Thursday, 18 December 2014

Free fabric

Half a dozen old shirts that I used to wear in the garden plus an hour with a pair of scissors equals approximately six yards of checked fabric added to the stash . . .

Each shirt originally came from a charity shop for £2.99 or thereabouts and has been worn and washed and worn and washed and doesn't owe me a penny.  They've been my 'gardening uniform' for as long as I can remember but I've done over-sized and baggy for long enough.   

Monday, 15 December 2014

Assistance with an end-of-season sort out

I'm so very, very lucky, the weather allowed LP and I to get a full day in the garden today and there was a long list of odd jobs to get through.  First were some 'temporary' paving slabs to get us from the new balcony steps to the old path.  Temporary is an elastic term at Bag End and you know as well as I do that these slabs will probably still be in place in three years time :}  Hopefully the surrounding mess will be tidied up somewhat sooner :{

I took Daisy for a walk and when I came back the plastic 'cucumber greenhouse' was dismantled and put away for next year.  It was a resounding success in growing terms - shame the variety I chose was quite horrible and no-one liked the thick skin and burp-inducing flesh.

A spruce-up of the greenhouse beds comprised loosening the soil, giving it a good water, and then spreading a 3" thick layer of well rotted compost on the soil.  If I extract the digit and wash all the glass then we'll be nicely ready for next year.  I had hoped to be growing winter salads but for various reasons that never happened.  Thankfully in gardening there is (nearly) always "next year".

Small tasks such as folding up the roof net from the big fruit cage are much better with two (I managed to get the net off last week but putting it away was like wrangling cats so I gave up!), and LP also cheerfully moved 8 car wheels complete with tyres from the drive to their store behind the tractor.  Both Management and I now have our winter tyres on the cars, so that will make bad weather trips up Whinlatter a safer drive.

On his previous day here (still not written up . . . .) LP removed turf from the lawn near the Coppice so that I can extend our willow fedge.  Today I had him remove a bit more so I can get exactly the shape we need.  Eventually this will be edged and I find myself with a huge flower bed that was never planned.  Apart from the orchids, the planting is a dreadful mishmash as this bed doesn't really know what to do with itself.  Hopefully I'll get some inspiration before another summer is upon us :}

As light was fading we hammered four 3" posts into the fruit cage.  I'm going to move a couple of plums into the cage and these posts are the start of a frame to grow them as cordons.  Least said about the untidy strawberry plants the better . . .

Heck of a lot done given it was dark by 4.00.  In an ideal world most of this would have been done a couple of months ago.  It is not an ideal world . . .

Sunday, 14 December 2014

Today I have been mostly . . .

Moving furniture.

Management's study needed a complete reorganisation and overhaul and somewhere in the planning he offered to swap bookcases with me.  He got three Ikea Billy's and in return I acquired three much bigger, heavier units which I've coveted ever since we bought them!  That was the easy bit, getting them into my sewing room wasn't easy and by the time we'd finished both of us ached, were tired and had muscles complaining about mean and unreasonable treatment.   But oh, was it worth it!!

And because Hazel has waited years for this . . .  here's another picture of (most of) the stash!  I know fabric should be stored in dark cupboards where it cannot get light damaged or dusty.  I also know that if I can't see the fabric then I'm not inspired to use it, and in this house, once fabric has been made into a quilt then a bit of light and a bit of dust are the least of its problems :}

Daisy spent much of the day in her 'sewing room bed' under the table and was not particularly impressed with all the moving stuff around.

Saturday, 13 December 2014

Autumn is over

Winter does not officially begin until next Sunday but the weather has turned and it feels like Autumn is well and truly over.  On Thursday we had a particularly cold and showery visit to Crummock, which might explain why the car park was deserted and we had the place to ourselves.  It was bliss :}

We disturbed a handful of Herdies who seem to have taken up residence in the woods, and also saw red squirrel and deer, neither of which hung around long enough for a picture.

Sheltering for a moment by the boathouse.

The wind comes barrelling down from Buttermere and the north end of the lake can be a blustery place :}

Whilst Daisy is no longer terrified of being near water, she's still not thrilled with the experience of the small bridges across the weir. 

On Saturday Management came to Whinlatter with us.  Despite her thick coat Daisy seemed to feel the cold, but the liberal consumption of mini biscuits and her breakfast kibble seemed to help.

Tuesday, 9 December 2014

The truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth?

The Bag End blog has become the personal journal/diary of our life in Cumbria and I've spent more an an hour or so over the years thoroughly enjoying looking back at previous posts.  When you live something every day it is easy to forget just how much work we've done on the house and garden, the beauty of a sunrise fades from memory, or the view on a clear day is replaced by more Cumbrian rain and cloud (like today when it's blowing a hooley and we can hardly walk around the garden).  Despite attempts to the contrary, a busy 21st-century life means that the everyday endless photos of Daisy enjoying herself or a glimpse of a favourite plant in bloom are soon forgotten unless I make the effort to record them here.

But it is definitely not the whole and complete story of our lives.  Partly because laundry, cleaning, cooking and the daily minutiae don't generally make good blog-fodder, partly because some things really need to remain private, and partly because - to steal shamelessly from Churchill - history is written by the victors, and whilst I believe that I have never told an outright lie on my blog, I am guilty of having been economical with the truth on occasions.

I deliberately don't record some of the less enjoyable things but I'm not doing so to pretend we have a picture-perfect fairytale life.  Sometimes it's for privacy/self-editing reasons but sometimes it is because once I have committed something to print I have given it form, substance, contributed to its energy.  This could be thought of as an variant on the philosophy of 'creating one's own reality', but mostly it's that I don't want to go back and read about how ill I have felt over the last year/18 months (and I am assuming visitors don't want to read about it either!)  And I definitely don't want to read much about the mistake we made buying a campervan.  Thankfully, that chapter of my life ended today as a dealer from Yorkshire drove Herbie away from Bag End.  So it's time to talk about it.

As I said back in September when we bought the van, Management and I had thought about doing this for years ... and years and years!  I also said it was a 'toe-dipping exercise before we committed to the grown up money that a full-size motorhome would entail'.  So at one level we didn't make a mistake, but it's still been a stressful and upsetting three months.

I mentioned that I've not been well.  Part of that has been the pain of real, physical damage which I've been stupid enough to inflict upon myself by thinking I was Superwoman and doing too much in the garden.  The other part has been reaching a point of mental burnout.  No, I've not had a breakdown or been depressed.  This was pure exhaustion from a year of prepping to move, seven years of endless renovations, losing Ollie in the middle of it, and whatever other stress life chucks into the mixing bowl just for good measure. Part of realising/admitting I was at breaking point and that things had to change included my confessing to Management that occasionally I would love to run away, just with Daisy, for a couple of days of completely selfish peace and quiet.  The campervan was meant to facilitate that need and then later enable trips to Scotland, and also to provide 'bring your own' dog-friendly accommodation so I could go and stay with friends.

Sadly, we realised very quickly that Herbie was too small for Daisy and I to comfortably enjoy a mid-week break (she's not a small dog and takes up a hell of a lot of room when sleeping!), and an impossibility if Management came too.  I also had the unexpected problem of absolutely hating driving the van.  So, we spent further weeks looking at 'grown-up motorhomes' with the intention of using Herbie as a part-exchange.

That was another Great Plan until we eventually admitted to each other that (a) we were not comfortable about what a decent motorhome would cost and (b) whatever sort of m/h we looked at required compromises which one or other of us were not happy about.  We still want to do something and I'll write about that another time, but to bring a much-longer-than-usual set of words to a close, good-bye Herbie, hope you will fit into your next family better than you did in ours.  I am just glad to see the back of you . . .

Friday, 5 December 2014

First snow

When Daisy and I went out this morning to Sale Fell it was cold but sunny, and whilst the summit of Skiddaw was in cloud, Ullock Pike and the lower slopes were clear and autumnal.  Two thirds of the way around our route I looked up and realised a very big, very black cloud was heading our way much faster than expected.  Although both Daisy and I were dressed for it, getting off the hill sooner rather than later was definitely in order. It was very heartening to find that I could jog the last mile back from Rivings without getting out of breath.  But it was downhill all the way and I wasn't exactly going terribly fast! 

A smidgeon under 3 miles which both Madam and I thoroughly enjoyed (actually, I don't think Daisy 'thoroughly' enjoyed the soaking she got for the last third!) and the fells looked a bit different when we got home.

Thursday, 4 December 2014

People say the nicest things

After my blog post to celebrate Daisy being with us two years I had a brief email exchange with a fellow blogger.  I have never met this lady, but I know someone who has and have been told what an exceptionally nice person they are.  How very true; reproduced anonymously because I don't want to cause embarrassment, this is what was sent to me.  This blogger truly has a way with words, she moved me to tears. What lovely things to say to a total stranger, I wish that I could write half as well.

You know who you are, thank you :}

Hi Jayne,

I didn't know you when you had Ollie but after discovering your blog and reading back through your posts, I thought it was sad that there wasn't a dog in your life after him. I totally understood though, it's very hard to get over losing such a loved companion, I don't think you ever do, it's like losing a member of the family. I was thrilled when the time came for you to take another dog in to your lives, it isn't replacing one you've lost, it's just that the time is right for you to share some love with another.

Daisy was such a pathetic little thing in your first posts about her, but the transformation over time has been wonderful to see and share in, and just look at her now. It's plainly obvious how she loves her life, and she has the most fabulous playground in the Fells. I'm just so pleased ... that you and Daisy found each other.


On a hot day in May, a walk which didn't make it (yet) to the blog.

I've turned comments off for this post. I don't think anything else really needs saying (but there's always the 'Contact me' form on the side bar :}  )

Monday, 1 December 2014

Dispensing with a Victorian Tradition

Many historians view the Victorian era as one of great progress and invention.  Hmmm, I don’t know about ‘great’ although it was undoubtedly a time of huge change but my personal (and probably minority) opinion is that a lot of it was not for the good, certainly not long-term.  Although we’ve moved on from a few Victorian technological improvements such as lead-filled paint, the mangle and gas lamps, and generally no-one puts small children up chimneys any more, the 19th century left us with one set of Victorian rituals and ’traditions’ that very few families (and even fewer businesses) would want to dispense with - Christmas.

I’m well aware that the Christmas Tree as we know it came into our homes thanks to Prince Albert and I spent a happy few hours this evening assembling ours, but another holiday ‘tradition’ which is an intrinsic part of our festive season is the Christmas Card.  Since 1843 people have been using cards as a way of sending greetings to all their friends and family without having to write numerous individual letters.  And since 1960-whatever when I was old enough to do my own cards, I too have selected and sent jolly robins, and santas, and snowmen, and goodness knows what else to my nearest and dearest.  Mostly I have enjoyed the process but in the last couple of years that’s not been the case; it has become a nuisance, tiresome, a burden, and in truth an absolute bloody pain because I feel that I cannot relax and “get on with the fun stuff” until the chore of cards has been dealt with.

So I’m not going to do it any more.  I have totted up roughly the cost of cards and stamps, added a chunk to factor in what my time is worth, and made a ruddy great big donation to Animal Care in Lancaster, without whom we would not have Daisy. 

So Season’s Greetings one and all … I’m off for a mince pie, some mulled wine and a sit down in front of the fire :}

No Daisies were hurt in the making of this blog post.
Stupid hat posing lasted barely a few seconds.
Numerous mini-milkbones were offered to the confused model.

Sunday, 30 November 2014

Sharing the silence

We've had a really busy weekend, and that is not a bad thing but it was still full-on by my usual standards.  We went to Lancaster yesterday to look at a possible new car for me.  I know I have often said that the keys to Hattie would be prised from my Cold, Dead Hands but I've also learned that I must never say never . . .  no decision yet but great temptation.  Daisy was distinctly unimpressed with much of her day being spent in the car, although she was far more settled when I moved into the back of the Subaru and sat next to her.  I was more settled too - I've never found Management's car particularly comfy but the rear is positively luxurious compared to the sporty shaped front seat so it was an all-round win :-}

After a morning of vacuuming and washing cars (not our normal Sunday activity but thinking of changing a vehicle begats such behaviour) we made a late decision to jump in the Honda and no prizes for guessing where we went.  Just a couple of miles, but at the 'usual' beach we sat for a few minutes and Management was able to enjoy complete and total silence.  It helped that the sun was rapidly sinking and nearly everyone else had gone home.

(edit: have removed the photo of Management sitting looking at the view.  He hated it (the photo, not the view).  I thought it was a nice picture of him but he disagreed.  As I am uber-sensitive about photos of me, then I have to accord him the same consideration)

Daisy just sat and had a little grumble; she doesn't yet understand this "sitting, chilling" thing in the middle of a walk.  We've created a monster - a darling, gorgeous, gentle, funny monster and I wouldn't want her any other way.

Friday, 28 November 2014

A good week

I said on Monday it was going to be a good week and it certainly has been.  Some lovely walks, some good progress on the endless To Do list at home, and a gorgeous sunny morning today which meant I ignored the other three-hundred-and-eleventy-seven things I could have been getting on with at Bag End and took Daisy back to Crummock for another walk.  There was a gentle but constant breeze which meant we did not have yesterday's complete and total silence, but we still had two hours and four miles of absolute peace.  Daisy is not sure about this "sitting down and contemplating the view" lark in the middle of her walk, but a couple of Bonio seemed to help :-}

We went as far as the Iron Stone.  The plan had been to carry on a bit further but a small stumble over a loose stone left me with a sore enough ankle that it made sense to turn back.  The rest of the path will still be here next week.

Are we stopping for food now?

OK, that's a start, where's the rest?

What do you mean, "that's enough".  I'm a growing girl, I've known hunger I'll have you know ... this is not acceptable

Whilst Madam grumbled, I was eyeing up a particularly stupid (and probably very unpleasant) potential route up Grasmoor.

Taking a sunny shoreline path on the way back.

Which kept us out of the boggy bits and provided a fascinating close-up of the peat.   Ghastly photo of Daisy, but included for scale.

Thursday, 27 November 2014


I went out this morning hoping that my walk with Daisy would be quiet and peaceful.

This is what happened.


Monday, 24 November 2014

A lovely start to the week

It's going to be a good week. How do I know this? Because I Have Decided It Will Be!

Started well and then got better, sunrise and Sale Fell before lunch :}

Looking from Lothwaite to Sale top

Looking from Sale top to Lothwaite

in-camera-generated panorama to Dumfries and Galloway (big file, click to enlarge)

Getting the hang of this 'posing' lark?