Friday, 29 December 2017

Happy Old Year

Have you ever noticed how sometimes life seems to be a competition?  One thing which has struck me this year is how eager people seem to be to compare and compete on levels of misery - "I work longer hours than you do", "I had less sleep than you did", "I'm more stressed than you are" - and being happy and relaxed can feel like a bit of a crime, as if you're not doing something properly.

Someone once said to me that they "wish they had a stress free life" like we did - well I hate to shatter that illusion but although we don't work the regular 9-5pm we really are incredibly busy and there are plenty of times when we are very stressed - usually when another book deadline is approaching, and we have two of them in the next 12 weeks - eek!

On the upside there are many, many times when we're incredibly busy and not stressed at all - I love the fact that we get to work together and spend lots of time together exploring the outdoors - for me that's what life is all about.  I would absolutely hate a life where we both went off to different offices 5 days a week, enduing a long commute and only seeing each other at evenings and weekends when we'd most likely be tired and snappy - there's no job title or salary that can compensate for spending time with Steve and having fun.  (Of course I do drive him nuts on many occasions and he's probably quite pleased to see the back of me when I head off on one of my work trips to the far end of the country!)

So, here's my round up of this year's adventures - it's not a competition at all but if it were I absolutely and sincerely hope that you have had a 2017 that was happier and more fun than ours and that 2018 is lined up to be even better.  As Helen Keller said "Life is either a daring adventure, or nothing at all"


Beautiful afternoon in the Langdale valley

Tarn Hows looking stunning

Slightly ethereal Grizedale Forest


Getting grubby in Leighton Moss

Getting the cover shot for 50 Gems of Cumbria
Work trip to Edinburgh


Discovered the finest picnic bench in Cumbria

First Delores trip of the year - Whitely Bay

Finding fabulous footpaths in Foxfield

Pretty buildings in Cambridge
Perfect day for one of our favourite walks - High Cup Nick

First visit of the year to Dunbar


Dune jumping at Sandscale
Plotting adventures on Scout Scar

Solo trip to New England Bay to get some writing done!
Fell in love with the Falkirk Wheel
First visit to Aaron
Celebrating my big 5-0 at my favourite distillery

Gorgeous evening swimming & BBQing at Easedale Tarn

Our first attempt at Kayaking - didn't all in!  Result!
(Steve pointed out the typo in the caption above, but I told him there was no F in fall... 😉 )

Another swim & BBQ - this time Grizedale


Surprise view looking predictably gorgeous

Breathtaking hike around Ennerdale

My favourite discovery - the village of Wreay

Day 1 of our Spirit Trail hike - before the rains set in...
Magnificent view...

Wordsworth's House, Cockermouth
Back to Dunbar for a work assigment

Blackpool illuminations

Cycling fun around Thirlmere

Work trip to Liverpool

Exploring Grizedale by electric bike

Great Gable service of remembrance


Exploring the Lune Valley

Home made Christmas Wreath
(thanks to Crumble Cottages!)

Finding solitude after a busy Christmas

HAPPY 2018 from both of us!  

Thursday, 7 December 2017

Braving the elements in Cumbria

Earth, air, water and fire are the basic elements the ancient Greeks used to explain matter.  (Not to be confused with Earth, Wind and Fire, the American R&B band who had a string of hits in the 70's and 80's including their huge hit September. You can thank me for the earworm later.)

As Steve had broken his old rucksack, those lovely folks at Millets sent us a North Face one to play with to see what we thought of it. Well, when I say "we", Steve got to play with it while I was stuck in exciting places like Wythenshawe, Hindley and Ashford (Kent) - as I braved the rigours of Northern Rail, London rush hour and the high speed train to Kent (that thing is SERIOUSLY fast - 140mph - Northern Rail, you could learn a lot!) Steve did battle with the elements on the Cumbrian hills and I wasn't jealous at all. Nope. Not one bit.  I mean, why should I be...?


Helvellyn (with awesome Akus boots from Keswick Boot Co)
Honestly, you can feel the cold air nipping at your nose here can't you?  Steve tackled Helvellyn and while I was snug and toasty in an office he sent me a text saying "on top of Helvellyn but not hanging around as it's a bit windy".  He also sent me the photo above.  I gazed out of the window at the car park and supermarket and didin't swear once. Honest I didn't.  Thankfully he didn't show me the rest of the photos until later.  Apparently the rucksack was doing well and he particularly liked the fleece lined pockets which kept his camera batteries warm so they lasted a lot longer in the freezing cold.

Crucial point - the side pockets are big enough
for a flask of tea.


Standing behind Ashgill Falls
Cumbria has a reputation for rain and we miss it so much that when it doesn't rain we go and stand behind a waterfall to recreate the experience.  Ashgill Falls are well off the beaten track and, to be honest, I was a little disappointed when Steve told me that there wasn't an evil lair or a stash of hidden treasure tucked away behind the falls.  Or maybe he just didn't look hard enough...  Of course he tried to make me feel better by telling me he was working,  He was.  He was working hard,  but his work looked like this and mine, on that particular day, looked like and office on a trading estate with a view of an air conditioning unit outside the window...

Apparently everything fitted in. Apart from
the tripod. But that dangled outside.

The North Face of the Waterfall

Are you SURE there was no treasure?


See - I told you the tripod strapped nicely to the outside
Having scaled the heights of Helvellyn and hunted for hidden treasure behind waterfalls, on day 3 he decided to keep his feet firmly on the ground and take a wander along the Langdale Valley.  (For the record, I was in another office with a view of another car park, but I was being supplied with an excellent selection of biscuits & cakes).  We both love the Langdale Valley - the views are immense and it's such a peaceful place to be, especially at this time of year.

Yeah, yeah, of course I'm working...

The other good thing about the Langdale Valley is that you can see the weather closing in on you.  You could run for cover when you see a snow storm approaching, or you could stay and photograph it like Steve did.  Nutter.


Whether you've been on top of a windy fell, ducking behind waterfalls, dodging storms in the Langdale valley, working in an office or simply strutting your funky stuff to a disco classic (honestly, Let's Groove was way better than September in my book), there's nothing quite like putting your feet up in front of the fire with a proper Cumbrian pint.  Sequins and spandex tights optional.

With thanks again to Millets for the lovely rucksack - which withstood all of the elements Cumbria could throw at it.  😀