Tis done

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With Rufus on the Ravenglass & Eskdale Railway. (Picture: Ian Wordsworth)

Today’s picture is for illustration.

Finally, after several very long weeks, we are done. We have moved everything from one house to the other and handed back the keys for the old house. For the first time in more than a month, we don’t have to go out this evening to take or collect stuff. It is done, it is over.

Saying that, I’m convinced we’ve left some cooking pans in the bottom of a cupboard – at least 3 roasting dishes and some loaf tin liners. But hey, if we have, and if we need them, we’ll just have to buy some more. If we have and we don’t miss them, then it’s less clutter. And if we haven’t, then that’s great.

It was a very, very busy weekend, though.

On Friday the first job we had was to drop my car off for its MOT. Then we collected a self-drive van so that we could take stuff from the garden and from the garage to the new house, and any other stuff that wouldn’t fit in one of the cars very well. We made 2 full trips in all before going back to collect my car. (It failed, but only a little bit.)

The following morning, Saturday, we filled the van for a run to the tip … but when we got to the tip they wouldn’t let us on. Long-wheel-base vehicles aren’t permitted, apparently. I thought they were, but you had to pay a tenner.

The van had to be back by 10am, so we went back to the van hire place, explained the situation, and the owner very kindly let us empty the van into the car so we could try again at the tip. We made 2 trips back to the tip in the end. And in the afternoon we did the weekly shopping and went back to the new house for tea/the evening.

On Sunday, at 9am, we headed off to Birmingham to take my dad to Alrewas for the National Service Memorial Day at the National Memorial Arboretum. The weather was a bit breezy but it stayed kind to us. And Dad had a nice time. Pictures will follow. When we got home, we had a pork dinner, having left a pork joint in the slow cooker.

Monday morning we had to go back to the old house to hand the keys over. But it was great to come back and not have to go anywhere for the rest of the day. It was a nice day, though, so the poet busied himself tidying the stable and the shed, doing a bit of petrol-strimming, and painting a fence. He also baked a loaf of bread – in the oven, not the bread machine.

I also did some bits and bobs. I’d had a hospital appointment, which I cancelled in the end. It wasn’t important and we needed some time out. I tried baking some sugar-free blueberry muffins, but the mix was too dry and they went in the bin. Instead I fell back on an old standard – individual buns or fairy cakes, making them with milk chocolate chunks.

This morning, the poet went back to work, and so did I. But we’re quite excited about not having to go anywhere this evening when he comes home. I may take the dog for a walk to post a letter – the nearest letter box is quite a walk away – but apart from that I think we’ll be emptying boxes. Deep joy.

Camping: Eskdale Day 3 – Whitsun weekend 2016

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I love this picture. Because of the light, it looks as though he’s beckoning … or gesticulating … (Picture: Ian Wordsworth)

On our last full day in Eskdale, we decided to go for a short ride out to Whitehaven.

This is where my mom was evacuated to during the Second World War. A cousin said it was St Bees that they were sent to, and the two are so close, perhaps it was. But Whitehaven has always been fixed in my memory as the place Mom named when describing her time there as a child.

I thought it was just a place that just happened to be on the coast. I didn’t realise there was a beautiful harbour there, with boats and things.

Nor did I know about the mining history, or that this was where a so-called American invasion was attempted in 1778. You live and learn.

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This statue, “End of an Era”, commemorates the end of mining in Whitehaven. He’s captured the town in the background. (Picture: Ian Wordsworth)

The photograph at the top commemorates this attempted invasion, and the second one down, “End of an Era”, is for the mining history, erected in 2005.

There was quite a lot to see in the town, and we didn’t have more than a few hours. So we did what we could in the time that we had, and that included a walk on a high sea wall that surrounds the harbour.

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It was blummin FREEZING atop this sea wall, with a keen wind blowing. But he gritted his teeth and put on a happy smile for the photograph. ((Picture: Diane Wordsworth)

It wasn’t half cold up there, and very WINDY. My balance isn’t great at the best of times and you can see in the picture that the wall is only a couple of slabs wide.

Once we were over deep sea water I started to panic and me and the dog climbed back down the first chance we got.

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Anchor. (Picture: Ian Wordsworth)

The poet, however, was determined to walk all the way to the end (to the lighthouse you can see in the picture), but he did wish he’d put a fleece on first … Rufus worried the whole time the poet was up there, because he couldn’t see him, and was very pleased when he joined us again on the lower level.

It probably took us about an hour to circle the whole of the harbour, taking pictures of lots of other interesting things as we passed them – and not all of them had explanatory plaques. There was a giant anchor, a big wheel, and another older lighthouse.

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Big wheel. (Picture: Ian Wordsworth)

By the time we got back to the car, it was well past midday and we were all starving hungry. We found a lovely little chip shop that was really quite busy.

I ordered scampi (all the way from Whitby) and chips while the poet just had to have a Cumberland sausage with his chips.

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(Picture: Ian Wordsworth)

(“I can’t come all the way to Cumberland and not have a proper Cumberland sausage.”)

Rufus helped us both. And we were so stuffed by the time we’d finished, we didn’t have room for the ice creams we’d promised ourselves.

Apart from the wind, the weather turned out very nice for us in the end, and there’s no way I can do the town much justice after just a few hours. So we’ve decided we’d quite like to come back, maybe spend a little more time in the area and find out what else it has to offer. For me, just the boats were enough – I do love boats – so everything else was a bonus. And I’m sure that when we go back we’ll learn a lot more.

When we got back to camp, we decided to pack up and go home. It was teatime and if the traffic was kind, we’d be back by about 7pm. We could have stayed another day, but we had a new house to come home to. But we’ll definitely go back to Eskdale.

One day.

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The harbour. (Picture: Ian Wordsworth)

Camping: Eskdale Day 2 – Whitsun weekend 2016

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Walking to Dalegarth Station (Picture: Ian Wordsworth)

Day 2 of our Whitsun holiday loomed bright, dry and warm. We walked the few minutes to the station in Dalegarth and joined the Ravenglass & Eskdale Railway for a ride down to Ravenglass. We bought an all-day ticket plus one for the dog, so naturally he was also permitted to sit on the seats.

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Ravenglass & Eskdale Railway (Picture: Ian Wordsworth)

The train was quite crowded on the way down. We obviously picked one of the most popular times to travel. Check the website for the latest timetable – there are more trains than you think, although occasionally they’re pulled by a diesel engine instead of a steam engine.

The train was so busy that at some stops no one was able to get on. At other stops, they had to get on where someone else got off. There was no standing allowed or possible.

We travelled through some breathtaking and beautiful scenery and were greeted along the way by cows, sheep, birds, walkers. And it took about 40 – 45 minutes to get from Dalegarth (for Boot) to Ravenglass.

At Ravenglass we were delighted to be able to take the dog onto the beach. At peak periods this is often not possible due to local mores and customs.

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Ravenglass & Eskdale Railway (Picture: Ian Wordsworth)

We’d been told ahead of our visit by a friend that the village was “very quiet”, but we weren’t prepared for exactly how quiet it actually was. It was a very pretty, sleepy village, with hardly anything happening, no traffic, no noise, and not many visitors, surprisingly.

We had a wander around, along the beach for a start. The dog was let off his lead, and he enjoyed a good blast along the sand. Then it was back on his lead for a walk back through the village.

We found a pub that was open that also sold ice cream, so we had an ice cream – and the dog had some too. It was nice, warm weather that wasn’t over-bearing, so the ice cream didn’t melt yet it was a cool treat.

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Ravenglass (Picture: Ian Wordsworth)

There were no shops open that we could find, but we did stumble upon an “antiques fair”. I paid my 25p to get in while the poet stayed outside with the dog, and it took me all of 5 minutes to see the whole thing.

There were some nice things there, but they were over-priced (in my opinion), and when I overheard one of the organisers complain to one of the visitors that business had been “very slow”, I wasn’t at all surprised.

So we headed back towards the station but continued on along the Eskdale Trail to the Roman Bath House. The trail is tree-lined and was lovely and cool beneath the leafy canopy.

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“Antiques Fair” in Ravenglass – admission 25p (Picture: Ian Wordsworth)

We didn’t see any squirrels or rare birds, but we did see a very large bumble bee and the poet commented that we don’t seem to see as many of those as we did when we were kids.

The poet had some fun with his camera and when a fellow photographer and his wife arrived with a bigger one that the poet’s (lens!), they got into a proper technical discussion.

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At the Roman Bath House, Ravenglass (Picture: unsuspecting passer-by)

They told us about their hairy journey over the Hardknott Pass the previous day, vowing to never do that again – but it made us want to go and try it. We’d avoided it on our own drive in, but decided to go home that way when we left.

Before they continued on their way and we backtracked to Ravenglass, the photographer offered to take a picture of the three of us, and we always take full advantage when people do that, even though there is a timer on the poet’s camera.

We had a sandwich and some cake at Ravenglass Station, and then caught the next ride back to Dalegarth.

We didn’t activate MapMy Walk, so I don’t know how far we walked. But we had another lovely day in another beautiful part of the country.

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Fungi bokeh (Picture: Ian Wordsworth)

Camping: Eskdale Day 1 – Whitsun weekend 2016

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We just followed the footpath signs … (Picture: Ian Wordsworth)

I’m finally catching up with blog posts, and here, at last, is the start of our camping holiday in Eskdale at Whitsun. But he’s getting so good at taking pictures, now, we have 146 from this weekend alone and I’m having to select just a handful for illustrations. So I’m splitting this holiday into separate days.

We only had 3 actual days, beyond the 1 day either side for travelling. And on the first day the poet decided he wanted to go for a walk because he was sick of sitting in a car and not being able to see all of the scenery properly.

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Rhododendron bokeh. (Picture: Ian Wordsworth)

So, rather than using a guided walk or a map or anything like that, he decided we’d just follow one of the many, many footpath finger signs and see where we ended up. And we ended up walking for more than 4 very beautiful miles.

Of course, it also gave him chance to have a play with his camera. It’s a good job he has a memory card now. He was able to take loads, see how he was doing, and delete any that weren’t any good – and still he ended up with almost 200 before paring them down to the final 146.

We decided that we’d quite like to go and see the local waterfalls, and the sign said it was only 2km away. Then it was 1.5km, then 1km … and then 1.5km again … Had we missed them?

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(Picture: Ian Wordsworth)

No matter, there was plenty of other scenery to look at and lots of footpaths criss-crossing each other. And one finger sign pointed to “stepping stones”.

We did find those, but it seemed to be the local picnic spot and there were quite a few loose, big dogs. And Rufus doesn’t really like it when there are other dogs vying for attention. So we chose a path that ran alongside the river and think we found ourselves on a path that ran parallel to the one to the waterfall.

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Dipper. (Picture: Ian Wordsworth)

The poet spotted a little bird dipping and diving, and Rufus and I were ordered to “keep back” while he tried to snap it, as the dog making a lot of noise would no doubt frighten the poor little thing away.

Well, there turned out to be at least 2 dippers, and it was when me and Rufus came crashing along anyway that I spotted one that was much easier to see than the one the poet was tracking.

He said that’s just typical. He’s being very good and quiet and trying to get a good shot of a really shy bird, then I come along, making as much noise as possible, and point out one much closer.

We followed the path back, and rejoined the one that led to the waterfall (2km … hmm). And gradually, what started out as quite a gentle river-level walk was starting to look a bit hilly. A bit UP-hilly. And Diane doesn’t really do hills …

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(Picture: Ian Wordsworth) (Yes, really – he’s getting very good.)

We carried on regardless, in case it levelled out again. (It didn’t.) And gradually the path not only got higher, but it also got more narrow, more winding, and slightly more dangerous with a river immediately to one side, slippy rocks and boulders underfoot, and a very hyperactive dog.

A few people were coming back down, others were giving up and waiting for the more adventurous members of their parties to go up and “do it” and come back when they were done. One dad refused to let his kids (4 of them) climb the last bit, and the poet was worried that the dog might pull me over and down to the water.

My balance isn’t brilliant and we usually let the dog off his lead under those circumstances, but with so many people and so many other dogs about, we didn’t want to risk it – and, to be honest, I didn’t fancy the last part of the climb anyway.

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Dalegarth Falls. (Picture: Ian Wordsworth)

We hadn’t come all that way not to see what we’d eventually set out to see. So the poet continued up alone while I waited just below with the dog.

Watching him struggle around part of the “path” and need to hang on as he rounded a particularly tricky bend, I knew we’d made the right decision. And he didn’t stay up there very long anyway. There wasn’t enough room for a start, and he just wanted to take the photographs and then come back to me and the dog.

We picked our way back down – which was easier than going up – re-joined the road and made our way back to the campsite. It was a real treat being so close to such lovely scenery without having to get in the car.

According to MapMyWalk (I’m not going to waste a picture slot here with a screenshot this time), we walked 4.14 miles and burned 617 calories.

And all the while Scafell Pike was there, in the cloud, alongside us.

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Scafell Pike. (Picture: Ian Wordsworth)

We’ve been moving house – again! (*** mini rant alert x 2 ***)

OFFICEI went AWOL again, didn’t I? Sorry about that. All is well, we’ve just been moving house again, and I had a lot to do before the internet was switched off at the old house, and then they went and switched it off a day early. By the time it came back up, I had another lot to do. But now I think I might be catching up a little.

We’re spread between 2 houses at the moment. We thought it might be a good idea to keep both properties on at the same time and move in gradually. But now I’m not so sure that was the best thing. It seems to be dragging out the process rather than getting it all done in one go.

The first priority, as ever, was to get my office up and running. So even before we had the keys we had to go and choose office furniture. The office has been in action for almost 2 weeks now. We just need to fetch some curtains over to finish it off. I’m on the ground floor again, quite close to the front door, with a beautiful view across the garden to the farm we’ll be living on.

My old office furniture has gone into the poet’s new studio and his computer followed. We still have to bring the studio/music equipment over and that may be happening this evening. Then we had to get his computer connected to the internet as well, and that’s what we did last week.

We moved the spare bed over (in pieces) so we could sleep over if we needed to, but the fridge-freezer is still at the old place and when we came to use the cooker at the new place, the thermostat wasn’t working. Result – burnt dinner and a melted tray (it was a shop-bought lasagne). So last Friday we also went out and bought a new cooker and hob …

… are we ready for a mini rant?

<mini rant>
So we were in Curry’s, looking at ceramic hobs and the assistant asked if we had any questions. I asked if our lovely copper-bottom stainless-steel practically brand new Prestige pan set would work on the ceramic hob. She not only said that yes it would, but then went on to talk us into buying an induction hob instead.

We arrived home with our brand new cooker and hob, which the poet fitted (he’s also an electrician). But when we came to test the hob, OUR PANS DIDN’T WORK.

I did a bit of a Google and discovered that induction hobs really don’t like the copper bottoms, and it was a well-known issue amongst induction-hob-owners the world over.

To say I was a bit livid is putting it mildly, and had I NOT asked the question in the first place, I would have kicked myself. But I DID ask, and I WAS told that YES, my pans would work on all of their hobs.
</mini rant>*

On Saturday, then, we had to go out and buy a complete set of new pans. We had to be back at the new place by 1pm, though, as Sky was coming to fit our new telly. We were going from Sky HD+ to Sky Q 

… and guess what … I have another mini rant!

<mini rant #2>
When I was talking to Sky on the phone, the one question I asked was “will we still be able to watch our recorded problems when we have Sky Q?” The answer was not only a resounding “Yes!”, but we were also talked out of having another mini Q box fitted at this time with the discount included because our old box would still work.

Now this discount is worth about sixty quid. So we discussed it and decided we’d pay the full installation amount if we found we needed the extra box in the future, i.e. after we’d finished watching everything on our old box.

When the engineers arrived, they offered to take our box back so we’d get a further £10 discount. But we said we were going to keep it and use it alongside our new Q.

“Er, no you’re not,” said one. “You have a new Sky dish. There’s no connection for the old box …”

Diane (politely but icily): “Excuse me?”

He repeated himself and I’m afraid I had to leave the room. I mean, I’d ASKED again!
</mini rant #2>

It really is me, isn’t it?

Anyway, we now have Sky Q working beautifully at the new house and Sky HD working at the old house, and we’re frantically watching what we can before this Saturday, when everything moves to the new house.

But I tested the oven yesterday with some old staples, and very successfully baked a dozen cherry buns and a dozen white choc chip cookies (the poet said they even tasted like cookies …). Then the poet tested the hob yesterday evening and made a chicken dinner, frying the chicken breasts in one of the new frying pans as we didn’t have any foil to bake it in at the new house.

We settled down to watch a film on the telly too, and he was delighted to find that the new Q links to his YouTube account so he can now watch his subscribed videos on the big telly instead of on his mobile phone.

So all is well, but we still have a lot to do. We move the big stuff over this Saturday, and then we have a week to bring over anything that’s left and to give the old house a good clean.

If I disappear again, you know why. 🙂

*<mini rant> and </mini rant> nicked quite blatantly from Twitter, Facebook and NaNoWriMo mate Steven Chapman.