I had to add one to the list as well. Unbelievably, the bag of washers which are simple steel discs about 15mm diameter with a hole in the centre was nearly twelve quid! Outrageous, but I needed them for the job. Back at the flat it was a simple job to drill the door, then drill out the staple itself to fit the bolts. Then I assembled the whole thing with a couple of those expensive washers in place and tightened one nut and a lock nut to keep the other nut from breaking in to the bathroom again. If this doesn’t work I’ll have to source a manacle to fit a twelve year old.

Back home the coffee maker was on and my roll was already buttered for me to fill with corned beef. Quite delicious and washed down with a nice strong espresso. Scamp is so good to me. While I’d been out being Bob the Builder, she’d done some washing and had thrown out some stale bread for the birds. Instead of birds, there was a Peacock butterfly perched on the slice of what had been nice Italian bread. I can’t imagine that butterflies eat bread. I took a few pics with two cameras “belts and braces” style. One of them became PoD.

After lunch we walked down to the shops, because Scamp wanted a new stiff broom to sweep the paving stones, because as we all know: A New Broom Sweeps Clean. She seemed happy with the brush and because I was in the mood for drilling holes and driving screws into things, I fixed up a hook on the fence to hold it.

No slide show tonight. This will be a long one, it’s Venice. The main reason we had a balcony cabin last year if the truth be told, and the reason we’d have had one this year if Covid-19 hadn’t reared its ugly head.

Tomorrow we may be going for lunch – to a restaurant!