Three go to Ambleside

Hello All

Final catch-up post. Joined by mutual friend JF, J and I set off for another walk.

Walk 3 – Walling Walk around Ambleside (thanks again to the Dry Stone Walling Association Cumbria Branch)

For this circular walk we got there by car, parking near the main car park opposite the Armitt Museum and University of Cumbria. It is also easy to get to Ambleside by the Stagecoach 555 bus from Kendal Bus Station.

Today (being 20 November) the weather gods decided to give us a small reminder of Cumbria’s predilection for chucking wet stuff at innocent passers-by. We and the landscape spent most of the day covered in fine droplets born of a mizzle that barely lifted.

Nevertheless while our kagouls were dampened our spirits were not. Who could fail to smile at the bonkers little Bridge House where we started our walk. Chortling at my attempt to capture Moke in situ is encouraged if only to give you a feel for the light hearted mood of the day.

Strangely wet weather often adds to the camaraderie and hilarity of a ramble. It is just impossible to take yourself too seriously with rain water dripping off your nose-end while trying to enjoy an undiluted thermos of tea and keeping the seat of your trews from soaking up your body weight in ‘refreshing’ Cumbrian precipitation.

From the Bridge House we tootled on through Ambleside to the path which would take us up to Blue Hill and Red Bank Woods conservation area and lead us in a contour around Wansfell. Speaking as one who would immediately turn her ankle if pursued by raptors (watched too many Jurassic Park films!) stout walking boots or shoes ARE A MUST on this walk as it is FAIRLY STEEP (swoon) and rough and muddy in places.

The Dry Stone Walling Association … Cumbria Branch again did not disappoint and we were treated to a selection of the walling styles that feature in this upland landscape. We stumbled upon this stone hewn trough no doubt needed by the dray animals hauling materials up for the building of the Thirlmere water pipeline which took water from Thirlmere Aqueduct to Manchester.

Apparently soooooo prestigious was this Victorian project – the Bill was passed into law in 1879 – that our old grey stone was not good enough and the contractors imported sandstone posts to mark the pipeline! Bloomin’ cheek.

Of course no dry stone walling walk of any worth would be complete without a smoot (smout…?) or several. And this walk was no exception:

The weather meant finding a sandwich stop was a bit tricky however we walked into the grounds of Cumbria University’s campus at Ambleside (once known as Charlotte Mason) and found a handy bench to eat our vittles and discuss the world. Home-made fajitas if you want to know.

Now I am not sure if we should have done the above. If we shouldn’t please ignore the previous paragraph. It was all a dream (except the fajitas which were scrummy).

I have another confession to make. There is an add on to this walk that takes you up a road known as ‘The Struggle’ (you know what’s coming) to some amazing views. Guess who (it wasn’t JF nor J) demurred against this extra climb? In my defence I would say I was pretty wet – I am getting good gear in stages, boots came first – and the said views would not have been visible through the drizzle to make the aforementioned struggle (oops Struggle) worth it. But we have made a pact to return in the better weather and take in the panoramic scenery offered by this extra leg.

Even without the extra couple of miles this was a splendid outing. I felt that I had done a proper (ie rigorous) walk and got some much needed exercise (ie hilly) with the bonus of fresh air (ie weather). Sadly this is the last of our dry-stone walks but what we have learnt will inform all our subsequent excursions in the wonderful Cumbrian countryside.

Until next we meet,

Moke xxx

Shanks’ Pony – Hawkshead (1)

Hello All

What do we have here?

Walking boots (pristine), walking stick and small version backpack? Could this mean someone is getting up from their ever spreading posterior and going outdoors, the proper outdoors with fields, hills and stuff? As you can see I thought I had better capture this moment in case the like is never seen again. But after yesterday’s wonderful excursion I am sure it will be the first such outing of many. You at the back I can hear you guffawing!

Wednesday started well.

No rain, no wind and something I think might have been warmth. Perfect walking weather here in Cumbria! Wonders will never cease. My friends J and JF have kindly adopted me into their small but perfectly formed walking sorority. Discreetly ignoring the risk that they would see snails outstrip us they had come up with a walk (about 4.5 miles…yes miles!) around the village of Hawkshead. Sadly JF could not make this one but J armed with her “Dry Stone Walling Association Cumbria Branch Hawkshead Walling Walk” (nothing like a snappy title) pamphlet led her walking novice on a fantastic trail capturing not only the diversity of dry stone walling (with walls that could spin more yarns than you could shake a slab of slate at) but also the social history of the area illustrated by the buildings along the way. In case you were wondering yes there is a church but you will have to wait for that particular delight.

Let’s kick off with how to get there. As you know I usually like bussing it, yesterday I was spoilt with a lift. BUT if you want to go by bus and I will certainly be testing this out the 505 Stagecoach Bus is the one for you. It leaves from Stand C at Kendal Bus Station HOWEVER it is a blink and you missed it sort of service from Kendal so you may have to travel via Windermere using the super-bus 555 to get yourself to and from Windermere Station and join the 505 there were the service is much more frequent (roughly every two hours). By car from Kendal simply follow signs for Windermere then on to Ambleside but before entering Ambleside proper turn left following signs for Langdale then look for left turn signposted Hawkshead…keep going you can’t miss it. Too vague for drivers? Bus times can be found on the Cumbria County Council’s website.

Time to get cracking. Having arrived at Hawkshead village J took a little detour to the National Trust shop and for a £5 refundable deposit picked up a key…all will be revealed in a little while. Read on.

Off we set down Red Lion Yard. Heralded in the aforementioned pamphlet as having ‘a wealth of craftmanship’ this little cobbled yard did not disappoint. From the local slates used for the outside steps to the old granary:

To the single slate lintel shielding the porch:

And the beams holding the roofing above the first floor entrance:

As we discovered throughout this walk the local people were and are artisans skilled at using a readily obtained resource, stone.

Along the winding paths are contrasting stone walling styles – sawn slate to the right of the path and natural stone to the left:

Flag fences grown into an ash tree where once perhaps in the 14th and 15th centuries monks from Furness Abbey may have used the walls to form a boundary between arable land and an important pathway:

Hedges laid atop the flag fences:

And clever interlinking of the large slabs where perhaps recent expert hands have repaired the fencing:

One site I was keen to see was at Colthouse, a hamlet just north of Hawkshead. The simple Quaker Meeting House built sometime around 1688-9 enjoyed by Wordsworth and visited by Beatrix Potter remains an active Quaker meeting place and is a reminder of the importance of this region in the birth and spread of The Friends’ quiet pacifist beliefs.

What about the key? A little way yet to go…keep reading.

Now this is a wow of a gate, to me anyhoo:

Created at a width perfect for horses and carts rather than tractors the stone gate stoups (that was a new word for me) have holes where the gate poles can be moved to open the gate. Notice the holes in the ends of the wooden poles? These are for pegs to prevent accidental slide-idge. Clever, eh?

Goodness actual sunshine is creeping into this photograph….. Cumbrians and those that have visited this beautiful county will know that it is a sight to be treasured. Time to bask and enjoy a cuppa. J and I reached Outgate Inn and parked ourselves in a pin fold – looking not unlike the stray sheep that were kept there until their owners collected them , baaaaah. After a deal of putting the world to rights we re-engaged with our surroundings (the best way to put the world to rights I think we agreed) and I tootled to capture further use of stone in the local landscape in one of my favourite buildings, a bus shelter!

A bus shelter with its own water pump. Mmmm. Moving on.

J’s pamphlet guided us to a ‘permissive path’ (snigger) running just above the road. This took us past small quarries, all this stone had to come from somewhere, a vertical wall joint perhaps marking an ownership boundary or two different wall building contracts and a wonderful single span slate bridge with a flag bounded kissing gate.

As to that key? Your patience is rewarded we arrived at our lunch pack stop, the Courthouse.

This snug little crow-stepped gabled building is the gatehouse and all that remains of Hawkshead Hall. The Gatehouse once used as a court dates from the 15th century. And up these steps and with the use of the much mentioned key…

We got a look inside.

We parked ourselves and our sandwich boxes by the old fireplace. It’s dog-tooth design has led historians to believe it is older than the building perhaps even 13th century.

It appears graffiti is nothing new. Tut.

Altered and restored in the 1800s it is hard to escape the botch made to the main window.

But what an atmospheric and historic place to eat your sarnies in. Cheese and tomato if you are interested.

Outside the old gateway gives a hint of the entrance to the original hall courtyard:

What a delight. And look. No people!

Well done J. Bit hard to top that but we did try. Continuing across the fields we arrived at almost our final destination the graveyard (gulp) of Hawkshead Parish Church, St Michael’s.

Please note flag fencing to the left. Thank you.

Brooding landscape or what?! Clouds rolling in over hills, covering sun, shielding the land with its grey-green hues. That’s more like it.

But what a sturdy little church and inside (don’t look too long and hard at the pointing outside is all I will say) a box of wonders.

Trompe l’oeil piers and arches painted in 1680 to give a zig-zag and corbel effect. Also you can just glimpse the painted ‘Sentance of scripture’ .

The tomb of Archbishop Sandys parents (c1578) on which the learned Pevsner (he of architecture guidebook fame) comments that we should notice the remnants of colour on the face of the ‘comical lion’. Bloomin’ cheek, nothing wrong with a bit of lippy!

The Hardman window. And of course an array of

Hand-crafted kneelers. Sadly I managed to delete the picture of the fabulous communion rail kneeler in St James’ chapel which was adorned with Viking symbols as a reminder that Hawkshead (Haukr saetr – Haukr’s summer pasture) had Norse origins. Worse still I hadn’t noticed that many of the kneeler designs are of walking gear such as rucksacks, boots and water bottles…. I am sorry readers I have failed you. Perhaps I can redeem myself with this last little gem from St Michael’s.

This chest was made in 1603 from a solid beam to house the parish records although it measures almost 6 feet in length the depository inside is only 3 feet which makes the chest extremely heavy to lift and remove…in case you had any plans ….

Busy old Archbishop Edwin Sandys – once prisoner in the Tower under Queen Mary, then escaped Protestant reformer in Antwerp where he watched his wife and infant son die of plague but finally made Archbishop of York by Queen Elizabeth I – in 1585 also founded Hawkshead Grammar School (now a museum). A bonny little school with a bonny little doorway.

What a lovely note on which to finish our walk. Boots suitably muddied and me vindicated in the cost of their purchase (still makes me break out in a cold sweat) we returned to Kendal happy with a day spent in the fresh air, learning more than we ever knew about our amazing county.

Thank you J for your research and forethought in making this a brilliant walk. I raise a cup of Earl Grey to there being many more.

Until next we meet,

Moke xxx

Home turf

Hello All

Hands up those of you who have heard of Margaret Llewelyn Davies (1861 – 1944) or the Women’s Co-operative Guild (WCG). Anyone? I am sure that there are some of you who know all about this lady and the WCG. But I knew nothing about either (neither?). It is amazing what you learn in churchyards.

As you can see I have returned from my travels with a continued yen to visit churches! In this case St Mary’s Church was a wee bit of serendipity as I needed to pop over to Kirby Lonsdale to buy a friend’s birthday present. You know that niggle you get when you have something particular in mind.

The niggle was very useful as I had never travelled to Kirby L by bus and before I continue here is how I got there:

My local 46 bus took me to Kendal Bus Station then I boarded the Stagecoach 567 at 10.20am from Stand E. And off we roared …. pootled.

Back to the quaint loveliness that is Kirby Lonsdale a small market town in Cumbria within spitting distance of the counties of Yorkshire and Lancashire. I arrived along with the usual Cumbrian mizzle and having made a bee line for the birthday gift emporium (pressie not opened yet so I can say no more) I was ready for a warming drink and a bite to eat. I have often passed the Lunesdale Bakery and scooted past lest I be tempted by all the delicious goodies inside, I had not realised that behind the fabulous bakery shop is an equally fabulous cafe complete with an open fire, beamed ceilings and mullioned windows.

All this cosiness together with hearty local fayre. I enjoyed a pot of tea and devoured scrambled eggs on toasted croissants. Buttery yummy-ness.

With a wait between buses I then went for a wander. I have been to Kirby Lonsdale many times and love its small indie shops and beautiful buildings. Infact I always wonder why I never see a film crew there making a Austin-esque Sunday night drama or three. Perhaps the good burghers of Kirby have more sense than to let them in. But in my wandering I have never noticed the …erm … notice about Margaret Davies. Who knew that Kirby Lonsdale was such a hot-bed of socialist zeal.

Having seen more than my fair share of Europe’s magnificent Cathedrals in the last few weeks St Mary’s Church was refreshing for its beautiful simplicity and obvious importance to the local community. Surrounded by a higgledy piggledy grave yard where the ‘old’ font has been used as a cheery reminder of the children baptised by it before it was replaced in the church by an older font!

St Mary’s setting is traditional yet welcoming.

I love the modern ever-present health and safety reminder. Without slipping – I am actually a walking trip hazard as my friends know so we are lucky I am not writing this post from Accident and Emergency – I made my way into the ‘time-machine’ of St Mary’s.

St Mary’s is the product of centuries of building and renovation. It’s construction spans in age from the early 12th century to the 19th century but it is obviously very much a living church well used by both congregation and community. On my visit there were beautiful floral displays made ready – sadly – for a funeral. As I walked past these displays I wondered at the skill of the flower arranger. Certainly a lot of love, thought and care had gone into these wonderful creations.

Churches often house the most amazing and painstakingly made crafts. The kneelers are always fascinating to me.

Meticulous canvas work of great design made for daily use. Wonderful.

Harbingers of an even older time are also hidden there. Like this Green Man

A 12th century (so 1100 and something) reminder of earlier beliefs sitting atop one of the older pillars. He doesn’t look very happy about it does he? But I was pleased to see him as I enjoy the hints of our pagan past that are so often intertwined with ‘modern’ religious symbolism.

One thing I had never heard of before was a ‘Piscina’. No! Not what it sounds like but rather a sort of sink once used for the washing of the vessels used in Communion.

Perambulating certainly increases your learning. And that includes knowledge of bus timetables. Time to go. Ruskin’s View and the other delights of Kirby Lonsdale will have to await another visit.

I am sure it will not be long until I return, perhaps with family and dogs. So this offer may prove useful.

Last thing lest we forget Remembrance Sunday is coming up (12 November) so a little time has been spent on making up a few poppies and digging out patterns.

Thanks to Kendal Wool Gathering all such donations were collected to become part of a ‘Curtain of Poppies 2018’ with all proceeds going to the Royal British Legion.

Until next we meet,

Moke xxx

Hope you like your greens

Hello All

I said that I would be practising with my new camera app. As you know photography is not my forte so it couldn’t be any worse, right? Well you are right! Definitely sharper and clearer. Sorry turns out a good camera doesn’t help my sense of composition or subject. If you are allergic to green look away now. I’ll tell you when it’s safe to come back.

I have a penchant for allotments. There I have admitted it. I love the thought of all those superb tasty veggies growing in small scale patchwork ranks. Mmmm satisfying.

On my way through to Oxenholme Station I like to wander from the main road and walk through allotment land.

Yummy goodness. Gorgeous fruit tress. No scrumping was undertaken. Honest.

Everyone has their own style. From slightly chaotic to serried ranks. You. Leeks! shoulders back, stand up straight.

Anyone remember ‘The Flower Pot Men’ ? Bill and Ben and most especially Little Weeeeeed? Those were innocent times!!!!!

Productive way to recycle old window units.

Rhubarb rhubarb rhubarb.

If you are ready for some new recipes for all those scrummy, crunchy, luscious veggies… (oh yes… you can look back greeniness is over … sort of).

I spotted this book yesterday and thanks to a kindly friend JH and her gift of a book voucher I was able to buy it and bring it home. At first I thought it might have too many fancy clancy ingredients that this country mouse would struggle to get. But as I sat drooling at all the tastiness within I realised the recipes were heart-warming, stomach-filling and easily made. In addition to the glorious food are tales of the rich Middle Eastern culinary heritage beautifully and humorously written.

Definitely got p166 Imam Biyaldi (The Swooning Imam … apparently) lined up for a warming supper. And warming is the order of the day here in the Cumbrian summer. Don’t know about anyone else but I have been ffffffffreezing lately. So much so it has been even more of a pleasure to work on one of my ongoing projects, the scrap blanket.

Thankfully it has reached the stage where it is large enough to cover my legs and toes. And the scrap mountain is going down. Win win.

Hope your week is going well. What are you and your weather up to?

Until next we meet,
Moke xxx

Melange

Hello All

I feel all to pot! I’ve missed a whole week of blogging. Here then is a melange of life’s events over the last fortnight.

I started last weekend with a walk into town popping into Williams’ Wools to buy a ball of worsted wool – yes just one! don’t know how I managed to restrain myself with so many beautiful yarns to choose from  –  to knit (KNIT?!) a pair of fingerless gloves.

Having bought my veg and eggs on the market I visited the library. I was hoping to find a book on knitting that would help me brush up on my knitting skills. But I couldn’t find quite what I needed.

However later that evening when I met up with a few old friends (old in as much as I have known them along time not old as in aged….hope I’ve dug myself out of that one). AJ produced some surprise gifts. Things she had seen that she thought we’d like. Here was mine.

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Exactly the kind of knitting book I had been looking for! A book that will help me with techniques I have long forgotten.

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Good friends can certainly read your mind. THANK YOU AJ, for the now well thumbed book.

Confidence boosted I found a pattern on Ravelry by Marielle Henault for a pair of cable fingerless mitts. Needles at the ready off I went.

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Now…it is sometime since I have knitted anything in a cable stitch and I confess there has been much cursing and pulling back. But I think I have finally got it and the pattern is looking good, front

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and back. DSCI0212

With a nip in the air I had better get on with them.

JG and I have been looking forward to visiting Walney Island for some time. JG has never been there and I wanted to look at the chalets by the ocean to see if one of them could be a home for me and my trusty old cavalier. This was the weekend we had earmarked for the trip.

Joined by JG’s friend R off we set to this little island. Walney is attached to Barrow In Furness on the mainland by a road bridge . Excitingly the road lifted up as we waited to get on the island to allow a flotilla of tall masted yachts through to the channel. Magical.

Both tips of the island have nature reserves and the views are amazing. Through the static caravans of the South End Holiday Park you can even see Piel Island and it’s medieval castle.

Walney is a stunning place to be. But could I live there?….

After a good look around Walney JG had booked us a table for lunch at the locally famous Bosun’s Locker on Roa Island. After all that fresh sea air a lunch of home made cheese pie, chips and peas was very welcome. In fact it was such a hearty meal that I don’t think I’ll need to eat for several days!

Mind you I somehow managed a slice of cake and a cuppa while sitting in R’s beautiful garden. And guess what? this melange can end as it began with a hint/whisper/clack/click (?!) of knitting and happy dreams of projects to come…. DSCI0208

Thanks to JG for organising a lovely day out and to our guide R (who has also loaned me her Tea Cosy book).

Until next we meet. Moke

 

 

 

Under foot

Hello All

Of late I have found myself captivated with the rocks beneath our feet. Prompted by my latest book on the train

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I’ve started taking more notice of what’s under foot.

By exploring his past through the quarries and mines of his childhood Ted Nield piqued my interest in our local geology and how it made Kendal the little Auld Grey Town that it is. While Kendal looks north toward the hills of the Lake District – ancient eroded volcanoes which erupted around 450 million (!) years ago – Kendal Fell sits on an area of limestone and you see it everywhere. As you walk out the door

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down the lane

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wrapped in moss

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ramshackle

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sparkly new

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supporting buildings

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creating pretty lanes

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funneling chimney stacks

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and spanning arches DSCI0304

 

To think that Kendal’s signature stone was formed millions of years ago in shallow seas when what is now England was south of the Equator … amazing!

Quick before I go. As I was typing today’s blog I had a little visitor. He popped in the back door to escape a heavy downpour.

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Stayed for a while and when the clouds had gone hopped out into the foliage.

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Until we meet again, ribitttttttttt. Moke

 

Cushioning

Hello All

Cushion-making was high on my agenda when I went on leave and three cushions later my cushion needs are fulfilled. As you’ll recall I already had a flower petal cushion underway. That little flowery beauty is now cosily sitting on my sofa

One down two to go.

I originally thought I’d use the same pattern with the Herdwick from the Wool Clip DSCI0070

but in all its rough, hardwearing splendor it didn’t seem right for something as delicate and transient as a flower. I decided to look through my books for inspiration. I found it here the encyclopedia of knitting and crochet

Published in 2008 (I think there is a new version) this gem of a book gives so many knitting and crochet patterns for blocks that overwhelmed I had to sleep on it before finally deciding to use the Log Cabin from the Centre  chart to create the front of cushion number two.

I am not used to using a chart – I normally rely on a pattern – you can perhaps tell from the centre of the block that I got off to a wobbly start DSCI0075

yet once I got the hang of it I appreciated being able to play with the length of the ‘logs’ and the ordering of the colours. I was pleased with the result DSCI0108

and had as much fun making the back of the cushion by carrying through the colour blocks, edging in double crochet with the apple green and adding a bit of fun with a hodge-podge of buttons from my store.

Having costed up cushion inserts (up to £5!!!!) I decided to make my own from my (small) fabric stash and some donated kapok (thanks again JG) DSCI0105

and hey presto another plump cushion

That makes two.

Just before Easter one of my little old Cavalier Spaniels, Thomas, sadly died. Thomas was over thirteen and very frail but a great character always eager to be in the middle of things. In his last few weeks I used to wrap him in one of my old chunky jumpers ‘Big Purp’ to keep him warm at night. After he died I hadn’t the heart to throw out Thomas’ beloved sweater yet its days of being worn were over. Time for Big Purp to get the cushion treatment.

First I felted my trusty old pully. The results were ermmmmm …

…… not that promising. But after attacking it with the vacuum cleaner (it was in need of heavy duty de-fluffing) I cut out two rectangles, one larger than the other, then sewed them together with blanket stitch

The addition of a filling and a toggle made for a huggable pillow

A cuddly, cosy homage to my little old friend Thomas.

All in all a happy few days and cushions I am proud of.. is that an excuse for sit on the sofa?

NO! another project beckons….

Fan that I am of public transport I set off to see friends B and JK in Windermere.

Here comes the bus…. DSCI0090

to take me to another platform (i.e. not Oxenholme)

to sit in the brilliant sunshine admiring the views

before hopping on a train bound for Windermere DSCI0097

Although I was in a bit of a rush to meet my friends I still had time to grab a few snaps of my favourite bookshop

pop my head inside the door to say hello to B’s husband R before arriving at Cafe Italia where me, B and JK happily put the world to rights before it was time to part. Here’s where the next project comes in. I did not leave Windermere empty handed.

B had been busy cutting up old t-shirts and swapped me balls of wonderful stretchy t-arn (if plastic yarn is plarn?……) for a little trinket basket I’d crocheted her. Aren’t they fabulous?

Now what to make?  I am thinking rug. KC I know would suggest cat cave but I don’t think the t-arn will go than far.

What do you think? Ideas gratefully received.

Until next we meet. Moke