Reprieve

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It feels like spring is just about here.

Without winter really having shown its face at all.

A few frosty mornings.

A sprinkling of snow.

But already bulbs are staring to push through, and curling leaf buds appearing on some of the hardier (foolhardy) trees.

A dry day on Friday and we took our chance to explore close to home.

The beautiful Warwickshire countryside

Along country lanes

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Picking up a companion for part of the way

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Stopping at Chesterton church

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And pondering a “fixer-upper”

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A good day.

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The Change

It’s there now isn’t it?

First thing in the morning, when you step out of the front door and shiver.

Late afternoon, as the sun is starting to go down and you smell the bonfires starting.

In the evening, as it starts to get properly dark.

Autumn’s coming.

I love this time of year.

It’s softer.

The light is hazier, the evenings cooler.

The hedgerows full.

So, we made our annual trip to a tiny hamlet (ha!) just outside Stratford.

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The light was dappled, the birds twittered, the bees buzzed

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The Avon did it’s gurgle-y river-y thing.

And the trees and hedges?

They were full of these

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And these

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And these

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Elderberries and rose hips and sloes (oh my!).

Oh and blackberries and damsons and apples.

And then a hazy, twittery, mellow walk back through the hamlet

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To the pretty, amber hued church

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Rose-filled churchyard

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And frankly hacked-off looking gargoyle chappie

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Finishing off the late summer day with a stop at the Four Alls, for a cool refreshing drink (or in the case of oldest child a cream and marshmallow loaded hot chocolate (well it is the turn of the seasons after all)).

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There’s No Place Like Home

One of the things I wanted to do this summer was explore Leamington a bit more.

I’ve lived here for 17 years and there are still bits of town I don’t know very well at all.

So a couple of days ago, before the rain came ( again), we packed a mini picnic and trekked to Foundry Wood a community managed green space behind the old Ford Foundry.

The rest of the old Foundry site is now a Morrisons Supermarket, (sigh).

Because obviously with Tesco, Sainsbury, M & S, Asda, Lidl, Waitrose and Aldi all within 5 minutes driving distance, what the area really needed was a supermarket.

But never mind!

It’s great that at least some of this old foundry site has been put to good use. 🙂

It was a beautiful day and as we walked to the foundry we passed the canal

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And, ignoring the roar of the traffic on the A road we were walking by, we saw a lovely patch of wildflowers

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Then we got to the woods

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And they were open!

Which was great as I realised half way through our walk that I’d forgotten to check if they were actually open that day.

It’s a great space

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Is it a Clootie Tree? is it Art? What is it?

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Mental note to return in September for blackberrying.

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Wood and textile craft. We’re going to try this at home when the kids get back from their week at their grandparents.

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The rotting piano.

Every wood should have one. 🙂

And then possibly the thing the kids found most fascinating from the whole trip

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The Compost Toilet.

It could have been worse.

That’s all I’ll say.

And to finish the day, a trip to a play park we haven’t discovered before

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And all this on our doorstep.

Well, just about.

Fab.

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.

These High Green Hills

A few days away with friends.

To the very outposts of civilisation as we know it.

Well, Wales.

But there was no Internet or phone signal and so, to the teenagers in the group, it was as if Armageddon had indeed wiped out the rest of the world.

It was very beautiful

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An old stone farmhouse

Lots of these

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This little chap was born and then his mum charged off for breakfast leaving him to sort himself out

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Now, I do remember being very ready for my Weetabix after youngest child was born, but still…

We were close to Offa’s Dyke and Llanthony Priory and so on the first, full, day we climbed the one and later had refreshments in the other.

It was breathtaking

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No, it was, literally, breathtaking.

I thought it was thundering at one point, but that was just the blood pounding in my ears as we made the ascent up the Dyke.

Great views from the top though

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…once I’d regained consciousness enough to appreciate them.