Sometimes you just need to get out and breathe. This was very much the case today, after a tough week that had left us emotionally wrung out and rather uncertain about what happens next. The thing about going out walking is that once you’re there, with sandwiches and fruit for lunch in your rucksack, it doesn’t actually matter how much money you have (or don’t have). The heavens will open on anyone’s head, prince or pauper. In actual fact, while the rain was almost horizontal as we toiled up to Blea Tarn (hoorah for our new-old veg-oil powered Jeep! Potholes? Who cares?) and lashed at the windscreen as we ate lunch in the car, it actually more or less held off as we walked, played hide and seek and in some cases paddled round the tarn and back. Wind swirled around the Langdale Valley, threatening to bring the slate-grey cloud down onto us, but for some reason the sun decided it would keep smiling for just the right amount of time. With tired babies and soothed souls, we headed for home.
It’s so wonderful to be able to enjoy the beauty of the Lake District just a short drive away and at this time of year only lightly dotted with sailors,horse-riders, walkers and noisy adventurers like us…
The walk we did, by the way, was along Yewdale Bridleway, details can be found here. I say this as if we did the whole walk- we’ve never managed this, for various reasons- but even going a short way along provides plenty to explore and amazing views, even if the initial climb to the pathway is a challenge with little ones in tow.
Around a year ago our little family, having been thrown up in the air by C’s redundancy, finally came to land up here. Relief that a new job had been found was somewhat counterbalanced with loneliness as I came to terms with having moved a long way from friends and family and having given up what had been a happy balance of teaching three days per week and being at home with P the rest. Loneliness could have been a big problem if it hadn’t been for a chance encounter at the local child health clinic when I got chatting to the mother of a little girl there about the Steiner playgroup P and I were going to. Turned out she lived at the other end of our street. Turned out that she was also a teacher. Turned out that she liked the idea of going walking in the Lakes with the babies. Turned out that she and I shared a lot of values, ideas and a sense of humour. Turned out our children got on like a house on fire, stretching out from their car seats or buggies to hold hands when we went out and about.
One year later and we’ve been on many, many walks; eaten a good number of picnics; many including hilariously lumpy vegetable soup and the obligatory flask of redbush tea; dealt with a few medical emergencies; seen our babies become toddlers (and tag-team wrestled them into car seats when necessary!); discussed our worries and shared our joys about family life; both got pregnant again and shared sunshine and showers in so many ways.
Today we went on a walk by Elterwater and realised that this was one of the first places we had walked together when we first met. I hardly need reminding of how much I appreciate the precious gift I have in this friend of mine, but today was as a good a day as any to think about it.
>It might be a bit early to write off summer- we did have a barbecue on Saturday after all and are praying for dry weather at the very least when we host M’s Baptism celebration at the end of the month. However, the duller days are just that little bit nippier, the morning air makes me feel that recent and current knitting projects are not going to wait that long for wear and evening turns to night just a little bit sooner now. School may not be a big feature in our lives just at the moment, but September always feels like a new year to me, more than the real New Year does. Just as the old traditions had this time of year for gathering in (and word from the farm is that the harvest is safely in, despite the challenges of a missing bridge), sorting out (there’s a lot of that still going on round here) and deciding what stays for the winter and what goes, so it is in my head.
These shoes for P:
And these for me:
were bought way back at the start of the warm weather, when M was still an ever growing bump and we were only just starting to pack boxes and hope for the move to the new place. Despite a lot of distractions, they’ve nevertheless had some good wear over the season, walking, splashing in puddles, running, jumping (the latter two more him than me, especially pre-birth!) and so on. It certainly shows in the now fading colour and worn out soles! Recently he’s taken to going and putting his own shoes on, usually on the correct feet, then fetching this pair for me, ever hopeful that we might go for a walk or to the swings or in the garden. It’s time he had a new pair- doubtless his feet have grown yet more now and he needs something a bit more warm and waterproof, even if it does mean he has to wear socks again. But these shoes are testament to a summer well lived if you ask me- how funny to think that by this time next year there will be another tiny pair of shoes being worn out, as our wriggly little girl gets on her feet!
After a week of rain or threats of rain (we’ve discovered that our little corner of Cumbria seems to do a good line in threatening clouds that don’t actually dump their loads on us, saving it for the fells- good for staying home and washing, bad for escaping on a walk), the summer seems to be giving us one last glorious blast. We met up with an old friend and his new wife at the weekend in lovely sunshine coupled with a soft breeze. While C and Mr A went for a bike ride, Mrs A and I took the children on a walk by Elterwater. Note the restraining hand on P’s hood- he feels a little bit too invincible in his waterproof suit and wellies and sets off into lakes as if he can wade across! The rain that had lashed down the previous day meant that Skelwith Force, the turning point of our route, was in full spate and pretty spectacular as it sent spray up onto the path we were on, metres above it.
Meanwhile, having finished my teacosies, I’m now started on another knit using reclaimed wool. I posted a picture of the much loved but never worn ‘Iceland’ sweater a while back. At the weekend I finally got around to frogging it and have now cast on ‘Rosamund’s Cardigan’, its new incarnation. Managed to mess up the cables on the first attempt, probably because I was trying to squeeze all the stitches onto straight needles. A quick ferret through a yet-to-be unpacked box unearthed one of my few circular needles which actually happened to be the correct size (I’m thinking about getting an interchangable circular needle set for Christmas) and things have gone better since then. Please note my gorgeous new workbasket- a long promised ‘new home’ present from C- more on this at a later date.
The week so far has seen weather forecasts whose bark was worse than their bite. Monday afternoon saw these spectacular clouds sweeping in off the sea, yet we managed an hour at Sandscale Haws with nothing more than a few spots. Yesterday was meant to be okay in the morning then awful all afternoon, so we duly dashed out with a lovely gang of friends for walking, play and picnic here in the a.m. only to find that the afternoon was also rain-free until 5-ish. Today, if the reports were to be believed, we would be deluged (we were during the night), so a blanket den was duly built in the living room and no promises of going outside were made. So far? A mere sprinkling, and that while out for a drive along the coast road, where the brunt of the weather hits.
Still, all this indoors time has meant more progress on Manu, which, now that the sleeves are finished and the yoke is in progress, resembles more of a garment. I made the sleeves on four needles as I couldn’t get the hang of them on a circular, but switched to a circular for the yoke. Hmmm…maybe a problem as my tension seems to be a little bit tighter on the circular. I’m hoping it won’t show up too much in the finished item- it certainly doesn’t on the pictures. The yarn is quite fluffy and the tension is fairly easy throughout, so maybe blocking will even things up a bit. Or I’ll pretend it’s a design feature! Looking forward to knitting the pleats soon…
So far, so good. There are some logistic puzzles to be solved when it comes to getting baby, toddler and buggy to and from the car/ up and down stairs etc. but we seem to be surviving. I know it’s not that big a deal, mothers have been coping with more than one child for a long time, but for me it’s a new challenge. Having friends has made a big difference to this- today we were up and at ‘em before most sane people would emerge unless they had to go out to work. We headed for Fell Foot for football on the grass and much fun in the playpark. You may remember a certain very smart pair of red sandals bought at the start of the summer- they are holding up in structure, but not in looks, especially with regular soakings under the tap in the back garden and in muddy puddles- today was no exception! Little M slept peacefully throughout these adventures, as seems to be the habit for this chilled little girl. And yes, I even managed some knitting yesterday, although the picture is a demonstration of how something very unpromising can become something lovely (I hope). From left to right is the unfinished Manu cardigan sleeve, the completed sleeve and the body. Honestly it is! If only you could reach out and feel how soft the yarn is, and see how nice the slight colour variation when it forms a marl effect. Oh well, maybe when it’s completed and photographed begin worn!
The novelty of a rainy day after all the sunshine soon wore off, so when the clouds parted just a bit this Sunday afternoon we headed out. Our first choice plan was PYO strawberries, but perhaps unsurprisingly we found the farm but couldn’t find the farmer. Plan B was Low Sizergh Barn, to walk their Farm Trail. The sunshine held, the baby slept in the front carrier throughout and it was felt that the most was made of our last day together before the end of paternity leave. Tomorrow its just me and the two babies- yikes! The benchmark for how well things go will be if I add a few inches to the second sleeve of Manu at some point in the day. Yes, that’s right, even with all the events of recent weeks, I’ve somehow managed to get the body and one arm completed. I’ll try and post some pics soon.
If it wasn’t for where we live I can’t imagine I would have countenanced the idea of going for a country walk less than a week after giving birth, but the sun was shining, our little boy still needs as much running around outside time as he can, C is on paternity leave…and while I ended up feeling a little bit sore afterwards it must be good for healing to get the blood flowing. Not to mention the soul to be out in that lovely fresh air. You can tell this year has been better weather-wise so far as they are making hay, unlike last year when we were living at the farm and hay didn’t happen until August thanks to the rain. The tractor doing the mowing was one source of excitement for P. The other was the roots of a lone oak tree in this meadow. They are just the right height for a two-year old to perch and climb on, so we had some mummy/son time while C was in charge of baby sister, buggy, bike and bike helment. Baby sister, by the way, slept through most of the experience, but I’m sure it won’t be long before she shows a bit more appreciation…
>According to the weather reports, it seems we’ve been a bit fooled by the signs of Spring. Next week promises colder winds, lots of rain and even snow. This makes me even gladder that we’ve been getting out and about as much as we have recently. It also spurred us to go out this afternoon, despite the need to continue the big sorting out job we’ve begun on the house (a move is imminent, we hope, so we are trying to reduce our possessions before we have to pack and move them). Yes, Tarn Hows is becoming a bit of a predictable choice for us, but when you just need to get out and catch that last little blast of Spring weather predictable and easy fits the bill.
We found a little sunshine…