>Dunmallard Hill


Tuesday was very much a writing day. I worked solidly and by the end of the day I’d outlined:

• 5 articles
• 3 readers’ letters
• 2 short stories
• 1 short novel(la)

I’d also written 963 words of Catch the Rainbow.

Wednesday morning the sun started to peep through and I decided to go out walking in order to make the most of the good weather.

I parked up, once again, at Pooley Bridge in my now-regular parking spot next to St Paul’s Church. Then I headed off on a 2 mile walk up Dunmallard Hill, adding a bit more distance to my total by starting at the other end of the village to the planned walk.

We’d had so much rain and so many storms I wasn’t surprised to see a recent casualty at the start of my walk:

The guide warns that views aren’t quite how they were at the top due to the dense growth of trees, so I was glad to get a peek of Ullswater on my way up:

My well-defined path through the trees:

I do think there should be something to say you’ve reached the summit, but I supposed this was it. And they’re right, you can hardly see the lake through the trees when they’re in full leaf like this:

The path down the other side of the hill is quite defined too:

Diane Parkin modelling Hawkshead in Patterdale – I actually quite like this picture:

Dunmallard Hill – I walked up that:

Heading back down towards the River Eamont:

Oh look, people:

A moody-looking – and full-looking – River Eamont:

I was quite proud of myself as I don’t often do hills, and I managed this one in 65 minutes when the book suggests an hour.

In Pooley Bridge I paid a fortune for a roast Cumberland ham sandwich, did a bit more shopping for the cottage, and carried on up the hill towards Martindale and Hallin Fell.

>Friday interlude

>The autumn magazine is about to go into production (next Friday), and already I’ve had 2 authors pull a 4-page piece each. One of them I’ll probably let get away with it, so long as he delivers for the winter magazine; the other I’ve asked to try harder and given him an extension to take into account an event that will happen one week after deadline.

I think it’s silly to hold this second one over for 3 months for the sake of 1 week as the so-called “news” will be stale by December. The first one is an “evergreen”, and he was writing it as a favour to me anyway in case I needed the extra material. I don’t need the extra material so long as this topical one comes in. Eight pages is a lot to lose from 1 magazine, but as it was a fat magazine anyway, I can stand to lose 4 pages and not fret too much over it.


The winter issue always has a slightly tighter turnaround as it’s the last one before the Christmas holiday and we’re supposed to get it on the desks by the time everyone finishes (although Holland doesn’t have the same Christmas holidays that we do). I just had someone stick his head in and let me know he has a potential 4-pager for the December issue, and when I added the idea to the magazine database I was delighted to see we also already have a travel feature (4 pages), an interview (2 pages), and a management piece (4 pages). With this new project article (4 pages) and the human interest evergreen to be carried over (4 pages), that’s already 18 pages, I’ve not added in the regular stuff yet, and we’ve not even started Autumn.

My target is at least 28 pages, an optimum 32 pages, or an absolute maximum 36 pages. The days of 40-page magazines were before the credit crunch and I’m not allowed to go up to that any more. The autumn magazine was going to be 36, so 32 is still okay.

It’s been strange coming back to work, and it’s tired me a little having to get up early enough. Tomorrow I’ll have a nice lie in, but that will be after quite a long, late night for me. I’m getting picked up and we’re going to see three Gothic bands, or 2 Goth and 1 Goth/metal, in Bradford. I have to be ready by 7pm, which means a Benny Hill thing when I get in from work. Tomorrow I’ll be shopping, doing chores, trying to finish the gig list, so even though I can have a drink tonight, I have to bear in mind a busy day tomorrow.

On Sunday if I feel like it, and if I’ve finished the gig list, I want to go on a doorstep walk around Ravenfield in Rotherham in the morning, and visit the castle at Conisbrough in the afternoon – it looks as though they’re having a Robin Hood weekend. As the holiday posts are still scheduled to publish, my next “interlude” may be Monday or Tuesday, and Sunday’s day out will be a picture post after the holiday is finished.

Have a great weekend.

>Ullswater “steamers”


I arrived in Glenridding bang on noon and was delighted, when I parked up, to find one of the famous Ullswater “steamers” was preparing to leave in 15 minutes. I paid for my car parking (and noted we got a free cup of tea at the other end if we presented our reminder stub), bought my round-the-lake ticket, nipped to the loo, and found a dry-ish spot to sit on board the “Raven”.

When these boats were first launched on the lake, over a hundred years ago, they were indeed steamers. These days, though, they’ve all been converted to diesel and the funnels that once took the steam away now carry the exhaust fumes. The boats are still very old, and it’s a pleasure and a privilege to sail on one.

My first glance of an Ullswater “steamer” was in fact on my orientation drive on Saturday, and she was indeed the “Lady Wakefield”. This vessel joined the fleet in 2007 but was originally built in 1949.

The “Lady Dorothy” is affectionately referred to by the crews as “a proper little workhorse”. This vessel joined the fleet in 2001:

It really was a miserably wet day, but it’s the rain that makes the lakes so beautiful in this part of the country. Here is Norfolk Island:

The lake has these lovely boat houses dotted around at various intervals – I could live somewhere like this, couldn’t you?

This boat house is a little derelict now, but it conjures up all sorts of ideas for mystery or adventure writing:

Who lives in a house like this? And look at all those nooks and crannies:

The “Lady of the Lake” was launched in June 1877. She’s looking good for her age:

I love this picture. I love boats anyway, but I’m quite pleased with the composition on this one. Once again, it’d make a great jigsaw:

Here I am, in all my pasty-faced glory. Maybe a red funnel wasn’t the best thing to have my picture taken in front of:

We stopped very briefly at Howtown to let walkers get on or off, and then we had half an hour in Pooley Bridge. I’d already done Pooley Bridge so decided to claim my free cup of tea at the pier (for parking at Glenridding). Very few people obviously take advantage of this special offer as the lad in the café had to ask the skipper what the current offer was.

My skipper for the day was Chris. He took me under his wing and into his wheelhouse out of the rain, and kept me occupied with the history, various stories, and some lovely anecdotes on the ride back to Glenridding via Howtown:

And here is the “Raven”, which was launched in July 1889 after tour operator Thomas Cook added leisure cruises on Ullswater to his programme:

The fleet get a new addition in September of this year, bringing the number of boats to 5.

When Chris went out on his first jaunt of the day, he had to record a water level of 1.1m. In June, this was coming in at 0.4m, that’s how much rain they’ve had since the end of June. The boats are able to sail at such levels because of their shallow keels, but when it gets to around 1.4m, the “Lady Wakefield” apparently starts to struggle.

By the end of my cruise, 3 hours after I started, the water level was at 1.4m – that’s how much rain we had in just one day, less than one day. Chris was driving the “Lady Wakefield” the next day. He didn’t hold out much hope of sailing.

>Thursday interlude

>This morning I registered at Traveleyes, a travel company that provides holidays for the visually impairerd and the sighted. I found it on Ilona’s blog, Life After Money. I also know of Ilona from the money saving experts forum. With a newly found cat sitter, I can start to plan a bit more freely for holidays than I used to, so long as I check dates and availability first, and these will be added to my potential trips away. I think it’s an excellent idea because it offers slightly discounted travel to sighted travellers who are happy to act as guide to those that can’t see so well. Ilona also goes on walking holidays/trips and if I find an easy one, I may go along on one of those too. (She does big hills … I don’t.)

One of the things I learned from my holiday is that I’m incredibly unfit. I really cannot do big hills, don’t do has nothing to do with it. I walk about 10 paces and have to stop. I can usually tell how fit I am by how satisfying I find a deep breath. If it doesn’t touch me, I know my lungs need some exercise. If I feel fulfilled, I know I’m relatively fit. For the first half of my holiday my lungs weren’t working properly; by the second half I was appreciating those big breaths. Right now, the lungs are working again. But I need to give them a workout.

With that in mind I’ve been planning some more walks. I’ve finally joined The Ramblers – well, it’s rude to just keep gatecrashing their rambles and meetings without being a member – and I’ve sourced a few walks between now and Christmas … (did I just mention the C word?). I’m also going to try and get to all of my local Ramblers’ meetings, which are once a month on a Wednesday evening.

Next year I want to be ready to walk 10 miles a day at least, so I can do the Thames Valley Walk and hopefully join Abi for part of it.

>Pooley Bridge


On Monday I went out. It was a miserable day but my back and neck ached so much after hunching over the laptop for a whole day (playing games, uploading pictures, writing notes, etc, etc), that I decided to get out and have a look around.

My first stop was Pooley Bridge at the northern tip of Ullswater. The first thing you see when you arrive in this village is a pay and display car park next to the river. If you drive a bit further into the village, though, there are plenty of free car parking spaces for up to 2 hours.

My parking spot was in front of St Paul’s Church:

I wandered back down the main street and landed on a bridge overlooking the River Eamont:

I’m not sure if this river runs into or out of Ullswater Lake, but it certainly runs.

Could this be Duck Island?

Jackdaws and mallards feeding together:

Pooley Bridge:

Feeding the ducks:

This mallard went off in a sulk because I didn’t have any food for her:

I did a bit of shopping in the village, bought some food, a carry mat for sitting on when I’m out walking, and a couple of souvenirs. Then I headed off down to the other end of the lake and Glenridding.

>Wednesday interlude

>I’m just finishing reading a novel for research purposes and I almost chucked it across the room last night in frustration and disgust – not prudish disgust, but disgust that this tripe is being published. (Note: research materials do not appear in my “currently reading” section in the sidebar, those are purely for pleasure and/or self advancement.)

There were 10 consecutive pages (apx 2,500 words) of gratuitous sex (aka “padding”), which I ended up scanning and skipping. It’s a short novel anyway (apx 50,000 words), these 10 pages did nothing to move the story forward, nor did they move the relationship along (aka “gratuitous”). Is this excessive, am I indeed being prudish, or do I suffer from sour grapes?

When the writer wrote (I kid you not) “… the floor rocked a bit beneath her feet …”, I had to cast around for the sick bucket. Why is this rubbish being published? I thought the earth-moving lark had overstayed its welcome decades ago. The author is a popular one in this particular genre, but I much preferred the one she was packaged with as that was closer to what I’d expect when I buy this particular imprint.

If I wanted to read bad porn, I’d buy another style, type and imprint altogether; if I wanted to read good erotica, I know where to go for that too. But I wanted to read about mystery, adventure, intrigue. I won’t give up on the genre as I’ve read others and they’ve come up to expectation, but I won’t pick one up by this particular author ever again.

This morning I woke with another short story almost fully formed in my head – this one is called And Then The Earth Moved … I wrote the outline earlier today. The other stories outlined this week are called: Amy’s Wedding; Cherry Blossom; Pumpkin Pie; and Bramble Jelly. (Those last 3 make up the Harvest Festival trilogy.)

The second half of day 2 of my holiday is below this one.

>Dove Cottage and Wordsworth Museum


I’d not stopped at Grasmere before, just driven through it, so this time I pulled up to visit Dove Cottage, the home of William Wordsworth for 8 years according to the lady leading our tour today. He lived there with his sister Dorothy and their friend Mary, who was to become Wordsworth’s wife. They had 3 of their 5 children while they lived at Dove Cottage, 2 of whom were later to die in childhood.

The entry fee is quite confusing, but works out at £8.50 altogether including parking. The car park fee is a lofty £5, but they give you a refund of £4 off the admission price of £7.50.

The cottage and museum are located in the hamlet of Town End, still preserved today:

I love this house, just look at those chimney pots – it’d make a great jigsaw:

A view up the main street:

The view of the cottages from Wordsworth’s back garden:

To prove I was there:

Dove Cottage:

Wordsworth’s front garden:

Afterwards I wandered (lonely as a cloud) around the museum then stopped at the tea room for a pot of tea and a piece of “Grasmere Rush Bearing Gingerbread” (ginger cake to you and me). It was nice to look at the view while listening to Mozart here. Before I left I bought a pot of locally made pear and blueberry jam (jelly).

Back on the road I drove past Thirlmere, an almost empty reservoir, then took a turning away from Keswick to come back to the cottage.

Day 3, the Sunday, was a writing/catch up/chill day. I loaded and edited the photographs taken so far, drafted these blog notes, read a little, played a little, watched a little television, and wrote a little.

>Tuesday interlude

>And so I fired off my reply to the potential new editor thanking her for giving me the opportunity to resubmit, and saying I’d write something less seasonal or more topical for her meanwhile.

Yesterday evening on Facebook I had a bit of a brainstorm. I’m very, very good at coming up with ideas, can spot one – or several – at 20 paces, and often give them away, but I do miss the interaction and fresh input of a writers’ group. So I chucked the idea out there to mull and chew over, and I had such a good response my head filled with 7 characters and 3 stories.

There was no way I would sleep with all that going on, and I became a midnight scribbler. By the time I turned in (at 2am) I’d outlined another 3 stories, and woke up with one bubbling away too. They’re all linked – they’re set in the same Miners’ Welfare Club (MWC), in the same pit village, with the same celebration (Harvest Festival), and the same bigwig/VIP/local dignitary – but they have 3 pairs of main characters (one pair each) and are targeted at 3 different magazines for now, including the potential new one.

Today has been a bit of this, a bit of that – a bit of housework (aka laundry – I filled both washing lines today for the first time in months), a bit of the gig list (it’s August next week), a bit of writing (jottings and more scribbling), and this evening I get ready for being back at work tomorrow.

It’s a 3-day week at work this week, I would normally have been out on Thursday but I moved that to today so I could make my holiday as long as possible. Three-day weeks are cool, though, and I’m looking forward to going back and seeing everyone.

Perhaps I should have bought chocolates …

Don’t forget day 2 of the holiday below this one.

>Orientation drive


The weather was a bit wet and windy so I decided on an orientation drive for day 2 instead of a steamer ride. I left the A66 and joined the A592 to head down to Ullswater itself. On the way I passed Dalmain House, a property I had every intention of returning to later in the week, but never did.

When I got down to Ullswater, I was delighted and amazed to see it full to almost overflowing. The rain dance worked. The road is quite hairy and very close to the water’s edge in many places. All it needed was a distraction and the car (and I) would be saying hello to the fishes.

There are lots of little places to park up and stop off, some are pay and display, others are free. As I was only stopping to take pictures, I didn’t pay anything.

There were canoes on the lake (or kayaks, depending on what country you live in):

Ullswater really is scenic:

The ducks came to say hello:

My first glance of one of the Ullswater “steamers” – this one looks like the “Lady Wakefield”, built in 1949 and fully restored and renamed in 2007:

Back on the A592 I climbed upwards towards Windermere:

Looking back to Ullswater:

This wall is the same height as me, 5’ 4”:

I watched a kestrel hunting over this stretch of water but wasn’t quick enough with the camera:

I can’t imagine what use a dry stone wall would be here:

My first glimpse of Windermere – again, I watched a kestrel hover here, but it was too far away to get a picture:

This last picture was taken just below Kirkstone Pass. There’s a short cut down to Ambleside, but the road is narrow, winding, very dangerous and often closed. It’s not called The Struggle for nothing, but as I’d already been down The Struggle when someone else was driving, I didn’t need to do it again while I was driving.

I didn’t stay in Windermere. I’ve done Windermere before and will no doubt do it again, so instead of turning left to go around this lake and Coniston Water, I turned right towards Grasmere.