Monday, 25 October 2010


Kate Mosse (of 'Labyrinthe') says one should write every day-even if it is just a line- she mustn't have a life as busy as mine.

Trafalgar Day on October 21st caused me to envisage Admiral Lord Collingwood standing on the deck of the Royal Sovereign, eating an apple with his dog , Bounce at his feet. He found Nelson a little OTT with all his signals to the fleet whereas Collingwood calmly said ' Well gentlemen, let us do something today which the world may talk of hereafter'. I bet he gave a quiet smile when he recognised the prank his pal Nelson had played- Horatio gave Cuthbert the slowest ship in the English fleet- what the Northumbrian didn't realise at first, was his friend had had the vessel copperbottomed so it was now the fastest ship and was into battle & firing 20 minutes ahead of the rest of the British 'Armada'; bear in mind men wanted to serve under Collingwood and his cannon firing/reloading time was 2 minutes to everyone else's 3 minutes because he trained his crew so well. He also caused the Royal Navy to get rid of flogging and he never had anyone flogged.

Frosty nights have born chilly, golden days.Winter coats, gloves, hats and scarves are now at the front of the cupboard and sandals have finally been stowed away.

The Chilean miners have been rescued whereas China appear to have left their miners entombed.

C&I made a reconaissance to 'The Stable' (snug!)signposted near Bolam which was beautiful with beech and wild birds which in the depth of winter will feed from your hand; we saw Danny Kaye's ugly duckling ( cygnet) being chased away by adult swans.

After Bolam we adjourned to eat berry fruit pie at the Blacksmiths. Their flower displays are as good as their grub.

Wheelbirks farm/tearoom/icecream parlour offered cakes & icecreams in a myriad of flavours after a fungus filled walk.

Did I tell you that on a £100+ restaurant bill Loch Fyne charged £1.50 for bread? I think that is mean and pennypinching.

Bread reminds me to use my blog to ask the world for some help.... I have baked buns (not pretentious muffins or cupcakes) several times recently- with good old Bero flour among others- and I find my cakes do not rise like they used to. Anyone else experience this?

Monday, 18 October 2010

A garden

Ok- porridge fuelled I am making an effort.

I have spent the last 2 days in my garden wherein I can get my breath! With the glint of solar lanterns, gusts of fresh air, an empty washing line and dead heads on roses.. a garden calls to you.

A garden does not drink except from the rain and water butt; a garden does not go to the match then nod off at the table on a dinner date with friends.

It is there for you; a garden waits for you.It changes with every season yet remains constant. It sleeps but its awakening is hinted at with the reappearance of green noses nudging frosted soil; it greets the year with spears of snowdrops; suncoloured aconites warn you of coming spring and daffodils trumpet Spring's arrival. The year opens in a garden, progresses stately into the full bloom of England's roses which hang on in the waning of the year. The unfurled leaves of my beech provide shade from a hot sun; summer fruits and veg make their way from cane and vine into my kitchen, freezer and jars.

Even in dying the garden tells you there is resurrection; the beech leaves drift like snow and glow gold with promise across the grass. Wolfbane waves from erect and deadly, monks' hoods at the back of the border; a last, bright shout at the rusting foliage that there is more to follow if we but wait.

No one can steal a garden from you; it is your work; a work always in progress; it is your bottom gurning from the border's edge that can be seen from the television and computer soles looking from the house. Robins, tits, and blackbirds become your friends watching you from a nearby branch. As twigs bare, your garden asks you for tender care; dishevelled, it waits for the glimmer of sunshine - and you. It never tries to claim your thunder, claiming it has done your work; the toil and treasure are yours. The link with our agricultural, rural past is made in a garden; in fact gardens look back to an ancient life of subsistence, nomadic hunter/gathering.

The garden houses the silence of snow, the clink of cups, crying from a pram, the shrill alarm-call of blackbirds, gleeful shouts of children, flaps of clothes on a windy line and the crack of fireworks above an autumn bonfire. Even when it is asleep a garden cradles life.

There can be nothing so like heaven as lying on a bee-humming, clovered lawn with the sun glinting at you through silver birch branches above you and a child's hand in yours.


I am pathetic. My nose has already availed itself of a full box of balmed tissues and my throat has used up a jar of honey to no avail. This sore throat, tickly cough, cold (I can't say plum jam) and nausea will just have to run its course. This is certainly going around...... but it will get it over at the start of the winter so I will be bug free for the season. I must make an effort!

Thursday, 14 October 2010

Breast Cancer Awareness Month

Keep abreast of the times.....October is Breast Cancer Awareness month so check it out girls! All the Debenhams stores (Lingerie department /fitting rooms) have a collecting box for your unwanted bras for which there are all sorts of uses and Breast Cancer Campaign reaps the rewards of gaining some funds too. So sort your drawers out (!)and keep your undies out of landfill!!!!!
I am on the hunt for a bonny, blushed shirt for H1 to wear on October 29th when we shall both 'wear it pink'; there is some controversy over pink being too frivolous for such a serious disease BUT I reckon if it focuses attention on checking breasts, funding, research etc then pink is fine and female.

Having heard there were possible LibCon cuts in the pipeline for the financial support charities get from Government, I approached my MP; she sent me letters responded from the Minister of Health suggesting that yes! the former 'matchfunding' (charity finds money & governmment gives a matching amount)will probably be abandoned; the MP's words for this included 'absurd'! How can charities finance longterm labs,staff and research without a sustained supply of money?

Walking has been wrapped around a 'Nurse Nancy' trip to London; first we circled from 'The Rat' at Anick via Fawcet and Stagshaw along country lanes red with holly berries and robins.

On our next stroll we went woodland; stealthily skulking in the Plessey undergrowth, we Ladies peered at the Wansbeck wildlife; a large, grey heron high-stepped in the river, spearing the innocent and unsuspecting while two red squirrels scampered in the branches above us. To move would mean to rustle so camera stayed in my backpack.

Latterly our group walked from Dissington Hall which was built for a relative of Lord Collingwood {my hero!}. we lunched at Milbourne; am I weird that I love tombstones? they contain so much history and mystery. Spike Milligan's epitaph is written in Gaelic and says ' I told them I was ill' -so Goons and Spikey. A Milbourne gravestone maintains 'Here shall you see no enemy'- a quote from Shakespeare's 'As You Like It'- but why? What did that mean in reflection on the lady's life?.... When did the Witchfinder General damn the innocent of so many villages? Do the dates fit?.... Anyway- in the land of the living, Dissington provided us with cuppas and cakes and diverted funds to a special school for outdoor play equipment- we all approved of that so forced the chocolate cake down!

Three cups of coffee at Mimmo's meal with friends last night has disturbed the quality of my sleep; throughout the night I thought of so much to put in my weblog until I eventually got out of bed and my mind has blanked- so I need sustenance. Mmm! Porridge

Wednesday, 6 October 2010

The Lake District

The lashing rain rattled against the window pane; hesitation... procrastination... deliberation...decision...We will still go... loyalty to our leader dictated that we should drive to our B&B in Portinscale in violently inclement weather. A meal with the gang put us all in a better frame of mind; what did it matter if we were plodging through clarts when the company was so good? A thinner Steph and Brendan greeted us at The Mount Bed and Breakfast like long lost friends- which we are!

As it happened we could see Derwentwater as clear as a bell the next morning from our bedroom window. Bootclad and waterproofs at the ready, we strode upward and onward in the Glenderterra valley under Blencathra; we were stripped down to T-shirts by the time we worked our way round to the bench above Keswick at Latrigg. A cuppa, Steph's cookies, a quick read to finish my book and a shower revived us enough that we all made the Derwent Lodge.

The morrow's return of rain deterred a couple from a walk half way up CatBells; they missed lunch beside Sir Hugh Walpole's plaque (from his friend- just one?)amid the broken lights of bracken. H1 sang over DerwentWater opposite the Lodore Falls and above the ferry trundling round the lake.

Peaks drifted with levels of mist which allowed us a ghostly vision of the tops every now and again. Beech leaf litter glowed and squeaked under foot; a 'little gentleman in velvet' pushed his way through the leaf litter on the forest floor. Gold chestnut hands pointed at dirty brown sycamores as though reminding them that they needed to colour up. At the Borrowdale Hotel we timed it perfectly for the open topped bus which disgorged us for coffee at the Theatre on the Lake; a walk in sunshine through Keswick brought us back over the pedestrian bridge (rebuilt after the floods which washed it away) to Portinscale.

There are not enough colours on an artist's palette to describe the patchwork of fields looking from Hartside down over the Eden Vale; fields were picked out by outlines of drystone walls and field boundaries of dark woodland. Roadside verges waved burnished rosebay willow herb's feathery seeds; spruce hung heavy with long, thin cones while yellowing ash trees held on tight to blackening keys. We climbed up between newly flailed roadside hedgerows. Below us a solitary finger of smoke points up to a small chink of blue sky- enough to patch a sailor's trousers.

Now we are up on the rolling harshness of bristling moorland , where snow poles mark your route home and dull-brained pheasants stand jewel bright on top of stonewalls. 'Welcome to Northumberland- England's Border Country' is greeted by Newcastle's loss to Manchester City and commentary on the Ryder Cup. Past Garrigill, over Cupola Bridge, don't stop (as we usually do) for a drink at Langley Castle..... let's just get home.

Monday, 4 October 2010

Autumn days

Mmm! On the doorstep tonight were apples which P&A have scrumped from their trees... tarts, crumbles, purees, chutneys....Did he take sweetpeas while here?

Life is whipping past so quickly I missed the autumn equinox on September 21/22nd; I like all the seasons in England but nights drawing in and clocks going back an hour(October 30/31st this year)do dismay me a little.

Torrential rain coming down like stair-rods has been the mood of the last week. Is this responsible for the worsening ache in my gammy middle finger? Pain gives me a rigid digit and it locks hooked when I tie my boots or wield a knife - which will relieve H1 when he infuriates me and I am working with a Sabatier! C. says she has been told it is a sign of Viking heritage.

Heaven has been partying this week as it has been the Feast day of the archangels- Michael, Gabriel and Raphael; what happened to Uriel? Raphael fits in with the book I have just finished; Miss Garnet found there were seven archangels according to the book of Tobias which is in the Apocrypha.

A walk at Otterburn pattered heavily on our water proofs evoking memories of green ridge tents of childhood holidays; 'Don't touch the sides of the tent!' meant you just had to put a finger on the canvas. The MOD red flag was up but our leader M checked with the local farmer who said it was all right to walk up on the moor as they weren't using live ammunition that day!!!

Today's blue sky and golden sunshine brought temperatures of 19 degrees and a sweat as we stormed along the Derwent Walk at Swalwell.

Tonight C and I have been to see 'Made in Dagenham'; I recommend and commend it to you, girls! The struggle of the Ford, female, upholstery workers in the 1960's was so gutsy and won equal pay for women in Britain and eventually for woman all over the 'industrialised' world; Sandie Shaw (there is bare foot from the past!) who worked at the car plant sang the credits through. Also well done to the BBC which made this film!