Of Swallows and Shallows.

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Wast Water

It was August Bank Holiday here in the UK, and once again David and I headed up to the Lake District. The weather, unusual for a bank holiday turned out to be pretty impressive. Blue skies, hot sun, we couldn’t ask for a better day!

We were up before sunrise (again) and headed out at 6am for our three hour drive! Our destination was the lakeshore of Wast Water, touted in a 2007 ITV poll as Britain’s Favourite View. The scenery is indeed inspirational. To the north, Wasdale Head features the giants Yewbarrow, Great Gable, Lingmell and Scafell Pike. Along the eastern side, Whin Rigg and Illgill Head form the Screes. To the south is a leisurely lakeside walk towards Low Wood and Lund Bridge. It was this path that David and I took on our arrival.

A cool breeze that blew across the lake, created the perfect opportunity to try out my new fleece in preparation for autumn and winter walks.

At the southern point, under the shade of trees I noticed roses scattered along the lake-shore. It got me thinking how many have faced a watery death at Wast Water. After an online search I found that in 1976 a woman had been murdered and her body was dumped at Wast Water, only to be found eight years later still preserved.

In 1945, three airmen lost their lives during a nighttime navigational exercise which saw their Gruman Avenger crash into the Screes. And again in 1973 a Piper Cherokee G-AZYP also crashed into the Screes with no survivors!

Wast Water is the deepest lake in England at 258 feet (79 m) and is a divers haven. Yet even as recent as 2013 the body of a diver, in search of the infamous gnome garden was found. So nothing for me to be worried about then as I planned on doing a swim!

David and I found a nice stony beach on the western side of the lake, where later we would enjoy a scenic picnic with coffee. The choice of location to swim was actually a poor one as the water was very shallow. (No sign of the deepest lake here!) I found I had to wade quite some distance, slipping over mossy rocks before managing to swim. You may be questioning my type of swimwear, especially for a lake that is renowned to be the coldest. I had plans to do not just one swim but two!!
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The water wasn’t as cold as I was lead to believe. Indeed I stayed in the water for my longest swim at around 20 minutes. I breast-stroked with mountainous giants before me and floated looking up at the blue sky as swallows and grey wagtails flittered past. It was indeed a magical experience. I stumbled back onto land giddy and blissfully happy! I could have stayed at Wast Water all day but I had plans of swimming another tarn!

20160829_122344From Google images and maps, Greendale Tarn looked like it had everything going for it. It was isolated, surrounded by mountains and didn’t look like too much of a walk. However with my rudimentary walking skills at best, a two hour walk there and back ended up being three! There is free parking for about 10 cars next to the cottages at Greendale. The start of the walk overlooks the Screes of Wast Water. The going was steep to start off with as the path wound around ferns and bracken. We past Herdwick Sheep who made walking over the boulder filled path look easy. I stumbled and tripped my way upwards, while to our left was the fast flowing Greendale Gill.

Two hours later and we were standing beside a tarn with disappointment on our faces. Instead of finding a peaceful idyll, we gazed upon a body of water that looked reedy. A pond-like smell emanated from the surface. If there were any trout in the water they were well hidden. I could not find an entry point that didn’t have reeds lacing the banks. It was very off putting and I decided (sensibly?) to forego a second swim, much to my consternation! However, looking at the positives from the day, we had enjoyed the walk, even if I did crawl most of the way up and slipped on the way down! The picture of Greendale Tarn makes it look so much more appetising than it really was!

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Greendale Tarn

Wast Water maybe my final swim of the year, what with September and autumn around the corner. I do hope not. Maybe I can squeeze in another swim before it gets too cold?

What do you think?

Christine x

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Five Go on a Grand Tour.

Five Go on a Grand Tour to Cumbria

Five Go on a Grand Tour to Cumbria

It’s quite amazing how much you can pack into 15/16 hours in just one day!

Saturday was the start of my week long vacation. David for the past week, had been making plans with his brother, Gary and cousin Keith to go for a day out to the Lake District, Cumbria. With Bilgen, Gary’s wife and myself in tow.

Keith was the designated driver and picked us up from no 49 at 8. 15 am on a bright sunny morning in Liverpool. We drove along the M62 and M6 to Windermere (the largest lake in England), stopping at Lancaster services along the way. The journey took just under two hours and by 10 am we were at the lakeside of Winderemere.

Windremere

Windremere

Windermere is not my favourite lake, Buttermere holds that accolade but we spent a good hour walking the lakeside, watching the boats sail by and people struggle with oars as they tried to turn rowing boats to the shore. David said he would like to try a rowing boat, he got scoffs of disbelief in return from Keith and myself. Bilgen and Gary wanted to take a cruise along the river, but the duration was 45 minutes and our car park stay was only for 2 hours. So we jumped back into the car and headed towards Keswick.

DS5

DS5

Keith’s Sat Nav in the new DS5 was appalling! It took us down small dead end roads and streets where barely a Smart car could pass! And don’t ask about the ‘comfy’ seating in the back. It’s safe to say my back and bottom will take days to recover! lol

After a hours drive we finally got to Keswick and the Surprise View. Where we picnicked before the view of Derwentwater and Bassenthwaite Lake. The view was lovely. I could have stayed there all day!

Surprise View: derwent water and bassenthwaite

Surprise View: Derwent water and Bassenthwaite

After lunch we decided to head towards my favourite lake, Buttermere. However we didn’t take the left turn though we had Keith’s Sat Nav and my Google directions leading the way! We ended up on a road towards Loweswater which had no parking places! I was not best pleased!

We then drove endlessly on towards Ennerdale Water which again did nothing for me! During the walk to the lakeside I had a Tortoiseshell Butterfly land on my butterfly printed dress. While waiting for the other ‘four’ to come back from the shingle beach I met with three hikers who were disorientated and wondered on which path to follow. One asked me ‘where have you come from?’ If I had been witty I would have said.

‘By magic!’ However I am not quick witted and simply said, ‘up that path towards the car parks!’ Duh!

After a bit of a lull with sightseeing, we headed towards Wastwater (the deepest of the lakes). The clouds came rolling in and the rain followed after, though Wastwater looked very atmospheric!

Wast Water

Wastwater

It took almost two hours driving from Egremont to Kendal, where we stopped off at an Indian restaurant, called simply India for sustenance. I found it on Google after searching for restaurants in the area.

The restaurant was relatively quiet when we arrived, but after 8 pm it filled up with locals and a Stag Do, the groom was dressed up as a cow! It got quite noisy. The actually restaurant was small. Only had room for say 30 people? The ambiance was made by the people eating as the décor was a bit lacklustre. I did like the authentic Indian music though, it made me want to jump out of my chair and dance! The service was friendly and welcoming. The waiter who served us knew Liverpool and made us feel very welcome. He described the menu expertly and I could have listened to him all day talking about curries. They did not however have a dupiaza on the menu so I had to order a vegetable masala though in hindsight I should have tried the bhuna, the taster sauce we were given was gorgeous!

We all left the restaurant after 9 pm full and satisfied! The journey home only took 1.5 hours. We were home by 11 pm!

Though the day seemed long, we did indeed see lots of sights, some where new while others we had visited before. A journey is always better undertaken with friends!

It’s all About the Pheromones!

Recently, I have noticed that the insects have been enjoying the plants in the little ‘garden of Eden’ we have created for them.

Garden of Eden.... on a small scale

Garden of Eden…. on a small scale

When the sun burns down brightly, the visiting bees have a riot! Today I counted at least five bees in amongst the flowers, feeding at one time.

bee on honeysuckle

bee on honeysuckle

We visited Lady Green Garden Centre this May Bank Holiday Monday and I came away with a Phlox and Polemonium! Amongst the display of flowers for purchase there was a bee keeper attending to his hives! 🙂

Back at home, sunbathing in the sunshine before the clouds came. I spotted many bees on the Cat Mint. Amongst the visiting bees there was one I thought had become trapped in the mints foliage and then she popped out with a male on her back!! I was shocked! I did not know bees ‘mated’. I always thought they laid eggs and then the males fertilized them afterwards! What do I know!! You learn something new everyday! 😀 Anyway, the male clung to her for over half an hour. I was fascinated! I took some photos, (as you do!) and then left them to it. She was still foraging amongst the Cat Mint flowers while he was ‘doing his thing!’ lol 😀

Mating Bees!

Mating Bees!

I had my eyes closed enjoying the sunshine, while David was painting the yard floor! Then I opened my eyes and saw coming towards me, the female and her mate! She was buzzing at me and tried to land on my arm! I freaked out! I don’t mind buying plants to feed them, don’t mind them buzzing around the garden and merrily mating, but I do mind when they try to include me in their antics! lol. I am rather ashamed now, but I stood up, screaming as they tried to land on my back! Why come to me? I am no flower!! David came to the rescue and herded them away! I was left shaken and embarrassed for screaming like a girl! I did not want to become The Bee Dancer!

I later found out that the bees may have been Bumblebees. The female a Queen, (or a new Queen). I was sad to read from The British Bee-keepers Association, that the male, a drone, usually died after mating! Poor little chappy! He was far smaller than her!

Poor male and Queen Bumblebee

Poor male and Queen Bumblebee

The whole incident made me think of a poem by Sylvia Plath, about bee keeping. She and her husband Ted Hughes when they lived in Devon had attempted to keep bees. It doesn’t sound like she was that ‘fussed’ with the whole idea!

The Arrival of the Bee Box, by Sylvia Plath. 4th October 1962.

I ordered this, clean wood box

Square as a chair and almost too heavy to lift.

I would say it was the coffin of a midget

Or a square baby

Were there not such a din in it.

 

The box is locked, it is dangerous.

I have to live with it overnight

And I can’t keep away from it.

There are no windows, so I can’t see what is in there.

There is only a little grid, no exit.

 

I put my eye to the grid.

It is dark, dark,

With the swarmy feeling of African hands

Minute and shrunk for export,

Black on black, angrily clambering.

 

How can I let them out?

It is the noise that appalls me most of all,

The unintelligible syllables.

It is like a Roman mob,

Small, taken one by one, but my god, together!

 

I lay my ear to furious Latin.

I am not a Caesar.

I have simply ordered a box of maniacs.

They can be sent back.

They can die, I need feed them nothing, I am the owner.

 

I wonder how hungry they are.

I wonder if they would forget me

If I just undid the locks and stood back and turned into a tree.

There is the laburnum, its blond colonnades,

And the petticoats of the cherry.

 

They might ignore me immediately

In my moon suit and funeral veil.

I am no source of honey

So why should they turn on me?

Tomorrow I will be sweet God, I will set them free.

 

The box is only temporary.

 

Thrigby Tales.

Day Four:

Today, though David and I were both tired from all the days out we have had over the weekend. We ended the short break in the style of how we used to holiday, by cramming in as much as possible to the day!

After our light breakfast, and I mean light as David doesn’t eat breakfast! We said our farewell to Dawn and checked out of the B&B. We made our way to Norwich Cathedral and got some nice pictures with lovely blue sky above!

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We then headed further east to Thrigby Hall Wildlife Gardens, as we wanted to update our zoo website, and this animal park was one we hadn’t visited before.

I was a bit depressed at the state of the big cat enclosures. They were all made of wire mesh which wasn’t very good for photography. The Swamp House and small cat enclosures were better though. We had lunch besides the Red Panda enclosure and saw one of their Reds. He was a sorry sight! The poor little fellow had had half of his body shaved and his poor little tail was a thin wisp of a thing. To me he looked like he was trying to be a lion with his mane. I just wanted to cuddle the little fellow!

The pinnacle of the visit was our trip to the gift shop. On approaching the manor house I said to David, ‘I doubt I’ll get any Red Panda cuddlies here.’ Then lo and behold as we walked through the entrance! There sitting on a shelf right opposite the door was four huge Red Panda toys! The biggest I’ve seen! My eyes widened in excitement and I just had to buy one for my collection at whatever cost! I won’t tell you how much he was but I have purchased three Red Panda cuddly toys over the weekend and spent almost £60!! Yes, there is no hope for me, I am crazy! 😀

So on our return journey of four and a half hours across country, I sat cuddling with Roz, my big Red Panda toy!

We have been so very lucky with the weather this weekend as it has only rained when we have been in the car.

Sitting in slow moving traffic around Birmingham I felt my spirits sag as we drew ever closer home and back to reality. It has been a much needed break away from renovating the house and the drudgery of work. It almost felt like we were the carefree Christine and David of old. I go back to work on Wednesday, and I expect that to be a hectic stress filled day, but I have to pay for my Red Panda toys somehow!! 😀

The stare of the Leopard.

Day Three:

Sunday was a much more relaxed kind of day. After getting up too early on a Sunday morning (7.30) for 8am breakfast which was nice, granola and coffee. David and I headed to Banham Zoo only 30 minutes drive from the B&B. We arrived at 10am and spent the next five hours there, walking the pathways looking at the Amur Tiger, Sri Lankan Leopard, Red Panda and taking in yet another flying display! The highlight of the day was catching a Mongoose with its baby! So cute!

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After 3pm we left the zoo, I with two cuddly Red Pandas in tow. 🙂

For the evening meal we went to a local pub, Brewers fayre, which was like a Wetherspoon’s to me. The place was buzzing with people enjoying the carvery and kids screaming!! What joy!! David had yet another curry while I after requesting a vegetable lasagna ended up happy with a chilli bean and rice, my favourite! Nice! 😀 We even had dessert of chocolate and strawberry sundaes 🙂 You can imagine which one David had? 🙂

Now after 10pm, we are relaxing with cups of tea after a nice bath. We are getting ready for bed… sleep tight.

Gorillas in the Rain…

Day one:

After leaving the house a bit later than I had planned for the four hour journey to Norwich to see their GoGoGorillas. David and I hit rain shower after rain shower, jam packed motorways and A roads on our journey across country which left me feeling stressed!!

We finally reached Norwich around 2.30pm and after finding parking we spent an enjoyable hour walking the streets of this friendly city and caught a glimpse of 15 of the 54 Gorillas that gave colour to the drab, rain soaked historic pavements. I am overjoyed that I managed to see a few of them before they were auctioned off and the one’s we saw were amongst my favourites!

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Leaving Norwich around 4pm, the next two subsequent hours were taken up on driving to Black Bond Hall B&B, Colchester. Andrew greeted us kindly and showed us to our room for the night and then offered us tea and cake in the kitchen. He and his wife Gill have made us feel very welcome. After a meal of fish and chips in a local Colchester chip shop, I relaxed with a shower and enjoyed the calmness of the countryside.

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It’s back to colchester and the zoo tomorrow to see their 100 plus giraffe, Stand Tall art display. I can’t wait!!