Monday 29 February

Yesterday morning we babysat for Summer while Laura and Marc went out.   She was back on good form and we had lots of laughs with her.   There was certainly nothing wrong with her appetite and she ate all that was put on her plate and then some!

When Laura and James were little we bought them lots of Duplo and Brio to play with and for the last few years this has been with our friends in Morpeth where Frank has enjoyed many hours of construction fun.   As he’s now moved onto Lego we brought it all back for Summer and she is now enjoying it too.   I also have a suspicion that Laura has been reliving her youth  …

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Today we’ve been back in their garage adding another coat of paint to the soon to be shelving unit.   We’re keeping our fingers crossed that today’s coat might be the last one and we can start moving all the pieces inside soon and start constructing the final piece.

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Saturday 27 February

Another nice day and apart from boat chores and restocking at Morrisons, we spent a fairly unexciting day reading the papers.

One of our boating neighbours popped by after dark to say that mooring intruders had been spotted and challenged in the last few days and steps are being taken by residents to try to deter any other unwanted visitors.   We await further news.

Friday 26 February

We woke to sunny skies again and no frost so we had lots of hot water for a shower this morning.  Today we’re heading back to the boat after a week away.   We’ve had a lovely time catching up with good friends and also enjoying some of the best scenery in England we’ve been extremely lucky with the weather.

Our 115 mile drive back took just two hours as the once slow and winding A590 from the southern end of the Lakes to the M6 is now mainly dual carriageway.

We were back on the boat by lunch time to put everything away, and light the fire before we popped round to Laura and Marc’s as I think they’ve missed us.   While we’ve been away Summer has had Chicken Pox and hasn’t been her usual happy self.   Her face lit up though when she saw us and it looks as though she is well on the way to recovery as her spots are fading.   It was a lovely welcome back.

We were invited to stay for tea and spent the afternoon playing.

Thursday 25 February

Last night must have been colder than the night before as we had no water this morning.   We assumed this was because the pipes had frozen and found some flowing water  in the nearby brick laundry building so we managed to have a cup of coffee with our breakfast.

With no phone signal we couldn’t call for assistance but we prepared a text to send and then headed to a height from where we hoped it would be delivered.

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We parked in Ulverston and walked up through the town toward the Sir John Barrow monument.  This could be mistaken for a lighthouse, but it has never had a functional light.  From the base of the monument you get a wonderful panoramic view over the Lakes and Morecambe Bay.  The monument is 100 feet tall and sits 436 feet above sea level on Hoad Hill, although our aching muscles, which haven’t recovered from yesterday, suggested it was more.

Anyway our message went and we received a reply informing us that ‘maintenance would be notified’, so after admiring the sights around us we headed back down hill and decided to spend the afternoon at the Lakeland Motor Museum.

This was a splendid museum with a varied collection of cars, motorbikes and cycles along with lots of memorabilia.  However, you know you are no longer in the prime of youth when you find that the cars you drove  ‘before children’ are on display…   the Mini, Fiesta, Metro, and 2CV6

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We also spotted a couple of Moulton bikes, and we have three and a half of these at home!

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A separate building there houses an exhibition about Malcolm and Donald Campbell’s various Bluebird  land and water speed breaking attempts with replicas of the vehicles used.   After Malcolm died, Donald’s various attempts ended in disaster in January 1967 when he crashed and died on Coniston at a speed of over 300mph.

Wednesday 24 February

When we first looked out this morning, the ground was white over.  We decided to have a cooked breakfast while we waited for the day to warm up a bit but didn’t have too much as we knew we were going to be quite active today.

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We drove north along the east side of Coniston Water and over the top to Hawkshead and then south to Grizedale.  The mainly single track roads with passing places were easy to negotiate  as there were very few cars around.

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We parked next to the Grizedale Visitor Centre  where a sign advised that a computer had taken a note of our car registration number and that we should pay at a machine near to the Centre when we were ready to head back home.

Wearing sensible footwear, warm clothing, hats and gloves and carrying a rucksack with binoculars, water, food, camera etc we headed out along the trail marked ‘Grizedale Tarn Trail’, following white and green striped markers.  This was described as a moderate walk of 3.5 miles,  and which, according to a map of the trails, would take  us past quite a few of the sculptures that have been commissioned by the Forestry Commission over the years.

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After visiting the Tarn we then changed to the green route for a while which was quite easy before finally turning onto a lilac route which was a little more strenuous as it took us up hill and down again a number of times before leading us back to the Centre.

All in all we walked for about four hours and probably covered about six miles and were quite pleased at how well we did given the terrain.   We enjoyed a walk amongst the trees and enjoyed a panoramic view of Morecambe Bay at one point and we only saw one other couple all day.

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We spotted quite a number of sculptures although we were slightly disappointed that whilst the Forestry Commission have been keen to include sculptures here for about twenty years now, they seem to be disappearing faster than they are appearing but it was good to hear that they are expecting nine new ones soon.

When it came for us to leave, we entered the first three characters of our numberplate and the machine filled in the rest and then asked for payment.   It then said we had five minutes to leave the car park so we ran back to the car to kick off our boots and drive off.  I’m not sure what would have happened to us if we’d taken six minutes or longer!

We popped to the Red Lion at Lowick for a drink and to take a trip down memory lane as before we were married we spent many a night in here with friends.   While the position of the bar has changed, it was pretty much as we  remembered.

As the evening wears on we’re stiffening up so we’re not sure what we’ll do tomorrow yet.

 

Tuesday 23 February

Another lovely sunny day and the views of the fells from our lodge are spectacular.

After breakfast we headed into Ulverston to pick up supplies for the rest of the week and whilst there realised that we had a phone signal for the first time since leaving Penrith.  We called our friend Hil who lives on a farm on the fell above Ulverston and she gave us directions to find her.   She said we would know when we’d arrived when we hit the mud.  She wasn’t joking.    Months of rain on a mixed farm of dairy, beef and sheep had caused havoc.

We’ve known Hil for more than 40 years and although none of us could quite recall when we last got together, we  exchange Christmas cards each year.   We still found lots to talk about and then as it was such a nice day Hil took us to see her latest acquisition, a shepherd’s hut that she hopes to hire out as soon as United Utilities have connected it to a water supply.  The hut was beautifully crafted and the interior layout was not dissimilar to a narrowboat.  It had a composting loo too!    I think we may be one of her first customers if we can return when the ground has dried up a bit as I don’t fancy trying to take Max to a hut that is painted white on the inside when all is brown on the outside!

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Storm and I then drove into Coniston to walk beside the lake which looked so nice in the sunshine.   There were very few people around and it was so tranquil.

 

Monday 22 February

We weren’t up in time to see Steve off to work as he left very early to cycle about 18 miles to work in the centre of Newcastle.   It was quite frosty this morning and we could only admire his dedication!

After breakfast we waved ‘cheerio’ to Jo and Frank who had one more day of half term to enjoy as today was a teacher training day.

Today we’re heading to the South Lakes to do our bit to boost Cumbria’s tourist industry which is flagging thanks to the Christmas floods.   We haven’t been to the Lake District for about 18 years which is amazing because at one time we used to spend every spare moment there.

We headed first to Morrisons in Morpeth to pick up sufficient groceries for the next 24 hours. As we filled up with petrol there our friend Lawrence rang to confirm that he and Mary were at their second home above Ullswater and invited us to join them for a bite of lunch.

It was a lovely sunny morning and we drove through the very scenic Northumberland Dales via Corbridge to Penrith, and saw hardly a soul on the quiet roads.

It was good to catch up with Lawrence and Mary and as it was sunny we had a nice walk round their caravan park.    We left them late afternoon to drive south to Coniston.  As we drove through Glenridding we spotted the enormous mound of spoil washed down from the fells during the Christmas floods. It was a staggering amount. Everywhere the attempts to repair flooded homes were evident.

We’ve booked a timber lodge for four nights at the Crake Valley Holiday Park but on arrival noted that no trees have been felled in the making of the lodge!

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On arrival we were a little surprised there was no-one to welcome us and instead we spotted a note addressed to us in the reception window telling us which lodge was ours and where we’d find the keys.

We spent the first hour working out how to turn the heating on as we couldn’t find any instructions but later the owner’s daughter popped by to check that we’d found everything and that all was well.  She told us that her Dad is seriously ill in hospital after an accident.

By the time she popped by we’d worked out how to get everything working, including the WIFI and were watching University  Challenge with a glass of wine in hand, having eaten and were feeling quite settled.   We’d even managed to answer three of the specialist questions and so were feeling quite smug.