It was David’s birthday on Monday! To celebrate the day, he wanted to visit a nature reserve to test out his new telephoto lens. So we got up early on a bright August morning and headed up the motorway to … Continue reading
Wow! It’s been such a long time since I updated you all with a Sunday Sevens, a series devised by Natalie at Threads and Bobbins.
With the start of a new year, I was excited to begin counting the miles to 1000 again! This week however my miles have been hobbled by my clumsy self, breaking (yet again) my little toe. I have had to restrict the amount of walking I’ve been doing until it heals. So as feared my miles gained this week have been a pitiful. 25 miles, bringing my new total to 190 miles.
Book I am Reading:
At present I am reading JoJo Moyes’s – The Girl You Left Behind. It begins in an occupied town in France during the First World War and follows the fortune of Sophie whose husband has joined the French army. Edouard was a gifted painter and leaves Sophie behind with her portrait which herr Kommandant has fallen in love with. The second half of the novel sees Liv, who has Sophie’s portrait in her home and learns of the troubled history of the painting. I have just read Sophie’s chapters and now begin Liv’s. It’s an easy read but quite harrowing in parts. A much better novel than The Horse Dancer!
Have you read any good books lately?
Do you ever get excited about seeing something and then when you do, it is a total disappointment? Well that is what happened when we visited The Playhouse, Liverpool to see J. B. Priestley’s An Inspector Calls. I enjoyed reviewing the play during my 2017 A Year in Books, so was excited to see the stage performance. However this ‘visionary, radical, challenging version of JB Priestley’s classic thriller‘, directed by Stephen Daldry for National Theatre really missed the mark for me. Daldry’s production began with World War Two bomb sirens. The stage design was of a house that would ultimately be destroyed by German V2’s. The whole stage design sat uneasy with me and did not help the drama between the cast. The play is set during a dinner party in the Edwardian period, before World War One, however in this production most of the action was on a street outside a house. It never really jelled for me. The only saving grace was the atmospherics and soundtrack.
Have you seen this play, if so what did you think?
2020 has begun rather disappointingly in more ways than one! In January I discovered, to my sadness that I had somehow broken the lens on my Samsung S6 which I use predominantly as a camera. However I am blessed that we had the means to be able to purchase a replacement. I am now the proud owner of a Samsung S10 with wide lens and ultra slow motion. I’ve found the phone is more intelligent than I am!
David has just purchased a DJI Mavic Mini. For over a year we have been humming and ahhing about getting a drone to add more depth to my wild swim videos. This year David plucked up the courage and spent his pennies on this light weight drone. We’ve not tried it yet, what with Storm Ciara causing havoc, but I will report when we do.
Do you own a drone? Any tips?
Hans Zimmer Live (again):
In 2017 I went to see Hans Zimmer Live in Liverpool, a year before that in Birmingham. Notice my surprise when he recently announced a European tour for 2021. With David and my brother Daniel we decided to purchase tickets to see the new show in March 2021 at Manchester Arena. I hope it’s as good as the original!
To round off a rather disappointing week, we had the delivery of our new washing machine today. Only to find that the electrical plug isn’t long enough to reach our power socket. So we are having to move the socket some place else. In a house as old as ours, nothing is straight forward. I may not be able to use my new washing machine but I can admire it!
That was my week, how was yours?
Thanks for reading,
On coming down from the mountains after my Stickle Tarn swim, it was evident that there was time for a further swim that day. So we headed the short drive back towards Elterwater. Elterwater is actually three tarns connected via the River Brathay. I read that the River was also an outflow of Elterwater. As all my swims have been in lakes and tarns, I have always wondered what a river swim would be like. I was excited to see if I could squeeze in a short river swim too.
We parked up at the Silverthwaite car park off the B5343. The car park has a number-plate recognition camera where you pay on departure. I carried my Dryrobe® along the river path towards Elterwater. The path was well maintained with wonderful views of the Great Langdale Valley. The whole area would benefit from a longer visit rather than this whistle stop tour.
At the junction where the tarn joins the river there is a decent shingle beach. This was where we set up base. I inflated Doughnut, strapped Wilson to my chest and donned my neoprene gloves and boots. I found an easy entrance into the river (not very deep) and after admiring the reeds that lined the river bank set off towards Elterwater.
I don’t know whether it was because I was swimming against the current or carrying a slight injury from my earlier fall in Stickle Ghyll, but it seemed to take forever to get to Elterwater. A couple sat and watched my slow progress as I swam into the tarn. I tried to ignore their looks but I tired easily. However I finally managed to emerge into the tarn with the Langdales in the distance. It was such a thrill to see them. Elterwater is beautiful!
I surprised myself by being in the water for longer than I thought. I managed roughly 15 minutes. After already having one swim that day and then an impromptu dip in a ghyll, I thought I would have been colder than I was. It was a cloudy and cool day with the weather closing in after the Elterwater swim. As I reached dry land, I vowed to revisit Elterwater again. A peaceful morning swim sounds bliss!
Have you visited Elterwater? Tried river swimming?
Thanks for reading,
I was thinking the other day, that of all the wild swims I have posted about, I have not included a beginners guide. So here’s how I read and learned about the wonderful ‘sport’ of wild swimming.
After the initial interest, (visiting the shores of Llyn Idwal and Derwentwater) and of being tempted into the silky waters. I Googled whether it was indeed acceptable to go swimming outdoors in the UK. I discovered that there was a time when there were hundreds of lidos (outdoor pools) in the UK and people didn’t bat an eyelid if you were spotted swimming along a river or paddling in a lake. Today’s mindset that swimming outdoors is dangerous, comes from after WW2 when heated indoor pools became the norm. Thankfully people like Kate Rew, The Wild Swimming Brothers and even Robson Green, are helping swimming outdoors, known as wild swimming, become much more acceptable.
My first port of call for research was Kate Rew’s book Wild Swim, and Daniel Start’s Wild Swimming. Both books, (with stunning photographs) offer insightful recommendations on places to swim by region.
Kate Rew is founder of The Outdoor Swimming Society, an invaluable website with information for anyone interested in wild swimming. Part of the website is a Wild Swim map, an interactive map of the UK where people post reviews on swims with helpful hints, (I’ve even added a couple!)
Many Google searches came up with information on safe swimming. One was by the NHS, and another from The Lake District National Park, which gave a list of lakes that you could swim in and those that you couldn’t! It’s a website that has informed my many Lake District wild swims.
Another website on Lake District swimming that I frequent is the blog Swimming the Lakes. This lady planned to swim across all the lakes and tarns in the Lake District. Her blog posts have once again helped in my wild swimming choices.
YouTube was another invaluable resource. Just search swimming in the Lake District and you get hundreds of hits! One channel that whetted my appetite for swimming in the Lake District was Trek and Run Online. Their videos of swimming in Buttermere and Derwentwater inspired me to take a dip in both lakes myself, resulting in happy memories.
One aspect of wild swimming I have not covered is of course hypothermia. Though not a blog I followed from the beginning, Open Water Woman has this topic covered. Her detailed post is well worth a read and very insightful.
So my research determined that I could go wild swimming, but what should I wear? What equipment did I need? I did not like the idea of wearing a wet-suit so that was out of the equation. I wanted to feel the cool water lapping at my skin. So skins it was then.
I can’t explain the excitement I had when I went shopping for clothing for my first swim in 2016. I had a basic list.
- A swimsuit
- Goggles (which I have never worn)
- Neoprene boots/shoes (I didn’t want to cut my feet on rocks and stones as I waded into the water)
David thought I was insane but humoured me.
Since my initial swims, my ‘kit’ has expanded. A simple bathing suit is ok for swimming in summer but come autumn, when temperatures drop you find your body needs extra protection.
- Neoprene gloves are a must for colder waters. My hands burned when I swam in Derwentwater during October, enough for me to research hand protection.
- A towel from home is just too bulky. I now have two microfiber towels from Mountain Warehouse. They are easier to carry in my rucksack when going on a hike before a swim.
- To document my swims, David gifted me a GoPro type waterproof camera. The quality of video is excellent! I named it Wilson (of Cast Away fame) as I almost lost it on a swim in Ullswater.
- A thermometer is a must if you want to know what temperature of water you are swimming in. I purchased a quirky child’s tortoise thermometer who I have called Terrence.
- Since purchasing my first swimsuit. I have bought many tankini’s. I prefer the fit of shorts and top to an all in one.
The last piece of kit that I now own is a dryrobe! I have been after a changing robe for so long but could not justify the cost, as I only dip, not compete. For Christmas David kindly gifted me my very own dryrobe. It’s a kids advanced (as I’m a shortie), and it is spacious enough for me to get dry and changed in. I am eager to get back to swimming to try it out!
Not satisfied with just swimming in the Lake District I went in search for information on swimming in Wales. Vivienne Rickman Poole‘s blog documents her many swims in the llyns of Snowdonia. I’ve managed to do two swims in Wales in 2017, Llyn Cwellyn and Llyn Cau. I hope to add to this tally in 2018.
I’ve found many Facebook pages relating to wild swimming. Outdoor Swimming Society has one, COWS or Cumbria Open Water Swimmers is a good page for the Lake District and nearer to home #ChesterFrosties have an inspiring page too. I’m sure there will be one for your area too!
The take home message of this post is to be informed, swim within your limits, be courteous to others and enjoy the experience. For my first swim at Derwentwater, I felt apprehensive about entering the water, I took my time and slowly edged into the cool May waters. I knew I didn’t have a strong upper body so I kept to the shoreline. It’s only when you feel stronger and confident that you can swim for longer.
I hope this post has been informative? I have accumulated my knowledge over two-three years and will continue to learn. Perhaps I have inspired you to give wild swimming a go? If you do, let me know how you get on?
Thanks for reading and stay safe,
N.B: An added extra to my swim kit a tow float!
Today, I heard a knock at the door. I started barking to alert mummy that someone was at the door! Stranger! Stranger! Mummy went and opened the door and in stepped Christine with a smile on her face. It wasn’t a stranger after all! I wagged my tail and went looking for a toy to give to her. Maybe she has come to play with me? ‘Do you want to go to the park, Riley?’ Christine said. Yes, yes please! Mummy strapped the harness on my back and then David walked through the door. David my best friend! I ran to give him a sniff. I followed David outside and into the big red car that sometimes makes me sick. Christine sat next to me and I looked out of the window as houses and people sped past. It all became a blur.
We finally stopped and David helped me climb out of the car. I was so happy! I could see the park! There are lots of smells here and the first thing I did when we walked over the road was add my scent to a tree. Riley was here!
We all walked a path that lead to a lake where lots of birds sat on the water. I got so excited that I pulled a little, I wanted to catch all the smells, sorry! There were lots of people walking in the park too, some with doggy friends. Hello, sniff. Hello, sniff. Hello!
My favourite part of visiting the park is the big green field where we run and play fetch together. Today, we had the field all to ourselves while swallows flew overhead. I could have played there all day!
All too soon we were back at the car. Christine gave me a drink of water. I was thirsty! I panted all the way home, pant, pant, pant, but I was very happy. I had enjoyed my walk.
Do you have any doggy friends? Where is their favourite place to run?
This spring our yarden has once again been visited by dunnocks and robins. David had the inspired idea of putting my action camera in the ground cage feeder, in the hope of getting some footage of our little feathered friends. The trial was a success and we got some wonderful footage of a visiting dunnock (who seems a little poser) and a flighty robin.
Voted the UK’s National bird in 2015, and featured at number 7 in the RSPB’s Big Garden Birdwatch 2017. The robin is recognised by many due to their red breast. Their sweet song can be heard all year round, not just in the spring. Both sexes look alike but their young are speckled brown. However cute they look they are very territorial and can fight to the death!
They are of similar size and have the same diet as the dunnock, hence chasing dunnocks from gardens.
I have to admit, the dunnock is one of my favourite birds. This small, quiet bird flickers about the undergrowth snatching at insects. The male’s short, yet cheery song is mostly heard of a spring but I have heard them singing come Christmastime. They are, like the robin, a ground feeder, eating insects and berries. They will eat seeds and suet come winter. Their nests are often parasitised by the cuckoo. They have colourful sex lives, most are polyandrous (one female to a number of males) or polygynous (one male to a number of females). This ensures that more than one mate will tend to the young.
I have been bowled over by how good the footage of the dunnock and the robin is. It is definitely a technique we will attempt again, perhaps on the hanging feeders!
Which garden bird is your favourite?
Thanks for stopping by,
The post holiday blues have hit fiercely! We were only gone for three nights, yet getting back to ‘normality’ seems hard to accept. I’ve had a little cry and now looking ahead to all the good things I have planned for the year! Seeing Hans Zimmer again this summer at the Liverpool Echo Arena, has to be one of the highlights!
Time is a strange anomaly. I spent the better half of two months planning walks and sightseeing for our second short break to the Lake District. I blink and now it’s gone! Our three night break passed by so quickly but as Sharon from Sunshine and Celandines said, we ‘certainly fitted a lot in’! 😀
David and I left Liverpool an hour later than planned, due to getting things ready for my mum to stop by twice daily to check on Artie and the finches. I thank her for doing that. I think Artie enjoyed the company. 🙂
Once on the M62 and M6 it took just two hours to get to our first destination, that of Hodge Close Quarry. We arrived at 1pm, just in time for packed lunch! Dodging the showers, we spent the rest of our time walking around the quarry, taking pictures. I don’t think David was impressed as he never got his camera out!
On arrival at 4pm we were greeted by Phil and Helen who welcomed us back warmly with hugs and handshakes. It was lovely to see them again. Phil even carried my very heavy suitcase up to our room for the duration of the break, Skiddaw. It was the same room we stayed in last year. It looked a lot different this time around as they had been renovating, there were even new bathrooms fitted!
As customary we were offered tea, coffee and cake in the guest lounge and spent a good half hour catching up with Phil and Helen. David enjoyed the homemade lemon cake by Helen and we even perused the many books on walks, photography and cooking on the book shelf. The guest lounge has everything you need, comfy sofas, a warming wood burning stove and even board games.
Our room was comfortable and warm. The view from the window of the Skiddaw mountain range showed the peaks in their winter garb. The room was freshly painted with luxurious feature wallpaper, new bedroom furniture, art deco bedside lamps and USB plug sockets (very handy for charging phones)! There was a fresh new carpet smell every-time we entered the room.
The bathrooms were lovely! Double headed showers and the wall tiles were just gorgeous! We did not want for nothing! There was complimentary coffee/tea, hot chocolate and a kettle in the room, along with a fridge in the hall with fresh milk, much better than that UHT stuff!
We booked ahead for our evening meal at Middle Ruddings, just 5 minutes walk down the road from Hermiston. The family run hotel and restaurant gets very busy with locals and is dog friendly too. David and I had a table booked for 6pm!
The service was informal, we were offered homemade bread while we waited for our meal. David took the bread with bits of bacon in it. We did not wait too long for our order, around 20 minutes. I liked the general knowledge cards at every table.
David ordered the Oven roast cod fillet and chorizo with a plate of homemade chips and vegetables. I chose the Vegetarian Casserole, which had haricot beans, chickpeas and tomatoes served with basmati rice and came with mash potato. The meal sounded nice, however it turned out to be quite bland. I had high hopes for this meal and was left feeling deflated, it tasted more of stock and basmati than anything else.
I was also gutted that the crumble pudding of the day was not apple or rhubarb, it was banoffee. We paid the bill and returned for a hot shower and relax at Hermiston. We went to bed early, ready for a long day of walking ahead.
Thanks for reading,
I thought I would participate in another Sunday Sevens, devised by Natalie at Threads and bobbins.
David and I have just come back from a visit to Grosvenor Garden Centre. While buying some bird ornaments for my little three foot Christmas tree! (I am so excited for the season!) David and I had fun making a wish and ‘drinking’ from a huge coffee cup!
I also bought a bird feeder in the shape of a poppy (a 50p donation went to the Royal British Legion) and placed it in the yarden!
I am still looking for signs of Autumn, and while walking to get the bus to work, I snapped this picture of a leafy coloured pathway.
While grocery shopping yesterday I tried on some winter hats. I liked this cow hat and scarf!
The week began in celebratory mode. I dressed up as the devil for Halloween and I turned 40! (:o) I got lots of lovely cards, presents and well wishes.
David kindly gave me money to buy a new phone. (My old one is three years old and so slow!) So, I opted for a Samsung Galaxy S6 due to the camera quality! I can’t wait to use it!
David and I had the Monday off work. So we spent the day shopping, eating gingerbread and going to the cinema. We went to see Inferno, the third Prof. Langdon film in the series of Dan Brown adaptations. It wasn’t as strong a story as The Da Vinci Code but we enjoyed it none the less. Later back home, even Artie seemed to enjoy the left over popcorn! :p
Overall it hasn’t been a bad week. With the turning back of the clocks last Sunday it seems that the weather has grown colder too. 😦
Have you been to the cinema recently? Have you started shopping for Christmas?
Thanks for reading,
I did not hold out much hope for the weather over the weekend. The forecast predicted rain and heavy cloud. Yet David and I decided to keep to the plan I had devised anyway. So, the following morning we left the B&B before sunrise and headed towards Keswick. We parked the car at the Theatre by the Lake, and walked towards the lakeside.
A white dawn broke over Derwentwater. From Friar’s Crag we walked towards the National Trust Centenary Stones, though they looked rather underwhelming with the water having receded. From this bay I planned my first swim of the day. At 9am the water was cold and there was no one about save David and I, and the lake! It was magical, and I loved it!
As an early birthday present David had gifted me a waterproof camera (nick-named Wilson (I’ll explain why later!)) which I trialled at Derwentwater.
After my swim of about 10 minutes, with burning hands and numb skin, I attempted to get dry and dressed. With the sun breaking through the clouds we retraced our steps back towards the car before heading into Keswick for our walk towards Walla Crag.
The walk took us through some nice woodland and across a fell. The whole walk took about two hours. Parts of the ascent was steep, muddy and tiring. We touched the peak of Walla Crag at lunch time. I ate my fruit salad, buffeted by a chilling wind, while looking towards a blue Derwentwater below. We couldn’t have asked for better weather!
We arrived back at the car earlier than anticipated. So looking at the map, I chose Bassenthwaite Lake to visit, being only 15 minutes drive from Keswick.
We luckily managed to find free parking alongside the lake. Indeed the lake seemed almost deserted, much like early morning at Derwentwater! With having a spare swim suit in my rucksack (as you do). I made the impromptu decision to go for another swim!
I had intended to have a sunrise swim at Derwentwater and a sunset swim at Loweswater, but Bassenthwaite became my second swim of the day!
I was not in the water for long. I felt cold, probably because I had not fully warmed up from the swim that morning. After a cup of lukewarm coffee, we headed towards Loweswater for sunset. Much like the sunrise, the sunset did not really happen, but we enjoyed a pleasant autumn stroll along the lake, before I donned my bikini and waded out into the cold and very reedy water.
Loweswater was my shortest swim that day, more of a dip. I did not like the reeds catching at my ankles, so I cut short the swim to shiver on the pebbly bank as twilight fell.
We decided to risk driving the 30 minutes to Ennerdale, a designated dark sky area, in the hope that the clouds would break long enough for us to do some star gazing. We arrived tired and hungry around 7pm and waited for the night to darken. There were no other tourists, save us. We stood listening to eerie calls of birds roosting before the sky above became emblazoned with a multitude of stars. There were wisps of cloud but none could detract from the faint ribbon of the Milky Way. I loved gazing up at the sky and feeling the peace of the area. We will definitely have to visit again when the night is more clear, but what David captured is good for his first attempt.
We returned to the B&B exhausted yet feeling accomplished. It had been a tremendous day, though at times it did seem endless! We had achieved many firsts in the 14 hours of travelling! I had amazingly completed three swims/dips in one day! Loweswater and Bassenthwaite were new lakes to us, and it was the first time David had seen the Milky Way.
It will be hard to top such a day!
Have you visited any of the lakes mentioned? What were your memories of them? Have you been star gazing, seen the Milky Way?
Do continue to follow me as I write about my final day in the Lake District.
Thanks for reading,
WARNING! This post will be a COLOUR overload!
I was inspired to write this post after visiting Sheffield’s herd of elephants and writing about it in my Sunday Sevens #15. Mark at worldwarzoogardener1939 commented that Paignton Zoo are doing a trail with rhinos and Marwell Zoo have Zany Zebras gracing the streets of Southampton this summer! I would love to visit them all but 2016 seems to be the busiest year regarding animal street art in the UK! One of the biggest promoters of these events is Wild in Art, check out their website for past and future events.
Over the past eight years David and I have been lucky enough to visit a fair amount of trails, stretching as far north as Aberdeen, to Norwich in the east! My first encounter with these colourful animals was the Manchester Cow Parade in 2004. Since then there has been an explosion of animals gracing the cities and towns of the UK. From lions in Bournemouth to horses in Hamilton. Below is a selection of the trails we have seen. Enjoy!
2008 was the year of Liverpool’s Capital of Culture. During the summer, 120 6ft lambananas graced the city’s streets. I have fond memories of seeking each and every one of them out, there was even one atop Moel Famau in North Wales!
The winter of 2009 saw 135 5ft penguins bring cheer to the cold streets of Liverpool, St Helens and the Wirral. I don’t think they were as successful as the lambananas the previous year, even David seemed jaded in seeing them all. However I managed to capture them all on camera and even a few months after the auction date, acquired one for myself. A hint of madness but our home wouldn’t be the same without Snowy standing sentinel under the stairs!
Staying in the North West, Chester in 2010 had a herd of rhinos career through their streets.
Also in 2010, Skipton found they had a flock of sheep bringing cheer to their town…
..and we visited Newport for the first of their two Super Dragon trails.
2011 saw two very diverse trails. The first was in Congleton where a sleuth of bears had taken up residence.
The second was in Edinburgh, where the city was transformed into a jungle for the summer.
In 2012 it looked like David and I never visited any art trails, though in fairness we did buy our first house!
2014 saw David and I take a tour to Aberdeen, Scotland to see their pod of dolphins in torrential rain! Read my post here.
Also in 2015 Liverpool had their celebration of ducks which commemorated the history of the city.
While Birmingham witnessed a parliament of owls in their Big Hoot!
As I’ve said previously 2016 will see more trails than ever before. There are pigs in Ipswich, snowdogs in Brighton and Hove and Newcastle and Tyne and Wear, and lions in Paisley. That is just to name a few! Sheffield’s herd of elephants are on the streets until 5th October when they will be auctioned off for charity like most of the above. They are a great way of getting the public behind a charitable cause and can raise hundreds of pounds!
Have you seen/followed any animal sculpture trail? What do you think of the initiative? What kind of animal would you like turned into art next?