Sunday, 31 August 2008

Toon Army and the mighty Shay Given

Not strictly Lake District but felt I needed to say a few words about the my favourite goalkeeper, and favourite football team Newcastle United. I am sad that rumours persist about the morale at the club and I hope it is all rumours: we have had enough trouble to last a lifetime!
Losing to Arsenal yesterday wasn't our finest hour ( and a half) but the season has been pretty good so far, and we have a shed-load of injuries.
Here's hoping for a good run this season: as long as there are plenty of goals and plenty of effort the fans are kept happy I think.
Teenager and I need all the good luck we can get: the other half is a Manchester United fan, and you know how modest they are. Yawn. Keep eating the prawn sandwiches lads... we stay black and white all the way.

Saturday, 30 August 2008

Saturday and STILL no sunshine.........

I have been particularly weather conscious this week. The other half's family have been here since Tuesday from the North East of England, and I really wanted them to have a lovely sunny time. Tuesday rain. Wednesday atrocious. Thursday rain then dried up- no sunshine but managed a barbecue. Friday dry but no sunshine- folks went up to Loughrigg Terrace, and I took my mum and other half's mum to Holker Hall for lunch.

We discovered Holker Hall's fabulous meat at Cartmel Races. They had a stall there selling reasonably priced venison, lamb and beef. This was devoured rapidly at various bbq's and roast dinners, so I have stocked up again. When looking for a good link for Holker Hall I found this rather good organic farming and food website telling us all about the delights of organic food and sources of it in Cumbria.

Holker Hall is great for coffee or lunch. They have a lovely gift shop too with some great ideas for presents. I saw quite a lot I fancied there- must put it on my birthday list...
We then went off to Grange over Sands to yet another butcher's shop called Higginson's. An award winning place where there is always a queue ( especially at Christmas). All their stuff is great and it really is worth a visit. Great pies too!

Monday, 25 August 2008


According to the free on line dictionary a quagmire is as follows:
1. Land with a soft muddy surface.
2. A difficult or precarious situation; a predicament.

That would sum up today nicely. We were at Cartmel races, and before we got there it had poured for hours and hours. When we arrived there was a short break in the deluge. In fact, some folk had optimistically put up wind breaks and picnics near their cars. My instincts ( born of living in the lakes for over sixteen years) told me that there ( as the song so beautifully puts it) maybe trouble ahead. We quickly grabbed a coffee and legged it over to the members tent and managed to get the last table in there. Shortly after we had set up camp ( three adults and two teenagers) the heavens opened. Stair-rods. Like a power shower. Those stuck outside got completely soaked. Folk were running for cover where- ever they could. We could only watch in horror from our warm and dry spot through the plastic windows in the tent. The wind howled, and umbrellas blew inside out.

When I eventually ventured out ( to pick up some winnings which were as rare for me today as hen's teeth) I was greeted by a sea of mud. From the tent to the toilets it was a veritable bog. Luckily I had worn flat lace shoes. Not glam but very country. I felt very sorry for the ladies who had dressed for the day in floaty dresses and sky high heels. They looked very much worse for wear ( don't they ever look at the forecast??). One lady in white sandals had thick mud up to her ankles: not a good look.....

Still- a good day was had by all ( except financially in my case). We enjoyed it even with the weather being dreadful. The horses raced bravely on, and the fair kept spinning. It's a great day out- May and August bank hols every year.

Sunday, 24 August 2008

Levens Hall

First of all- the confession. I didn't go to the Lakes Chilli festival at Levens Hall mentioned a few entries ago. The reason? It was pouring. Yes- I am a fairweather sight see-er. However, I did go to Levens Hall Park today for a lovely walk by the river, and then a cup of tea at the buttery at the Hall itself. It was delightful! The boys and our good friend M were skimming stones: one good at distance, one good at bounces and one good at creating beautiful circles in the water. I sat on the side and admired the efforts. All my stones sank like like...well...stones!
Went to Cartmel Races on Saturday. A good time was had by all as ever. I broke even on the betting this time. Better luck tomorrow!

Thursday, 21 August 2008

Body piercing and tattoos?

I have finally come to terms with the fact that I am middle aged, conservative and boring. It is finally over for me in terms of 21st century living. I perhaps would have been better in the times of Dickens. Despite my endeavours to have a trendy ( pink metallic) mobile phone, a lap top, wi-fi in the house ( now that is impressive) and even A BLOG, I realised today that it is no good. Imagine my shock when I discovered that here in beautiful Bowness we have a body piercing and tattoo salon ( advertised in the window with pretty blue neon lights). I nearly crashed the car. In Bowness! Whatever next?

My point is that there is clearly a market for such, and I am certainly not in it. I do indeed have pierced ears ( I had to wait til I was sixteen before dad was convinced) but have no courage to go any further ( nor indeed any inclination). I did not consider a tattoo ( even somewhere discreet and interesting) on my fortieth birthday, and really can't see the appeal or attraction of a rose or small dagger, my son's name or anything else needled onto my shoulder or ankle.

Fashionable I clearly am not. Having had tiny permanent tattoos all over my body last year as part of my radiotherapy episode ( tiny 'pen marks' to help the targetting process) I can't imagine WHY anyone would want to put themselves through such pain.

And I always do wonder: how will it all look when these painted and pinned folk are in their seventies? Maybe this is proof that I am finally past it.....

Wednesday, 20 August 2008

The sun is out!

I have just been to Melrose in the Scottish Borders overnight and had a great trip. Stayed in a lovely hotel called the 'Town House'. I would recommend it : lovely comfortable room, lovely bistro, great Scottish breakfast. I love the Scottish Borders- it really is beautiful. When foreign tourists visit UK they tend to whizz up to Edinburgh if they are going to Scotland at all. I agree Edinburgh is wonderful city and there is lots to see, but the Scottish Borders are so pretty, and further north is spectacular ( and not over-crowded).

I was up there for some work and it looks as if I will be spending a bit more time up there in the autumn. No hardship and I get on really well with my customer who I have known a long time now. She is a bright and forward thinking person and clear about what she wants to achieve. That is such a relief in our business. We had a great evening with lots to talk about: a very motivating couple of days. I really love what I do: it is the travelling which is so exhausting. That is why my part time working life suits me so well. It helps me get that so frequently talked about 'work/life balance'. I think perhaps less about balance and more about being able to get round the spinning plates a little more easily!

I zipped into Lancaster to see my university friend. We went to a vegetarian place called the 'Whale tail' It is a great place: lovely food and good coffee. We are both really missing university and classes, going to the library and being part of the student population. We chatted about Richard Dawkins, essays and dissertations, and life in general over cauliflower and coco-nut soup ( wow- lovely!) and coffee cake. Its a hard life!

The sun is shining here. Hurray. The first thing I did on my return was put lots of things out in the garden for airing and drying. Open all the windows, look eagerly at the barbeque...will this dry spell last til the bank holiday weekend.....

Tuesday, 19 August 2008

School Holidays in the Lakes

Now that teenager is safely installed at Sedbergh school playing rugby until Thursday I turn my mind to all those lakeland visitors who are on holiday here, and do not have the option of a residential activity camp to occupy their kids.

Since I will be in the position of entertaining two energetic youngsters next week though ( teenager and his cousin from the North East, and perhaps a couple more interlopers) the reality of 'fun stuff to do' is not far from my mind.

So a few ideas. First of all there is the LAKELAND MAIZE, which is good for young kids ( little maze for them and a playpark with trampolines), and also for bigger kids ( much bigger and more complicated maze). Beware that the kids ( old and young) have to be accompanied in the maze by a responsible ( ho ho) adult. Any dreams you have of drinking coffee and reading your book will stay just that- dreams.
I took teenager and our friends from the US recently ( variety of ages from fifteen to five) and it was a success.

Another good fresh air thing to do is BROCKHOLE. There are nice walks by the lake, and a really good adventure playpark which bigger kids can do. And it's free ( other than the rather extortionate parking charge). There is a visitor centre and a cafe in case..... it is raining ( as if?)

One more idea for smaller kids is 'QUAYSIDE KIDS' which is a soft play area. It looks over the lake ( Windermere) and is lovely for parents: comfortable sofas with nice views, coffee and cake etc. It is rather pricey at £4.50 for two hours, but what price peace ( and dry comfortable entertainment?). It is kept clean and tidy, and behaviour ( from what I have seen) is kept well under control. If you park near the Glebe in Bowness it is easy to find ( not far from the Ship Inn).

This isn't so good for older kids but they can play crazy golf or pitch and putt across the road, or hop up to the Royalty Cinema in Bowness to catch a film. They can also hire rowing boats at the harbour or play ball games on the Glebe.

Monday, 18 August 2008

Bowness on Windermere

Instead of ranting about the thunder and lightening outside, and the lashing rain, I thought it would be more positive to put up a picture of where I live ( obviously taken in better weather!). Bowness harbour is five minutes from where we live and it always a beehive of activity in the summer. I believe the steamer trips that leave from the harbour are the most popular tourist attraction here in the Lake District. You can either go to Ambleside or Lakeside, or do a round trip. It is really pleasant especially on a nice day ( what is one of those?).

If you do decide to visit Bowness be sure to visit my good friend's cafe down by the lake. It is called the Pump House. Great coffee and the lemon cake is to die for... ( the flapjack is pretty good too). It is opposite the Glebe, not far from the tourist information centre.

No-one ever died leaving an empty in-tray

Mmmh! I wonder if that is true? I read this quote recently and can't remember for the life of me who it is attributed to. I really like the saying though. It is rather in the vein of ' the graveyard is full of indispensable people' which I am pretty sure is Oscar Wilde. Now that is one of my favourites for sure.

I am sure many busy people out there, like me, look at the 'in tray of life' and wonder how on earth it is going to get tackled. While I have had quite a few challenges in my life over the years the one thing I can definitely say hand on heart is that I have never been bored. Irritated when sitting in a long traffic jam, or restless on a plane journey, but never bored. I can honestly say I can't remember a time in my adult life when I have been bored. There is always so much to do and so many wonderful things to explore if there is any down time. I suppose I am lucky that my parents ( particularly my mum) instilled a love of reading into me which means I always have an exciting pile of stuff to read around the place waiting for attention. I would rather read or write than watch the tv any day.

I love catching up with my pals ( especially over a coffee or even better a glass of wine!), I love shopping ( or just looking around), surfing the net and doing my blog, answering emails, studying for my course, hanging out with the other half and teenager, spending time with my mum, going to church and seeing all my friends there...and then there is the stuff of life or 'servicing' as my dad used to call it, or keeping the show on the road....

Speaking of all that, I have an early coffee with my girlfriends at good old Costas this morning and then it's off to Sedbergh school to drop Peter at a residential rugby camp til Thursday. He needs about four hundred changes of clothes, especially in this weather, and even more stuff for all the activities. It looks a great programme but busy busy busy.... and I will be busy with the washing machine when he gets back.

Saturday, 16 August 2008

Newcastle Falcons

Have uploaded a cartoon on Jonny Wilkinson from a google image page. I saved it into my photos file and uploaded it onto the blog. I am not even sure if I am 'allowed' to do this- it is someone else's picture? Aggh! Visitors to this page: please advise!

Anyway, the reason I have added such is to add flavour to my next posting. Teenager has spent the week at the Newcastle Falcon's summer rugby and activity camp, and had a thoroughly great time. Much of the day seemed to be spent diving into huge muddy puddles ( as a reward for doing well on the activities and competitions apparently- clearly the coaches have no compassion for the parents who have to wash all the kit daily...).

As a dedicated NUFC supporter ( as is teenager) I never thought I would ever be remotely interested in rugby. However, mum is very keen and has slowly converted me across to the sport. Teenager has now abandoned goalkeeping as his passion ( all that investment in goalie coaching and endless football events...) and is totally keen on playing the game. Bruises, bashings, scratches and blood seem to be a badge of honour, and are clearly part of the enjoyment. As Oscar Wilde said:"Rugby is a good occasion for keeping thirty bullies far from the center of the city."

We went to see Steve Bates ( Falcons director of rugby) speak to the supporters' club ( yes I am a member) on Tuesday night. It was interesting to hear his perspectives on the next season. There was a whole heap of technical chat about rules, none of which I understood at all ( but teenager apparently followed quite happily). All I care about is watching the lovely players and their even lovelier legs whizzing about in the mud: vacuous perhaps but very honest.

All the discomfort of camping without the tent?

Home from Corbridge and very happy to be back blogging again. It was largely a very good week ( can you hear the but?) with a few challenges. The main challenge was the self - catering cottage we had booked. When I understand how to load photos I will publish a few examples of what it was like ( this will entail me understanding how to bluetooth photos from my phone to the lap top so no breath holding please). My charm and tact prevents me from saying exactly who and exactly where the cottage is ( and in case the owners are of a litigious nature) but I will describe some of the low- lights for you now. First of all, it was horribly dark inside. This wasn't helped by the persistent black clouds and rain which pretty well dominated the whole week ( don't get me started on the weather again!) but even when the sun was shining, it was gloomy. There had clearly been no investment and no redecoration done on the place since the middle ages( earlier?) and it looked as if the whole thing had been furnished on the cheap out of the auction rooms. Nothing matched and nothing was comfortable. All the appliances were cheap and noisey. In fact, it was the noisiest cottage we had ever stayed in. Going to the loo or to the shower over the bathroom floorboards ( bathroom upstairs) set off a series of noises which was reminiscent of the final scenes of Riverdance, accompanied by the shrill screams of the hot tap. I felt guilty about the nocturnal loo visits: the whole house was awake in seconds despite the best efforts of tip-toe-ing. There was nowhere to put towels or dressing gowns, no hooks, no surfaces-zilch. The shower reminded me of something out of a local authority swimming pool changing room, with accompanying verrucas perhaps? It was not an incentive to keep clean. The place was advertised as three bedrooms, but the spec should have said ' two bedrooms and a cell'. Bedroom three, positioned off the dining room, was a tiny room ( with a minute window near the ceiling looking over the with the bottom part of a sofa covered with a mattress in it for a bed. Bizarre and lopsided. Teenage son, who drew the short straw for sleeping in it ( by making the foolish mistake of saying he ' doesn't use a wardrobe on holiday) said " I feel as if I am in prison for having done nothing wrong'. Poor kid. He was really good natured about it, especially since he is heading for five foot eight and is a flanker in the local rugby team). Thankfully kids can sleep on a washing line, and he seemed fairly happy. There was a washing machine but no drier, and with large loads of rugby kit to wash every night this became a real issue. Nothing would dry in the gloom and dank. We found a little electric fire in the dining room that helped ( the drying rail fell to bits ) but I eventually I had to enquire about the heating ( and yes, I know it is August). The owner ( pleasant and well intentioned but rather mean I suspect) came over and assured me that the heating had been put on, twenty four hours if we wanted it. As you may now expect: nothing happened. Since the little blowheater was making a small difference, I did not have the strength to query it again. However, later in the early hours I was awoken by a large crash and roaring noises. I thought a plane had crashed into the roof. As I struggled to regain a state of wakefulness I struggled out of my yellow and pink bedding ( no- it wasn't designer bedding, just a terrible colour clash in the linen which was from the sixties) and realised that the noise was coming from the boiler downstairs. The heating had come on ( at three in the morning). I tramped downstairs to turn it off and it never bothered us again. Luckily we spent very little time in the cottage. I had every positive intention of cooking every other night in the cottage kitchen to save money, but this vanished when faced with the prospect of the horrible oven, and a night sitting on the leaden sofa. We headed out every night except the first one, and I feel no remorse ( expect about the waist line). On the last night, my mum ( who came on tour with us) decided to use the vacuum cleaner to clean up the sitting room floor. Teenager and I begged and pleaded for clemency, but she went ahead. We fled to our bedrooms. Seconds later a noise of what sounded like a chainsaw massacre erupted throughout the house: the world's loudest vacuum cleaner had been switched on. I have never laughed so much in months: I sat on the staircase and had hysterics. Teenager was nearly crying with mirth, and my mum was similarly smitten with hilarity. It made every single minute spent there worthwhile. Needless to say, we didn't finish the job in case we woke the people in the next village. If laughter really does add minutes onto your lifespan, we all clocked up a couple of years last night.

Wednesday, 13 August 2008

name change of blog

Someone else had my blog name so I have had to change mine! Have now lost all my readers on my little map from my previous incarnation ( which was wwwlife in the lake district etc). Apparently I had no full stop after www, whereas previous blogger does). Sigh. So to avoid confusion I am now called 'life in windermere'. All the 'lake district' blog names I tried to register seem to have gone. Sigh.
There is a lot more to this blogging business than meets the eye. I now want to track down all my original readers- I would hate to lose them.... and I want my little map to be covered again too.
Next challenge: loading photos....

Saturday, 9 August 2008

The Lakes Chilli Fest Levens Hall

Never let it be said that we are not an innovative bunch here in the lakes. Next weekend at Levens Hall there is the Lakes Chilli Fest (16th and 17th August) and it is being billed as the summer's hottest event ( groan). Apparently we will be able to taste the world's hottest curry cooked up by the Chilli Pepper Company ( based in Cark). Apparently the chefs of said are bidding for the guinness book of records award with the curry which is called Satan's ashes. It contains the hottest chilli with the world: 'Bhut Jolokia'.
Apparently there will lots of lovely food available which appeals to my greedy nature! We get back from Corbridge on Saturday lunchtime so Sunday maybe a good time to pay a visit.
Will let you know how I get on!

Saturday and packing

Up before everyone else and getting on with jobs ready for leaving at lunchtime. Corbridge is a leisurely two hour drive from here, and as we can't get into the cottage until three we are going to leave at one o clock. The plan is: get there, unpack, go to pub for drink, potter round the village, go back to cottage and have supper made by my mum.
Tomorrow night though we are going to ' the Valley'. This is a fab indian restaurant at the station in Corbridge. Take a look at the website. The service is very gracious and attentive, and the food is lovely. 13year old had his first curry and onion bhajii here and has been hooked very since. I can't wait!

Friday, 8 August 2008

Back from Edinburgh

Back from Edinburgh tonight and relaxing before the big packing exercise ready for tomorrow. Where are we off to this time? Corbridge in Northumberland for a week in a self catering cottage. Corbridge is a great village. Lots to see and do, good shops and lots of places to eat.
This is our annual stay over in the North East while youngest goes to the Newcastle Falcons Rugby Camp for a week. He had been going for a few years now. Rugby has replaced football as the sport of preference. I would have preferred the relative safety of goal-keeping to the apparent danger of being a flanker. It all looks very dangerous to me. However, I am really impressed with the rugby community and how they treat their youngsters. Even the very well known players such as Jonny Wilkinson are down to earth and helpful to the youngsters. And yes- I have met the lovely Mr W and he is delightful!
Why Newcastle I hear you muse? That is where we come from- Geordieland. Howay the Lads. God's own country. And yes- teenager and I are dedicated Toon Army fans ( not mentioning that the other half supports Man Utd. Let's hear it for the prawn sandwiches!)

Thursday, 7 August 2008

Dare I mention the weather?

Ok Ok. Quite a few folk are starting to say 'its the lakes, it rains. live with it'. Yes I suppose you are right. I have often thought I would be better off living somewhere dry and bright as I seem to have a strong dislike of umbrellas and rain coats. What a place to live if you don't like rain. I think I just like having a moan about it really.

I have woken up early this morning and it looks rather bleak out there again. Never mind:I am off to Edinburgh for a meeting with other half at the rather grand Marriott Dalmahoy Hotel. I love the Marriott beds: the best ever! We are not actually staying there this time: rather lodging with some good friends nearby in Dunblane. A lovely part of the world : both Dunblane and nearby Bridge of Allan ( which has the lovely Ramsay's cafe and deli on the high street: worth a visit). Not a long drive from either Edinburgh or Glasgow, and Stirling Castle and the Wallace Monument are worth a visit too.

We went to the Albert pub in Bowness on Windermere for a drink last night. Other half had been penned in front of the computer and had not crossed the doors all day so we all had a walk along for a breath of fresh air. Town was very busy, full of damp visitors looking for food and drink. The Albert has been ( fairly ) recently refurbished. It is just off the the mini roundabout in Bowness and is very pleasant inside. I haven't eaten there but it looks fine and always smells fine too!

Wednesday, 6 August 2008

Raining in the Lake District

I have nearly had fifty visits to my blog- hurray. I haven't really started to promote it yet as I haven't sussed out how it all works . Have looked at other blogs and I am starting to get an idea of how it all works. I am attracted to the ones which tell me about other parts of the world, and ones about the family life of other people.
My experienced blogger friend has suggested that I need a clearer focus, and this is good advice I think. For the moment I think I will concentrate on what it is like to be an 'offcomer' to the lake district. Like an insider guide ( I have lived here for about sixteen years) but not written by a true insider ( ie: a born and bred Cumbrian).
As you can see from the heading, the rain persists. I do feel sorry for all those people in tents, caravans and holiday cottages ( especially tents!!) who have chosen to have their holiday here.It is so beautiful here when it is dry ( and beautiful when wet but a lot more trying unless you are the undaunted and hardy fellwalking type).
So, later on, when I have finally done some work, I will endeavour to think about things to do with children when it rains in the lakes ( having a thirteen year old I have loads of experience of this one!). Or indeed, things to do without children in the lakes ( easy- head for the nearest nice pub....)

Tuesday, 5 August 2008

Rain again? August 5th 2008

Since this is a lake district blog I had better add some lake district news and quick! The road to hell is paved with good intentions and I had every intention of talking a little about the airshow on July 26th and 27th. First of all the weather seemed to be fairly well behaved and it stayed dry for the show itself ( with the odd threat of a shower). Considering how hideous and unsettled the weather has been ( and continues to be- it is raining as I speak!) it was fortunate. According to our local newspaper the Westmorland Gazette, the event attracted tens of thousands of people.
Our local newspaper is worth a look. We all comb it weekly to make sure we aren't in for some forgotten misdemeanour, checking that our photo hasn't been taken at a local country fair or social event showing us looking worse the wear ( either because of rain or alcohol or perhaps both). Weddings, deaths, births, court news, assaults, drunk driving, liquidation notices, local jobs and property sales are all there ready for the eagle eyed. Sporting achievements, farm and country news, school Ofsteds, business news and tempting restaurant adverts: it's all there. It is a real taste of the lakes and Friday ( publication day) heralds many locals whizzing down to the local newsagent for the latest update. It has a leisure section advertising all the up and coming events in the region: cinema news, pharmacy times, concerts, and special offers. A treat for every visitor.
Anyway, back to the airshow. It is on every year on the Glebe in Bowness, so if you missed it this year you can pop it in your diary for next time. Various planes and helicopters buzz about creating varying degrees of noise, and are often on the ground on display. Especially good for small children, who will also enjoy the fair and displays of birds of prey et al. If you can face the parking charges ( or indeed can find a space), bring a picnic and enjoy the wonderful views of the lakes from the Glebe. I think there was a car park for £5 nearby this year: not great but good value compared to the usual carparks which are extortionate ( check out the Gazette letter pages for the continuing debate on this and public toilets).

Where does the time go? August 5th 2008

Have just noticed that my blogs don't have dates on them. I assume I need to add them myself. Truth is- I have not paid as much attention to my blog as I had vowed to. There appears to be the odd reader (no pun intended) out there, so I am sorry if you have been disappointed (if you are, you really need to get out more).
I am not really too sure how to increase the readership. Is there some secret technological strategy I am missing (such as the more activity the more your blog flags in cyberspace as fascinating and unmissable?) Some tips would be good for this: but in order to get tips I need to get readers. Comments please?
I am going to suss out how to load photos and add weblinks next: bear with me. Some lovely photos of the lake district will emerge ( when I have worked out how to use the digital camera and adobe photoshop-it never ends).
I also need to tell a few more people that I have a blog. It's getting over that innate ( British-or is this an excuse?) shyness and being bullish about it. Paul (dearest half) and I have always been rather tame about this in the business: we have a great product but don't tell people enough about who we are and what we do. We are working on that very hard at the moment. Nothing more frustrating than hearing people say ' you are on our doorstep but we never knew you were there'. We are learning!
We have recently been working on our flyers for our NLP programmes in Autumn/ Winter and 2009, and I bravely asked for feedback from a few trusty friends and close customers. They very kindly took time and trouble to have a look and critique for us. It was a really helpful exercise because they all said broadly the same things, helping us to adjust what we had done. It reminds me: folk are happy to help and support if asked, and getting feedback really does refine and build what is being built. It is always about confidence in the end! As it oft heard in the world of NLP: 'build it and they will come'.