Saturday, 18 April 2015

Singing Softly,Wonderfully well

Last night The Ghyll singers were invited to sing at a concert in St Martins church in Bowness on Windermere.

Living in such a beautiful area of the world we get to sing in some lovely spots. As we drove along the shores of Windermere the trees were just coming into bud and the blossom trees and rhododendrons were in flower,not forgetting of course the many thousands of daffodils made so famous by Wordsworth.

As guest singers to a wind band from Kendal we were able to sit back and enjoy most of the concert .We sang the pieces which had won us the South Lakes music competition and were congratulated in particular on our ability to sing quietly.

 I realised that slowly over the four years we had had our current conductor we had learned how to control our singing by pulling in our tummies,could sing the higher notes by  using our faces and smiling and had generally become more disciplined as a choir by listening to the other parts as we sang our own.That's the wonderful thing about learning, you just never stop.

Google for example has been reading up about politics.For the first time this year his older brother is eligible to vote and there have been discussions in our family about whether we actually agree with the current system. The conservatives and liberal democrats are currently joined by a coalition but never have I known the general public to be so disillusioned and mistrustful of MP's. A friend introduced me to an app designed to help new voters decide who to vote for. Bite the Ballot posed a series of questions and then suggested the parties as close as possible to the views of the voter.Vote for Policies was another site.It just shows how technology is changing the way we do things!

And as for progress with the C2B, only twenty days to go now and we went up Beacon Fell the other day. A super clear day and hardly a soul in sight, a fantastic place to live.

Thursday, 16 April 2015

A Black sheep in the family

In the field over the road from our cottage are the newly born lambs.The field is full of jumping, skipping creatures with  frantically wiggling tails as they drink their mothers milk.If you look closely however, you will suddenly see, from amongst the sheep a little black head, followed by a little black body - the cutest little black, indeed the only black lamb in the flock!

Friday, 10 April 2015

Five tarns in Lakeland

The weather has been beautiful over the past few days.Today my daughter was meeting up with scouting friends she'd met  at Winter camp earlier in the year.They were spending the day at Fell Foot so I arranged to leave her and spend a day walking with my friend as part of our practice for the C2B

I found a walk at the south eastern tip of Windermere which I reckoned would be out of the tourist radar.  I was right.Even at 11am there were plenty of parking spaces at Chapel House Wood at Staveley-in -Cartmel.

If we had had more time I would have liked to take a short walk round Staveley, a small but very pretty hamlet famed for it's house with a miniature railway running through the garden which is often opened to raise money for charity.

Our walk took us up a forest road and across boardwalks onto woodland paths.Through the trees to the right we could see the glimmer of water which turned out to be Simpson Ground resevoir where we stopped for a moment to take in the view and the silence.

After a slight unintenioned detour we found ourselves back on our intended path in synch with our walking book and carried on through the wood to a wall where we walked out of  woodland into the open countryside with clear blue skies and green fields broken by rocky outcrops and ant hills dotted here and there so your line of sight ahead was broken until you walked round each one.

 .We could see the limestone escarpment known as Whitbarrow scar on the skyline and, as we walked over the open fields  we  rounded a rocky knoll to see Sow How farm beyond which was  a second tarn with  two swans swimming on it and a solitary boathouse at one end.

From there we crossed sloping fields into deciduous woodland and found yet other tarn, this time it was cool and still.We could see the reflection of the  reeds on its still surface. This tarn differed from Sow How Tarn.It was enclosed by woodland and surrounded by rhododendron bushes  which had yet to come into flower and felt as though it was the relic of some wealthy estate.

We walked down past an old barn (which I later learned was called Heights) which had apparently been a Quaker meeting house until the 1920's (and which we commented would have made a good walkers accommodation in its isolation) and then down through more woodland and on to open countryside where we ascended to the cairn at Ravensbarrow.

 The cairn was in fact a seat and we sat whilst I  ate my sandwiches and surveyed the valley below us. The only evidence of people in the valley was a farmer on his tractor feeding his sheep and a couple of walkers ahead of us below. 

We descended towards the road but took a path to the right before reaching a stile over a dry stone wall and into deciduous woodland.It was lovely to see the odd wild daffodil here and there and some primroses on a grassy bank although I was surprised there were not more as the daffodils are in full flower now. After the wood we passed through agate onto a country road and turned left to a crossroads,never seeing a car as we sauntered along the route.We then turned left to a crossroad and right to The Ashes. Passing the farm and a chap doing a fine job of landscaping the garden with a fine slate wall, we walked down a farm track, over a little bridge spanning a stream and right onto a footpath over fields again which passed a typical lakeland cottage to our left with a red telephone box in the garden.

Over a stile into more woodland and past a converted barn which is now used as a holiday let onto the road where   Thorphinsty hall, a very fine house, lay ahead of us.

We passed the hall discussing the likely pronunciation of its name and up the road to a path on the leftt which took us through woodland up the hillside through recently planted plantations to the road further along.By this time the sun was hot and it was heavy going.Our hearts sank at the next path which rose steeply up a slope to a telephone mast. We scrambled up (me a bit at a time) and stopped to catch our breath at the top) Once there it was much easier. We followed the pylon lines onto moorland, over a couple of stiles and through a gate which had no bars allowing the sheep and lambs to move freely from one field to another.A lone lamb was calling to its mother having obviously gone in search of some adventure. Passing into newly planted woodland we followed a well worn path  until it reached a forest track. From there we walked parallel with the track until we reached the car.

It was a lovely and varied walk and there are  several things I would like to go back and investigate such as St Anthonys church on Cartmel fell and the  church at Staveley.

Wednesday, 8 April 2015

Banishhead - the day of the partial Eclipse

I'm catching up, not having immediate access to a computer means that down loading photos can be a pain at the moment.I continue to take them and then have a mountain of photos to download.But a blog wouldn't be a blog without some photos so I've saved this one till now.

I've been meaning to walk up to Banishead quarry for a while now. I saw a photo of it on a favourite facebook page of mine called "I love the Lake District" last year and it was added to my bucket list.

It was the day of the partial eclipse, a grey and dreary day,but I had to take my daughter to the optician and return her to school in Coniston mid morning so I figured that I'd stop off in Torver on my return. The signs weren't good,drizzle, cloud,not good for the photography at all.

Anyway I have a C2B to practice for so I parked the car next to Torver church,dropped a donation in the honesty box and set off along the road and across to a bend from where a track took me up the hill side, past a farm and several holiday cottages and small caravan sites and then up a walled track into open woodland.

As I came out of the trees the sun began to shine and I was alone ,not a person in sight!

I could see old slate quarries ahead and I walked along the well made track towards them, taking photos as I went.

As I reached the banks of slate a rough path took me up between them

and this was my reward.Totally out the blue!  A deep  quarry surrounded by fencing and a still deep pool below, It made up totally for the failure of the eclipse to appear in our darkened skies!

Definitely worth the walk and next time I will be venturing further to Coniston

My dad says he used to fish up there as I child. I don't think this was written by him but you never know!

Friday, 3 April 2015

There's a lamb in my bucket Eliza!

As I walked into my friend's farmhouse the other day I did a double take as I noticed a small lamb sitting in a yellow trug in the corner of the room under a heat light to keep it warm. To her it was the norm at this time of year and she didn't give it a backward glance as she bustled round the kitchen whilst I resisted the urge to pick it up and take it home as a pet!

We live in an area where farmers make a living mainly off their animals. ( the fields are generally too small and hilly for arable farming) so diversifying means having Farmhouse B and B's, holiday lets ,quad bike treks or paint balling in the woods - what a wonderful natural geography lesson  on the economy!

My friend sells Christmas trees and wreaths during December and many a cold wintry morning my daughter has stood in the country lane,like the little match girl, selling wreaths or binding up Christmas trees.

She rang me this morning to say that they had packed their tents away and were just cooking breakfast on the campfire before setting off back through Woodland to Broughton. It's a bit like Five go off to camp by Enid Blyton, how many youngsters are lucky enough, at the age of fourteen, to roam free, with very little danger,knowing that if they get into difficulties they can approach a local farmer and know they will be helped. Explorer scouts has offered so much !

When I went to pick her up she told me they had been supplied with army rations . meatballs and pasta and sticky toffee pudding with bacon and beans for breakfast.They hadn't starved!

She had even bought me a present - a jar of my favourite blackberry jam from Rosthwaite as she walked past the end of the farm track! What better present could I have asked for! As she said, there was nothing I would have wanted from Covent garden on her trip to London last week and she is probably right!

Saturday, 28 March 2015

Lords and Ladies

Did you know it's illegal to die in the houses of Parliament? Neither did I till yesterday. My daughter has been on a school trip to London this week to see The Lion King and the group were taken on a tour of the houses of Parliament. It's a very different world from the one we live here but I think that .as with everything. you learn more when it's something you don't do every day! It's always lovely to come home though!

She is currently sitting round a camp fire up at Torver on a dark and rainy night tucking into her tea ,having walked from Lowick this afternoon as part of a survivorship expedition. Her text message to me (warm and cosy in our cottage on a cold ,wet Saturday night) sounded upbeat and cheerful- she's pretty hardy my daughter!

Meanwhile at home I've been watching a Fieldfare as it has been building its nest in our pear tree. I thought it was a cuckoo at first.Its light markings made it very obvious as it flew backwards and forwards across the garden. You can see its nest, in the forked branch of a tree, exposed as the tree has not yet come into leaf although it won't be long as the buds will be in flower in the next few days!

I love this time of year. The clocks move forward tonight and we will have light evenings once more.My vases are full of daffodils,catkins and pussy willows and I've been planting up floral mugs with pansies and primroses to sell at our National Autistic society coffee morning next week.

I also have to visit our village churchyard. I'm told it hosts the dogtooth violet I was really surprised when I saw it's picture as I normally pride myself on my knowledge of wild flowers. This time though I was wrong. What I thought was the dog tooth violet is actually the sweet or common violet . You live and learn!

Monday, 9 March 2015

Donkeys ,Woodpeckers and Rhubarb jam

It's the time of year when I'm out walking the foot paths and fells in training for the C2B walk on 11th May. This year I'm practising with a friend who's going to join me and the conversation makes the miles go faster.

I've discovered she is a whizz with the ordnance survey map whilst I just make it up as I go along. She has a very precise weather app too. I now know exactly when and where a rain drop is going to fall on my head whereas before I would turn my eyes to the heavens and ask myself whether it was going to rain and whether to take sunglasses or wellies!

My friend told me that we had a chance of showers this morning. I replied that there would be no little black cloud over my head, although I took my waterproof trousers just in case.
We set off up the Woodland valley from Broughton up the disused railway line which used to go to Coniston and into a wood.It was too early for bluebells but we came across my neighbour coppicing wood for forest school and an instructor and student being assessed for tree surgery.We offered to give him points out of ten but he preferred a donation in his hat on the ground!

Once through the wood we came onto the road and ambled down the middle (there's not a vehicle to be seen out there) and I stopped at High Rosthwaite farm to buy some home made jam. I have a penchant for blackberry jam but 'spicy blackberry' didn't really appeal. (They don't come spiced from the bushes in our village) so I chose rhubarb instead.This time I had learned to be prepared and had brought my rucksack to carry it in.

At woodland rooms (no more than a little green corrugated shack which serves as a place for locals from miles around to congregate) we turned right into a farm yard and stopped to speak to a lady farmer who pointed us on her way.Her farm was a characteristic lakeland farmhouse,  reminiscent of the farm used to film Beatrix Potter .We followed a little 'green lane' between dry stone walls into a field.Here the path somewhat disappeared amoungst hedges but as we made our way in roughly the right direction we stumbled across a big brown horse with its back to us, staring into a pond, and a scruffy old donkey which obviously decided that we were the most exciting thing to happen all day so it ambled over and looked through the other side of my camera lense as I tried to take its photo! It then decided to follow us part of the way and I had visions of me sprawled in the mud as it nudged my bottom as we walked along the path like Mary and Joseph on their way to Bethlehem.
It gave up at the deer fence and we found our selves in decidous woodland which hasn't yet quite come into bud.Following the path down the valley we came out into a wide expanse of rough farmland covered in reeds and separated by a meandering river which on the map seemed to disappear into nowhere then into the sea. We crossed a little wooden bridge then followed the path through fields and over a stile to the road where we then followed a track through woods up to Wall end near Broughton and I was back on the path I'd taken in the other direction several weeks ago but been stopped due to a very muddy stretch of path which had been unnavigable then. We saw our first wild daffodils and then my friend pointed out the sound of a woodpecker . It sounded like someone banging on large bamboo canes and once I'd heard it would be easy to recognise again.
We were soon back in Broughton and reckoned we had walked about 5-6 miles, and I was right, there wasn't a raindrop in sight!