Monday, January 19, 2015

Our week in the Lake District

We had a slow start to Sunday. We had to shop for food in Keswick, and, while we were there, tried to find some waterproof, windproof trousers for Grace - mainly for use on the boat rather than for fell walking. On the way back, we stopped off at a lakeside car-park to enjoy the views and take lots of photos (some of which appeared in my last post). The rest of the day we spent in the cottage, playing games and watching videos.

On Monday, we felt more energetic! We didn't travel beyond Derwentwater, but did a lot of walking along its banks. The weather was mainly dry, but with a biting wind which gusted strongly at times. The water was higher than ever. 

We had lunch at Bryson's Tea Room, huge pieces of very tasty quiche with a huge mixed salad.

Afterwards, we visited those shops we'd not been to the day before, shopping for trousers for Grace. We failed, and finished the day around the north-eastern tip of Derwentwater, taking photos and enjoying the views. The sunset was wonderful.

On Tuesday, we walked into Rosthwaite village. It was smaller than expected, and the village store was no longer there; we'd needed bread. 

It snowed a bit overnight, and the next morning we set out to enjoy the newly-adorned scenery, parking at various lakeside car parks, and walking from there. My attempt to drive up a steep incline to the Bowderstone car park failed; the wheels simply spun on the slushy snow half-way up the road, and I had to reverse, nervously, back onto the road.

The long walks paid off; the lakes take on a new beauty, even in the lightest of snow.

In the evening, we went to the delightful Alhambra Cinema in Keswick, to see "Unbroken".
  1. "As a boy, Louis "Louie" Zamperini is always in trouble, but with the help of his older brother, he turns his life around and channels his energy into running, later qualifying for the 1936 Olympics. When World War II breaks out, Louie enlists in the military. After his plane crashes in the Pacific, he survives an incredible 47 days adrift in a raft, until his capture by the Japanese navy. Sent to a POW camp, Louie becomes the favorite target of a particularly cruel prison commander."
It was a really good film, although I was particularly offended by the scenes of extreme violence and cruelty. Understandably, though, director Angelina Jolie was only being true to the reality which Louie and so many others had to endure during the war.

The journey home was spectacular. It was sleeting as we left the cinema at around 8:00, and the drive back along the dark, often flooded, Borrowdale road, with heavy wet snow being driven against my windscreen by very strong winds was quite an experience!

Come Thursday morning, the snow had gone, washed away by overnight rain, so we did one of our favourite drives, the circuit around Derwentwater, stopping off at various points for photos or a walk.

Next stop was Surprise View, a high vantage point looking across the lake, and up and down the valley. The degree to which the water level had fallen in just a few days was very clear. Fuzziness of these photos was due to very strong winds in dull conditions!

We carried on along the Watendlath road to the village at the end,

and drove away as the weather started to deteriorate.

We arrived back at the cottage to find that it was one of seven dwellings in the area which had suffered a loss of electricity. The local Authority said that it would be up by 7:00pm - three hours away. Candles were lit, warm clothes left on from our walking, and games played. We were totally reliant on electricity, so there were no hot drinks or food until the supply was finally restored at around 8:30.

Come Friday morning, the snow was back again, and we risked a drive down the Newlands valley, then across the fells towards Buttermere. The scenery was fabulous.

Our progress along that route was finally stopped when the car failed to climb an incline of perhaps 1 in 6 because of the snowy surface. Again, I had to reverse down, away from the problem, this time as far as a widening of the road where I could turn the car around. It was a little scarey, to be honest! A car coming down the road stopped at the top of the hill, and the driver took one look down towards us, and turned around and drove back the way he'd come! We got back to the cottage safely.

On Saturday, we had to leave before 10:00am. Snow had almost gone from local roads, and the main roads were pretty much clear of it. The M6 and M1 were amazingly light of traffic, and our drive back to St Albans was really enjoyable. A fitting end to a very good week.

Final photos from the cottage...

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

The Lakes, the wind and the rain

"Billy Elliot" was just as amazing the second time around, and Grace thoroughly enjoyed it, too. "The Hobbit - The Battle of the Five Armies" wasn't really that enjoyable for me.
  1. "Having reclaimed Erebor and vast treasure from the dragon Smaug, Thorin Oakenshield (Richard Armitage) sacrifices friendship and honour in seeking the Arkenstone, despite Smaug's fiery wrath, and desperate attempts by the Hobbit Bilbo (Martin Freeman) to make him see reason. Meanwhile, Sauron sends legions of Orcs in a sneak attack upon the Lonely Mountain. As the fate of Middle Earth hangs in the balance, the races of Men, Elves and Dwarves must decide whether to unite and prevail - or all die."
The sets were marvellous, the CGI very impressive, and a lot of it was "fun", but it lacked a story, and I'm told by those who have read the book that a lot of the content was not original. The director even saw it necessary to invent a totally new female elven character, Tauriel, presumably for the sexual attraction element in a film otherwise almost devoid of women.

On Saturday, we drove up the M1 and M6 to the Lake District, stopping on the way to see Kantara, and to re-set the dehumidifier we'd realised we'd set wrong the last time we visited her. The journey was slowed considerably by very strong, gusty winds, and we took seven hours, including stops, to get to the cottage in Borrowdale.

A view from the cottage garden
There was snow on the hills when we arrived, but that subsequently got washed away by torrential rain on Saturday night. Water levels are very high - we're in a flood-plane here. Derwentwater is the highest we've ever seen it, the roads are flooded in places, and water gushes down the hillsides in swollen gills. The wind is due to be gusting up to 34 mph on Thursday; it's been strong all of the time we've been here.

But it's not stopped us getting out, and driving and walking around to enjoy the countryside, which is beautiful in any weather.

Footpath? What footpath?
Ah! Well, there's the other end of it, over there!

Saturday, January 03, 2015

Happy New Year!

Well, we got the Christmas decorations up in good time this year, and the cards got posted early - I'd written them all on the boat before the beginning of December. Presents were wrapped and under the tree in good time. We were quite chuffed at our good organisation!

Christmas Day was quieter than usual. We started with church, as always. Steve and Jess had dinner with us; Nome and Ed ate out with Eddie's mum and sister, Hannah, but they came back mid-afternoon, along with Eddie's dad and brother, Rickie, and we opened presents together before playing various games, enjoying a late tea and sliding into bed late. It was a great day.

Lucky me, my presents included lots of CDs from my wish-list, several books likewise, one of which is the last of the Terry Darlington books I still hadn't read, "Narrow Dog to Wigan Pier", and another, "Fruit Flies Like a Banana: England by Canal and Classic Car" by Steve Haywood, who has a column in Canal Boat Magazine. I just had to give that a read. There were, of course, the traditional consumables amongst my presents - favourite "old fashioned"sweets (Milk Bottle Gums and Shrimps for Grace, Crystallised Ginger and Pontefract Cakes for me), superb flavoured coffees, and a wonderful Stollen. And socks! Three different types, all bought by Grace with boat life in mind; one for cold feet in bed (from which I suffer a lot during the winter), one with non-slip soles for walking around in the boat, and one pair made with goats' wool which have some remarkable qualities. Grace also gave me a large map of the entire UK inland waterways system, really useful for seeing the whole picture when planning journeys.

We both got Kindles, which will reduce the need for paper books on the boat, and be altogether more manageable. I gave Grace a light for reading in bed, but it may turn out to be too bright for those occasions when she wants to use it in the middle of the night. We're certain it'll have other uses, though.
Grace had seen this cool light while we were shopping, and I just had to get it for her...

The blocks can be stacked any way you like. It's a brilliant idea. We're looking forward to using it on Kantara, though it won't be standing up while we're on the move!

Since Christmas, we've been winding down, playing games, making soups (pumpkin, and turkey & vegetable), watching TV and not being very busy, though we do have a number of things to get done before we go back to boat life. New Year's Eve was quiet - apart from the party than Nome and Ed had! This Thursday, Grace and I are going to see Billy Elliot - the second time for me. We'll squeeze in The Hobbit at the cinema some time before then, too. We'd like to go and see Kantara, just to make sure the dehumidifier's still OK, and will probably do that on our way to the Lake District next Saturday - we're renting a cottage for a week. Maybe it'll snow!

After that, January will be almost over, and we'll be preparing to return to the boat. Let's see what 2015 has in store for us!

A very happy New Year to you all!