Flat

So yesterday we faced the long drive home again.

With a car full of cases and bags.

So full, we were all squished in with faces pressed against windows.

Just about.

But we decided to make the journey more fun by stopping at Morecambe Bay on the way home.

To tick the seaside box, which we hadn’t managed to do this holiday.

Yay, rock pooling, I thought.

Only

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no rock pools were there to be had.

Just lots and lots of mud/sand flats

Sand flatting. Yay.

Hmmm, not quite the same ring to it.

But, we did find lots of shells.

And masses of these fellows

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I did look to see if there was a winkle stall nearby, but the only seafood stall was selling cockles and mussels (alive alive oh!), so my summer winkle challenge must wait a bit longer to be met.

Then it started to rain so we piled back in the car for the long (oh so long) motorway journey home.

But it is good to be back.

Even if I can’t see the washing machine for the pile of wet, dirty clothes heaped in front of it.

A little souvenir from the Lake District 🙂

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Wet

Yesterday the Met Office forecast rain.

In fact they gave out an “extreme weather warning” for north west England.

So naturally we decided to go for a walk, not forgetting our sunglasses and Factor 50 suntan lotion, happy in the knowledge that the Met Office are always and utterly completely wrong.

Only this time they were right.

I know. Random or what!

Grizedale forest in the rain.

It’s very beautiful

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But somehow I don’t think the children were thinking beautiful thoughts as we frogmarched them enjoyed a jolly family walk around the trail.

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Not sure why they didn’t enjoy it. There was even a giant hedgehog sculpture to admire

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Even a rousing chorus of “raindrops on roses” from me didn’t cheer them up.

Nor did my suggestion, (as we sloshed our way down a forest path that was now a 5″ deep fast flowing forest river,) that they could tell their friends they’d been ghyll scrambling.

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We’re thinking the south of Spain might be a nice option for next year’s holiday 🙂

Bunny

The weather forecast said to expect torrential rain yesterday.

So of course we had glorious sunshine.

Someone should develop a “random weather forecaster” web site.

I’m sure it would have the same accuracy rate as the Met Office.

But, I’m not complaining. 🙂

For yesterday we went to Hill Top, the home of Beatrix Potter.

It nestles in the tiny hamlet of Near Sawrey, near Hawkshead. The countryside around there is of the “gently rolling” rather than “dramatic and awe inspiring” type.

The house

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is, apparently, just as it was when Beatrix lived there.

The rooms are small and dark, but cosy and welcoming.

The drawings, sketches and watercolours on display are breathtakingly good.

The gardens? Quintessentially English. Herbaceous, pretty

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And look who we saw taking a rest on a tree trunk in the sunshine

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He’s obviously been in Mr McGregors garden again as his little blue jacket was nowhere to be seen :-).

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Finished the day with a woodland walk down to Windermere where we saw these girls

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And managed to convince youngest child for a whole five minutes that these were rare, amphibious water cows.

Nearly as much fun as the time we convinced oldest child that he was going to a cheese farm to catch wild cheeses.

🙂

A mistake

Yesterday it rained.

SURPRISE! 🙂

And so I made a mistake.

I thought that dragging the kids out on another forced march jolly family walk would make them miserable. So I thought, let’s go to where there is civilisation, let’s go to Ambleside. There will be stuff to do there.
I was basing this on my last visit.
Which was, gulp, over twenty years ago.

I remember mooching with my dad, looking in quirky little shops, eating at a surfer/climber dude vegetarian cafe. It was great.

That was twenty years ago.

Now? Well it’s great if you like to shop in the kind of shops you get on any old high street anywhere in the UK.
Admittedly with more than the average number of outdoor pursuits high street chains (Blacks? Tick. Mountain Warehouse? Tick. Trespass? Tick. Fat Face? Tick).
And if you like your coffee shops following the Costa/Starbucks, barista and muffins route.

But the thing was.
All these outdoor pursuits shops, filled with people buying stuff?
And nobody seemed to be walking anywhere.

We walked the 1mile to the lakeside, and saw hardly anyone.

Caught the boat to Bowness.

And there was another huddle of people, all trying to find stuff to buy.
And ignoring the beauty of the lakes and mountains around them.

But perhaps I’m being unfair.

Perhaps.

We wandered around, trying to fill the time until we could catch the boat back again.

And ended up having our feet eaten by fish.

The kids love the Garra Rufa experience, but the spa? treatment room? fish shop? (what do you class this experience as?) near us closed down a few years ago.

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If you can’t beat ’em, join ’em 🙂

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Then we caught the boat back to Ambleside

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And dragged the kids out on a two mile walk around Tarn How just to cheer them up.

They’ll thank us for it.

One day.

Maybe. 🙂

Character Building

The tiny house on the left hand side at the bottom of the mountain in this picture?

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That’s where we’re staying.

The mountain making up most of the rest of the picture?

That’s what the kids wanted to walk up today.

And who am I to stop such madness foolishness enthusiasm?

The weather forecast said the weather would be a little overcast but generally sunny.

Ha!

We didn’t go straight up the mountain.

Not being goats and all.

A more circuitous route was planned, with an ultimate goal of ending up at Levers Water.

We started.

It started to drizzle.

But never mind! We survived the Festival of History, we can survive a little drizzle.

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We climbed higher.

It rained harder

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And harder.

And harder.

The mountains disappeared, covered by weather.

Lots of weather.

The intrepid explorers were cold, wet and miserable.

But no matter! We had read The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy! We were prepared! We had…

Towels.

No longer cold wet and miserable.

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Um, well maybe a bit cold wet and miserable.

But the towels made all the difference.

Ahem.

The Celts are coming!

Or rather, the Celts are going!
Going back down the mountain as fast as their little legs could take them.

So we didn’t make it over the top of the mountain.

Unless you count the mountain of whipped cream that was on the well deserved hot chocolate they got back at Base Camp

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Might have to climb those again tomorrow 🙂

Grasmere

A beautiful sunny day.

We decided to force march, enjoy a jolly, family 4mile walk around Grasmere today.

Saw Wordworth’s grave

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And the place where he lived, Dove Cottage

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All together now…
“I wandered lonely as a cloud
That floats on high o’er vale and hill
Mumble, mumble, mumble, mumble
A host of golden daffodils”

Then, the walk.

Glorious.

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We stopped for a picnic lunch by the River Rothay

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At which point youngest child fell in.

I’d like to say it was a preplanned opportunity for wild swimming.

But no.

She just fell in.

Very soothing on the wasp stings though. 🙂

See oldest child’s face?

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That’s the face of a proto-teenager who’s just realised they’re only half way through the walk and still have 2 miles to go before they’re back in civilisation.

He’ll look back on these walks fondly.

He will.

Probably.

In fact he’ll probably inflict forced marches jolly family walks on his children too.

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Totally worth it for this view though!

And then, the Grasmere Gingerbread Shop

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Totally worth it for this view too 🙂

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Yum.

Ups and downs

This morning, the view from the bedrooms was something like this

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That was an “up”.

We caught a boat around Coniston Water

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And that was an “up” too.

A visit to John Ruskins house, Brantwood

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And lunch overlooking the Lake

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Yep, “up” and “up”.

And then minutes after this happy photo was taken

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Youngest child was attacked and chased by a swarm of wasps and stung 16 times.

Definitely a “down”. Big, BIG time “down”.

She is fine, if a little sore. I, however, am less than impressed that a number of other people had been stung that day at Brantwood and the staff had done nothing more than wander a little way up the path and report that they “couldn’t see anything”.

Not good enough.

20 Days of Summer

Well, it’s traditional.

The schools break up for summer.

And so does the weather

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Six weeks stretch out ahead of us.

Full of possibilities.

Last year I tried to be uber mom. In a fit of misplaced enthusiasm I got the kids to each write ten things they wanted to do over the summer on to small slips of paper and put them in a jar. We could then take it in turns to pick things from their wish lists and do them all over the summer.

Super right?

Ha!

They moaned, they groaned.

Oldest child had one thing on his list, which was “play with x”

Youngest child included a trip to Paris on hers.

Which wasn’t such a mad idea given we were going to France on holiday…

only, we were down near the Spanish border.

So this year there is still a list of fun things to do

But I’m writing it.

Sod family cooperatives, I’m changing it into a dictatorship.

Anyway, as we all know, mums are always right and have the best ideas don’t they. 🙂

Don’t they?

Twenty Fab Things We Will Try To Do This Summer

eat
Winkles.
I’ve tried oysters. We forced encouraged the kids to eat snails in France last year. I feel the whole foodstuff as bogey experience will not be complete without the addition of winkles to the canon.

Homemade sushi
Which will no doubt end up the size of giant sausage rolls, but I feel it must be done.

Grasmere Gingerbread.
We’ll be in the area for a week this summer, so it would be positively rude not to.
Every single day.

Caribbean

A new Caribbean restaurant has opened in Leamington. I’ve never eaten Caribbean food. Is this kismet?

Homemade Cherry Pie.
I will, yet again, face my arch-nemesis, pastry.
I will remember the televisual experience that was Twin Peaks

visit
Beatrix Potter’s house in the Lake District.
I find the stories virtually unreadable, but the illustrations? Aaah.

Walsingham
during the candlelit procession to Our Lady of Walsingham. As someone who is slowly moving into agnosticism and possibly paganism, I will be out of my comfort zone here. A spiritual tourist?But I am in awe of people who have such faith, and I am always open to different routes to enlightenment.

The Tate Modern. Apparently, according to his Art teacher, oldest child needs to learn more about different schools of Art and different Artists. I did think that was one of the things they were supposed to teach them about in Art lessons at school – but what do I know? Anyway, we did visit the Tate Modern a few years ago, and did the obligatory “oh my god what is that?” . And, “ha! I could do better than that!”, so I think it could be time for a revisit. We will be cultured and appreciative this time. We will, honest.

The Leamington Gurdwara
is open for Heritage Open Weekend. I’ve been meaning to visit every year since it opened and failed miserably. This is the year I will do it.

English Heritage’s History Live festival of history.
A grand festival of reenactors and other historically minded people. And it’s today. And it’s raining.
Glastonbury for geeks intellectuals 🙂

Do

Rock pooling.
It’s summer. It has to be done.

A headstand
That doesn’t involve me slamming into the wall and then slowly collapsing sideways like a felled tree trunk.

Lace making.
I bought the kit in a car boot sale over 15 years ago. This year I will actually have a go!

A picnic in the park.
In the rain if we have to.
And we might have to…

Leamington safari
There are so many bits of our town we haven’t explored.
Shamefully.
Foundry wood.
The canal.
All the mini parks.
We will know our town by the end of the summer.

read
Something old

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Mum’s favourite, and something I haven’t re-read for many years.

Something new

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Should be published in the next week or two. Very eagerly anticipated!

Something Borrowed
Well, it’s on the kindle, so not really borrowed, but this was on the recommendation of Tracey (hi Tracey!) so, sort of borrowed…:-)

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Something Blue
No not that kind of blue.

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A book about a silent retreat in the Himalayas.

Probably quite short then? 🙂

And finally, just so it makes the list up to 20, and I’m a bit OCD that way…

Something that’s been mouldering on my bookshelves unread for a while and I’d really like to stop it looking at me reproachfully every time I choose a different title to read.

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It’s good to have a plan 🙂

Grasmere Gingerbread

It’s actually sunny outside.

Sunny! On a Bank Holiday weekend!

All this sunshine has started me thinking about summer holidays.

Even though we all know that the minute the schools break up for the summer, the storm clouds will gather and Britain will disappear behind grey and wet mist and murg.

But, hope springs eternal.

And this year we are staying in Britain and heading to the Lake District.

And so I started thinking about the Lakes, and Cumbria, and Grasmere.

And Grasmere Gingerbread.

Which is unlike any other Gingerbread in the world.

Honest!

If you have never tried it, it’s quite difficult to describe.

Thin and crispy and chewy and not quite a biscuit and not quite a cake. Sort of flapjacky and possibly a bit treacle-tarty. Sweet with a lot of fire.

The recipe is a closely guarded secret, but you can order the authentic gingerbread online from the Grasmere Gingerbread shop.

Or turn up at St Oswalds Church in Grasmere on the Saturday nearest St Oswald’s day in August when the gingerbread is given out after the rushbearing ceremony.

Or you can have a bash at making it yourself.

There are loads of attempts at the recipe out there. It seems like everyone from Jackie Kearney to Jamie Oliver has had a go.

So here’s mine.

You will need

125g plain flour mixed with 125g fine oatmeal.

Add 5 tsp (yes you did read that right) of ginger and 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda. Mix well.

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Melt 150g of butter and add it to the dry mixture until well combined.

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Stir in 175g brown sugar

Then stir in 1 tbsp of golden syrup.

Or, if like me you discover that the tin of golden syrup you knew was lurking in the back of the pantry was actually a complete figment of your imagination, then add whatever gloopy syrup type substance you actually do have in the pantry. (In my case 1 tbsp treacle and then 1 tbsp maple syrup because the mix had gone a very scary colour).

Mix well.

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Line a shallow baking tray with grease proof paper.

Pour the mix into the tray, even it out and flatten with the back of your spoon. Don’t make it too thick – this should have more of a biscuit depth to it.

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Bake at 180C for about half an hour.

Cut into squares once it’s cooled down a bit but before it’s gone completely cold.

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Munch contentedly

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